Monday, July 22, 2013

John King likes the "brash show" in the avenues

Photo by Liz Hafalia for the Chronicle

Of course John King likes the hideous new apartment building at 300 Cornwall, at California Street and Fourth Avenue. After all he likes a lot of the recent crap built in San Francisco. He even likes the awful Octavia Boulevard. (Love is really a more accurate term for his feelings for that chronic traffic jam in Hayes Valley, given how he gushed about it long before it was opened to traffic in 2005.)

King describes the building using terms like "provocative," "assertive," and "energetic fun," when "ugly" and "garish" would be more accurate.

To justify the eyesore, King must also denigrate its neighborhood context, which is "nondescript," "slightly faded," though that part of town is a not unattractive residential neighborhood. 

"A corner that housed a smog check station is now a local landmark." That's supposedly the choice the city has: either a smog station or this eyesore.

King pretends that the Planning Department really cares what new buildings look like: "And because it plays by the rules of the city's planning code, no design variances were needed."

Since when were "design variances" required for anything built in San Francisco, like these monstrosities?

King trots out the myth of anti-development and resistance to change in SF and the Bay Area, implying that critics of this sort of thing are sticks-in-the-mud:

Too often in San Francisco and other Bay Area cities, change is viewed with suspicion. Critics take self-righteous pride in derailing projects or making them fit the norm. In response, too many architects and developers dumb down their game, grind out product and call it a day.

King and C.W. Nevius like to brandish this mythology when they're defending the indefensible, but I'm still waiting to learn about some actual examples of this, since it supposedly happens "often."

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MTA's bait-and-switch on Polk Street bike project

A reader writes:


In April 2013, the MTA came up with 3 new proposals for Upper/Middle Polk, 3 new proposals for Lower Polk after their fiasco with residents and merchants. Some designs had one, two bike lanes, and sharrows.

In May MTA offered a survey for public input on these designs. None of the designs suggested a raised bike lane. At a June 21, 2013 Policy and Governance Committee meeting, the MTA showed the survey results.

For Upper/Middle Polk St., 49% voted for A) Shared roadway, adding sharrows, no dedicated bicycle lane, and 6% voted for C) One bicycle lane, sharrows in the other direction.

For Lower Polk St., 44% voted for C) Focused safety improvements and adding green mixing zones.

July 17, 2013 MTA came out with a hybrid plan. For Upper Polk, MTA proposes a bicycle lane in one direction, sharrows in the other direction.

For Lower Polk, the MTA proposes a raised cycle track in one direction.

Another bait and switch example from MTA. They didn't like the survey results. Hard to understand why MTA is pushing a plan with only 6% of voter approval.

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