Thursday, February 21, 2008

Market/Octavia Plan: A letter to the editor

SF City Planning
Feb. 21‚ 2008

To the Editor (BeyondChron):

Randy Shaw is quite right to point out that the city's Planning Department is pro-development. The Market/Octavia Plan, which originated in the Planning Department, is a good example, as it proposes rezoning thousands of properties in the heart of San Francisco to make housing projects even more profitable for developers.

* The Plan eliminates setbacks, height and density limits on many of those properties, while discouraging developers from providing adequate parking for 6000 new housing units in an already densely-populated area.

* The traffic studies in the M/O EIR are inadequate to non-existent, as Planning claims that the 10,000 new residents encouraged by the Plan will have little impact on an already crowded Muni or traffic in an area now struggling with 45,000 cars a day on the new, unimproved Octavia Blvd.

* The Plan encourages a number of 40-story highrises in the Market/Van Ness area that will literally cast shadows on our Civic Center.

* The EIR on the M/O Plan is a shambles, with Planning continuing to add to it long after the public comment period ended, which means that the public hasn't had an opportunity to comment on the whole Plan.

* Even though Planning has been working on the M/O Plan since 2002, it put it before the Planning Commission without the landmark study required by CEQA in an area with many Victorian buildings.

The deal brokered by Supervisor Mirkarimi ratifying UC's land-grab of the old extension property embodies the same aggressively pro-development principles as the M/O Plan---change height and density regulations, discourage adequate parking, and ignore the traffic impacts from 450 new housing units and 1000 more residents in that part of town. Mirkarimi merely covered the whole misguided deal with the politically correct LBGT figleaf---80 units will be set aside for gay seniors, which in itself is probably illegal---and leveraged more "affordable" housing units in the deal and declared victory.

Mirkarimi's deal ratifies UC's lie about why it abandoned its extension classes for working people at that location, claiming that it could no longer afford to maintain the site as a school, even though it's now paying more than $2 million a year to house the same programs in downtown San Francisco. Mirkarimi's deal allows UC to cash in on property it has had tax-free from the city for 50 years because of its public education "mission," thus turning property zoned for 150 years for "public use" into a cash cow for poor little UC, a system that has an $8 billion endowment.

In fact there has been very little dissent on the Market/Octavia Plan on the Board of Supervisors, even though it will have a huge negative impact on the heart of our city.

Rob Anderson
San Francisco

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