Supervisor Campos Seeks to Revive Mission Moratorium on New Housing

Site of proposed housing at 1515 South Van Ness, photographed on August 9, 2016

Site of proposed housing at 1515 South Van Ness, photographed on August 9, 2016

Less than a year ago, in November 2015, San Francisco voters were asked to vote on Proposition I, the Mission Moratorium, which sought to suspend construction of new market-rate housing in the Mission District. On election day, however, voters overwhelmingly rejected Prop I, by a 57% margin.

Yesterday, however, MissionLocal broke the story that District 9 Supervisor David Campos now seeks to ignore the results of the Prop I vote and implement the Mission Moratorium through the Planning Department and the Board of Supervisors. MissionLocal writes:

In a letter sent to the Planning Commission on Wednesday, Campos urged commissioners to delay all projects in the [Calle24] Latino Cultural District, which is bounded by Potrero Avenue and Mission Street between 22nd and Cesar Chavez streets.

Campos singled out for delay three housing developments planned for the Mission District that would would bring in 293 units of mostly market-rate housing in the next few years. All three are being opposed by neighborhood activists, who say they would worsen gentrification in the district.

“These and several market-rate projects in and next to the cultural district could transform the district and threaten to displace long-time residents, businesses, and non-profits,” Campos wrote. “The Planning Department should consider the impacts of these projects on the Latino Cultural District and develop measures that will mitigate those impacts.”

That area was designated a “Latino cultural and commercial district” by San Francisco in 2014, a largely symbolic proclamation. Calle 24, the neighborhood and merchants association, hoped that designation would lead to construction guidelines down the road with more legal standing.

Now, Campos and others are acting on those wishes, crafting legislation that will be introduced to the Board of Supervisors later this year to specify the kinds of development that should be allowed in the neighborhood.

Campos wants the Planning Department to study the effects of market-rate housing on the district, specifying the potential effects on neighborhood businesses, residential displacement, rental affordability, and “the Latino community.”

This is a strange request, not least because it would exceed the legal mandate of the the Calle24 Cultural District, which does not include any development guidelines, ethnic quotas, or demographic requirements. Regardless, MissionLocal reports that Erick Arguello, a Mission District landlord and power-broker who leads the Calle24 group, opposes the creation of new market-rate housing projects, even when they meet city-mandated requirements for subsidized-affordable units.

The three housing proposals that would be impacted by Supervisor Campos’s revived Mission moratorium are 157 units at 1515 South Van Ness (at 26th St.), 117 units at 2675 Folsom St. (at 23rd St.), and 19 units at 2600 Harrison (at 22nd St.). All three sites are currently occupied by empty warehouse-style buildings, and construction of new housing on these sites would not displace any existing residents.

In a 2015 study on the potential impact of the Proposition I Mission moratorium, San Francisco’s chief economist concluded there is “no reason to believe that either a temporary moratorium, or an indefinite prohibition, of market rate housing will reduce the number of upper- income residents in the Mission, or slow the process of gentrification.”

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

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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.

Your Hyperlocal Analysis of 2016 Primary Election Results in Bernal Heights

bernalprecinctmap

Citizens! On Tuesday we did the Democracy Dance, as many tens of thousands of San Franciscans went to the polls to vote in the 2016  California Primary. Now that the results are in, Bernalwood reached out to Neighbor Adam to provide some of his signature, precinct-by-precinct analysis of how Bernal Heights voted.

In this installment, Neighbor Adam looked at two of the most hyperlocally polarizing (and Zeitgeist-revealing) contests on the ballot: The Democratic presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and the face-off between D11 State Senate candidates Scott Wiener and Jane Kim.

According to the results posted by the San Francisco Department of Elections, Clinton thumped Sanders by nearly 20,000 votes citywide, winning 55% of the vote vs. Sanders’s 44%. The D11 State Senate contest was much closer, with Scott Wiener edging out Jane Kim by 3000 votes, 46% vs. 44%.

But how did Bernalese vote? For that, let’s go to Neighbor Adam at the Bernalwood Election Analysis Desk:

Here’s a quick analysis of the Democratic primary for president and the State Senate race between Wiener and Kim. These numbers are based on the final numbers on Election night, but there are still some vote-by-mail votes yet to be counted. Not sure how much they will change the results, but I don’t think much.

The Elections department didn’t  break out the votes by neighborhoods, like they have in the past, so I was stuck having to look at the precincts. These don’t match up exactly with the neighborhoods (N. Bernal and S. Bernal) that Elections has used in the past, so I had to approximate. The biggest difference this time around is that I omitted 3 precincts that are officially part of “South Bernal” but that we all consider part of Glen Park.

So what we have so far:

Democratic Presidential Primary

South Bernal
Sanders – 1104 – 46%
Clinton – 1306 – 54%

North Bernal
Sanders – 1880 – 50%
Clinton – 1848 – 50%

State Senate Race

South Bernal
Jane Kim – 1266 – 54%
Scott Wiener – 1093 – 46%

North Bernal
Jane Kim – 2151 – 59%
Scott Wiener – 1513 – 41%

(Note: Percentages are based on the total votes just for the top two candidates; third-place and other votes are not included. But these other votes generally made up less than 5% in each race.)

There are a couple of interesting takeaways here.

First, as we witnessed in past elections, North Bernal (which includes everything north of Cortland, but also includes a few blocks south of Cortland from Folsom to Bayshore) leans slightly left of South Bernal. This is much more obvious in the Wiener/Kim race than it is in the Clinton/Sanders race.

I looked at Bernal micro-neighborhood differences, based on Bernalwood’s subdistrict map:

bernal.microhoods.D

Quite honestly, not a whole lot of difference. For South Bernal, most precincts went Clinton, with Sanders winning only south of Holly Park (in precinct 7944, which includes a bit of the Holly Park sub-neighborhood and a bit of the Baja Cortlandia sub-neighborhood).

The most interesting discrepancies can be found in North Bernal, where Sanders won the precincts bordering Mission and Cesar Chavez, with Clinton winning the precincts going up the hill and over to Cortland St. It looks to me there is something of an elevation issue for North Bernal — the higher up the hill you are, the more likely you were to vote for Clinton.

In the Wiener/Kim race, every precinct in both North Bernal and South Bernal favored Kim, except three: the two precincts that make up The Lost Tribe of College Hill (which Wiener now represents as their district Supervisor, and which he won handily) and a single precinct in The Hill People of Powhattan subregion, directly above the 101 (where Wiener squeaked out a win). Kim won every other Bernal district by fairly large margins, across the board.

The second interesting takeaway is that Kim’s totals did not mirror Sanders’ totals. For instance, Kim’s strongest precinct in Bernal was 7936, in Cortlandia, which was also a Clinton stronghold. It’s tempting to say that quite a few Kim voters broke right and voted for Clinton (or that quite a few Clinton voters broke left to vote for Kim), but it bears observing that more people voted for Kim/Wiener than voted for Sanders/Clinton. This is no doubt due to the nonpartisan nature of the Kim/Wiener race, meaning that that election was on every ballot, where the Clinton/Sanders race was only on the Democratic ballots (which some “no party preference” voters could request if they wanted).

It’s hard to know, then, how much gender may have played a role in Bernal’s vote totals (accounting for Kim and Clinton winning the neighborhoods) vs. how much did the third-party voters play a role in the Kim-Wiener race.

One final detail: The Department of Elections says that voter participation was 49.9% of registered voters in North Bernal, and 46.3% in South Bernal.

So there you have it, Citizens! Very special thanks to Neighbor Adam for crunching the numbers, and onward we go to the General Election in November.

Citizens! It’s Election Day in Bernal Heights!

pollingplace2011

Citizens of Bernalwood, today is the day to strap on your democracy and get thee to a polling place. It’s Primary Election Day, 2016!

Here’s some last-minute guidance from your San Francisco Department of Elections:

All San Francisco polling places citywide are open for voters from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

San Franciscans can confirm the location of their polling place at sfelections.org/pollsite or by calling (415) 554-4375.

Voters may also vote at the City Hall Voting Center. Located on the ground floor of City Hall, the Voting Center is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Vote-by-mail voters may drop off their ballots from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at any polling place in San Francisco, at the Department’s Ballot Drop-off Stations outside two City Hall entrances–the main entrance at Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place (Polk Street) and the Grove Street entrance– or at the Department’s office.

Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked with today’s date and received by the Department of Elections no later than Friday, June 10.

Got that?  Good!

Happily, voter-participation in Bernal Heights is usually rather high, and if Neighbor Tom’s experience this morning is any indication, that trend is set to continue this year:

PHOTO: Election Day on Precita Avenue, 2011 by Telstar Logistics

UPDATED: Cheerful Painted Rock Becomes Charged Political Battlespace

Rock.Blue

Until now, painted rock on the north side of Bernal Hill has mostly been used as a festive way to celebrate seasonal holidays like Valentine’s DayChristmas, and St. Patrick’s Day. Also: your mama.

Over the weekend, however, the  colorful decor took an unfortunate turn as the rock became a political canvas where supporters of Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton took turns bashing one another.

Neighbor Karen documented the battle between the Bernie-ites and the Clintonistas.

This past Thursday: the gold-painted rock was painted blue. (shown above)

Saturday AM: Two women were spotted adorning the blue with “Bernie Rocks”:

Rocks1

By Sunday, this was defaced:

Rock.Defacement

Later Sunday, this countered the defacement:

Rock.Defense

Frankly, this is an unfortunate development. Aside from the fact that slogans painted on a rock are unlikely to influence the behavior of even one actual voter, the only real winners in the debate are the killjoys who have always opposed any painting on the rock at all.

Just saying: As a surface for seasonal art and creative expression, the painted rock has become a Bernal Heights icon. But as a battlespace between rival Democratic factions, the rock is about as much fun as political discourse on cable television. Or, put another way, all that is pretty much the exact opposite of this:

valentine-rallypbsc2012

UPDATE 26 April, 9:50 am: Ah, that’s more like it. Neighbor Christiano tells us that as of this morning, the rock has been transformed yet again. Yay!purplerock

PHOTOS: Blue rock battle by Neighbor Karen. Cupid rock from 2012, by Neighbor Rally.

MUNI Riders Resist Complaints; Say New Mission Street “Red Carpet” Is Working

redbollards

Your Bernalwood editor rode a MUNI 14 bus down Mission Street yesterday for the first time in a long time. The bus was modern and new, and the ride was conspicuously swift. Thank you, Mission Street red carpet!

A few weeks ago, D9 Supervisor David Campos decided to stand with the cars, arguing that the new Mission Street red carpet and transit improvements must be rolled back:

I have heard from many of you — car commuters frustrated by traffic jams that stretch multiple blocks; pedestrians concerned about increased safety risks because of irate drivers; residents along the corridor dealing with nonstop yelling and honking horns; and small businesses unable to get goods into their stores because unloading zones have been taken away. That’s why I’m calling on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to make a radical shift in the program

While it’s certainly true that the new configuration on Mission Street has caused some disruption and side-street spillover, it’s not at all clear the program should radically revised right now.  A “Transit First” policy is city law, after all, and it takes time for old habits to change and new traffic patterns to become familiar. Best of all, there are already signs that the red carpets and mandatory turns are working as intended; MUNI riders say the changes have dramatically improved bus service along Mission Street:

Writing at the N Judah Chronicles, transit blogger Greg Dewar says the backlash typifies why it’s so devilishly hard to make MUNI the much-better transit system everyone says they want:

If you’ve ever wondered why it is hard to Get Things Done with Muni, the current brouhaha over improvements in the Mission to the 14 Mission, and to traffic in general is an example. Muni rolled out some significant improvements to the 14 Mission line, and already there’s “anger” from a few nuts online. The changes have had less than a few weeks to take hold, but apparently dealing with the changes is too difficult for some people to handle like adults – hence the temper tantrums online in places like the infamous “NextDoor.com” and in the media.

These folks have found politicians eager to score political points, enough so that the SFMTA may back down on plans it has been working on for almost TEN years (and about a zillion “community meetings” in the process).

The SF Transit Riders, a grassroots organization that represents public transit users, has launched a #KeepMissionRed campaign to support the red carpet lanes:

Starting in March, after a decade of numerous community discussions, planning and studies, Muni finally started installing transit priority treatments on Mission Street. Just a month in and despite flagrant violations by drivers, they are already benefiting riders by making their rides faster and more reliable.

However, there has been a major backlash against these changes, and some, in particular Supervisor David Campos, have called for rollback of this major progress. It is a betrayal of the 65,000 riders who are served by the 14, 14R and 49 buses, as well as a betrayal of the Transit First charter of this city.

Along with my high-speed ride down Mission Street yesterday, I’ve also noticed that the morning traffic backups at the Mission/Cesar Chavez intersection have subsided. The line of cars waiting to turn left from Cesar Chavez onto South Van Ness is longer than it used to be, but the new queue seems to move pretty quickly.

It’s reasonable to assume that some adjustments to the new red carpet configuration may be needed. But a “radical shift” to the program, as Supervisor Campos has suggested, would be irresponsible and unprogressive. The recent rollback of the single-lane configuration for the San Jose Avenue exit from I-280 provides an encouraging sign that transit officials will abandon new traffic schemes when time, data, and experience demonstrate that changes aren’t working as intended. Truth is, we don’t yet know what’s best for Mission Street.

Patience seems like the best policy here. The red carpet lanes on Mission Street need more time  to settle in. If we sincerely want to improve our public transit system, the SFMTA should be encouraged to try new things, and we should expect that real progress usually takes time to reveal itself.

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

Bernal Hill Is Backdrop for NY Times Article on New Housing Politics

nytbuild

In case you missed it over the weekend, Sunday’s New York Times described the shifting dynamics of housing politics in San Francisco, as a new generation of activists seeks to fight displacement and sky-rocketing rents by building more housing for everyone in San Francisco, more quickly.

The article is an interesting read for anyone who cares about affordability in San Francisco, but the online version of the story opens with a drop-dead gorgeous view of Twin Peaks and Noe Valley as seen from Bernal Hill during a perfect golden sunset.

From our hill, the City’s multitudes are revealed.

When you’re done bathing in the fullscreen warmth of that image, the article goes on to frame the housing debate as a struggle between old-guard San Francisco ideologues and a younger generation of activists who are priced out of the housing market:

Across the country, a reversal in urban flight has ignited debates over gentrification, wealth, generational change and the definition of the modern city. It’s a familiar battle in suburbs, where not-in-my-backyard homeowners are an American archetype.

In San Francisco, though, things get weird. Here the tech boom is clashing with tough development laws and resentment from established residents who want to choke off growth to prevent further change.

[Sonja Trauss from the Bay Area Renters Federation]] is the result: a new generation of activist whose pro-market bent is the opposite of the San Francisco stereotypes — the lefties, the aging hippies and tolerance all around.

Ms. Trauss’s cause, more or less, is to make life easier for real estate developers by rolling back zoning regulations and environmental rules. Her opponents are a generally older group of progressives who worry that an influx of corporate techies is turning a city that nurtured the Beat Generation into a gilded resort for the rich.

Those groups oppose almost every new development except those reserved for subsidized affordable housing. But for many young professionals who are too rich to qualify for affordable housing, but not rich enough to afford $5,000-a-month rents, this is the problem.

Adding to the strangeness is that the typical San Francisco progressive and the typical mid-20s-to-early-30s member of Ms. Trauss’s group are likely to have identical positions on every liberal touchstone, like same-sex marriage and climate change, and yet they have become bitter enemies on one very big issue: housing.

The Times article also includes some nifty multimedia audio and a cameo from our D9 Supervisor David Campos, so check out the whole thing.