Thursday, October 30, 2014

Corbett Heights Meeting Notes - October 23, 2014

Corbett Heights Neighbors Meeting Notes - October 23, 2014

Thanks to everyone who showed up for the meeting last Thursday - despite the continued Castro Street construction!

First, I'd like to thank all of the people who distributed the fliers: Ted Teipel, Barbara Presta, Janice Low, Kevin Dunn, Rick Johnson, Nancy Peoples, Kazumi Matsuyama and Bill Prince. Greatly appreciated!!

History Project: Our History Project committee met last week with the consultant, Michael Corbett, to work out the last of the kinks in the final draft. He agreed to implement most of the suggestions we made. A few of the remaining concerns we agreed would be best addressed after the Planning Department views it and comments. Once any changes have been approved by our committee, CHN will submit the study to the Historic Preservation Fund Committee and the Planning Deptartment. Once reviewed, it will be brought to hearing.

Landmarked Tree!Thanks largely to the efforts of Leslie Koelsch, many neighbors and with the help of Supervisor Wiener, the tree behind 3066 Market has now been landmarked - the first in Corbett Heights, and the only giant sequoia to have ever been landmarked in SF.

Corbett/Ord Triangle: The park at the intersections of Corbett, Ord, 17th and Douglass could use a bit of help. Several of us met some months ago and came up with a plan to improve the park and do regular maintenance, but due to busy schedules by all, the effort has fallen by the wayside. If you have any interest in caring for the park in any capacity, or taking the lead, please let me know.

Merritt Park: Chris Stuart, who moved to Danvers earlier this year was concerned about the haggard state of that park. He organized a cleanup day back in August and the improvements are remarkable. If you care to be involved in any future cleanups or other improvements, please let me know.

Corbett Slope: The following includes a bit of recent history of the Slope. If you've heard it all before, just skip down to the current plans.

At the beginning of 2005, Supervisor Chris Daly sponsored legislation called the Surplus Properties Ordinance. The purpose was to inventory the land in the jurisdiction of each city department to see if any would be usable for building affordable housing. The idea was to build housing on as many lots as possible. Some of the lots would be determined to be buildable, but too costly for affordable housing. These would be sold off and the proceeds would go towards building affordable housing elsewhere in the city. Corbett Slope, being unused, weed-covered and completely fenced in was on DPW's list. After many months of hearings, almost none of the land subjects discussed ended up as housing. But the Corbett Slope was transferred to the Mayor's Office of Housing's Dept of Real Estate. The land was offered at $2.1 million. 4 monster homes were proposed.

During the hearings, and especially afterwards, Corbett Heights residents wrote dozens of letters in support of keeping the Slope as a park. I met with a writer for the Chronicle who did a cover page article about the battle. We even had a rush hour demonstration - with signs!

To the great dismay of some housing advocates, Supervisor Wiener arranged for a hearing before the city's land use committee with the hopes of transferring it back to DPW so it could continue as an open space. Because of the fury of the opposition to this, wording was inserted saying that if it were not maintained and improved, there would be another hearing in 5 years to determine its fate once again.

At that time, and over the years since, there has been overwhelming support for the park. And, until recently, no negative word spoken. Two neighbors who live immediately accross the street recently expressed their opposition - primarily due to safety issues. They feel they would be in danger if a stairway to Market St were developed. Supervisor Wiener responded to them. Here are a few excerpts from his email response:

I appreciate the feedback and information.  We've been working closely with the neighborhood association on this project for several years.  I'm not sure if you followed what happened a few years ago, but the alternative to this project was sale of the lot to a developer for what would likely be condos.  About a decade ago, the Corbett Slope, along with hundreds of other pieces of city-owned non-Rec & Park property, was transferred to the Mayor's Office of Housing, either for development as affordable housing, or sale to developers with proceeds dedicated to build affordable housing.  The latter likely would apply for this site, given the complexity of the slope.  I authored legislation in 2011 to transfer the site back to the Department of Public Works for the purpose of creating a usable neighborhood open space.  The legislation resulted in a huge fight with affordable housing advocates, who very much wanted the site sold for development in order to fund affordable housing elsewhere.  We prevailed in a 6-5 vote, but we were forced to accept an amendment indicating that the site would be transferred back to Mayor's Office of Housing if a transformation didn't occur.  In other words, keeping it as an unusable natural site isn't an option.  As I understand it, the staircase is a key part of making the site accessible and usable as a public space.

And now, to help complete the project Supervisor Wiener has accessed $10K for Corbett Slope from the Clean Green and Safe budget. That money has been added to DPW's funds for use in helping complete the stairway and other infrastructure. On the upper, Corbett side, half of the chain link fence will be replaced with a short, more attractive fence, and there will be fencing along any accessible downhills to prevent accidents. We are insured by our fiscal sponsor - the SF Parks Alliance. Gary Robertson and Jake Shogren continue to do a wonderful job maintaining the park. We had a work day in Sept where a bunch of neighbors helped to clean up more areas that are now accessible.

Also - We are working with Pacific Rim Sculptors, a Chapter of the International Sculpture Center, exploring the feasibility of a rotating series of sculpture and other art on the site!

Supervisor David Campos: We always attempt to have opposing views and/or positions when a campaign or a position is represented at our meetings. For our April meeting, Supervisor Chiu's office contacted me about being included. Supervisor Campos' office then got in touch with me and wanted to attend as well.

Not wanting to have a meeting devoted entirely to the Assembly race, I told them that he could attend the July meeting. Unfortunately he showed up at 8:30 when everyone had already left. I invited him to this last meeting but did not hear back from anyone.

Supervisor Scott Wiener was supposed to attend the meeting and give us updates on events and issues in District 8, as well as discuss his upcoming re-election campaign and Proposition B, but just as the meeting was about to begin he texted me and said he was feeling awfully sick and apologized profusely for not being able to make it.

I did my best with Proposition B - giving a brief description. It is being referred to as: City of San Francisco Adjusting Transportation Funding for Population Growth. It was sponsored by Supervisor Wiener, approved by a majority of the Board, opposed by the Mayor, the SF Republican Party and the Coalition of SF Neighborhoods. It's an attempt to allocate more funding for MUNI, basing funding by population growth in SF.

Proposition E: (The "Soda Tax") We had representation from both sides. Roscoe Mapps spoke for the opposition, saying that if successful, E would harm some small businesses and lower income families who would be paying more for soft drinks.

Todd David spoke in support detailing the increasing health issues in the same lower income families - partially attributed to poor diets.

The American Beverage Association has pumped close to $10 million into defeating E. Funding for the opposition and all of the staff is paid by the ABA as well.

Kevin Dunn gave us the real estate lowdown in Corbett Heights. Inventory has inched up and prices have remained steady.

Castro Sidewalk Widening: Tonight, starting at 6PM, Castro Street from Market to 18th Street will be closed off for a block party and ribbon-cutting celebration marking (almost) the end of the Castro Streetscape Improvement Project. 

According to Supervisor Wiener almost everything should be completed, excluding the Castro and Market Street intersection that is currently under construction and includes the reconfiguring and repaving of Jane Warner Plaza. It also includes bulb-outs at the north end of the intersection.

The celebration will start at the rainbow crosswalks at 18th and Castro. Beginning with an invocation from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the event will include remarks from Supervisor Wiener, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and project leads with the Department of Public Works, plus the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and other entertainment lined up by the Castro Community Benefit District. The eight-month project was initially set to wrap up before the Castro Street Fair at the beginning of the month, but material delays pushed the project's completion further into October.  Improvements focused on pedestrian safety, accessibility, and leisure with wider sidewalks, bulb-outs at crossing intersections, leaning posts and pedestrian lighting. The Castro is arguably more scenic as well, with the addition of the Rainbow HonorWalk and Castro History Walk embedded into the pavement, four rainbow crosswalks at 18th Street, new palm trees near the 18th Street intersection (in addition to new ginkgos throughout), and downwash LEDs on the street lamps to provide a little color year-round. 

To widen the Castro's sidewalks, DPW construction crews narrowed the street to one lane in either direction with a zero-net loss of parking spaces. According to Sup. Wiener: "It was long overdue, and we now have sidewalks that are wide enough for such a pedestrian-focused corridor. The project will benefit residents, merchants, and visitors for decades to come. I want to thank members of the community, both residents and merchants, for putting up with the significant disruption that's unavoidable with this type of project. I'm very grateful for people's patience." Crews are currently working on reconfiguring Jane Warner Plaza to make it easier for pedestrians crossing Market Street and Castro Street. A new gate styled after the Castro Theatre marquee will be going in on 17th Street, replacing the police barriers. And with all that, the myriad changes to the neighborhood are grinding to a close, so try and make the celebrations tonight!

Zephyr Real Estate will soon be closing both of their Upper Market locations (17th/Douglass, and Market/17th) and moving upstairs from CVS - formerly Tower Records.

No updates on 3198 Market at this time. And construction at 75 Mars continues to plod along.


2200 Market: (Formerly Happy Boy, Leticia's and Thai House) The new building now houses Hecho, a sit-down Mexican restaurant opened by the owners of High Tops bar across the street; and Brewcade, a bar specializing in beers and arcade games to be opened by the owners of Blackbird Bar just down the street.

376 Castro (RC Station): No news - still!

2175 Market (76 Station): Almost complete. 88 units. 100% rental. They have proposed a "market hall" concept with numerous food vendors.

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 end of 2014 or early 2015.

2201 Market: (Formerly Glidden Paint, SF Stereo, the Industrialists, and almost a Starbuck's) if approved by city planners, will include a six-story, nine-unit apartment building with ground floor retail space and basement parking.

The proposed mixed use building will include about 4,000 square feet of commercial space on the first floor, and the second through sixth floors will include a total of nine dwelling units. Being below the 10 unit threshhold they are not required to include any affordable housing units. The proposed name will be Linea Lite - after Linea, the ice cube tray bldg on Buchanan. Same architect.

2100 Market St: (Formerly Burke's, Church St. Station, Boston Market and Home) Purchased by Brian Spiers (of Buchanan (Linea) ice cube tray building). He's proposing a 7 story, 64 unit apt bldg, 4700 sf of retail.

Spiers also owns Lucky 13 and the huge lot adjacent. No plans for that yet.

Sullivan's Funeral Home: Sullivan's has been sold and will be developed by the Prado Group who were also responsible for Whole Foods on Market and Dolores. Sullivan's will not be torn down as it's a historic resource, but the adjacent lot which goes thru to 15th Street and potentially some of the air space above Sullivan's will be developed.

Cafe du Nord: The master lease was purchased by the owners of Woodhouse Fish Co. Here's the latest: A new street-level restaurant featuring Basque cuisine will be opening on Market Street above Cafe Du Nord. The restaurant will be called Aatxe, after "a mythological bull spirit creature in Basque folklore." It's being headed by Ryan Pollnow, the chef du cuisine at Central Kitchen in the Mission. Central Kitchen is part of the Ne Timeas group of restaurants (along with Flour + Water and Salumeria), and Ne Timeas is overseeing the food program at the revamped Cafe du Nord as well.

Aatxe will feature a 50-seat restaurant and bar separate from the Cafe du Nord space below. Aatxe should open some time "this winter."

400 Castro (formerly Diesel and BofA, and almost Randy Rooster!) SoulCycle hopes to open in the main space. They are a chain of fitness studios that originated in NYC. They have received support from many neighborhood groups.

Philz: Philz coffee intends to open in the space formerly occupied by de la Sole shoes, and currently occupied by the David Chiu for Assembly campaign.

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Membership: 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. Or, you can send a check made out to CHN to 197 Corbett, 94114.

Thanks for your interest in the neighborhood!

- Gary