The idea of Congestion Pricing began before the pandemic and has not been reconsidered, even after the changes caused by COVID-19. The photos that are still being used to convince the public of the need for Congestion Pricing are of a vibrant San Francisco in a pre-pandemic economy. Similarly, City planners are asking the public to endorse their goal of building 8,000 new units in San Francisco annually. City planners have a false impression of a San Francisco that no longer exists—and it needs to be corrected. Those who support Congestion Pricing continue to give voice to this incorrect perception. Folks who make these claims may be “visual thinkers” who have a unique way of looking at the world.
Development in San Francisco is in trouble and “visual thinkers” may have missed that news. Visual thinkers include professionals known as planners, architects and traffic engineers, for example. Educator Bette Fetter puts it more succinctly, “reading and writing can be a struggle for visual learners. These right brain-holistic, nonlinear thinkers live in the world of images but reading and writing are all about left-brain words. Therefore, visual thinkers have to slow down and turn off the right brain and engage the left side to process words, one at a time, logically and sequentially.” It can be done, but it is a cumbersome process for a visual thinker. Is it possible, our planners are so uninformed about the sad state of development in San Francisco?
MASS EXODUS FROM SAN FRANCISCO
Now that many of San Francisco’s employers are allowing work from home, San Franciscans are leaving in large numbers to live in homes with more space in places like Tracy, California — and for half the price. Recently, the Los Angeles Times did research on this phenomenon and reports that San Franciscans are leaving the City at an increased rate of 650% in the last 9 months of 2020. And as San Franciscans leave, fewer are replacing them. This phenomenon is presently only occurring in San Francisco. Is Congestion Pricing necessary at this time?
Working at home has become commonplace at Salesforce, Twitter, Yelp and Dropbox, and employers say many of their workers may continue to work remotely after the pandemic. The fact that Salesforce allows workers to remotely work at home permanently is important, since, with 10,000 employees, it is one of the largest private companies in San Francisco.
Now that many of San Francisco’s employers are allowing work from home, San Franciscans are leaving in large numbers to live in homes with more space in places like Tracy, California — and for half the price.”
THE REAL ESTATE MARKET FOR APARTMENTS
Today, more expensive apartments are 20% lower than pre-pandemic prices, high-end landlords, in particular, Essex Property Trust Inc., has resorted to incentives such as providing free rent and $2,000 worth of gift cards to attract tenants. “Parkmerced, San Francisco's largest apartment complex, with more than 3,200 units, is offering leases with $5 deposits and $5 for monthly parking while waiving fees for pets and applications. Parkmerced's vacancy rate climbed to 25% last year from 6% in 2019, when $1.56 billion in mortgages were issued for the property, according to information compiled by the loan's trustees.” That being said, for the first time, apartment rentals for a one-bedroom rental unit, climbed in February by a modest 1%.
With the exodus of employees from the City, some might think that now is not a good time to go forward with the increased developments at Parkmerced, Treasure Island, Hunter’s Point or the Potrero Point project. Building unnecessary housing, office and retail space that languishes for months or years has caused recessions in San Francisco in the past.
WHERE DOES THE TRAFFIC COME FROM?
Traffic patterns created by drivers coming from Marin County, Oakland and the South Bay represent a fraction of the total traffic in San Francisco. By far the greatest amount of traffic into the downtown area comes from the Northwest corner of the City. Part of this traffic comes from ride share companies, e.g., Uber and Lyft, with a total of 15%. Although Uber and Lyft account for 15% of the traffic, they account for 70% of the air pollution, as drivers look around aimlessly for their next fare. It has been suggested that, instead of charging a Congestion Pricing fare at peak traffic hours, the City could establish places for ride sharing vehicles to wait for their next fare, reducing unnecessary and wasteful driving. Another possibility is that the City could endorse a voluntary flexible work schedule for workers who continue to work in San Francisco. Should a voluntary schedule prove inadequate, a mandatory schedule for workers could be considered. These two new polices, would be far easier to implement than a Congestion Pricing strategy.
PARK-LETS, A CURSE OR A JEWEL?
One of the new additions to the streets of San Francisco during the pandemic has been park-lets, allowing outdoor eating in the fresh air. Ideally, attractive park-lets could make San Francisco more like Paris, where stylish outdoor dining is commonplace. Unfortunately, many park-let designs look unattractive, cheap or without enough ventilation to make a difference during a pandemic. Also, park-lets reduce the number of parking stalls for vehicles. Fewer places to park exacerbates the time patrons must spend looking for parking places, which contributes to traffic congestion. Unattractive park-lets could be replaced with more attractive designs or returned to parking stalls for patrons.
IN SUMMARY: THE NEW NORMAL OR THE 80% ECONOMY
The opportunity to have San Franciscans work remotely is a blessing. It allows more time with families and it cuts commute time. We must thank the employers for their vision. Fewer commuters within San Francisco means reduced air pollution caused by vehicles—a very worthwhile improvement. Now, what San Franciscans need is a plan for a realistic future, not yesterday’s reality or what is hoped for a new tomorrow that may never happen.
... access to records enables the public and press to uncover “corruption, incompetence, inefficiency, prejudice and favoritism.” The “pay to play” scandal unfolding in San Francisco makes clear the extent of corruption in government...
What happened at Lowell is not an isolated attack. ... it is happening because of our increased awareness of inequitable opportunities for many black and brown children. But let’s not jump to a solution without properly analyzing the problem.
As of now, there is a plurality of San Francisco’s Supervisors are supporting the idea of a public bank. This includes Supervisors Preston, Haney, Walton, Ronen and Melgar. The work of the public bank was given to Supervisor Preston after Supervisor Sandra Fewer retired.
Typically, banks have very uniform investment strategies such as lending practices, investment behavior and hiring practices. Hiring practices are important since those who receive a loan are often of the same race, age or class as the lender. Historically, the Oceanview district was “red listed” for years, denying prospective homeownership to people of color. Today, people of color can easily buy in the Oceanview district. The question now is, what factors are presently denying people of color home ownership in various neighborhoods?
A SAFER PLACE FOR BRIDGE TOLLS
The advantage of a public bank in San Francisco is that considerable monies are available on a daily basis from bridge tolls. This toll money was invested poorly in the past by a certain bureaucrat anticipating huge profits — all of which turned sour during the 2008 financial meltdown. Once bridge tolls are deposited in a public bank, it is likely to be safer than in the hands of local bureaucrats. Of course, bridge fares are eventually used for regular maintenance on bridges. In the meantime, it is necessary to find a safe place for that money to be stored.
A PUBLIC BANK FOR THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY
Today, private banks charge very high fees for handling the large cash reserves from cannabis vendors. Even worse, these banks can cancel their agreement with the cannabis vendor at any time. Conditions can be difficult because cash can be hidden, payments toward government taxes and suppliers are complex and the stores are vulnerable to robberies due to the excess cash that is frequently on hand.
There is a desperate need to have a banking solution for the cannabis industry, and a public bank might be just the correct fit for the cannabis industry and could be source of capital for a fledging public bank.”
Surprisingly, the fear that the federal government could confiscate large sums of cash from cannabis vendors has been unfounded—so far. “In fact, the Federal government has not, to our knowledge, seized any bank accounts, nor penalized any banks, of the various state agencies, cities, and counties – in California or in other states with laws regulating cannabis – which collect taxes and fees from cannabis-related businesses.” There is a desperate need to have a banking solution for the cannabis industry, and a public bank might be just the correct fit for the cannabis industry and could be source of capital for a fledging public bank.
PRIVATE BANK LENDING PRACTICES
The primary goal for regular banks is to make money for their executives, employees and their investors. To do this, private banks use different interest rates for different clients. Safe to say, people of color, gay individuals and women attempting to own their own business, tend to pay more than typical “white men.” Other loans that have generally been at higher interest rates include City projects — transportation, infrastructure and housing. Interest rates for these City projects have been very expensive.
INVESTMENT PRACTICES OF PRIVATE AND PUBLIC BANKS
Profits made by a typical bank, are often invested in hedge funds that include fossil fuel industries in their balance sheet, including the XL pipeline, petroleum, natural gas and coal. With public banks, a new set of investment behaviors can be expected. A public bank in San Francisco could invest in hedge funds and businesses that match our values. Public banks could invest in green technology businesses, including renewable energy, solar, wind, geothermal and wave energy. Unlike private banks, public banks could invest in public-serving businesses including, non-predatory health care, driverless cars and artificial intelligence. Many investors consider these newer businesses to be more likely to be successful and profitable in the future. Because of this, a public bank could make far more money in its investments than private banks.
BEST PRACTICES FOR A PUBLIC BANK
How to fund the public bank is the next big question. Clearly bridge tolls will not be enough to take care of funding, however, it is important that this money not be squandered by City employees. Many feel the money for the public bank could come from San Francisco’s General Fund which was part of a past City budget of $11 billion. Unfortunately, a public bank may not be able to profitably lend money to individuals of color, women, gay or the elderly. However, what a public bank can do is reasonably lend money to the City for transportation, infrastructure and housing improvements. In this way, public banks are able to benefit from a low-risk client in the City. The sooner the City receives loans from a public bank, the sooner the City will be paying less for their loans. If the City pays less for loans, we the taxpayer will benefit.
Glenn Rogers, PLA is the VP of CSFN.
Landscape Architect, License 3223
web site: alderlandscapearchitecture.com
All Electric Building Ordinance
Hooray for SF Supes — It's a good start.
by Glenn Rogers
On June 1, 2021 San Francisco will begin to implement an All Electric Building Ordinance for all new residential and commercial construction. Instrumental in the unanimous passage of this legislation were its author, Supervisor Mandelman and SF Department of the Environment. This legislation, cosponsored by Supervisors Dean Preston, Gordon Mar, Shamann Walton, and Matt Haney, passed because we recognize that we are in a climate emergency, with only a short time left before annual climate disasters become even more catastrophic. There were 26 organizations that championed this legislation, a few of them are: Sierra Club, EarthJustice, SF Climate Emergency Coalition and San Francisco Tomorrow
WHAT IS WRONG WITH NATURAL GAS?
35% of San Francisco’s carbon emissions come from natural gas combustion and leaks in buildings, both residential and commercial. Unlike natural gas, methane is 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.
Just a pilot light in a stove or water heater, which may be on 24 hours a day, can put out copious amounts of pollution in the home, i.e., carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxides, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde”
Another serious downside to natural gas is the way it pollutes indoor air in a home or building. Just a pilot light in a stove or water heater, which may be on 24 hours a day, can put out copious amounts of pollution in the home, i.e., carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxides, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Adding to this pollution are ornamental fireplaces. Heating the house with a gas stove would provide the greatest amount of indoor air pollution. Roughly 95% of homes tested had an average formaldehyde level indoors that exceeded the Chronic Reference Exposure Level set by the California Envirnonmental Protection Agency (7 ppb).” Also, the nitrogen dioxide from natural gas has been found to have a relationship with asthma in 8.9% of the children in the United States or for a total of 6.5 million individuals. Natural gas frequently leaks during fracking. Additionally, natural gas pipes can often be over 100 years old in San Francisco and can leak into the environment before they even enter a home or building.
A SUMMARY OF THE CLIMATE CRISIS
In Miami fish are found swimming in the streets every King Tide. Today, smart developers do not design and build expensive developments along the coast of Miami. Catastrophic wildfires, the worst they have ever occured, are linked to climate change and themselves add to the CO2 in the atmosphere yearly in California. In Australia, the same thing is occurring but to an even greater degree. In Brazil, fires in the Amazon rainforest have increased 25% from a year ago as farmers gain more farm land. In the Russian Tundra, where fires can burn until winter rains put them out, fires are burning not only the forest but also large swaths of peat. As a fossil fuel, peat releases methane when burned. Now, these fires smolder underground, which are hard to notice and nearly impossible to put out. Also, in the Russia Tundra, are large holes, similar to sink holes, which are believed to be pockets of methane that have exploded into the atmosphere. Recently, local news stations in Georgia described a Delaware-sized iceberg, 100 miles long, 30 miles wide and 500 feet thick is threatening the island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic Ocean. When the Florida-sized, unstable and deteriorating Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica breaks off, sea level could rise three feet. The danger of Climate Change is real and accelerating faster than models have predicted.
Let us hope we can provide more top-notch legislation before it is too late. The All Electric Building Ordinance is a good start.
Glenn Rogers, PLA is the VP of CSFN.
Landscape Architect, License 3223
web site: alderlandscapearchitecture.com
Treacherous Toxics Haunt Treasure Island
by Glenn Rogers
At the September 16, 2020 Budget and Finance Committee Meeting Chair Sandra Fewer, and Supervisors Mandelman and Walton reviewed plans for the development of Treasure Island, and recommended the Board of Supervisors divert money earmarked for a project on Yerba Buena Island to a Treasure Island project. Supervisor Haney, who represents the islands was not present at the committee meeting.
It is alleged that a plan came out of that meeting, to offer non-rated bonds for the Treasure Island development, rather than of the usual AAA bonds San Francisco sells. This decision appears to stem from the perceived risks involved in investing in such a plan to develop Treasure Island. Private and public entities involved with the project are presently fending off a number of lawsuits and the area is ripe for future suits.
Focusing development on Treasure Island is concerning for several reasons.
• Yerba Buena is a natural island that sits high above the bay. Treasure Island was created in 1936 - 1937 for the Golden Gate International Exposition of fill dredged from the bay. Any new developments on Treasure Island will require constant additions of fill to keep it above sea level in the future.
... the cleanup reports need to be available to the public. Skipping these steps will result in future lawsuits and the city will be ultimately held accountable, making the taxpayers liable ...”
• Like most former Navy sites, including Hunters Point, Treasure Island is a Super-fund site with known toxins that needs major cleanup by the Navy before any development can be considered. Soil and water at the Superfund site is believed to contain toxic wastes, including radioactivity, black mold and water-contaminated lead.
• Current residents complain of blackouts and problems with infrastructure, but their major concern is the number of illnesses that have driven many off the island, making the cleanup more imperative.
• Given the sea level rise, the Superfund cleanup requirement and the bad press the island is getting from residents who are leaving, the funding of any projects on Treasure Island should be delayed into the future — after the clean up.
The Navy and the City
Treasure Island was approved for development in 2011 and was sold to the City of San Francisco by the Navy in 2015. However, the Navy appears to need to approve any projects under consideration on Treasure Island. Under the condition of sale, the US Navy must deliver Treasure Island in a clean and safe condition. Numerous discoveries of missed clean-up procedures have surfaced since the conditioned sale of the island, making development on Treasure Island risky and unsafe. Multiple allegations of corruption, fake and falsified engineering reports and test results linked to Superfund sites are legendary in San Francisco, leading one to wonder who in their right mind would invest in this or any other large superfund project. The answer: there are many new residents to San Francisco who are unfamiliar with the history of Treasure Island and who fall victim to sales agents, developers or City officials. They are duped into purchasing land.
Review the Budget and Finance Committee meeting on tape.1 The discussion of Treasure Island is found
1:20 minutes into the video and is referenced as items 11 and 12.
Why is Treasure Island development continuing to move forward?
With so many San Francisco development projects recently discontinued why does this one proceed?
Before any work commences, the island Superfund location the Navy is required to properly clean the site. All toxic materials must be removed, signed-off and documented by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, the agency responsible for over-sight of the cleanup of Treasure Island. They must then provide a report detailing any errors and omissions of the cleanup process.
Property buyers and residents must be notified of the condition of the site and the cleanup reports need to be available to the public. Skipping these steps will result in future lawsuits4 and the city will be ultimately held accountable, making the taxpayers liable for any damages or health conditions that result from a failure to properly clean the Superfund site.
However, as plans develop, fundamental missteps continue. According to the new report, Adapting to Rising Tides Bay Area2, the waters in San Francisco Bay are expected to be four feet higher by 2060. New construction sites are being built to these specifications, but, the rate of rise could be faster than anticipated; the fix may fall short of what is needed. Some observers believe the northern part of Treasure Island is sinking half an inch per year, making development even riskier.
Environmental toxicity at Treasure Island began after World War II, when the Navy towed battleships used in the atomic bomb explosion conducted at the Bikini Atoll to Treasure Island and Hunters Point. With little understanding of radioactivity at the time, these ships were cleaned by sand blasting the exterior of the ships, depositing radioactive materials along the shore.3
During the time the Navy was in possession of Treasure Island, they buried radium-dipped devices in landfills. In 2006 the Navy published an account of radioactivity on Treasure Island, however, since that publication, new locations of radioactivity have been found in areas where it was not supposed to be.
Later, in 2008 contractors found and removed almost 1,300 small radioactive objects on Site 12 beside housing areas. Finally, in 2011 state technicians tested Treasure Island’s roads with gamma scanners and found 5 areas of “significantly elevated radiation levels” in places accessible to the public.
The Navy and City officials most serious deriliction occurred when, cesium-137 was found close to a building where it had been stored. When experts reported further tests were needed, both the Navy and the City’s development authority said there was no need for action and the health department did not comment. Maladministration like this continues today.
Contamination at Treasure Island is unsafe for housing. Despite this, the Budget and Finance Committee and now the Board of Supervisors, are continuing the planned development, surreptitiously misdirecting funds planned for Yerba Buena Island. Supervisor Fewer said it is “Somewhat risky to issue bonds on real estate not yet developed, but here we go.” However, the problem is much worse than that. The developments on Treasure Island and Hunter’s Point are the worst known superfund developments in San Francisco.
Who is benefiting from this?
Glenn Rogers, PLA is the VP of CSFN.
Landscape Architect, License 3223
web site: alderlandscapearchitecture.com
Balboa: The Supervisors got it all wrong.
Does this sound like a deal the City should make? Give land away to a private developer at the expense of the land being used by the public or San Francisco City College later? Although SFCC is having diﬃculty now, this will not always be the case. When SFCC recovers, it will need to have the land to expand and raise up young and old San Franciscans intent on a college education.
Today, the public is aware of economic injustice being responsible for most of America’s ills. City College of San Francisco (SFCC) provides the best opportunity for people of color, for the poor and for those recently released from jails and prisons, to take part in the American dream. With SFCC being reduced or marginalized, class structure in San Francisco will continue to be rigid and inflexible. Now, more than ever before, we realize the problems of America are based around income inequality. All of our decisions in government should promote inclusivity. Since education is the “gateway to success,” SFCC needs to be able to expand in the future. Our Supervisors just took that away.
The development of the Balboa Reservoir, with 1,100 units, is a solution to a problem that no longer exists. It will make an unbearable traﬃc condition even worse. The giveaway, linked to corrupt leadership, sacrifices precious public land for private profit. It leaves City College more vulnerable and is a significant reversal in our goal of income equality.”
If you think things will be back to normal eventually and that the Balboa Reservoir Project should go forward to satisfy a burgeoning economy in the future, think again.
With President Trump’s failed corona virus response, the virus is now out of control, with no end in sight. Even the notion of a vaccine to curb the virus is being questioned.
Currently, real estate is in decline in San Francisco as it is everywhere. The rush for development to satisfy housing needs is over, as half our restaurants have failed, our colleges are now conducting class remotely into students’ homes. Students no longer require an apartment in the City. Many tech workers no longer need to have their own expensive home in San Francisco.
Should San Francisco recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, there are few places that have traﬃc as bad as the traﬃc at Ocean/Geneva Avenue and Highway 280 entrance. Under the Parkmerced decision, we have learned that increasing traﬃc along 19th Avenue is not a concern of good planning, good government or the responsibility of a developer. Their decision provides Los Angeles as an example of development, where traﬃc jams are ubiquitous everywhere.
The development of the Balboa Reservoir, with 1,100 units, is a solution to a problem that no longer exists. It will make an unbearable traﬃc condition even worse. The giveaway, linked to corrupt leadership, sacrifices precious public land for private profit. It leaves City College more vulnerable and is a significant reversal in our goal of income equality.
For all these reasons, the Balboa Reservoir Project, was a bad idea.
SF Plan Bay Area 2050 Looks to Mitigate Climate Change
By Glenn Rogers
The authors of the San Francisco Plan Bay Area 2050 are asking for public feedback on their 9-county plan to provide solutions for the economy, the environment, housing and transportation. This article considers major global changes that could influence development in San Francisco that should be taken into account.
Siberian Heat Wave
it seems likely that a local flood control barrier may be the best local solution to the problem of future flooding in San Francisco.”
The Russian Tundra, has experienced wildfires lasting months at a time. Winter rains are often required to put them out. Last August more than 9,880,000 acres burned in the Russian Arctic. Temperatures as high as 100.4 degrees F. were recorded in the region. The fires and high temperatures release large quantities of methane gas into the atmosphere, which is more destructive to the environment than CO2. Local newspapers noted the rise in methane here, and attributed it to leaks in local gas lines, but this may have not been the primary source.
Recently, Australia has been experiencing major wildfires of monumental proportions, some cover an area the size of Great Britain. One fire lasted from June 2019 to March 2020. These fires burned 47 million acres, killed or displaced 3 billion animals and killed 33 people.
Wildfires not only affect the quality of the air we breath, the resultant temperature rise can be debilitating to icebergs in the Antarctic. As temperatures rise above 32 degrees F. ice starts to melt. The icebergs are more vulnerable to catastrophic collapse than many of us realize.
The Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica, is around the size of Florida. Recent studies in nearby Esperanza, considered the coldest place on earth, have registered temperatures as high as 64.9 degrees F.
Scientists fear the glacier is melting from high temperatures on top, while warmer water in the sea beneath, is melting it from the bottom. Today, water underneath this Glacier is 2 degrees warmer than freezing.
As the Thwaites Glacier melts into the ocean, it is expected to raise the height of the sea level around 3 feet instantly. Nearby glaciers are believed to be dependent on the Thwaites Glacier for stability and would also fall into the ocean, adding another 11’ to the rise.
Effects on SF Bay
A 3’ rise of sea level will be catastrophic to San Francisco and local development. Other areas that will be drastically impacted would be Miami, Florida; New York, New York; London, England; Bangladesh and many more low-lying areas.
In San Francisco the list of areas of concern are:
The whole of the Embarcadero will eventually be underwater, including the Embarcadero BART Stations. Highway 101 now has sandbags to keep water from entering this highway in parts of San Mateo. Imagine the problem with sea level rises of 3’-11’.
Treasure Island is said to be adding 3’ of fill to the island to keep it above water, but that is not enough. In addition to the flooding problem Treasure Island is believed to have radioactive and toxic materials that would leak into the bay. This could be catastrophic for sea life and the fishing industry. In addition to the water rising, the northern portion of Treasure Island is likely sinking 1/2” a year.
All the parts of downtown that were filled in after the 1906 earthquake and fire era will be underwater, as well as parts of Market Street, Mission Bay, the Marina and parts of Hunter’s Point.
The TransBay Terminal is close to the Embarcadero and is vulnerable to flooding.
CalTrain is also on flat land that is vulnerable to sea rise.
London, England has been around a lot longer than San Francisco and was long ago forced to control their water flow issues to improve drainage, sewer functioning and flooding of low-lying areas. They created a mechanical barrier that stops high tide from intruding into their city.
The Thames Barrier was built in 1982. This barrier is closed during high tides and during storm surges. During low tide, the barrier is opened to allow water to leave.
A similar flood control system may be appropriate for the SF Bay area. Since the solution to Climate Change is not completely our responsibility or even something we can correct alone, it seems likely that a local flood control barrier may be the best local solution to the problem of future flooding in San Francisco.
Glenn Rogers, PLA and VP, CSFN
Landscape Architect, License 3223
web site: alderlandscapearchitecture.com
Why Black Lives Matter
America and Its History of Racism
Today, the issue of Black Lives Matter is on everyone’s lips. Unfortunately, many Americans do not acknowledge institutional racism. But consider the numerous steps that led to the problem and two alternative policing solutions.
THE FIRST POLICE FORCE
The first police force was established in the Carolina colonies in 1704. This police force was formed to control slaves. The “slave patrols had three primary functions: (1) to chase down, apprehend, and return to their owners, runaway slaves; (2) to provide a form of organized terror to deter slave revolts; and, (3) to maintain a form of discipline for slave-workers who were subject to summary justice, outside of the law, if they violated any plantation rules.” Police forces occurred in the Northern states much later, around in the year 1830.
So, the behavior of the police in the South was, from the beginning, violent and brutal to Blacks. When the Civil War ended, the police modified their behavior somewhat during Reconstruction. However, instead, of the police primarily intimidating Blacks, this became more the responsibility of groups like the Klu Klux Klan. The Klu Klux Klan replaced the police force with terror and summary justice to any Black man they felt to be out of line.
TULSA RACE RIOT
The most disturbing example of institutional racism occurred in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921. In an elevator a Black boy allegedly touched a white girl inappropriately. The boy was arrested and taken to jail. A crowd of white men gathered around the police station demanding a lynching. The Black community in Tulsa, believing the police needed help, marched to the police station — some of the men with guns. A confrontation occurred and a gunshot was heard. The violence that occurred next was unprecedented in American history. 150-300 people were killed at this time. Private planes flew over the neighborhood referred to as “Black Wall Street bombing the residences and stores leaving 35 square blocks of property damage. The violence continued until the Oklahoma National Guard intervened the next day. 10,000 people were left homeless. Property damage totaled $32.25 million in currency equivalence today. For this death and loss of property, no one was ever held accountable and there was never any compensation.
TODAY'S POLICE VIOLENCE
It has been established that Derek Chauvin, the murderer of George Floyd, had 18 complaints against his record. That being said, officer Chauvin lost only one day of work. This behavior is protected by police unions, which have consistently shielded officers from repercussions for their bad conduct. Yet the Chroniclereported, that seemingly incompatible donations amounting to $1.8 million are documented to be from four police unions made to the California Democratic Party since 2017. As a result, police unions, along with tobacco companies, gun manufacturers, for-profit prisons and oil companies are not allowed not to donate to the Democratic Party. Hopefully, without the protection of politicians, we can expect better behavior from our police officers.
Those who believe the “few bad apples” theory should consider the following: Oscar Grant was shot at the Fruitvale BART Station in Oakland. The officer who killed him “mistakenly” used his gun instead of a taser. Today, guns and tasers are in very different locations on an officer’s leg to avoid this confusion again. Safe to say, this police officer lacked sufficient training. Ahmaud Arbery was shot by a retired police officer, who was accompanied by his son, and a third “citizen,” driving a pickup truck — because he was jogging. The retired officer who shot Arbery assumed that he must be running from a crime scene because he was Black. Personally the most upsetting, is the shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12 year old boy, shot and killed for waiving a toy pistol. The policeman shot Tamir after being on the scene for only two seconds without asking any questions of the boy. The list goes on and on of Police Officers killing Black people unnecessarily. Anyone still believing racism is not systemic in America needs to rethink their belief system. With countless cell phone videos of numerous acts of police misconduct, it has become clear that America has a problem with police violence against people of color. Other Black people shot or killed by the police recently include the following: Breonna Taylor, Alalania Jefferson, Aurura Rosser, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, Philandro Castille, Alton Sterling, Michelle Cusseaux, Freddie Gray, Janisha Fonville, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Gabriella, Nevarez, Michael Brown and Tanisha Anderson, a short list of the Black people killed recently by the police in America. There are many, many others. Review this list of murdered Black Americans, then ask ourselves; what is it that entitles white police officers to so freely kill Black Americans?
THE 1994 CRIME BILL
Legislation has actually aided the police in criminalizing people of color in America. The Crime Bill of 1994 included the “three strikes you’re out” provision, which gave a lifetime sentence for repeat violent offenders. Often the last crime committed by an individual was inconsequential, yet it led to a lifetime of imprisonment. This provision caused the prison population in the United States to increase 500% to 2.2 million inmates, and most of these inmates are people of color. The preponderance of Blacks and Latinos arrested and put into jail is a clear indication that Americans do not honor Black lives. Frequently, the way officers could remove an unwanted member of any neighborhood was to repeatedly arrest them. But eventually, the offending individual went to prison for life. Although the police did not create the Crime Bill and its miscarriage of justice, they used it to great advantage to remove those they deemed to be a problem in their district.
PRISONS FOR PROFIT
Now that the Crime Bill achieved the prison population boom, enter the profit motive to house the excess inmates. It is said that the for-profit prison business is a $70 billion industry. Purchasing federal and state prisons, numerous profits came from prisoners; e.g., outragous charges for phone service, providing inferior health care, as well as bail bonds for inmates. Meanwhile, the for-profit prison industry continued to lobby politicians to create more laws to criminalize more activities and increase the length of sentencing to increase their profits. Private prisons have lobbied successfully to continue undocumented Immigrant’s stay in prison at the taxpayer’s expense. First-time offenses for drug use, like marijuana, still have exceptionally long sentences of 1-5 years. And our justice system provides stiffer sentences for people of color than it does for white offenders. This unjust and unfair private system again shows how Black lives don’t matter in the judicial system. By Executive order, due to the bad publicity of numerous immigrants in over-crowded cells, the COVID-19 pandemic and the spike in the jobless rate, Donald J. Trump, on June 22, 2020, ordered immigrants held at the Mexican border for many months. Now they are no longer able to enter the USA for their required judicial hearing until called upon. This Executive order will be revisited on December 31, 2020 to determine if it should remain in place. Many lobbyists and their constituents are interested in continuing to profit from the private prison system.
NEW MODELS OF POLICING
In New Jersey in 2013, all the Camden city police officers were fired and a majority of the police officers were only rehired after retaking a psychological exam and completing a 50 page questionnaire. This approach did not “defund the police”’ but rather added more police on the street on foot or on bicycle. Now, the purported goal of the Camden Police is to become “acquainted with the public.” Also, officer’s performance is not measured by the number of arrests or tickets produced, but by other outcomes. In changing the image of the police force from “warrior” to “guardian” homicide declined from 67 in 2012 to 25 in 2019. The Camden police realized they needed the consent of the public to be able fight crime in the community, therefore, gaining the consent of the public was necessary. To do this, the public was asked their opinion on how to fight crime in their city. In this dialog, both police and the public might be educated.
DEFUND THE POLICE
A second model of modifying the police force occurred in Eugene, Oregon with a population 170,000. The program, named Cahoots, does not eliminate the police force but augments it. Cahoots’ approach is more like the “defund the police” movement, but here officers are replaced with a team of medical and/or counseling staff. Now, when a call comes in from 911 or the non-emergency police number, if the call does not have a strong behavioral health component or does not seem to require law enforcement, it is routed to the Cahoots team. This team is “comprised of a medic and a crisis worker - that can go out and respond to the call, assess the situation, assist the individual if possible, and then help get that individual to a higher level of care or necessary service if that's what is really needed.” The Cahoots staff is well trained in de-escalation techniques, they have no guns and dress in regular clothing, no uniform. This staff is more likely to put those they serve at ease immediately.
In 2016, a study estimated that 20%-60% of fatalities caused by police resulted in the death of someone with mental illness. Out of 24,000 calls to Cahoots, only 150 required police backup. Cahoots answered approximately 17% of the city of Eugene’s over-all call volume, saving the city of Eugene $8.5 million annually. So, this program may be both safe and cost effective.
Glenn Rogers, PLA and VP, CSFN
Landscape Architect, License 3223
web site: alderlandscapearchitecture.com
ANTICIPATING THE NEW NORMAL
The New Economy: Decrease in Urbanization
T his pandemic can provide us a vehicle for positive change. Those of us who learn the advantages of the New Economy may be able to benefit from the new information it is providing, such as the reality that working at home is likely to be the new normal for many of us. This means that long commutes may no longer be necessary. An advantage of commute-free life is that urban density may no longer be required — tech workers can work at home or remotely. This will provide a better quality of life for all San Franciscans as commutes are shorter, and expensive homes in urban areas are no longer necessary. It is likely that projects like the Balboa Reservoir, Parkmerced, and the Lennar projects in Hunters Point and Treasure Island are no longer necessary. It’s time to remind our Planning Department — often — that the need for urban density is vanishing, a trend they are unlikely to welcome, since it is a fact that puts their livelihood at risk.
Development is in trouble. If Parkmerced, which is the largest multifamily property in San Francisco is an example of the future of development in San Francisco, it is in very real trouble. Recently, the management of Parkmerced, Maximus Real Estate Partners, asked for forbearance on their $1 billion loan, declaring hardship because of the corona virus”
Another benefit is that San Francisco’s high rental payments should decline as fewer people are required to be at their jobs in the City. And - while this will not immediately impact the homeless problem, hopefully there will be fewer newly homeless added to the streets of San Francisco, especially if rental prices decline sharply.
Development is in trouble. If Parkmerced, which is the largest multifamily property in San Francisco is an example of the future of development in San Francisco, it is in very real trouble. Recently, the management of Parkmerced, Maximus Real Estate Partners, asked for forbearance on their $1 billion loan, declaring hardship because of the corona virus, according to The Real Deal, a New York real estate news service. Though the news service later updated their story to include a denial from Parkmerced: “Maximus paid its debt service in full for April and has no immediate plans to seek forbearance, according to Parkmerced spokesman PJ Johnston.”
Students from San Francisco State University are fleeing Parkmerced in great numbers while UCSF remains closed. Some apartment owners are offering college students as much as two months rent-free to encourage business. But many renters have lost their jobs and are therefore unable to pay any rent. Meanwhile, WeWork has backed out of its pledge to provide $450 million in development fees for the proposed new development. Parkmerced Investors, LLC is suing WeWork for at least $100 million in damages, and WeWork, is suing Parkmerced’s developer, Maximus Real Estate Partners for failure to $20 million in fees they provided.
BROADBAND A CHALLENGE
There is a downside to leaving the City as well. Broadband in rural counties is currently underserviced and has not expanded in the US since 2013. Lacking incentives from the government, private enterprise has not increased access to broadband service in rural area. Many who live in rural areas are elderly and may have less spending power, a strong driver for broadband growth. Our internet must become more robust for working at home and away from urban centers to be successful. If working at home provides the population in rural areas with more money to spend on broadband and the commerce it brings, this situation could improve.2
Another item in short supply in rural areas is healthcare. Avrum Shepard, former webmaster for Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods and West of Twin Peaks Central Council, who no longer lives in San Francisco, explained that he must travel 500 miles, round trip, to receive medical care. Obviously, healthcare too needs improvement in rural areas.
MASS TRANSIT CHANGES
MUNI and BART are anticipating fewer commuters and will be redesigning their streetcars and buses with more room and, if necessary, more frequency. SFMTA should request input from riders about the best way to design mass transit. Even driverless car research is slowing down since streets have become less crowded, providing less challenging “real world” conditions for driverless cars to navigate.
CHANGES IN RETAIL
Suburban mall retail stores, such as J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, and J.Crew have filed or are close to filing for bankruptcy. Shopping, the great American pastime is morphing to on-line purchases and our favorites stores are vanishing. Retail stores are closing in great numbers.
CHANGES IN RESTAURANTS
With 76,000 restaurants in California employing 1.5 million workers, the restaurant industry is the one of the largest employers in the state. But with more social distancing and decreased occupancy, there will absolutely be less income. Restaurants will come to rely on increased “take out” and will delivery will proliferate. Get ready for the ubiquitous hand-sanitizer and sanitizer wipes on every table, replacing salt and pepper shakers. Masks on restauranteurs will be required. Dinning outside will be preferred. The cost of protective equipment is estimated to be around $400 a month per restaurant which most private enterprises cannot afford and should, therefore, be supplemented by the City or the State.
Educators believe a successful first year in college is a predictor of graduation, but the corona virus may be an insurmountable obstacle for students. Until a vaccine is found, some colleges will continue to electronically educate sophomores, juniors and seniors — since they are more likely to graduate. With a smaller student population, freshmen could benefit from extra resources, including increased social distancing, more testing and contract-tracing, keeping them healthy and therefore more likely to graduate. Unfortunately, closing the schools to curb the spread of the pandemic in colleges and universities has been the go-to solution.
More than anything else, the need for local manufacturing in America has been well established. During the beginning days of the pandemic, we learned that most of the PPE (personal, protective, equipment) was manufactured overseas, a great deal was made in China. Delays occurred as a result of fears that China itself might need more supplies. Italy, a major manufacturer of plastic gloves, was unable to supply the world when the pandemic hit them especially hard and the supply of plastic gloves dried up. On top of that, China produces most of the world’s pharmaceuticals. More of these industries need to be near at hand in America if we are to slow and reverse the COVID-19 or other epidemics we will face in the future.
THE 80% ECONOMY OR THE NEW NORMALThere are 125 candidates for vaccine to combat the corona virus. Five candidates are being provided billions of federal dollars for rapid completion. Should a vaccine be found, many of our problems could return to near normal. Certainly, mass transit could become more crowded. However, it is likely that fewer people will be returning to their old workplace. For example, Twitter, with its headquarters on Market Street, will allow employees to continue working at home. Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft expect to have all of their employees work at home until the end of the year 2020.
Google believes random encounters with employees in the office are necessary for creativity, they encourage some office interaction, so plan a phased approach with 10% of its workers in the office by July 6, 2020.Then, by September, office personnel at Google is expected to increase by 30%.
Amazon, with headquarters in Seattle, plans work at home until October 2, 2020. Amazon’s predicament is unique, as it attempts to service unprecedented orders, with existing office staff. Therefore, we see the tech industry benefiting from working at home Those who do not benefit from working at home are often people of color, typically filling positions in restaurants, transportation, grocery and sales.
Overall densification of urban centers will wind down for the foreseeable future. Employers will benefit from lower payrolls because employees will not require lodging in expensive cities. Employees will benefit from less commute time and more time spent with spouses and children, perhaps making the family unit healthier. Employee will save money previously expended for parking, lunches, wardrobes, which can cost between $2,000 to $6,500 a year. Certainly, air quality will improve, as smog decreases and burning fossil fuels decreases getting to and from work. Perhaps the workforce will become more diverse, as people of color living farther away from urban centers, could be hired while maintaining their homes where real estate is less expensive. Change is coming from COVID-19. We can only hope that these changes allow us to continue to work at home
Glenn Rogers, PLA and VP, CSFN
Landscape Architect, License 3223
web site: alderlandscapearchitecture.com
The Worst Pandemic Is Yet To Come
by Glenn Rogers
For thousands of years, homo sapiens have developed a resistance to the viruses and bacteria present in our domestic livestock i.e., cows, chickens, pigs and sheep. There is no resistance the new viruses apparently coming from bats, the novel coronavirus which results in the disease COVID-19.
COVID-19 has a genetic code that allows epidemiologists to discover where the virus came from, which is helpful in tracking the spread of the disease. Previously, in 2003, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) also came from a corona virus. However, this disease come and gone. Some say SARS came from bats, others say the illness came from civets (a relative of the mongoose).
For thousands of years, homo sapiens have developed a resistance to the viruses and bacteria present in our domestic livestock i.e., cows, chickens, pigs and sheep. There is no resistance the new viruses ...”
Today, SARS is transmitted primarily by laboratory accident by those studying the disease. MERS is an illness that originated in Jordan or Saudi Arabia in 2012 and spread. MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) comes from a corona virus with a mortality rate of 3-4 deaths out of 10 people infected.
Picture of civet left. Picture from animalia.bio. This animal is also a possible carrier of coronavirus.
THE SPREAD OF THE DISEASE
The disease was first noticed in a fish market in Wuhan, China. At first the Chinese denied the importance of COVID-19, however, eventually they were very effective in inhibiting the spread by completely shutting down. In addition, 42,000 doctors flooded the city to take control of the sick, while each victim had 5 epidemiologists to trace the origin of the disease and to locate and treat others involved. The question is will America be able to provide this many doctors and epidemiologists to any given place and will Americans be able to shelter in place for 2-1/2 months? No, is the correct answer to this question. In America we are not even able to provide enough test kits, gloves and masks, ventilators or hospital beds for our doctors.
Italy does not have the same resources as China. Also, the Italian culture encourages closeness and before the disease was known to be prevalent, kissing friends and family on both sides of the cheek hastened the spread of COVID-19. Moreover, numerous religious shrines in Iran are kissed or touched, in defiance of the COVID-19 outbreak, causing the spread of the illness in Iran, despite health warnings to the public. In Moscow, Russia, religious followers kiss and touch religious artifacts also, fortunately, today the churches are now closed. Today in Saudi Arabia, they have cancelled flights for pilgrims of the Hajj, the religious pilgrimage.
The Kaaba (picture above) Photo by Getty Images/Business Insider
The disease is spread by droplets of air containing coronavirus when those infected cough, sneeze or even breath. These droplets can also be picked up by the hand, then when the face is touched, the virus can enter the body. The reason a 6’ distance is requested between individuals is because it is hoped that the droplets are more likely to fall to the ground in that distance. This initial information, provided by health officials is overly simplistic and inaccurate. In truth, the virus can easily be aerosolized or remain in the air for hours after a sneeze or cough and the illness can spread even in a choir practice. There seems to be proof this disease spreads more by air than we originally thought. Most problematic for transmission of the virus is elevator buttons. Soap and water is considered a better deterrent than hand sanitizer. Some researches indicate the illness will be less communicative in the summer in the Northern hemisphere. However, in Africa and India, COVID-19 is growing quickly, therefore, summer weather may have little effect.
Once someone has COVID-19, there is no conclusive evidence they can be reinfected again. However, with SARS, immunity lasted for only a year or two. In Wuhan China, four people who became sick, were believed to be cured and tested negative for the disease. Then later, these four tested positive and were returned back to isolation. Elderly individuals with pre-existing conditions i.e., hypertension, diabetes, obesity and cardiopulmonary disease become more seriously ill with COVID-19.
The discussion of lowering the curve is not a plan to cure the disease but it is an opportunity for the health industry to catch up with adequate tests, masks, gloves, gowns and ventilators. In California, Governor Newsom said that 56% of all of California’s 22 million people here may become infected. Some of those will show no signs of illness.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has a test to reveal the coronavirus, whether people are symptomatic or not. However, government regulations do not allow outside sources of testing, even in a pandemic. When test kits were provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), they proved to be flawed and another test kit needed to be made, wasting valuable time. President Trump claimed the WHO underreported the significance of the COVID-19 pandemic and has threatened to cut funding. Yet recently, reports inform us that the President was told of the danger of COVID-19 in mid-January 2020 but he ignored it. Today, Abbot Laboratories has a test that can provide a diagnosis in five minutes after the sample is taken, and their laboratory is producing 50,000 test kits a day. The CDC tests were possibly 30-60% accurate, subjecting patients to as many as 6 tests, with differing results and more time spent in isolation. Additionally, the CDC tests have been less effective for individuals with no symptoms.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
The President’s response has been weak, allowing each state to compete for increasingly diminishing supplies, creating shortages and higher than necessary prices for protective gear and equipment. To make matters worse, reports indicate that the federal government is raiding hospitals, taking masks, gloves, thermometers and other medical supplies. No transparency is available that would explain where the supplies are going. In contrast, in the Ebola outbreak of 2014, President Obama instituted a federal program to coordinate the fight against the Ebola disease. Early in the Trump administration, the White House dismantled the pandemic preparedness team, however, they have not admitted their role in the spread of the disease. Only after the pandemic was finally realized, did President Trump appoint Robert Redfield, MD, Director of the CDC, on February 18, 2020. Critics warned that a virus outbreak, like the Spanish Flue of 1918, could kill as many as 50 million people, but their warnings were ignored with no reply. Fast forward, when COVID-19 was a recognized pandemic, the first cruise ship containing passengers and crew with COVID-19 returned to the port of San Francisco, those that were ill were sent to hospitals and those with no symptoms were brought to the Travis Air Force Base. During the transport of the passengers, some equipment was missing, especially devices to cover the back of the head and eyes. Because of this, COVID-19 was brought into the civilian community by ill-equipped and untrained nursing staff. Even more recently, nursing staff at the Travis Air Force Base reportedly told passengers from cruise ships who were in isolation, not to take the COVID-19 test if they wanted to return home early. Would that mean that anyone sick at the base would be allowed to travel home, spreading the disease even further? Responses from the federal government show poor judgment and expose a lack of proper control by experts at the top of the federal government. Early on the President Trump called the COVID-19 illness a “hoax” which delayed the response rate to the virus. How significant that delay was, history will tell us. In the opinion of many doctors, the delay was catastrophic.
On Wednesday, March 26, 2020, the President approved the Defense Production Act (PDA) requiring General Motors to make ventilators in a wartime effort. Yet, as of April 4, 2020, masks, gowns, eye protection, test kits and swabs have not been authorized by the PDA. Currently, the plan is to shelter in place until May 1, 2020. Although Dr. Anthony Fauci, has requested a federal stay-at-home order from the President, he has declined to do so for the eight remaining states that have no such orders. For the 17 million Americans who have lost their jobs and their healthcare, President Trump has denied expanding the enrollment period for Obamacare, apparently for political reasons. Although America had been prepared to handle a pandemic, because of the administration’s slow response rate, more people will die in America than any other country. The rate of death in the USA is likely to be 70,000 to 240,000 people. Yet, President Trump has received a bump in popularity, which is quickly fading. His current approval rating according to a CNN pole, is 44%. When President Trump fired Glenn Fine, chairman of the federal panel Congress created to oversee the $2.2 trillion stimulus, it is further evidence that he will ignore any special inspector general, or Congress’ mandate to oversee the stimulus funds, making them vulnerable to misappropriation.
President Trump was no plans to delay or limit the Republican Convention at this point, however, Democrats are planning a virtual convention. Nor has he any plans to encourage Americans to vote-by-mail in order to hinder the spread of the COVID-19. Fearing an expanded vote-by-mail program, he said, "They had things—levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again.” Making voting difficult has always been the strategy of the Republican Party—that is why voting is allowed only on Tuesday, rather than weekends. Lastly, Attorney General William Barr, has asked for emergency powers, whereby judges would could detain people that have been arrested, with no time limit and with no recommendation on when a trial would be held. All in the name of this pandemic.
CURES ARE ON THE WAY
There are said to be 4-5 cures in production. Moderna, a Cambridge biotech company, after only 63 days is testing a vaccine on humans — ignoring the policy of testing on animals first. The speed at which this vaccine was produced is notable, and is in itself a miracle. The vaccine contains a sliver of the genetic material of the virus, the RNA. The plan is to have this RNA injected into the body, prompting our own immune systems to provide a cure. Should this vaccine work, it is said it will take 12-18 months for the vaccine to be finalized, then additional time for production, shipping and setting up a program for injecting people with the vaccine. Johnson & Johnson claims to have a vaccine candidate they want to have tested in September with millions of emergency use dosages available by the end of 2021.
If there is a bright side to this pandemic, it could also bring about some positive change. Washing our hands before every meal is now commonplace. Who knows how many illnesses will be avoided following this simple guideline. Should working at home become permanent, it will save fuel and provide an opportunity to improve the climate and perhaps the environment. Working at home will likely become more commonplace in the future. With all those employees working from home, plans to increase the density in urban areas, like San Francisco, may become unnecessary, as workers remain at home in the suburbs or move to less expensive rural areas. When the 80% economy returns, due to layoffs of people never to be rehired, maybe MUNI could redesign buses and trains with safer distance. Americans might even have family dinners at home again. We have not done that since before the invention of the TV. In order to hasten the return to the regular economy, one doctor has recommended daily testing for every worker, with badges indicating workers are safe to interact with others.
Maybe it will take this pandemic for Americans to realize that our healthcare system is broken and a system that works is necessary for public safety. Remember, COVID-19 is said to be transferred by droplets, the more serious pandemic will be transferred only by air. Let’s hope we will have a more robust healthcare system when the next pandemic arrives.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information on COVID-19 , see the website provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which is updated daily with the most accurate and current information: cdc.gov
Glenn Rogers, PLA and VP, CSFN
Landscape Architect, License 3223
web site: alderlandscapearchitecture.com
A New Oceanview Library Presents New Problems
Current location of the Oceanview Library on Randolph Street
by Glenn Rogers
It has been decided that the present Oceanview Library on Randolph Street is too small and a new 20,000 square foot library should be built to replace it. Presently, the location the City favors is at the Brotherhood Way Greenbelt. Originally, the Greenbelt got its designation because there was historically a stream here, with organic soils and an earthquake fault. Today, the caution of building on a problem site has been dismissed.
In addition, the new Oceanview Library will be adjacent Orizaba Avenue, an extremely narrow street. To provide a public building here, would increase a traffic load to a street already overburdened. The neighbors in front of the new library would likely permanently loose parking in front of their homes. Safe to say, the more this library is successful, the more difficult traffic will be to overcome.
…the City is ignoring a large available site at 137 Broad Street. This site is 9,350 sq. ft. and includes a shuttered building and a large vacant side yard beside it. This site could easily provide the necessary space for the new library.”
Why Build In The Greenbelt?
One of the reasons the site was chosen is that the land is owned by the City, therefore, the purchase of land is not necessary. The land is described as “free”. However, numerous site problems will need to be addressed to build here. I believe the building of a library here would be the first step in further development of the Greenbelt for other City needs— e.g., Affordable Housing. Marc Christiansen, Vice President of METNA, has asked for a statement from the City, that no further development would occur on the Greenbelt in the future, if a new library is built here.
Proposed location in the Greenbelt
The Greenbelt Construction Difficulties
• A signal light would need to be installed on Sagamore/Orizaba to slow down the pace of commuters and to channel vehicles into Orizaba Avenue at a manageable pace.
• The curb on the west side of Orizaba Avenue would need to be widened to allow easier access. (Eventually, houses will not allow any widening of Orizaba Avenue to correct traffic difficulties)
• A telephone pole on the side of the new library, would need to be removed.
• To build on organic soils with an earthquake fault, concrete piers would need to be part of the library’s foundation.
• Approximately 12 trees, with 24” diameters, would need to be removed with their root system.
• Since no building here is present, new gas, water, sewer and electricity will need to be installed.
• A lengthy EIR is required.
• The library would cast shadow on neighboring properties.
• A library at the Greenbelt provides no economic synergy with other businesses.
• Original zoning inhibiting building on the Greenbelt is being ignored.
Therefore, although the land is “free”, site conditions here make this site expensive to build on. Traffic solutions for the library will need to be polled by neighbors and may or may not be approved. The new library is 1-1/2 blocks away from the M streetcar, on a difficult grade for seniors or the disabled to walk to. Younger people that would walk to this site, will need to walk past the Oceanview Supermarket, where questionable people are present selling their wares. To walk to the new library at night, through the Greenbelt, could be like walking through Central Park in New York, where assaults regularly occur.
SFMTA: Engineering the Library’s Success?
For the library to be located at the Greenbelt on Orizaba Avenue, a traffic solution is required by the SFMTA. However, the SFMTA has shown itself to be clumsy in solving traffic problems. For example, the 54-bus travels up St. Charles St., which is very narrow, to go to Daly City BART. Last week, I saw 3 buses trapped there and unable to deliver their passengers because the congestion was so bad. A simple fix would be to have the 54-bus travel to BART by using John Daly Blvd, but this solution is ignored. SFMTA has designed numerous failed designs for the M streetcar along 19th Avenue over the years. One solution was to travel underground through the business district along West Portal Avenue. This would mean commuters could not see the local businesses —more pain for this business district. Another SFMTA plan was to skip the business district at the Lakeside Village. Then, to have an underground station at Mercy High School, creating a traffic jam of biblical proportions, as this station was being built. The point is, if this new Oceanview Library is dependent on a satisfactory solution from the SFMTA, that solution may not happen.
Ignoring a Better Site on Broad St.
Alternate site on Broad Street
Choosing this site in the Greenbelt for the library, the City is ignoring a large available site at 137 Broad Street. This site is 9,350 sq. ft. and includes a shuttered building and a large vacant side yard beside it. This site could easily provide the necessary space for the new library. Already two existing barbershops, two family grocery stores and two churches would benefit from a library here with the increased foot traffic. Ironically, if the Oceanview Library returned to Broad and Plymouth Street, it would be returning close to the original location of the old library which was at Ana’s Market, a nearby grocery store.
Advantages of Broad Street Site
• No traffic gridlock is created with the library here.
• This location is beside a M streetcar stop.
• Walking to the library from the M streetcar stop is on flat ground.
• Demolition to prepare the site for construction would be easy.
• Sewer, water, gas and electricity are readily available.
• This site is closer to the Minnie and Lovie Ward Recreation Center.
• The Sheridan Elementary School is closer to this location.
• A library here would remove the blight of an abandoned building.
• This site would benefit a nascent business district with more foot traffic as the original library did at Ana’s Market.
• No EIR is required because a library was previously near here, in the not so distant past.
• Most importantly, a library on Broad street preserves the Brotherhood Greenbelt and preserves the original zoning given the site.
How Lame Are These Excuses?
Numerous poor excuses to not build on Broad St. are offered, and all the justifications for the less desirable site are made with misstatements and fiction.
One misstatement was the site was too small being only 5,000 sq. ft. in total. This information immediately dismissed this site as an alternative. However, this information was false. The Senior Architect, Andrew Sohn, visited the site and confirmed the site was 9,350 sq. ft.
The next excuse was that the land is zoned residential, not commercial. A stroke of the pen can change this designation. If zoning is a concern, the fact that the Greenbelt has been zoned off limits to development for over a century, should be an impediment.
Next excuse? The site should remain zoned residential because the City needs more residential housing. However, Oceanview district needs a more robust business district also. More residential housing could be gained by rebuilding at numerous shuttered businesses in the district, converting them into housing.
Another argument is that there is no parking at 137 Broad Street, but neither site has parking, and, the Greenbelt site has the intrinsic traffic problem of too narrow a street.
Recently, objections have been raised that the site is a single-story neighborhood presently and a two story library would not be allowed. Is the fact that nearly every house on this block is two stories irrelevant?
The last excuse was that 137 Broad Street was next to a previous crime scene where shootings had occurred. However, simply by the addition of a camera, shootings here have stopped. Sociologists believe eyes and foot traffic discourage crime. With the presence of a library here, and a greater police presence this can be mitigated.
The property on Broad St. would probably cost less than the cost of the improvements to the site on the Greenbelt, since it would include earthquake proofing, MTA changes on Sagamore, demolition of 12 trees and their root system, a telephone pole replacement, a lengthy EIR process, as well as running sewer, gas, electric and water lines to the new library. All of these improvements are expensive and not necessary on the Broad St. library site.
Another excuse is that the Broad St. location is not at the corner of the block. “All libraries are at the corner of the block,” we were told. However, the original library at Ana’s Market was not at the corner of the block. In this part of the OMI district, superblocks are very common, which reduces the opportunity to have intersections, as streets are as long six regular blocks. In a neighborhood with so few intersections, having a library at the corner is desired but difficult to provide. One neighbor explained, if 137 Broad was discovered to be the site of the new library, they would increase the price of the property, making this solution too expensive. Well, the City has had no hesitation in purchasing property in the Fillmore district, for half the true value of the real estate, during the restoration of the Fillmore. In the negotiations of real estate, the City can be very forceful, which could also include obtaining property by imminent domain.
CALL TO ACTION
The City continues to be in favor the site at Brotherhood Way Greenbelt. Oceanview residents and all San Franciscans need to contact and voice your disapproval:
Also. please ask sue.Blackman@sfpl.org at the Library Commission when the next outreach meetings will occur so you can be present and voice your opinion in person.
Glenn Rogers,RLA is a landscape architect living on the westside. See his website at alderlandscarearchitecture.com
CAN PG&E DO THIS PROPERLY?
by Glenn Rogers
PG&E has a plan to reduce wildfire danger on windy days by turning off the power along lines where fire is likely. Experts claim this could last as long as 5 days. The question many are asking is, can PG&E be trusted to execute this plan accurately and with minimum disruption to the public? After all, PG&E has been convicted of 6 federal offenses, one of them obstruction or lying to investigators. Also, PG&E has violated its probation.¹ Therefore, some argue that power should be allowed to be turned off by PG&E only with the help of a public agency, to make sure Californians are not unnecessarily inconvenienced.
Worst case scenario—we can expect our cell phones to fail. If an accident occurs, how are we to contact help? How dependent on electricity are the police and fire department to do their work and answer calls?”
CONSEQUENCES OF ELECTRICAL OUTAGE?
Those having medical treatment at home will be affected disproportionately, as will those with stair lifts. Typically, stair lifts for the disabled have a reserve of 25 extra rides after a power failure. After that, disabled persons must be carried up or down stairs. Hospitals may generate their own electricity, but healthcare centers, where patients go for dialysis, will likely do without.
Street lights and traffic signals may be out during outages, a serious problem after dark. Worst case scenario—we can expect our cell phones to fail. If an accident occurs, how are we to contact help? How dependent on electricity are the police and fire department to do their work and answer calls? Burglar alarms will likely not be working. Doorbells will not work, since computers will also be out of service. Your automatic garage openers will be dysfunctional. Know how to open the garage door manually? Few will be able to do that.
Food will be spoiling at home, at restaurants, and at grocery stores. Having a meal at a restaurant will be difficult even if food is fresh. Lights and dishwashers will not be available to staff. How long will our sewer system be able to store untreated sewage before it needs to discharge it untreated? Will pumps be able to move sewage at all?
Gas stations are dependent on pumps —out of service. So will the charging stations for electric cars. Uber or Lyft will be unreachable by phone or app. BART will be closed since they get their power from PG&E. Caltrain will be using sustainable electrical power as soon as this year or 2019 and will not be effected. MUNI gets its power from the Hetch Hetchy Dam, which is a separate electrical system also.
Will parents that work in private industry be able to go to work in offices without computers or light? Elevators will not work in tall buildings. How many people will be able to climb stairwells? Fortunately, City employees working in City government buildings get their power from Hetch Hetchy Dam and may be allowed to work.
WHEN WILL WILDFIRES HAPPEN?
There will be major setbacks to an area should the electricity be turned off. This will likely occur when the east Diablo or Santa Ana winds are blowing hard with little humidity. Then, after the power has been turned off, the power lines will need to be inspected to see if they are safe again. Therefore, the solution of turning off the electrical grid on windy days, to save us from wildfire, must be considered long and hard, before it is implemented.
Glenn Rogers, PLA is a landscape architect working and living on the west side.
by Glenn Rogers
A slope like this can allow wildfire to spread even faster than normal. Photo: petaluma360.com
PG&E has a service area of 70,000 square miles from Eureka to Bakersfield, servicing 16 million people. PG&E controls more than 125,000 miles of power lines and nearly 50,000 miles of gas lines.
Most recently, it has been determined that a tower built in 1919 was responsible for the Camp Fire. Asked if this tower had been inspected recently, there was no immediate reply by PG&E. It seems this tower was built and left untended for nearly a century.
...fire can move as fast as one football field a second. With fire damage occurring this fast, it is said the PG&E could be responsible for as much as $80 billion in liability.”
Besides neglect being responsible for forest fires, other causes have been an unwillingness by city, county and state officials to change fire codes. The Hanly fire in 1964, which covered roughly the same land burned in the Tubbs fire of 2017, seemingly provided no new fire code legislation. Today, areas in Sonoma County are being built exactly the same way they were before the Hanly and Tubbs fires.
Wildfires are different today than from the past. Historically, wildfires would move 6.7 mph through a dense forests. It is worth mentioning, that a fast walk is 3 mph. With 147 million dead trees in the wild lands of California, it is easy to catch these trees on fire. Today, wildfires move on top of the canopy of the forest fueled by “Santa Ana” or “Diablo” wind. These winds can move as fast as 40 mph. When a 10 degree slope is present, fire can grow even faster than on flat land. In this way, fire can move as fast as one football field a second. With fire damage occurring this fast, it is said the PG&E could be responsible for as much as $80 billion in liability.
HOW WILL PG&E PAY FOR ITS LIABILITY
To pay for these expenses, some believe ratepayers could be paying as much as double what they pay today. Therefore, with the cost of liability so high, PG&E filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 29, 2019. In this way, they can dodge some of their liability burden.
HOW DO WE FIX PG&E
PG&E told a Commission on February 13, 2019 that shareholders, with a profit motive, allow the company to provide the service to improve the company and “make investments that improve safety or quality of service.” But the California Municipal Utilities Association has objected to this logic, stating on February 28, 2019, that PG&E “does not need a profit incentive to promote safety, providing, reliable, affordable and sustainable electric service…”
Another way to fix PG&E has been suggested to have it divided up. A benefit of this would be, the private interest in profit, would be removed from the “public interest of reducing carbon emissions and meeting the statewide goal of carbon neutrality by 2045” the Sierra Club believes.
It has been suggested PG&E could reduce forest fires by shutting down power at critical times of the year and with fire danger high. Oakland and San Francisco could be affected and could be without power for up to 1 to 5 days. Those that need machines at home, with serious health issues, could be required to go to the hospital for care. The next question is, who will pay for these fire-related medical visits to the hospital and would PG&E pass the charge onto the ratepayer? In the past, PG&E could pay for food damaged by power outages. Will PG&E continue this practice in the future?
Of the proposals to stop wildﬁre, undergrounding the main transmissions lines would seem to be the best solution. However, of the money that was available for this purpose, almost half of it has been diverted. “They can divert it to corporate bonuses, to more shareholders’ dividends, anywhere they want,” writes Candace Nguyen, KTVU news on July 24, 2018.3 Undergrounding transmission lines can cost about $2.3 million per mile.⁴
Glenn Rogers, RLA is a landscape architect living on the westside. See his website at alderlandscapearchitecture.com
Today, it is estimated that 2-1/2% of our insect population is dying or suffering from extinction every year. This would mean in a century, insects could all vanish. Most importantly, it is the flying insects that are affected most. The explanation is said to be “death by a thousand cuts” or more specifically, no one reason is said to provide the total explanation.
For many insects, their demise has said to have been caused by a reduction in habitat, e.g., this year 25 states have been flooded. Obviously, land underwater provides little habitat. Industrial farming, another form of loss of habitat results where acres and acres of crops of the same type are planted in monocultures. “Global Warming” or the temperature of the earth is getting hotter which can affect insects. Light pollution, another factor which attracts insects, seduces them into flying around and around, until they become weak and unable to find food. Lastly, pesticides must be improved to stop the killing of our beneficial insects.
Microplastics are found in the air we breathe—this is just recently discovered. Typically, plastic the size of 5 millimeters is considered microplastic but plastic can break down to even smaller particles the size of 10 nanometers (or 0.00001 millimeter). Since plastics are non-biodegradable, it is believed that microplastic can break down to increasingly smaller sizes with no limit. Scientists are looking at the effect of particles of plastic so small that they can pass through the lining of the intestine. Other concerns of scientists are what will happen when the smallest of microplastics migrate into the cell structure, passing through the cell wall. Will there be disruption of some kind? What impact does microplastic have on the breathing of insects?
THE IMPORTANCE OF INSECTS
The problem of insect collapse is very serious since 1/3 of our food supply is pollinated by insects. Insects are necessary for the removal of carcasses, so they do not linger in the open air rotting. With the extinction of insects, numerous birds, reptiles and amphibians will become extinct. Today, insects represent a biomass 17 times greater than that of humanity.
COSTA RICA IS DIFFERENT
In Costa Rica there is a national park named La Selva. This park is protected from insecticides and other causes of insect collapse elsewhere. Here, there is only one factor responsible for the decline of insects: temperature rise. In the tropics the temperature has been remarkably constant for eons. Today, the tropical temperatures are 4 degrees warmer than it was previously. Unfortunately, tropical insects are unable to control their internal body heat and die. In Costa Rica, the collapse of insects, could cause the rainforest to perish for all trees and shrubs that require pollination. Rainforests are critical to providing oxygen to the planet. Should our rainforests collapse, this would be another environmental catastrophe.
Source of Chart: Biological Conservation 232
What can we do to stop the collapse of insects? We must transform our present chemically intense form of agriculture to a form of ecological farming which protects the soil and water, and promotes biodiversity. To that end, we must ban all insecticides that are harmful to bees and other pollinators. We need to support San Francisco’s plan to charge 25 cent for the cost of plastic bags which would reduce the amount plastic in the environment. We need to replace turf with California native plants which provide sustenance to our local insects. Today, neighborhood gardens, i.e. Sisterhood Garden, in the Oceanview district, provides habitat for insects with native plants and a pollinator garden. Turning off unnecessary outdoor lighting, can reduce insect loss, also. Lastly, we need a good government policy to eliminate Global Warming.
Many numerous natural disasters have happened simultaneous throughout the United States and in Mexico causing the Monarch Butterfly to be in serious decline and near extinction. Presently, 20,000 butterflies have been counted in the western migration route, an 86% decline in the population since last year.
Monarch Butterflies on Milkweed Plant
The cause of their demise is said to be “affected by shared threats: a reduced abundance of milkweed plants caused by an increase in genetically modified herbicide-resistant crops, a loss of nectar resources from flower plants, and degraded overwintering forest habitats due to deforestation.” Monarchs lay their eggs on Milkweed and the larvae feed on the same plant. Beside a lack of food caused by storms, the cold and harsh winds can have a harmful effect on the Monarch. During one serious winter storm, as many as 500 million Monarch butterflies were said to have perished.
THE IMPORTANCE OF MILKWEED Milkweed used to be abundant along the side of roads and was frequently found growing along crops grown for food. With the spraying of the land with Roundup, and the use of pesticide-resistant produce, Milkweed, so important to the existence of the Monarch Butterfly, has diminished. It is believed that 97% of the Milkweed has been eradicated.
Milkweed used to be abundant along the side of roads and was frequently found growing along crops grown for food. With the spraying of the land with Roundup, and the use of pesticide-resistant produce, Milkweed, so important to the existence of the Monarch Butterfly, has diminished.”
FIRE Another factor reducing the population of Monarch butterflies has been fire. The Western Migration of butterflies needed to travel in fire-ravaged California with the air filled with fumes from burning houses, forests, household cleaners, pesticides or herbicides, plastic and other noxious chemicals present in the air. Fire too is said to be a product of global warming, as storms travel more slowly through the landscape, dropping more rain than normal. Warmer air is able to hold more humidity, therefore, storms can be more intense because they carry more water. The additional rain provides more water for grass to flourish that can eventually burn. The antiquated policy of fire suppression, for decades, has not helped diminish wildfires.
BARK BEATLE INFESTATION AND OUR FOREST It is believed that 129 million Pine trees are dead from Bark Beatle infestation and the drought. Historically, Bark Beatle would parish as winter temperatures froze the Bark Beatle. Today, the temperature is never cold enough to kill Bark Beetle. Unfortunately, this has led to the Bark Beatles being able to feed year round, hastening the demise of our Pine forest.
The central migration flock of Monarch butterflies would nest in the forests of Mexico. These forests are being affected by encroachment of the forest by farmers wishing to increase their crop by clear-cutting forests. These forests are also ravaged by Bark Beetle.
A PLAN TO INCREASE THE POPULATION OF MONARCHS Two conflicting plans are being developed to save the Monarch Butterfly. One plan by the Environmental Defense Fund is purchasing land along migration routes and providing the land with milkweed habitat. The land purchased has been as large as 36 acres along the flyway. Farmers willing to allow milkweed to grow in their crops have also been targeted, and have been providing habitat for the Monarch butterflies, also.
A second plan that is well meaning but could be counter-productive is provided by the Fish and Wildlife agency. “The Fish and Wildlife agency has decided to cultivate the milkweed plant in refuges and several other areas under its control to develop a natural habitat in 2,00,000 acres of land and 35 corridor Interstate, from Texas till the state of Minnesota, which is believed to be the main area where above 50% of Monarch butterflies migrate." Also, this agency is offering to sell to the general public milkweed that can be planted along roadsides, forests, parks and in house backyards. If they plant non-native Milkweed, the Monarch butterflies could become disoriented and confused. Instead of continuing their migration, they could stay where they are and become infected with parasites.
SIXTH EXTINCTION The problem of extinction is not particular to Monarch Butterflies. It is said that yearly 10,000 species perish from extinction. This would make 50% of all species extinct by the year 2100. Unfortunately, insects are especially vulnerable. Insects are often food for larger creatures. With the reduction of insects, we can expect other creatures to go extinct as well.
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE Today, the cost of renewable energy is decreasing 10% every year, despite the fact that the fossil fuel industry is being subsidized at a rate 40 times greater than the renewable energy sector. Eventually, this will allow all nations to be able to have the same renewable energy output as Germany did one day in the recent past. That day, Germany provided 81% of its total energy requirement from renewable sources!
Glenn Rogers, RLA is a registered landscape architect living on the Westside.
Floating Hotels and Random Considerations for a Future City
by Glenn Rogers
In the past, along the San Francisco Bay, numerous boats have been used as either bars, hotels, dance halls, museums or residences. Might we capture this romantic past again to accommodate visitors? Boats would rise and fall with the tide, not being damaged by water. Some boats, like paddle boats from the Mississippi, could be brought here. Long Beach has the Queen Mary. A similar ship would be ideal in the San Francisco Bay as both a tourist attraction and a hotel. Barges could also be purchased and retrofitted with hotel trappings.
Housing for the Homeless?
Art Agnos suggested a retired cruise ship could provide some relief to the City’s homeless problem. With the average cruise ship capacity of 5,412, which includes double occupancy, this would go a long way to house San Francisco’s homeless population, which is, today, around 7,000 people.
Refuge from Climate Change?
Even if Climate Change were universally accepted and people ditched their cars, planes, ate only vegetables, etc., there would still be enough residual carbon in the atmosphere to last for another 40 years. Therefore, when the climate is undeniably bad and mankind admits they are the cause, we will have to wait another 40 years for any improvement to manifest. Plans for the Bay and the Historical Port of San Francisco will need to be extensive in anticipation of coastal conditions, conditions we may not be able to imagine today. Would boats, used as hotel and housing alternatives, ease many of the future problems caused by Climate Change?
Note date and Carbon Flux. Safe to say, when we are at the top of the graph, all ice will be melted.
Planning for the Future:
Today, transportation is much different than anyone would have predicted in the past. Ride sharing platforms like Uber and Lyft, are replacing taxis in a way few of us would have predicted. Also, bicycles are becoming more common as a form of transportation and the renting of bicycles is becoming “turn key,” they can be picked up, used, and left at the nearest bicycle station. Our continued use of buses and cars may take on a drastic transformation as well.
Some planners believe that drones could become the preferred transportation system of the future. These drones could be used for both personal transportation as well as commercial transport. Should this be the case, considerable infrastructure that we use for cars and trucks will need to be repurposed.
Hopefully, attractive elevated pathways, with parks, alleys of trees and more, could become part of our Historical Port District in the future. With these lovely park like walkways, tourists will be able to walk comfortably to North Beach, China Town or other favorite San Francisco locations from a floating hotel.
Sea level rise is going to become more common in the future. During King Tides, Miami floods every month. Fish are seen swimming in the street regularly. Far off in the future, might we expect San Francisco to be similarly affected?
New construction in the City should be built like public buildings. Our City Hall, with its steps that take you to another level, 10 feet above the ground plane, should become commonplace for new construction. We need do this soon, otherwise, we will be throwing away money, as our infrastructure becomes obsolete and no longer habitable.
Increasingly, San Franciscans are interested in doing their part to protect the environment. Many are installing solar panels on our homes and businesses. A possible incentive could be that PG&E, which previously paid customers for electricity from their solar panels at 3 cents per kilowatt hour. Today, CleanPowerSF pays customers 9 cents per kilowatt hour. This is a 300% increase.
Illustration: Eddie Guy for Spectrum IEEE
Photovoltaic windows on skyscrapers, though they are considered 50% less efficient than solar panels, could provide significant energy production, because they have a greater surface area on the west and south side of a skyscraper than the limited space available on the roof. After the disaster at Fukushima, Japan has required all new public buildings to be zero energy by 2020. San Francisco should do this too. Additionally, solar windows, as they produce solar energy, darken, providing less intense light in buildings, making these buildings more livable.
While these ideas may seem far-fetched today, I have a feeling the sooner we anticipate a new tomorrow the better off we will be.
Glenn Rogers is a landscape architect who lives in the Westside.
Student Housing, Homelessness and Student Debts Overwhelm Plans
by Glenn Rogers, RLA
While student housing costs around $1,800, often including 5-7 meals per week, as many as four students might sleep in a one room dormitory. Many of these students fear the cost of housing could increase by up to 34% in the next 4-5 years because of the lack of tenant controls.
Recently, students and staff complained that the University deceives new tenants, failing to tell them their rents are not "rent controlled", and that City "rules and regulations" do not apply to College State University (CSU) housing. Tenants learn too late, for example, that they are not allowed to smoke, drink or have pets. They frequently do not avail themselves of tenant protections mandated by local law.
Further complicating the picture, the 19th Avenue Traffic Study with its promise of improved transportation along 19 Avenue has never materialized. Yet the University continues its plan to increase the student population, (presently 30,000). How is it possible for more housing to balloon in an area where congestion is already unacceptable?
SF State University is expected to provide education for the following counties: San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Solano, Napa and Sonoma counties. Approximately 50% of the student body is represented in this group with another 50% coming from other parts of California. The focus has moved from educating local students in our own counties, to an emphasis on educating students from elsewhere. These students will pay the same tuition if they live in California but are more likely to pay for expensive housing, at least for the first year of their education. In order to do this, student loans are often necessary. Today, student loan rates are as low as 3.76%. Historically, student loans rates were as high as 10% —with no opportunity to declare bankruptcy. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's officer in charge of student loans, Seth Frotman, in his resignation letter to the Trump administration, dated August 27, 2018 charged "the Bureau has abandoned the very consumers it is tasked by Congress with protecting. Instead, you have used the Bureau to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America." It would seem these same predatory student loan practices are repeating. Student loan debt is a hardship for students and should be reduced or minimized as much as possible. We hope the University will focus on the enrollment of its local students. In this way, student debt overall could be reduced, as local students are closer to their family safety net.
The Economist, June, 2014 reported, "U.S. student loan debt exceeded $1.2 trillion with over 7 million debtors in default. In 2014, there was approximately $1.3 trillion of outstanding student loan debt in the U.S. that affected 44 million borrowers who had an average outstanding loan balance of $37,172." This should be a national emergency. Not included in the above statistics is the number of college students that are experiencing housing instability. A recent study shows one in nine students are without a home and either sleep on a friend's couch, sleep in the library or live in their cars.
NO SOLUTION IN SIGHT
There are plans to build a hotel along Holloway Avenue to provide housing for alumni who wish to watch their alma mater play their favorite sport. If guest teams are visiting, they too need a place to stay. Additionally, since SFSU provides a hospitality major, students could use the hotel as a working laboratory for study. Up to 400 beds are planned to be provided by the hotel. But this good idea needs to be postponed until public transportation is improved.
While the University has courteously presented concept drawings to the Planning Department for review and comment, we can only hope this cooperation continues. It is folly for universities to forgo local planning, following guidelines designed with the same universal building codes and regulations by the State of California for all universities in every city.
Additionally, in San Francisco, the University should not buy parts of Parkmerced willy-nilly, every time Parkmerced management is in trouble and is in need of money. Parkmerced could become a patchwork for competing uses, loosing its unique character and historical status as it becomes a hodgepodge of different segmented housing.
Most importantly, the University must provide affordable housing to their students as much as possible, but not at the expense of the elderly, the disabled and the "working class" families that have lived in Parkmerced for decades under "rent control." Such displacement to provide "market rate" housing for students, staff and teachers, should be avoided. University housing must be affordable, to all students, local and elsewhere, as much as possible.
Glenn Rogers is a landscape architect who lives in the Westside.
Is the Uber and Lyft Business Model in Jeopardy?
On April 30, 2018 the California Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeal’s judgment, changing existing law determining how an independent contractor can be identified. The case, Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, may completely redefine what is and what is not an independent contractor.
Dynamex, which is a same day pick-up and delivery company, treated all their workers as employees before 2004. However, as a cost saving measure, they changed the status of their workers to independent contractors after that date. In January 2005, Charles Lee — the sole named plaintiff in the original complaint entered into a written independent contractor agreement with Dynamex to provide delivery services. He filed this class action as the sole class representative challenging the legitimacy of Dynamex’s relationship with its independent contractor drivers.
Now that Uber and Lyft have outcompeted taxis, their next goal is to outcompete with mass transit, which is suffering a diminished ridership from Uber and Lyft daily.”
According to Dynamex, Lee performed on-demand delivery services for Dynamex for a total of 15 days and never performed delivery service for any company other than Dynamex. On April 15, 2005, three months after leaving his work at Dynamex, Lee filed a Complaint on his own behalf and on behalf of similarly situated Dynamex drivers. Lee alleged that, since December 2004, Dynamex drivers have performed essentially the same tasks in the same manner as when its drivers were classified as employees, but Dynamex has improperly failed to comply with the requirements imposed by the Labor Code and wage orders for employees with respect to such drivers. Lee’s complaint alleged five causes of action arising from Dynamex’s alleged misclassification of employees as independent contractors: two counts of unfair and unlawful business practices in violation of Business and Professions Code section 17200, and three counts of Labor Code violations based on Dynamex’s failure to pay overtime compensation, to properly provide itemized wage statements, and to compensate the drivers for business expenses. The trial court ruled in favor of Dynamex, and Lee filed an appeal. Lee contended that the trial court erred in its denial of the motion for “class certification,” which would have allowed the drivers to compel Dynamex to make restitution to the drivers. And, he contended that the trial court erred in denying an earlier motion to compel “discovery,” a ruling that prevented him from gathering the names and identities of other drivers—adequate information to support his motion for class certification. Eventually, the Court of Appeal reversed the decision of the trial court as an abuse of discretion on both counts, turning the definition of a private contractor “upside down.” Despite Dynamex’ petition to the Supreme Court of California to review the Court of Appeal’s ruling, Lee prevailed, leaving Uber and Lyft legal teams scrambling.
EXACTLY WHAT IS A PRIVATE CONTRACTOR?
There are three requirements for a business to become a private contractor.
1. The company that is hiring the worker does not control or direct their behavior.
2. That the workers are performing a task exclusive of the every day work of the employer.
3. Lastly, that the worker has made a decision to go into business for themselves, perhaps by starting a corporation or a Limited Liability Company LLC.
THE “GIG” DEFENSE:
Uber and Lyft have argued that they are not a taxi service but are instead a technology ”platform” which connects riders and drivers together. As such, they should be exempt from the infrastructure that is necessary for other businesses. They believe that their business model represents a new 21st century economy which allows their workers to have more freedom, gives them flexibility to work when they choose, and to be their own “boss.” Both companies warn that American workers will be less competitive if this new ‘Gig’ economy is denied.
THE JUSTIFICATION FOR THE NEW RULING:
The drivers who defend the Supreme Court ruling explain that their income has plummeted since 2014 and that they are barely able to make a living. And a new study by Business Insider confirms driver’s claims that they are only making between $3.37 to $10 an hour — far less than minimum wage.2 Underpaid workers are in danger of becoming dependent on government assistance, fully or partially supported by the public, either in their prime working years or during retirement. The “freedom” that is asserted as a justification for relinquishing employee status is not a benefit, the drivers argue. They complain that to be profitable, drivers must work during prime commuting hours. The “freedom” bandied about as a justification for the giving up over time pay, paid rest breaks, Health Care and Social Security benefits, is a ruse masking the greed and avarice of their employers. It is said that Uber and Lyft are dodging 25-45% in infrastructure cost with their “Gig” business model. When the “Gig” economies avoid paying their fair share of the public safety net, the public is missing out on millions of dollars in taxes that would be paid by these businesses. Today, nearly 33% of the work force is part of this new ‘Gig’ economy.3
Those who fear jobs will be lost by the new ‘Gig’ economy are ignoring the fact that taxi companies have been competing with the unfair practices of Uber and Lyft all along. Avoiding Worker’s Compensation for example, is a huge advantage the “Gig” economy has over taxis. Now that Uber and Lyft have outcompeted taxis, their next goal is to outcompete with mass transit, which is suffering a diminished ridership from Uber and Lyft daily. Experts believe that individual States will eventually decide whether they support or oppose the ‘Gig’ model. This decision is likely to be determined along party lines.
TRAFFIC CONGESTION MANAGEMENT:
Today, taxi drivers as a group, pay $250,000 annually for medallions or permits. Of course, Uber and Lyft drivers pay no such fees. Although Uber and Lyft claim they are taking vehicles off the road, some people claim 45,000 cars have been added as drivers look for fares.4 Historically, taxi management has limited the number of taxis deployed on the streets, in an attempt to ameliorate impacts on traffic. Today, there are 1,800 taxis driving on the streets of the City.5 Uber and Lyft do not practice such constraint, and do not hesitate to add more drivers regularly. Maybe, when all the taxis are out of business, concern for traffic congestion could become an important consideration for Uber and Lyft at some time in the future.
Glenn Rogers is a landscape architect who lives in the Westside.
Lake Merced was first noticed by the Spanish in 1775 by Captain Don Bruno de Hecta who named the lake Laguna de Nuestra Señora de la Merced. Originally, Lake Merced was intended to provide a water supply to the growing city of San Francisco. The Spring Valley Water Company (SVWC), which was formed by a collection of powerful capitalists, purchased Lake Merced for $150,000 in 1868 and developed a monopoly on San Francisco's water. For the next 30 years, the City of San Francisco sued SVWC over the cost of water, leading San Francisco to look elsewhere for a reliable water source. When water was secured from Yosemite Valley and the Hetch-Hetchy Dam was built, the aspiration of San Francisco having its own water source was realized. Then, Lake Merced and the surrounding land became less valuable and portions of the property were sold off to numerous golf courses, the San Francisco Zoo, Stern Grove, San Francisco State University, and what later became known as Fort Funston.
Eventually, water would flow into the Pacific Ocean from Lake Merced as winter waters became too much for the lake to hold. There is an eye witness account on November 22,1852 of a loud crack. Then, a fissure appeared 1/2 mile wide and 300 yards long which allowed the water of Lake Merced to flow into the Pacific Ocean.”
In the 1950's the state Public Utility Commission transferred the surface water over to the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department on several conditions. Unfortunately, due to development around the lake and over pumping of the Westside Aquifer by numerous golf courses, cemeteries, and municipalities, the water level of Lake Merced dropped. When this occurred, the fish stocking of the lake which exceeded 250,000 at one time, diminished.
Eventually, water would flow into the Pacific Ocean from Lake Merced as winter waters became too much for the lake to hold. There is an eye witness account on November 22,1852 of a loud crack. Then, a fissure appeared 1/2 mile wide and 300 yards long which allowed the water of Lake Merced to flow into the Pacific Ocean. The next day the water was noted to have dropped 30 feet. A subsequent map of the lake showed the fissure remained 29 years later.
Looking at the above artist's map of 1868, we can see the watershed that provided Lake Merced its water was extensive. Water flowed from the Olympic Club west. To the north, water would flow from a portion of the Richmond district. From the east, water would flow from TPC Harding Park, Parkmerced, the San Francisco Golf Club, most of the Ocean View district and from the "Top of the Hill Daly City." Most of this water would flow into a seasonal or permanent stream where Brotherhood Way is today. However, the most notable watershed comes from the south, or from the Westlake district. From the map above, we can see that all of the Westlake Shopping Center would be underwater. Lastly, water flows into Lake Merced also from an underground spring. Some believe Lake Merced could be a surface feature of the Westside Basin Aquifer underneath.
The stream traveling down the earthquake fault where Brotherhood Way is today, feeding Lake Merced, after millennia of flowing water, is covered with soils that are organic in nature, and subject to liquefaction. A study of the 1906 Earthquake explained just how vulnerable to earthquakes the Lake Merced region is. During the 1906 earthquake, a bridge was damaged beside Lake Merced. "The bridge was broken in two places … At one break the west piece was shoved 12 or 14 feet past the other section. The west end of the intermediate piece failed to join the section at the west bank by 6 or 7 feet. The west section that remained with the bank was 4 to 6 feet lower vertically than the intermediate piece." This drastic movement of the land in this location makes the new development in Parkmerced especially vulnerable, not to mention the existing Parkmerced towers present there today.
Photo: SFDPW, courtesy C.R. collection Skyline Blvd. north at Great Highway. Lake Merced at the right, March 15, 1937.
CONSEQUENCE OF HISTORY IGNORED:
The completion of the road around Lake Merced in 1937 terminated the opportunity for water to flow into the Pacific Ocean. Now, we are faced with erosion beside the Great Highway, where water once flowed into the Pacific Ocean from Lake Merced. Today, the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant is in danger because of the combination of ocean armoring and fragile soils where once a stream flowed into the ocean. (4) San Francisco needs to do better in planning its communities. A modicum of research, by a curious engineer, could have avoided this unfortunate location for a sewer plant.
There was a time when only a green golf course was desired, therefore, the more fertilizer the better. but now golf courses are using nitrogen fertilizers more judiciously, Today, there are more factors of concern. The over-use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are a major problem since they become part of the ground water runoff. I heard one golf course manager complain that the use of ground water would make the grass grow too fast. Evidently, it was the nitrogen in the ground water he was complaining about. With the increased control of nitrogen laden runoff water from golf courses, the improvement of the lake for sports fishing increases. However, any set back in the control of nitrogen entering the lake can cause mass die offs of recreational trout. When this happens, the recreational trout fishing program needs to restock the lake. The nitrogen laden water would generate algae blooms contaminating the water by eliminating oxygen in the lake. This nitrogen laden water would be so toxic that even Stickleback, which are considered extremely hardy, would perish in large numbers.
The Threespine Stickleback gained access to Lake Merced when there was access to the lake through the Pacific Ocean. With this access, several other species of fish, tolerant of brackish water, gained access to the lake as well. Some of these fish are still found in Lake Merced today. Indigenous fish species, often outcompeted with the recreational trout. Therefore, these "rough fish" were eliminated or greatly reduced by poisoning the lake with rotenone, affecting the wildlife but not plant life. Despite the numerous times the lake was poisoned, the Threespine Stickleback and other brackish fish are still present. What is most amazing is that the original species of fish, the Sacramento Perch and the Sacramento Blackfish, present when the Spanish originally discovered the lake are still present today.
LAKE MERCED IMPROVING:
Lake Merced is believed to be improving since the year 1990. One of the most important reasons is that the water in the lake is rising. But when the Blended Water Program starts in earnest, using 15% of our ground water to dilute with our pristine Hetch Hetchy water, this may cause the lake to recede again.
The good news is that the Pacific Rod and Gun Club (PRGC) is gone and with it the noise pollution of shotguns. Replacing the PRGC was a 10 acre cleanup/remediation project which included the removal of 58,600 cubic yards of contaminated soil. After the soil was removed, it was replaced with clean soil and planted with 2" to 3" high grass. The clean-up at the gun club site cost $22 million. However, missing in that cleanup was the lead buckshot that lodged in Lake Merced. One of the justification to avoid the more extensive lead clean-up was, that "ducks no longer land on the water," however, when I visited the lake, there were a dozen ducks on the water. As years pass and young ducks, unfamiliar with the firing range, are likely to return and dive for food in the sediment below, the health hazard to these animals is problematic. Another problem is that all the buildings used by the Pacific Rod and Gun Club remain. If the PRGC is to have a new use, it would seem these buildings should be removed. The remediation of PRGC began in May 2015 and ended in April 2016. Now, the San Francisco Police Department Pistol Range, north of the PRGC, uses iron or bismuth munitions instead of lead. This is a big improvement.
Glenn Rogers, PLA is a Landscape Architect working on the westside of San Francisco.
Emergency Fire Preparedness
by Glenn Rogers
Recently, in the November issue of the Westside Observer, there was an article, Plan to Protect Neighborhoods from Fire Abandoned, describing San Francisco as unprepared for another earthquake and fire. The source of the information was a former official who retired 10 years ago. That report did not take into account numerous improvements in technology and planning. The public should be aware of these advances. Graciously, on January 31, 2018, the SF Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and the SF Fire Department (SFFD), both agreed to discuss the article. At the meeting was the Assistant Deputy Chief Anthony Rivera. and John Scarpulla from the SFPUC. Fortunately, a great deal of progress has occurred in the last ten years.
CONGENIALITY: SFFD AND SFPUC:
Instead of these two agencies being at odds with each other, I found just the opposite. They explained that the SFPUC has countless water engineers and plumbers, while the SFFD does not. Furthermore, the SFPUC explained that they listen carefully to any request from the SFFD, since the SFPUC never fought a fire. This congeniality was sincere and heartfelt as these two agencies worked together to describe a plan they developed to fight fire in San Francisco.
This is one proposed layout of the Kubota pipe in the Richmond/Sunset district. From this basic loop formation of the pipe, other locations can be covered by extending pipe in one direction. i.e. in the far northern part of the diagram, a pipe is heading for the Letterman Army Medical Center for fire protection.
Adding to the expertise of these two agencies was an independent fire authority, Charles Scawthorn, who would provide additional advice as these agencies developed a plan to fight fire. Included in the fire plan is a robust hydraulic model to provide reliable information about what damage can occur in a 7.8 earthquake. After a designed 7.8 earthquake, the existing system was estimated to be 47% reliable and many upgrades were required.
The Auxiliary Water Supply System (AWSS, though often referred to on manhole covers and hydrants as HPFS for High Pressure Fire System) is a high pressure water supply network built for the city in response to the failure of the existing emergency water system during the 1906 earthquake. The necessity for more water was a paramount concern. Therefore, three existing reservoirs needed to be repaired due to leaking. Leaks can also reduce water pressure. Repairing these leaks saved 150 million gallons of water a year. This existing system has 11.5 million gallons of water. When the Sunset reservoir is added to the Ancillary Water Supply System (AWSS), an additional 11.5 million gallons of water will be available. Then, the University Mound Reservoir will be added to provide another 70 million gallons of water to the AWSS. Lastly, water from Lake Merced could add another 1 billion gallons of water to the system. Then there would be enough water to fight fire.
During the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, fire hydrants were damaged in the Marina. However, one fire boat was crucial in putting out the fire there. Realizing the importance of fire boats today, two additional fire boats have been added. These fire boats can pump water into an AWSS along the piers beside the Embarcadero. The Bayview district could also benefit from an extension of the AWSS along the Bay pier leading south.
NEW PIPE TECHNOLOGY:
Japan has numerous earthquakes, the last one being 9.0. This earthquake was considered to be the 5th largest earthquake ever recorded and the worst in Japan. The pipe designed and used in Japan to fight fire is called Kubota pipe. This pipe has movable joints and did not fail after the Fukushima earthquake. A date for the installation of the Kubota pipe in the Sunset/Richmond district is set for 2019. This pipe will be part a loop system that can be separated with valves, so that should one section of the pipe fail, pressure can be maintained elsewhere. In combination with the loop system, firefighting hose advancements now allow fire hose to extend over a mile from a fire engine, with supplemental water pressure. Flow meters can detect leaks during practice runs and during an emergency use of the AWSS.The Kubota pipe is hard enough that it can be hammered under intersections without excavation. The fact the pipe is metallic allows it to be located in the future, unlike ceramic pipe. Each coupling is capable of bending 5-8 degrees and can be fasten with stainless steel bolts. Kubota pipe removed after twenty years of use was found to be completely intact and capable of far longer service.(2)
LIQUEFACTION AT LAKE MERCED:
A study of the 1906 earthquake explained just how vulnerable Lake Merced is to earthquakes. After the 1906 earthquake "a bridge was broken in two places … At one break the west piece was shoved 12 or 14 feet past the other section. The west end of the intermediate piece failed to join the section at the west bank by 6 or 7 feet. The west section that remained with the bank was 4 to 6 feet lower vertically than the intermediate piece."(1)Piping here and nearby Lake Merced must be especially robust with numerous fail-safe protections.
FLEXIBLE WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM:
The previous article mentioned a Flexible Water Service System (FWSS) that was suggested as a substitute for the more expensive AWSS. However, Chief Anthony Rivera inspected an existing FWSS system in Berkeley. He discovered that the FWSS pipe was too heavy to be useful in fighting fire in Berkeley and was abandoned. Each segment of the FWSS pipe weighs 350 pounds and needed to be installed with expensive equipment. This system could not be installed by a Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) during a fire as was suggested. The Chief explained this FWSS pipe was actually designed for oil well producers.
Lastly, the new firefighting system designed for San Francisco must be flexible and adaptable so that when new technologies develop, they can be added to the new system easily. After this meeting with the SFFD and the SFPUC, with the hope of more improvements later, I felt optimistic about our fire protection plan and strategy.
1. The CA Earthquake of April 18, 1906: Report of the State Earthquake ... -
Glenn Rogers is a landscape architect who lives in the Westside.
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