Thursday, October 29, 2015

Corbett Heights Meeting Notes

Corbett Heights Meeting Notes

Corbett Heights Neighbors Meeting Notes - October 22, 2015

First, I'd like to thank all of the people who distributed the fliers: Monique Passicot, Mark Ryser, Janice Low, Rick Johnson, Kevin Dunn, Kathy and Hank Flanders, Dirk Aguilar, Barbara Presta, Bill Prince, Phil Byland and Kazumi Matsuyama . AND - thanks to Bill Prince for taking notes during the meeting!

Greatly appreciated!

Leslie Koelsch, our Treasurer gave the Treasurer's report. We have about $3,000 in our bank account, and have approximately 100 members.

Prop F - Short Term Rentals Discussion: Quinton Mecke of ShareBetterSF - pro, and Peter Kwan of Homesharers - con.

Queintin Mecke began by saying that Proposition F is not about spying on your neighbors, creepy billboard ads, or neighbors suing neighbors. He said that AirBnb has mounted a $9 million scare campaign and resisted regulation at every step. In fact, until February of this year, short-term rentals were illegal. They have been banned in other cities, and decimate affordable housing stock.

The Proposition requires that platforms such as AirBnB or VRBO list only city-registered rentals. Although registration is required now, only 692 of 6300 rentals are actually registered. There are vast abuses; 25 hosts have multiple properties, which is illegal, but nothing happens about it. We need to use housing stock for residents not tourists, because apartment stock, in part because of rent control, is not just a private asset, but is a public asset. 67% of city residents are renters.

Peter Kwan has been a homeowner in North Beach for 14 years, and has been fortunate enough to buy a little house. He represents the Housing Community Support Group, which has no ties to AirBnb. He feels that using words like "decimated" is itself a scare tactic. Proposition F is about spying on neighbors, as it gives neighbors of short-term rental properties, whom it declares to be "interested parties," a special right of action. Furthermore, it gives them a financial incentive to sue in the form of a $1000/day penalty. Neighbors have the right to sue and to recover their legal costs if they win, but hosts do not have the right to recover legal costs. There will be a proliferation of law suits should the measure pass.

He's heard of many examples of neighbors watching, writing angry letters, and even slashing tires.

The invasion of privacy is a serious issue, not a scare tactic. It requires a host to disclose to the city how many nights s/he sleeps in his/her own home for a year after the last rental. Proposition F is not about AirBnb but about the individual hosts, but if you look at who the hosts are, you find that the average host has lived in his/her home for 19 years, about half earn below the median wage, 3/4 say the mortgage is their biggest expense, and 2/3 say the income from renting helps them stay in their homes. He feels we need to give the current law more time to work, and points out that the proponents of Proposition F were preparing the initiative even as the city took input from stakeholders and passed the current law.

In rebuttal, Quintin says the current law is unenforceable because the city has no right to proactively investigate an unregistered rental without a citizen complaint. He finds it ironic that Peter defends the current law by saying that if a citizen is unhappy about a nearby rental s/he can complain to the city about it, where the opponents of Proposition F strongly criticize the way the Proposition allows citizens to complain to the city! He calls the current law wholely complaint-based.

Peter in rebuttal says that the financial incentive to sue from Proposition F is different from the current ability to complain and that in the past, threatened lawsuts never materialized. He finds it a violation of the right to privacy and against illegal search and seizure when citizens must turn over the data that F requires.

Community College Board: Tom Temprano, Wendy Aragon (Alex Randolph was attending the board's monthly meeting and could not make it to our meeting). Alex was appointed to temporarily fill the position until November's election. Whoever wins gets to have the position for the one remaining year. Then there will be another election for a 4-year term.

Wendy Aragon and Tom Temprano then spoke. Tom is a former community college student from Ventura who now owns a neighborhood bar called (I believe) Virgil's Sea Room. Ahoy, matey! He finds there's been a lot of damage done to CCSF. People think it's going to close or is already closed. One third of its enrollment has been lost, and there will be big cuts in funding unless this drop is reversed. A top priority for him is to work on the enrollment crisis. He also wants to allocate CCSF funds where they are needed. He wants to spend more on staff working on enrollment and less on consulting fees like the $8 million already spent. Furthermore, the college's reserves are six times what they need to be, and he feels some can be spared for operations.

Wendy lost last year by 1.75% of the vote, but feels strongly enough to run again. She is a community college success story, from a working-class union family, with learning problems in junior high, and she failed her senior year. Learning disabilities were diagnosed, and she was able to succeed in community college. She has joined groups to preserve City College, and finds it an economic equalizer. She points out that teachers have gotten a substantial pay cut in recent years, whereas the administrators gave themselves a 29% pay raise. She also feels money should be removed from reserves, and used to pay teachers an boost enrollment.

Gary's Neighborhood Rant:

Once upon a time you could build just about anything in SF. So long as it had a toilet, a window and a light bulb you were good to go. All of the buildings built in the 60s along Twin Peaks and Market St attest to this. But it was when the city allowed the construction of the Fontana Towers - east and west, that the northern half of the city erupted in anger.

Here is why I think the monster home situation in SF is so prevalent:

I'm not sure when the Planning Dept as it exists now or the Planning Commission were formed, but from what I understand it all stemmed from the Fontana debacle.

You have the Planning Dept. which receives plans and makes decisions to either approve them or request that they be modified. Then there's the Planning Director - John Rahaim - who oversees the departmentt. Then you have the Planning Commission - appointed by the mayor and the president of the Board of Supervisors. They oversee hearings on everything planning-related, including variances. Then you have the Zoning Adminstrator - Scott Sanchez who "hears and makes determinations on variance applications, provides written interpretations and clarifications of the planning code". He, by the way has greater power than the commissioners themselves.   

A variance is, by definition, "a request for an exception to the Planning Code".

It used to be used rarely. On the average lot, you are allowed 55% lot coverage and must leave 45% open space. But planning code states that if a variance is granted, you can build out to 75% lot coverage. So guess what - most projects consider 75% their goal. and guess what - almost all get approved.


I've been noticing for years that virtually all variance requests are granted. I wrote a letter to Scott Sanchez, the Zoning Administrator, asking him about the "perception" that virtually all variances are approved by this commission. He responded by saying that there is an extensive vetting process that occurs prior to a hearing, sponsors revise their projects to be more code-complying, or don't meet the required findings for a variance and are therefore rejected outright. The inference I made from this is that those variance requests that come before the Planning Commission are, by the nature of this process, already basically a done deal. And, if this is as true as it appears to be, is the public being duped into feeling that they can actually affect the outcome of a variance request?

You see - if you decide to oppose a project near your home, you will need to gather signatures, meet with as many neighbors as possible to plan a strategy for your day before the planning commission, in some cases hire consultants or architects. Then you, and your neighbors need to write and practice your speeches, take a whole day off work and head down to fight city hall to prevent the destruction of your neighborhood.

Then, when your item on the agenda comes up you one at a time give your impassioned plea. When public comment is over you then get to listen to the Commissioners discuss the virtues of the project. And approve it.

Early this year I worked with Supervisor Wiener's office and a very small group of neighbors and EVNA Planning and Land Use committee members to isolate the most compelling issues re overbuilding that should be included in the IZC that Scott was prepared to sponsor. What ended up being confirmed by the city attorney's office and all 11 supervisors - stated that projects within the set boundaries should keep to 55% lot coverage and limit the sqare footage of the building - or seek conditional use authorization. I won't go into why this is better than the previous means for appealing the commission's determination, but the appeal is heard by the full Board of Supervisors - usually more neighborhood friendly than the Planning Commission.

Opponents of the proposed project at 22 - 24 Ord Court - the very first project to be heard by the Planning Commission, making it an extremely important precedent-setting case - have spent over $15000 so far (many of them are renters), spent countless hours dealing with this issue, hired consultants and architects, have filed an appeal of the Planning Commission's approval. It will be heard by the full Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, November 17th.

History Project: The consultant who has written our context statement (the History Project) - Michael Corbett - has been working with someone from the Planning Dept. to ensure that it complies with everything that the department is looking for in the document. As each chapter is written/rewritten it is submitted. It WILL be complete before the end of the year!

Those who paid to support it will receive their copies as soon as we have the completed, approved copy and can get it printed.

Corbett/Ord Triangle: If you haven't already seen it, please stop by the park to check out the work we did last Saturday. I was there with Olga Mandrussow (who helped organize the whole thing!!), Brad Buethe, David Mulkey, Fred Moyer, Rick Johnson, Dirk Aguilar, Bill Prince, Mark Ryser, Kevin Dunn, Charles Stinson AND a whole crew from DPW's Clean & Green Team.

We were able to build the first third of the stone wall (much more time-consuming than anticipated), piled the remainder in a row adjacent to the sidewalk, and moved a mountain of mulch/compost into the park! Olga then - on Tuesday - met with someone from the Urban Farmer Store to discuss the constantly failing irrigation system. Once a new/repaired one is in place we'll finally be able to put some new plants in! Thanks to everyone!!

AND - we will soon be scheduling another work day to complete the wall. Let me know if you're interested in helping!

Corbett Slope: After years of working on this, and numerous discussions at the Slope with DPW's chief engineer, his assistant, Supervisor Wiener's aide Andres Power, several DPW liaisons and representatives from the Park's Alliance, we received some options for improvement plans for the Slope, including complete sets of drawings showing options and costs for building a stairway connecting Corbett to Market. Everyone was on board - except for the fact that it would cost $150,000 to build it all. But Supervisor Wiener was able to get $165,000 from this year's budget to pay for the park's improvements.

That was many months ago. Last week, however, I was told that it was all a big mistake by this chief engineer! We were told that the work would end up being closer to $650,000, or maybe as much as $1 million. I'm now in talks with DPW to see how far the raised money will/can go to accomplish at least a part of the plan. One thing is certain: at least part of the park WILL be open by sometime next year.

75 Mars: Owner and soon to be neighbor Jonathan Deason assured us that it's expected to be complete within 6 months. I did not ask from when.

UPPER MARKET/CASTRO UPDATES:

RC Station (376 Castro): After years of designs, modifications, meetings, discussions with neighborhood groups, arguments with the property owner, lawsuits, refusals to sell, having the property put on sale on Craigslist for $12 million and more lawsuits, it finally appeared that it was about to happen! That is, until the project sponsor's entitlement permits expired!

2175 Market (76 Station): Everything was supposed to have been open 2 weeks ago.

SF AIDS Foundation: After something like $12 million spent on that showplace of a non-profit that still hasn't opened, we heard that they are now considering expanding into the former AG Ferrari space next door. Your contributions at work!

Les Natali of the empty Patio Cafe (never was really gonna be Hamburger Mary's), multiple other empty storefronts in the Castro as well as building after building of vacant apartments, word is that "something" will soon be going into the Patio space. I believe it, don't you?

* * * * *

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: www.corbettheights.org, 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

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

2 Corbett Heights events this week

Dear Neighbors,
Tomorrow - Thursday the 22nd - is our Corbett Heights Neighbors general membership meeting.  Starts at 7.  Please try and attend!

Also - This coming Saturday, the 24th, starting at 9, we'll be making some big changes to the Corbett/Ord Triangle Park.  Please stop by to see what we're up to, and help out if you're able to.

Thanks!!





Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Corbett Heights Meeting Next Week!

PLEASE ATTEND THE NEXT MEETING OF


CORBETT HEIGHTS NEIGHBORS



THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2015

7:00 PM


CASTRO COMMUNITY MEETING ROOM

501 CASTRO STREET – 2ND FLOOR

(Thru the BofA doors, take stairs or elevator on right)


GUEST SPEAKERS & DISCUSSION TOPICS:


  • SHORT-TERM RENTALS - Proposition "F": Dale Carlson will

    speak for ShareBetterSF in favor of the proposition; and

    Peter Kwan of HomeSharers of SF will speak against it.

  • COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARD: The 3 main candidates in this race - Tom Temprano, Wendy Aragon & Alex Randolph (or a representative) will introduce themselves.

  • Corbett Heights History Project - We're almost there!

  • Corbett Slope - Updates

  • Corbett/Ord Triangle Park - Cleanup Day Saturday, 10/24!

  • Monster Homes coming to Corbett Heights - discussion

  • Castro & Upper Market Development Projects

  • and more...


SO PLEASE ATTEND AND MEET YOUR NEIGHBORS!


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



Membership is not required to attend meetings. Those who pay dues ($15/year)*

receive regular email updates, assist with printing costs, and contribute towards neighborhood improvement events.

*Please go to www.corbettheights.org and pay using PayPal, OR

you may bring cash or check - made payable to CORBETT HEIGHTS NEIGHBORS or CHN -

to the meeting, OR mail to 197 Corbett, SF 94114.

Make sure you include your name, address, phone numbers, and your email address.

Contact us at: info@corbettheights.org

Corbett Heights Meeting - Thurs, October 22!

Hi Neighbors - 

Please try and attend our next neighborhood meeting - Thursday, October 22. - 7PM.  

(and if you can help distribute the notices for the meeting, please let me know!)

- Gary

Monday, October 12, 2015

2 BIG Corbett Heights Events!

Hi Neighbors -

Next Thursday we will have our quarterly neighborhood meeting. 
(7 − 8:30PM above the BofA on Castro/18th Sts.)
Besides updates on our park spaces, development projects and changes along the Upper Market corridor, we'll have discussions on one proposition on the ballot, as well as on the race for college board.  
Discussing Prop F - short-term residential rentals - will be (Pro) Dale Carlson of ShareBetterSF and (Con) Peter Kwan of Home Sharers of SF.  
Also, 2 or 3 of the candidates running for College Board will introduce themselves. 
Hope you can make it! 

AND - on Saturday, October 24th we'll be doing a big makeover of Corbett/Ord Triangle Park.  We'll be installing a short stone wall along the Corbett side, and we'll be spreading mulch over much of the park.  DPW's Clean & Green Crew will be helping.  We'll be starting at 9AM.  Please stop by for a look and/or to help.

And, for the meeting, if anyone is able/interested in helping distribute the fliers it would be very appreciated!

-Gary

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Corbett Hts Meeting & The Big Garden Day!

Hello Neighbors -

We have 2 big events coming up in a couple of weeks: our quarterly meeting and a big re-do of the Corbett/Ord Triangle Park.

We have a number of election-related speakers for the meeting - on Thursday, October 22nd.  Prop F is the proposition about short term residential rentals.  We'll have Dale Carlson of ShareBetterSF speaking in favor and Peter Kwan, founder and executive director of Home Sharers of San Francisco will speak in opposition.

We'll also have 2 − 3 candidates for College Board also introducing themselves.

AND - on Saturday, October 24th we'll be doing a big makeover of Corbett/Ord Triangle Park.  We'll be installing a short stone wall along the Corbett side, and we'll be spreading mulch over much of the park.  DPW's Clean & Green Crew will be helping.  

Please try and come to both!

- Gary

Friday, September 4, 2015

Corbett Heights News

Hi Neighbors - 
You may be aware that a couple of us on our board are very involved in "planning" issues in Corbett Heights, Corona Heights, and Eureka Valley.  This refers to any building-related projects - remodels, demolitions, new construction, etc.  I receive as many as a couple of dozen notices each week.  
As you also may know, after horrified neighbors watched their blocks changing before their eyes as quaint homes were replaced with huge, new buildings, and many articles were written about the situation, Supervisor Wiener opted to sponsor legislation that attempted to put some well-needed limits on what developers could build.  
I worked with the supervisor's office on what became the "interim zoning controls" legislation.  The boundaries include virtually all of Corbett Heights and other streets that include the southern portion of Corona Heights and all of Mt. Olympus.
Suddenly, none of the notices I received were for projects within this area.
Then it changed.  There are now 3 big projects that are in or about to enter the pipeline that intend to work against the legislation and build to the maximum that was possible beforehand.

The first one - scheduled for a hearing before the Planning Commission on Sept. 24th - is 22 − 24 Ord Court.  These are 2 lots that go through to States.  The developers would like to build 2 new homes on States while keeping and/or adding considerably to the existing ones on Ord Court.  

The second one would pave and cover the entire rock outcropping on the NW corner of Roosevelt and 17th.  These are actually 3 lots, 2 of which go all the way up to Upper Terrace.  The developers would like to build 9 very large homes - all with lap pools - on the site.  

The 3rd is 32 Ord St.  This one would expand in all directions if the developer has his way.  

Just to clarify:  we are not opposed to improvements to property, adding a deck or a room or even a level.  But the project should honor the new interim zoning controls.  This means basically, that 45% of the lot should remain open space; new homes on vacant lots should be 3,000 square feet or less; existing single-family homes can increase by 75% and under 3,000 square feet; or by 100% if adding a 2nd unit.

I'm writing about this because our board has discussed, in our desire to protect the character of our neighborhood, writing letters of support or opposition to projects that we feel will affect this character.  
Before doing so, we would like to ask the membership its opinion.  If we were to receive responses that were in opposition to our position we would certainly reconsider that position.  If there were no or very few responses, we would assume that meant that the neighborhood agreed with our stand.  

I'm attaching a .pdf file that shows the plan for the Upper Terrace/Roosevelt/17th Street project:

Friday, July 31, 2015

July Corbett Heights Meeting Notes

Hi Neighbors -
Attached is a copy of the notes from last week's meeting.  Please note that there are 2 items that require a vote of the membership.  (They're in red.)

July Meeting Minutes

Corbett Heights Neighbors Meeting Notes - July 23, 2015

First, I'd like to thank all of the people who distributed the fliers: Ted Teipel, Janice Low, Nancy Peoples, Dirk Aguilar, Rick Johnson, Kevin Dunn, Kathy and Hank Flanders, and Olga Mandrussow. AND - thanks to Bill Prince for taking notes during the meeting!

Greatly appreciated!

Leslie Koelsch gave the Treasurer's and Membership Report – we currently have 100 members (125 households), and $3112.38 in our checking account.

Aside from printing costs and snacks for our garden workdays, the money we collect is meant for Corbett Heights green space improvements. If you'd like to volunteer to do some work in any of these spaces we'd love to pay for plants, etc. Let us know what your plan is first and we'll start writing checks. We have access to tools, mulch and helpers!

CHN Board Elections:

Every July we elect - or re-elect - our officers. If you - or someone you would like to recommend - have been a member for at least 90 days - and would like to participate in your neighborhood organization, please let me know!

At this point, barring any write-in candidates, here are the people running:

  • President: Gary Weiss

  • Secretary: Bill Prince

  • Treasurer: Leslie Koelsch

  • Other Boardmembers: Mark Ryser, Rick Johnson, Kevin Dunn and Barbara Presta

PLEASE LET ME KNOW AS SOON AS POSSIBLE IF YOU (AS A MEMBER) APPROVE OF THE ABOVE SLATE, OR IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO RECOMMEND ANYONE ELSE.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera: First elected to the City Attorney's office in 2001. He filed the first ever government lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of state marriage laws that discriminate against gay and lesbian couples. He's been instrumental in every phase of the battle that has ultimately led to the recent Supreme Court decision effectively legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the U.S.

He discussed several ways he's led his office to make a difference in people's lives: (aside from same-sex marriage) shutting down a filthy power plant, obtaining gang injunctions that retain civil liberties and going after recalcitrant landlords, and many other examples.

The majority of the questions related to the homeless issues the city is or is not addressing.

As of now he's running unopposed for the office he now holds.

Brenda Meskin from the San Francisco Homeless Outreach team gave a talk about the Navigation Center on Mission between 15th and 16th. This is a shelter that homeless people actually want to come to, in part because families or groups are not separated, and because pets are allowed. SFHOT (Homeless Outreach Team) identifies encampments and invites them to move into the Center. Open since March, they hope to add (or maybe have already added) street medicine as well. Attendees asked questions about homelessness, and she pointed out that no one can force someone else to accept social services.

Interim Zoning Controls: These were sponsored by Supervisor Scott Wiener in an attempt to combat the ever-increasing conversions of small or average sized homes into oversized behemoths. So far the legislation has been successful in that only one (possibly two) developers has submitted plans for an oversized home in the area affected by the controls. If an applicant chooses this path, he or she will likely face a much longer, likely contested permit process. In all other neighborhoods, with a much easier path, developers are applying, at a dizzying rate, for permits to build homes 2 - 3 times the size of the original.

History Project: Years have passed since this project was initiated. It was originally supposed to take 8 months. It turned out to be much more complex than either we or the consultant preparing it had imagined.

As I mentioned recently, a final draft of the document was submitted to members of the Planning Dept., and although they were full of praise, they requested a considerable number of changes, additions or clarifications. From the city's perspective, and to serve the purpose it was designed to serve, the final product needs to read a certain way. Although Michael Corbett is an extremely well regarded architectural historian, and the content that is included is something that we will love to read about, there are points that need to be covered before it is approved and adopted by the city.

The work that has been done is so much more inclusive of historical data than was anticipated, and the original amount requested to complete this task was considerably less than necessary. So Michael Corbett approached us and the HPFC (Historic Preservation Fund Committee) with a list of what needed to be done and how much more money would be required to accomplish the necessary remaining tasks. In addition to the funds we still have left for the final payment of the initial draft, he requested ~ $13,000 to complete the project to the Planning Dept's specifications. We've requested this of the HPFC and feel confident that it will be forthcoming.

This time around, however, we've spelled out several conditions:

Must be completed in 90 days or financial penalties will be applied. After the final draft is submitted to the Plannnign Dept, and if additional changes are requested, he will complete those within 30 days with no additional pay.

This all means that we'd be guaranteed to have an approved copy before the end of the year. Cross your fingers. Sorry for all of the delays - especially to those who donated at the beginning!

Corbett/Ord Triangle: A number of neighbors over the years have spent time improving this park which is, in a sense, the gateway to Corbett Heights. Former Corbett Heights resident Rob Rynski received a grant from San Francisco Beautiful and did the most work of anyone building the paths, planting, installing boulders and the irrigation system. Since he moved away it hasn't looked quite as impressive. But recently, people like Fred Moyer, Bill Prince and a few others have stopped by frequently to sweep and pick up trash. One of the problems we have in the park is that, on the Corbett side, leaves and soil and trash seem to always slide down onto and obscure the Corbett sidewalk. The plan that everyone involved seems on board with is to install a very short stone retaining wall. It would stretch the whole length of the Corbett side.

Olga M. has done a lot of work researching this and also spoke with DPW about what would be necessary before we proceed.

The plan is to have the stones and sand and some smaller stones delivered by Broadmoor Building Supply on Thursday, Oct 22, and have a work day on that Saturday, the 24th. Olga has lined up the Clean and Green Team to come and help.

For the stones, sand and delivery fee, we expect it not to exceed $700. After that we'll be planting drought tolerant, mostly California native plants.

PLEASE LET ME KNOW AS SOON AS POSSIBLE IF YOU (AS A MEMBER) APPROVE OF THE PLAN. (For expenses greater than $150 membership approval is required.)

Corbett Slope: At the last meeting I mentioned that Supervisor Wiener was able to allocate $10,000 from the city's budget to replace the plantings that had been scraped off during the retaining wall building process. As Supervisor Wiener has mentioned, he appreciates the value of preserving green space in the city. He was instrumental in saving it from being sold off for development. And now his office is committed to getting it to the point where it's open for public use. In order for that to happen, some infrastructure and other improvements need to be made: improved pathways, stairs that will connect to Market, railings and possibly permeable pavers on the flat section along Corbett to make it ADA compliant - at least on the top.

DPW's structural engineers came up with a figure of $150,000 to do the work I just mentioned. The Supervisor was able to get $155,000 additional from this year's budget. Still waiting to hear back from DPW about when this project can begin. In the meantime, regular maintenance and planting has continued by Gary and Jake who live next door. We also just had a cleanup day a couple of weeks ago. Please let me know if you'd like a tour of the park!

3198 Market Street: This is the landlocked parcel behind the Market Street be-muraled retaining wall, down at the base of Al's Park, and just east of the Miller-Joost house. The owners of the property have received approval to build a new 2-unit, ~2,000 square foot (total) building - with no car access and no garage. There will be a new path down to the site accessible only by bicycles and pedestrians visiting the park.

The latest plan unquestionably surpasses the original. A lot of detail has been added.

The owners will need to install landscaping and pathways, and they've promised to work with the neighborhood on the plans. If you have an interest in being part of a planning committee for the park, we'll be meeting on Friday, August 28th. Let me know if you'd like to join us.

75 Mars: Believe it or not, the foundation is mostly finished. The house construction - I mean "remodel" - should begin in a week or two. The construction of the stairway that will connect Mars to Corbett, and the retaining walls/planters on the north end will begin at the same time.

Lot Merger Proposal: We were asked to give our support for a proposal made by members of Dolores Heights Improvement Club (DHIC).

They felt the need to address a dangerous precedent on Cumberland St. Someone purchased 2 adjacent lots - one is vacant, the other contains a moderately sized single family home. The new owner hopes to demolish the home, and build one 8,000 square foot home over both lots. The block is zoned for one residence per lot. After the proposed merger of these 2 lots, the new double-sized lot would still be zoned for one residence, effectively taking one housing unit away.

In June the Board of Supervisors voted to make it more difficult to merge dwelling units for the purpose of preventing loss of housing. A suggestion to include lot mergers never came up - until now. I conducted an email poll, and also asked membership at the meeting. We voted overwhelmingly to support DHIC's proposal.

UPPER MARKET/CASTRO UPDATES:

2175 Market (76 Station): On the corner of this building will be a restaurant that is a spinoff of Mission Bay Cafe. The much larger, interior space will become "Myriad Marketplace". There will be spaces for ~ 10 - 15 businesses: butcher, pasta place, takeout food... Apparently over 30 businesses applied for a space.

The former Blockbuster on Church will become Cross Fit Flagship - an exercise facility.

MCC - 150 Eureka: The Metropolitan Community Church recently merged with another on Upper Polk St. The existing buildings on Eureka would have cost too much to retrofit. There is a proposal for 4-story, luxury apartment building on the former church site. The lot is 100' wide, so the homes would be side by side at 25'wide each. Most of the complaints so far are about the project being out of scale with the rest of the block.

* * * * *

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: www.corbettheights.org, 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

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Corbett Hts Meeting Reminder

Hi All -
Our next Corbett Heights general meeting will be this coming Thursday, July 23rd - 7PM above the BofA on Castro and 18th Sts.  
Our City Attorney, Dennis Herrera will be speaking with us as well as a representative from the Mayor's Office of HOPE (Housing Opportunity, Partnerships & Engagements) on the city's homeless problem, and what may be done about it.  
Here's a copy of the meeting notice.  
Please try and make it!
- Gary
 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Corbett Hts Meeting next Thursday

Hi Neighbors -
Our next Corbett Heights general meeting will be this coming Thursday, July 23rd - 7PM above the BofA on Castro and 18th Sts.  
Our City Attorney, Dennis Herrera will be speaking with us as well as someone (not yet confirmed) on the city's homeless problem.  
Here's a copy of the meeting notice that will be distributed.  
Please try and make it!
- Gary

(also, if you would like to help distribute the fliers, please let me know.)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Corbett Heights Upcoming Events

Hi Neighbors -

This coming Sunday, July 12, starting at 11AM we'll be having a cleanup day at the Corbett Slope (300 block of Corbett).  We'll have some snacks, drinks, tools and gloves, but feel free to bring anything you'd like to share, or your favorite tools.  I'd be happy to show you the tentative plans for the new stairway/paths connecting Corbett to Market.
So please stop by to help - or just to check out what we've been up to!


Our next general meeting will be Thursday, July 23rd - starting at 7PM - above the BofA on Castro/18th Sts.  Dennis Herrera, our City Attorney will be there to talk with us.  More info to follow.

And last, we've been asked to give our support for a proposal made by members of Dolores Heights Improvement Club (DHIC).

They felt the need to address a dangerous precedent on Cumberland St. Someone purchased 2 adjacent lots - one is vacant, the other contains a moderately sized single family home. The new owner hopes to demolish the home, and build one 8,000 square foot home over both lots. The block is zoned for one residence per lot. After the proposed merger of these 2 lots, the new double-sized lot will still be zoned for one residence.

In June the Board of Supervisors made it more difficult to merge dwelling units  - to prevent loss of housing. A suggestion to include lot mergers never came up - until now.  If you are a member of CHN, and would like to support this proposal, please let me know.  Here is the entire proposal:


Monday, June 29, 2015

Corbett Hts Great News Clarification

Just wanted to clarify - at least a couple of people were under the impression from what I wrote below that your property tax would increase to support this new park.  Not the case.  The huge increase in property tax assessments throughout the city has enabled this to happen.  That, plus Supervisor Wiener's strong support of green space.

AND - on Sunday, July 12 we'll be having a cleanup day at the Slope - starting at 11AM.  Please stop by to help out for a bit, or for a tour of the park and to get an idea of the plan.

- Gary

Hi Neighbors -

Thanks to Supervisor Scott Wiener, the Corbett Slope will now become the city's newest park - open to the public, landscaped and including paths, stairways and railings.  He was able to get the funds that DPW specified for an acceptable plan.  We also have a crazy increase in property tax to thank, but this never would have happened without a big push from Scott.
I'll let you know more soon!

Also, please put our next meeting on your calendars - Thursday, July 23rd.
Our wonderful City Attorney - Dennis Herrera - will be there to speak with us.  

- Gary

Friday, June 26, 2015

Great News for Corbett Heights!

Hi Neighbors -

Thanks to Supervisor Scott Wiener, the Corbett Slope will now become the city's newest park - open to the public, landscaped and including paths, stairways and railings.  He was able to get the funds that DPW specified for an acceptable plan.  We also have a crazy increase in property tax to thank, but this never would have happened without a big push from Scott.
I'll let you know more soon!

Also, please put our next meeting on your calendars - Thursday, July 23rd.
Our wonderful City Attorney - Dennis Herrera - will be there to speak with us.  

- Gary

Thursday, June 18, 2015

CHN - information change

Hi All
I just found out from the planner that the Hattie Street project has been continued until August 13. Apparently the project sponsor is "modifying" the plan.

Also - PLEASE water your street trees! (With grey water, if possible.) Many trees have been suffering from the drought. Trees that ordinarily would make it through the dry season unwatered are beginning to appear weaker. Many large trees around the city have not even leafed out yet. The cherries are particularly affected.

- Gary

Monday, April 27, 2015

Minutes of Corbett Heights Meeting

Hi Neighbors,
Please take a look at our website: www.corbettheights.org to view the full minutes as well as our PayPal link to join.
- Gary

Minutes of Corbett Heights Meeting

Corbett Heights Neighbors Meeting Notes - April 23, 2015


40 people showed up for our meeting Thursday.


First, I'd like to thank all of the people who distributed the fliers: Ted Teipel, Barbara Presta, Janice Low, Nancy Peoples, Kazumi Matsuyama, Dirk Aguilar, Cindy Valdes, and the winner - Olga Mandrussow who did 4 routes! AND - thanks to Bill Prince for taking notes during the meeting!

Greatly appreciated!!


And, speaking of the winner, Kathy Flanders of Clayton St. revealed she's lived in her house for 70 years!


Leslie Koelsch gave the Treasurer's and Membership Report – we have 94 households and 120 members, and $3009.98 in our checking account.


Captain John Sanford of the Park Station addressed the group. Here are the main topics:

  • Traffic – for problems you notice, send him an email at john.sanford@sfgov.org, or call his office at 415-242-3030. He will send officers to enforce traffic laws in areas reported to him BUT they will tickets law-breaking residents as well as outsiders. Be on your best behavior – no jaywalking, running red lights, or bicycle offenses.

  • Homeless – such persons have been camping out in our neighborhood's parks, leaving a lot of trash, needles, and human waste. Call the non-emergency number 415-553-0123 when you see such activity and be ready to give a detailed description of the perpetrators. There are homeless outreach workers who will try to connect them to services. For repeat offenders, a case can be built over time for a Stay-Away order, with jail time for failing to obey this order.

  • Crime – when a crime is taking place, or if you feel that your neighborhood or home is being cased, call 911 and give detailed information and descriptions.

  • Break-ins, burglaries, bike thefts - Capt. Sanford promised to have police cars cruise down the streets of Corbett Heights with much greater frequency.

  • Skateboarding - Several people brought up the skateboarders who fly down Corbett often. He said that skateboarding on the sidewalk is illegal, but other than being extremely dangerous he was not sure that doing this in the street is illegal. He will find out.

    

Charles Sheehan of the Public Utilities Commission came to talk about water. 85% of our water comes from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, which is filled primarily by snowmelt. This year, there ain't no snow to melt. The water travels 167 miles to get to San Francisco, generating hydroelectric power along the way. It is shared with a total of 2.6 million people in cities down the peninsula and around the southern and south-eastern borders of the Bay. The remaining 15% of our water comes from local reservoirs like Crystal Springs, San Andreas Lake and Lake Pilarcitos.


This year we are at 55% of maximum water storage capacity; typically, at this point we are at 75 to 85%. Our water does not supply large farms, and is not sent to southern California. The average use per residence per day in the last couple of months is 45 gallons. We reduced this by 14% over last year. On the PUC site you can find My Account and see your water use day by day. This would help to see if you have leaks, or where the greatest use comes from. They offer rebates for water-efficient toilets and clothes washers, and will send a water auditor to your house for free to search for leaks and other means of conserving.


Recycled water is used to water parks, as well as ground water from an aquifer beneath the city, which supplies 4 million gallons a day. Total SF use is 60 to 70 million gallons a day.


Hydroelectric power powers all streetlights in the city, so it is emission-free. The PUC maintains 25,000 streetlights - 60% of SF's total. They are in the process of replacing all high-pressure sodium lights with LED lights. These last 15 to 20 years, instead of 3 to 5, use 50% less energy, and are wireless-controlled. Desalinizaion is not currently in use, but would be considered if the drought continues – it has been tested successfully here – but so far it is not needed, and is terribly costly. He distributed a flyer on capturing rinse water from the clothes washer, and discussed typical ways to conserve water:

  • Flush only for solid waste.

  • Take shorter showers.

  • Reuse water from boiling pasta to water plants or flush toilets.

  • Capture cold shower water in a bucket for the same purposes.


Supervisor Scott Wiener then addressed the group:


  • Re: the Interim Zoning Controls. After much discussion about the replacement of quaint neighborhood cottages with huge "monster homes" he drafted this legislation to attempt to reign in this activity. "Replacing a 1500 square foot home with a 5000 square foot single family home is not increasing the housing supply."

    I've attached the pdf of the wording for the Interim Zoning Controls at the bottom of the email - if you have an interest in reading thru it. Or you can ask me any specific question you may have.

  • Re: Corbett Slope: Scott believes there will be money in this year's budget to finally construct the stairway/pathways on the Corbett Slope.

  • Castro Cares is up and running – this service provides for the hiring of off-duty police officers and homeless outreach workers who, focusing on the Castro, provide safety and services to homeless people.

  • Jane Warner Plaza is being redesigned to hopefully reduce the disruptive behavior that has been so prevalent. The planters are being redesigned. And it will be resurfaced.

  • Re-use of gray water may be required in large new projects, with a policy goal to move more and more to recycled water over time.

  • The new trees along Castro Street have a new material around the basins that, although it looks like cement, is actually a form of decomposed granite that will soften over time, and allow water to permeate. - it will not kill the trees.

  • Undergrounding of Utility Cables: A question was asked about whether streets like 17th can eventually be undergrounded. The power lines in half of SF have been undergrounded, Corbett having been one of the last areas completed. It is estimated that $3 to $4 billion would be needed to complete the remaining 450 miles of roadway. This is not something that the city has the resources for at this time.

  • Someone challenged all elected officials to use public transportation only during a 22-day period. Scott already uses MUNI every day.


More on Interim Zoning Controls: After considerable outrage from residents who were aghast after seeing their neighborhoods change before their eyes, Scott Wiener's office decided to attempt passing these controls. They would be in place for 18 months at which time a more permanent "special use district" will hopefully be adopted. Ours is kind of a test area. The originally discussed boundaries were increased after the gargantuan project on the lots between Roosevelt/17th Street, and Upper Terrace was proposed. There would have been 5 single-family "homes", ranging in size from 5500 square feet to well over 7000! The total square footage would have exceeded 32,000 square feet! This project sponsor, and all others in the area who were considering oversized developments now need to go back to the drawing board, or request a CU (conditional use) permit - a very difficult task.


History Project: On April 14th, Leslie Koelsch and I, and Michael Corbett, the preparer of the project - met at City Hall with the Historic Preservation Fund Sub-Committee (HPFC) to hear their responses to the work submitted. With the exception of a few typos, minor corrections or requests for slight clarifications, they were extremely happy with the results. Several members gave glowing praise of the work, saying that it was the first of its kind. We were all expecting the Planning Dept to have read thru it as well, and presented its response at this meeting, but they had not read thru it and were not present at the meeting. We expect to hear from them within a few months.

Now we must wait for the full HPFC to respond, as well as the Planning Dept. Then, once any changes/adjustments that the Planning Dept. has requested are made, it goes to the Board of Supervisors for final approval.

This has taken far longer than we ever expected, but I guarantee that it will have been worth the wait!


Corbett Heights Parks: PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP OUT ON ANY OF OUR PARKS - OR IF YOU'D LIKE TO APPLY FOR FUNDING FOR ANY OF THEM.


Corbett/Ord Triangle: Several neighbors have been participating in cleaning up the park. We discussed putting in a very short stone wall on the Corbett side to retain debris and give it a more finished look. Most of the planting we had been discussing may need to wait until after the drought, even though we were intending to put in more drought tolerant plants.


Merritt Park Merritt Park (Merritt, Danvers, and Market) is sullied by transients who leave trash and waste. PLEASE call the police non-emergency line: 415-553-0123 to report any nasty activity and/or trash.


Corbett Slope: Discussed earlier. We're excited about the prospect of finally being able to turn this into our neighborhood park.


Sweetgum Corner: (Mars/17th - SW corner) Neighbors recently had a major cleanup day of that park. DPW was involved, assisting with the work, and providing mulch and tools. It looks wonderful!


3198 Market Street: This is the landlocked parcel behind the Market Street be-muraled retaining wall, down at the base of Al's Park, and just east of the Miller-Joost house. The owners of the property plan to build a new 2-unit, ~2,000 square foot (total) building - with no car access and no garage. There will be a new path down to the cite accessible only by bicycles and pedestrians visiting the park.

The owners recently contacted me with this: "We just received SF Planning Residential Design Team Feedback and are revising the drawings to reflect minor design modifications."


75 Mars: They've finally dug down to Corbett. After a few more major support beams they should actually begin to build. The owner estimates completion at late fall.


3066 Market: This is the small 1890s house just east of Merritt Park with the newly landmarked giant sequoia tree in the backyard. When the current owner purchased the house he planned on removing the huge tree to make room for patio chairs. The neighbors were very upset at this prospect, and couldn't figure out why someone would purchase a house where the most redeeming feature was the wonderful tree, and propose eliminating it. After much work and many moons, the tree became the first tree to be landmarked in Corbett Heights, and the only giant sequoia in the city to attain this honor.

Perhaps the greatest irony in all this, is that it is now finally complete and for sale for $2.6 million, and it's called by the sellers the "Sequoia House"!


UPPER MARKET/CASTRO UPDATES:


Patio Cafe: Les Natali, owner of what would/could have been Hamburger Mary's, and Zapata Burritos, the dry cleaners next door, Castro Hot Dog and the Badlands Bar has apparently been "fired" by the owners of the Hamburger Mary's chain. The rumor is that they couldn't get along or agree on anything or both. Zapata's rent has apparent'y been raised by so much that they will likely need to close down by the end of the year.


376 Castro (RC Station): Approved for the development of a six-story building back in 2013, with 24 residential units over ground floor retail and a 14-car garage, the site has been locked in a legal battle ever since.  After years of back and forth with the city and neighborhood groups, a number of delays to allow for the development and subsequent refinement of a neighborhood plan, and an overhaul of the project's proposed design, 376 Castro was approved for development. Soon thereafter, the gas station appeared on Craigslist for $12 million, much to the surprise and chagrin of of the developer. More to come!


Coffee, anyone?: There is seemingly no end to our need for a caffeine fix, as another one seems to open up every week. The latest one will replace Veo Optics on the SW corner of Market and Church.

2175 Market (76 Station): 88 units. 100% rental. 65' height on the Market St. side. Market Hall - food vendors - 4000 sf. - combining 2 retail spaces.

"Much more than mom's market" is what the new space at 2175 Market St. dubbed "The Myriad", is aiming to become. Branded as a "market hall space," the Myriad will occupy the ground level. The 4,000 square foot space, which can be divided and arranged in order to suit the layout needs of each tenant, will house 10-15 small businesses. The site will aim at attracting a diverse crowd of small businesses that offer a variety of products ranging from clothing and arts to food and other retail.

There will be 2 anchor tenants - a butcher, offering organic meats; and a cocktail bar.

Lucky 13 (2140 Market: The bright red one-story building at 2140 Market Street may soon be razed, according to preliminary plans filed with the San Francisco Planning Department. 

The plans, which are tentative in nature and could change during the ensuing application and review processes, call for the construction of a 5-story building, which would include 31 residences and 1,200 square feet of ground floor commercial space.

The building and its adjacent patio and parking lot would be demolished, under the plans.

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 took place earlier this year.


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 approximately 3,095 square feet of primarily commercial space on the first floor and the second through sixth floors will include a total of nine dwelling units. These units would include four 1-bedroom, four 2-bedroom, and one 3-bedroom 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 building on Buchanan. Same architect - Brian Spiers


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. Will most likely be 85' tall.


Sullivan's Funeral Home: This is a huge lot - from Market thru to 15th St. Developers: Prado Group, who also was involved in the Whole Foods building. The plan is to convert Sullivan's Funeral Home at 2254 Market Street into a residential/retail complex. The developers plan to spend over $1 million to retain the building's original facade. If approved, the building will not be ready for occupancy for at least two years, Prado representatives said.

Prado had announced it was planning to convert the original building into residences and add two more buildings in the mortuary's parking lot. The principal architect said that retention of the Sullivan's facade was "very expensive," but an important decision to be sure the new complex would fit into the neighborhood. In addition to retaining the facade, developers intend to keep 75 percent of the original building structure. According to the architect, developers are proposing that they build one 2-bedroom apartment in the original building, currently used as a Sullivan "caretaker's apartment." In two new buildings proposed for the parking lot east of Sullivan's, plans include 43 apartments, a mix of junior 1-bedrooms, 1-bedrooms and 2-bedrooms, ranging in size from 550 square feet to 1,800 square feet. Two townhouses, each 2,500-3,000 square feet, are also proposed. It is still uncertain whether the apartments will be rentals or condos.

24 parking spaces for cars and 60 spaces for bikes are being proposed, and plans also call for two ground floor retail spaces, one 2,800 square feet, the other 1,850. Those spaces might be subdivided into smaller parcels. Developers are hoping the building will be certified LEED-Platinum, a designation given to a number of other local buildings, including 2175 Market. LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environment) is a voluntary "green" certification program, and Platinum is the highest designation. The city requires Prado to reach out to community groups and neighbors to obtain their input as part of the application process.


400 Castro (formerly Diesel and BofA, and almost Randy Rooster!) SoulCycle will be opening this summer.


The former Blockbuster on Church will become Cross Fit - an exercise facility.


FROM THE SAN FRANCISCO CALL, VOLUME 74, NUMBER 173, 20 NOVEMBER, 1893:

(provided by Leslie Koelsch)

"Neglected Corbett Road."


The Corbett Road householders say that they are sadly neglected by the city authorities. For more than a year that thoroughfare has been left unattended to, although sadly in need of repair. Its appearance resembles more a canal than a city thoroughfare. Through the breaking of its sewer the entire center portion of the roadway for several blocks was washed away, leaving a trench from two to ten feet in depth. No fence or other warning signal gives notice of the danger, and on several occasions horses have fallen into the death-trap and the residents called upon to extricate the animals, as well as the drivers, from their dangerous positions.


* * * * *

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: www.corbettheights.org, 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