Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The downside of population density

For years the Planning Dept. has been proceeding as if population density in city neighborhoods is of little concern, the assumption being that we can encourage as many people as possible in the city, including residental highrises, as long as developments are near a "transit corridor." A front page story in yesterday's Examiner, based on information from the Department of Public Health, reminds us why cities have limits on population density in the first place: "Traffic drives SoMa noise level: Growing neighborhood loudest in The City, spurring complaints."

Hard to see how things are going to get any quieter South of Market, since that part of town is part of the Planning Dept.'s Eastern Neighborhoods Project, with the SoMa part of the plan called "East SoMa."

If you haven't heard much about this plan, you aren't alone, since there's been very little about it in the local media, including our so-called alternative media. A BeyondChron reader complains about it in a letter to the editor today:

Dear Editor,
I have a simple question. Why has Beyond Chron lagged in their coverage of the Eastern Neighborhoods rezoning process? This process will have a major impact on the city. Your website states that "we provide coverage of political and cultural issues often distorted or ignored by the Bay Area's largest newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle." Well, the Chronicle has failed in their coverage, thus I ask that Beyond Chron provide objective coverage of this political and cultural issue. I ask that you provide coverage by doing more than just reprinting something from SPUR. At the very least you should be informing your readers on a weekly basis on what is happening with the eastern neighborhoods rezoning process.

Thank You
Jaime Trejo

Like the rest of the city's media, BeyondChron has been derelict in covering city development issues, including the egregious Market and Octavia Neighborhood Plan, which will encourage 10,000 new residents in that already densely-populated part of town, including 40-story highrises at Market and Van Ness. Why have the local media---especially the "progressive" media---not adequately covered these hugely important city plans? Because they are both products of a city government dominated by progressives, both on the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors, and progressive is as progressive does. While city progressives slumber, there is no one minding the store on planning issues. Chris Daly and Aaron Peskin whisked the Rincon Hill highrises through the planning process with barely a peep out of the Bay Guardian, BeyondChron, or the SF Weekly. (The SF Examiner and the SF Chronicle are mainstream, establishment institutions, and progressives shouldn't rely on them for in-depth coverage of development issues. The Chronicle, however, has done more good work on homelessness than all of the alternative media combined).

Nor has there been any protest from progressives about the Market/Octavia Plan or UC's hijacking of the six acres of property zoned for "public use" on lower Haight Street. The city's progressive leadership---including Supervisor Mirkarimi---is completely on board for these awful projects that will completely remake San Francisco for the worse. And these are developments, by the way, of primarily market-rate housing and very little affordable housing.

Reading the Guardian, the leading progressive publication in SF, you would think that the most important issue---except of course for public power---facing the city is the Bicycle Plan!

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