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Park Merced Residents
Parkmerced residents join union picket line.

Could Failing Parkmerced Transform Into Affordable housing?

Glenn Rogers
Glenn Rogers

•••••••••• January 7, 2023 ••••••••••

San Francisco needs more housing.” You often hear this comment on TV news and in our local papers. Housing advocates who endorse development often quote the need for “affordable housing.” However, “affordable housing income” varies, and is often between $150,000 and $175,000 a month for an individual. Anyone earning that kind of income, in my opinion, does not need housing support. We need housing for low-income and average-working families. Unfortunately, developers are slow to provide housing units for these individuals and families, and therein lies the problem.

Supervisor Dean Preston
Supervisor Dean Preston


Supervisor Dean Preston designed Proposition M and the Vacancy Tax to encourage property owners to lower rents for low-income families and individuals and to generate funds for the City to purchase existing housing to add to the City’s affordable housing stock. As vacancy rates rise and property values drop (as argued by the property owners seeking to lower their property taxes), the City may purchase more existing housing at a considerable discount, keeping more people housed for less.

Parkmerced, or portions thereof, could be a perfect candidate for purchase by the City. Management told Supervisor Myrna Melgar’s aide, Mike Farrah, that 30% of the 3,221 units are vacant. If the Proposition M Vacancy Tax does not encourage Parkmerced management to lower rents and if they claim the properties are worth less due to the vacant units, the City might purchase them at a bargain, making thousands of new units available to the unhoused population.


Management told Supervisor Myrna Melgar’s aide, Mike Farrah, that 30% of the 3,221 units are vacant. If the Proposition M Vacancy Tax does not encourage Parkmerced management to lower rents and if they claim the properties are worth less due to the vacant units, the City might purchase them at a bargain, making thousands of new units available to the unhoused population.”


Parkmerced management is creating a criminal crisis. For example, eyewitnesses have watched car thieves break into cars or take catalytic converters, in the same place repeatedly, for months at a time. When the eyewitness calls Parkmerced security, they are too late to respond, despite the repeated occurrence at the same time and place. The window of opportunity to stop auto theft is five minutes. One police officer said, “Parkmerced is being willfully neglected,” by management. Willful negligence is defined as, “conduct that deliberately disregards the health, safety and welfare of another person.”

One eyewitness has observed that the Parkmerced security police lack focus, and do not conduct themselves appropriately, and he believes they are high at work. This could explain why they are so slow to respond to calls for help when the same crime is occurring again and again. SFPD is often too late to respond to calls for the police. Also, one resident has explained that if San Francisco Police do not catch culprits in the act, they are unwilling to pursue a thief in a high-speed pursuit.

SFPD is aware of up to eleven squatters in Parkmerced. One squatter forged a rental agreement, then pretended to live in an apartment, requesting electric and water companies to provide service. It can cost as much as $10,000 in legal fees to remove these squatters. But Parkmerced management is unwilling to pay for these fees repeatedly because each squatter can easily move to another apartment and do the same thing again.

Residents complain of dog kennels, brothels, casinos and drug dealers in Parkmerced. Residents lament there is no vetting for renters at Parkmerced, including Section 8 residents who now occupy 20% of the complex. Some Section 8 residents have criminal records. But with no vetting process, the criminal element could increase in Parkmerced. One lady, believed to be mentally disturbed, damaged her apartment completely and then was provided another one while her previous apartment was repaired. She was said to have ruined both apartments.

A casino was doing business in Parkmerced for 4 months before it was shut down. During that time, numerous parking stalls had cars parked illegally, creating a parking nightmare for the residents who had no place to park.


Proposed new Parkmerced Towers
Proposed new Parkmerced towers

Construction is occurring in Parcels A, B, C, and D at Parkmerced, but with the vacancy rate as high as 30% today, who would be interested in purchasing these new apartments/condominiums in a tower? There is a big difference between the desire to purchase housing and the desire to purchase condominiums in Parkmerced. Besides, this housing was sold during the dot-com bubble. Vacancy rates are high throughout San Francisco. It’s ridiculous to think that homeowners will want to purchase homes so far away from downtown.

When I confronted an architect involved with the design of Parcels A, B, C and D, he said if these new towers were not purchased, it would be the end of the development of the Parkmerced Vision Plan!


The Prop M Vacancy Tax can put more housing on the market by taxing rental property owners with 3 or more units as follows in the year 2024. Landlords have until then to get their act together.

1. $2,500 for each residential unit with sq. footage of less than 1,000.

2. $3,500 for each residential unit with sq. footage from 1,000 to 2,000

3. $5,500 for each residential unit with sq. footage greater than 2,000.

Then, if the residential units are not rented by the year 2026 the rate increases to:

1. $5,500 for each residential unit with sq. footage of less than 1,000.

2. $7,500 for each residential unit with sq. footage from 1,000 to 2,000

3. $10,500 for each residential unit with sq. footage greater than 2,000.

The tax can be as high as $20,000 if the same owner keeps the unit vacant for two consecutive years.

The tax burden can become significant for corporations like Parkmerced that have not been renting their vacant apartments for years. If Parkmerced fails to rent its apartments in the year 2024, the range of annual tax could fluctuate from $2,500 (tax) X 1,000 (units) = $2,500,000 to $5,500,000. In the year 2026, if their failure to comply continues, the vacancy tax could be as high as $20,000,000 if all 1,000 units are not rented.



Parkmerced is currently ripe for purchase by the City of San Francisco. Ideally, the towers and garden apartments could become available for purchase for low- and middle-income residents of San Francisco using a program like the Mitchell-Lama program, introduced in New York in 1955. It enabled residents to purchase an apartment at below-market price. An important feature of this program is that if the property is vacated by the owner, it must be resold back to the cooperative at almost the same price the owners had paid for it. In this way, the property continues to be affordable.

Since traditional banks may be unlikely to lend money to prospective home buyers in a Mitchell-Lama program, the public bank of San Francisco could become the lender. To become a buyer of the Mitchell-Lama property, you must first fill out an application and pay $75 to get on the waiting list or join the lottery. Properties can be rented or owned by individuals depending on the need and structure of the agreement. A person may apply for multiple waiting lists, but they are allowed only one purchase or rental of property. Should a participant of the Mitchell-Lama program earn more than they did when originally receiving their property or rental unit, they will need to pay a surcharge. Lastly, veterans can receive preferential treatment in obtaining property or rental units in this program.

To understand the finances of the purchase of Parkmerced by the City, I direct you to the Resolution to Purchase Parkmerced by the City included in the CSFN newsletter.

Let's hope the City provides true low-cost housing for the citizens of San Francisco. They deserve it.

Glenn Rogers, RLA
Landscape Architect / License 3223r

January 2023

Hunters Point in 1941
Hunters point Naval Shipyard in 1941

Can the Board of Supervisors Clean-up the Shipyard?

Glenn Rogers
Glenn Rogers

•••••••••• November 7, 2022 ••••••••••

On June 14, 2022, the Civil Grand Jury, comprised of several volunteers, provided a damning reportBuried Problems and a Buried Process, on the state of development at Hunters Point. The Navy purchased the site, a total of 638 acres, on December 29, 1939.

In 1974, the Navy ceased operations at the site, and in 1976 leased the site to Triple A Machine Shop. On November 21, 1989 Hunters Point became a Superfund site which recognizes there is a need for a long-term clean-up of hazardous contamination.

In January of 1994, the Navy and the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), setting in motion a multi-decade quest to transform the Shipyard into a mini-city in its own right. In 1997, the Board of Supervisors approved SFRA’s redevelopment plan for the Shipyard, and in 1999, SFRA selected Lennar Corporation as the master developer.  

In April 2004, the City, the Navy, and SFRA signed a Conveyance Agreement to outline a framework for the transfer of each parcel to the City, after the Navy completes the parcel’s environmental cleanup and state and federal regulators confirm it is safe. The City is not required to accept any parcel.  

In 2019, owners of 85 units filed a class action lawsuit against Lennar Corporation and Five Point Holdings for diminished property value after Techra Tech mislead the public with false soil samples. In March of 2021, the corporations agreed to pay $6.3 million in this lawsuit, according to the San Francisco Examiner. Other lawsuits are likely to follow.

The report focused on its groundwater and the likelihood that Climate Change and rising high tides would bring underground toxins to the surface. 

Immediately, Mayor London Breed dismissed the report as “unnecessarily alarmist.” Fortunately, the City’s Supervisors took the report more seriously, especially District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton, who lives near Hunters Point.


Concrete foundations and paved roads often fail because water is especially debilitating to concrete and seawater is even more destructive. Concrete is said to last a lifetime, but a lifetime is between 40-100 years — not forever. Since saltwater is heavier than freshwater, saltwater sinks. Freshwater presses against concrete floors, potentially breaking the concrete, and allowing the freshwater, now infused with toxic chemicals, to enter residential and commercial areas.  

VOC compounds (volatile organic compounds) are also present, which can enter the sewer and drainage pipes damaged by seawater-rise and can enter low and high-rise residential and commercial buildings, forming toxic gases, that add to the toxicity of the site. 


… the statistics remain grim. In 2018, the San Francisco Department of Public Health found that Bayview Hunters Point is significantly more at risk of health and environmental catastrophes than other neighborhoods.”


Hunters Point was designated a Superfund site in the past. Treasure Island is as unsafe as Hunters Point but, for some reason, never received a Superfund rating. In 2009 and 2010, the Navy published a guide for the cleanup of Hunters Point before there was scientific research about groundwater rise. No one fully understood the dynamics at that time. Previous Superfund sites, where toxins still remain, require a review every five years to ensure that the existing hazards are properly removed. 

The last review at Hunters Point occurred in 2019. The next review will be in 2024. It should investigate the dangers of freshwater rise and the possible harm to residential units and commercial property. Sadly, Treasure Island has no such safeguard.


Numerous warships that took part in the Bikini Atoll nuclear blast explosion were relocated to Hunters Point and Treasure Island for cleaning. Cleaning entailed sandblasting, which moved the radioactive particles onto the Bay shoreline. For many years nuclear waste generated by the Navy at Hunters Point, was stored in 47,000 steel 55-gallon barrels. The buildings where these radioactive barrels were stored also became radioactive. In 1951, the barrels were loaded onto the USS Independence, a radioactive aircraft carrier moored at Hunters Point that survived the Bikini Atoll blast. The Navy scuttled the hulk off the Farallon Islands. They also dumped some of these barrels in areas off the Pacific Ocean that were only 300 meters deep. Today, seriously toxic waste is still dumped in the deepest part of our oceans.


The intrinsic toxicity of serpentine rock used as fill-in construction at Hunters Point has not been brought to public attention. The heavy metals found in serpentine rock include: magnesiumasbestoschromiummanganesecobalt and nickelBare serpentine rock, when in contact with the wind, can spread minute dust particles that are hazards to health. This occurs when the vegetative cover is removed from the serpentine rock. When this rock is used as gravel for infill in the Bay, they have a debilitating effect on wildlife and residents.


Only a select group of endemic plants can grow on serpentine soil. 
These plants include: gray pine (Pinus sabiniana), California lilac (Ceanothus sp.), manzanita (Arctostaphylos sp.), live oak (Quercus sp.), California redbud (Cercis occidentalis), California buckeye (Aesculus californica), California laurel (bay tree) (Umbellularia californica), to name a few. 


During WW II, Hunters Point hired many people to work in the Hunters Point shipyard, many of them people of color. Due to racism, housing was available primarily for these workers at Hunters Point. Today, 20,000 people or 2/3 of the inhabitants, are Black. With the numerous toxic conditions of the Hunters Point Shipyard, the health of these residents is worse than in any other in San Francisco.  

“… the statistics remain grim. In 2018, the San Francisco Department of Public Health found that Bayview Hunters Point is significantly more at risk of health and environmental catastrophes than other neighborhoods. 27% of the neighborhood is situated within a quarter-mile of a contamination risk, and Bayview Hunters Point residents have worse health outcomes, higher maternal deaths, twice the rate of breast cancer, and three times more “preventable hospitalizations” than other San Franciscans. The California EPA’s CalEnviroScreen, a metric combining the pollution burden and social vulnerabilities of communities, shows the most beleaguered census tract in Bayview Hunters Point, just inland of the Shipyard, scoring worse than 92% of census tracts in the entire state. Contamination from the Shipyard is part of a long, toxic history.” — the Grand Jury Report


Those responsible for making decisions on the Hunters Point Shipyard are the following actors:

● the Navy
● the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
● the California Department of Toxic Substances Control
● the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The Navy develops the plan and carries out the cleanup or remediation. The other agencies review the plans and oversee the execution. The City is not obligated to accept any unsafe property. 

The Grand Jury recommends the creation of the Hunters Point Shipyard Cleanup Oversight Committee (HPSCOPC), made up of representatives from City departments with pertinent expertise. The Jury also recommends the Controller, as an unbiased government official, watch this process and step in when necessary. We look forward to the next Five Year Report that can provide us information on the progress of the cleanup. 

Hopefully, this process could extend to Treasure Island and the development that occurs there too.

We look forward to the active interest of the public, to keep Hunters Points and Treasure Island, safe for the residents of San Francisco.

Glenn Rogers, RLA
Landscape Architect
License 3223r


Youth Guidance Center
SF's Youth Guidance Center is situated next to Laguna Honda Hospital. It is in imminent danger of closure.

Act Now to Save the Youth Guidance Center

Glenn Rogers
Glenn Rogers

•••••••••• August 2, 2022 ••••••••••

San Francisco's present Youth Guidance Center (YGC), now the “Juvenile Justice Center,” located at 375 Woodside Avenue,  was rebuilt in 2007 at the cost of $70 million. From the beginning, John King and others criticized it as a design based on punishment rather than rehabilitation. Built to house two inmates in each cell, it includes two concrete slabs and very thin mattresses for a bed. It was designed, initially to house 132 inmates. Today, fewer than 30 individuals are housed here, which is down 84% from the population ten years ago. Householding inmates costs $3,000 a day or $1.1 million annually.

For decades, punishment for misbehavior was solitary confinement. That included no education or schooltime during the punishment period that could last for months. Fortunately, this practice has been overruled, along with providing “sleeping pills.” Historically, the clothes YGC supplied were often dirty, though there has been some improvement in that practice. The YGJ is very proud of the washer it has provided to the female inmates.

YGC is located on land that is part of the Laguna Honda Hospital. As you may know, Laguna Honda Hospital has been forced to transfer patients due to an investigation. In addition, numerous residences that provided staff homes between the hospital and the YGC have been deemed uninhabitable because of health issues. Therefore, we have acres of available real estate. Is this a thinly veiled facade — more land for developers? Some City officials, who look forward to contributions from developers, hope so.


There is a need for a routine and consistent review of this facility. Programs that exist here are rarely audited, and when they are, the list of improvements required is long and important.”

The Log Cabin Ranch in San Mateo County was once considered a desirable place for rehabilitation. Now it is closed. Today, cottages, eliciting a family setting, are considered preferable to confining children in a cell. With that in mind, the Supervisors considered buying a large residence to house the youths. Unfortunately, State building code mandates sabotaged the idea. For example, all Youth Guidance Centers must have hallways 8’0” wide. One possible solution is to buy a warehouse and build the interior to the specifications demanded by the State, including 8’0” wide hallways!

Land developed for housing that no one purchases can lead to a recession in San Francisco. We have a surplus of 40,000 units for sale or lease in the City, with numerous projects in the pipeline to be built in the future, including units in Stonestown, Parkmerced, and the Balboa  Reservoir. If these projects are completed, who will buy them? San Francisco has one of the highest rates of exodus in the nation since employees often prefer to work remotely. These same employees can work at home in Tracy or Truckee, where land is less expensive, and families can have a larger yard for play with their families. Many prefer that to life in the City, where real estate is more expensive, and the homes are much smaller.

One possible solution to improve the YGC is to widen the cells. That would make them twice as large as they are now. Numerous shop classes could be provided to reduce recidivism and foster rehabilitation. Many would benefit from carpentry, plumbing, electrical, sheet metal and landscaping. Also, cooking classes, skill development in the culinary trades, and healthy diet practices could be available. Movie nights for youths who are well-behaved could reinforce good behavior. Video game lounges and computers could be important resources. Lastly, trained and licensed therapists are needed.

When teachers are in short supply, the Five Keys School Program could provide additional teaching staff. This teaching program is very flexible and could provide additional instruction for the youths in need. 

Outdoor recreation, which was limited to once a week in the past, should be allowed daily. Providing children an outlet to exercise will enable them to sleep better at night. Since the YGC is a rambling facility, cottages could be built on site for the youth to provide a more family-oriented lifestyle. No matter what occurs, isolation and the denial of education should be avoided. Since youths are in their formative years, imprisonment or solitary confinement has a devastating effect on their character and behavior. That can last a lifetime. There is a need for a routine and consistent review of this facility. Programs that exist here are rarely audited, and when they are, the list of improvements required is long and important.

Many people of color are leaving San Francisco; they are often replaced with younger people who are less interested in having a family. The population of delinquents in the YGC is at a historic low. COVID-19 heightened the problem, but it was occurring before the pandemic. The City's Black and Latino populations have been replaced by younger tech workers who typically earn $150,000-$170,000 a year. Regardless of the future outcome, youth held for serious crimes in San Francisco must have a place to go for rehabilitation. Formerly, as many as 30 arrests a year were attributed to murder. Some argue that the $1.1 million spent to house individual offenders is too expensive. That ignores the seriousness of the crimes. How much is a human life worth? And, are we, as San Franciscans, ready to release offenders who may commit the same acts again?

One solution for the YGC facility would be housing for the unhoused. That's a bad idea on many levels. The facility was designed for 132 people — not enough to house a large number of the unhoused. In addition, unhoused people prefer living on flat ground, which minimizes the effort required to push shopping carts. YGC is situated on a hill; it would be difficult to monitor their property or get around.

Numerous businesses would be dramatically affected by the increase of unhoused people nearby. Such an increase is often associated with more panhandling, larceny and theft of merchandise from store owners. Since we have a lenient judicial system, any person arrested for bad behavior would be immediately released tomorrow. Nearby neighborhoods would be negatively impacted, e.g., children who play in nearby parks would have more interaction with unhoused individuals than they do now. So a Neighborhood Navigation Center is a bad idea. But even worse would be its designation as a housing development.

It's a severe problem. It must be resolved compassionately. Let's hope that Supervisor Shamann Walton, who was incarcerated at this YGC years ago, will find the best answer. His intimate perspective gives him the best chance of solving the problem. The public can hope that the past shortcomings of the Youth Guidance Center can be forgiven as he, with other Supervisors, solves this problem.


Glenn Rogers, RLA
Landscape Architect
License 3223r


118 degrees in Siberia
The Arctic is warming more than two times quicker than the global averagePhoto: Compliments of

It's Climate Change — Stupid!

Glenn Rogers
Glenn Rogers

On June 20, 2021, the temperature in the Siberian Arctic town of Verkhojansk was 118 degrees. Such high temperatures are consequential because a large percentage of methane is stored in permafrost. When the permafrost melts, methane from dead plant material, millions of years old, can be released into the atmosphere.

Methane Crater
Methane craters, created by a violent explosion, the largest one noted is .62137119 miles wide and can be 115 feet deep. This one is in a remote Arctic peninsula Photo: BBC
Frozen Methane Bubbles in Siberia
“Methane bubbles frozen in place in Lake Baikal, Russia.
The ice thickness can reach 6.5 ft during the peak of
winter coldness, trapping millions of cubic feet of methane gas
under the ice until Spring arrives.” 
Photo: Kristina Makeeva for NASA

Although methane is increasing in the atmosphere, CO2 is primarily the driver of climate change. Scientists biggest worry is that there are currently 36 billion tons of CO2 in the atmosphere that can last thousands of years, while the 640 million tons of methane in the atmosphere may last approximately nine years. 25% of global warming is caused by methane compared to CO2 — the primary factor.  However, in the near-term, methane is 80 times more potent than CO2 as a contributing factor to global warming.

Most importantly, atmospheric levels of CO2 are now comparable to the Pleistocene epoch (4.3 million years ago) when the sea level was 75 feet higher than it is today and forests occupied the Arctic where there is presently tundra.

Unprecedented Triple La Niña

Flooding in India - La Niña impact Photo: Hindustan Times

Sadly, we cannot expect our climate to improve next year, because a third cycle of a La Niña weather pattern is expected. When a La Niña occurs, we can expect drought and wildfire in the southwest and a different pattern of weather in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The last triple cycle La Niña occurred in the 1950s.

Glacial Melt

Iceland's glaciers over 30 years Photo: Courtesy of

Melting glaciers are the source of sea level rise. Scientists believe all glaciers could disappear in Iceland, where glaciers are retreating as fast as 150 meters a year. When the Thwaites Glacier in the Antarctica melts, sea level could rise as much as three feet in every continent around the world.

How Long Is This Drought?

CO2 Growth Rate Chart
Expect sea level to rise 75 feet if we have the same level of CO2 in our atmosphere as we did 4.3 million years agoNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The past 22 years are predicted to be the driest period since 800 AD or the driest in 12,000 years.

Amazon Rainforest Deforestation

Deforestation photo
Drone photo of deforestation in the Bolivian Amazon for soybeans. Photo by Rhett A. Butler/

Not only is the climate getting warmer but our means to combat climate change is exacerbated by excessive logging and burning of the Amazon rainforest. In the beginning, subsistent farmers in Brazil cleared the forest to make a living, however, today large corporate farmers and extraction industries are responsible for the significant deforestation presently destroying the rainforests. 1/5 of the Amazon rainforest has disappeared. This is especially true since Jair Bolsonaro, became President in 2018. He has disparaged environmentalists and ignored its indigenous peoples, dismantling all protections of the Amazon rainforest.

Lake Powell and Lake Mead Reservoirs

Lake Powell May Disappear
Lake Powell could become a ‘dead pool’ as climate change, political wars and unabated growth drain its waters Photo: Salt Lake Tribune

Lake Mead, formed by the Hoover Dam, was at 26.63% capacity in May 2022, while Lake Powell was at 22.88% capacity, its lowest level since 1953, the time of its origin. (This information is provided by Wikipedia.)  In contrast, Marin County reservoirs, as of May 31, are at 87.93% capacity due to the intense rainfall at the beginning of the storm season. Recently, Marin County dramatically increased its water storage capacity.


Wildfires New Mexico
Photo: New Mexico Bureau of Land Management

Since last year, there have been over 9,000 wildfires in the US, wildfires are considered a byproduct of climate change. Two “prescribed burn” wildfires in New Mexico have contributed to the largest wildfire in that state’s history. A controlled or prescribed burn, also known as hazard reduction burning, backfire, or burn-off, is a fire set intentionally for purposes of forest management, farming, prairie restoration or greenhouse gas abatement. Apparently, a prescribed burn flashed out of control, and another prescribed burn, thought to be inactive, resurfaced. As of this report, the US Forest Service has postponed controlled burns for the foreseeable future. These numerous wildfires may have negated the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) progress toward its clean air goals, overturning decades of progress toward controlling pollution.

We certainly hope the US Forest Service can remedy the solution of prescribed  burns to control wildfire.  The environment and the public are desperate for this solution.

These are not enjoyable facts about Climate change. We can all hope the prediction of a triple cycle La Nina is in error because we are in desperate need of more water.

Glenn Rogers, RLA
Landscape Architect
License 3223r

JULY 2022

Library Site
The proposed new Oceanview library at 100 Orizaba is in the wrong location

Oceanview Library at 100 Orizaba Avenue? No.

Glenn Rogers
Glenn Rogers

After nearly 2 years, District 11’s Oceanview Library project is back into consideration. No doubt this community needs a new library, the question is — is the location for the proposed library at 100 Orizaba Way ideal for the district?

Unfortunately, this location is at the periphery of most residents of District 11. Despite this, Supervisor Safai contends that the library must be built in the Brotherhood Way Greenbelt or not at all. For this reason alone, residents in district 11 have rallied around that site. Those living in District 7 are not so happy with the location.

Rethinking 100 Orizaba

The proposed library location is on an adjacent narrow street of Orizaba Avenue, two blocks away from the “M” streetcar stop, on a hill that is over an 8% slope, in a Greenbelt and on an earthquake fault. In addition, the trees there have a 3 foot diameter which would require the roots to be removed in addition to the tree itself which will be expensive. Also, the soils, created from what was a stream bed for millennia are organic in nature — this too will require additional construction expense. This location would require 20 foot deep piers to provide a stable footing for a library. Unlike numerous other proposed locations, this has no synergy with adjacent businesses and would provide no foot traffic fostering other business activity. With all the things that are wrong at this location, wouldn’t another site be more desirable? However, there is more bad news about this location for the library.

traffic map
Map of 5 Crosswalks Provided by Glenn Rogers, RLA



 If you are interested in this discussion, please, attend the following meetings and state your preference:

MEETING 1: Wednesday, June 8, 6 p.m., Virtual Meeting - register:

MEETING 2: Thursday, June 9, 6 p.m., I.T. Bookman Community Center, 446 Randolph St.

MEETING 3: Saturday, June 11, 11 a.m., Ocean View Branch Library, 345 Randolph St.

To get to the proposed library, patrons, including children and the elderly from District 7, will need to cross five (5) different crosswalks. Crosswalk (1) and crosswalk (4) are especially heavily traveled. Safe to say, this location is an “attractive nuisance” for children and could lead to accidents and death.

Another dangerous cross walk is located at crosswalk (6). Here traffic habitually speeds down Sagamore Street. Should there be a pedestrian crosswalk here, the traffic is likely to be backed up Sagamore Street considerably and accidents could be frequent. With the addition of the proposed library, more children and the elderly would use this crosswalk and this location would become more dangerous.

Unfortunately, removing the five awkward crosswalks at this location is only likely to encourage jaywalking. Therefore, the first likely solution would be to provide a signal light to control traffic, but the amount of traffic and the speed of this traffic would make it an unsafe solution. Imagine the length of time required for the elderly to cross all five crosswalks to gain access to the library. Then, imagine this happening more frequently with the increased foot traffic of children and the elderly for a proposed library. A traffic signal solution is unworkable.

Anyone living beside crosswalk (1) who decided to avoid these five crosswalks to get to the proposed library, might take the “safe” route. Walking down Alemany Blvd. to the west, five blocks, next wait for two traffic signals, then walk east on Brotherhood Way five more blocks, would get you to the same place. That “safe” diversion is nearly one mile.

Traffic on Brotherhood Way is busy because motorists driving here are going to San Francisco State University, Stonestown, Parkmerced, 800 Summit, Oceanview, Sunset and Richmond districts. Today, Sagamore Street is functioning adequately, but should there be more traffic or an additional traffic signal, it will not function properly.

Also, the entrance to Highway 280 is located on the south side of Alemany Blvd. (see Map of 5 crosswalks). From a traffic engineer’s perspective, should there be increased pedestrians crossing on Alemany Blvd. it would cause traffic to back up as far as Brotherhood Way. When this happens, traffic proceeding west on Alemany Blvd. will be unable to move forward.

quote marks

Will anyone in our neighborhood realize the intrinsic value of open space and a Brotherhood Way Greenbelt? Time will tell.”


The yellow bumped surfaces that mark the entrance of improved crosswalks in San Francisco do provide guidance for the visually impaired. However, when George Wooding, who is wheelchair bound, saw the five crosswalks he said he could not make that crossing. The yellow bumped surfaces can be an obstacle to the handicapped and the elderly who find this surface difficult to cross with a walker or a wheelchair. Crossing one street with this surface is one thing, but crossing all five crosswalks at once, is beyond the ability of many who are physically challenged. Is this five-crosswalk intersection in its current configuration therefore, compliant with the American Disabilities Act (ADA)?


A solution to this traffic problem could be a pedestrian bridge. A pedestrian bridge (A) could allow children to walk safely to the library from Alemany Blvd. (see Map or Five Crosswalks). The pedestrian bridge (B), that crosses the Brotherhood Way, is just as necessary. These bridges will be expensive and make the supposed costs savings for “free” land for the new library meaningless. Advocates of the proposed library in cursory discussions, have said a pedestrian bridge is out of the question. That is because the appeal of this site at 100 Orizaba is that the land is “free.” Obviously, the hidden cost of a necessary pedestrian bridge makes this location no longer affordable.


Traffic Study

The traffic solution provided by SFCTA (above) misses all but one topic discussed in safety concerns for a traffic solution. Even worse, it misdirects westbound traffic down Alemany Blvd. to Arch Street, to make a right turn and eventually continue on Brotherhood Way. This solution would cause congestion in both District 7 and District 11 and is completely unworkable.

This plan ignores the narrow street of Orizaba Avenue which would need to be widened beside the proposed library. Also, this plan does not address the five crosswalks leading to the proposed library from the south side of Alemany Blvd. This solution does recognize the danger of crosswalk (6) at Brotherhood Way. (see Map of 5 Crosswalks). However, they solved the problem by removing the crosswalk entirely by creating a park. This ignores the fact the Greenbelt is a park already. Safe to say, this traffic solution does not adhere to the guidelines which the traffic designer was attempting to follow by “Improving community connections, livability and safety through the Brotherhood-Sagamore-Alemany corridor.” This solution generates no capital improvement or expense besides the proposed library, which is the goal of those who support this proposed library location.



Oceanview Branch

This is the present location of the Oceanview Library. In library meetings proponents have said that building additional floors onto the existing library would require two librarians for each additional floor and this would be unnecessarily expensive. Is this a justification for ignoring this space? Besides, the proposed larger library on 100 Orizaba Avenue also has 3 stories. No-one dismisses this site for that same reasoning.

The other excuse is that the existing building is not robust enough to support additional floors. I believe this is untrue. All public buildings are built to a different standard than residential buildings. All public buildings generally should be able to support additional weight. Besides, this existing building could be retrofitted.

This location at 345 Randolph Street is beside the ‘M” streetcar stop with no pedestrian obstacles. Considering the difficulties with the site in the Greenbelt at 100 Orizaba Way, that would seem important. Talk on the street implies this old library has been decided to be sold to the public. Could the future owner of this property be getting a “sweetheart” deal? The residents of this neighborhood should pay attention to the new buyer of this property. Another possibility is that the existing library would become the property of Public Works.


308 Randolph

This location is beside the Little Footprints preschool and the M streetcar stop. This property is both wider and longer than the existing library location. Since the space is presently a play ground, the cost of the land would be minimal. Once the new library is built, children coould play on the new roof of the library. An agreement whereby the City could donate the use of the roof playground could be arranged. This location stimulates other businesses nearby. 90% of the EIR for the library should be readily approved because it is so close to the existing library.

Another solution is to tear down the existing library at 345 Randolph Street and create a children’s playground at that site, purchase the existing playground next to the Little Footprint preschool and build the library there. The preschool would benefit by a library next door and would still have access to a playground close by. Most importantly, the preschool will have cash from the sale of their adjacent playground. It would be hard to find a worthwhile reason for this option to be turned down.



This location is presently a church, which is primarily a parking lot and would be less expensive than many other locations. The site appears to be a collection of 3 residential lots. Only one living unit is present, so only one family would be inconvenienced by a move. This location is only 100 feet from the M streetcar and is next to the Oceanview Market and would stimulate business there. Other businesses nearby could flourish also. This location has no traffic conflicts that would immediately dismiss the site as it does the 100 Orizaba Avenue site.


137 Broad St.

This large parcel of land on Broad Street is close to an M streetcar stop. This location for the library is likely to bring back businesses that used to exist beside the old library at Ana’s Market or 105 Broad Street. This residence is shuttered and the adjacent property is a side yard. An EIR was provided in the past for the old library at Ana’s Market. Therefore, another EIR could be easily prepared.


Ana's Market

Today, numerous businesses are shuttered here which used to be open when the Oceanview Library was present at Ana’s Market. It is my hope to have the new library beside other businesses that would benefit from a library and increased foot traffic. This is one reason why the location 137 Broad Street is desirable. The isolation of the proposed library location at 100 Orizaba Avenue does not provide any synergy to existing businesses, and should be avoided.



In the not-so-distant past, gang members frequented the area by Ana’s Market and there were frequent shootings. Fear of this activity explains why this location is discouraged by some residents in District 11. One way to inhibit crime is to have more foot traffic and prying eyes watching the activity of nearby neighbors and businessmen. If a library is here, more foot traffic would be present and past bad behavior is less likely to occur. Note the cameras now monitoring this site on the streetlight here and on the other side of the street.


Why is the proposed library at 100 Orizaba Avenue desirable? The proposed site has so many failings and the traffic problems are so enormous. Is there a hidden agenda with this proposed site that’s not being discussed? When the neighbors of Orizaba Avenue were canvased, they told canvassers that a City employee proceeded them, asking if they opposed a housing development on the Greenbelt. Is the construction of a proposed library on the Greenbelt the first step to having the public accept a residential development there? Real estate interests are willing to build housing elsewhere in the City despite the fact 6.3% of the population of San Francisco has moved from the City. Not only that, but working remotely has become increasing more popular in San Francisco, making home ownership even less desirable. Still, the state, city and local real estate interests push the narrative that housing is a must and should be built at the rate of 800 units a year and 8,000 units over a decade. Since land is scarce in the City, this verdant stretch of Brotherhood Way Greenbelt must be deeply desirable for real estate speculation. Waiting a decade will mean those who oppose the construction of a proposed library today will be absent, but real estate interests will not. Will anyone in our neighborhood realize the intrinsic value of open space and a Brotherhood Way Greenbelt? Time will tell.

Glenn Rogers, RLA
Landscape Architect
License 3223r

JUNE 2022

People are Leaving San Francisco

People are Leaving San Francisco!

Glenn Rogers
Glenn Rogers

Recently, a New Workplace Employer Report has been released by Sequoia which has studied 459 companies large and small.

1. Their research supports population trends in cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles where numerous families have been leaving in record numbers. In San Francisco, 154,000 were lost to domestic migration or 6.7% and in Los Angeles County the loss was 160,000 residents or 1%. 

2. Despite these figures, the State continues to insist on San Francisco building 800 units a year or 8000 units over 10 years. Although international migration to California continues, the number of people coming here have declined substantially. The City has also experienced a decline in birth rates. The State of California is out of touch with housing needs in San Francisco, and ignores the fact that the City has 40,458 vacant homes and condominiums according to the Budget Office. 

3. Regardless, the state continues to insist that we build more housing which could create a recession in San Francisco with new homes built and no one to buy them.

quote marks

41% of companies allow employees to relocate permanently to any state freely, while companies that do not allow the employees to relocate elsewhere represent only 5%.”


Another consideration is when employees will come back to work. Most companies are undecided (37%). By the fall of 2022, most employees are anticipated to be back to work.  


Fundamentally, the change in business behavior was a result of the need to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, which allowed employers to experiment more with their workplace environment. Combined with a shortage of qualified workers in California, employers have become far more flexible in allowing employees to work at home rather than in the office. This study shows 96% of companies are willing to allow employees to have a flexible work arrangement to expand or add to their most desirable staff. Only 25% of the companies studied are reducing employee, while 45% of the companies continued normal compensation. Moreover, 41% of companies allow employees to relocate permanently to any state freely, while companies that do not allow the employees to relocate elsewhere represent only 5%. Today, it seems employees have the advantage over their employers.


Employees will benefit from less commute time and more time spent with spouses and children, perhaps making the family unit healthier. Employees will save money previously spent 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 getting to and from work decreases. Perhaps the workforce will become more diverse, as people of color, living farther away from urban centers, can be hired, while maintaining their homes where real estate is less expensive. Unfortunately, working at home does have one drawback. Employees used to work from 9 am to 5 pm. Now, employees could work longer hours from 9 am to 10 pm.


Glenn Rogers is VP of the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods and Editor of the CSFN Newsletter

MAY 2022

Hillview Court Site
The Hillview Court Project: The project will provide permanent supportive housing to Extremely Low Income (15 percent Area Median Income or AMI) and Very Low Income (50 percent AMI). Supportive services will be provided by an approved County of Santa Clara provider. HUD Assessment

Homelessness and the Mental Health Housing Crisis

California’s leaders have experimented with solutions to homelessness for decades, with mostly disappointing results

In 2019, CalMatters sounded the alarm: a board and care housing crisis was brewing. Board and care housing – i.e., privately owned residences leased to elderly and mental health consumer tenants — offer food, medication disbursal, and in some cases rehabilitative programming — to thousands of California mental health consumers. However, this affordable medium between independent living and locked hospital settings is threatened by California’s broader housing affordability crisis, as well as the public health community’s shift away from residential cohabitation during the Covid pandemic.

Nationally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported in 2020 that private residential facilities account for 21% of mental health programs in the United States, housing tens of thousands of tenants struggling with mental health issues. These residential home apartments offer dignified and diffuse housing in safe and familiar communities. They are also more affordable to upkeep and fund than supportive housing programs, emergency shelters, and state mental hospitals.

Sadly, board and care facilities face significant financial pressures and perverse incentives. Rampant housing speculation has incentivized many board and care operators to sell buildings and evict tenants. Moreover, minimal support for board and care operators makes capital improvements and building maintenance a challenge for working class board and care operators still dedicated to serving the community.

Meanwhile, NIMBY (Not in my backyard) activists are making their opposition to supportive housing for the formerly homeless clear in Marin. According to the Marin Independent Journal, NIMBY groups mobilized over a hundred community members at a February Board of Supervisors meeting, decrying a supportive housing program that Supervisors sought to locate in Larkspur. Though the project received unanimous support from supervisors, it remains unclear whether rancor regarding the project’s placement in this prosperous community will subside.

quote marks

... as additional funding for supportive housing services through programs like Project Home Key become available, radical reform of board and care programming and funding will be necessary to maintain and expand this crucial resource.”

Indeed, contention and litigation surrounding supportive housing development is increasing throughout the Bay Area. A Milpitas supportive housing development, 1000 Hillview Court, came to the region’s attention in 2020, after lobbying by the NIMBY neighborhood group Voices of Milpitas pressured City Council to reverse its support. Months of litigation followed, compressing the development’s timeline and nearly blocking funding for the project.

Project Homekey, a 2020 California housing bill allotting billions to the development of permanent housing for the chronically homeless, has created 6,000 units of permanent housing, with almost $3 billion in grants committed to supportive housing developers this summer. However, plans for further large congregate developments may suffer continued backlash from NIMBY activists leery of quality-of-life impacts to their prosperous communities.

Typical Bedroom
Typical bedroom at Hillview Court

Although developments like 1000 Hillview Court were caricatured as emergent flophouses by opponents, crime promptly dropped in the area as households began to fill the building formerly occupied by an abandoned budget motel. Will success stories like 1000 Hillview Court assuage the fears of Bay Area NIMBY activists like Voices of Milpitas? Hard to say. Yet, board and care homes have been part of the social fabric of communities throughout the Bay Area for decades, without fanfare or controversy. If board and care homes played a larger role staunching housing insecurity, would NIMBY activists feel the serenity of their communities were in threat?

It's fair to wonder whether additional financial support for scaled down housing environments, lodging a dozen residents rather than dozens, would elicit the disapproval of NIMBY activists. Board and care homes have offered dignified and affordable housing for tens of thousands of elders and mental health consumers since the advent of community-based care. Furthermore, most board and care homes are so organically embedded in their community, neighbors hardly know they’re anything more than a typical residential home.

Building supportive housing is an essential ingredient in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Californians struggling with mental illness and housing insecurity. However, as additional funding for supportive housing services through programs like Project Home Key become available, radical reform of board and care programming and funding will be necessary to maintain and expand this crucial resource. Higher reimbursement rates for licensed operators, expanding Medi-Cal’s ability to fund assisted living programs, capital improvement funding, reliable data collection by the state, and staff/resident/operator matching portals may assist operators in maintaining and expanding this crucial infrastructure serving mental health consumers.

Typical kitchenette at Hillview Court

Community Care Courts, a nascent program Newsom promoted in last week’s State of the State address, may also play a crucial role expanding board and care infrastructure. This program, which requires counties to provide necessary treatment to severely impaired and untreated Californians, may include mandated housing for mental health consumers diverted to the court. Many California counties may not have the funding or political wherewithal to fund large supportive housing developments, so expanding board and care beds through financial incentives to operators may be an expedient means to quickly house indigent mental health consumers.

However, even in the Bay Area’s most social service rich enclaves, board and care homes play a necessary role meeting the varying needs of mental health consumers. As a former outreach worker for one of San Francisco’s largest outpatient mental health clinics, I worked with dozens of clients in board and care homes who thrived in board and care homes after years of cycling in and out of supportive housing. Indeed, the chaotic nature of densely packed single room occupancy hotels in the Tenderloin can feel like an unsupportive environment for folks whose thoughts feel out of control.

California’s leaders have experimented with solutions to homelessness for decades, with mostly disappointing results. Many Californians are exhausted by the deteriorating conditions faced by our most vulnerable neighbors. Board and care homes have played a crucial role combatting homelessness and fostering resilient communities with familiar, rehabilitative environments where vulnerable community members can thrive. Board and care homes must continue to be an integral component of California’s social safety net, and new programs like Project Homekey and Community Care courts must ensure that this is the case.

Robert Rogers

MARCH 2022

Folsom Dam
Our oceans are becoming clogged with plastic, endangering ocean life and ours.Photo:

Let's Make Recycling Effective

Glenn Rogers
Glenn Rogers


Today, many items with the recycled logo — three circling arrows — are not being recycled, despite the ads claiming so by Recology. Sadly, this is fooling the public into thinking they are being responsible with their recycling. China no longer accepts our plastic. 12,000 tons of plastics are deposited in landfills in California today. Only a fraction of plastic is recycled. The amount of plastic discarded in California is equivalent to 219 Olympic size swimming pools. Only 9% of our plastic waste is being recycled.


We all know of the Great Pacific and Atlantic Trash Patch floating in these bodies of water the size of Texas. Plastic is not just pervasive in our oceans but also has become more commonplace in our drinking water. Water departments are being asked to filter smaller and smaller pieces of plastic from the water we drink. It seems there is no end to how small plastic can become. Plastic has been noticed in the wombs of mothers outside and inside the placenta. Also, plastic can mimic body chemistry in its smallest form.

Without additives, plastic is incredibly stable and can last in the environment for centuries, possibly forever. EBA added to plastic can hasten the biodegradability of plastic. Unfortunately, EBA can now be found in high concentrations in the human body.

Bottled water can stand in its plastic containers for months before being ingested. During this length of time, bottled water can be tainted with EBA. Scientists are studying the link between EBA that may cause young girls to look much older than they are, since EBA can mimic estrogen. Also, BPA has been linked to male infertility. There is no telling how destructive EBA in combination with plastic will become as it degrades and penetrates our cell membranes and interacts with our cell chemistry.

quote marks

Assemblywoman Laura Friedman wants to limit the amount of plastic used in wrapping done by on-line shopping. Since the pandemic, online shopping has created 29% more waste in landfills which can end up in our oceans”


Making plastic is most economical by using virgin resin. Currently, recycling plastic is neither convenient nor economical. That’s why plastic will only be recycled if there is a government mandate. AB 793 mandates a certain amount of recycled plastic must be used in all new plastic. This means all plastic bottles that can be redeemed for $0.05 or $0.10 must contain no less than:
*        15% recycled plastic starting in January 1, 2022.
*        25% recycled plastic starting in January 1, 2025.
*        50% recycled plastic starting in January 1, 2030.

The plastic that is most recyclable today is HDPE or polyethylene terephthalate, a plastic often used in milk containers. One of the advantages of HDPE is that it is clear. It is worth $1 per pound or over $2,000 per ton.

plastic bottles


The Plastics Industry Association, the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment and the Flexible Packaging Association are major opponents of plastic recycling. They lobby hard to slow down the process of recycling. However, regular businesses that represent farming and agriculture, pet food and household/personal care products also complained of new restrictions on plastics.


Success in labeling plastic — as truly recyclable — has been made with the “Truth in Labeling” bill passed last year. This law forbids manufacturers from calling their products recyclable or using the three arrow recycling logo unless they meet CalRecycle’s criteria.


Even better news about recycling comes from a new pilot program called the Bottlebank. This new program allows the elderly and those challenged by transportation issues to deposit their uncrushed California Redemption Value
(CRV) bottles into two blue plastic bags with bar codes that are registered to Venmo, PayPal or a regular bank account of the reimbursed participant. Seventy-two hours after the blue bag is recycled the cash deposit for this transaction is complete. Bottlebank trucks pick up these blue bags all over San Francisco in new and rotating locations providing easier access for anyone interested in recycling. This program is felt to be a democratization of recycling since it allows the poor, senior citizens and those without reliable transportation to take part in recycling.


California lawmakers have already passed bills reducing plastic straws and shopping bag legislation. Now, Southern California Assemblywoman Laura Friedman wants to limit the amount of plastic used in wrapping done by on-line shopping. Since the pandemic, online shopping has created 29% more waste in landfills which can end up in our oceans. Let’s hope this legislation, AB 2026 passes.


Germany has a very successful “Green Dot” recycling campaign. Of the 30 million tons of waste Germany produces annually, at least one ton is diverted from the waste stream by using thinner glass, less metal and the reduction of unnecessary paper packaging. Retailers purchase a Green Dot.  The more unnecessary recyclable material present in products they sell, the more expensive their Green Dot becomes. Germany’s success is much more complicated; I suggest you read the “All About Recycling in Germany” article to learn more.


There is new hope for having plastic break down without EBA. New research shows that providing a catalyst or enzyme imbedded in every piece of plastic can allows it to become vulnerable to bacteria in the landfill or in the ground.  Biodegradable plastic may be our greatest hope to remove plastic from our environment. 

Glenn Rogers, RLA, Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods Newsletter Editor
Landscape Architect, License 3223


Folsom Dam
Folsom Dam, the headwaters for the Sacramento River that feeds into San Franisco Bay. Photo: NASA

The Drought is Still With Us

Glenn Rogers
Glenn Rogers


California has had drought for 16 of the last 21 years—76% of that time.  

It is not expected to get wetter. Many parts of California are said to have a Mediterranean Climate, unfortunately, our Mediterranean Climate is one of the driest.

When water was more abundant than it is today, many state and federal municipalities divided up water in California. Farmers were allotted abundant supplies of water. Many farmers, encouraged by that abundance, chose to grow crops like corn, rice, alfalfa, pistachios, almonds and walnuts that require intense amounts of water. Every single almond requires a gallon of water to mature. It becomes more difficult and costly to abandon a crop when fruit and nut trees are already planted, and water becomes scarce.


Groundwater And Land
New York Times

Farmers must pump the Central Valley Aquifer to sustain these crops, especially during the drought. Pumping the aquifer causes parts of the Central Valley to sink—up to 28 feet. In a normal year the Bay-Delta receives 50% of its water from freshwater inflow, in dry years only 33% of that water is available. 21% of the Tuolumne River water reaches the San Joaquin River. 50% of California’s river water use is attributable to people. Agriculture use accounts for 40% while urban use is only 10%.


With less water in the rivers, the temperature increases, killing salmon and allowing the green scum called algae bloom. It is unsightly, smells bad and can make water toxic to humans and fish. Chinnook salmon have declined from a high of 117,000 in 1969 to 200 today. The Delta is in a crisis.”

Chinook Salmon
Chinook Salmon

Salmon require clean and colder water to remain healthy and suffer from the decrease in the streams and rivers. Bass, a non-native fish, can tolerate warm water. The population of another fish, Delta Smelt, considered an indicator of the health of the Delta, is now less than 99% of normal. When rivers flows are down, the concentration of pollutants can increase. With less water in the rivers, the temperature increases, killing salmon and allowing the green scum called algae bloom. It is unsightly, smells bad and can make water toxic to humans and fish. Chinnook salmon have declined from a high of 117,000 in 1969 to 200 today. The Delta is in a crisis.


water measure
Central California water decline is measured by a volunteer

The headwaters of the Tuolumne River is the Lyell Glacier. It is predicted that this glacier will disappear in less than 5 years. Today, the heat melting this glacier adds .2% to the volume of water runoff of the Tuolumne River. When Lyell Glacier is gone that volume too will disappear. As Climate Change becomes worse in California, San Francisco’s water supply is likely to benefit from early rainfall. On average, San Francisco has been allotted, by the Raker Act, three times as much water as it usually uses.

San Francisco only reuses or recycles .1% of its water—far below the amount of water being reused in Southern California. It is always so disappointing to see our City streets being cleaned with the cleanest and safest water in the nation.


Demonstration of water decline
A farmer demonstrates the decline

Chronically, the SFPUC has misled the public regarding the amount of future water use in San Francisco. SFPUC estimates that in the year 2045 there will be 1,249,288 people in San Francisco, however, a more reliable estimate of population from the Department of Finance (DOF) has estimated 2045’s population at 988,709. A difference around 30%. The SFPUC’s estimate would require more than 10 million gallons of additional water than the estimate provided by the DOF. 

Repeatedly, SFPUC uses outdated and false estimates of annual water use in San Francisco. Instead of the SFPUC’s 265 million gallons of water per day, it has been shown that a more reasonable amount of water use in San Francisco is 200 million gallons per day. Cooking the books has been an SFPUC water strategy for years.

San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) needs to get onboard with the City’s environmental values and develop recycled water and other water sources rather than wipe out the salmon that made Fisherman’s Wharf,” John McManus, president of the Golden State Salmon Association, said in an email.

water use chart
Courtesy of Northern CAlifornia Water Assn.

Of course, as the downtown remains vacant, the effect COVID-19 will have on the population of San Francisco remains unclear. The improvement of broadband and less-expensive more spacious housing in the rural areas are factors encouraging residents to leave, even more so with Biden’s Build Back Better Plan. Telecommuting has allowed employees to work elsewhere. Management has embraced this idea because now they are able to pay their employees less. Unrealistically, despite urban flight, the State continues to push for denser and taller housing in San Francisco.



Half of the water is being used in landscaping in San Mateo, Alameda and Santa Clara counties, which are included in the SFPUC service territory. San Francisco, on the other hand, uses water differently—so little of its water is used for landscaping—one of the reasons it has such a low rate of water use. On a hopeful note, San Mateo, Alameda and Santa Clara counties have many programs to replace lawns with drought tolerant California natives or Southwestern landscape designs. They can point to some success in reducing water consumption.

The cost of water for urban users, such as San Francisco, is $2,000 per acre foot. This may contribute to San Francisco’s low per-person usage. On the other hand, the cost of Tuolumne River water for farmers is $20 per acre foot. Since there is no real incentive for farmers to conserve water, they are even less likely to do so when more water is available. 

testing the water
Watch the Tuolumne River Trust Video

Glenn Rogers, RLA, Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods Newsletter Editor
Landscape Architect, License 3223

November 2021

Beautiful Forest
A healthy forest is not crowded. The picture above shows a forest floor free of excess fuel denying a fire the ability to reach the forest canopy.

A Closer Look at Fire Safety in California

Glenn Rogers
Glenn Rogers


For many years and up until recently, Smokey the Bear has warned us; “Only you can prevent forest fires.” This public service message went on for five decades — the longest running ad of its kind. The U.S. Forest Service’s practice during this time was to put out fires immediately. Doing that, they ignored the indigenous population which had a very different fire control behavior. The result of suppressing fire for decades has left an ever-increasing amount of combustible material on our forest floor. 


Overcrowded Forest
When forests are cut down all at once, the forest grows back too close together. From the picture above, we can see that the hunting of game by indigenous people would be difficult, with viewing impaired — an arrow would only be able to travel a few feet.

From bad to worse, because of Climate Change, the Pine Borer has increased its range in California and elsewhere.

Pine Borer Beetle
Western Pine Borer BeetlePhoto:
With milder winter temperatures, it hasn't been cold enough to kill this insect. Therefore, the Pine Borer, along with our recent intense droughts, has killed over 150 million trees.  


The drought has also been killing our Coast Live Oak, Blue Oak and Interior Live Oak.  The difference between oaks and conifers is significant. Trees provide a fuel load based on how long they have been collecting solar energy from the sun. The longer a tree has lived, the more fuel is preserved in the wood. Pine trees collect energy from the sun for up to one hundred years, while oak trees can collect energy from the sun for up to 400 years. It is a well-known fact that oak wood produces better and more intense fires than pine trees. So, when oak trees catch on fire in our forests, the heat is more intense and can cause more destruction while annual grasses, that collect solar energy for only one season, do not create fires that that are especially hot.


Insect Collapse
Insects die from drought and heat

Less know is the fact that insects have been perishing dramatically during this time of intense drought and temperature rise — insects are not able to control their body temperatures as easily as other organisms. This has led to the decline of 99% of the Monarch Butterfly due to habitat loss and temperature rise. The decline of insects leads to the decline of other fauna that depend on insects for food.

 “More than then 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century,” the Guardian reported in February of 2019.


Twenty thousand years ago, there was a land bridge across the Bering Sea leading to North America. During this time, indigenous peoples migrated to North America. Europeans have lived here only since the later part of the 18th century; they have demanded fire suppression and forbid indigenous people from their practice of cultural burning. Sadly, European’s understanding of the requirements of a healthy forest are nascent.

Indigenous Culture Burn
Fire Keeper Pierre Krueger, Penticton Indian Band, conducting a cultural burn in the Nicola Valley, British ColumbiaPhoto: A.C. Christianson, CFS, Courtesy USDA Forest Service

When Native Americans practice a cultural burn, they do not start a fire without knowing how the fire will behave. Today, tribal communities and government officials are cooperating and providing prescribed burns for up to half a million acres where forests are not too dangerously overgrown with vegetation”

When Native Americans practice a cultural burn, they do not start a fire without knowing how the fire will behave. Today, tribal communities and government officials are cooperating and providing prescribed burns for up to half a million acres where forests are not too dangerously overgrown with vegetation. An important part of this fire strategy is to begin a controlled burn in the late winter, when the vegetation is not too dry and fire control is safest.

As they start cultural burns, indigenous people are interested in encouraging certain vegetation that will provide food for game or will provide the regeneration of the sour berry, a vine used in making baskets. These baskets are very important to indigenous people’s culture. The question is, how effective will cultural burning be without the forest having been managed properly for so many decades?  


Sutro Forest
Eucalyptus forests at Sutro Towers has trees too close together. The ivy at the base of the tree will eventually kill the trees.

San Francisco’s forests at the Presidio, Mount Davidson, San Bruno Mountain and Sutro Towers are in need of serious maintenance. When the understory contains too much litter or trees are too close together, mechanical removal of the vegetation is the only solution. This is both time consuming and very expensive, however, this needs to be done soon before our next big earthquake and catastrophic fire. Embers from Eucalyptus trees can travel over 3-1/2 miles and can ignite other parts of our City.

Glenn Rogers, PLA is the VP of the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods. Landscape Architect, License 3223

September 2021

Open Sewer in the Bay
The creation of Treasure Island in 1936 for the Golden Gate International Exposition—fill to create the island was made of wet sand.
Malfeasance, Misappropriation and Misconduct in San Francisco
Glenn Rogers
Glenn Rogers

In the last year, numerous City officials have been accused and fired for corruption in San Francisco. Citizens of San Francisco wonder how much more will be exposed. Department heads, Mohammed Nuru (Public Works), Tom Hui (Building Inspection), Harlan Kelly (Public Utilities) have been indicted. Another department head, Naomi Kelly (City Administrator) has resigned.

collapsed buildings
Buildings in an area of liquifaction
must have deep pilings to keep them stable

In the public realm, private contractors, Alan Varela, Bill Gilmartin have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud.

Baltimore Hernandez, Florence King, Nick Bovis, and Walter Wong are facing bribery charges and other related crimes. Of course, all these contractors are barred from doing business with the City of San Francisco. Unfortunately, this ban is only for 5 years.

Local resources providing investigations in the past have not always been successful in ridding the City of bad actors. It seems they do not have the resources or the will to do so. Despite this, a Justice Department is all that we have to protect us from being further robbed by a criminal political group.

Other examples of questionable behavior in San Francisco include:

•        Mayor London Breed Mayor London Breed received $5,000 from Mohammed Nuru for a car repair and did not report the favor, an FBI probe uncovered it. For this and for other infractions, she has agreed to pay, $23,000 to the Ethics Commission.

•        Treasure Island The flawed development of Treasure Island (TI) will eventually be underwater from Climate Change Also, this same island has radioactivity discovered recently, yet the City seems unwilling or unable to make the island clean. This project must have someone that will benefit greatly by the development there. TI was originally a sandbar with added bay mud pumped onto the surface to gain additional height. This fill is substandard and prone to liquefaction and today would be illegal. Even worse, when the toxic island is swallowed by rising Bay tides, the whole San Francisco Estuary will be contaminated with radioactivity for a millennia.


Local resources providing investigations in the past have not always been successful in ridding the City of bad actors. It seems they do not have the resources or the will to do so. ”

•        Amy Brownell Amy Brownell, an environmental engineer with the SF Health Department, endorsed the safety of the Lennar project at Hunters Point, while radioactivity was still found causing illness to the public.

SF earthquake - fire

•        Auxiliary Water Supply System The Auxiliary Water Supply System (AWSS) has been approved by voters numerous times but the improvements are slow or non-existent. Now, the program is renamed the San Francisco Fire Department High Pressure System. Is this renaming of the plan a ploy to spend the old money provided for the AWSS for something else? When will money be spent on the AWSS to make the west side of San Francisco safe from fire?

•        Green Benefit District The Green Benefit District, a brain-child of DPW, requested that neighborhoods pay extra for services that DPW was already doing as regular maintenance.

•        Department of Human Resources The Department of Human Resources has edited racial grievances out of worker’s complaints. This seriously undermines the validity and relevancy of these whistleblower complaints.

•        Hunters Point CleanupTetra Tech employees have been arrested, convicted and sent to jail for falsifying records and evidence in the toxic cleanup of Hunters Point.

•        Ehtics Department Campaign finance charges are often imposed against people with little money, while large infractions for thousands of dollars are often ignored. Mark Farrel was levied a $191,000 fine, which was reduced to $25,000, however, there is no record of payment.

•        Van Ness Project Today, one contractor is applying for six City construction projects. This many projects, given to one contractor, can take far longer to complete than necessary. Delayed construction projects can negatively affect adjacent businesses causing them to fail and the property to be purchased for far less than their market value. Can this be intentional behavior to purchase failed businesses for next to nothing or is this just gross incompetence?

Central Subway Map

•        Central Subway Central Subway, built after the collapse of the San Francisco Embarcadero Freeway in 2008 leading into Chinatown, was started in February 2010. Lobbied by Rose Pak, this project has been extremely costly and has taken longer to build than any other project in the Bay area. The Central Subway is deeper than necessary and because of this, 10 times more expensive. Also, the subway as designed was to go under BART and the Muni streetcar tunnels at the objection of neighborhood community organizations. This means water has been a constantly obstacle to construction.

A deeper Central Subway means longer escalators when reaching the surface. Escalators in the City frequently fail, now the walk by stairs will be even longer.  Is this the future of our planning strategy, decide on the most expensive design solution and then have it take longer than necessary? Clearly the tail was wagging the dog in this situation. The City accepting the most expensive and time consuming project is evidence of a bidding process in serious trouble.

•       Balboa Housing Seventeen acres of public land located at the Balboa Reservoir, was sold to private developers for $11.4 million, a 50% reduction in its true value. Did the city of San Francisco legally sell land to a private developer below market value? This land would have been better served as backup space for City College.

•        City College City College depends on enrollment to be funded by the State. Then why did the staff of City College fail to send out fliers providing a list of classes on time which effectively limited enrollment? Also, there were error messages for prospective students to navigate complicating the enrollment process. Some feel there is an attempt to have City College fail and become a for-profit school instead.


•        Planning Department The Planning Department’s approval of the Millennium Tower and other structures have often been approved with flawed design. Now, after the collapse of the condominiums in Surfside, Florida at the Champlain Towers South, San Franciscans are wondering when the Millennium Tower will fall over after an earthquake? What is the reason for approval of flawed structures and developments in San Francisco and who is benefiting? The developers of flawed buildings are benefiting from reduced cost of large flawed private buildings with structural piers not reaching bedrock, unfortunately, the public that rents or owns buildings purchased from the same developer do not.

•        Outside Lands The Outside Lands Festival occurs in San Francisco as an example of the privatization of public space. When local residents complain about the loudness of the music, the Supervisor’s Office suggests they leave town for the weekend! All complaints of noise levels never reach the Police Department because the complaints are sent directly to the Outside Lands staff instead. Therefore, no complaints of noise are ever registered or recognized. The contribution to the campaign finance of a local Supervisor is likely the blame.

•        Willie Brown Mayor Willie Brown of San Francisco doubled the number of employees in San Francisco, creating a “good old boy” network where employees were indebted to him creating a “pay-to-play attitude.

Forest Fire

•        PG&E PG&E has lobbied many local San Francisco politicians, even donating $200,000 to Gavin Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign. Also, Willie Brown is always happy to answer the phone when PG&E calls. He says it prompts another invoice.

Some believe if PG&E spent less money lobbying and more time doing required maintenance, the public would be better off. When PG&E was asked to appear in court, they shopped around for a friendly judge who fined them a paltry sum, considering the size of the company.  

PG&E was convicted of negligence in the San Bruno fire where 8 people were killed and 58 injured. More recently, an electrical tower, 100 years old, that had not received any maintenance since inception, created the Camp Fire (2018).

•      Metropolitan Transportation Commission When he was executive director of the MTC, Steve Heminger invested bridge toll fares in an “interest rate swap” scheme and lost a year’s worth of bridge tolls during the 2008 stock market crash. Also, Heminger managed the construction of the Bay Bridge which was problematic. Heminger was nominated Person of the Year by the California Transportation Foundation for his work at the MTC. 17

Many of the examples of bad governance enumerated above are examples of gross mismanagement. How is it possible to allow gross mismanagement to continue, sometimes decade after decade, with no intervention or correction?

What looks like poor governance is a long list, and it covers many City departments in San Francisco. The Controller’s Office might be able to address these issues but presently they are understaffed. Also, the Controller’s Office does not take any initiative on crime in San Francisco. This office must have a complaint given to them by the public before they can act. The Controller is only able to investigate City employees. Some of the bad actors in this discussion are private individuals. Results from the Controller’s Office are slow and cryptic when, finally, their investigation is complete. Therefore, we must ask the Federal Department of Justice, the Federal Attorney s Office, Northern District of California and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to provide the necessary level of resources and investigatory powers to rid San Francisco of the crime and malfeasance so endemic here. Is our local law enforcement up to the task?

Glenn Rogers, PLA is the VP of Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods.

Landscape Architect, License 3223

web site:

August 2021

Parking Lot ana solar farm
The Idaho couple, Scott and Julie Brusaw, who created an innovative road surface made of solar panels is back with a prototype, and they're looking to Indiegogo for additional funding. —Wired
Can San Francisco Go 100% Solar?


Today there is an increased desire to become more energy independent. This is a noble idea, but where do we have the extra space to increase energy with solar panels? Although the City does provide incentives to install solar panels on a roof, there are many obstacles to do that. First, the panels must be placed on a sound roof that will not need replacement for many decades in the future. Many roofs have poor aspect because other buildings cast shadow on a potential solar panel. Then too, the aspect of the sun should be with south or west exposure, since light from east or north exposure is less intense.

Glenn Rogers
Glenn Rogers


The solution? More surfaces are available for solar energy in San Francisco right under our feet. The answer is solar roadways, parking lots, sidewalks, driveways, athletic courts and bike paths which could be lined with solar panels.

Recently, even the aqueducts leading water to southern California were considered as a place to have solar panels floating on the water underneath—with an added advantage because evaporation would be minimized with solar panels lining the top of the water.

Solar Hexagonals
Solar hexagonal panels mostly from recycled materials

When we think of developing solar energy, we think of building these solar farms on pristine land. However, with solar roadways, there would be no waste of land that could be used for other purposes. Scott and Julie Brusaw invented solar roads in 2006. The U.S. Department of Transportation, especially the Federal Highway Administration, has provided and built solar roadway prototypes. Now, municipalities like San Francisco could showcase this technology and make it more popular with the construction of solar panel installations in school yards and parking lots for example.

Scott and Julie Brusaw
Scott and Julie Brusaw developed special panels for roadways and parking lots


Ideally, solar roadways could provide all the clean energy we need for transportation in the future. It has been estimated, that if all the roads in America were converted to solar roadways, this would provide three times the amount of energy that is currently used today. Now, imagine how many good paying jobs could be created by such a conversion.

Electric cars of the future could be propelled while driving using electric induction. This would mean the electricity present in a solar road could power vehicles by just being in the presence of the electrical power underneath the vehicle. Imagine the joy of having a vehicle that never needs to “gas up.”

Solar Roads at Night
Safer night driving with lluminated stripes


On the east coast, the solar panels could allow heat from the panels to cause the roads to be just warm enough to have roadways never blocked by snow. This would provide safer roads and eliminate the use of salt which hastens the deterioration of cars, and not to mention serious, negative effects on aquatic ecosystems on marshes, streams, and lakes that lie alongside many roads.

These solar panels can be programed to create warning signs on roads and could eliminate the need to paint or stripe roads in the future. The solar panels can be programmed in many ways to provide an athletic field for basketball one minute and then transform the field into a volleyball court the next. Also, these solar panels are pressure sensitive and can determine if a tree or a landslide has fallen on a roadway up ahead, warning drivers in a timely fashion.


Ideally, solar roadways could provide all the clean energy we need for transportation in the future ... if all the roads in America were converted to solar roadways, this would provide three times the amount of energy that is currently used today.”

The use of solar panels in school yards would be the best way to introduce this technology to San Francisco. In urban schools, where space is limited, and different age groups must exercise at different times for safety reasons; it makes sense to have solar panels display a playground for kickball at one recess period for older children and then display a play surface for “four-square” for younger children at another recess. This is possible because there is so much versatility the striping of solar panel lighting technology allows.

Installation of solar panels

As San Francisco already needs to underground both its electrical and telephone wires. That wiring could be moved out of sight as solar roads are installed. This can be easily accommodated since the infrastructure of solar roads requires an adjacent corridor for attached cables in order to store power and for the panels to operate smoothly. That is where telephone and electrical wires could be inserted alongside solar panel wiring throughout the City.


Solar roads constructed in France quickly failed and needed to be removed. In contrast, ten years ago China designed a solar road with transparent concrete which is still serving 45,000 vehicles.

Most roads in America are made with asphalt which compresses slightly when heavy vehicles drive over them. These heavy vehicles could snap brittle solar panels on American roads, while Chinese roads which are built of concrete which is less likely to compress.



Critics complain that the use of solar roads to melt snow worked, but quickly depleted the panels of energy. Since these panels are connected to an electric grid, is it not possible that an external electric source could be connected to the panels to melt snow when necessary?

Solar Parking Lot
A parking lot paved with solar panels

One of the biggest complaints of solar energy is that it is only available in the daytime. However, researchers have found another type of solar battery which does not use lithium. This solution elevates water in a tube or container in the daytime and then at night, as the water falls or drains, its movement and provides energy at night. This could correct the problem of nighttime solar.


In the future, it is predicted that drones will provide transportation for people and delivery of cargo. Such drones will need to communicate with each other to avoid collisions. “Smart” aircraft like this will reduce accidents and free commuters from wasted time in long traffic jams, greatly improving our quality of life. It will make the roads we use today as irrelevant as the “horse and buggy.” Why not anticipate this change and begin to consider solar roads today?

While some difficulties may be anticipated at the outset, when solar roads are successfully installed we will be within reach of the goal—a 100% energy efficient City.


Idaho-based Solar Roadways
These folks are hoping to build solar-powered roads that will not only provide power, but will also create digital driving surfaces that can be remotely controlled.

Solar Freakin Roadways
This is a humorous yet informative video which is sure to spark interest for children.

What If We Covered Our Roads with Solar Panels?
A British look at solar solutions.


Help fund the solar future Indiegogo

Glenn Rogers, PLA is the VP of CSFN.

Landscape Architect, License 3223

web site:

June 2021

Old Traffic picture SF
A photo of yesterday's problem traffic — still being used
Congestion Pricing—Yesterday's Solution?


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.

Glenn Rogers
Glenn Rogers

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?   

Timeline for Pricing


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.”


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.


Downtown Travel

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 policies, would be far easier to implement than a Congestion Pricing strategy.


Sf Parklet

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.


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.


Fee Structure
Graphics provided by Rachel Hiatt of the SFCTA

Glenn Rogers, PLA is the VP of CSFN.

Landscape Architect, License 3223

web site:

March 2021

Public Bank Coalition on City Hall steps
The Public Bank Coalition gathers on the steps of City Hall.
A Public Bank Could Solve Many Problems

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.

Glenn Rogers
Glenn Rogers


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?


Bank of North Dakota, a 100 year-old public bank

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. 


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.

quote marks

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.

Photo courtesy of


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. 


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.

old newspaper illustration
The Bank of North Dakota was founded by farmers and other small businesses who needed loans not available from the major banks


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:

February 2021

Radioactive site at Treasure Island
An iceberg, A68a, broke off from Antarctica in 2017 and is moving to South Georgia in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is said to be the size of Delaware.
All Electric Building Ordinance

Hooray for SF Supes — It's a good start.

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


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. 

quote marks

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.

The chunk of ice looks a bit like a pointed finger, and scientists say it's currently on a path to collide with the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia.


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:

January 2021

Treacherous Toxics Haunt Treasure Island
Radioactive site at Treasure Island
Radioactive site at Treasure Island

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:

October 2020

Balboa: The Supervisors got it all wrong.

On August 11, 2020, the Board of Supervisors passed the Balboa Reservoir Project. In my opinion, the Board of Supervisors made a mistake in approving this project). Let me explain why. When this project goes forward and as the investigation of corruption into the Mohammed Nuru continues, what are we to do when the selling of this huge public space at the Balboa Reservoir is included in this lawsuit as another example of wrongdoing. A poor decision now, to allow this project to go forward, will not be able to be retracted later. After all, this selling of public property, for $11 million, at a 95% discount, to a private developer, that was under the care of Mohammed Nuru, in his department of the SFPUC, has all the characteristics of an improper business deal.

Glenn Rogers
Glenn Rogers

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.

Glenn Rogers, RLA
License 3223
Landscape Architect

August 2020

More articles about Balboa Reservoir Project

SF Plan Bay Area 2050 Looks to Mitigate Climate Change

Transamerica pyramid from above
Transamerica Pyramid from above Photo: Unsplash
Glenn Rogers
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

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Arctic Heat wave
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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.

Australian Wildfires

Map of Australian wildfires
Photo: MPR News

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.

Thwaites Glacier

Map of Thwaits Glacier
A caption for the above image.

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.

Thames Barrier

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Thames Barrier protect London.

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:

July 2020

Why Black Lives Matter
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A generic square placeholder image with rounded corners in a figure.
Glenn Rogers

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.


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Slave patrols were the humble beginnings of today's 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
Greenwood District of Tulsa after the carnage

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.


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 Chronicle reported, 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.

Tamir Rice
Tamir Rice

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?


incarceration rates.
Chart: Mother Jones

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.


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Cartoon: Monte Wolverton /

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.


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.


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:

July 2020


An aerial view of Parkmerced

The New Economy: Decrease in Urbanization

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Glenn Rogers

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.

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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. 


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.


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.


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. 


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:

July 2020

The Worst Pandemic Is Yet To Come
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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).

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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 This animal is also a possible carrier of coronavirus.


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.


Kaaba Images

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.


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.


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 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:

Glenn Rogers, PLA and VP, CSFN
Landscape Architect, License 3223
web site:

A New Oceanview Library Presents New Problems

Current location of the Oceanview Library on Randolph Street

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.

Transportation Problems

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.


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 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

December 2019


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?


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.


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.

September 2019



    Glenn Rogers, PLA is a landscape architect working and living on the west side.

PG&E’s Wildfires

A slope like this can allow wildfire to spread even faster than normal. Photo:

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.

quotes 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.


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.


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




JUNE 2019

The Collapse of Insects

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 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.


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.

Glenn Rogers, RLA is a landscape architect living on the Westside. See his website at:

MAY 2019

Monarch Overwintering in Pacific Grove

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.

April 2019

Floating Hotels and Random Considerations for a Future City

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:

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.

Solar Energy:

solar panel

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.

February 2019

Student Housing, Homelessness and Student Debts Overwhelm Plans

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.


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.

Sept 2018

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.



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.


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 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.


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.

July 2018







Map of Lake Merced, circa 1868
An artist's birds eye view of Lake Merced in 1868 shows the lake draining into the ocean. George H. Goddard, Library of Congress


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.


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.

sticklebackThe 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 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.

May 2018

Emergency Fire Preparedness

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.


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.


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)


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.


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.

March 2018

Click here for older columns by Glenn Rogers (Please view on desktop computer for best experience while we convert our older files to mobile).

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