Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Destroying the Market/Octavia area

(Okay, I take it back, more or less, about PROSF, since they finally posted my response to Bregoff today, Feb. 7, two days after I sent it. Why the delay? Two days make a difference here, since the issue being discussed involves a Planning Commission meeting that takes place tomorrow. I notice too that there was a week's lag between the time Bregoff submitted his message and when it was posted. Which raises questions about the PROSF process: Who decides what gets posted and when it's posted? Is it Christian Holmer or are there others involved? I asked this question a few years ago but never got an answer. Seems to me PROSF owes the community an explanation. If their process isn't transparent, it leaves the impression that decisions on submissions are made on other than objective criteria.)

I sent this message
to the PROSF bulletin board, but it hasn't been posted, which isn't surprising. PROSF is another one of those "progressive" institutions in SF that talks a lot about diversity---and, of course, Sunshine!---but doesn't really welcome differing perspectives. Naturally Rob Bregoff's utterly clueless message (below) to PROSF was posted immediately. Note that Bregoff also sends his message to Dave Snyder of the SF Bicycle Coalition. Does the Bicycle Coalition really support what has happened to that area since Octavia Blvd. opened up? Hard to see why they would, but their officers were prominent among the dignitaries at the ceremony that opened up the street to freeway traffic. Note too the references in Planning's inane "vision" for the Market/Octavia area to biking on the area's streets. Anyone who has crossed Octavia Blvd. lately knows that that is pure fantasy. Now that all that freeway traffic is rolling through the Hayes Valley neighborhood it's much more dangerous for both cyclists and pedestrians than it ever was before.


Remember the old anti-government joke? "Hi, I'm with the government, and I'm here to help you." Areas targeted by the city's Better Neighborhoods plan need to update it: "Hi, I'm from the Planning Dept., and I'm here to make your neighborhood better." The Market-Octavia Better Neighborhoods Plan is a prescription for the further degradation of that whole part of town. (The M/O Plan's boundaries, by the way, are so expansive it's not really a "neighborhood" at all.) Only a "Planner" like Rob Bregoff could possibly find the M/O Plan "uplifting," though I bet developers will also like it, because it essentially changes density and height limits to encourage developers to build thousands of new housing units in an already densely populated area. Why is Planning picking on this area? Because it's on a major "transit corridor," which supposedly means the people who will live in the thousands of new units won't be driving cars; they will be riding Muni---already standing room only during commute hours---and riding bikes! Note the windy claims in the "Better Neighborhoods Vision" about "traffic calming," and "strengthening the heart of Hayes Valley," etc. The new and appalling Octavia Blvd.---according to DPT, now carrying more than 45,000 cars a day---has already destroyed the heart of that neighborhood. The whole area is now gridlocked durng rush hour with all the traffic that used to travel over the area via the wicked Central Freeway. People should show up Thursday to tell the PlanningCommission that what they want for that area is a Leave the Neighborhood Alone Plan. Let that area at least try to absorb all the freeway traffic that's now on surface streets in before a meddlesome Planning Dept. deliberately makes things worse with this misguided plan.

Rob Anderson

TO: Dave Snyder sfbike@lists.riseup.net
rb@3-page.com (Rob Bregoff)
Sent: Monday, January 29, 2007
Cc: sfbike@lists.riseup.net; PRO-SF; webmaster@dtna.org
Subject: Market-Octavia Better Neighborhoods Plan

As a Planner, and a neighbor, I'm very uplifted that this plan has come this far, I think it's a great thing which could change the way we look at our neighborhoods. In the face of expanding housing and transportation demands, the plan examines the best ways and places to densify, while putting stronger protections on the historic fabric of our neighborhoods. Please come to City Hall next Thursday, Feb. 8th, and support the Market-Octavia Better Neighbrohoods Plan. The Planning Commission hearing is in room 400 at 6PM. The BNP has legislation that reprioratizes transportation networks, and promotes complete streets that are safe for all users, but there's much more. I think the neighborhood and the city will benefit greatly by the passage of this groundbreaking legislation. M/O will be the first neighborhhod to enact the plan, and will set a great example how it can make a difference in our daily lives. The website above has details of the plan and the meeting. I hope to see you on the 8th!

Rob Bregoff

The Better Neighborhoods Vision

Envision an urban neighborhood that welcomes a mix of people of various incomes, ages and lifestyles.
* A place where everyday shopping needs can be met within a short walk on a system of public streets that are easy and safe to get around on foot, on a bicycle and on transit.
* A place intimately connected to the City as a whole where owning a private automobile is a choice, not a necessity, and the streets are active, friendly civic spaces.
* A neighborhood that is repaired and rejuvenated by building on the strengths of its traditional character, yet is inherently dynamic, creative and evolving.
Guiding Principles
* Do not displace people - no homes should be lost.
* Encourage diverse and affordable housing.
* Create choices for movement - foster alternatives to the car.
* Make streets safe and attractive places to walk, bike and meet.
* Repair and enhance the neighborhood's urban fabric - build on strengths.
* Provide for convenient neighborhood services.
* Value residences, shops and active uses over automobile parking.
* Tear down the Central Freeway and build the new Octavia Boulevard.

Policy Initiatives
* Allow flexible types of new housing to meet a broad range of needs.
* Reduce parking requirements to encourage housing & services without adding cars.
* Balance transportation by considering people movement over auto movement.
* Build walkable "whole" neighborhoods meeting everyday needs.

Draft Plan Components
* Infill guidelines for housing on the vacant Central Freeway parcels.
* Freeway touchdown recommendations at Market and new Octavia Boulevard.
* Strengthening the heart of Hayes Valley.
* Guidelines for Market Street as a residential and retail spine.
* Enhancements to the Church/Market/Duboce area.
* A new residential center in SOMA West / South Van Ness area.
* Changes to street circulation - restoring urban> structure.
* Area-wide streetscape and traffic calming> improvements.
* Opportunities for public open spaces.

For background on the Market/Octavia Plan:

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