Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Market/Octavia: A Planning disaster

(The Planning Commission's vote on the Market/Octavia Plan has been postponed until April 5.)

Thursday night the Planning Commission
is scheduled to pass the Planning Department's Market and Octavia Neighborhood Plan, which will essentially loosen the city's zoning standards for height, density, and parking requirements in the designated area to encourage developers to build market-rate housing, including residential highrises. How many new housing units will be built? Depends on which Planning document you read. In the Draft Environmental Report, Planning claimed that 4,440 new housing units would be built (DEIR, pages 4-68 and 4-209) in that already densely-populated part of the city. But if you plow through the hundreds of pages Planning recently added to the Plan, you learn that the number of new housing units planned for that unfortunate part of town has ballooned to 5,960 (Exhibit P-1, page 19). How many more people will this mean for that part of town? Again, it depends on which document you read. The DEIR says that the Plan will mean 7,620 new residents for the area (DEIR, page 4-66), while the new amendments to the Plan say that number is now 9,875. All of this is supposed to take place by 2025. Without this reckless, irresponsible Plan, that area is expected to grow in population by 2,255 (DEIR, 4-68). Why isn't that enough?

The Market/Octavia Plan is based on a lie out front: The area designated as a free-fire zone for developers is not a neighborhood at all. It's just a large area in the heart of San Francisco the Planning Dept. has targeted for massive development.

The Plan includes no up-to-date traffic studies. Planning doesn't even cite the Department of Parking and Traffic's Six-Month study on Octavia Boulevard, which shows that that street was already near maximum capacity only six months after it opened. Nevertheless, the EIR concludes that there will be no significant traffic impacts by adding almost 10,000 more residents to the area!

Planning also included some bicycle projects in these last-minute additions, a typically devious move by the bicycle fanatics in the Planning Dept.

Another serious problem with the Plan: There is no study or analysis of the historic resources in the area in the Plan, which is essential under CEQA. Planning has announced rather cavalierly that it has hired a consultant to do a survey of the area's historic resources, but that the study won't be available until later this year. In short, the Planning Commission is poised to pass a Plan that is missing a crucial element, putting the cart way before the horse.

These are only a few of many problems with this misguided, poorly-organized, poorly-thought-through Plan. And the Planning Dept. keeps adding to it, making it even more incoherent and difficult for the public to understand. The EIR for the Market/Octavia Plan is turning out to be the Winchester House of EIRs.

See the Plan online.

Other posts on this awful plan here and here.

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