Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Whole Foods market at Haight & Stanyan

Whole Foods wants to build a much-needed grocery store on the Haight/Stanyan corner, which has been derelict and vacant, except for a parking lot, for two years now. Check out their website. The project includes 62 condos upstairs, with parking for residents and customers underneath. It sounds similar to the development at the corner of Masonic and Fulton. Seems like a good idea to me.

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The Bicycle Coalition's dog and pony show

Hi Rob,
I was wondering if you had any sort of statement regarding today's hearing. Have you been satisfied with the city's work on the EIR to date? Do you plan to appeal the final EIR? What do you think the injunction has accomplished up to this point?

Jack Musto

The Bicycle Coalition is again whipping up hysteria about the EIR process on the Bicycle Plan. Based on today's rather sketchy presentation by Rahaim and Rohan---sounds like a vaudeville act---apparently the transportation report of the EIR is taking longer than the city expected.

But that's the core issue here: the city's transportation system, which means our streets. The 527-page Bicycle Plan has very specific proposals on how it wants to change many of our streets and, in effect, our transportation system. A big, ambitious project like this really requires a big, thorough EIR, one that can't be challenged by that wicked Rob Anderson in court. Hence, the EIR better have a convincing case to justify the changes they want to make, especially where they want to take away traffic lanes and street parking.

Don't forget that the Bicycle Coalition and its many enablers in city government didn't want to do an EIR in the first place, arguing that one isn't necessary because bikes don't burn fossil fuel, unlike cars, aka death monsters (Steve Jones). If the city had done the damn EIR three years ago---the litigation was filed three years ago this month---as the law clearly requires, presumably we would have a bicycle plan being implemented right now.

Supervisor Sandavol can demagogue this issue all he wants---he's running desperately for that judge job---but the fact is it's the city and the Board of Supervisors that are responsible for the delay. If they had followed the law three years ago, the city would be implementing a bicycle plan now, and the bike nuts would have nothing to worry about, except of course motor vehicles and their own cognitive limitations.

The EIR is obligated to try to calculate the impact on city traffic when they take away a traffic lane and/or street parking on a particular street. Which is where the LOS issue comes in that Thornley and Mirkarimi talked about. The Level of Service standard requires that the city do a traffic study to calculate the impact on traffic.

Of course the bike people hate LOS, because taking away a traffic lane to make bike lanes, not surprisingly, can make traffic worse. Bikes don't burn fossil fuel, so why should they have to justify themselves? But if what they want to do---that is, the Bicycle Plan---is going to make traffic worse, the LOS standard stands in the way. They talk about replacing and "reforming" LOS---they would like to dump it---but my understanding is that they have to have something plausible to replace it, which they don't really have.

Today's hearing was nothing but a political ploy by the SFBC and has no legal significance. I saw many of the same people today that I've seen at so many other meetings. Shahum and Thornley always get the troops out.

There was some talk today about the bike people intervening in the case as a third party to fight the injunction, but that seems unlikely to be successful. The judge has already made a decision on this case and the city lost. They have to do the EIR, and of course they can't do it fast enough for the SFBC, which didn't think it needed to be done in the first place. We of course will resist allowing a third party to intervene at this stage of the litigation.

We will take a very close look at the EIR. If we think it's deficient, we will call its shortcomings to Judge Busch's attention. He's the one the city must satisfy; he'll make the ultimate call on the adequacy of the EIR and lifting the injunction.

My impression is that the city is working hard on the EIR, and that the people that are now complaining about delay are the same people who didn't think the city needed to do any environmental study at all.

Rob Anderson

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