Friday, March 19, 2010

The Murk, the Harding, and the parklet

"You look at change throughout history, from civil rights to environmental justice, and it wasn't politicians who got it done. It was the activists. Today is about more than just policies and agendas---it's about the beginning of a revolution."

You have to give Supervisor Mirkarimi points for chutzpah. The other day he was praising the Divisadero makeover across the street from the Harding Theater, the eyesore he created five years ago, when he "saved" the derelict, undistinguished building from being turned into condos and retail space:

Mayor Gavin Newsom hailed the installation of the sidewalk extension as well as the nearly completed Divisadero makeover with the new landscaping, median, lighting, and street paving. Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi recalled that when he first took office in 2005 he predicted that Divisadero would be the "comeback kid corridor" and now that appears to be the case. "This 44 foot template is a pilot for projects that others will want in their neighborhoods," Mirkarimi suggested, establishing a new prediction with its fulfillment already in the works. Another parklet is expected to be completed in three weeks in the Mission district.

The Murk is always on the lookout for new "templates." Back in 2005, right after he saved the Harding, he was lauding the new and awful Octavia Boulevard as a "gateway to a new template" for the rest of the city. Other neighborhoods probably saw Octavia Blvd. as a cautionary tale. Why would they want 45,000 cars a day coming through the middle of their neighborhoods? Mirkarimi probably thought his mixed metaphor and rhetoric were justified. After all, the Planning Dept., the Bicycle Coalition, his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, and all good progressives---even Mayor Newsom---thought Octavia Blvd. was going to be a huge success once the wicked Central Freeway overpass was gone. What could possibly go wrong? In fact I predicted what would---and has---gone wrong.

Membership in the Green Party is one template the Murk rejects, since it clearly isn't a gateway to higher office.

As the errand boy for the Bicycle Coalition for more than five years, the Murk of course loves the new "parklet" installed in front of the bike nut coffee house on Divisadero, since it takes away three parking spaces. Eliminating parking spaces always makes the bike people happy. Interesting that only a bike-oriented coffee house is allotted this privilege by City Hall. Are other coffee houses on Diviz going to be allowed a parklet, too?

It makes sense for that business, since it provides more space for the bike nuts to park their bikes. But one wonders about the attraction to coffee drinkers ("Honey, let's go drink our lattes on the parklet next to the traffic noise, the carbon monoxide, and the diesel fumes.") But cyclists evidently already have developed a high tolerance for the pollutants emitted by the hated Death Machines.

The latest horror story on the Harding Theater.

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26 Comments:

At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Parkarimi said...

A non bike-nut coffee house on 22nd is getting a parklet, Starbucks on 24th in Noe is gettnig a parklet (which includes closing off 24th at Noe).

If you'd like one at Abir, please to go talk to the owner and ask him to lobby your friend Ross.

I find it amusing that you consider the 45,000 cars zooming up Octavia to be bad, but the fact the bike-nuts (and many others) want to revamp Cesar Chavez because they are sick of 45,000 cars zooming down that street is bad, is something you consider a war on cars.

And no, I didn't mention the Harding Theatre because I am trusting you to handle that one for us. I'm a carpetbagger and have never heard of the place, but I'll gaze longingly at it from Mojo.

 
At 4:58 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The owner of Cafe Abir, an intelligent affable fellow, is not likely to take my advice on what to do with his business. But you obviously miss the point of my post; I think it's particularly unpleasant to drink my coffee on the street with the traffic. I consider that the smoking section. In retrospect I think the city should have left the Central Freeway overpass up, since what's taken its place, in my opinion, is worse. On Cesar Chavez: the EIR on the Bicycle Plan tells us that implementing its projects on that street will have "significant unavoidable impacts" on traffic and Muni lines in the area---that is, it's going to make it worse for everyone, except the bike jerks, who will weave in and out of the traffic jams, thus demonstrating the superiority of their transportation "mode" over all others.

The thing about the Harding and Mirkarimi just shows once again that he's not much of a leader; he's a lemming-like follower in the progressive cult, especially the bicycle fantasy.

 
At 6:54 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

On Mirkarimi and the Harding: he caved in to a small group of so-called progressives in the neighborhood---led by David Tornheim---to appeal the property owner's development plans, thus setting in motion the process that leaves the building an eyesore in the middle of Divisadero. Tornheim and his allies never had enough money to do anything with the property themselves; they just prevented anyone else from doing anything at all, with the recession making it impossible for the owner to even sell it. The property was once a theater, and the Grateful Dead played there! Isn't that enough? Well, no, it isn't. Tornheim and company apparently assumed that some angel with money would appear and turn the building into a community center and theater.

Since Tornheim and his allies didn't have the money to do anything with the building, the Murk should have told them to back off. It's not only an eyesore, but it's a big chunk of property in the middle of the neighborhood. Housing units and retail space would have been an ideal use of the property.

 
At 3:04 AM, Anonymous Philip said...

Rob said: "it's going to make it worse for everyone, except the bike jerks, who will weave in and out of the traffic jams, thus demonstrating the superiority of their transportation "mode" over all others.

A very distorted perspective of bicycle travel on dedicated infrastructure. Never the less there is some hint of recognition that bicycles in general are a more effective mode of travel than petro-cages.

Keep thinking Rob. The car fantasy is looking more unrealistic by the day.

 
At 11:04 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

If that's distorted, blame the folks who did the EIR on the Bicycle Plan, because that's what it said. And surely you're not denying that many cyclists behave like jerks on city streets?

 
At 12:36 PM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

Now all the bike nuts are trying to push these stupid, cheap little parklets on us...so hipster, so useless..

Thank god that car travel will always be here...I love my car and use it a lot in SF, as well as walk a lot..

 
At 1:38 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Their ongoing goal is to make it as hard and as expensive as possible for you to drive in the city. It's death-by-a-thousand-cuts strategy, and the parklets are the newest wrinkle. We don't have a single political leader in the city who's willing to oppose this bullshit, including Mayor Goofball, who, if we're lucky, will be going to Sacramento next year. If any of this stuff ever gets on the ballot, it will lose in a citywide election, but they're careful to not let that happen. Instead, it's "Whether you like it or not" time.

 
At 1:29 PM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for the greening of the city, more street trees, more sidewalk landscaping, more median landscaping. That's all important.

The parklets are essentially useless, trendy of the moment things that really had no liveablity to the city.

 
At 3:13 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The city has overdone the planting on Divisadero, as if more is always better. The parklets are a result of the official anti-car ideology in SF, as if somehow our streets should be used for something other than traffic.

 
At 4:56 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

By the way, many progressives like to talk about how great it is to embrace "urbanism," with the obligatory references to Jane Jacobs, but when you look at the kind of makeover they do to streets like Divisadero, their suburban sensibility reveals itself.

 
At 7:05 PM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

I disagree Rob: tell me how the new median plantings on Divis are "overdone"?

If anything, I would also like to see a LOT more sidewalk trees planted, one in front of every single business. It is possible.

 
At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Rob-boR said...

"it's a big chunk of property in the middle of the neighborhood. Housing units and retail space would have been an ideal use of the property."

"On Divisadero, on the other hand, there are at least 10 empty store fronts and some new upscale restaurants that are struggling to survive."

Which is it?

 
At 12:33 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

It's both, of course. Where's the contradiction?

 
At 2:41 PM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

so Rob: you can't discuss how you think the median plantings are "overdone" as you say?

 
At 2:44 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

It's not the small plants that are overdone; it's the trees---trees on the median, trees on the sidewalk. It's overdone even by a suburban standard. But I admit I liked the street before all the tarting up started, it's semi-industrial, unadorned look.

 
At 5:47 PM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

Seriously, Rob?...wow..I mostly agree with your comments and attitude here, but saying that new landscaping on an otherwise very harsh city street is "too much"..

This city is one of the most desolate when it comes to trees, urban landscaping, street side planting of any city in the country.

I think the new landscaping on Divis is awesome and will continue to enhance and improve that area over time.

 
At 4:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I think it's particularly unpleasant to drink my coffee on the street with the traffic. I consider that the smoking section."

Quite with the bike-nut, anti-car rhetoric, Rob.

 
At 1:12 PM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

rocky's impersonator - on the Noe Valley SF Blog...

http://noevalleysf.blogspot.com/2010/03/plaza-vs-parklet-your-voice-has-been.html

"The parklet taking up parking spaces along Noe is an excellent idea."

 
At 5:04 PM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

of course Murph took the comments out of context..much like Glen Beck does all the time.

The parklet on Noe at24 taking up a few parking spaces is a GOOD idea in lieu of CLOSING OFF a portion of Noe to cross traffic. I support the small parklet in THAT location.

The parklet on Divisadero next to the fumes and heavy traffic is dangerous and useless. I don't support that.

They are two different locations, obviously, and require different solutions.

Murph should try thinking more open minded and less myopically.

 
At 9:50 AM, Blogger murphstahoe said...

Come on - you oppose a parklet but are just scared that even more space will be given to pedestrians.

At least the Republicans voted against the Health Cafe bill even after it was watered down.

Weak.

 
At 11:19 AM, Blogger rocky's dad said...

NO, you have my comemnts all wrong. Depending on locations, traffic, etc. I support parklets and more trees and more streetscaping. I've said that many times.

My own property has been recently heavily landscaped at the streetside, where we REMOVED over 1000 sf of useless concrete sidewalk, at considerable expense, to plant shrubs and trees.

The parklet on Divis does not make much sense to me, given the location right next to heavy traffic and exhaust fumes.

The parklet on Noe at 24th could be a great idea, infact a double parklet perhaps, with lots of new seating and landscaping. Noe is not as heavily traveled at Divis and therefore far more pleasant to sit and relax curbside.

 
At 10:32 PM, Anonymous Anderson U said...

Rob - I generally agree with you about the bike nuts, but I have to be honest. As a 30 year resident of DivCo, the parklet is fantastic. I would LOVE to see more of them at other locations on the street.

 
At 9:29 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I think you're wrong. The parklet movement is part of the bike people's attempt to convince the rest of us that our streets are for something besides traffic and parking, as if allowing people to move freely around the city in motor vehicles is some kind of imposition. That's bullshit and potentially damaging to our economy. The Divisadero corridor is already short on parking for those who want to visit the neighborhood, especially those who want to try the new, upscale restaurants that are trying to make it on Diviz. I suspect the folks---especially the bike people---who want to make it difficult to drive to the neighborhood don't work in our restaurant/hotel/hospitality industry, which is the city's largest.

 
At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anderson U said...

Rob, no way man. Just because the parklet happens to be in front of a bike shop does not de-post the idea.

I do not like bikes. I have a car, and have lived near Divis for 30 years - though all kinds of ups and downs, I'm sure you're familiar with.

But having extra sidewalk space to have lunch or a coffee is a VERY GOOD things.

I sincerely hope to see more of these, perhaps one every block for some outdoor seating on Divis and elsewhere.

Yes, we need car access, but the loss of two spaces in favor of huge pedestrian and life improvements is well worth it.

 
At 6:15 PM, Anonymous No Dero DivCo Boko said...

"Why anyone would want to drink coffee and/or eat right next to dirty, noisy traffic is a mystery to me"

I thought you loved traffic? Shouldn't we have more cars around? After all, it's the reality!

 
At 6:57 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Traffic belongs on the streets. I like to do my eating and drinking inside, without the carbon monoxide, the diesel fumes, and the noise.

 

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