Thursday, July 16, 2015

"How does it feel to have been right about 55 Laguna?"

Email message from Michael Baehr:

How does it feel to have been right about 55 Laguna?

My fellow gays are up in arms about this SHOCKING NEWS. We've been had, in the same way that the elderly Chinese who get bused in to public hearings to rubber-stamp someone's project have been had.

Of course, you were right from the start that the so-called LGBT Housing was just a fig-leaf to get this project rammed through. You were also right about how ugly it is for UC to have been able to hold the property tax-free for 100 years (20 years of them with it blighted and abandoned) only to flip at the top of the market. I've been trying to point that fact out to my suddenly angry friends. The rot in this project goes a lot deeper than false promises to queers.

We'll continue to disagree about traffic impacts, of course.

Rob's comment:
Like everyone I like to be right, but it doesn't make me "feel good" on this issue. I wish I had been wrong about this project, which has been nothing but a disheartening, slow-motion fiasco for the city and everyone involved.

Yes, the gay community has "been had" if it thought that the promise of 80-100 housing units for gay seniors was an enforceable commitment as part of this project. 

Surely those who plotted with UC to put this PC fig leaf on UC's land grab---Tom Ammiano, Mark Leno, Bevan Dufty---understood that fair housing laws prohibited that kind discrimination in housing. 

But don't despair, Michael; those administering this project will probably figure out a way to circumvent the law to discriminate against heteros in favor of your "fellow gays."

A lot of contemptible behavior led to this project by our elected representatives and an indifferent, ill-informed media, including the city's two "alternative" weeklies, the Bay Guardian and the SF Weekly.

Yes, UC had that property tax-free from the city because of its public education "mission," but for 50 years, not 200 years. UC's land-grab wouldn't have been possible if City Hall and "progressives" had refused to give it a zoning change, since the property had been zoned for "public use" for 150 years. Instead, City Hall validated UC's lie about why it stopped providing university courses for working people

But allowing UC to hijack the property for a housing development was also an opportunity to validate the Planning Department's half-baked "transit corridors" development theory---that the city can allow an almost unlimited amount of housing near any major Muni line. The UC plan to shoehorn 450 housing units on 5.8 acres fit the ideological bill, along with the Market/Octavia Plan that surrounds the UC project, which allows---nay, encourages---30-40-story residential highrises in the Market and Van Ness area. Not surprisingly, developers like this theory a lot. 

And of course parking for all those new housing units is deliberately limited, because those new residents will supposedly ride an already crowded Muni, or, even less likely, bikes.

City Hall likes the "transit-oriented development" theory, since it's a good deal for them. Development means more "revenue" to feed a growing city bureaucracy, including the MTA bureaucracy, which Modern Luxury/San Francisco Magazine explained to us the other day is just the way the world and the city has to work. 

One of the originators of the theory was so alarmed about how City Hall was applying it to city neighborhoods he wrote an op-ed in the Chronicle in opposition.

And "traffic impacts"? Of course 1,000 new residents in that part of town will have an impact on traffic, since the project is one block off the chronically gridlocked Octavia Boulevard, which every day carries more than 60,000 cars and trucks through the middle of the Hayes Valley neigborhood.

For some background on the UC issue, see a 2005 interview with Eliza Hemenway.

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At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the Market/Octavia Plan that surrounds the UC project, which allows---nay, encourages---30-40-story residential highrises in the Market and Van Ness area.

Our west SOMA neighborhood is a block away from Mission and South Van Ness, and boy we have been had in a big way. When we went to address the MO plan years ago when we had comments regarding putting a 320 foot residential tower cross the street from 45 foot residential enclave were we told, dont worry when the projects are brought forward we will address impacts. So now that the Goodwill site is moving forward we find out that they have increased the height to over 400 feet! Parking is minimal to nothing so cars will be circling endlessly in our neighborhood looking for non-existent street parking. That brings air pollution and noise. There are major wind and shadow impacts to our area but because there are no public parks we are gonna have to suck it up. Just walk past the old AAA building or Fox Plaza and try not to get knocked off your feet. Yet the city has completely ignored our concerns, as did Chris Daly at the time of the MO plan, and now Jane Kim.

At 2:33 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, I'm a mere liberal, not a "progressive"---they think they're morally superior to liberals---but it's been shocking the last ten years watching how these folks are working with developers to screw up this city. Hard to think of single thing Chris Daly did that was good for the city. He bought into the highrise bullshit and supported the luxury condos on Rincon Hill. The developers just pay into the Mayor's housing fund instead of providing any on-site affordable housing for these projects. Kim is a light-weight, which is putting it kindly. These people may come into office with good intentions, but they are quickly co-opted by the city's permanent government in the Planning Department and the MTA, and then it's just business as usual.


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