Friday, July 25, 2008

Calvin Welch on the Whole Foods proposal

murder079_mk.JPG San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi talks to the media about yet another murder in his district as San Francisco Police Officers investigate a shooting that killed Antoine "Slim" Green on McAllister Street near Webster Street in San Francisco, CA on Friday June 2, 2006. Mike Kepka / The Chronicle Photo: Mike Kepka, San Francisco Chronicle
A commenter to my earlier post on the Whole Foods project wondered why anyone is opposing the project, since obviously the Haight needs a supermarket ("What the hell is wrong with Mirkarimi on this one? Why would anyone oppose this?") We found an answer of sorts on the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council's website. Note too the description below in italics of the project that was on the Planning Commission's Feb. 28 agenda.

I haven't seen a public statement by Supervisor Mirkarimi on the proposal, but he probably doesn't want any publicity if/when he takes a stand against it, since it will look like he's supporting the crassest kind of nimbyism by HANC to stop a much-needed market with a good track record from locating in the Haight.

[In today's Chronicle: Mirkarimi supports the Whole Foods project

Calvin Welch's objections to the "horrid design" are puzzling, since the Lucky Market at Masonic and Fulton has the same design, with condos on top, the market on the ground floor, and parking for both condo residents and shoppers underneath the market. It looks a little clunky, but otherwise what's the problem? The community gets both a market and housing, with off-street parking for the project underneath.

Welch fudges the argument when he describes the project as a "massive seven floor[project] (including the three floors of underground parking," implying that the project is seven stories high, though of course there are three stories of parking underground, and the project is only four stories high above ground. 

It's not clear what, if anything, is holding the project up, since it's one that people in the Haight should welcome, regardless of the crude hit-piece mailer on Welch that someone---apparently the property owner---sent out this week (see the Bay Guardian's blog for a discussion of the hit-piece: "Desperate developer lashes out"). 

Update on Cala Site 

By Calvin Welch, HANC Board
April 30, 2008

It has been about two months since the public hearing on the Environmental Impact Report on the proposed condo and Whole Foods development proposal at 690 Stanyan, the site of the old CALA store at Stanyan and Haight Streets. The massive seven floor (including the three floors of underground parking for 176 cars), 205,000 s/f development will be nine times the total size of the previous CALA with nearly four times the off-street parking space of the existing use.

The overwhelming size of the proposed development, its covering of nearly the entire surface site of two lots, its continuation of the Frankenstein design used by the owner at his Haight and Cole Streets property, and the estimated 2,000 car trips a day it will generate, was the subject of a full EIR and also the subject of HANC’s and neighbors testimony about the failure of the EIR to adequately and completely discuss the projects impacts, especially its horrid design and its traffic and parking impacts on public transit, Golden Gate Park and the immediate neighbors, seven of whom provided testimony, along with HANC, opposing these impacts and asking the developer (and the Planning Commission) to change the design and reduce the size of the project.

The approval process for the project requires the approval of a “final” EIR, then the approval of the project and then the approval of a demolition permit for the existing CALA building. For the “draft” EIR that was heard on February 28th to be made “final” all of the comments submitted at the hearing and/or in writing must be answered by the project sponsor.

According to the Planning Department, they have yet to receive these “responses” to the public “comments”. They cannot process the EIR until the developer “responses” have been received. In addition, Ms. Jones of the Planning Department has said that “additional analysis necessary to respond to some of the comments” has also been requested by the department and the developer’s consultants have yet to provide this analysis. The progress on the EIR is thus somewhat stalled, with no time certain as to when the developer will provide the required information.

The question of the project’s design also seems to be in flux with two Planning Commissioners and a senior Planner telling the Voice that the design has been the subject of continued discussion between the department and the developer and that changes can be expected.

From the Planning Commission's Feb. 28, 2008 agenda:
2006.0460E (S. JONES: (415) 575-9034)
690 STANYAN STREET - Public Hearing on Draft Environmental Impact Report. The 34,400 square foot (sq.ft.) project site is located in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury neighborhood on the northeast corner of the intersection of Stanyan and Haight Streets (Assessor's Block 1228, Lots 005 and 006). The project site is within the Haight Street Neighborhood Commercial District (Haight NCD) and the 40-X and 50-X height and bulk districts, which divide the site on the east and west, respectively. The proposed project would remove the existing development (a vacant Cala Foods store and surface parking) and construct a four-story retail/residential building with a ground-floor specialty supermarket (Whole Foods), 62 residential units on the upper three floors, and a three-level, 176-space subterranean garage with 114 parking spaces for supermarket use, 62 parking spaces for residential use, and 47 bicycle parking spaces. The residential unit mix is proposed to include 26 studio units, 20 one-bedroom units, 15 two-bedroom units, and one three-bedroom unit. The new building would contain approximately 115,400 sq.ft., of which 34,400 sq.ft. would be commercial and 81,000 sq.ft. would be residential. The three-level subterranean parking garage would occupy an additional 90,000 sq.ft., for a total building area of 205,400 sq.ft. The Draft EIR was released January 19, 2008.

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Young Democrats: questionnaire for Rob Anderson, candidate for District 5 Supervisor


1. Why are you running and what makes you qualified for this position?

This will be my third campaign for District 5 Supervisor. My first campaign in 2000 highlighted the city’s failure to deal with homelessness. I tried---and failed---to get city progressives---including, Matt Gonzalez, the eventual winner---interested in a new initiative to deal with homelessness. Interesting to note that in the campaign for Mayor of San Francisco three years later, Supervisor Newsom used the homeless issue to get elected, while Gonzales had no substantive response to Care Not Cash. I’m running against Supervisor Mirkarimi because I think he’s been a terrible supervisor and represents everything that’s wrong with San Francisco progressivism.

2. What are the main challenges facing the San Francisco Young Democrats as an organization in the context of this position?
Young Democrats face the same challenges as other Democrats in SF. The main disadvantage young people face is a lack of experience and information. You’re coming to the party late. The only advantage we older Democrats have is having been in the fray longer.

How will you address those issues if elected?
You can get a good idea of how I address city issues from my blog, District 5 Diary:

If you are the incumbent, please list at least three concrete accomplishments in the office.

3. Identify two challenges facing young San Franciscans politically in the context of the position you seek?

As young people, you are playing catch-up. You have to study the issues, read everything you can get your hands on, and go to meetings on the issues that interest you the most (you can’t be effectively involved in every issue!).

What specific commitment will you make to address these issues if elected?

Address which issues? You’re the ones who have to be specific. I think Mayor Newsom has done a good job on homelessness and graffiti/tagging. But, like SF progressives, he’s been terrible on development and housing, with, in a city desperate for affordable housing, the luxury highrise condos on Rincon Hill, the Market/Octavia Plan, UC’s hijacking of the old extension property on lower Haight Street, and, with city progs, pushing the 527-page Bicycle Plan through the process without the environmental study the law clearly requires.

4. If elected, what ideas and commitments would you put forward to engage more of San Francisco’s young people in the political process?
You have to take responsibility for your own commitments. As I say, you have to engage on the issues by doing a lot of reading---starting with the city’s dailies and weeklies and the blogs---and going to meetings on the issues that interest you.

What specifically would you do?

See above.

5. Please describe in sufficient detail at least one of your accomplishments that has improved the lives of young people. These examples should illustrate effective skills and capabilities you think apply to the office you are seeking. These accomplishments may have happened at any time in your personal, professional, or public life.
I’m not particularly interested in “improving the lives of young people.” You have to improve your own lives. If an idea or program isn’t good for everyone---for the whole city---it’s not a good idea/program. Nor do I think it’s a good idea to Balkanize the Democratic Party or the city into different groups based on age, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. (See my responses on this in the questionnaire from the Chinese American Citizens Alliance at:

Candidates get the same question from every group. What have you done for us? Is Anderson good for the Jews, blacks, gays, etc? We’re all in this together, and I would never support anything that isn’t good for the whole city.

6. Experience: Also, please list or describe your current and past activities in the community in which you have acquired skills that relate to the office you seek. Include your role in the activity and when you were involved. Involvement consists of many areas such as family, neighborhood, community, employment, or public life. Please explain how your experience would make you an effective advocate for young people as an SFYD office holder.

The most important skills I bring to the party and the city are my reading, writing, and thinking skills. The greatest failure of many in SF politics is an intellectual failure. The biggest problem city progressives have is their inability to think outside their ideological box, which is the most important thing young Democrats need to understand: Ideology is more of a hindrance than a help in understanding local issues. Too many progressives---including many Democrats---seem to think they have a special moral/intellectual advantage just because they are progressives. They don’t. Determining the truth about city issues has nothing to do with ideology.

My family life---my private life in general---is no one’s business. That is, my religion or lack thereof, my drug use, or my sexual orientation is no one’s business but my own.