Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The UC Extension Project: Too Damn Big!

Tonight AF Evans and Mercy Housing, the developers for UC's neighborhood-destroying proposal to put 500 housing units on the old UC Extension site, held another "community meeting" at the LGBT Center at 1800 Market St.

After tonight I'm convinced that going to these schmooze sessions convened by UC's designated developers is a waste of time. Proponents of the project aren't going to change their minds about anything---these folks are on the clock---They get to claim after these meetings that they've done all this community outreach. It's pathetic listening to people from the neighborhood split hairs about minimal design changes and token "public use" gestures. In events like this, the developers are in effect using us. We get nothing in return except frustration at the folly and greed of it all---and we have to listen to those who, for whatever delusional reasons, think it's a good idea to plunk down hundreds of new housing units, more than a thousand more people, and 400 more cars in that neighborhood.

Probably the most insulting lie told by Evans tonight is that UC and Evans/Mercy have no understanding about the financial aspect of the project---that is, how they are going to divide the loot if the housing project is allowed.

There was some new information presented by Evans/Mercy, including the fact that they are now planning to build a mere 425 housing units instead of the originally planned 500. They've scaled back the maximum height of the buildings from 7 stories to five. And the old dental clinic will remain where it is. Big deal. None of this changes the essential problem with the proposal---that it's just too damn big!

I was a little surprised that, according to the timeline in one of their handouts, the developers aren't going to try for a zoning change until December of this year. The 5.8 acre parcel is now zoned for Public Use---and has been since the 19th Century. The greedheads will have to change that before the city will allow them to destroy the neighborhood. But, before they try to get the zoning changed, they are going to do the scoping sessions for the EIR, issue a Draft EIR, hire architects, etc. Maybe they calculate that when they get all this accomplished they will know if they'll get a green light on the project, instead of gambling everything on an early zoning change fight that, as it stands now, they could easily lose.

In other words, opponents of this grotesque project proposal are going to have to fight this battle until December before they learn whether or not the city is going to allow this neighborhood to be destroyed.