Monday, April 16, 2007

Stop the press: The Guardian mentions the Market/Octavia Plan!

I read the Guardian every week, because it's a good way to determine what the party line is on local issues here in Progressive Land (the Guardian of course also writes about national and international issues, but their commentary in those areas is banal, generic, leftist crap: Peace is Good and war is Bad, the US and Israel are Bad, etc.) 

The current issue has the first specific mention in the Guardian of the Market and Octavia Neighborhood Plan ("Advancing Towers: Battle Over the Market-Octavia Plan," Adam Brody, April 11), even though that ambitious Plan to overdevelop the heart of San Francisco has been on the table in written form for more than five years.

The M/O Plan essentially encourages developers to build market-rate housing in a wide swath of the heart of the city by loosening zoning laws on set-backs, curb-cuts, backyards, building height, and parking. It's fair to say that the M/O Plan is aggressively anti-car, since it will discourage developers from providing parking for new housing units, because, you understand, the area is on a "transit corridor," which means that people won't need cars because they can take Muni or ride bikes. 

In fact, the Transit Corridors mythology is one of the central fallacies underlying the voluminous M/O Plan, even though one of the original creators of that idea has rebuked San Francisco for misunderstanding and erroneously applying the concept to city neighborhoods.

The short Guardian piece on the M/O Plan mentions the highrise issue---the Plan will allow a number of 40-story highrises in the Market/Van Ness area---and the affordable housing issue---the Plan has no provision for affordable housing, except on the 800 housing units being built on the old freeway parcels the state gave to the city. 

But the piece gives readers no sense of the sheer scope of a Plan---it will down-zone thousands of parcels in the area---that will encourage the construction of nearly 6,000 new housing units and 10,000 new residents in an area that already has 26,000 residents. And the Plan has no serious traffic studies of what that will mean to the area's streets or an already crowded Muni system. 

Worst of all, the Guardian's late arrival on the scene of this impending planning crime is all but useless, since the Planning Commission has already passed the M/O Plan. There's only a slim chance that the Board of Supervisors will block the Plan, since all supervisors like to chant the mindless We Need Housing mantra. Check that: I should start calling it The We Need Housing with No Parking movement, which is why the SF Bicycle Coalition likes the M/O Plan.

This is a lot like the Guardian's earlier political negligence on Chris Daly and Aaron Peskin's Rincon Hill luxury highrises; the Guardian came in late on that plan, too, after it was already a done deal. The Guardian opined that, gee, five highrises of luxury condos is a lot. How about two?

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