New “Lake Alemany” Entices Local Media and Watersports Enthusiasts

lakealemany

After several days of nonstop rain, Lake Alemany has taken form beneath the 101-280 “Spaghetti Bowl,” in southeast Bernal, and the new reservoir quickly attracted the attention of local television crews.

Neighbor John was also on the scene at Bernal’s own version of the Salton Sea, and he reports that Lake Alemany is 1-2 feet deep in the middle, and about 30′ wide. Here’s a close-up:

lakealemanydetail
No word yet on whether the Recreation and Parks Department plans to open Lake Alemany for bumper-wakeboarding and alligator hunting, but Bernal residents are advised to keep their air boats, amphibious vehicles, and fishing equipment at the ready, just in case.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Neighbor John

Supervisors to Consider Neighbors’ Appeal of New Homes Proposed on Folsom

Rendering of proposed homes and new Folsom Street extension; view northwest from Chapman

Rendering of proposed homes and new Folsom Street extension; view northwest from Chapman

The ongoing battle over a proposal to build two family-sized homes on an undeveloped Folsom Street lot on the south side of Bernal Hill will move to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, January 24, as a group of nearby neighbors who oppose the new homes at 3516 and 3526 Folsom have appealed to block the project on environmental grounds.

Despite previous efforts to block the homes, the proposal was unanimously approved by the Planning Commission in October 2016.  Bernal Neighbor Herb Felsenfeld is again organizing project opponents in advance of the Board of Supervisors meeting, as outlined in a talking-points he sent to allies in mid-January:

We have spoken before about the proposed development @ 3516/26 Folsom Street. After almost 3 years of sustained effort we are now at a critical pivot point. We have the support of over 300 individuals + community groups like the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, Bernal Heights Democratic Club, The Sierra Club and the East Slope Design Review Board. Finally, we have an opportunity to present a reasonable, appropriate, and legitimate request for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to the full Board, with a District Supervisor who can speak about the issues.

Tuesday, January 24, City Hall, Room 250,
Starting at 2:00 PM*

*If you can attend, let me know & I can tell you where we are on the Agenda as we get closer to the date of the Hearing

I hope you will consider joining me in one of the following:

  1. Attending the Hearing
  2. Speaking at the Hearing
  3. Contacting our District 9 Supervisor:
    1. Email: RonenStaff@sfgov.org
    2. Call: 415-554-5144

These are the issues that are most pressing and should merit an EIR

  • This is one of the steepest slopes in the City. It rests atop a 26” gas transmission line, for which safety records and pipe weld reports have never been released.
  • The line is maintained by a company, PGE, known for its shoddy record-keeping and its secrecy.
  • The developer’s Geo-technical & topographical survey of the slope is over 3 years old. Its analysis lacks detail and rigor.
  • There are “cumulative effects” that need attention: “Piece mealing” (infrastructure would be in place for 6 houses not 2); still to be considered – proper drainage; emergency vehicle access; blocking the nearest intersection, traffic issues, etc.

While PG&E’s reputation has suffered greatly as a result of disclosures and criminal wrongdoing related to the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion, reporting by Bernalwood in 2014 indicated that Pipeline 109, which currently runs under Folsom Street, has been regularly inspected, and that routine procedures exist to safeguard any construction activity near the pipeline.

Current route of PG&E's Pipeline 109 through Bernal Heights

Current route of PG&E’s Pipeline 109 through Bernal Heights

Fabien Lannoye, the owner of the lot at 3516 Folsom, previously told Bernalwood he plans to build a home there as a residence for his family. In a recent email to project supporters, Lannoye wrote:

Most of you know that we purchased a residential lot on Bernal, planning to build our house, a discreet 2,200 SF 3 bedroom home, with its garage tucked into the hillside, in scale with the existing adjacent homes. We filed our permits three years ago but have met much resistance from a few of the adjacent neighbors, who consider the land their private open space.

Those neighbors filed 19 Design Reviews against the project. At the Planning Commission Hearings the Planning Commissioners unanimously voted in favor of our project 6-0, and then 7-0 (we had to go back to the Planning Commission after the Planning Department re-issued the Categorical Exemption). A Categorical Exemption (known as a “CatEx”) is the norm for any project LESS than 3 residences, exempting such projects from having to do an EIR (Environmental Impact Report).

The neighbors have now appealed the CatEx.

Their appeal will be heard this Tuesday 1/24, and voted upon by the SF Board of Supervisors. This is why we are contacting you, for your brief kind help in sending a simple e-mail note this weekend to District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, asking her to vote to support the project and Affirm the Categorical Exemption Determination – Proposed Project at 3516-3526 Folsom Street.

The neighbors have been using the scare tactic that a PG&E Gas pipeline runs up Folsom Street and that construction on our lot would trigger a new San Bruno. A PG&E representative came to the Community meetings we held with the neighbors to answer their concerns, and to clarify the step-by-step, strictly regulated process of investigation, verification and guidance before and during construction.

PG&E stated that they had no concerns since the excavation would take place more than 10’-0” ft away from the existing pipeline (we will be 15-16 ft away).

We have tried to get more information from PG&E, as have the Planning Department and DPW, but PG&E states that they will not provide any further information until the Site Permit is issued, which is the normal process.

The neighbors hope that we will abandon the project if we’re forced to do a full EIR, or, at least delay the project an additional 2 years.

Although most of the Supervisors seem inclined to support the CatEx, our concern is that the local Supervisor (newly elected Hillary Ronen, replacing David Campos) has already been approached by those neighbors. David Campos  resides 200 feet from our project.

We were able to (briefly) meet with Supervisor Ronen, and she seemed sympathetic to our case but she may be politically pressured to side with the neighbors.

We appreciate if you would e-mail Supervisor Ronen and let her know that you support the project and hope she will uphold the Categorical Exemption carefully and rightfully issued by the Planning Department.

Requiring an EIR will not serve any other purpose than to delay the project. It would create a precedent of requiring an EIR for any project within 20 feet of a gas pipeline, pipelines exist everywhere in the city. An EIR costs $50,000 – $200,000 and takes approx two years.

Here’s how the appeal is listed on the Board of Supervisors agenda for the January 24, 2017 meeting:

[Hearing – Appeal of Categorical Exemption from Environmental Review 
Proposed Project at 3516-3526 Folsom Street]
Hearing of persons interested in or objecting to the determination of exemption from environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act issued as a Categorical Exemption by the Planning Department on July 8, 2016, approved on October 13, 2016, for a proposed project located at 3516-3526 Folsom Street, to allow the construction of two 3,000-square-foot single-family residences on two vacant lots. (District 9) (Appellant: Ryan J. Patterson, on behalf of the Bernal Heights South Slope Organization, Bernal Safe & Livable, Neighbors Against the Upper Folsom Street Extension, Gail Newman, and Marilyn Waterman) (Filed November 14, 2016)

PHOTOS: Rendering of proposed homes via Fabian Lannoye

Deadline Extended to Apply for Free Street Tree Planting

FUFplanting2

If you’d like Friends of the Urban Forest to plant a tree in front of your glamorous Bernal Heights home, then you’re in luck: The deadline to apply for a tree-planting has been extended until January 18.

Esmeralda Martinez, a volunteer coordinator with the fabulous Friends of the Urban Forest says:

Exciting news! Our next big tree planting in Bernal Heights is just around the corner, coming up on February 25th.

We need more trees requests! The deadline for neighbors to apply to green your street has been extended one more week. The new deadline to submit forms is Wednesday January 18th. If you know anybody interested in getting a new tree, please have them contact me at 415 268 0772.

Your neighbors can sign up for a free, no-obligation site visit from our arborist team here.

Check out our community pages for more information.

Thanks for all your help greening your neighborhood!

Cheers,
Esmeralda

Hat Tip: Neighbor Vitaliy.
PHOTO: Tree planting, courtesy of FUF

Hard-Working Bernal Heights Storm Drains Need Your Love and Attention

drainbeforeafter

It’s another rainy, wet day, which begs the question: Have you given your nearest storm drain some love today?

Keeping storm drains free from obstruction and debris is an important way to prevent local flooding during heavy rains. Neighbor Susan tells Bernalwood about San Francisco’s adorable Adopt-a-Drain program, and how you can help keep our streets flood-free. She says:

I’m not sure how I heard about adoptadrain.sfwater.org – it has a nifty website that shows where storm drains are as you move through a map o the city. Of course I moved the cursor south to check out Bernal Heights. Drains everywhere! – and some adopted, on Banks Street. Upon inspecting the drains at the intersection nearest to my home, I decided this would be a good civic responsibility to take on. (Some people will argue that “the city should” but I prefer action to waiting.)

The photo above shows my “bad” drain, on the northwest corner of Banks, along with the implements I use to give it care – a broom, a dust pan with a long handle, and a bucket. The third photo is my bad drain, cleaned. The activity took about ten minutes and afforded me some pleasant conversation with people walking by – always good to find a new way to connect with others in the neighborhood.

A couple of keys to success: Check on street sweeping days to be sure that stuff near your drain is in the street to be swept. If rain is coming, clear the drain ahead of time. It doesn’t take long, and you’ll look at all drains differently from now on. As an added plus, no one will have to jump over or wade through a giant puddle caused by your drain being stopped up!

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Neighbor Susan

Thursday: Neighbors Wanted to Discuss How to Make the Tompkins Stairs More Lovely

tompkinsstairs1

There’s a community meeting happening on Thursday night, November 17 to begin mapping out a plan to make the Tompkins Stairs vastly more sexxxy. Neighbor Vicky has all the details:

Just wanted to call to your attention to a community meeting to envision an improvement to the Tompkins Stairs (on Tompkins between Putnam and Nevada).

We would love to get as many members of the community to this meeting. We’re excited to make another great park like the Esmeralda Stairs, so we hope that folks who care about the stairs will show up.

This property is owned (but not maintained!) by DPW. Come meet with DPW staff and share your thoughts. We need a good turnout to let them know this neighborhood cares!

Many thanks,

Neighbor Vicky
(on behalf of the Tompkins Stairs Beautification group)

###

ENVISIONING THE TOMPKINS STAIRCASE:
A CALL FOR COMMUNITY INPUT
PLEASE JOIN US

Thursday, November 17, 2016, 7:00 pm
Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center
515 Cortland Avenue, across from the Library

The purpose of the meeting, which will be facilitated by representatives of the Department of Public Works, is to sketch out a community-driven vision for the stairs. What would you like to see this space look like going forward?

  • A clean, safe open space?
  • A relaxing and beautiful green space?
  • Public art?
  • A pollination garden?
  • A children’s play space?
  • Community gardens?
  • Something else??

Please join your neighbors and help envision the future of the Tompkins Stairs!

For more information, visit our new website tompkinsstairs.org or contact us at info@tompkinsstairs.org.

PHOTO: View of the Tompkins Stairs, courtesy of Neighbor Vicky

Bernal Heights Is Getting a New Street (With No Muss, No Fuss)

newmartinavemap

Oh hey. Bernal Heights is getting  new street.

Don’t worry: There won’t be lots of messy construction, weeks of temporary parking restrictions, and cumbersome detours that make it harder to get around. No, there won’t be any of that, because our new street already exists — but until now, it didn’t really have a name.

Yesterday the City’s Land Use and Transportation Committee approved the creation of  Martin Avenue on the east side of Bernal Heights. Our friends at CurbedSF broke the story and provide the essential background:

It’s a humble affair, just a short stretch of pavement in Bernal Heights, near the Dogpatch Miller Garden.

Previously, these blocks were home to a messy, confusing triangle, as Brewster Street splits into two before terminating at Mullen Avenue, creating a weird, nameless stretch on city-owned land.

Today the Land Use and Transportation Committee is set to approve a measure conferring the name Martin Avenue on the corridor.

Why Martin Avenue? Well, that’s where this story gets downright charming.

According to the relevant paperwork, the name honors “Martin Ron, a land surveyor whose admiration for his adopted city inspired him to dedicate his career to achieving expertise in San Francisco land surveying.”

Ron established a firm in 1969 (although the city says 1968) that’s done survey work for almost every major project in the city for decades, including the likes of SFMOMA, Millennium Tower, AT&T Park, and even fix-ups on landmarks like the Cliff House and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Cool!

To be honest, it wasn’t easy to figure out exactly where our new Martin Avenue is located. The maps provided in the official documents are a bit disjointed, and Google Maps makes things a little more confusing by labeling the previously unnamed street as an offshoot of (the otherwise contiguous) Brewster Street. As shown:

notbrewster-2

Don’t blame Google; the current street signs also indicate this is was part of Brewster:

brewstersign

But no. That’s not Brewster Street; it’s now officially Martin Avenue.

Once you find it, Martin Avenue turns out to be a lovely little lane. This is Martin Avenue, just west of the point where it connects with Mullen:

martinstreetviewIt’s not clear if any Bernalese humans will have a Martin Avenue address, but earlier this year, I actually (and unknowingly) visited Martin Avenue with Bernalwood’s Cub Reporter to capture a sighting of a coyote hiding in an adjacent thicket:

wolf001

Very fashionable!

Accident on Coleridge Highlights Concerns About Speeding Traffic

coleridgecrashnov16

A weekend car accident on Coleridge Avenue (at Heyman) accentuated the concerns that several neighbors have expressed about new traffic patterns that may stem from the creation of the Muni “red carpet” on MIssion Street, one block to the west.

Neighbor Stan tells Bernalwood:

Traffic has increased on Coleridge since the changes were made to Mission. Traffic is heavier, and cars often speed. Looks like it resulted in a fairly serious accident Sunday  morning.

I don’t know for sure, but it appears that the car in the rear was speeding down Coleridge while the car in the front was turning off of Heyman onto Coleridge. I don’t believe anyone was seriously hurt, but a little girl in the front car was very traumatized.

Just wanted to share this, to get feedback from the community on the need for traffic calming on Coleridge.

PHOTO: Car accident on Coleridge, Nov. 13, 2016, by Neighbor Stan

How Neighbor Lisa Got a Stop Sign and Crosswalk Installed Near Holly Park

hollycrosswalk

Through persistence and some savvy nagging, Neighbor Lisa recently arranged to have a stop sign and proper crosswalk installed on the east side of Holly Park near Highland. Now, Neighbor Lisa tells Bernalwood how she did it:

Recently saw your post / community update about some new neighborhood street lighting, and all that went into making that happen. Crazy, but success. Yay! Inspired me to reach out to you all to tell you about our exciting new-ish crosswalk to Holly Park, pedestrian signage, and new stop sign on Highland.

It was installed during late spring to connect Highland Avenue and Holly Park Circle walkers headed to the east side of the park (main entrance with ramps, playground, dogs galore). Before this crosswalk, there was only one on the entire circumference of the park, connecting to the elementary school on the west. I was always worried about my toddler son and his preschool crossing that crazy circle everyday with cars whipping around the curves, so I made a 311 request.

This is an exciting community safety improvement that hundreds use every day, but more importantly, it’s a way to show other neighbors that this crosswalk (and the stop sign) came about simply because I completed an online 311 application and then made a few follow-up phone calls to SFMTA. I have also called 311 for more urgent requests, like a huge pothole on Appleton at Mission where I almost flew over my bike handlebars, and a massive trash dumping on the sidewalks behind the Safeway.

PHOTO: New crosswalk at Highland, courtesy of Neighbor Lisa

Tuesday: Community Meeting About Prospect Community Garden Water Pipeline Plan

prospectcommgarden

Planned repair work to a pipeline that carries water from the College Hill Reservoir near Holly Park will bring change to the Good Prospect Community Garden that runs between Santa Maria St. and Cortland Ave.

Roberto A Lopez from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission invites Bernal residents to learn more about the project on Tuesday evening:

Notice that has been mailed out to residents who live near the Good Prospect Community Garden on Cortland Ave. regarding a community meeting being held at the Bernal Heights Branch Library (Bernal Heights Room) on Tuesday, September 20 at 6:00 p.m.

This is the 2nd meeting to discuss a project that will impact the Good Prospect Community Garden.  We (SFPUC) have met already a couple of times with the members of the community garden as well as residents that live nearby.

The project will replace two existing pipelines that supply water to SF General Hospital and City Hall.  The existing pipelines run from the College Hill Reservoir and underneath the community garden.  The project is tentatively scheduled to begin construction in late 2017/early 2018.

pipelinepeeting

PHOTO: Good Prospect Community Garden, as seen from Cortland via Google Maps

Neighbors Rejoice as Safety Streetlight (Finally) Installed at Coleridge Mini-Park

It took a lot of emails, a ton of phone calls, a bunch of meetings, and a lot of nagging, but a group of very persistent Bernal Heights Neighbors  finally managed to get a streetlight installed next to the lovely Coleridge Mini-Park. Their hope has been that a streetlight would help deter the nighttime carousing and petty crime that’s been a persistent problem for the park’s neighbors — and so far that seems to be working out as planned.

Neighbor Valerie writes:

A quick update on the status of the Coleridge Mini Park.

We had tried for years to get improved lighting in the park to help deter the drug dealers/users, parties and occasional overnight guests that hung out there. We, and our neighbors, were literally calling the cops to come out and check on things at least several times per week.

However, last spring, our efforts finally paid off. With a lot of assistance from Josh Arce [D9 Supervisor candidate] and Carolyn Goossen [Supervisor David Campos’s legislative aide], the right people at the City were finally corralled and a new light was installed in June.

Since that time, I don’t think there have been any issues that have required police intervention — we’d actually be curious to know if it’s possible to run a report on the number of time the SFPD had to come out to check on things in the park over the same time period over the past two years. I’d be shocked if it hasn’t dropped dramatically.

As you can see, the park is now well-lit and the Parks Dept comes out at least once a week to maintain it (Seriously – a huge shoutout to Rec and Park – they really do a great job keeping it clean!)

The new light really has made a big difference our the quality of life here on Coleridge St.

Nice work, persistent neighbors!

PHOTO: Neighbor Valerie

Exploring Pre-War Precita Park by Streetcar

36streetcardetail2e

Once upon a time, in the Age of the Iron Dinosaurs, giant streetcars roamed around Precita Park in Bernal Heights.  Precita Park was the terminus for the Market Street Railway’s 36 Folsom Line, which carried passengers to and from the Ferry Building via Folsom Street between 1915 and 1945. In the magnificent aerial photos of Bernal Heights captured in 1938, the streetcar lines around Precita Park were clearly visible:

The 36 Folsom entered Bernal from Folsom on the west end of Precita Park. It then followed Precita Ave along the southern edge of the park before making a quick jog onto Alabama. The line then turned back onto Precita Ave., continuing east down the street to the intersection with Army (today’s Cesar Chavez). There was no turnaround, so for the return trip to the Ferry Building, the streetcar just reversed itself.

Today’s history geeks owe a great debt to the streetcar geeks of yesteryear, because their obsession with streetcar photography and documentation today provides us with a trove of vivid images that makes it possible to see what this part of North Bernal looked like during the early decades of the 1900s.

Take this shot for example. This is Precita at Army as it looked during the 1920s, with the intersection with York Street visible to the left. This spot is very familiar to most contemporary Bernalese, so it’s fun to check out all the detail this image has to offer:

Streetcar.armyprecita1920s

The most obvious thing to notice is that the divey little gas station that now sits on the triangular lot between Precita, Cesar Chavez, and Bryant used to be a rather divey little saloon:

armytriangledetail

Amazing! Wieland Beer was a San Francisco brew, manufactured at a brewery that used to be on 2nd Street between Howard and Folsom.

Notice also the battered barber pole just to the left of the Acme Beer sign, alongside that Joad-ready truck. Behind it is the building which would later become the world-famous Sheepskin City and Battery4Prius.

At some point, of course, this bar was replaced by a gas station. For comparison’s sake, here the exact same spot, as it looked circa 1970, at the moment when Steve McQueen begins the famous car-chase scene in Bullitt:

The left side of the streetcar image provides a clear view west up Precita Avenue, with the southeast corner of Precita Park visible in the background, and ample parking available for rickety-looking motorcars:

detail1920stowardprecita

We’ll zoom into Precita Park in a moment. But first, here’s a reverse angle, showing the 36 Folsom at Army Street, looking to the southeast. That’s the south slope of Potrero Hill in the background:
wnp14.3879

Google Street View confirms that the houses on that side of Precita still look pretty much the same today.

Backing up Precita, we get some terrific views of Precita Park. Here’s Alabama at Precita looking northeast. The exact year is unknown, but it looks like the early 1940s, judging from the styling of the car in background:

Alabamaprecitaneast
The building on the corner in the right side of the image is now the fabulous Precita Park Cafe (as shown here), but back then it was… a SAFEWAY?!

Precitadafewaydetail

Spinning 180 degrees from about the same spot, we get the reverse view looking toward the southern edge of the park  in 1939:

Setreetcar.precitapark.1939.MSR

That’s the future Precita Park playground site on the right, and some very lax parking enforcement on the left. Here’s a closeup of the streetcar itself:
854detail
Finally, there’s this amazing photo, which Bernalwood has previously explored. This is the view of the 36 Folsom tracks  from the other end of the park,  on the southwestern corner of Precita and Folsom, as it looked in 1943:

New Track Work and Repairs L.V. Newton Negative 6

Here’s an annotated version:

folsomprecita1943f

The Palermo Bakery is now home to Precita Clean laundromat, while the Yosemite Meat Market on the corner is the location of today’s Charlie’s Cafe.

Very special thanks to our friends at Open SF History, Rick Laubscher from Market Street Railway, and Bernal Neighbor Michael Nolan for sharing the photos that made this Magical History Tour of Precita Park possible.

Tuesday: SFMTA to Consider Revisions to Mission Street “Red Carpet” Rules

redbollards

Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 16, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency Board will consider some proposed updates to the “red carpet” lanes installed recently on Mission Street to provide more rapid Muni bus service. The red carpets have been very popular among transit riders, but some Mission Street merchants have expressed concern that the revised traffic flows have been bad for business.

Here’s what the SFMTA has in mind:

We recognize [the red carpet] was a big change for the Mission, and it’s our priority to make it work for everyone. Already we’ve made several changes to enhance the project and make traffic flow more smoothly. We will be recommending a few more changes to improve traffic circulation, which will be heard at the next SFMTA Board of Directors meeting. The SFMTA commits to continuing to monitor Mission Street to ensure the project goals are achieved.

Mission Street Changes at SFMTA Board
August 16, 2016
Mission item will be heard at 3:00 PM
City Hall Room 400
If you are unable to attend, submit comments to MTABoard@sfmta.com.

The following changes will be recommended for legislation by the SFMTA Board of Directors:

  • Removing two of the required right turns on Mission at 26th and 22nd. This will allow vehicles to travel four blocks on Mission before encountering a required right turn, making it easier to access businesses and find parking along the street. We expect this change to improve traffic circulation without increasing through traffic or delaying bus riders.
  • Relocating the outbound Cortland stop to the nearside of the intersection. Moving the bus stop nearside will improve boarding ease for Muni riders.
  • Exempting taxis from the left turn restriction at 21st Street. This exemption, in the middle of the Mission corridor, will provide more options for taxis to reach their destinations.

The recommended changes are the result of a series of community engagement activities to discuss how the new street design is being perceived by neighborhood residents, bus riders, motorists and others using Mission Street. Staff worked closely with community members, Muni riders, neighborhood organizations and other non-profit organizations, as well as David Campos, District 9 Supervisor. Outreach activities included several small group discussions, a community hearing (summary of comments heard is available here), merchant walks and an intercept survey of 1,400 people on Mission Street.

That SFMTA survey is interesting, because it underscores the extent to which the data about how shoppers get to Mission Street diverges from what merchants believe about their customers. In an article that looked at this question, Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez from the San Francisco Examiner wrote:

The recent SFMTA survey of people in the Mission — conducted June 28, June 29 and July 9 — found that 69 percent of 1,400 respondents went to the Mission by public transit.

Those surveyed arrived to eat, drink, visit friends and work. But the largest group surveyed — about 350 people — was there to shop.

Specifically, the SFMTA said 76 percent of surveyed shoppers “usually” take transit, and 10 percent drive.

Merchants, however, disagree that most shoppers take transit.

Michael Gardner, the 42-year president of Siegel’s Clothing Superstore & Tuxedos on Mission Street, felt the survey was all wrong.

“This just doesn’t make sense to me. It just can’t be right,” he said.

For Bernal Heights residents,  the mandatory right turn on Mission Street northbound at Cesar Chavez has been a particular point of concern. The SFMTA’s FAQ explains why the mandatory turn at Cesar Chavez will remain in place:

Why aren’t you removing the required right turn at Cesar Chavez?

We heard many requests to remove the required right turn at Cesar Chavez Street, which some feel acts as a barrier to two neighborhoods. This was a difficult decision. Doing so would make traffic and transit performance worse on northbound Mission Street than before the project was implemented because one lane of traffic was removed [to create the restricted access lane for Muni buses].

The required turn at Cesar Chavez diverts drivers who drive through Mission toward downtown. Instead, we will address community concerns by removing two of the required right turns at 26th and 22nd to improve access to destinations along Mission without congesting the street with traffic looking for a fast way downtown.

PHOTO: Top, a worker installs flexible bollards to prevent traffic from crossing Mission Street at Cesar Chavez, April 7, 2015. Photo by Telstar Logistics

D9 Candidate Josh Arce Proposes 30th Street BART Station and Housing Plan

arce30thst

For 80 years, the citizens of Bernal Heights and La Lengua have fantasized about creating a train station on Mission Street around 30th Street. Indeed, the fantasy is even older than BART itself. Yesterday, the idea of a BART 30th Street Station was revived again.

Standing in the half-empty parking lot of our historically joyless Safeway, D9 Supervisor candidate Joshua Arce unveiled his “Mission Street South of Cesar Chavez Plan,” a proposal to build 2000 of units of new housing in La Lengua and add a new BART station at 30th Street.

MissionLocal was there for the announcement:

The development, part of a proposed “Mission Street South of Cesar Chavez” plan, would “not touch any existing housing,” Arce said. The housing built would be a mix of market-rate projects and affordable housing.

“There’s never really been a plan for this neighborhood,” he added, standing with some 20 supporters in the Safeway parking lot at 3350 Mission St. where the new station would go. The Safeway itself could be incorporated into the new station, Arce said, or a new store could be built elsewhere.

The triangular slice of the Mission District between Mission and Valencia streets below Cesar Chavez Street — known by some as “La Lengua,” the “tongue” of the Mission — has no integrated transit plan, Arce said, and is ripe for housing needed to address the “displacement crisis” in the gentrifying neighborhood.

“This is a neighborhood that can play a part in the solution,” he said, saying the BART station could be the cornerstone of a new corridor. “What if that solution is just right here below our feet? And that solution, I propose, is the potential for a brand new BART station right here at Mission and 30th streets.”

The plans for the new transit station and housing are preliminary. Arce said the development “might take a long time” and estimated that the BART station alone could cost $200-$300 million. He said a mixture of developer’s fees from new market-rate housing in the corridor and state or federal funds could finance the project.

Innnnnnteresting! Bernalwood contacted Arce to find out more about his proposal. “I sat down with neighbors, local business owners, workers, and transit riders to talk about this unique part of the District,” he said. “What became clear in each and every single conversation is that people feel there is no clear plan for the housing, local business, and transportation needs of the neighborhood.”

Arce says the 2000 units of housing would be built on under-utilized sites in the area that have already been identified by the San Francisco Planning Department.  Today, these sites are parking lots, empty buildings, and locations that could be repurposed  for alternative or mixed uses. Here’s the Planning Department’s site map:

20131105_Mission_OpportunityMap

The basic idea, Arce says, is that the new housing and the new station would be mutually inter-dependent. BART is pretty tapped out financially, so investment in housing and local businesses would generate impact fees that would be used to pay for affordable housing and funding for a new BART station.

Of course, Bernalese have been dreaming about convenient access to a rail link for decades. Here’s a futuristic image from 1948. That’s Cortland Avenue heading up the hill to the right:

bernalstation1948

Let’s zoom and enhance, to take a closer look at our retrofuture:

bernalstationplan2

San Francisco abandoned the whole Mission Freeway idea, thank goodness, but It sure would be nice to be one of those whispy people in the rendering, fashionably boarding and disembarking from a train that stops right at Bernal’s front doorstep.

The idea of adding a 30th Street Station to the existing BART line that runs under Mission Street has been studied from time to time, most recently in 2003:

30th.feasibilityThe 2003 study estimated that a 30th Street Station would cost around $500 million to build, in part because of the challenging grade on the site. The 2003 study also assumed that 30th Street station would include a secondary “pocket track” that could be used for parking or reversing trains as needed.

Arce says that based on conversations he’s had with BART officials, things may be different today. The requirement to level the grade of the track would not be as extreme, the pocket track could be eliminated, and tunnel-boring technology (like the machines used to create the new Central Subway downtown) could simplify construction. The result could be a 40% to 60% reduction in the cost of building a 30th Street Station.

Well, maybe. Hopefully. There’s a lot to like about all this, because we desperately need more housing, and a new BART stop would dramatically improve transit for thousands of current Bernal residents. But is this for real, or is it just a campaign stunt?

“This is a beginning,” Arce says. “Doing all this will take time, maybe a long time. But every plan starts with a first step, and we think this a great place to start.”

IMAGE: 1948 station proposal image courtesy of Eric Fischer.