Thursday, March 21, 2019

Van Ness Avenue: Two-mile long disaster

In Tuesday's SF Chronicle on the Van Ness Avenue fiasco:

...The hospital — California Pacific Medical Center — is open now, but with the exception of a medical office building, none of the other developments has been built. Instead, Van Ness seems to be going in the opposite direction, with blocks of empty retail spaces and buildings with plans in limbo.

The AMC 14 movie theater at 1000 Van Ness closed last month; the Circuit City, which until recently served as the hospital’s construction office, is uninhabited, as is the former Concordia-Argonaut Club, which the Academy of Art University owns, across from the hospital. The CVS pharmacy at Sutter and Van Ness is slated to close at the end of March.

The only new development is the 250,000-square foot Pacific Medical Building across the street from the hospital at 1100 Van Ness. Sutter Health is the main tenant, leasing 78 percent of the space in the building, which was developed in conjunction with the hospital.

Neighbors attribute the lack of progress to several factors: planning delays, the tightening of capital markets, soaring construction costs, and the hassles and traffic gridlock stemming from the $316 million bus rapid transit line under construction along Van Ness, which is running 18 months late...

Rob's comment:
The notion that the new hospital on Van Ness Avenue was going to lead to a development boom may turn out to be true---years from now, that is. Why would a retailer open a business on what's turned out to be a chronic, two-mile long disaster area?

The MTA of course calls the ongoing degradation of the city's main North-South street an "improvement project," like the recent projects on Masonic Avenue and Polk Street are "streetscape" projects, not just bike projects tarted up with some landscaping.

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Outside Lands Festival: Neighborhood nuisance

Photo: Mason Trinca

The Board of Supervisors has scheduled a hearing on the issue April 2, 3:00 p.m.

From the Richmond Review/Sunset Beacon:

By Andrew Solow

After spending six months trying to convince the SF Recreation and Parks Dept. to adopt objective standards for noise levels from the Outside Lands Festival, on Jan. 17, the SF Recreation and Park Commission (SFRPC) ignored complaints from more than 200 SF residents and approved a 10-year extension of the Festival Use Permit with no noise limits.

In response, I retained an attorney and an acoustical engineer; and with assistance from physicist Steve Somerstein, we filed an Appeal on Feb 14, 2019.

If adopted by the SF Board of Supervisors (BOS), this permit would make it impossible to make a meaningful objection to noise from Outside Lands, no matter how loud it is.

All three of the acoustical engineers I consulted with told me that if the sound system for the Outside Lands Festival was designed and operated correctly, most of the noise with which the Festival has been blasting 12 square miles of the western portion of San Francisco can be eliminated without a reduction in sound quality.

Approval of an exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act for the Outside Lands Festival, which so clearly has very obvious and very significant impacts on Golden Gate Park and the surrounding community, will weaken CEQA and make it harder for anyone else to use CEQA to get mitigation for any future complaints on other environmental issues including noise, traffic, drunken debauchery in your front yard, etc.

This is your last chance to make a meaningful request for reduced noise levels for the Outside Lands Festival. Tell the Supervisors that before they approve the permit, they should require the adoption of objective noise standards for the Festival, and hire an acoustical engineer to design the sound system and consult on its installation and operation at every festival.

Please email your complaints to: 

Supervisors Sandra Fewer ( and Gordon Mar ( or the entire SF Board of Supervisors (, SF BOS File #: 190117.

Note: The CEQA Cat. Ex. was approved concurrently with the Outside Lands Use Permit Extension at the SFRPC hearing on Jan. 17. But the existence of the CEQA Cat. Ex. was not mentioned at the SFRPC hearing nor was the Cat. Ex. made available publicly, except in a stealth posting on an obscure planning department website. 

We did not find out about the CEQA Cat. Ex. until it was posted on the SF BOS website on about Jan. 29. So we only had two weeks to complete and file our appeal.

Even though we contacted both Supervisors Fewer and Mar before their Budget and Finance Committee hearing on Feb. 13, they didn’t tell us that the Outside Lands item had been calendared. So I guess they weren’t interested in hearing from us.

Andrew Solow has been a San Francisco resident since 1983. He can be contacted at

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