Monday, April 27, 2015

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, 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/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"!


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.


(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.

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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