Thursday, July 31, 2014

Notes from the Corbett Heights Neighbors meeting

Corbett Heights Neighbors Meeting Notes - July 24, 2014

There was a great turnout for last week's meeting - 37 people attended.

First, I'd like to thank all of the people who distributed the fliers: Ted Teipel, Mark Ryser, Barbara Presta, Janice Low, Bill Prince, Kathy and Hank Flanders, Monique Passicot, Cindy Valdes, Desiree Roldan and Philip Byland. Greatly appreciated!!

Membership: One of our boardmembers, Leslie Koelsch, spent parts of several days organizing our membership lists, and our treasurer, Rick Johnson, updated our membership spreadsheet to reflect the new information. With results from our membership drive tallied, we now have 83 paid members (well over 100 if you include the 2nd person in each member household). If you haven't paid for a while or would like to join, annual membership is $15 per year per household. Besides being used for flier printing and snacks for garden workdays, the money is used to purchase plants, any garden equipment and irrigation supplies we may need to take care of our various mini-parks. The easiest way to join is to go to our website:, and click on the "Subscribe" button. That way, PayPal will automatically remind you next year.

History Project: The consultant we hired to prepare the Corbett Heights historical context statement (History Project) submitted a final draft to us a couple of months ago. With almost 150 pages of text and a huge number of maps and photographs, it's taken our committee this long to go over it and pool our comments. That should be done this week and they'll be sent off to the consultant, Michael Corbett. When the changes have been made we'll be discussing options for publishing a modified version of the document. A number of you contributed $75 or more and will be receiving free copies.

Landmark Tree Hearing:

In the rear yard of 3066 Market Street is an extremely prominant Giant Sequoia tree that, according to family members of the original owners of this 1880s cottage, was transplanted as a seedling from the Sierras to this yard in or around the early 1940s. The tree can be seen from as far away as Twin Peaks.

The new owner had hoped to cut down the tree and replace it with a square of lawn and some deck chairs. We realized that this tree needed to be protected. There was an inconclusive hearing by the Landmark Tree Committee. It will now be heard by the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee on September 15, 1:30PM in City Hall. If you'd like to attend I can give you more information.

Corbett Slope: With the help of Gary Robertson and Jake Shogren, the Slope is looking fantastic! They've spent almost every Sunday planting, weeding and clearing - and it really shows! Dozens of mostly California native plants have been planted.

Extreme thanks to Supervisor Scott Wiener who has made $10,000 available for plants and infrastructure within the Slope!!

I've met several times with structural engineers from DPW regarding the enormous (overkill?) retaining wall project on the Market Street side of the Slope. The last and possibly best approach for securing the hillside now that it's been ravaged is to install mesh to keep it from continuing to erode. They may be able to create "shelves" from which we can plant groundcovers. DPW also intends to plant there. I gave them a list of appropriate native plants.

The ultimate goal is still to connect Market to Corbett. The pathway is mapped out, but DPW still needs a bit of convincing. They are in favor of the project, but require considerably more in terms of materials to build the stairs than we had planned. More to come on that....

We're also in the process of applying for a Community Challenge Grant for the Slope. We'd like to show how many of you have helped out in the past. Many of you have done work at the park in the past. If you'd care to have your name associated as an occasional volunteer, or if you would like to volunteer at some point in the future, please let me know and we will include your name in the application.

17th Street Traffic Calming: A few weeks ago MTA installed a barely-perceptible lump on 17th Street in the hopes that it will help slow down traffic. Other than the lines painted on the uphill and downhill approaches, I don't feel this has accomplished its goal. Representatives from MTA told me that they are "monitoring" it and will let me know the results sometime in the distant future.

Corbett/Ord Triangle: Several of us have met a number of times to discuss ideas to return the park to its former "glory". We've discussed putting a short stone retaining wall on the Corbett side, adding another path from opposite the bench to the Harvey Milk redwood tree off of 17th. We've even been promised financial assistance from Zephyr Real Estate across the street. The only thing missing is someone to take the lead. So if you live near this park or walk by it every day and would like to see it spiffed up, PLEASE let me know. In the meantime, a few neighbors have been cleaning up litter and doing an occasional sweep. If you'd like to help in that regard, your efforts will be greatly appreciated as well. Let me know if you are interested.

Merritt Park: This large triangle of a "park", bordered by Merritt, Market and Danvers, is finally going to get a facelift! This Saturday, August 2, from 9AM to noon, a number of neighbors, and volunteers from DPW and the Parks Alliance will be out there with clippers and shovels. This event has been organized by Chris Stuart and other neighbors who recently moved in across the street on Danvers. Please stop by and help out!

3198 Market Street: This is the address of the landlocked property behind the big retaining wall with the mural, on Market Street. Earlier this year 2 separate interested parties decided against developing this site. One would have paved Al's park to use as a driveway, the other would have blasted thru the retaining wall on Market St. and leveled the entire hillside behind it. But a few months ago the land was purchased by a couple who live in southern California. The good news is that they have no interest in creating a driveway or even a garage. And the project itself is substantially smaller than either of the other 2 earlier proposals. Their goal is to constuct a building with 2 units totaling 2100 square feet.

Everything was looking great, until the drawings of the proposed project were finally submitted. The facade was to be made entirely of stucco, with no detail anywhere. Basically a box with windows. There was a spiral fire exit stairway and one of the corners was to be on a stilt. In a south of Market alley this building would have blended in.

I spoke with the owners/architect about this and was told that elements of the design and the materials were the way they were to meet fire codes, since the building is landlocked. They seemed to agree that the design was uncomfortably basic. They will work to improve certain elements of the design.

75 Mars: Jonathan Deason, the new owner of this property, spoke with us about his project. The former owner had plans for the house redo and the adjoining park approved, and then decided to sell. Jonathan is building everything almost exactly as proposed - including the stairway that will connect Corbett with Mars.

There will be one additional level added. On the Corbett side there will be a 2-car garage with one curb cut, and a small stairway that will lead to a landing/entrance to a small lower level unit. The stairway will continue diagonally up to Mars from there. Jonathan will be paying for the stairway, new retaining walls, plants, lighting, irrigation and insurance. After it's all planted, Corbett Heights will maintain the plantings.

Kevin Dunn: spoke about property values in Corbett Heights as well as the general lack of housing inventory in San Francisco.

138-140 Ord Street, between Corbett and Market, sold last year for $1377. After a huge amount of work which included the very unfortunate gutting of all the 1880s Victorian interior detail, and the building out of the formerly tiny rear house, it is for sale for $2.8 million!

Also, the corner lot at Roosevelt and 17th Streets (which goes up to Upper Terrace) was recently sold for just under $3 million. It's acually 2 adjacent lots that can accommodate up to 8 homes! No plans have been submitted at this time.

Jerad Weiner, Community Liaison with DPW spoke with us about the many ways it has helped in the past with our projects and will continue to be available to help when asked in the future. For every garden cleanup/workday we've had in Corbett Heights, DPW has come to our aid. I've asked for mulch on numerous occasions as well as tools, gloves, leaf bags, wheel barrows - and even volunteers. For the cleanup at Merritt Park this Saturday, DPW has arranged for all of this and more.

Unfortunately, Supervisor David Campos, who was scheduled to speak about his campaign for Assembly, ran very late from a previous engagement and didn't show up until everyone was gone or ready to leave. I've arranged for him to return for our October meeting.

Our most robust part of the meeting was a discussion about Home Sharing/Short Term Rentals/AirBnB and their affects on housing in San Francisco.

On the Pro side was Andrei Ilica who moved to States Street from New York City a few years ago, and uses AirBnB often to help with finances. He does not want a full-time tenant since he has family/friends who visit often and likes to have a space for them to stay.

He feels that this supports the community because his visitors and renters patronize businesses in the neighborhood. He said that home sharing generated $100 million in spending in the city. The most popular neighborhood for home sharing in SF is the Mission; Castro is not far behind.

He disagrees that home sharing limits the long term rental supply. He feels that the majority of rentals are for portions of apartments rather than whole units. There are currently about 6500 home share listings in SF alone.

Around 30,000 people moved to SF last year, and Andrei feels that a restrictive building code is more the problem for the lack of housing inventory than home sharing.

On the Con side was Doug Engmann. He said that there are many thousands of listings on 60 websites supporting this industry. Everything from single rooms to entire apartments are listed. Over half are for entire apartments. One third of the people listing have between 10 and 30 units listed. This describes entrepreneurs who are doing more than just making ends meet.

In 94114 there are over 1,000 listings. He stated that it is already illegal to rent an apartment or room for fewer than 30 days. It's against the housing code and the planning code. No taxes are being collected either.

He feels that there is no question that taking 10,000 units off the market is putting pressure on the housing stock. And there is no consideration given to neighbors. Tenants are also renting out rooms or their entire apartments in violation of their leases. If a temporary renter starts a fire, and that renter is not allowed under the terms of the lease, it is unlikely that insurance for the fire would be covered.

Supervisor David Chiu has sponsored legislation that attempts to deal with the problems that have arisen out of home sharing.

If you're up for a really contentious hearing there is one before the Planning Commission on August 7th.

Castro Street Sidewalk Widening: The project is moving ahead rapidly. Between now and August 13th, the sidewalks will be finished, utility boxes moved and preparations will be made for the Rainbow Honor Walk. When this is complete, new streetlights, bike racks, "leaning racks" and the rainbow crosswalks will be installed, MUNI overhead wiring will be moved, historic facts etched into the sidewalks and 68 new street trees will be planted. Jane Warner Plaza improvements will follow. Work is scheduled to be completed by the Castro Street Fair on October 6. For more information and updates:

Castro Street has 2 hotdog places in the works as well as many more coffee houses. Besides Weavers on the corner of Market and Noe under FitnessSF, which has had permitting issues, Hearth Coffee hopes to move into the suntanning salon space next to Orphan Andy's on 17th Street, and Philz hopes to open on Castro in the space currently occupied by David Chiu's campaign headquarters. Worldwide, coffee is the second most traded commodity, after petroleum. But you already knew that!

The Pica Pica space, next to the Chevron Station on 17th Street is up for lease again.

Bandidos, on the NW corner of Market and 15th will open in early August. It will be a sit down Mexican restaurant and will be run by the owners of Hi-Tops sports bar across the street.

Project 22 Arcade, next door to Bandidos will be an arcade bar. They hope to open by the end of 2014 or early 2015.

376 Castro (RC Station): No news - still possibly for sale.

2175 Market (76 Station): 88 units. 100% rental. 65' tall on the Market side, shorter on 15th St. They are hoping to include a "market hall" concept with numerous food vendors. Looks as though the veil should come down soon to reveal... (I'll let you decide).

2198 Market (Shell Station/Xmas tree lot): This development will be 87 rental units and be 7+ stories tall. The Market St. side will be 65' tall, the Sanchez St. side will be 40' tall and the very corner 81'. Groundbreaking should take place soon.

2201 Market: (Formerly Glidden Paint, SF Stereo, the Industrialists, and almost a Starbuck's) A new project has been proposed that would be 63.5' tall with a roofdeck. It would be 6 stories including 2500 square feet of ground floor retail, and 9 condos.

2100 Market St: (Formerly Burke's, Church St. Station, Boston Market and Home) Purchased by Brian Spiers, the same architect who designed the giant glass ice cube tray building at the corner of Market and Buchanan that resembles the old Galaxy Theatre on Van Ness. He's proposing a 7 story, 64 unit building with 4700 square feet of ground floor retail. Spiers also owns the Lucky 13 and adjoining lot. No plans for that yet.

Sullivan's Funeral Home: Sullivan's will not be torn down as it's a historic resource (especially considering what would replace it), but the adjacent lot which goes thru to 15th Street and potentially some of the air space above Sullivan's (I'm guessing at that) will be developed by the Prado Group who were also responsible for Whole Foods on Market and Dolores.

* * * * *

And now, just for fun:

As printed in the San Francisco Call (these aren't my typos!)

San Francisco Call - 2 March, 1896



The residents of Corbett Ave are desirous of having the name of that thoroughfare changed as the following petition which will be filed this morning, evidences:

To the Honorable the Bd of Supervisors, the city and county of SF:

The undersigned property owners and residents on the street known as Corbett Ave, in the city and county of SF, do hereby petition you honorable board to change the name of Corbett Ave to Western Blvd.

Our reason is that the general impression exists that Corbett Ave has been named in horror of prize-fighter, JJ Corbett, and as your petitioners are all law-abiding citizens opposed to prize-fighting, they feel greatly humiliated at the tthought of having to live on a street bearing the same name as the notorious prize-fighter.

It is signed by practically all the property owners on the street, and headed up the R. S. Daniel, who originated the agitation.

That's all for now.

Thanks for your interest in our neighborhood!

- Gary