Servetnick replies to Matt Smith
Cynthia Servetnick (email@example.com) wrote:
As mayor, Art Agnos made strong appointments to the Landmarks Board. We can also thank him for championing the removal of the Embarcadero Freeway which reunited the city with its waterfront and resulted in the creation of the country's largest National Register Historic District. Good preservation planning promotes adaptive reuse. Your story failed to mention that Art is a member of the Advisory Board of openhouse, a well-regarded nonprofit LGBT senior housing developer that has partnered with AF Evans Development to construct the proposed 55 Laguna Mixed Use Project at the UC Berkeley Extension Campus.
In fact, Roberta Achtenberg, who served as Assistant Secretary of Fair Housing at HUD, and Art Agnos, who served as HUD's Regional Director, are credited with bringing AF Evans and openhouse together after Mercy Housing dropped out. Roberta is the current Chair of the CSU Board of Trustees. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank of San Francisco as is Arthur Evans, Chairman of the AF Evans Company.
AF Evans project manager Ruthy Bennett said, "It's workforce housing. It's rental, it's market rate ($2,000-$4,000/mo.), it's 20 percent affordable. This is everything AF Evans believes in, wrapped up in one development." As a former City of Berkeley planner who worked on their affordable Rental Housing Acquisition Program, I'd be inclined to support the project as described if it were on private land and were not needlessly demolishing National Register-eligible structures. The 55 Laguna Street project has its merits, but they do not justify the rezoning of 5.8 acres of land in the heart of Hayes Valley that has been in public use for over 150 years. See this.
I also served as a UC Berkeley campus planner, and I can assure you the citizens of Berkeley would not stand for the University's making a unilateral decision to virtually dispose of two city blocks in the center of town without conducting a focused community planning process involving residents and other stakeholders to determine the best use of the site. In this case, the City Attorney has opined that title to Waller Street between Buchanan and Laguna, about 15% of the campus, would revert to the City upon rezoning. San Franciscans should demand a public planning process rather than the Community Needs Inventory that is being prepared by SFSU's Recreation and Leisure Studies Department to assist AF Evans in programming the proposed community center.
Finally, I am proud to have assisted New College pro bono in developing a proposal that would retain all five historic buildings, as well as the historic educational use and public zoning, for analysis in the UC/AF Evans/openhouse 55 Laguna Mixed Use Project EIR. When Fort Mason was decommissioned, we explored options that best served the community; there's no reason we can't do it again. I think SF Weekly readers would appreciate your spending more time researching your stories than contemplating the end of San Francisco's history.
The SF Bay Guardian got this story right in their 4/17/07 editorial, "UC Extension project a bad deal. Exactly 13 out of the 85 units of LGBT housing would be available to anyone who isn't wealthy."