News And Views from the West of Twin Peaks Central Council
The April meeting of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council featured presentations and discussions about public safety, police staffing, and the increase in burglaries and car break-ins.
President Roger Ritter opened the meeting, spoke about the agenda for the evening, and following the roll call, invited the San Francisco Chief of Police, Greg Suhr, up to the front to address the attendees. The Chief, who lives about 4 blocks from the Forest Hills Clubhouse, spoke about crime statistics, the “state” of the SFPD, which has been significantly understaffed for 10-15 years, and the factors that have contributed to a large increase in the number of burglaries and car break-ins in 2015.
Overall, the trends are good, as violent crime and homicides have dropped to 50% of levels a year ago, but property crimes, and petty thefts under $950 in total are up approximately 20%, including the fact that auto break-ins are up 60%. Property crimes are up approximately 15% and conversely, arrests are down by 15%, as the department has been running about 300 officers short since 2000. The good news is that with the economy recovering, three academy classes have been added with a fourth on the way in the spring, the most new classes in 20-25 years. It is estimated that by no later than 2018 those 300 vacant positions will be filled, resulting in more “beat” cops, bicycle officers and task forces. Even with the increase in population, homicides have dropped from approximately 100 per year, to 45 in 2014, a historical low number.
Suhr reiterated that the SFPD will respond to every call, though it may take several hours.”
An interesting part of the discussion highlighted the differences between misdemeanor petty theft (under $950) and break-ins that are felonies. If a person opens your unlocked car and takes your laptop, iPod, etc., it’s petty theft and a misdemeanor. If the same person breaks a window of a locked car and takes the same possessions, it’s felony theft. But if the burglar breaks the car window, goes and grabs a bit of lunch on West Portal Avenue, comes back in an hour and reaches in and takes your stuff, it’s back to a misdemeanor because the car was “found” unlocked!
Chief Suhr was firm on two things, don’t leave items in plain sight in the car where a person would be tempted to break in, and make the call to the SFPD when a crime occurs. Even though they are short on officers, Suhr reiterated that the SFPD will respond to every call, though it may take several hours. By filing a report, the police department is better able to establish trends and collect information that can result in a future arrest. He pointed out the case of the infamous “Night Stalker” who was ultimately arrested due to a drivers license number on a piece of jewelry he had stolen. The crime scene yielded a fingerprint, which eventually tied him to murders, for which he was imprisoned.
District 8 Supervisor Scott Weiner followed the Police Chief to gave an update of the major items he is working on at City Hall. Echoing the remarks from Chief Suhr, the Supervisor cited the need to bring the number of police officers back to approximately 2000. In addition he said that research should be done to determine if 2000 is enough. Since the 2000 number was established in 1971, the city has added over 100,000 more residents and constructed new neighborhoods that didn’t exist 30 years ago. He said that by looking at the staffing ratios in SF versus other large cities, the number of officers needed could be higher than the charter-mandated 2000. He stated that increasing funding for the police department would most likely cause a large brawl in the next budget cycle, and that citizens in support of increased funding for public safety should both contact their supervisor, and spread the word with their friends in other districts to do the same.
Other projects that the Supervisor is working on are related to mandating that within 5 years, all landscaping and street cleaning water will be supplied using recycled water. In addition, he has legislation in place that would mandate that newly-planned large buildings would be required to install a recycled “grey” water system.
In the final piece of business for the evening, Sunnyside Neighborhood Association delegate Estelle Smith reported on the establishment of the Community Advisory Committee for the Balboa Reservoir Project. The second community meeting to discuss the project will be held on Tuesday, May 5 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM at the CCSF Multi-Use Building, 50 Phelan Avenue, Room 140.
The next meeting: Monday, June 1 at 7:30 PM at the historic Forest Hills Clubhouse. Info: www.westoftwinpeaks.org
The March meeting of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council featured discussion about the drought and the use of local groundwater to augment the water that the SFPUC delivers to its customers, both in San Francisco, and far down the Peninsula.
|Alison Kastama, the PUC Regional Communications Liaison, and Jeffrey Gilman, the PUC Groundwater Project Manager,
Following the opening of the meeting by President Roger Ritter, and the monthly meeting items and officers reports, an update on the Balboa Reservoir project was given by Sunnyside resident Lisa Spinali. She explained that the project is still in the very early stages of planning, and in an effort to broaden and receive input from a diverse set of stakeholders, an ordinance was submitted to create a 9 person citizens advisory committee (CAC) to provide input and guidance to the Mayor and project planners in areas such as the impact of additional traffic, parking, open space and recreation, as well as the issue of affordable housing and the impact that the project will have on City College. (Note: The SF Board of Supervisors voted to approve the ordinance on March 24th .)
George Wooding spoke on Public Health and described the phenomenon of “robots” gliding through the halls of the new UCSF medical campus in Mission Bay. He described the units, about the size of a small refrigerator, having the ability to transport food, medications and other supplies throughout the hospital, and to “speak” in 25 languages when they encounter someone in the hallway who could be blocking or impeding their path. Wooding also described the technical aspects of the new facility including large flat screen televisions in the guest rooms, and other items.
Avrum Shepard gave a small update about the upcoming Twin Peaks tunnel improvement project, which will impact the West Portal and Castro areas for at least the next year. Although the work will mainly be carried out at night, the avenue will be severely impacted by the staging of equipment and supplies as well as the “bus bridges” that MUNI will operate during the periods when the metro cars are out of service.
Representatives from the SFPUC then took the floor to discuss the new plan to tap into the local groundwater through 4 wells to augment the water supplies that flow into the city from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite National Park.
Alison Kastama, the PUC Regional Communications Liaison, and Jeffrey Gilman, the PUC Groundwater Project Manager, gave a presentation and took questions about the water system, the groundwater and the operation of the SFPUC in general.
A brief synopsis: The SFPUC (SF Public Utilities Commission) is responsible for 3 areas: Water, Power and Sewer. The agency is responsible for delivering fresh water to the citizens of SF, and additionally to contracted water districts throughout the Peninsula and several in the South and East Bay. Of all of the water that the PUC delivers each day, approximately 1/3 is delivered to SF residents and businesses, with the other 2/3 being shipped to contracted customers and agencies outside of SF.
The tap water mix consists of approximately 85% of Hetch Hetchy water and 15% from reservoirs in Sunol, Alameda County, and Crystal Springs Reservoirs in San Mateo County. As all of the water in the system from Hetch Hetchy to your kitchen is delivered simply by gravity, the PUC has the ability to run hydroelectric turbines to create power for SF, in fact all of the Municipal power needs for SF City Services are provided (including street lighting, city hall usage, MUNI usage, etc.) via this hydroelectric system. The presenters estimated that if the city were to purchase the power generated from PG&E it would cost approximately $42,000,000 per year. In addition the hydroelectric power plan is very green and clean as no fossil fuels are burned in electrical generation.
The third piece of the SFPUC triangle is the sewer portion. The city has a combined sewer and storm drain system that handles all sewage and storm water runoff in one mixed system. Typically treating 80 million gallons of water and sewage on a typical day, this figure can swell to over 500,000,000 gallons per day during a period of wet weather. The PUC spokesperson explained that even though much of this system was built in the 1940’s and 50’s, portions of the system date from the 1860’s and is in need of major repair.
The SFPUC groundwater project is designed to use 4 wells on the Westside of the city to add up to 4,000,000 gallons of water per day to the roughly 70,000,000 gallons of water distributed daily through the system, or no more than 6% at any given time. Gilman explained that the use of well water will give some flexibility to the department in case of a major emergency, such as an earthquake, that could disrupt the flow of water from Hetch Hetchy. Several of the wells are currently being used to irrigate Golden Gate Park, but will be phased out when the recycled (grey) water system is fully operational. The city currently stores approximately 415,000,000 gallons of fresh water in local reservoirs, or enough to get their customers through 4-5 days in the event of an emergency. He added that Daly City has been using well water for over 60 years, pumped from the same aquifer as the SF wells. When asked about the taste, he cited a test conducted by the SF Chronicle Wine Editor and Food Editor, where they could not find a significant difference between the Hetch Hetchy tap water, and a “cocktail” of Hetch Hetchy and SF groundwater.
Questions were also raised about the feasibility of building desalinization plants. For now, the PUC is hoping that voluntary reductions of water use will be enough. Negative factors surrounding building desal plants are the high amount of electricity needed to complete the process, and the problems of the “waste” salt that is extracted from the seawater.
In other related activities, the WOTPCC was asked to support a GWPNA request to return the West Portal Playground hours from the newly implemented 5AM to Midnight hours of operation to the former 6AM to 10PM schedule. It was approved unanimously. The delegates were also asked to support the Midtown Terraces resolution supporting the operator of the Twin Peaks Service station, who is locked in a disagreement with the city over being forced to be on a month-to-month lease instead of the long-term lease renewal that was promised. The delegates also approved this motion unanimously.
The final discussion of the night centered on the creation of a proposed mural on the long wall facing Forest Hills from the bluff in front of Laguna Honda Hospital. Artist Yukako Onodera of the Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitors Center and officials from LHH were on hand to speak about the project and to elicit feedback. For more information, or to provide feedback, the groups email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC: Monday, April 27th at 7:30 PM at the historic Forest Hills Clubhouse. Police Chief Greg Suhr will be featured speaker. Info: www.westoftwinpeaks.org.
The February meeting of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council featured discussion about proposed changes to the operation of Sutro Tower, an update from Supervisor Norman Yee, a visit from D6 Supervisor Jane Kim, and further discussion of the process of looking at housing on the Balboa Reservoir.
Following the opening of the meeting by President Roger Ritter and the monthly meeting items and officers reports, a discussion was held focusing on the proposal by the operators of the Sutro Tower to install 15 new antennas onto the structure. Denise LaPointe, the delegate representing the Twin Peaks Improvement Association, asked the assembled delegates for a general statement of support for the TPIA in opposing the new permit for additional antennas and other work at the Tower site. LaPointe explained that the TPIA is concerned with issues at the site such as clear cutting of trees, additional traffic, and the issue of inadequate neighborhood notifications. George Wooding explained that the operations of the Sutro Tower is permitted on a conditional use basis, so that as the operation is changed, public and neighborhood hearings are required to be conducted. The WOTPCC voted unanimously to prepare a letter containing a general statement of support for the TPIA challenge.
In a “public health” discussion, George Wooding spoke of the EPA pulling its support of the “ground up tire” turf dressing that is being used throughout the city on artificial surfaced playing fields.
District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee then addressed the gathering on the progress of the recent participatory budgeting project. This year, 44 proposals were received and Yee said the number of proposals and the quality of proposals were much better than what was received last year. With budgeting guidelines, he estimates that approximately 24 of the 44 proposals will be vetted down and put to a district vote on what should be funded in District 7. Supervisor Yee also spoke on the opening of the Ingleside Library garden-open space, which he proclaimed to be the first open space area created in decades.
Yee also addressed the new Senior Services program at the West Portal Playground that operates from 9:30 – 2:00 PM. Prior to this new program, the district had only one Senior Services program (the Stonestown YMCA Senior Services Program) available to the 20,000 local seniors.
District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim addressed the attendees next, covering several areas such as the recently passed AirBnB legislation, (about which she has doubts about the City’s ability to enforce the rules), the progress of the Public Education Enrichment Fund, Pedestrian Safety, Homelessness, and Public Safety.
Following a short discussion on the AirBnB legislation and the lawsuits recently filed against property owners by the Tenants Union, the supe explained that over $77,000,000 has been cut from public education in the state budget over the past 10 years, and that the Public Education Enrichment Fund has been successful in making up some of these cuts with the expansion of amenities in schools such as on-site nurses, expanded art programs, increased counseling staff, music instructors and similar programs.
In addressing Pedestrian / Public Safety, Kim noted that her district, comprising the South of Market, Tenderloin and Treasure Island, has the highest number of vehicle/pedestrian interactions in the city, with over $13,000,000 in hospital-related costs incurred last year. Seniors and children are the most likely to be injured or killed, and over 60% if the injuries in her district are located in just 6% of the traffic corridors, and that improvements and changes in those corridors would get the number closer to the “Vision Zero” goal of eliminating all traffic fatalities in three years.
The supervisor next addressed the issue of homelessness and the perceptions versus the realities of the crisis. Kim spent an evening in a homeless shelter and was surprised by the age of the occupants. While expecting a younger crowd, Kim was shocked to see that most of the people in the shelter were older; in fact, with San Francisco’s shelters, 60% of occupants are aged 40-59, and an additional 10% are 60 years and older. She stated that another misconception is that homelessness is just a financial issue, when in fact it is a public health issue, as many occupants of the shelters and those on the streets are ill with physical and mental impairments. Most shelters have no medical or psychiatric units available.
In the area of Public Safety, Kim noted that more police officers are being added to the rolls in SF after years of budget cuts ands no academy classes. Another new program has been the installation of three public restrooms in the tenderloin. These staffed restrooms are open during the day, with locally-hired staff “checking” on people after 5 minutes or so to ensure that no illegal activities are going on. Since the implementation of the program, there has been a 60% reduction in the number of requests for the “steam cleaning” of sidewalks in the neighborhood, and the savings from water use and labor to clean the streets and sidewalks has resulted in the restroom program paying for itself. In addition, the city has passed legislation to ban parking on Turk Street, and the enforcement of this has resulted in a large reduction in people on the street and loitering in the area doing drug deals. The residents and merchants have been pleased with the progress so far.
The Balboa Reservoir project was next, with a presentation by Mike Martin, representing the Mayor’s office on the proposal to examine the building of “affordable housing” on several city-owned parcels including the Balboa Reservoir, adjacent to City College. The “Public Lands for Housing” program was created to examine how to best utilize parcels to make an impact in the housing crisis in SF. Four sites are being considered: 4th St at Folsom (the air rights above the Central Subway station); 1950 Mission St. (School District property); the MUNI “Upper Yard” near the Balboa Park station; and the Balboa Reservoir adjacent to City College.
In discussing the Balboa Reservoir site, Martin handed out maps showing pipelines under the site, the proposed building area, and the challenges of access and egress for traffic to and from the site. The city is looking for neighborhood input and is planning a Community Workshop to discuss the proposal in April. The proposed plan for the housing would focus on households earning below 80% of the localized AMI (Area Median Income) and 120% of the AMI. By doing this, the city hopes to affect housing options to keep firefighters and teachers local.
The final speaker of the evening was SF Unified School District Board member Emily Murase, who shared that the SFUSD is now one of the top performing school districts in California, and that with changes in curriculum now Lincoln, Balboa, and Washington High Schools have more applicants than Lowell. She also shared that the district just was audited and came through “squeaky clean.”
A motion for adjournment followed at 9:15 and the meeting was wrapped.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC: Monday, March 23rd at 7:30 PM at the historic Forest Hills Clubhouse. Info: WOTPCC website (www.westoftwinpeaks.org).
The November 2014 election, and houses on the Balboa Reservoir, were the big items discussed at the January meeting of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council on January 26th. President Roger Ritter opened the first meeting of 2015 with approximately 25 attendees.
In the committee section of the meeting, recent meetings by the city on uses for the Balboa Reservoir were discussed, with some groups such as SF BARF calling for up to 6000 units of housing being built on the site, resulting in density parameters that would rival Manhattan. Although it’s doubtful that anything of this magnitude would be built, the meetings point out that the public has to be involved and vigilant to ensure that constructive public input is offered and considered by the city planning officials and the SFPUC, which holds the land entitlement for the reservoir site.
A panel discussion followed, featuring Jim Stearns, Chris Bowman and Dr. Corey Cook, as they recapped the facts and lessons from the November 2014 general municipal election.
Stearns opened the discussion with an overview on the number and authorship of ballot propositions from 1961 to the present time. In those 55 years, 1004 propositions have been placed on the ballot, with 634 (68%) being approved by voters. Contrary to popular belief, only 145 of the propositions were placed on the ballot by voter driven campaigns. Of these, 73 passed and 72 failed. 715 of the 1004 were placed by vote of the Board of Supervisors.
The low voter turnout in 2014 was also compared to other elections as 53% of voters voted in 2014, compared to 50% in 2002, and 61% in 2006 and 2010, when the elections had more statewide races to generate voter excitement. Within San Francisco, the West of Twin Peaks area, the Castro, and Noe Valley were the areas with the highest voter turnout.
Dr. Corey Cook, of USF, spoke on the trends of the last election and how the propositions fared in the city and in the WOTP areas. Not surprisingly, the WOTP areas were 13-18% more conservative in their voting than the rest of the city. In all but three propositions, the WOTP area finished in the lowest 2 or 3 districts in supporting the propositions (reflecting their conservative voting trends.) The Westside did support the propositions to develop Pier 70 (which won); Keep the soccer fields natural grass in Golden Gate Park (which lost), and to establish Transportation Priorities for MUNI (which lost).
Chris Bowman completed the panel and spoke on the demographics of the WOTP area as compared to the rest of the city. For the election, the WOTP voter turnout was 60.78% compared to 53% citywide and 42.20% statewide. The party breakdown for the WOTP is as follows: Republican 13.08%, Democrat 54.20%, Decline to State 28.44% and Other 4.28%. Demographic voting numbers were handed out reflecting how the WOTP area compared to the other voting segments for each of the local and statewide election races.
The final discussions of the evening centered on short presentations by Patrick Otellini, of the City’s Earthquake Safety Implementation Program, and Ashley Summers, of Supervisor Katy Tang’s office.
Otellini spoke of a program that would provide a $3000 grant to 75 homeowners (selected randomly from applicants) to make improvements to seismically strengthening their foundations through “bolting and bracing” the home to the concrete foundation. The program application period runs from January 15 through February 15 and covers the zip codes of 94121, 94127, 94132, and 94112. For more information on the program, visit the website, EarthquakeBraceBolt.com.
Summers spoke on transit-oriented changes that are being proposed by Muni in the Westside districts, such as changes in bus stop and Muni Metro locations. For more information on this, the legislative aide can be contacted at Ashley.email@example.com.
A motion for adjournment followed at 9:15 and the meeting was concluded.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, February 23rd at 7:30 PM at the historic Forest Hills Clubhouse. Info:www.westoftwinpeaks.org).
Chris Bowman, Dr. Corey Cook and Jim Stearns present analysis of the fall election
E-Cigarettes, Safeway and an Assembly update were the big items discussed at the November meeting of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council on November 24th. President Roger Ritter opened the final meeting of 2014 with approximately 30 attendees.
|Assembly member Phil Ting reports on the State budget progress and City College
Lisa Spinali, President of the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association asked for the WOTPCC to send a letter supporting the project for renovation of the Safeway store located on Monterey Boulevard. The project, which has been in the works for over 7 years is awaiting a hearing at the Planning Commission, and Spinali explained that Safeway has been very cooperative in seeking community input throughout the process and has made changes in the project to incorporate citizen feedback on the design and traffic flow corridors of the proposed site remodel. Following the discussion a vote was taken and passed unanimously to send a letter supporting the project to the Planning Commission.
The project ... is awaiting a hearing at the Planning Commission, and Spinali explained that Safeway has been very cooperative in seeking community input throughout the process and has made changes in the project to incorporate citizen feedback...”
Assembly member Phil Ting took the floor to give a Sacramento update, and he started by saying he was pleased to report a balanced state budget that was achieved without the drastic budget cuts that have been necessary in recent years. As a result of the improved economic conditions and the tax increased approved by voters, more funding is being allocated into K-12 education as well as the UC and CSU budgets. Ting also commented on the recent approval by voters of both the Water Bond and the Rainy Day fund legislation. He remarked that the passing of the Rainy Day Fund is important because it is the first time ever that the state government is required to set aside funding while times are good to be used when the economy eventually weakens.
The Assembly member addressed the topic of CCSF by explaining that many members of the Assembly are fighting to keep City College open, and that, of the issues raised by the Accreditation Commission, over 95% have been addressed and fixed, but that the number has to be 100% for full accreditation and recertification. Recommending a “hard look” at the Accreditation Commission, he feels the decision to allow it to continue (or not) in its present form is necessary. Ting feels that CCSF is a city treasure.
The Assembly member was less pleased with the recent actions of the UC Board of Regents, stating that Governor Brown and the Education Commission were shocked by the regents’ decision to increase tuition at UC by 28% over the next 5 years. He also pointed out that the CSU system has implemented arbitrary “Student Success Fees” that are not governed. He believes that more funding could be given to the two systems with caveats, such as limiting the number of non-Californians admitted to the campuses. Ting also said that UC President Janet Napolitano may be engaging in a game of “chicken” with the state government leaders.
In a somewhat controversial remark, Assembly member Ting called for a reduction of votes needed to pass a parcel tax from 67% to 55% as it would be easy to start more projects. Needless to say, that line of thought was not warmly received by the neighborhood group delegates in attendance.
The final discussion of the evening centered on a proposal to open an e-cigarette “Vape” outlet at 1963 Ocean Avenue. Following presentations by applicant Blake Yee on why the outlet would be good for the neighborhood, and by Robert and Carolyn Karis (representing Ingleside Terraces) on the problems associated with vape outlets, the WOTPCC was asked to vote on whether to oppose the vape outlet by supporting the appeal to overturn the Planning Commission approval of the project. The vote to support the appeal failed with 5 “yes” votes, 1, “no” vote and 8 abstentions. A motion for adjournment followed and the meeting ended.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, January 28th at 7:30 PM at the historic Forest Hills Clubhouse. (No meeting in December) For more information see the WOTPCC website (www.westoftwinpeaks.org).
West Of Twin Peaks Central Council
ANNOUNCES “VISION 2015”
The West of Twin Peaks Central Council, which represents twenty (20) homeowners’ and neighborhood associations, will present a series of speakers at each of its monthly meetings from January through June 2015 to discuss their vision for San Francisco over the next decade and how it will affect our neighborhoods.
Speakers will include prominent local politicians and others who will discuss issues of concern to the members of our organization.
This will be a great opportunity to speak directly with your elected officials in an intimate environment about issues that matter most to you, including preservation of single-family residential housing, revitalization of neighborhood shopping streets, preservation of open space, transportation, and taxation, including residential parcel taxes.
We invite all members of the community to attend our meetings, which are normally held on the fourth Monday of each month at the Forest Hill Clubhouse, 381 Magellan Avenue.
For details please check our website at www.westoftwinpeaks.org/
|Doug Engmann, lays out plans to overturn the AirBnB legislation next year
Housing and neighborhood issues were the dominant themes again at the November meeting of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council. Vice President Sally Stephens brought the meeting to order in the absence of President Roger Ritter. Following the determination that a quorum had been reached, the meeting progressed with Committee Reports to the 25 people in attendance.
Estelle Smith of the Planning and Land Use Committee gave an update on the legalization process of the drive to bring the illegal secondary units out “of the dark” and into compliance. To date, of the estimated 30,000 to 50,000 illegal units, only 1 legalization permit has been issued and only 7 are pending. It doesn’t seem that these property owners/landlords are rushing to City Hall to bring these hovels up to code.
…under the legislation, do not have to implement the same measures as true B and B’s and hotels such as meeting ADA (American Disability Act) requirements, or other safety requirements…”
Avrum Shepard (Technology) reported that the WOTPCC website received over 519 hits in September and that the average stay on the site is over 5 minutes.
George Wooding (Public Health) reported that in August a person in SF was thought to be carrying the ebola virus, but that turned out to be false. He also added to the Planning report that the Planning Department is going through its documents and is changing/merging some of the terms and wording on some of the laws. These actions have been followed by the Coalition of San Francisco Neighborhoods (CSFN) and more information can be gained from their website.
Under the “Transportation” guise, Avrum Shepard spoke of an apartment complex at 5th and Kirkham that is currently 89 units, but that the owner is trying to increase to over 400. Traffic and parking would be a major concern.
A discussion on the proposed Proposition G, the Transfer Tax legislation, followed, with the major points being made that the legislation will only hurt small landlords and families, and not stop the larger “speculators” with over 30 units as they are exempted by the law as written. A motion was made and seconded to draft a letter stating that the WOTPCC is opposed to Prop G. The motion carried 11-0 with 1 abstention.
The remainder of the meeting was focused on the AirBnB legislation that had been signed by Mayor Lee earlier in the day, October 27. The legislation, drafted and sponsored by Supervisor David Chiu, basically rezoned the entire city in an instant, with the legalization of AirBnB short-term rentals in every neighborhood.
Doug Engmann, a civic leader opposed to the legislation, spoke to the assembled group and explained that although several aspects of the legislation were amended, many of the most important amendments were not added by the Board of Supervisors. Engmann is leading the efforts to repeal the legislation in 2015. He believes that a better way to apply the statute would be to roll it out in a “neighborhood by neighborhood” zoning effort, where the neighbors get to vote on acceptance of the short term rentals. The implications of this law taking effect are huge, according to Engmann. “Homesharers,” under the legislation, do not have to implement the same measures as true B and B’s and hotels such as meeting ADA (American Disability Act) requirements, or other safety requirements, as conditional use permits are not necessary. In addition, the Board of Supervisors failed to include the provision to hold AirBnB liable for the $24,000,000 in back taxes that were owed San Francisco during the past several years while they have been operating outside the parameters of the law as it pertains to rentals under 30 days.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, November 24th at 7:30 PM at the historic Forest Hills Clubhouse. For more information see the WOTPCC website (www.westoftwinpeaks.org).
Housing and neighborhood issues were the dominant theme as the new group of officers opened the 2014-15 session of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council. Incoming President Roger Ritter welcomed the attendees at 7:30 and opened the meeting in front of a crowd of 30 or so delegates and guests. Joining Ritter as the officers for 2014-15 are: Vice President – Sally Stephens, Secretary –David Golden, Treasurer –Carolyn Squeri, and Parliamentarian – Lee Hsu.
|Chang argues the case against the anti-speculation tax, Prop G at the WOTP Central Council
Following the officer reports and committee reports, a spirited discussion on the Pros and Cons of the ballot initiative, Proposition G, the Real Estate Transfer Tax, was held with presentations by Peter Cohen on the Pro side, citing the need to continue to protect the housing stock and stop the real estate speculation that has caused many properties to be sold or converted from apartments to condominiums, thus affecting the apartment housing stock in both availability and affordability for tenants. On the Con side, Jay Chang cited the need to not penalize investors and families that have properly invested in San Francisco apartment buildings and have been good landlords, but may wish to sell for other reasons and should not be subjected to a tax, not just on the profits from the sale, but on the entire sale price. In many cases a single-family ownership group that is forced to sell due to changes in finances, health condition, etc. could be unable to because of the very large tax liability due to the run up of the market values for properties. A question also focused on those properties with certified (or non-certified) in-law units and how the tax formula would affect them (if Prop G is enacted).
Discussion followed on another homeowner concern, the proposed legislation by Supervisor David Chiu that would “legalize” short-term rentals (through services such as VRBO and especially AirBnB), and impact neighborhoods by undermining the established CCR’s of community associations.
Ritter reported that at the public input session at the Planning Commission, the homeowners who lobbied against the legislation were outnumbered by the pro-rental lobby by a ratio of about 9 to 1. The full Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the legislation by the end of September. Much discussion has centered on the fact that the opening up of temporary rentals would in effect create an environment where every homeowner (or renter) could become a “B&B” proprietor in any neighborhood, creating issues with parking, noise and possibly security. The proposed legislation would also weaken provisions of homeowner association CC and R’s that have been in effect for decades.
The meeting ended with a Presentation to Walt Farrell for a lifetime of service and commitment to the neighborhood organizations, the Hibernians, Forest Hill and to everyone he has touched by District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell (no relation). Walt’s family was on hand to witness the reading and presentation of the proclamation (Where as, Where as…) well deserved Walt!
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, October 27th at 7:30 PM at the historic Forest Hills Clubhouse. For more information see the WOTPCC website (www.westoftwinpeaks.org).
It was a tale of two meetings…it was the best of times, it was the …you get the point. It was a time of elections and of planning for the November election with groups trying to square off with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; the Airbnb situation; secondary units; Children and Families, and the MTA pushing their own initiative. Add in a pinch of burglary, some open space dialogue, and a board election and voila, a recipe for the final two WOTPCC meetings of their year.
|2014-15 WOTPCC Board:Pres: Roger Ritter; VP: Sally Stephens; Sec: David Golden; Treas Carolyn Squeri,
In the first WOTPCC meeting on June 2, President Matt Chamberlain asked the delegates to go back to their respective associations to see if the organizations are willing to help the WOTPCC pay for the costs of a lawsuit over the secondary unit legislation that was recently passed by the SF Board of Supervisors. The council feels that the legislation effectively guts the concept of neighborhood R-1 zoning, and countermands existing CCR’s established to promote neighborhoods over the last 60+ years.
George Wooding reported on the efforts that Supervisor Mark Farrell is undertaking to try and get Laura’s Law on the November ballot. The law would compel those who need psychological treatment and medications to receive them, with some semi-forceful assistance from the City. Wooding also noted that over the years the City has reduced the number of psych beds in hospitals by 80+%, so there is little space to fully implement the law.
Doug Engmann then spoke about the effort he is spearheading to put a ballot initiative together that would mandate a registration system for short-term rentals, where you would have to have insurance coverage and also have permission from of the landlord to allow short term rentals. This ballot initiative would not legalize short-term rentals citywide. If people want Airbnb or VRBO in their neighborhood, they can go to the Planning Department and have the area rezoned for this. Rezoning should be done on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, not by the citywide legislation that Board President David Chiu championed.
|Ingleside Station Captain Tim Falvey addresses the Central Council members
Currently, in SF, it is illegal to rent a unit for less than 30 days, but there are 14000 listings on Craigslist that match up with the internet sites. Sadly, the City is doing nothing about these types of rentals. Of course there are the horror stories that accompany this policy: landlords making money on short term rental units after evicting long-term tenants, etc.
Another ballot measure proposal was brought forth by Jason Clark and Chris Bowman to allow customers to give the MTA feedback on their policies, which tend to favor open space and non-drivers. The Mayor appoints the members of the SFMTA and they cannot be removed until their term is up. Currently, no one on the MTA board is a driver; all are MUNI riders. Not one is disabled. In addition, the MTA’s budget cannot be amended with a line-item veto; the Board of Supervisors can only approve or reject the entire budget. The budget measure would call on the SFMTA to adhere to the following items: 1) Free Sunday, holiday and after hours parking; 2) Freeze parking rates for five years, then increase at the rate for the cost of living; 3) A portion of new bond money would have to go towards off-street parking garages; and 4) Equal enforcement of traffic laws for cars, bikes and pedestrians. They are in the process of gathering signatures for the November ballot. It should be noted that the measure could win with 50% + 1 vote, but it is not binding and cannot force the SFMTA to make these changes; however it does let the people have their voices heard. The WOTPCC passed the motion to support the initiative by a 9-0 vote with 2 abstentions.
The meeting on June 23 featured much discussion and dialogue about crime statistics in the area, and the causes of why the D.A.’s office has not brought charges against an alleged burglar who was caught coming out of a second story window of a home on Murrieta Drive in Miraloma Park. Asst. D.A. Rani Singh explained that the neighbors and police did their jobs well, and the person was caught coming out of the window, but was not in possession of stolen goods. The D.A’s office is continuing the investigation and wants to have all the facts in line before deciding to charge the individual. Obviously, this did not sit particularly well with the neighbors in attendance.
Ingleside Station Captain Tim Falvey addressed the gathering and stated that crime is down about 28% from last year. In addressing property crimes such as burglary, he said that although arrests for burglaries are down about 40%, once investigators gather other evidence, the number of search warrants are up, and arrests for stolen property have gone up by 60%. The Captain stated that many burglaries are committed by a few individuals, and when a pattern is detected and warrants are issued, in many cases when stolen property is recovered it is from several different homes.
Serial thieves are also responsible for auto thefts, where the Ingleside District ranks #1 in San Francisco. The Captain told the group to be diligent on not leaving laptops, phones and other valuables in plain site, and to remove the garage door openers when leaving the car. Burglars break into cars, take the openers and walk around trying the opener until they find a match and the garage opens.
Supervisor Norman Yee is also working on a November ballot initiative relating to school infrastructure entitled the Children and Families First Initiative.
SFMTA Chief Ed Reiskin was on hand to speak on the Transportation 2030 Bond Initiative and explained that the city has neglected investing in transportation infrastructure for several decades. Over the next 15 years, they estimate a need for $10,000,000,000 to be invested, but the city has only $3,500,000,000 committed dollars. This initiative, also on the November ballot, will be comprised of three measures that would create two funding sources for transportation projects; 1) A General Obligation Bond of $500,000,000 to fund urgent projects and improve the infrastructure, without raising the property tax rates (but extending rates that are already in place); and 2) The restoration of the Vehicle License Fee to 2% to create a long-term project for funding transportation infrastructure projects in SF.
On a more local level, the WOTPCC elected new Board officers for 2014-2015. The council leadership will consist of the following members: President: Roger Ritter; Vice President: Sally Stephens; Secretary: David Golden; and Carolyn Squeri has agreed to continue as Treasurer.
In the final piece of business for the 2014 organizational year, the WOTPCC passed a motion to send a letter to the Board of Supervisors imploring them to vote NO on the ROSE (Recreational Open Space Elements) plan. Section 4.2 of the plan is considers to be very overreaching and effectively supports a “land grab” of private lands by the native plant activists, such as those taking private land for the Franciscan Manzanita ruse.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, September 22nd at 7:30 PM at the historic Forest Hills Clubhouse. Summer break: there will be no meetings in July or August.www.westoftwinpeaks.org
The April 28 meeting featured presentations by Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell on the workings of the Sheriff’s Department and a peek into the current budget status.
President Matt Chamberlain opened the meeting at 7:30 with a discussion of the on-going legislation that is designed to rein in the short-term rental marketplace using services such as AirBnb and VRBO. Although SF City law currently bans people from renting units for less than 30 days, there are over 14000 listings in SF for rentals using the aforementioned services. Supervisor David Chiu has written legislation that would amend the current law to allow some rentals, but would ban “non-resident owners” from renting in an effort to stop apartment owners from evicting tenants to create a “hotel” type of property.
Sally Stephens updated the group on the “SF Plaza Program” that would allow groups to sponsor and underwrite public plazas that are currently under maintained. In a tradeoff, these groups would be able to take over up to one-third of the public space for essentially any purpose that they choose (including building retail facilities). The “plan” would also allow the “contributors” to completely close the plaza for up to 8 days annually for “private” functions. Seems like another “sell-off” of public space by a City Hall not willing to take care of what is their responsibility.
WOTPCC delegate (and former Deputy Sheriff) Bill Chionsini introduced Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi who detailed current operations and successes that the Sheriff’s Department has had in working to reduce inmate congestion in the jail and their efforts to provide educational opportunities to the current inmate population.
Mirkarimi opened by detailing how the SF jail is now “under crowded” by 48% and that progress is being seen in a drop in recidivism rates. Of the 57 California counties, SF is best poised to handle the “push down” of inmates from the State prison system to local jurisdictions. Mirkarimi gave credit to his current staff as well as two of his predecessors, Mike Hennessey and Richard Hongisto.
The SF Sheriff’s Department’s first Charter High School within a jail in the US concept is being implemented in LA. Mirkarimi also is working with City College of SF to provide educational opportunities to inmates. These efforts are aimed at further reducing the recidivism rate.
With a staff of 1100 sworn and civilian staff, the Sheriff’s Department is trying to ensure that people are fairly treated during an eviction process, which is one of the main tasks of the department. The Sheriff cited the need for more clinicians in these high stress situations and has even used plainclothes sheriffs to help mitigate the stress levels during an eviction. When asked about inmates and those on the streets with mental health challenges, Mirkarimi said that he does not believe that jail should be a substitute for mental health hospitals or asylums, and that the jail system cannot solve this problem alone.
District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell followed the Sheriff and the discussion turned to budget considerations at City Hall. Farrell cited the improved economy and the fact that unemployment in the city has dropped from 10% 3 years ago to 4.8% currently and that the city and county are #1 in the country for job growth. He also cautioned that even though the economy has improved and corporations are doing better, this turnaround does not mean that City Hall’s coffers are flush with cash. Although the budget snapshot is much better than 3 years ago, the city is still faced with a $66,000,000 shortfall for 2014, and that as the city government is working on the new budget, which starts in July 26 of the 28 city-related labor unions are in negotiations with the city. As negotiations go and are possibly headed to arbitration, the result will be increased costs.
Of San Francisco’s $7,900,000,000 annual budget, 50% is dedicated to the PUC, the Airport and the Sheriff’s Department, all departments that most cities do not have to fund.
Other discussion focused on a severe backlog in the City Assessor’s office, which new Assessor Carmen Chu is trying to get under control. A reduction in the backlog would address much of the shortfall. Another budget item mentioned is the $165,000,000 spent annually by the city on services benefitting the homeless. Farrell asked, “Are we spending this wisely?”
Chamberlain closed the meeting with a short discussion of a ballot measure being formulated by Christopher Bowman that would restrict the ability of MUNI/MTA to levy fees and meter rates as they do today. More on this in future.
The meeting was adjourned shortly after 9:00 PM.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, June 2nd at 7:30 PM at the historic Forest Hills Clubhouse. Due to the Memorial Day holiday.
More info: www.westoftwinpeaks.org
|Mathias Mormino(Supervisor Norman Yee's office) spoke regarding the Cannabis
disbensary proposed for Ocean Avenue
Supervisor David Chiu's upcoming legislation on legalizing secondary housing units was the hottest topic at the West of Twin Peaks Central Council meeting on March 24, with lots of discussion and a call to action.
President Matt Chamberlain opened the meeting at 7:32 PM, and although the agenda was less crowded than in past meetings, there was ample discussion, and topics to fill the evening. In the President's report Chamberlain note the May WOTPCC meeting will actually be in June on the 2nd as a result of Memorial Day. There will be a second meeting on June 23. He also spoke on the nominating committee for the July election of new officers and solicited interest in anyone who wishes to sit at the“big table” at the front.
George Wooding gave a report on public health, touching on the Department of Public Health laptop that was lost/stolen containing the names and social security numbers of approximately 55,900 patients of San Francisco-owned public hospitals. Discussion focused on the total cost of the fines and fees associated with a security breach of this magnitude. Opinions cited the cost cold range in the range of $1,000,000. Wooding will continue to monitor the situation.
In a “win” for the little guys, Avrum Shepard reported that the MTA proposed changes to the 36 transit routes were not implemented after public outcry denounced the proposal.
The Ocean Avenue Cannabis dispensary committee brought up their findings. The application for the third MCD has been temporarily withdrawn by the applicants pending a report by the Planning Department, which is considering weakening the current restrictions on where a MCD can be located in an effort to expand the so-called “Green Zones” where it is legal to locate a single or multiple MCDs in a cluster-type of arrangement. The WOTPCC committee formed to look into this has recommended a formal letter be sent opposing any additional MCDs on Ocean Avenue, and would like to see a permanent “cap” on Ocean Ave. dispensaries at the existing two. Following input from Matthias Mormino of Supervisor Norman Yee's office concerning the Supervisor's pending proposed legislation, the WOTPCC voted unanimously to send a formal letter to the Planning Department opposing any new MCD dispensaries on Ocean Avenue.
A representative from the Clarendon Neighbors group spoke about the illegal construction and approval (by DPW) of a driveway on public space on an unimproved portion of Stanyan St. The neighbors have been opposing this proposed driveway for ten years and the project has been rejected by the DPW the Planning and Land Use on at least two occasions. Recently the DPW reversed their previous findings and approved the proposed grading and paving. The group asked the WOTPCC delegates for a letter supporting their position to oppose the building of the driveway egress. The motion was approved unanimously and a letter will be prepared.
Dave Bisho and several other delegates spoke next on the results of the Board of Supervisors' Land Use and Economic Development committee meeting on the proposed legislation on secondary units that has been proposed by Supervisor David Chiu. Bisho reported the meeting went over 3 hours and most of the people in attendance were solidly against the proposed legislation. Supporters of the legislation included tenant rights groups, architects, developers and the Asian Law Caucus. The committee voted to move the legislation to the full board “without recommendation.”
Chamberlain stated that he felt that several supervisors could be lobbied to vote against it if enough people voiced their displeasure with the legislation. The options if the legislation is approved by the full Board of Supervisors range from asking for a Mayoral veto; filing a civil lawsuit; or gathering enough signatures to put it on he ballot.
Several speakers discussed how they felt they were “talked down to” at the meeting with comments to the homeowners such as “get out of your bubbles” and “the winds of change are blowing over the city” which made them feel as though their opinions were unimportant. Further discussion centered on how the legislation (if passed) could exist with homeowner CCR language.
Citing the lack of time prior to the final vote on the legislation, Chamberlain asked the delegates to go back to their homeowners associations and start lobbying supervisors so that the required six “no” votes can be found.
The meeting was adjourned shortly after 9:10 PM.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, April 28th at 7:30 PM at the historic Forest Hills Clubhouse.
For more information see the WOTPCC website westoftwinpeaks.org.
Vice President Roger Ritter chaired the February meeting of the WOTPCC as President Matt Chamberlain was out of town for the February 24th meeting at the Forest Hills Clubhouse.
Although the agenda was less crowded than in past meetings, the presentations from Emily Salgado from the office of Assemblymember Phil Ting, and Tyrone Lue and Crispin Hollings of the SFPUC elicited much discussion and questions while providing important information related to the City's planning for future bicycle infrastructure, and the costs of rebuilding the infrastructure of the water and sewer delivery systems, respectively.
George Wooding reported on several Public Health issues concerning challenges that enrollees in San Francisco's groundbreaking HealthySF medical plan are having with the provisions (or lack thereof) in the new Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as "Obamacare." The Health Commission has met about the issues and has postponed the decision on a course of action to a future date. In other Public Health related issues, it was reported that on average 3 people are struck by vehicles in San Francisco each day, with a new fatality being reported this week at the intersection of Yorba and Sunset. Finally, residents on Treasure Island have reported finding radioactive and other toxic objects in and on the ground near their housing. The city is looking into it.
Avrum Shepard updated the meeting on a series of public meetings that are being conducted by MUNI to gather feedback on proposed route changes. Check out the MUNI website for more information.
|Tyrone Lue and Crispin Hollings of the SFPUC
The attempted addition of another marijuana apothecary on Ocean Avenue was the next topic, as Mattias Mormino from Supervisor Yee's office spoke about legislation sponsored by the D7 supe to stop the proposed 3rd site. Vice President Ritter called for a committee to investigate this topic and was joined by delegates Paul Conroy, Dave Bisho, and Denise LaPointe. A motion forwarded by Bisho for the WOTPCC to oppose the proposed third dispensary site (on Ocean Avenue) was passed unanimously. Mormino clarified that there are three "green zones" in D7 where dispensary sites are conditionally acceptable: Ocean Avenue, West Portal Avenue and the Park Merced Shopping Center. (It should be noted that any dispensary that wishes to open in these areas still has to go through the planning commission review, including public comment.)
Emily Salgado from Assemblymember Phil Ting's office addressed the gathering about Ting's AB 1193, which would modify California's design process for cities, to design bicycle infrastructure projects by mandating design guidelines for Caltrans to establish so that the design and implementation costs for future projects of this type in SF would be less expensive to gain all necessary design and planning approvals. It would bring SF into compliance with Caltrans policy, while still maintaining local control in cycle track projects. Although AB 1193 doesn't determine where and when bike infrastructure should be built, many of the questions centered on getting bicyclists to obey traffic laws, etc. Salgado explained the bill's aim is to reduce the cost for SF infrastructure planning, promote bicycle safety for riders, and to help ensure that cyclists better obey the traffic laws.
Infrastructure development was also the crux of the next presentation by several members of the SFPUC. Tyrone Jue and Crispin Hollings presented an overview detailing a PUC proposal to raise the water and sewer rates for water and sewer users. In a nutshell, the PUC proposal will increase the water and sewer rates to water users by 8.9% per year for the next four years, resulting in an effective compounded increase of approximately 38%. The increases are necessary to continue to pay off the debt incurred to rebuild and strengthen the Hetch Hetchy water delivery system, with the goal of delivering water not more than 24 hours after an earthquake. Hollings, the finance half of the duo, said that for an average SF single family the increase would take an $87 bill for water and sewer usage and increase it over four years to $120. He also said that more increases would be coming in the long-range future to pay for future upgrades to the sewer system within the city. For more information on this topic, check out the SFPUC website at SFWater.org.
Two important topics closed the meeting as Vice President Ritter announced that Supervisor David Chiu is accelerating his legislation regarding secondary units and is aiming for a March 13th hearing by the Board of Supervisors. The WOTPCC has opposed secondary units in RH1 areas several times over the years. An invitation will be extended by the WOTPCC to Supervisor Chiu to speak at the next meeting (March 24.)
In the final piece of business for the evening, Kristine Zaback, President of the Forest Knolls Association, spoke about a resolution their group has drafted to ask MUNI to maintain the same level of service for the 36-Teresita bus line as it currently operates. MUNI is considering reducing this service, possibly affecting six neighborhoods in a most dramatic fashion. The resolution was read to the delegates and a motion to support it was seconded and approved unanimously so that Zaback could present the resolution at the MUNI public hearing on 2/25.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:04 PM.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, March 24th at 7:30 PM at the historic Forest Hills Clubhouse. For more information see the WOTPCC website (www.westoftwinpeaks.org.
Priorities for 2014, a Supervisor's update and trees, trees, and more trees dominated the agenda at the WTPCC meeting on Monday, January 27th.
|Supervisor Norman Yee announces a Community Budget Meeting for
Saturday, Feb. 22nd at West Portal Playground, 10:30 am
Approximately 25 people were in attendance for the first meeting of the year. WTPCC President Matt Chamberlain brought the meeting to order at 7:30 PM at the Forest Hills Clubhouse and started by listing the major priorities that the council will be working on for 2014. They include: An impending PUC increase; Traffic Calming Projects; Transit changes; ADA and other Parking Changes; Bicycle legislation; Housing and Density Issues (including the secondary unit legislation); and proposed new taxes on sodas, and "street trees." Other topics include CCSF; the 19th Ave. Transit Corridor Project, and the impact of web-based services such as Airbnb and Uber. He also added that he is trying to schedule a return visit by Supervisor Mark Farrell (D2) to discuss the SF Budget. Chamberlain asked the audience to forward any other priorities to him for consideration for scheduling speakers, etc.
District Supervisor Norman Yee followed with an update on several important issues within the district with much of the discussion focused on gathering community input on voting for "citizen nominated" projects on the Westside. He is holding a Community Meeting to discuss the process of Participative Budgeting for Projects on Saturday, February 22nd at the West Portal Playground Clubhouse. The meeting will run from approximately 10:30 AM to 12:00PM. The Supe also spoke of bond monies being allocated for two park projects (Golden Gate Heights and Miraloma Park), and although West Portal was left out of the funding, he is working to secure between $100,000 and $500,000 for additional park projects. Finally he spoke about more resolutions to be introduced for Pedestrian and Traffic Safety to go with the City's "Vision 0" – to have no pedestrian fatalities by the year 2024. When asked about the pending legislation on secondary units, Yee said that he expects the Planning Commission to schedule a hearing to discuss the legislation in March.
Estelle Smith updated the crowd on the actions of the Planning and Land Use Committee as they are working on topics such as the secondary unit legislation, the SF Housing Element, Housing density and other items. George Wooding spoke on Public Health, mentioning the upcoming legislation on a "soda tax" as well as the stance by Commissioner Antonini of the Planning Commission that "open space and parkland" near Twin Peaks and Laguna Honda could be used for housing units. Avrum Shepard reported in his Transportation update that MUNI is planning to build dozens of "Operator Convenience Facilities" (bathrooms) for the MUNI driver fleet at various points around the city. The estimated cost is $170,000 for each of the "facilities."
Open Space and Tree issues comprised the last half of the meeting with Sally Stephens reporting on the ROSE (Recreation and Open Space Element) update that the Planning Department is attempting to finalize. Stephens noted that while many aspects of the ROSE are better than the 2009 draft element, there are still many changes that the citizens advisory group wants to include before Planning finalizes the document.
On the "Trees of Mt. Sutro Forest" update, Rupa Bose reported some progress and good news; On November 21, UCSF announced they are revising their plans for the Sutro Forest by (1) agreeing to not use pesticides in the 47 acre park, and (2) to lower the concentration of forest "management" from the entire 47 acres to possibly 25-35 acres. This could result in "only" 4000-5000 trees being affected, rather than the 30,000 trees that were initially targeted. On the down side, Bose added that the Natural Area Program group is still using herbicides on ¼ of the forest and are expected to target approximately 140 trees for removal.
Jackie Proctor of the Miraloma Park Improvement Club gave a report on Mt. Davidson, highlighting findings and a report by a noted forestry expert from UC Berkeley disputing the fire dangers and the stated poor health of the forest, arguing that the forest is in good health and should last for many years. It has been proposed that 82% of the non-native eucalyptus and cypress trees be removed for "safety" and "fire danger." Proctor asked that the WTPCC draft a letter of support for not removing trees from the targeted 30 acres, and to have the Mayor remove this area from the NAP (Natural Areas Program). The motion to draft the letter was passed unanimously.
Another letter of support was proposed to oppose the addition of private land off of Murrieta Drive to be protected acreage for the Franciscan Manzanita shrub. 3.2 acres of private land has been designated by the SF Recreation and Parks Department, and approved by the US Department of Fish and Wildlife, to nurture the return of the aforementioned Manzanita shrub, which, by the way, isn't currently growing there. The motion to draft a letter supporting the removal of these lands from the NAP was adopted (with two abstentions).
Next meeting: Monday, February 24th at 7:30 PM at the Forest Hills Clubhouse. For more information see the WOTPCC website (www.westoftwinpeaks.org).
President Matt Chamberlain brought the final meeting of 2013 of the WOTPCC to order at 7:35 on Monday, November 25th at the Forest Park Clubhouse in front of a group of 30 attendees.
|Matt Chamberlain calls the November meeting to order
Following the officers' reports, the largest portion of the meeting featured a presentation by Carla Johnson, representing the Mayor's Office on Disabilities, and Bob Plantold, a local Disability and Pedestrian Advocate. The duo gave a presentation on the recommendations from the SF Accessible Parking Policy Advisory Committee on Improving the Parking Access for Drivers with Disabilities.
A 16 person committee has been working to consider steps that will increase accessibility for disabled drivers to find parking in the city that is close to their destinations. One of the major challenges is that there is not enough curbside parking for disabled drivers and the parking turnover is very low with people using the disabled placards, as they are allowed to park for extended periods. Parking in general in the city is very difficult without the ambulatory challenges of dealing with a disability. In looking at the situation in San Francisco, the committee looked at policies and results in other cities in the U.S. and Canada before coming up with 6 major policy recommendations to be considered for implementation. Some of the recommendations listed below are already in the planning stages.
The major policy recommendations are: (1). Increase Blue Zones by 70% to bring the total percentage of metered disabled parking spots to 4% of the total spaces. This would require the city to install at least 470 new zones. (2). Improve enforcement of placard misuse. This could necessitate the increase in the number of parking control officers, who enforce the use and misuse of the placards. It was suggested by the committee that the DMV could make photos of approved placard users available to the parking control officers. (3). Increase oversight of placard approvals. A request that the DMV update their database to include information about the medical providers who are certifying the placard applications, to ensure that the applications are legitimate, was made by the committee. (4). Allow communities to remove the meter payment exemption. Based on the experiences of other cities, requiring everyone to pay at the meter is the most effective way to reduce placard misuse and open up spaces. The committee recommended that this option should only be allowed as an option in jurisdictions that offer accessible payment options. (5). Direct revenue collected to accessibility improvements. The SFMTA should work with the disability community to channel funds from the metered blue zones into accessibility improvements that would enhance mobility for those with disabilities. And (6). Allow communities to establish reasonable time limits. In order to help open up spaces, placard holders should have four-hour time limits at regular and blue meters, unless the posted time is longer. Holders should be able to stay up to 30 minutes at green short-term zones, not including time getting in and out of the vehicle. Paid for by qualifying merchants, the green zones are intended to support local business and reduce double parking.
Many of these recommendations will require a change to state law and as a result, at the earliest ones that are approved could be introduced in 2014 and go into effect sometime in 2015. These changes could help to alleviate the challenges for parking in the city. Currently there are 29,000 metered curbside parking spaces in the city, but 60,000 issued placards for disabled drivers (in SF alone). In the entire Bay Area the number of placards increases to 450,000.
Other topics covered at the meeting included the "taking" of property from residents of Murrieta Drive for reforestation areas for the supposed "endangered in nature" Franciscan Manzanita plant, as well as the upcoming legislation proposed by Board of Supervisors' President David Chiu to grandfather and legalize current RH2 secondary housing units. The WOTPCC has opposed legalizing these types of units in the past and will draft a letter on this topic restating the group's opposition to the legalization of thousands of these types of units in the Westside of the City. For more information visit the WOTPCC website below.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, January 27th at 7:30 PM at the Forest Hills Clubhouse. For more information see the WOTPCC website (www.westoftwinpeaks.org).
|Forest Hills Clubhouse, 381 Magellan Ave. Architect: Bernard Maybeck: 1919
The West of Twin Peaks Central Council returned to the Forest Hill Clubhouse, its former home, October 28, after renovations were complete. Finding a quorum existed, the council and visitors heard from Democratic State Senator Mark Leno. Leno is chairing the senate's budget and fiscal review committee. He said many items have been shifted to the budget committee from the appropriations committee. The appropriations committee is letting nothing out, so any hope of funding is coming through the budget process, he told the council. For example, seniors at the Jewish Home of SF will be able to stay in their homes because the state was able to find funding for the home through the budget process and bipartisan effort.
Leno also said state officials are helping the California Department of Justice confiscate weapons from people prohibited from having a weapon, such as convicted felons and the mentally ill. Officials are allowing the state attorney general's office, which is part of the DOJ, to use money from the Dealer Record of Sale Account, an account based on a fee from the sale of firearms. With each sale, $19.00 goes into the account, and Leno said there is a surplus. The DOJ has confiscated nearly 4,000 weapons in the last two years. But each day about 15 names are added to the list of persons prohibited from having a weapon, Leno said.
Leno argued that the state's recent budget deficit is a revenue problem rather than a problem of too much spending. To make his case, the senator cited a projection by the state's Legislative Analyst's Office. That projection says the state's general fund would have grown to $125 billion in 2012, from $103 billion in 2008, because of inflation and population growth alone. Today, the general fund is $94 billion, and would be $88 billion, except residents passed Proposition 30. "That's a serious loss of revenue," Leno said.
The senator also argued in support of California's vehicle license fee, which former Governor Gray Davis successfully brought back when he was in office. California had reduced the fee by $200 per person during the state's first dot-com boom because California had surplus revenue. Leno said the state bled $50 billion to give everyone $200. Now it's costing California students $4,000 or $5,000 more each year to go to college. Leno added that the state has cut $1 billion from California's community college system, $1 billion from California's court system, $1 billion from the University of California system and other places.
Before the senator left, Avrum Shepard asked whether the legislature is ready to close a tax loophole for commercial property owners. The loophole has its origins in Proposition 13, which capped tax increases on real property at one percent of the assessed or appraised value. At the time legislators passed Proposition 13, they were concerned that tax increases were forcing seniors out of their homes. Through the loophole, commercial property owners can avoid tax increases on their property by selling less than 50 percent of the property, which could be held in the form of stock. Before Proposition 13 passed, 60 percent of California's property tax revenue came from commercial properties, while 40 percent came from residential properties. Currently that's reversed, Leno said. We are subsidizing the commercial property owners. "That's a fact of life," he said. He also said some business owners see closing the loophole as a huge job killer.
Denise LaPointe, Twin Peaks Improvement Association, asked Leno about getting repairs done to Twin Peaks Boulevard, a scenic drive. "It is in horrid disrepair," she said. "This is the first I've heard of it," Leno said.Get in touch with his office.
Another resident shared with Leno her frustrations with the California Department of Transportation. And Leno encouraged her to get in touch with his office for help.
The council devoted the second half meeting to the 8 Washington project. Tim Colen, executive director, San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, spoke in favor of the project. Voting yes for Propositions B and C on the November ballot would be a vote in favor of the project. If approved by voters, developers will build 134 luxury condominiums along the Embarcadero, just north of the Ferry Building. The condos will replace some tennis courts and a 23,000 square foot parking lot. Colen said the City could earn $7 million a year if the condos are built, compared with earning about $100,000 a year currently. He said for seven years the City and other organizations have been considering the project. "This has been a painstaking process," he said. But opponents oppose the height of the buildings, which will block some views Coit Tower and Telegraph Hill. Colen said that the proposed height of the tallest building is one-half of the nearest residential building and one quarter of the height of the nearest commercial building. One alternative preserves a parking lot, Colen said. The other pays the City vastly more and beautifies the City. "We shouldn't be voting on this," he said.
Louise Renne, a former City attorney, spoke as an opponent of the 8 Washington project. She told attendees that the project moves San Francisco closer to looking like Miami Beach, with high rises lining the waterfront. She also said the project is so bulky that it will not open up the waterfront as proponents claim. The project is the size of a football field, she said. "This is a fight for the future of the Northern Waterfront." She said this project will set a precedent for three more lots along the Northern Waterfront that have yet to be developed. "There is precedent here." Renne said there are alternatives such as Van Ness Avenue.
The last order of business was a motion to support a West Portal business in its effort to get a conditional use authorization. Vin Debut, which burned in the fire that consumed Squat & Gobble, is seeking an authorization to obtain the same amount of space it had before the fire. And the council voted to write a letter of support to the Planning Department.
West of Twin Peaks Central Council meets to discuss topics of interest to Westside residents on the last Monday each month. Forest Hills Clubhouse, 381 Magellan Ave.
The first meeting of the 2013-14 Board for the WOTPCC took place on Monday, September 23 with the familiar faces of the 2012-13 council board, as everyone was re-elected to serve the member groups that make up the council.
|Supervisor Norman Yee at WOTPCC
President Matt Chamberlain brought the meeting to order promptly at 7:30, vowing to keep meetings on track and to try and finish them by 9 PM during the upcoming term.
In his report he also spoke of a very full agenda for the October meeting, including a matter to be brought forth by the Twin Peaks Improvement Association on the use of homes in the area as “vacation rentals” which basically turn them into hotels (without the city benefit of occupancy taxes, etc.). The well-known services such as Airbnb could be in violation of the neighborhood zoning laws, and the CC&Rs of the homeowner associations. This topic will be covered in much greater detail next month, as well as the election issues that will be featured on the November election ballot.
|Bill Chionsini discusing the changes on Sloat Avenue
Parliamentarian Avrum Shepard updated the attendees on the progress of the rebuilding project at 1 West Portal, where the fire destroyed several businesses and required several structures to be razed and rebuilt. The owner of the primary building, Dr. Warren, is seeking a variance to the zoning plan to encroach on formerly unbuilt open space behind the build in order to construct an elevator to meet the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and at the same time, keep the square footage that he had previously for his orthodontic practice. The variance will involve approximately 250 square feet, and Shepard asked the council to consider sending a letter to the Planning Commission in support of the project. Discussion followed on the merits of the project and the fairness of supporting this variance versus any other project on the avenue that may require variances. A vote was taken on supporting the project and the delegates approved the request by a 10-0 vote with three abstentions. Chamberlain will craft the latter and submit on behalf of the council.
Shepard also informed the delegates about the recent West Portal Merchants Association meeting where representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development met with the WPMA and recommended the benefits of a Community Benefits District (which the WPMA has been working to achieve for several years). A topic of discussion at the meeting was the cost and impact of installing and maintaining hanging flower baskets on West Portal Avenue as other areas within SF have done, to beautify the thoroughfare. Cost estimates are in the $4K range and Shepard said that it could be a good way for the individual neighborhood groups to be involved in the project through fundraising, etc.
George Wooding gave a report on Public Health in which he outlined a new plan by the SF Dept. of Public Health to relocate the 30 “chairs” that handle dialysis patients at SF General Hospital to Laguna Honda Hospital, which currently has 6 chairs which were never opened and are unlicensed. He mentioned the issues with having patients who require dialysis 3 times per week shuttled from SF General to LHH, and raised the questions of this being a cost saving measure, or other reason for consolidation. More information will be brought forth as these questions are answered. It would seem that it would increase traffic into LHH if the process of transferring the patients is implemented.
Sally Stephens and Bill Chionsini also gave updates on Open Space issues and the Sloat Blvd. safety improvements respectively. Stephens detailed the “emergency” cutting of trees this summer by UCSF on Mt. Sutro as the SFPD gave approvals without investigating the true need to do so until after trees had already been removed. Chionsini detailed the new crossing system in place at the intersection of Sloat and Forest View, and also mentioned the assignment of 3 motorcycle patrol officers to the Taraval Station to help combat speeding motorists.
Two SF Supervisors, District 7’s Norman Yee and District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell, were the featured speakers of the evening. Yee gave an update on items he is working on concerning pedestrian safety and neighborhood open space issues. He spoke at length about the success that he has had on the Board of Supervisors in having budget money set aside to speed up the safety improvements on Sloat Blvd., and his efforts to bring back a program to reintroduce School Safety Crossing Guards using students who would learn about leadership and safety issues, while being assisted by adult monitors to provide a much needed service. It is Yee’s hope to have several pilot schools in place by January. He also spoke on gaining funding for playground improvements at Miraloma Park and Golden Gate Heights, and his work to improve and replace the play structure at West Portal playground. The supervisor also discussed his progress on having more police department hours assigned to doing “beat cop” patrols on West Portal Avenue.
The Supervisor for District 2, Mark Farrell was on hand to discuss the November ballot measure, Proposition A, which would limit the city government from using any of the “Health Care Trust Fund” assets until the $4.4B retirement plan shortfall is fully funded. By doing this, an independent actuarial company has estimated, based on a return of 7.5%, that the fund will be wholly funded in approximately 30 years, with no benefit reductions or additional money taken from the general fund after that time. Until then, the SF Government will continue to fund the healthcare benefit program with between $120,000,000 and $500,000,000 annually as they do today to meet the requirements of the existing active and retired employees. Farrell noted that all 11 supervisors are in support of the measure, as well as the labor unions within the city.
Prior to adjournment of the meeting, a topic arose regarding the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife using eminent domain to take 3.2 acres of property from landowners on Marietta Drive to establish space for the reforestation of the Franciscan Manzanita plant, which was only recently found (after thought to be extinct) during the Doyle Drive project, but can be bought (not in the wild) from local plant nurseries. It was mentioned that U.S. Representative Jackie Speier would be speaking at the West Portal Clubhouse on October 7th.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, October 28th at 7:30 PM. Please see www.westoftwinpeaks.org for the location as it may have relocated back to the Forest Hills Clubhouse.
WEST OF TWIN PEAKS CENTRAL COUNCIL
The WOTPCC meeting of June 24th featured election results, pros and cons on several controversial issues, and important local updates, all squeezed into two hours in its final meeting before the traditional summer break.
|Quentin Kopp and Art Agnos speak against the proposed arena|
Following the opening of the meeting by President Matt Chamberlain, Avrum Shepard gave an update on the “gold buyer” pawn shopthat is proposed to fill the vacant space that was formerly Just Because card shop. The West Portal Avenue Merchants Association contested the permit due to a lack of posting timeliness, and with public outcry against the project, the permit approving the use was revoked. In other WPA news, Squat and Gobble is progressing on its application to reopen with a slightly larger space; Supervisor Norman Yee is working to have a WPA beat cop reinstituted; and the accreditation committee that is “judging” CCSF is itself being investigated.
Estelle Smith gave an update on Planning and Land Use Committee issues. The WOTPCC sent a letter to both Supervisors Scott Weiner and Jane Kim stating their support of the CEQA revisions that were drafted and submitted by Kim. Smith also gave information on the traffic and parking issues that are being negotiated to allow the Safeway project on Monterey Blvd. to progress. She closed by informing the attendees that the Board of Supervisors had approved changes to the TIC legislation that would allow all TIC owners of properties registered as TIC’s prior to 4/2013 to move forward by paying a $20,000 fee. Any new TIC projects would be “frozen” for the next 10 years.
On the public health front, George Wooding reported that the Laguna Honda public relations spokesman, Marc Slavin, has been dismissed. He detailed other issues at the hospital related to its handling of psychiatric patients from SF General.
Following a call for any nominations from the floor for WOTPCC officers, and hearing none, current President Matt Chamberlain called for a voice vote to re-elect all of the current officers for another year. The voice vote was quick and unanimous. The current officers will again serve the organization for another year. President: Matt Chamberlain, Vice President Roger Ritter, Secretary Sally Stephens, and Treasurer Carolyn Squeri.The President will name the parliamentarian.
|Jennifer Matz, Director of Waterfront Development|
The next section of the program featured a lively debate about the proposed Warriors arena that is being proposed for Piers 30-32. The session opened with an unlikely team, former Mayor Art Agnos and former Supervisor, State Senator, and Superior Court Judge Quentin Kopp, stating the case on why the proposed project is not good for the citizens of San Francisco from both a financial and livability standpoint. The duo spoke for 20 minutes (their allotted time) on the size of the project, a 12-story arena, an additional 17-story condo tower and luxury hotel, as well as a shopping district as large as Union Square.
Kopp stressed the “giveaway” of over $120,000,000 to the owners/developers to refurbish the piers and build the arena, while having the city “borrow” the money at 13% annual interest, resulting in an additional interest payment of over $13,500,000 per year for decades. In addition, they cited the inclusion of a parcel, Seawall 330 , at an appraised price that is much lower than what the parcel is worth today.
Agnos stated that he “came out of retirement” to join this fight against the project because the citizens have not been given a voice about the project and the city has moved forward to push it through without a funded plan for mitigating the huge increase in traffic through transit and parking solutions. He cited the fact that he, as Mayor, championed the unpopular (at the time) decision to demolish the double-decked Embarcadero Freeway, thus opening up the access and the vista that can be seen today. While he is in favor of the Warriors moving back to San Francisco, he feels that the city should take the opportunity to evaluate alternative, available sites both on and off the Bay. He challenged Mayor Lee to debate the topic “anytime, anywhere.” For more information on the efforts of the San Francisco Waterfront Alliance, please visit www.sfwaterfront.org.
The opposing viewpoint followed with a presentation by the SF Office of Economic and Workforce Development. Jennifer Matz, Director of Waterfront Development, and Jesse Blount, the Project Representative, gave a narrative on the project, joined by Peter Albert from the MTA, who is anchoring their efforts from a regional transportation-planning standpoint. Showing a different schematic rendition of the arena complex, they spoke on the project as an opportunity to build a “world class” entertainment venue for the city. Both the SF Hotel Council and SF Travel (formerly the SF Visitors and Convention Bureau) support the project, as a large “arena” is needed to host events.
Ms. Matz discussed the wholesale benefits that the building of AT&T Park brought to the city, but stated that the neighborhood stretching from the Giants venue to Piers 30-32 is pretty desolate when there is no game, liking it to “tumbleweeds blowing down the street.”
She stressed the need to build a “Waterfront for the 21st century” and explained the dilapidated condition of the piers, and that the rent credits, the value of the seawall lot, and the forgiveness of property taxes will still not make up for the costs of rebuilding the piers (the $120,000,000). In the plan, San Francisco will continue to own the land, with the Warriors leasing the site for 66 years. Once completed, the project is estimated to generate between $10,000,000 to $20,000,000 per year, funds that could be used to fix the city infrastructure and items such as graffiti removal, etc.
Albert took the floor and spoke about the efforts of the MTA to do a 3-phased assessment of the transit needs and requirements of the complete SF waterfront for the next 10-50 years. The assessment would focus on three things; an inventory of current conditions, short term and long term capital projects planned (including BART, CALTRAIN and SF Bay Ferry services); the timeframe of the development projects; and the cost of these projects (and the infrastructure needed).
Their presentation was capped by remarks from Blount, the Project Director. He cited the world-renowned architectural firm that has been contracted to design the project, and its work on the Alexandria (Egypt) library, the Oslo Opera Center and the 9/11 Memorial building in NY. He also spoke about the 13 acre site, of which 53% will be “permanent public open space,” calling it “the next great park in San Francisco.” Addressing the opponents of the 13 story (135 feet) height of the arena, he explained the arena would be located on the piers, but 400 feet from the edge of the Embarcadero, and therefore “it feels like it is only 50-55 feet tall.” To put this in perspective, he cited the height of AT&T Park, 125 feet to the top of the bowl and 180 feet to the top of the light towers.
Blount finished by dismissing the claims of subsidies by stating the project will be “100% privately funded, with no impact to the general fund and with no new taxes to the public, while generating 5000 new jobs and generating upwards of $20 million dollars in future city tax revenue.”
The last group of speakers for the evening gave differing accounts of the Mt. Sutro Forest, and UCSF’s efforts to create a different environment than exists today.
Damon Lew, Community Relations Officer for UCSF, spoke about the responsibility of the University to keep the area safe, and the challenge is that after years of growth the forest cannot “self manage” by way of wildfires, etc. so that it has to be managed in a planned manner. UCSF’s plan is to take 7 and ½ acres to create four “demonstration plots” to examine and test different methods of managing the eucalyptus, acacias, blackberry bushes and poison oak plants that grow on the site. He stressed the need for community outreach and getting feedback from the public.
He spoke about the completed draft environmental impact report (EIR) in March and said that UC had received over 200 comments to the EIR. When asked about the timetable, Lew said that the demonstration plots could start in 2014, after bird-nesting season. In finishing, Lew stated that the forest needed to be managed to protect the safety of the neighbors to the forest, the residents of the UCSF community, and the UCSF buildings.
Rupa Bose of the SF Forest Alliance followed Lew’s presentation, stating that the draft EIR states that up to 30000 trees could be removed from the entire 46-acre site, as the site currently has an average of 740 trees per acre and this could be thinned to only 2-3 trees every 30 feet. She stated that after the initial demonstration plot projects are completed, the next phase is to expand the effort to the entire 46 acres.
Mt. Sutro is currently a dense, century old forest spread over 80 acres in the center of SF, with UCSF the owner of 61 acres containing approximately 45000 trees. Ms. Bose estimates that the plan to clean the forest would remove or clip approximately 90% of the trees and mow down 90% of the underneath blackberry, acacia and fern foliage. She also said that UCSF plans to use chemical herbicides to retard regrowth within the forest.
Her presentation contrasted with the one by UCSF in that the SF Forest Alliance has statements from an arborist citing the health of the forest, and a Cal Fire diagram citing a low fire hazard. With the ever-present fog on the mountainside, the Alliance makes the case that the forest is moist and in good health, while thinning it out would cause wind problems and dry the forest floor, creating a greater fire danger than exists today in its natural environment. In addition, it will increase the carbon load into the atmosphere.
For more information on the SF Forest Alliance, go to: www.sutroforest.com
The meeting was adjourned at 9:30. The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, September 23rd at 7:30 PM at the Miraloma Park Clubhouse, located at 350 O’Shaughnessy Blvd. It is expected the meetings will return to the Forest Hills Clubhouse for the October scheduled meeting.
For more information see the WOTPCC website (www.westoftwinpeaks.org).
The WOTPCC meeting of May 20th featured an update from D7 Supervisor Norman Yee, a “pleased to know you” from newly-appointed D4 Supervisor Katy Tang, a presentation from Paul Giusti from Recology on their proposed rate increase, and the announcement of a slate of officers for the WOTPCC for 2013-14.
Following the opening of the meeting by President Matt Chamberlain, Avrum Shepard gave an update on the “gold buyer” pawn shop that is proposed to fill the vacant space that was formerly Just Because card shop. The West Portal Avenue Merchants Association is contesting the permit due to a lack of posting timeliness and is requesting letters of support from the community. Denise LaPointe asked the WOTPCC to draft a “letter of concern” to be sent. In another area, Shepard noted that there have been several instances of cell phone thefts reported on MUNI where several people have been injured during the thefts.
Dave Bisho followed with a report by the Nominating Committee on the upcoming election of WOTPCC officers for the 2013-14 year. He announced that all current officers have agreed to serve again for next year. By the terms of the by-laws, President Matt Chamberlain has been termed out, but by a vote of the membership, the President may continue as the “acting” President until another person has agreed to run for the position. A motion was made by Bill Chionsini and seconded by Bisho to waive the term limit on this President (Chamberlain), but still allowing for nominations to be made at the June meeting. It was passed unanimously. As a result, the following slate of officers for 2013-14 will be presented at the June meeting, with nominations also being able to be made from the floor: President: Matt Chamberlain, Vice President Roger Ritter, Secretary Sally Stephens, Treasurer Carolyn Squeri. The President will name the parliamentarian.
Planning and Land Use Committee chair Estelle Smith reported that the PLU committee spent several hours looking at both of the proposals on the changes to CEQA penned by Supervisors Scott Weiner and Supervisor Jane Kim. The PLU recommended that the WOTPCC organization accept and support the CEQA legislation forwarded by Supervisor Kim (and not Weiner), due to the longer time for submitting a challenge to a project, as well as increased neighborhood notifications that are required in the Kim proposal. A vote passed by a vote of 9-0 with 3 abstentions.
In other WTPCC news, Bill Chionsini gave an update on the Sloat Boulevard pedestrian safety improvement project, and gave examples of how the citizens group that secured the funding has been largely kept in the dark by DPW and Caltrans on the progress of the modifications and improvements that will be taking place later this summer/fall.
District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee then took the floor to give an update on issues that he is working on. Pedestrian Safety, the follow up to the Water Main break, and the upcoming SF Small Business Week event are all focal points currently. The Supervisor also spoke about CEQA (has not made a final decision yet, wants to see the final language), TIC (Tenants in Common – condo conversion) – there has been some movement in the negotiations, and there could be a resolution in June; and the Warriors coming to SF (“I would love it but the devil is in the details”).
In questions and answers, Yee was asked about having the weeds and debris cleared along Sloat Blvd. and he said he would work with DPW to work on this. He was also asked about the recent rash of robberies on West Portal Avenue and he is aware of the situation and has had conversations with Captain Lum at the Taraval Station on this topic.
Katy Tang, the newly appointed District 4 Supervisor, made her initial appearance before the WOTPCC to introduce herself and speak about her priorities. She said that she is focused on “Quality of Life” issues such as Roads, Playgrounds, Illegal Dumping and Pedestrian Safety. She next described a pilot program targeting oversized vehicles such as campers and RV’s that are parked “permanently” on some SF streets. The MTA is drafting legislation that would prohibit these large vehicles from being parked on streets from midnight to 6 AM. The pilot program is targeting the Great Highway, Fulton and Lincoln. Campers that are being used as permanent living locations will be allowed to park at Treasure Island for no charge. The program will target both campers and commercial vehicles such as those that are being used as “rolling billboards” and parked semi-permanently throughout the city.
The final speaker of the night was Paul Giusti of Recology, who was on hand to address the proposed fee increase that Recology is requesting. With a current 80% diversion rate for garbage, the income to run the garbage and recycling program has been failing to keep up with employee costs and operational costs over the past 3 years (since the last increase). Giusti said that the rate structure must evolve to support the program that the city has asked for by developing a sustainable pricing model that incorporates variable volume charges and allows the company and city to maintain recycling and composting incentives that are necessary to increase the diversion rate to a goal of 90%.
Recology has asked for a 20.5% rate increase, and the SF City Commission has called for a 19.7% increase, that is poised to take effect in summer of 2013. Part of the increase is to expand programs to help DPW in ridding the city of large pieces of abandoned trash (mattresses, appliances, etc.) as well as illegally dumped trash.
Giusti went over the current rate structure and showed how residential users can actually decrease their costs by using a smaller “black” garbage container and diverting more into recycling and compost. He closed his presentation by fielding questions regarding the rate increases and service levels.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, June 24th at 7:30 PM at the Miraloma Park Clubhouse, located at 350 O’Shaughnessy Blvd.For more information see the WOTPCC website (www.westoftwinpeaks.org).
The WOTPCC meeting featured a “CEQA Showdown” of sorts on April 22nd, with Supervisors Scott Wiener and Jane Kim each speaking on the points and merits of their competing measures, sandwiched around an update from City College Board President John Rizzo.
Following the opening of the meeting by President Matt Chamberlain and the various reports by the officers, the evening started with District 8 Supervisor Weiner addressing the group and answering questions about his proposed legislation to modify and define the process under which the city handles CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) appeals and exemptions placed before the planning commission and Board of Supervisors.
The supervisor stated that the current “non-policy” allows for great variations of when projects are appealed, and several attempts have been made over the years by Aaron Peskin, Fiona Ma, Michela Alioto-Pier and now Wiener to amend the process to give it more structure and to better address the large ranges of project from home remodels to large projects such as Parkmerced.
Weiner cited that the current processes for appeal are opaque and unclear with no specific rules and dates to be applied for appeals under the tenets of CEQA. The supervisor termed the current situation as a “wild west process.” His proposed legislation would amend the process to provide a deadline for the appeal process of 30 days from the 1st approval from the building department. If a project is amended and changed it would be classified as a new project with the deadline moving to 30 days from the permit approval (of the revised project). Currently, the “non-process” allows projects to be appealed up until the end, as permits are pulled throughout the scope of a project.
Wiener stated that he has reached out to community groups and other groups on the legislation and has incorporated over 40 amendments to his original document. He claims that over 26 groups have endorsed his legislation.
Later in the meeting District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim spoke to the attendees about her “competing” legislation, which also attempts to put specific guidelines and rules into place for the appeal process, but differs in several key aspects from Weiner’s legislation, most notably that the 30 days window isn’t started at the 1st approval of the permit for a project, but starts at 30 days from the last permit in the building process. Kim says it is necessary as having a deadline 30 days from the approval of the initial permit does not give nearly enough time for neighborhood groups and other public groups to examine and prepare appeal information for a project. CSFN and other neighborhood groups seem to share that sentiment, as most of the groups meet on a monthly basis (and are “dark” in the summer months) and wouldn’t be able to make a qualified decision on the appeal process on any project within a 30-day window.
Kim noted that her legislation would require city planning and the “project owner” to do much more public notification, and makes it easier for the general public to be involved in the planning and appeal processes.
Readers can search on the sf.gov website to see the specific legislative documents from the prospective supervisors.
“Sandwiched” between the supervisors, SF City College board trustee (and President) John Rizzo updated the meeting attendees about the process of City College’s accreditation. Currently, City College is under review by an accreditation panel that will decide whether the college keeps its accreditation and remains open. Rizzo says he is “cautiously optimistic” that the accreditation panel will give the college passing marks. Currently the college is working with their workers and labor unions to nail down negotiated costs. Rizzo is confident that the college is on the right track and will continue to improve its processes and (hopefully) receive the required accreditation. He expects the panel to make their decision known by the end of June/beginning of July. For this calendar year, enrollment is down, but this trend is expected to change if CCSF regains its accreditation.
In other WTPCC news, Bill Chionsini gave an update on the Sloat Boulevard pedestrian safety improvement project, and gave examples of Taraval-based SFPD officers being almost struck while attempting to cross Sloat in the crosswalk.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, May 20th at 7:30 PM at the Miraloma Park Clubhouse, located at 350 O’Shaughnessy Blvd. For more information see the WOTPCC website (www.westoftwinpeaks.org).
Amid the glowing hearth, the WOTPCC meeting on March 25th got started at their temporary home, the Miraloma Park Clubhouse, with about 30 people to start. President Matt Chamberlain assembled the gathering and kicked off the meeting at 7:35 PM.
Following a brief welcome and the housekeeping items such as roll call, approval of the February meeting minutes and the financial report, the officers gave their reports. Treasurer Carolyn Squeri reminded representatives of the need to file IRS 990-N forms to protect the non-profit status of the homeowner and neighborhood associations.
Avrum Shepard reported on several items pertaining to West Portal Avenue: the application by a Gold buyer/Pawn Broker to go into the space at 162 West Portal Avenue; the petition that has been formulated by the operators of the St. Francis Market, whose lease is being terminated by their landlord; and the WOTPCC roster project, which still has 10 organizations who have not responded with their information. As part of his technology report he also described a bill in committee in the state senate to significantly raise the car licensing fees (by upwards of 300%) to help the state fund transportation related projects. Cars (and their owners) are being increasingly vilified and targeted for increased costs. In other transportation related matters it was brought up that one of the proposals to alter the MUNI route along 19th Avenue would eliminate the Ocean Avenue and Eucalyptus stops.
|Estelle Smith, Chair of the WOTPCC Planning and Land Use talks about proposed CEQA revision|
Estelle Smith, (Planning and Land Use Committee) spoke on the basic initiatives that the committee is focusing on: CEQA revisions; Serial Permitting issues; Secondary Units; the Housing Element: and a possible Monterey Blvd. Safeway project. She will be sending out the list of initiatives to solicit feedback from the associations and homeowner groups.
George Wooding (Public Health) gave an overview of the deal struck by CPMC (California Pacific Medical Center) to build a new hospital on Van Ness Avenue. The new facility will be smaller than originally planned, and CPMC will renovate and continue to operate St. Luke’s Hospital in the Mission district as part of the settlement. In other health news, the doctors removed from the staff at Laguna Honda were awarded $750,000 in their suit against the city’s Department of Public Health over their termination for whistle blowing. It was also reported that $345,000 that was “missing” from the patient gift fund has been replaced.
|Katie Miller gives an update on the 15th Ave water main break|
The first guest speaker of the evening, Katie Miller, gave an update on the water main break at 15th and Wawona. Miller, Head of Engineering with the City Distribution Division of the Department of Water, detailed how of the 1200 miles of water pipes in San Francisco 60% are pre-1970 and are made from cast iron, with joints comprised of lead. (18% of the pipes are over 100 years old.) It was a lead joint that failed in a 16” main pipe that resulted in the very large water event in the West Portal neighborhood. The department is estimating that water and sewer work should be completed within four weeks with soil work, sidewalks and street resurfacing to follow. The Department of Water will be setting up and staffing a neighborhood office at 383 West Portal Avenue to address the needs of the residents who are affected by the water main break and resulting damage.
Meaghan Tiernan and Peg Divine spoke next about the ongoing pedestrian safety work on Sloat Boulevard. The pedestrian safety project will construct “bulb outs” at the intersections of Sloat at Everglade, and Forestview, and the installation of pedestrian activated beacons at the Forestview and 23rd Avenue intersections. It was also discussed that Caltrans is planning to repave Sloat in 2014, so the plan is to have the safety project completed prior to the new road surfacing.
The final speaker of the evening was Eric Brooks, who spoke of the benefits of the CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) and the issues that have arisen with proposed changes to the act by Supervisor Scott Wiener, as well as the “competing” CEQA revisions being proposed by Supervisor Jane Kim.
Brooks, the Campaign Coordinator for Our City San Francisco, and of the Community CEQA Improvement Team, cited three points of the proposed Wiener legislation that would greatly lessen the ability for citizens to make appeals on projects, as well as taking the Board of Supervisors out of the hearing component of the appeal process.
Next month, Supervisors Wiener and Kim will address the WOTPCC meeting on their differing approaches to revamping CEQA and how their respective plans will maintain the spirit of the original legislation, but change it to help streamline the process.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, April 22nd at 7:30 PM at the Miraloma Park Clubhouse, at 350 O’Shaughnessy Blvd. westoftwinpeaks.org.
Amid a glowing hearth, the WOTPCC meeting on February 25th got started in its new, temporary home, the Miraloma Park Clubhouse. President Matt Chamberlain assembled the gathering and kicked off the meeting at 7:35 PM with approximately 30 people in attendance.
Photo: Supervisor Mark Farrell
Following a brief welcome and the housekeeping items such as roll call, approval of the January meeting minutes and the financial report, the officers gave their reports. Of note, Avrum Shepard’s transportation committee report gave an update on the SFCTA’s study on the realignment of the MUNI lines on 19th Avenue. The County Transportation Authority has drawn up three initial alternatives for the N-Oceanview line; with options including the relocation of some transit stops and the elimination of others all together. It was also noted that these options are not finalized and the CTA is still soliciting feedback and community input.
Chamberlain started a small discussion, calling for volunteers to assist with the “Planning and Land Use Committee.” Currently understaffed, this committee looks at items that are of great importance to the homeowners on the west side of the city that make up the membership of the WOTPCC. Estelle Smith of Sunnyside volunteered to help organize and lead the committee. These types of issues are important as problems have been reported with so-called “serial permitting” in both the Ingleside Terraces and Balboa Terrace areas.
Kailyn Walsh and Pat Collum, representing Café La Boulange, gave the crowd an overview of the planned café and bakery at 16 West Portal Avenue. The café, in the process of applying for a conditional use permit, will be built in the space that has been occupied by the St. Francis Market, whose month-to-month lease was not renewed by the owner of the building.
Collum led the discussion with drawings of the site, showing the storefront and an overview of the 2675 square foot project, which is slated to open sometime in the fall, possibly in October. The café is planned to have a wine and beer license and will be open 7 days a week from 7AM to 7PM, featuring pastries, baked goods, salads, soups and open-faced sandwiches. The pair fielded questions from the audience relating to equal pay for male and female staff (yes), discounts for seniors and others (possibly), and will it be unionized (no). The owners will be sponsoring an informational open house in mid-March. Check the WOTPCC website for more details.
District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell took over the floor next, speaking on three items: An update on the SF City Budget, continuing efforts to address the city’s long-term underfunded health care fund liability and his efforts to enact legislation that would make it easier for property owners to convert existing TIC (Tenancy in Common) units into stand-alone condominiums.
Farrell started with an overview of the budget deficit and how it has gotten smaller, from $570,000,000 two years ago, to $300,000,000 last year and an estimated $140,000,000 this year, although it is expected to grow to $180,000,000 with unforeseen increased costs associated with the opening of the new SF General Hospital emergency room. To sum it up, the supervisor said the city is doing much better, but that it is still in a “cost-cutting” mode.
The underfunded long-term health care liability of the city was the next topic, and is a major issue. Farrell said that the stated deficit of $4,400,000,000 (4.4 billion) is based on a model predicting a 7%+ rate of return. With these rates being presently unattainable, he said the true deficit is probably in the 7 billion dollar range. This health care fund is to provide medical coverage for city employees and their spouses who worked for the city for at least 5 years and are over 50 years of age. Statements from those in attendance seemed to cast some doubt about the true liability cost for the city. Supervisor Farrell says that the fund supports tens of thousands of current and former employees. He expects the annual $150,000,000 line item to grow to an annual cost to the city of $500,000,000 if nothing is done and the liability is not addressed or restructured.
His final topic focused on legislation that he has introduced with District 8 Supervisor Scott Weiner to try and streamline the current backlogged lottery system to convert TIC units to condos. The “lottery” currently only allows 200 conversions with over 2400 property owners in the queue. Many of the property owners are saddled with higher property loan rates that are up to double for a TIC unit than what a comparable condo rate would be. As a result some of these homeowners are in danger of losing their investments through foreclosure, etc. Farrell sees the legislation as a way to help these 2400 property owners and promote home ownership in SF. The legislation seeks to implement fees to circumvent the “lottery” system. Tenant advocates are concerned about forced evictions, but Farrell says there are safeguards in place for those who are renting units in current TIC buildings and they would be guaranteed rent-controlled space in any building that would be converted. When asked if developers would benefit under the proposed legislation, Farrell did not seem to think this would be the case.
Sally Stephens was the final speaker for the evening, giving an update on UCSF’s plan to remove 20,000-30,000 trees on their property on Mt. Sutro. There is much debate over the ramifications of taking this large amount of forest down, as well as the need to do so. (Differing opinions exist on the relative health of the forest). Stephens cited the fact that San Francisco is ranked as the second worst large city in terms of urban forestation, behind only Jersey City, NJ. More details on opportunities to give public feedback can be found on the WOTPCC website.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, March 25th at 7:30 PM at the Miraloma Park Clubhouse, located at 350 O’Shaughnessy Blvd.
For more information see the WOTPCC website (www.westoftwinpeaks.org).
The WOTPCC meeting on January 28th was a busy one, with speakers ranging from newly elected District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee; representatives from the SF County Transit Authority and a program to encourage the planting of more lemon trees in San Francisco.
Council President Matt Chamberlain opened the meeting at 7:35 PM with 30 or so attendees, noting that the January meeting would likely be the last one (for a period) to be held at the Forest Hills Clubhouse, which is schedule to be under wraps as a construction projects takes over in the Spring. Alternative sites being considered are Miraloma Park Clubhouse and St. Brendan’s Hall. More information will come from the WOTPCC leadership as decisions are finalized. Chamberlain also noted that the WOTPCC will not be conducting any candidate forums in the near future without first having the sponsorship funding lined up, as the group had a deficit from the supervisor candidates forum last October. (Photo: Norman Yee)
District 7 Supervisor Norman Yee then took the floor and spoke on his acclimation to his new role and the areas where he wants to focus in his first 6-9 months. While stating that he is still getting up to speed, he intends to focus on the issues of Pedestrian Safety and our Neighborhood Businesses.
…noting that the January meeting would likely be the last one (for a period) to be held at the Forest Hills Clubhouse, which is schedule to be under wraps as a construction projects takes over in the Spring. ”
Relatively soft-spoken, he addressed the audience in a forthright manner, explaining that he is committed to staying connected to the neighborhood groups and their issues. He also knows that expectations need to be realistic, saying, ”I am at an age where I am realistic and know what I can do and will not promise things that I cannot do.”
Yee stressed that he will have an open office and wants to have a set time (probably Fridays) where he is out in the district neighborhoods meeting people and hearing what they have to say. He also promised that he, or a member of his staff would be present at the WOTPCC meetings. WOTPC President Chamberlain referenced the 20 or so important topics of the organization and that pedestrian safety and neighborhood business support encompass about 25% of the items.
Following Yee, the WOTPCC committee leads gave their reports with notable topics being the continuation of tree removal in Glen Canyon; Laguna Honda Hospital receiving a 5 star rating for staff levels per patient (but still managing only a 3 star performance level in health care); the dissolution of the LHH foundation; the draft EIR vote on the controversial Overlook Project; and a report on the TEP report showing that most MUNI routes in D7 will be minimally affected.
Tillie Chang and Chester Fung of the SF County Transit Agency introduced themselves to the attendees and gave an overview of both how the SFCTA is different from the MTA, and what their role is in administering the Prop K transportation sales tax program. Fung went into detail on the upcoming 19th Avenue proposed transit projects. including sidewalk extensions to improve pedestrian safety. For more information, check the CTA website at: www.sfcta.org
Sustainable citrus in San Francisco? That’s the hope and goal of “Just One Tree, “an organizational program designed to promote the planting of fruit trees as the most efficient crop for dense cityscapes. Spokesperson Isabel Wade explained how the environment in San Francisco is ideal for growing lemon trees, and that the plan is to identify existing and to plant new citrus trees that will enable San Francisco to become sustainable in providing the annual consumption of 3 pounds per person (of lemons). Just One Tree estimates that it will take 12,000 lemon trees to achieve sustainability. To start, register your (or your neighbor’s) lemon tree at www.JustOneTree.org.
The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 25th at 7:30 PM at a location to be determined.
For more information see the WOTPCC website (westoftwinpeaks.org).
The West of Twin Peaks Central Council meeting of November 26th wrapped up the year (there is no December meeting) with lots of good information for those in attendance and a temporary relocation announced for mid-year 2013.
Council President Matt Chamberlain opened the meeting at 7:35 PM with 28 attendees. The initial discussion of the night centered on the internal creation of a comprehensive delegate list for all of the WOTPCC delegates. It was decided that in January, Chamberlain will poll the delegates to see who is interested in having their information compiled into the document. All requests to contact individual delegates will be handled by a call (or email) to the WOTPCC President, who will then pass the information along to the delegate. In this manner, privacy would be ensured. (Photo: Matt Chamberlain)
Treasurer Carolyn Squeri announced that invoices for dues will go out in January and a budget will be presented to the delegates at the January meeting.
Avrum Shepard updated the group on the process and progress of the Off the Grid groups plan to bring food trucks to the West Portal corridor for a trial period in December. The group has decided to push off the approval process until Spring 2013 due to parking concerns of merchants during the important holiday shopping season.
In other West Portal Avenue related news, Sterling Bank is still seeking a conditional use permit to move into the former “Melu Mobile” space. As there is currently the maximum number of financial institutions on WPA (7) any new firms have to seek the conditional use permit. The bank is only proposing to have a 200 square foot footprint and, if approved, would be the 8th (and final) financial storefront allowed on WPA.
It was also mentioned, to much dismay, that the St. Francis Market on WPA is being closed out so the landlord can release the space to house a La Boulange sandwich shop. Several attendees discussed how to advocate for the local market. Shepard stated that GWPNA would be taking this up at their January meeting.
Further advocacy was also discussed during the Open Space committee discussions regarding the Rec and Park Department’s rollout of the Natural Areas Plan as many in the crowd were in opposition to the direction in which Rec and Park is proceeding. As the Rec and Park Department chief reports to the Mayor it was suggested that the WOTPCC consider an advocacy position to communicate directly to Mayor Lee.
District 7 Supervisor candidate Lynn Gavin addressed the attendees and informed the crowd that she is in the process of looking at the possibility of challenging the results of the election, as there is a possibility of votes cast that were not eligible, as well as possible election “illregularities” such as electricity outages and fire alarms at City Hall, creating the possibility that the ballots were not under lock and key the entire time.
Barbara and Bill Chionsini of the Lakeshore Acres Improvement Association brought the group up to date on the grant proposal funding to make pedestrian safety improvements to Sloat Blvd. Community meeting will be scheduled in 2013.
The WOTPCC meetings will have to be held at an alternative site sometime in the future as the Forest Hills Clubhouse is due to undergo a renovation in the not-to-distant future, possibly as early as April 2012. Dates and location for the alternate site have not yet been determined. Potential sites talked about include the Miraloma Park clubhouse, the West Portal clubhouse, St. Brendan’s Church Hall, or even the former Blockbuster video location on Sloat Bl.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Mon, Jan 28th at 7:30 PM at the Forest Hills Clubhouse. For more information see the WOTPCC website (www.westoftwinpeaks.org).
The West of Twin Peaks Central Council meeting of October 22nd lost the ratings “war” with the SF Giants but brought forth valuable information to the small but hearty crowd in attendance.
Council President Matt Chamberlain opened the meeting in a quiet manner at 7:35 PM. Only15 people were in attendance as the meeting started during the 6th inning of game 7 of the National League Championship Series. (Our hometown Giants eventually prevailed 9-0 to earn a spot in Baseball’s World Series.)
Chamberlain opened the meeting with a roll call, confirming the lack of a quorum, but reviewed the agenda and started with the officers and committee reports. He spoke on the topic of the council still being a little underfunded (by about $500) in the sponsorship of the District 7 candidates forum. He also asked the attendees to think and submit ideas for topics and “burning issues” to be addressed at future meetings. The WOTPCC meetings will be held at an alternative site sometime in the future as the Forest Hills Clubhouse is due to undergo a renovation in the not-to-distant future. Dates and location for the alternate site have not yet been determined.
Avrum Shepard updated the group on the process and progress of the “Off the Grid” groups plan to bring food trucks to the West Portal corridor for a trial period in November and December. The group will have a hearing in November to determine if its temporary use permit is approved and issued. Local merchants are mixed on the concept as parking issues seem to be the main sticking point with several of them. In other West Portal Avenue news, the merchants closed by the fire at 1 West Portal Ave. are moving forward with trying to get permits to rebuild. It is still uncertain if the building can be repaired or will have to be demolished and newly rebuilt. Sterling Bank is seeking a conditional use permit to move into the former “Melu Mobile” space. As there is currently the maximum number of financial institutions on WPA (7) any new firms have to seek the conditional use permit.
Barbara Chionsini of Lakeshore Acres briefed the crowd on a “Pedestrian Improvement Grant” of $1,000,000 for improvements to make Sloat Blvd. safer. More information on this important development in the future.
As no reports were given for Public Health or Open Space, the meeting turned to a briefing on three of the main measures in the November 6 election; Measure A (The City College initiative), Measure C, (the Housing Trust Fund Amendment) and Measure F (the proposal to drain the Hetch Hetchy reservoir).
Nick Panagoulis spoke on supporting Measure A, the measure to implement a $79 per parcel tax to raise money to create bridge funding for CCSF. The parcel tax, over eight years, would raise approximately $16,000,000 per year to help the school, which faces the possible loss of their accreditation due to State budget cutbacks and a lack of CC Board and Management fiscal oversight and management.
Measure C purports to create a $20,000,000 “Housing trust fund” to try and create more affordable housing in the city. No one was on hand in support or opposition.
Finally the tone of the room was set for Measure F. This ballot measure would set up an $8,000,000 fund to pay for a plan to tear down the O’Shaunessey Dam and replace our water needs with increased storage and transport from other yet to be named water sources.
The measure (if approved) also sets up an actual requirement for the Board of Supervisors to prepare a ballet initiative to actually remove the dam. The audience in attendance did not seem to be in support of this measure.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, November 26th at 7:30 PM at the Forest Hills Clubhouse. For more information see the WOTPCC website.
September 24th Meeting
A night of heavy fog outside didn’t deter the attendees or dampen the discussions at the West of Twin Peaks Central Council meeting on September 24th. The newly-elected 2012-13 council officers, led by (re-elected) President Matt Chamberlain, presided over a meeting that was highlighted by a spirited debate over the upcoming Neighborhood Parks Bond measure, Proposition B.
The bond measure, a $195,000,000 package offered by the Recreation and Parks Department, is being touted as essential for capital maintenance to dozens of San Francisco city parks, pools and other Rec and Park facilities that are suffering from years, and in some cases decades of “deferred maintenance.”
District 8 Supervisor Scott Weiner presented the “pro” side of the measure, explaining that the Rec and Park Department is trying to repair areas such as dilapidated pools, structures built from pressure treated lumber that contains arsenic, to broken irrigation systems and other unsafe playground conditions. The Supervisor cited over $1 billion dollars in deferred maintenance over decades. Weiner explained that the bond would not increase property taxes as this new bond is being proposed as other bonds have expired so that property taxes will not be allowed to move higher than 2006 levels, and that the Capital Improvement funds are needed, as routine maintenance has not been performed for years.
He acknowledged that many people are not pleased with the performance or priorities of the Recreation and Parks Department under General Manager Phil Ginsberg, but that voting no on the bond measure would not be sending the right message; instead it would penalize the citizens who utilize the parks and playgrounds.
Former Supervisor Aaron Peskin agreed that the Parks need help, but is adamant that this bond measure is not the right answer at this time. Peskin feels that voters can best send a message to the Rec and Park department by defeating this “flawed” measure; otherwise, a yes vote will give a vote of confidence to the Rec and Park management team and support their activities of renovating parcels, then closing or privatizing them due to lack of operating budgets. He went on to say that the Rec and Parks Department is averaging a new bond measure about every 8 years and that as of May, over $78,000,000 from the 2008 Bond Measure was still unspent and unallocated. Citing past programs such as the renovated (but still closed) J.P. Murphy clubhouse (closed due to lack of stable operating budget funding), Peskin offered that it is better to let structures “rot or raze them” if there is no operating budget to staff and operate them once they are renovated. He agrees with Weiner that the lack of operating funding has created problems, but disagrees on the need for more capital improvements and repairs using this bond measure.
In a short rebuttal, Weiner disputed that vast amounts of dollars were still unspent, telling the crowd that over 90% of the 2008 bond funds will be spent by the time the new bond funds (if passed) are available, and that it doesn’t matter if the bond was moved forward by two years, the capital needs are current and necessary.
Countering, Peskin closed with the argument that “if you don’t have the money to operate it, there is no reason to repair it.” He also stated that the priorities at City Hall are not focused on the Parks, but instead, money was found to support the America’s Cup program, and to do the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) on the Beach Chalet Soccer field proposals.
At this point both speakers departed to attend other functions.
Later in the meeting, a proposal was discussed and debated whereas the West of Twin Peaks Central Council would take a position officially opposing the Rec and Park ballot measure by writing letters of opposition. After much discussion, a roll call was taken of the attending delegates and the resolution failed, gaining only 5 yes votes against, 1 no vote and 10 abstentions, thus defeating the vote.
In another vote, the delegates voted unanimously to admit the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association as the newest member of the WOTPCC, following glowing reports on their activities and structure by Don Dutil and Dave Bisho.
Other WOTPCC News:
A short presentation was made by Justine Fenwick to demonstrate the neighborhood private social media application “Nextdoor.” Several neighborhood associations are already using the services of the SF-based company, with possible WOTPCC involvement in the future.
President Chamberlain asked attendees to help the WOTPCC to defray the costs of the recent candidate’s forum by writing a check to support the forum, which was held on 9/22 at the Aptos Middle School.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, October 29th at 7:30 PM at the Forest Hills Clubhouse. Info: WOTPCC website (www.westoftwinpeaks.org).
June 25th Meeting
An upcoming District 7 Supervisor Candidates Forum, the celebration of 75 years representing Westside homeowners, and the election of new council officers were the highlights of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council meeting on June 25th.
President Matt Chamberlain called the meeting to order and as a first order of business, thanked the assembled group, citing their influence in supporting the Coit Tower Initiative (Prop B). He also informed the group of a “Mt. Davidson” walk, coordinated by Jake Sigg, to be held on June 30th.
Vice President George Wooding followed with his officer’s report, thanking the membership as he had decided not to run for a board seat for the upcoming term. Wooding, a past WOTPCC President, has served several terms on the Board and has been very involved with the organization. Secretary Blue Mudbhary also thanked the members as she is also stepping down from the board after serving two years as Secretary. Parliamentarian Roger Ritter joked that he will be “donating” his “Roberts Rules of Order” to the next parliamentarian, who will be selected by the next President.
In committee news, Avrum Shepard spoke on a project to initiate a Facebook link onto the WOTPCC website during the summer hiatus. Public Health Committee chair Wooding asked members to continue to vote for the “Laguna Honda Orchard,” as LHH is in second place, and the online voting runs through July 3. In Open Space and Parks news, in response to the NAP plan a letter was written by Sally Stephens detailing the WOTPCC objections to the plan and sent to the Rec and Park Department and Mayor Lee. Dave Bisho stated that it was “the best letter he had ever seen.”
It was noted that the controversial portions of the NAP plan that were to be included in the upcoming Rec and Park Bond measure have been taken out of the measure, which will target improvements to McLaren and Golden Gate Parks.
Avrum Shepard reported that MUNI is planning to hire more meter people and issue more parking tickets to help stem a $6 Million revenue gap. With the parking ticket fines rising to $70 the City will have the highest fines in the nation for parking miscreants. Discussion then took place on how these expensive fines are driving business away from the retail districts, instead of bringing people into SF to shop. Delegate Denise LaPointe made a motion that a letter be drafted to the city budget committee and MTA expressing the displeasure of the WOTPCC on the parking policy. It was seconded by Don Dutil and unanimously passed.
Roger Ritter brought the crowd up to date about a planned District 7 Supervisor Candidates Forum. The date has been set for Saturday, September 22nd at the Aptos Middle School at 10:00 AM. The format is expected to follow last year’s Mayoral Forum with a moderated question and answer session.
“Recognition Chair” Denise LaPointe represented the membership in thanking George Wooding and Blue Mudbhary for their dedication and service to the WOTPCC. The membership is awarding gift certificates to Office Depot and Boulevard Restaurant respectively to the outgoing officers.
The controversial project on Crestmont Ave. is moving forward, with the next step being an Environmental Impact Report Preliminary Review by the Planning Commission. Opponents of the project asked the membership to assist them in voicing opposition in upcoming review meetings. For more information on this, visit the site at CrestmontPreservation.org.
Dave Bisho, representing an absent Paul Conroy and the Nominating Committee presented the delegates with the following slate of officers for the upcoming year: President – Matt Chamberlain; Vice President – Roger Ritter; Treasurer – Carolyn Squeri; Secretary – Sally Stephens (Golden Gate Heights). The President of the Council will appoint a Parliamentarian. No nominations were made from the floor, and the proposed slate was unanimously approved by a voice vote.
Other WOTPCC News:
Discussions were held regarding the vote to have the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association formally join the WOTPCC. Specifics were discussed and representatives from the Sunnyside Association were on hand to discuss the specifics on meetings, membership, etc. At this point the WOTPCC will take up action after the summer recess.
President Chamberlain called for volunteers for a “Tax Initiative Evaluation Committee” to consider November election proposals. The committee would only exist from August through October.
Denise LaPointe brought up an issue from the Twin Peaks Improvement Association relating to a 7 bedroom home that is being rented out as a “dormitory style” live-work office for “Glint.com”, through the Airbnb service. The issue is a prohibited use within the zoning for the neighborhood.
Avrum Shepard read a proclamation from State Senator Leland Yee recognizing the 75th Anniversary of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, September 24th at 7:30 PM at the Forest Hills Clubhouse. Info: WOTPCC website (www.westoftwinpeaks.org).
May 21st Meeting
Natural Areas Plan: Eric Miller, SF Forest Allianced ebates Dennis Kern, Rec & Parks
An overflowing crowd of over 65 people attended the May WOTPCC meeting, held on May 21st at the Forest Hills Clubhouse. The major topic on hand was presentations from “both sides” of the Rec and Park Department Plan to “revitalize” the parkland and forest on Mount Davidson and throughout the city with their “Natural Areas Plan.”
Dennis Kern, the Director of Operations for the Rec and Parks Department, started his presentation by showing a short video highlighting the work that the department has been doing to open up long closed trails, reintroduce native plants and grasses, and bring some of the long-missing wildlife back to SF, including the Mission Blue butterflies, coyotes, and red tail hawks. Kern insisted that the program was to better manage the open space within the city, to improve the 30 miles of trails and hiking venues that exist, and to enhance biodiversity by planting other species of trees in the open space instead of having the forests consisting (mainly) of a single species of tree, such as eucalyptus or Monterey Cypress.
He went on to acknowledge that the landscape of San Francisco is man-made, and needs to be managed and maintained. He says the SF Parks Department shares the mission of the GGNRA that trees are important, but need to be managed to create the “next generation” of younger trees and a more open understory that would be better for wildlife than the existing understory provided by existing eucalyptus groves.
Kern stated that there are 131,000 trees in SF parkland and open space, of which 64,000 are in the scope of the “Natural Areas Program” (NAP). And the current 20-year plan only applies to 5% of the trees (about 3400), mostly eucalyptus.
Following the presentation by Kern, Eric Miller of the San Francisco Forest Alliance addressed the crowd and presented the counterpoint that the existing Eucalyptus trees are not hazardous, nor in ill-health, and have been part of the urban park landscape for over 100 years.
Miller pointed out that the budget of the NAP will cost well over $34,000,000 over the next 20 years, not including the portion of the 2012 Parks Bond money that will be used for the project. He questioned the use of money for the NAP when the City is in such financial difficulty.
He cited the Alliance’s concerns that the actions of the NAP should reflect the interests of the community, not “activist” native plant proponents. To make a point, he showed a photo of Mount Davidson in 1885, with no trees or even scrub vegetation. Miller also stated that the group is against the mass deforestation of the existing forests because they are “non-native” trees, and showed photos of other San Francisco non-native tree plantings, such as the Embarcadero palm trees
Contrary to the number of 6400 trees that Kern used in his presentation, Miller stated that in evaluating the Rec and Park NAP plan, the intent is to “remove or kill-in-place” over 18,500 trees that are non-native species, to close 9.2 miles of trails to the public, and to also close 19.3 acres of space that is currently used as dog-play areas. He concluded by stating that the general public is largely unaware of these issues and that taking down mature standing groves of trees to replace them with shrubs and small oak seedlings is the wrong way to proceed and not what the public wants for City urban parkland.
During the question and answer session, mediated by WOTPCC President Matt Chamberlain, Kern admitted that no bird counts have been done in relation to the Mt. Davidson portion of the project, but that the department would welcome a partner to help them conduct a study. He went on to state that the NAP plan is not about “clear-cutting” large swathes of trees, but a way to ensure growth of the next generation of trees to replace the ones that will eventually reach the end of their natural lifespan as a group.
Other questions focused on the lack of public comment and outreach by Rec and Park regarding the NAP plan. Public meetings were held by the Parks Commission, but few people were aware of the actions of the commission.
Following the presentations and Q and A, a motion was made for a committee to draft language clarifying the WOTPCC’s position to oppose the NAP and the plan of the Rec and Parks Department. The motion was seconded and carried by a vote of 12-0 with 3 abstentions. The committee will prepare the response and have it delivered to the SF Rec and Parks Commission by the June 11th deadline for public comment.
Other WOTPCC News:
Paul Conroy and the Nominating Committee presented the delegates with the following slate of officers for the upcoming year: President – Matt Chamberlain; Vice President – Roger Ritter; Treasurer – Carolyn Squeri; Secretary – Sally Stephens (Golden Gate Heights). The President of the Council will appoint a Parliamentarian. No nominations were made from the floor, so the proposed slate will be voted on at the next meeting on June 25th.
WOTPCC President Chamberlain also asked for volunteers for the following:
A committee to plan and conduct a District 7 Supervisor Candidates’ Forum
Forming a membership committee to interact and vet potential members (Paul Conroy and Roger Ritter have already volunteered)
A committee to identify, create a master listing, and extend a personal invitation to city department officials and insiders who are living in the WOTPCC hemisphere.
Working with a group to garner matching funds to bring an airplane back to Larsen Park. (remember the former plane / play structure??)
And finally…the WOTPCC members and officers invite you to the “75th Anniversary Celebration of the West Of Twin Peaks Central Council” on Monday evening, June 25th at the Forest Hills Clubhouse, starting at 7:30 PM.
Next meeting : Monday, June 26th at 7:30 PM at the Forest Hills Clubhouse. Info: www.westoftwinpeaks.org.
Correction: last month’s photo of Tony Kelly incorrectly labeled him as a supporter of the “garbage monopoly,” he opposes the monopoly and supports Prop A.
May 21st Meeting
The “slimming” of Sloat Boulevard and the Proposition A debate took center stage at the April 23 meeting of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council. Approximately 30 people were on hand when WOTPCC Vice President George Wooding dropped the gavel to start the meeting, as President Matt Chamberlain was out of town.
First up on the agenda was a discussion and question period on the Caltrans Sloat Boulevard “slimming” project. The project, described by multiple attendees as a “disaster” is an attempt by Caltrans to improve pedestrian safety by reducing the number of lanes from 3 to 2 in each direction. Caltrans cited traffic reports and studies showing the reduction of lanes is still able to handle the traffic flow. Members of the audience decried the lack of public involvement, a severe lack of public outreach to the neighborhood associations by Caltrans, and the fact that at peak drive times, it is very dangerous to merge onto Sloat from any of the side feeder streets (such as Riverton Drive) because of the increased density of the traffic.
The Caltrans representatives apologized for the lack of public discussion and gave information out about the traffic studies and upcoming meetings to discuss both the Sloat project as well as the upcoming Great Highway / Skyline Boulevard realignments. During questioning, the representatives from Caltrans stressed the point that the bike lane painting was not part of a larger bike lane effort, but just a way to demark the lane that had been closed to traffic. The residents of the neighborhoods adjacent to Sloat were still visibly upset even after the explanations and Q & A. This project is one that will be discussed for a long time.
Following the Caltrans presentation, representatives from both sides of the “Garbage Bidding Proposition,” Prop A, took to the floor to explain their respective sides of the issue.
District 7 Supervisor Candidate Joel Engardio started the discussion, by explaining that although he likes Recology and that they do a very good job, it’s time to update the process from its 1932 origins and re-craft the law to modernize the statute to take into account the recycling process and the changing process of waste management, which is far different than the “garbage pickup processes” of the 1930s and 40s. He stated that Prop A has nothing to do with Recology, but mostly to do with getting a mandate in place to ensure that SF gets a franchise fee and has bidding in place.
Co-sponsor Tony Kelly followed Engardio and also stated that he expects Recology to win the bid contract for the 4 of he 5 sectors that are to be put up for public bidding. The Proposition will mandate that a company will not be able to handle all of the garbage pickup, recycling, and most importantly, landfill management portions of the contract. Kelly believes that having one company handle all aspects is a conflict of interest. He also discussed that San Francisco’s contract is much larger than in Oakland and San Jose, but the city receives no franchise fee from Recology. He cited two City Hall studies showing that of 71 cities, most have franchise fees and competitive bidding.
A Recology consultant, and former NorCal Waste President Leonard Stefanelli countered with the opinion that any franchise fee collected by any city is no more than a “tax” that will be passed through to the ratepayers and will not result in lower garbage costs. Citing a history of good performance by the various groups that were responsible for collecting and managing the City’s waste stream since 1932, he noted that San Francisco has been named America’s Greenest City due to the recycling programs and push to have “Zero Waste.”
Stefanelli also addressed the cost of moving San Francisco garbage out of the city to out-of-town landfills and feels that having separate companies for collection, recycling and landfill management will result in increased costs and performance problems. He also scoffed at the concept of having a new transfer station at the Port of SF, then moving landfill-destined garbage by barge to other landfills.
Both groups had chances to have rebuttal arguments and to field questions from the meeting attendees. With both sides giving high marks to the performance of Recology it will be interesting to see what voters think when they go to the polls in June.
In other WOTPCC actions, the approval of the by-law revisions was delayed, as a two-thirds majority of neighborhood groups were not present to vote as called by the rules in effect. The vote will be considered again at the next meeting, to be held on May 21st due to the Memorial Day holiday.
Finally, Estelle Smith of the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association addressed the attendees. Now that the Sunnyside neighborhood has been consolidated into District 7, instead of split, the SNA is interested in engaging the WOTPCC and possible applying for membership in the council as its 21st member.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be on Monday, May 21st at 7:30 PM at the Forest Hills Clubhouse.
In a few final points, Wooding again noted that the WOTPCC Anniversary committee is busy collecting volunteers interested in assisting on the WOTPCC 75th Anniversary event. The event will be held on June 25th and Roger Ritter is looking for volunteers to serve on the planning committee.
For more information see the WOTPCC website (www.westoftwinpeaks.org).
A quick and breezy evening was in store for those who attended the West of Twin Peaks Central Council meeting on March 26. With President Matt Chamberlain unable to attend, Vice President George Wooding opened the meeting at 7:30, promising a fast meeting. That was certainly the case, as few new officer and committee reports were given.
The majority of the discussion focused on three topics: Redistricting, the Caltrans/Sloat Blvd. problems and the revision of the WOTPCC By-Laws.
As the San Francisco Redistricting Task Force continues to look at balancing the number of residents within each district, District 7 has escaped any major issues, for now. Based on the latest maps there could still be some movement around Holloway Street, and the Twin Peaks area is currently split between Districts 8,7 and 5, with the Twin Peaks Improvement Association (TPIA) remaining in 7. There is still much anxiety as the final determination of boundaries will not be final until the very end, after the task force has considered all of the information at hand as well as the public input from areas such as the OMI and others. It is still imperative for the WOTPCC to be represented at the task force meetings. All meeting now are held at City Hall and there will be many between now and April 15th. To see the schedule; visit sfgov.org/rdtf
The “slimming down” from 6 lanes to 4 lanes on Sloat Blvd. was the next discussion point as former WOTPCC President Bill Chionsini addressed the attendees on his communications to Mayor Lee and Caltrans. (See the accompanying story on Page 1.) Photo: Bill Chionsini
Paul Conroy updated the group on the proposed changes to the WOTPCC By-Laws. He spoke of the changes that the committee (Dave Bisho, Roger Ritter and Paul Conroy) has proposed and also of the by-laws that were not changed. The meeting served as a legal 10 day notice. Final consideration, discussion and the vote for approval will take place at the next WOTPCC meeting. It is important for delegates to attend and vote at the April 23 meeting.
Denise LaPointe led the section on “Old Business” by asking if the WOTPCC officers had sent the groups’ position on redistricting to everyone involved, including Supervisor Elsbernd. Wooding said he would check and see if that was indeed the case. It was also asked what the District 7 supervisor’s position is on the topic.
Wooding also reported that the PUC proposed Wastewater Treatment plant will not be in Golden Gate Park, being instead moved into the Oceanside Water Treatment plant and the SF Armory property some adjacent space.
In a few final points, Wooding noted that the WOTPCC Anniversary committee is busy collecting volunteers interested in assisting on the WOTPCC 75th Anniversary event. The event will be held on June 25th and Roger Ritter is looking for volunteers to serve on the planning committee.
In other WOTPCC news, next month the WOTPCC meeting will feature both sides of the June garbage initiative giving their sides of the issue.
With that, Council Vice President Wooding adjourned the meeting at 8:35 P.M.
For more information see the WOTPCC website (www.westoftwinpeaks.org). The next regularly scheduled meeting will be Monday, April 23rd at 7:30 in the Forest Hill Clubhouse.
Transportation, the America’s Cup, open space, Coit Tower, bond funding and candidate evaluation all factored into the dialogue on February 27 along with a dose of disaster planning and a journalism award.
Following the meeting being brought to order by President Matt Chamberlain, Vice President George Wooding announced to the audience the awarding of the James Madison Freedom of Information Award by the Society of Professional Journalism to local writer Patrick Monette-Shaw of the Westside Observer for his on-going work detailing the problems at Laguna Honda Hospital and the administration of the Patient Gift Fund. Writer Monette-Shaw and I made comments about the importance of community journalism and that we are both very honored to have been involved with this prestigious award. As a result of Monette-Shaw’s work, and inquiries from the WOTPCC board, an audit was conducted on the LHH fund, finding problems that have been partially redressed by the hospital management.
Committee reports were given with Paul Conroy speaking about the ongoing by-laws revisions, and Wooding detailing two ballot measures that will be on the June ballot, one addressing marketing and maintenance issues relating to the operation and preservation of Coit Tower by the SF Recreation and Parks Department, and the other addressing an initiative to change charges for garbage and recycling.
District 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd gave an extended report on current supervisorial events, including the decision by the America’s Cup Organizing Committee to drop the renovation and leasing of Piers 30 and 32 from the package that was previously negotiated with the city, to be voted upon by the Supervisors on February 28. A smaller, revised agreement will be voted upon within 3-4 weeks. It is fully expected that the races will continue, scheduled for late 2012 and 2013.
The Supervisor also commented on the progress of the pension reform, citing that Proposition C, passed last November, has helped the cost structure somewhat, but has done little or nothing to address the bigger cost issue of health care benefits. Questions were also directed at the Supe on the proposed Recreation and Park bond issue to upgrade local Parks and replace unsafe playground equipment. Elsbernd stated that the Rec and Parks department seemed to have heard the feedback regarding clubhouses, as this bond measure is not slated to repair or upgrade any clubhouses, but is targeted to playground equipment, regional parks and port properties.
A question from the audience asked Elsbernd to describe a “litmus test” that voters should use to evaluate candidates running to succeed him. His thoughts focused on evaluating candidates that have a track record in the district; are involved in the district; have made a true commitment to the issues and people of the district and not to so-called “special interests.”
He said the “slimming down” of Sloat Boulevard from 6 lanes to 4 lanes by Caltrans, to improve the safety of children and others who have to cross the busy intersection. He reiterated that the project has made crossing the street safer for pedestrians, especially the children from Mercy, and while bike lanes were added, it was not the reason that the street was modified.
Finally he alerted the crowd to possible new fees to support transportation in SF—$5.50 per square foot for residential projects that is being considered, termed the “Transit Impact Development Fee.”
Susan Yik followed. She asked the audience to get involved with NERT (Neighborhood Emergency Response Training) starting in March. Classes over 6 weeks will teach attendees disaster preparedness procedures, while giving them a feeling of empowerment. The classes will be held at Aptos Middle School over six sessions, starting on March 15 and continuing on March 22, and April 5, 12, 19 and 26. All are between 6-9 PM and are open at all. “New” students will not be allowed to join after the second class. Info: 415.970.2024, or visit www.sfgov.org/sffdnert.
Gus Guibert raised the issue of a 20 year plan to restore parts of the city that are deemed “open space” to a natural plan reflecting what existed prior to the arrival of the Europeans. Part of the plan, which is yet unfunded, is to “restore” Mt. Davidson by removing approximately 1600 non-native trees such as eucalyptus, and replacing them with natural grasses, native oaks, and other vegetation.
Chris Bowman spoke briefly on the needto be present at the redistricting meetings, as discussions and decisions are still being formulated on the final proposals to amend the district lines within the city.
A lively debate followed on the preparation and approval of a ballot argument in favor of the June initiative that calls for a portion of the monies collected at Coit Tower to be invested in the maintenance of the WPA-era murals and other repairs at the landmark structure. The motion to support the Coit Tower preservation initiative by submitting a ballot argument (not to exceed $500) was passed 9-2 with 4 abstentions.
With that, Council President Chamberlain adjourned the meeting at 9:05 P.M.
The next scheduled meeting: Monday, March 26th at 7:30 in the Forest Hill Clubhouse. Info: www.westoftwinpeaks.org
Development, redistricting, bonds, and Coit Tower protection were among the main topics of the West of Twin Peaks Central Committee Meeting on January 23rd.
Matt Chamberlain presided over a meeting attended by over 40 citizens, eager to find out about redistricting updates and the other items on the packed agenda.
Following the usual housekeeping and financial reports, Avrum Shepherd and Karen Breslin reported on the progress of the Goals Committee, charged with defining the 2012 objectives of the organization. This year, the goals submitted focused on the importance of: redistricting (and the impact of the WOTP Neighborhood Groups); communication (improving the dialogue between the WOTPCC, the neighborhood groups and city agencies such as MTA, DPW and Rec and Parks); government transparency (getting valuable information); and the protection of police and fire services. WOTPCC delegates and members of the neighborhood organizations are tasked with providing input and direction towards adding to and/or approving the Goals as submitted.
The night was awash in guest speakers and requests for organizational support for worthy causes. Dawn Kamalanathan, the Director of the Capital and Planning Division of the SF Recreation and Parks Department gave a short presentation on the progress of the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks and Citywide Program and a look at the upcoming 2012 bond measure. Several slides detailed the ongoing progress of the projects funded by the 2008 Bond Measure, setting the stage for the 2012 continuation of the upgrade of additional neighborhood parks and other citywide programs. While it was reported the projects funded by the 2008 Bond are all currently on time and under budget, much of the discussion focused on the problems associated with the refurbishment of playgrounds, parks and other city facilities which are then left for neglect as no operating funding is being allocated for staffing of the areas and maintenance needs. The feeling of many in the audience that the Recreation and Parks Department is not listening to the public in meetings was also broadly conveyed to the staff in attendance. Rec and Park is asking for feedback for their upcoming bond-related reconstruction project list.
A proposal that would add up to 36 units on the “dead-end” portion of Crestmont Drive was shown to the group by Charles Powell of the Mount Sutro Owners Association. The presentation cited many reasons why the development should not be allowed to proceed and asked the delegates to authorize a letter of opposition from the WOTPCC supporting the MSOA’s efforts to stop the project. The vote to prepare the letter of support was passed unanimously.
Another unanimous vote was reached on supporting the efforts of the Coit Tower Preservation Group to put an initiative on the ballot to limit commercial activities at the site, and to prioritize the spending of funds the City receives from the Coit Tower concessionaire. Jon Golinger of the Preservation Group explained that revenues in excess of $500,000 annually were being generated from the elevator fees alone, but the funds are not being used to maintain and repair the WPA-era murals, lighting and other areas of maintenance.
To close, Chamberlain gave a very detailed explanation and overview of the current redistricting that is taking place in the city. As the city is divided into 11 supervisorial districts, and the premise is that districts are to be equally represented by the number of residents in each district, as certain districts grow in population the district lines have to be adjusted. This process is repeated after every 10-year census report showing changes in the number of people in each district. In explaining several different possible methods to balance the population shifts, the most favorably supported scenario is one where District 7 is expanded very slightly, while keeping the unique neighborhoods represented by the WOTPCC together in a single district footprint that very closely resembles the current district borders.
Even though a member of the redistricting committee stated the committee’s proposal is very close to the map shown by Chamberlain, it is imperative that citizens attend the meetings where public comments can be conveyed to the committee.
The unique neighborhoods that encompass the West of Twin Peaks district have been working together on common needs and issues over the past 75 years.
For more information see the WOTPCC website (www.westoftwinpeaks.org).
The next regularly scheduled meeting will be Monday, February 27th at 7:30 in the Forest Hill Clubhouse.
President Matt Chamberlain and the WOTPCC were the audience for a discussion of the election results by Fall Line Analytics principal David Latterman, who enthralled the crowd with his detailed metrics and conclusions drawn from the voting information for the November 8th election.
Latterman, who had previously spoken to the group on the process of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is a political consultant who has worked on many San Francisco campaigns, including the recent mayoral campaign for Board of Supervisor's President David Chiu.
He started by outlining the PVI, Progressive Voter Index, showing the matrix of voters from conservative to moderate to progressive. District 7 came in as the most conservative voters (to no one's surprise), with Districts 5 and 9 being the most liberal. Latterman spoke on the topic of "political geography" and its importance to San Francisco, especially as the Supervisors are chosen on a district-wide basis. District 7 also finished in the top two in voter turnout, trailing District 8 by a small margin. The top four districts in terms of percentage of voter turnout were 8, 7, 4 and 2. All of these districts are conservative or moderate in their voting.
Other metrics showed the balance of the voters in SF. Conservatives are 7% of the voters, Moderates are 39%, and Liberals are 36%, with the Progressives tallying a solid 19%. On a party basis, Democrats lead with 54% , followed by 25-30% who "decline to state" party affiliation, 6% Republican and 3-4% for other parties. Metrics also show that the Chinese vote is generally steady at 16-18% while the LBGT vote is approximately 10% of the voters.
How did these metrics show or affect the November Mayoral election? Latterman says, not at all, as the election showed a low turnout (40%) as Ed Lee drained all of the interest out of the race when he declared as a candidate. Lee started the campaign with polls showing 30% support of the voters. Following weeks of campaigning from the 16 candidates, the Mayor stayed approximately the same, winning with 31% of the final votes. Even with the large amount of candidates, ranked choice voting had no real effect on the results as no one was really close to catching Lee.
The race for sheriff was somewhat closer as Supervisor Ross Mirkirimi won with 38% of the vote, followed by Chris Cunnie and Paul Miyamoto at 28 and 27% respectively. Cunnie and Miyamoto finished basically in a dead heat for second place, splitting most of the 2nd place RCV votes.
District Attorney George Gascon won the contest for DA with 42% of the vote, over second place finisher David Onek (24%) and Sharmin Bock (21%). In an interesting note, if Ms. Bock would have finished second, the vote would have been much closer as she was listed either 1st, 2nd or 3rd in almost as many ballots as Gascon. Latterman believes that the progressive block's strong showing for Onek cost Bock a chance to make the race very close.
The propositions were decided by large margins, with the exception of Prop H, the School Assignment proposition. It was virtually a dead heat, winning 50.06% to 49.94%.
Latterman cited the following trends resulting from the ballot results: San Francisco voters are still on a trend to support moderate candidates; the election was more economy based, and less ideological than in the past. Bond initiatives fared well, while tax increases did not. The Progressives (left) won the endorsement game; and a strong, unified Chinese block held together to elect Ed Lee, removing the "interim" part of his title and selecting him as SF's newest Mayor.
2012 will be an interesting election season, as new Supervisors will be elected in Districts 1,3,5,7,9 and 11. Redistricting (to better balance the population numbers within the 11 districts) will affect some of the district voting trends somewhat, but Latterman thinks the core voting values of each district will basically remain constant.
In other WOTPCC news, the delegates voted almost unanimously (1 abstention) to send a letter to the Planning Commission to ask for a 90 day extension to the Public Comment Period for the Draft EIR for the Beach Chalet Athletic Fields Renovation Project, citing as factors, the replacing of grass with artificial turf; increased parking; increased lighting; the erection of bleachers; and the damage that will occur to the flora and fauna in the park.
David Pilpel, from the Redistricting Task Force, also spoke briefly explaining the process for redistricting and why it is necessary. As the South of Market (SOMA) area in District 6 has grown through new housing units, etc., the other districts have to be reallocated to more evenly distribute the number of residents in each of the 11 districts. Districts 5,7,8 and 9 (described by Pilpel as the "squishy middle" will probably see the most changes in borders. For more information see the WOTPCC website (www.westoftwinpeaks.org).
December is a "dark" month for the WOTPCC. The next meeting will be Monday, January 23rd at 7:30 in the Forest Hill Clubhouse.
News from the West of Twin Peaks Central Council
Lively debate echoed throughout the Forest Hills clubhouse, as President Matt Chamberlain and the WOTPCC were the audience for a discussion of the ballot Propositions E and F. District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, the proponent of the two propositions, explained his rationale for the proposed ordinances, while Community College Board member John Rizzo and Sunshine Task Force member Bruce Wolfe opposed the propositions.
Wiener explained that Prop E, placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors in a 7-4 vote, is a first step to reform the system by which ballot measures are placed upon the ballots and voted upon. As it now stands a ballot measure can be placed on the ballot in several ways: by the Mayor; by a vote of only 4 supervisors and by the initiative process where citizens collect signatures. Once a measure has been placed on the ballot, often with little or no public discussion, the voters can only vote yes or no to approve or reject the law, with no recourse to change parts of it (or all of it) prior to implementation. Once approved by the voters, ANY changes would require the revised ordinance or law to be put back on the ballot for voter approval of the changes.
Obviously, changes (even to poorly constructed or flawed laws) are rarely placed on the ballot for revision. Prop E would present a method for revisions (up to and including repeal), but only after a law is in effect for 3 years. During years 4-7 the Boar of Supervisors would be allowed to make amendments to the ordinances. After year 7 a measure can only be changed by a ballot amendment approved by the voters. Wiener noted that the Proposition is endorsed by the SF Chronicle and a majority of the Supervisors, and that it only would apply to ordinances submitted by the mayor and supervisors, and not those placed on the ballot by a voter-based signature drive.
Rizzo countered that while it is commendable that Wiener is trying to improve the process, Proposition E just goes too far. He contends that the Proposition would allow the Board of Supervisors to change the will of the voters at 3 years, and not just a tweak but also a full repeal. He also stated that the supervisors could change the use of money collected through taxes and bond measures. In fact, he countered that the law would even allow the Supes to modify Prop E, and that it is not wise to trust the supervisors with that power.
Wiener responded that because Prop E is a charter amendment, it would be covered by state law that forbids changing any charter amendment without a vote of the citizens. He also added that Rizzo was not accurate in his belief that Prop E would allow monies to be redistributed easily, stating that "set asides and taxes that are dedicated" cannot be redistributed or redirected under current state law.
The discussion then moved onto Proposition F, a proposal to reform the "Campaign Consultant Disclosure Ordinance" which was approved for the ballot by an 11-0 vote of the Board of Supervisors.
Currently, political consultants earning $1000 are required to file documents on a quarterly basis disclosing their clients. The forms can be submitted as paper reports, or electronically. Paper reports are eventually scanned and placed into the system where they can be reviewed by "Sunshine" proponents and other groups.
Prop F would amend the current ordinance to:
• Require consultants to file paperwork monthly, as lobbyists are required to;
• Require electronic filing, so that documents can be more readily placed into the system;
• Increase the dollar threshold from $1000 to $5000;
• Include an amend ability provision allowing changes if approved by 4/5 of the Ethics Commission and a supermajority of the Board of Supervisors.
Wiener explained that he really felt that Proposition F would be very non-controversial, and has been surprised by the amount of resistance.
Wolfe, a member of the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, believes that Prop F is the "beginning of the end of ballot box legislation" and that the Ethics Commission should not have any right to be able to change laws. He also agrees that more disclosure is necessary, but everyone should be held to the $1000 threshold, with amounts over that disclosed and audited.
Following a challenge from (former Supervisor and retired Judge) Quentin Kopp to Wiener on the impact of the Ethics Commission (other than spending money), the conversation temporarily drifted into a discussion on the failings of the commission. Council President Chamberlain quickly brought the discussion back to the topic of Prop F where questions and answers were fielded by the opposing orators.
Following a handshake and applause, the meeting switched to a discussion of less controversial topics. Chamberlain discussed the success of the recent "Candidates Forum" (kudos to everyone involved) and that the council showed a profit from the event and will be redistributing the profits to the homeowner groups involved in the future, whether by a direct payment or a credit against 2012 dues (to be decided in the near future).
In committee reporting, both the By-Laws Committee and the 2012 Goals Committee were filled with volunteers. Avrum Shepard of the Technology Committee has redesigned the WOTPCC website and is seeking guidance in selecting photos and graphics for the site.
George Wooding updated everyone on Public Health issues, as did Gus Guibert on Open Space topics concerning Stow Lake and the Beach Chalet soccer field project. Nothing new was discussed on Transportation and the Planning and Land Use committee is currently devoid of members.
The last topic of discussion was the examination of the by-laws and a vote to admit the "Golden Gate Heights" neighborhood as the 20th neighborhood into the WOTPCC. The Golden Gate Heights representative, Sally Stevens, detailed the boundaries of the neighborhood and the size, approximately 400 households. A motion to accept and a second were procured and the organization was admitted to the council by a unanimous 13-0 tally.
The WOTPCC will next meet on November 28th at the Forest Hills Clubhouse, starting at 7:30 PM. For more details on the topics, visit the WOTPCC website at www.westoftwinpeaks.org
October 2011 Meeting
President Matt Chamberlain and the WOTPCC had been on Summer recess, but that doesn't mean they were on vacation…in fact, they have been very busy putting the finishing touches on the WOTPCC organized and sponsored "San Francisco Mayoral debate," featuring many of the candidates for the upcoming Mayoral election in November. The debate was held on October 1st as we were going to press, and we will have coverage of the event in this issue of the Observer.
New-President Chamberlain convened the first meeting of the new WOTPCC year on September 26th at 7:30 PM in the Forest Hills Clubhouse. With approximately 30 attendees the meeting was primarily a planning meeting, with most of the discussion centering around the planning process of where the WOTPCC organization wants to go this year and what issues are important to the organization, which comprises the 19 neighborhood groups that make up the West of Twin Peaks Central Council.
The Council President called for the formation of two "very temporary" committees; 1) A committee to discuss and map out the goals and objectives of the WOTPCC for 2011-12; and 2) A committee to update and revise the by-laws of the organization. Interested parties should contact the secretary, Blue Mudbhary to sign up for the commits or to get more information. Two committees (Planning and Land Use; Bylaws Review and Update) are currently lacking committee chairs. Volunteers are needed.
On behalf of the Council, Dave Bisho presented outgoing President George Wooding with a plaque thanking him for his dedication and contributions made to the benefit of the WOTPCC while serving as President of the Council.
Short reports were presented by Wooding (Open Space and Public Health), Avrum Shepard (Transportation), and Carolyn Squeri (Finance). Other topics included a short discussion on the process and premise of "Ranked Choice Voting"; the WOTPCC sponsored Mayoral Forum; an upcoming art event on West Portal Avenue where "Dance Meets MUNI" entitled Trolley Dances; and the imminent vote by the Board of Supervisors to complete the creation of a Community Benefit District (CBD) on West Portal Avenue. A motion was made to write a letter supporting the creation of the district, but failed on a full vote by an 8-5 margin with 1 abstention. The West Portal Merchants Association is also split about the concept of the CBD. While most of the merchants agree with the concept, many are not supporting the specific process and format of the CBD that is currently being proposed.
Following presentations by representatives of the San Francisco Unified School District (speaking about the upcoming Bond Initiative for school retrofitting) and City Code Enforcement, the business meeting was adjourned.
The WOTPCC will next meet on October 24th at the Forest Hills Clubhouse, at 7:30 PM.
Upcoming Mayoral Debate
President Matt Chamberlain and the WOTPCC have been on Summer recess, but that doesn't mean they've been on vacation…in fact, they have been very busy putting the finishing touches on an upcoming WOTPCC organized and sponsored "San Francisco Mayoral debate" featuring many of the candidates for the upcoming Mayoral election in November.
Mark your calendars NOW! With a very large slate of candidates, many of whom have extensive qualifications, the debate will be a vital forum to help voters to select the best three (ranked choice) candidates to represent the city as the new Mayor of San Francisco.
The debate will be held on October 1st, from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon at the St. Stephen's Parish Hall, located at 473 Eucalyptus Drive. To date, the following candidates are expected to participate: Jeff Adachi; Michela Alioto-Pier; John Avalos; David Chiu; Bevan Dufty; Tony Hall; Dennis Herrera; Ed Lee; Joanna Rees; Phil Ting and Leland Yee. Light refreshments will be served from 9:30 to 10 AM.
For more information on the debate go to: www.WestofTwinPeaks.org
New-President Chamberlain will end the recess and convene the next meeting on September 26th at 7:30 PM in the Forest Hills Clubhouse.
A new slate of officers, a photo op, and a briefing by Mayor Ed Lee highlighted the West of Twin Peaks Central Council meeting of June 27th.
WOTPCC President George Wooding called the meeting to order at 7:35 PM with about 55 people in the audience and a short agenda, centering on a visit from Mayor Ed Lee. Once it was determined that a quorum was reached by roll call, the minutes from the last meeting were discussed. A clarification of statements made by Planning Director John Rahaim was discussed in which he had spoken about the changes in the Housing Element. The discussion focused on the topic where the use of "neighborhood" input into the Planning process was broadened to where the "community" would have input. The minutes were amended to include wording where Rahaim stated that, even as the community at large would have input, the neighborhoods affected by planning would be given greater weight in the process. After this the minutes were approved as amended.
Paul Conroy represented the Nominating Committee (Conroy, D. Bisho, and G. Linn) announcing the proposed officers for 2011-12: President Matt Chamberlain, Vice President George Wooding, Treasurer Carolyn Squeri, Secretary Blue Mudbharry, and Parliamentarian Roger Ritter. The nominations were approved unanimously.
Wooding discussed the agenda, centering on an appearance by the Mayor to officiate the installation of officers and to pose for a photo with the current and past officers to mimic a photo of a 1937 meeting between the WOTPCC offices and then-mayor Angelo Rossi.
Shortly thereafter, Mayor Lee arrived, and officiated over the "swearing in" of the new officers, after which he addressed the audience and took questions.
In his remarks, Lee touched on the fact that he is the first interim mayor since Dianne Feinstein (following the Moscone-Milk assassinations). A long-time SF government employee, Lee has served under 4 mayors in his 22 year career spanning 5 different departments, he is still learning so much about the city as he is now involved in all aspects of the city operations.
He recapped his performance to date with by citing the 5 priorities that he has been focusing on: Keeping the City Safe; (hiring a new Police Chief); Working to reap the economic benefits of the America's Cup Yacht Races (bringing jobs and tourism); Supporting and implementing the SF "Local Hire Ordinance" that was instituted; working on the crafting of a "Consensus-based Pension Reform Plan" (that would end job-spiking, while raising employee contributions); and addressing Street Maintenance with the $248M Street Improvement Bond which will be on the ballot in November. In discussing the Bond measure, he spoke of the poor condition of the streets citywide as a result of "deferred" maintenance, and the need to implement the bond just to keep things status quo. He went on to state that the bond measure would not result in an increase in property taxes. (DPW Director Ed Riskin discussed the concept of "geographic equity" on how the bond money would be spread out equally in all sections of the city when asked in Q and A of which specific streets would be targeted.)
In a short question session the Mayor fielded questions on: 1). Whether he will support the initiative to require competitive bidding for the SF Garbage Collection Operation (the Mayor said he feels that things are working well now, so he sees no need to change the current operation); 2). The concepts of creating "parklets" that take away parking spaces in areas that desperately need them; and 3). Is he going to jump into the race for Mayor? On that note, he reasoned that he doesn't regard himself as a "politician" and that his is focused on running the city and achieving what he set out to do, and that the process of campaigning would take away from the time he is devoting to the job. (But he didn't say specifically, no, he is not running.) He did laugh when asked if he would support a "write-in" campaign on the ballot. (Interestingly enough, audience members included mayoral candidates Tony Hall, Joanna Rees and Dennis Herrera—probably very interested in what Lee is going to do…)
Following his remarks, the 1937 "redux" photo was taken. The official business ended with the delegates discussing a motion to officially support (as the WOTPCC) the initiative put forth by Supervisors Mirkarimi, Mar, Avalos and Campos to oppose the "privatization" of Park and Recreation facilities within the city. With input from both sides, of the issue, it was decided to work via email, and to craft a ballot statement that can be supported by individuals and individual Neighborhood associations, but not as the WOTPCC as a whole.
With that, President Wooding adjourned the meeting. Summer recess is upon the WOTPCC and new-President Chamberlain will convene the next meeting on September 26th at 7:30 PM in the Forest Hills Clubhouse.
June 2011 Meeting
Planning, the Housing Element and another Supervisor/Mayoral Candidate visit highlighted the May 23 meeting of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council, held at the Forest Hills Clubhouse.
Photo: Planning Director John Rahiem
WOTPCC President George Wooding called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM with about 30 people in the audience and an agenda which would stretch the meeting until 9 PM. After the roll call of member organizations, and the approval of the minutes from last month, Treasurer Carolyn Squeri followed with her report stating the dollars in the account and reminding the organizations to file their IRS form 990 to stay in compliance, as it is now an annual requirement.
Committee reports followed as Avrum Shepard (Transportation), George Wooding (Public Health and Open Space), Matt Chamberlain (Planning and Land Use) and Dave Bisho, representing the Nominating Committee, gave updates.
Shepard detailed MUNI's disagreement with the State Transportation Board, requiring MUNI to improve in safety; MUNI feels no improvement is necessary.
Wooding reported on the issues with the concession bid at Stow Lake where the incumbent operator (for 67 years) has been outbid by a new bidder in a problematic bid practice where allegations of wrong doing have been reported. These allegations resulted in lobbyist and political guru Alex Tourk resigning from affiliation with DA George Gascon's campaign for election. Wooding also detailed the situation at the Arboretum where the admission fees have not nearly approached the levels that were predicted when implemented. The Board of Supervisors recently voted to keep the entrance fees in place. In the Public Health sector, Wooding reported that things at Laguna Honda were basically unchanged, with the exception of ongoing problems with neighbors who are complaining about the excessive noise generated by the air conditioning units in the new portion of the hospital. Photo: Supervisor John Avalos
Matt Chamberlain's report on planning issues continued with the main emphasis being on five topics that have been reviewed by the WOTPCC in the past: urban wind generation (on which a policy declaration has been prepared); cellular antennae (no policy yet); the AT&T boxes that were discussed last month; the Parkmerced Special Use District; and the Housing Element.
As to the Housing Element, Chamberlain believes that the Supervisors will vote to approve it, probably by an 8-3 count, or no vote will be held and it will automatically go into effect on June 22nd. Dave Bisho informed the attendees that his is part of a group that sued to stop the 2004 Housing Element. The case took 5 years and the arguments against the HE were upheld. The group is prepared to sue again over the 3rd draft of the 2009 HE. – more on the HE below.
Bisho also spoke as head of the Nominating Committee. The slate as proposed by the Nominating Committee for the 2012 WOTPCC is: President – Matt Chamberlain; VP – George Wooding; Treasurer – Carolyn Squeri; Secretary – Blue Mudbhary. The Parliamentarian (Avrum Shepard) serves at the request of the President. The floor is open to other nominations up to and including next month's meeting prior to the vote for the new term, which takes effect with the September meeting.
SF Planning Chief John Rahaim was the first speaker and he opened the floor up for discussion on issues involving the proposed 3rd draft of the Housing Element. Rahaim answered each question courteously while maintaining his view that the HE is a planning guide and not a policy, and not one that is a zoning change to the RH1 and RH2 designations. He explained the rationale that zoning can only be changed by the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission. Questions centered around the definition of height and bulk density guidelines for projects in RH1 neighborhoods, and the importance of preserving the neighborhood ambiance, and not allowing a property owner to purchase an existing home, gut the interior and build a non-single family structure like a tri-plex, etc. Rahaim expressed surprise and disagreed with people concerned and upset about maps (from ABAG – Association of Bay Area Governments) showing overviews of infill projects expected to be zoned for the Westside. Overall, he made his case for the 3rd draft of the HE and the changes from the 2nd draft. For many in the audience, they seem resigned to agree to disagree.
Rahaim reiterated that the purpose of the Planning Department is to give everyone involved the best advice and information on planning for the city as a whole, not just for neighborhood activists or the political will of the day.
The final speaker of he evening was District 11 Supervisor John Avalos, a resident of the Excelsior who is also running for Mayor. The candidate spoke about the makeup of the district (67% single family homes) and his involvement as he has two children in the SF public schools. (His wife is also a teacher at a SF school.) During his talk he touched on his achievements as a Supervisor on legislation he has sponsored, as well as the challenges of the Park and Rec department, the ongoing battle with graffiti, the lack of real "transit first transit" in his district, and the need to bring people and institutions together for the betterment of the city.
The supervisor answered questions ranging from reinstituting SF Police Dept. Academy classes, to Pension Reform (supports it), the Housing Element (will probably vote for it, as he feels the process is in place to maintain the characteristics of each neighborhood), and some lively questions on how non-profit dollars are allocated from City Hall to the non-profit service providers within the City and County of SF.
After the presentations, the speakers and the attendees spent the better part of the next hour having smaller discussions on the topics in small groups and one-on-ones.
Next meeting: June 27th at the Forest Hills clubhouse at 7:30 PM.
Planning, traffic congestion, AT&T above-ground boxes and a Supervisor/Mayoral Candidate visit highlighted a well-attended and boisterous session at the West of Twin Peaks Central Council meeting on April 25.
WOTPCC President George Wooding called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM with about 40 people in the audience at the Forest Hills Clubhouse and a full agenda, which would stretch the meeting until nearly 10 PM. After the roll call of member organizations, a vote was called to re-admit neighborhood organization “Forest Knolls” to the WOTPCC. A vote was subsequently taken and the organization was admitted by a unanimous vote.
Milo Hanke, past president of SF Beautiful, made a short presentation about proposed utility box installations by AT&T on public land and sidewalks, in which his group constructed a full-sized model of an AT&T utility box. AT&T is trying to install over 700 of the large (approx. 4’x3’x5’) cabinets on sidewalks, etc., circumventing the regulations that require them to place the vaults either on private land or underground. More info can be found at www.sfbeautiful.org.
Committee reports were then given by Avrum Shepard (Transportation), George Wooding (Public Health), Gus Guibert (Open Space) and Matt Chamberlain (Planning and Land Use). Shepard has written a report on the WOTPCC website highlighting SF Parking (our meter rates are the 2nd highest in the U.S., while fines for overtime parking are the highest in the country), MUNI, America’s Cup Parking, Smart Streets/Smart Muni, Hayes Street 2-way traffic and Bicycle use planning. Check it out. WOTPCC President George Wooding brought the audience up to date on the continuing issues at Laguna Honda Hospital, the latest being that it appears that the facility is moving towards use as a 90-day short term center for patients, with less space for the long-term senior resident patients. Wooding also informed the group of the continued planning efforts for the Westside Mayoral Candidate event in late September/early October at the SOTA (School of the Arts) theatre. More details will be forthcoming. Guibert reported on a proposed “Dog washing station” in Stern Grove, to be operated on the weekends from 10-5. Obviously, dog owners love the idea while opponents cite it as another example of the privatization of the parks, and that it’s good for the dogs… He also noted that a merger between the Neighborhood Parks Council and the Parks Trust Foundation is in the works.
Matt Chamberlain’s report on planning issues warmed the audience up for speakers yet to come. He spoke on the draft policy on Residential Urban Power Generation (Windmills) that the WOTPCC Land Use Committee has been working on. It is now complete and ready to be reviewed and voted upon by the various neighborhood associations prior to being sent on downtown. Chamberlain also updated the crowd on the other items that the Land Use Committee is working on: A policy on Cellular (RF) antennas in SF; Consideration of a Parkmerced Special Use District (PMSUD) and the problems with the 2009 Housing Element drafts 2 and 3.
This set the tone for he evening as the next speakers, Peter Albert, of the SFMTA, and Michael Yarne, from the Mayor’s office of economic development, spent time presenting information about both the 19th Avenue Corridor project study and the Parkmerced Development Project and Developers’ Agreement with the city.
Albert’s presentation spoke on the fact that the traffic congestion in the 19th Avenue Corridor has increased by over 370% from 1965 to 2005, at a time when San Francisco’s population has not deviated 5%, making the case for major changes to battle the increased congestion and gridlock that will be evident even without any changes in density on the Westside of the city. Through a series of slides, Albert showed the evaluations of traffic congestion and intersection failure using designations of “Tier 1 to Tier 5.” The Tier 5 plan, based on planning developed jointly to encompass the traffic impact of the Parkmerced project would reroute Muni off of 19th Avenue, with grade separations built to eliminate traffic being stopped by the rail system, and include a “spur” that would/could eventually link MUNI to the Daly City BART station.
A focal point of the discussion was the large volume of students at SFSU that use MUNI and enter/exit at the Holloway and Winston stops. These are the highest traffic stops for MUNI and cause severe safety issues, as the railway location requires the pedestrians to cross 19th Avenue to the West when going to Stonestown Galleria, Parkmerced or SFSU.
Albert’s Tier 5 study shows many proposed changes to 19th Avenue and gives a snapshot of possible traffic congestion reduction with all of the proposed changes implemented. Much of the funding is planned to be contributed by the Parkmerced Development team of Stellar Management and Fortress Investments. The number is upward of $200 Million for infrastructure improvements.
Several members of the audience raised questions about the impact of the Tier 5 planning for adjacent neighborhoods to the north and east. Albert explained that planners had found virtually no impact to the area to the north along Sloat Blvd.
The next speaker, Michael Yarne, went over some of the details of the Development Agreement between the City and the Parkmerced Development Companies. A major point is that the agreed- upon conditions stay with the land, even if the current owners sell or otherwise drop from the project. Yarne went into detail about the “rent controlled” replacement units provisions that are included in the document, explaining that while they meet current guidelines, there is no guarantee that they can be 100% upheld as this part of the agreement has no historical case law precedent to draw upon.
District 7 Supervisor, Sean Elsbernd, addressed the crowd and fielded questions about anything the group wanted to discuss. A few questions about the number of units of “affordable housing” built during the last 7-8 years (deemed to be less than 20) were the main topic of the short Q&A.
David Chiu, current President of the Board of Supervisors, and Mayoral Candidate, was the final speaker of the evening. Chiu started with some personal history of his parents immigrating from Taiwan, and his eventual journey to San Francisco. He spoke about wanting to give back to the community being the catalyst to running for public office. During his remarks, Chiu touched on the importance of maintaining the qualities of SF’s neighborhoods while planning for growth; getting the budget under control; and working with businesses to create a diverse economy.
Fielding questions from the attendees, the Mayoral candidate got a loud and clear message about the frustration of the neighborhood groups being ignored and (worse) stripped of their input and power by the Planning Commission through the adopted “Draft 3” of the 2009 Housing Element. A passionate dialogue between WOTPCC Treasurer Carolyn Squeri and Chiu highlighted the topic and forced Chiu to conclude that the homeowners on the Westside are very upset with the actions of the Planning Commission, and that he needs to review the differences between Draft 2 and Draft 3 of the Housing Element to get up to speed on the problems with the document. Judge Quentin Kopp also questioned the candidate about his opinion on the question of having a garbage company bid process within SF, and was stymied in his efforts to have a simple “Yes or No” response to his questions.
After the presentations, the speakers and the attendees spent the better part of the next hour having smaller discussions on the topics in small groups and one-on-ones.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC will be Mondat, May 23 at the Forest Hill Clubhouse, 381 Magellan Avenue at 7:30 PM.
Three "H's" – High Speed Rail, Housing Element, and (Dennis) Herrera – were the main topics of discussion, as well as a spirited Q&A session at the West of Twin Peaks Central Council meeting on March 28.
WOTPCC President George Wooding called the meeting to order at 7:35 PM with about 30 people in the audience at the Forest Hills Clubhouse, but the crowd increased as the night wore on. After the roll call of member organizations, a vote was taken to admit a new neighborhood organization, The Woods, to the WOTPCC. A vote was subsequently taken and the organization was admitted by a unanimous vote.
Committee reports were given by Avrum Shepard (Transportation), Gus Guibert (Open Space) and Matt Chamberlain (Planning and Land Use). Shepard offered that not much was new to report, other than Muni was reporting that they were still in the red with parking revenues showing a shortfall of $7M, and overtime being vastly over budget. For the year, Muni is looking at a possible $20M shortfall. It was reported that Muni is, by far the city department with the largest OT costs and shortfall. Guibert followed with a very short report on Open Space, then WOTPCC President George Wooding brought the audience up to date on the continuing management problems at Laguna Honda Hospital, the latest being staffing issues, as well as the continuing efforts of former staff doctors Kerr and Rivera to bring light to the problems at the facility.
Matt Chamberlain's report on the Housing Element really set the tone for the evening as he went into detail about the changes made in the newest Housing Element document. Revisions have been made in the draft document between last summer and now that impact the definition of what is allowable in RH-1 and RH-2 neighborhoods. The basic change is in language that shifts of concept of what is allowable to be build away from density and towards bulk. For example, as long as the footprint of building structures is not wider and deeper, and the height falls under the max allowable height for the neighborhood, there is no visible method to regulate the number of people in the building, thus allowing for a potentially much higher density within the current neighborhoods, without changing the zoning of RH1 and RH2 parcels.
A trio of speakers then held the attention of the crowd. Neighborhood icon, former Supervisor, State Senator and Retired Judge Quentin Kopp led a discussion updating the group about the current status of the California High Speed Rail (HSR) project, and why it is vitally important as the population of California continues to swell, to an estimated 30 million people by 2020. With the impossibility of building (or expanding) highways and airports to handle the expected increase in the amount of people traveling in California, the completion of the HSR is critical to moving people quickly between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Kopp detailed the timeline of the first phase that is planned for the Central Valley, and how it will eventually connect to Los Angeles and San Diego. By building the long run as the first phase, it allows the HSR authority and managers to adequately test the trains on a longer run to ensure compliance with the expected performance.
When asked about the eventual cost of going from SF to LA on the "bullet" Kopp estimated that the fare would be in the range of $100 for a one-way ticket. He used the rising costs of fuel as an example of why air travel and automobile travel costs will continue to rise to the extent that the proposed rail costs will be less expensive than the low cost alternatives we have today.
Current City Attorney and Mayoral Candidate Dennis Herrera the addressed the room, speaking on the successes of the City Attorney's office over the nine years that he has served as the head of San Francisco's in-house legal staff. He focused on the areas of Public Safety, Fiscal Accountability, working to support Small Businesses, and Code Enforcement as the four major tenants of his department. He cited the work that his department has done in combating gang violence and getting injunctions against gang members (most of whom are not from the City and County of SF), and the subsequent drop in gang-related crimes.
Herrera also detailed his code enforcement team that has brought fines and penalties against code violators, with the fines and monies collect going back to SF; the concept of getting value for the tax dollars that are contributed to the city coffers; and the details on how his department has reduced costs and tried to be accessible and open to the public.
The Mayoral candidate spoke about his desire to be Mayor and fielded a large number of questions from the audience, with many focusing on the zoning of neighborhoods, the changes to the Housing Element document and his opinion on important topics in the city.
The final speaker of the evening was Planning Commissioner Mike Antonini. The Commissioner spoke on his views of the Housing Element document, and that even though he personally disagreed with many portions of the agreement, he felt that it was a much better document that what was previously worked on and that it serves as a flexible guideline on what is allowable. Antonini agreed with the sentiment of the crowd that he is not in favor of having unbridled density in the neighborhoods, and that the flavor of the current neighborhoods should be maintained, while admitting that he did vote to approve the recently submitted Housing Element document, even with its controversial language regarding RH-1 and RH-2 parcels.
Supervisor Sean Elsbernd took the floor and opened the discussion to take questions and hear concerns about the Board Of Supervisors March 29 deliberation and vote on the Environmental Impact Report for the Parkmerced project. Most questioned focused on the validity and legality of any negotiated Development Agreement, and the question of the terms of the agreement being upheld through (possible) changes in ownership in the future of the 30+ year project. Elsbernd stated that, as regards to the portions of the yet to be finalized agreement that deal with land use, the developer/city covenants would be upheld over the term of the agreement regardless of the ownership of the parcel. He also explained that it is not clear that the negotiated issues of maintaining a portion of rent-controlled units, or the ratio of owned versus rented units, is transferable between ownership and that these questions would likely be answered by the courts. When asked if a proposed agreement would have a component (up to 50% of new units) of units to be sold (e.g. condominiums) to homeowners versus renters, the Supervisor replied that he believed that would be the case, but not 50% of the cumulative total of new and current units.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC is on Monday, April 25th at 7:30 in the Forest Hills Clubhouse.
Budgets, Golden Gate Park, Pensions, a new Supervisor and a little larceny were the topics as the West of Twin Peaks Central Council closed the ledger on February in their monthly meeting on February 28th.
When WOTPCC President George Wooding called the meeting to order about thirty people had arrived to fill the seats at the Forest Hills Clubhouse. After the Treasurer's report, Elliot Wagner of Dimitra's Spa confirmed to the group that the Bank of America on West Portal Avenue had indeed been robbed on Saturday afternoon, and that no new information was available. As of Monday evening, nothing had been posted on the Taraval Police Station website. In addition, the Taraval Station has a new Captain. Captain Curtis Lum has taken over from Captain Sanford, who retired in mid-February. It is expected that Lum will address the WOTPCC in the near future.
Matt Chamberlain spoke about four topics where he is drafting policies and reports on behalf of the Council. He is currently working on policies relating to Residential Urban Power Generation (the windmill issue), Cellular Antennas on Power poles, a WOTPCC policy statement on the recently approved EIR for the Parkmerced Special Use District, and a follow up statement for the soon to be approved 2009 Housing Element document, of which a big concern is the ratio of owned homes versus rentals, where rental units numbers are dramatically greater than home and condo units owned by individuals. The Planning Commission is slated to meet on the Housing Element on March 24th.
Avrum Shepard followed with transportation information that MUNI is reporting that they could have a shortfall of up to $1.600,000,000 over the next 20 years. In an effort to increase revenue the agency is looking at several fees and taxes such as a Vehicle Impact Mitigation Fee for all cars; a parcel tax on homeowners; and possibly increased costs in off-street parking fees or permits.
Gus Guibert, of the Open Space Committee, spoke about the myriad of projects planned for the Westside, including the follow up on the options being reviewed for locating the Wastewater Treatment Plant (GGPark is still an option), and the Beach Chalet playing field project. The concept of public open space was also covered by Walter Kaplan in a short discussion about the plans that the DPW has for current open space in the Laguna Honda/Clarendon reservoir area. There is a major disagreement with DPW over the concept of what open, public space is and does the DPW have the right to use it anyway it sees fit.
After that, what could be better than a report on the Sacramento budget debates, by State Senator (and SF Mayoral Candidate) Leland Yee. Yee explained some of the processes that the Sacramento politicos are working on to help solve the budget crisis, and asked for support on the tax extension that is being proposed by the governor and the legislature. He also discussed the need for reforming how we fund California schools and, when asked, admitted that the current plan to extend taxes for years, and cut $12 B out of the budget will not permanently solve California's expense/revenue shortfall. Council President Wooding asked Yee about why he is running for Mayor and he explained that he is a San Franciscan (since 3 years old) and he wants to help fix what's wrong with the city and return it to the San Francisco that it can be.
Newly elected District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener greeted the crowd and discussed the issues that he sees in the city, including their repair and maintenance of the crumbling streets and that the repair budgets could be "zeroed" out again this year. Wiener stressed the change in atmosphere at City Hall since the election and explained that Mayor Lee is working well with the supervisors. He also answered questions about several pieces of legislation he is working on, including the "registration" of dogs in the public parks to regulate the possible large influx of dog owners and dog walking services if the GGNRA bans dogs from its parkland.
Supervisor Sean Elsbernd addressed questions next and spoke about his work to reform the pension obligations of the city. He stressed that San Francisco has and will always honor the obligations that were promised to its pension holders, but added that the costs are sometimes detrimental to the General Fund. He explained that officials from both sides are having "meet and confer" types of discussions to try and come to compromises.
He also explained that it is probable that Jeff Adachi will move forward with a ballot measure to again address the pension situation, but that Adachi would probably "stand down" if significant progress was made through the current discussions. If the progress is not perceived as significant the ballot measure will probably move forward.
The concept of having Golden Gate Park designated as a Local Historic District was brought forth and discussed by Alan Martinez of the Historic Preservation Commission. A flier was distributed explaining that "Historic" status wouldn't mean that the Park or Buildings could not be changed, but that any proposed change would have to be examined by the Commission to evaluate if the historic features of the park were being preserved and not damaged.
In the final action of the evening, Karen Wood of the Miraloma Park Improvement Committee discussed a resolution asking the WOTPCC to endorse the MPIC's resolutions to have the new CVS Pharmacy at 701 Portola Avenue (current site of the Miraloma Gas Station) ban selling packaged alcohol, and stay open until 11 PM. (See the related article on Page 1). A representative from the CVS group was in attendance and will be speaking to the WOTPCC delegates in the March meeting.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC is on Monday, March 28thst at 7:30 PM in the Forest Hills Clubhouse.
New Supervisors, resolutions on Recreation and
Park actions and general information were the crux of the agenda at the West of Twin Peaks Central Council meeting on January 24th.
When WOTPCC President George Wooding called the meeting
to order at 7:30 PM, over thirty people had arrived to fill
the seats at the Forest Hills Clubhouse. A roll call of delegates
followed and then the approval of the December minutes and
the Treasurer’s report. (Photo Supervisor Mark Farrell-Dist. 2 and
Supervisor Malia Cohen-Dist. 10)
In committee reporting, Matt Chamberlain (Planning and Land Use) reported that he had been in a meeting earlier in the day with officials from the MTA and Parkmerced concerning the 19th Avenue corridor report and the traffic impact. After the discussions at the meeting he told the group that he felt the MTA planner had a very good grasp of the potential impact of a possible increase of 6000-9000 units over the next twenty years and it appears that the MTA seems to have their act together as related to the planning. There were 4-6 key points in the meeting that Chamberlain will have distributed to the group in the near future. He said there are several items that the Planning Committee is still following, such as the proposed changes to the Discretionary Review process, and changes to the CEQA guidelines that were proposed by former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier.
Avrum Shepard next reported on issues with the traffic patterns at St. Francis Circle causing long delays on Portola as it approaches Sloat, and the MTA will be looking into the problem. He also informed the group of changes in parking ticketing procedures to issue more tickets as a way to increase revenue for the city, and that more people have been towed on West Portal Avenue.
Council President Wooding informed the crowd that all Laguna Honda patients have been moved into the new portion of the hospital, but that HVAC equipment problems are causing excessive noise for neighbors located in close proximity to the facility.
Mark Farrell (District 2) and Malia Cohen (District 10), two of the four newly-elected supervisors, then took turns speaking to the meeting attendees. It should be noted that Supervisors Farrell and Cohen were not in the room at the same time in accordance with limitations on public attendance by the majority (2 of 3) of a committee. In addition, District 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd also did not attend the meeting for the same reason. Both supervisors provided their background information; both are native San Franciscans who weathered difficult elections and were elected through the “ranked choice” system of electing candidates. Farrell, with a solid financial background, is about getting the city’s financial house in order, working to get pensions under control, and to focus on addressing the “quality of life” issues that face everyone in the city. Cohen followed Farrell, also as a native San Franciscan who attended Lakeshore Elementary, Aptos Middle School and Lowell High School. She listed her priorities as keeping District 10 (Bayview/Potrero Hill/ Visitation Valley) residents “working, healthy and safe.”
Both legislators made references to the interim Mayor Ed Lee, as someone who is easy to work with and has an immense knowledge of how departments in the city operate. They also addressed questions about homeownership, and both expressed being proponents of “homeowners’ rights” to the approval of the attendees.
Following the completion of Q&A for Cohen, the discussion for the evening turned to the Recreation and Park Department. Denis
Mosfigian addressed the crowd on the issues concerning the “privatizing” of JP Murphy and other parks in the city. Discussion focused on the degree of “privatization” and the concerns on how the RPD handles the “notification” process with the public.
A letter was read to the attendees from Supervisor Elsbernd in which he addressed two proposed resolutions prepared by the WOTPCC and the current state of affairs at the RPD. He detailed budget issues at the RPD, as their budget was cut by over $12.1 M in 2009-10 AND they have lost over $36 M in funding from the general fund over the last five years combined. As a result, the RPD is embarking on a process of looking at potential community partners with like-minded missions, such as the Boys and Girls’ Clubs, to lease out the clubhouses and have them utilized. His letter also stated that it is his belief that it is better to do this than to have the clubhouses continue to be vacant and possible safety hazards.
It is important to note that the Parks in question, such as JP
Murphy Park, remain open for use by the residents. The main issue is the clubhouses, many of which were renovated, but remain closed due to a lack of funding for Recreation Supervisors to staff them. Many have been closed for years; the ones that were open were closed after the RPD laid off the remaining Recreation Supervisors last year.
Following the discussion, two resolutions were discussed. The first was written to address the WOTPCC membership’s concern with the need for “Improved Notification and Neighborhood Involvement in SF RPD Clubhouse Planning.” Authored by Matt Chamberlain, it was discussed, and amendments were made which were then voted on, passing 12-0. The second resolution, addressing the “Privatization of the JP Murphy Park Clubhouse” drafted by George Wooding, was also discussed and amended. Following further discussion it was also approved unanimously.
The next meeting of the WOTPCC is on Monday, February 21st at 7:30 in the Forest Hills Clubhouse.