Monday, May 05, 2008

The Leave the Neighborhoods Alone Plan

Posted by Chrysippus on a local chatboard:
In the upcoming election, the voters would do well to press all the candidates for supe about the functionality of the board. What will you have the board do to reduce crime? How can the board pressure Muni to provide better service? How can the board reduce the clout of drug dealers at City Hall and their toxic impact on at-risk neighborhoods? What can the board do to improve the condition of public parks? 

Rob responds:
The Board of Supervisors can't really do a damn thing about crime, in spite of all the posturing by individual supervisors. Foot patrols as a response to gun crime haven't really panned out, though people like to see cops walking a beat. It's good PR for the SFPD, if nothing else. Even the supervisors know what Muni needs before it can provide better service---money to buy more buses and hire more drivers. "Drug dealers"? Surely, Chrys, you mean "dispensers of medicinal marijuana." Only neighborhood pressure on the supervisors can limit the clout of the club owners. Funny that Oakland can get by with four pot clubs, but we need 31---or whatever the current number is (last time I looked, Supervisor Daly had 19 pot clubs in his District 6).

An important issue you haven't listed is housing and how the present Board of Supervisors has been a boon for developers to the point that one would think there's a Republican majority on our governing body: thousands of luxury highrise condos on Rincon Hill; the shameful surrender to a predatory UC's massive housing development on lower Haight Street; the Market/Octavia Plan that rezones thousands of properties in the heart of the city to provide developers with incentives to overdevelop that area, including four 40-story highrises at Market and Van Ness that will literally cast shadows on the Civic Center; and the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, which will apply these same pro-development principles---if that's the word---to that part of the city.

Developers love dense development because the more units they are allowed to build on a single parcel the greater the profit. Since all these projects involve mostly market-rate housing units, our "progressive" supervisors are in effect accelerating gentrification in the city.

And of course these developments will prohibit developers from providing adequate parking for the new residents, because, you understand, they can ride bikes or an already crowded Muni system. Meanwhile, the city has no valid General Plan, since the aggressively pro-development Housing Element was thrown out by the Court of Appeal last year.

An alternative to a progressivism that is destroying the city while progs slumber: my Leave the Neighborhoods Alone Plan. It will cost the city nothing; it would keep the UC extension property zoned for "public use," scuttling greedy UC's massive housing development; it would abandon all the grandiose "Better Neighborhoods" bullshit, since the Planning Dept. is incapable of planning anything, let alone creating new neighborhoods.

We need to abandon all these huge, Stalinoid projects that essentially create free-fire zones for developers. Adopting my Leave the Neighborhoods Alone Plan means abandoning the $200 million Geary BRT boondoggle-in-the making; it will mean abandoning the even bigger boondoggle-in-the-making, the Rose Pak Subway to Chinatown. No more big projects! The city should clean the neighborhood streets---and pave them while they're at it, since they are in terrible shape; don't take away any more street parking and traffic lanes to make bike lanes without real traffic studies and an intensive neighborhood process; deal with crime and homelessness and the associated squalor on our streets, and then Leave the Neighborhoods Alone!

Stop all these big, dumb, destructive pro-development projects. Stop meddling with the neighborhoods. Neither Planning, nor the BOS, nor the mayor know what they are doing vis a vis our neighborhoods, and when they do something it's often wrong-headed and destructive.



At 8:31 AM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

Rob, you are the penultimate NIMBY, and this post sums it up.

Your "do nothing" school of thought is not really a form of doing nothing, since doing nothing entails tacit support for existing trends such as automobile dependance and a critical housing shortage (don't forget the concomitant rise in prices, which has yet to show any signs of stopping).

Sometimes the best thing to do is "something".


At 9:30 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I notice that you don't deign to discuss a single specific project that I talk about. Both the Market/Octavia Plan and the UC proposal on lower Haight Street, for example, involve market-rate housing, not affordable housing. And there are density limits in our zoning laws for a reason, since crowding too many people into limited space can degrade the quality of life for everyone. Both the M/O Plan and UC's massive housing proposal are going to degrade life in that part of town, which is already struggling to adapt to the 45,000 cars a day coming through the heart of Hayes Valley on the awful new, unimproved Octavia Blvd. that replaced the Central Freeway. More than any other area, that part of town needs my Leave the Neighborhoods Alone Plan. Instead, the Planning Dept.'s M/O Plan will bring 10,000 new residents to the area, while the UC housing proposal will bring in 1,000 more. And of course developers will be prohibited from providing adequate parking based on the fallacious Transit Corridors theory. It's a prescription for gridlock. Why is this good planning?

My thought is indeed, When in doubt do nothing. Like the bike bullshit, the problem with all this trendy density development---four 40-story highrises at Market and Van Ness!---is that its advocates are so fanatically convinced that they are right. But once the heart of the city is overdeveloped in that area---with the highrises casting shadows on our wonderful Civic Center---it will be impossible to undo the damage.

The reality is that the city and its "progressive" enablers for all these unwise projects don't really know what they are doing and what the consequences for the city will be after radically increasing the population density in this area. It's ironic that it's the most progressive board of supervisors in history that's doing all this damage to the City of San Francisco.


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