Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Grand Jury: still spineless but not entirely irrelevant

The Grand Jury's report on Parkmerced, unlike its report on the Bicycle Plan last year, isn't completely irrelevant, but it is spineless, since it fails to address the other big problem with the Parkmerced project.

The Grand Jury focuses narrowly on whether the developer's agreement is legally enforceable. If it's not, under the proposed project, those now living in rent-controlled apartments could be betrayed by future litigation, which surely is an important issue.

But the Grand Jury avoids the other important issue: the impact on traffic that adding 5,679 housing units to Parkmerced will have on an already congested part of the city.

As I pointed out last month in a post on the 19th Avenue Corridor Study, that isn't even the worst of it. That study tells us that, when you add all the other known projects in the area to Parkmerced, there will be 7,375 new housing units and 16,850 new residents in the 19th Avenue corridor area over the next 20 years.

I suspect that, like its failure to examine the Bicycle Plan's effect on city traffic, the Grand Jury didn't want to challenge the city's planning and development policies reflected in the Parkmerced proposal. The two issues are necessarily related. If Parkmerced and other large development projects---Treasure Island, the Market and Octavia Plan, etc.---are going to have a negative effect on city traffic, the Bicycle Plan and the city's other fashionable anti-car policies are unwise, to put it mildly.

Back in February Ken Garcia in the Examiner wrote about the traffic problems that will be created by the Parkmerced project:

So the only surprise in the whole drama over the future of Parkmerced isn’t whether the current configuration is worth saving. It’s that the people fighting the development aren’t raising the right questions about The City’s ability to absorb the expansion. “We are all for overhauling ugly Parkmerced,” Realtor Sandy Onken said in a note to me when the project first came to light. “The problem is adding 5,700 new units. Think how much traffic and congestion that will cause along 19th Avenue and Brotherhood Way. All those people will want to have cars and visitors who drive to meet them. Those streets are already packed.”

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