A History of San Francisco’s Waterfront Battles

Interesting history to share with your members/ newsletters—when Russian Hill residents fought the Fontana Towers (stopped five other towers) and fought for the waterfront 40-foot height limit.  Below are the 8-lane tunnels under Russian Hill that were never built.  Note the Art Institute’s tower in the picture.
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Below:  Proposed seven towers at Aquatic Park. The twin Fontana Towers were built. clip_image020

The Fontana Towers and Waterfront Battle.  Residents of Russian Hill and Casper Weinberger (a Republican conservationist) stopped towers along the waterfront.  A coalition fought for the waterfront 40-foot height limits.  Later, height limits were initiated on Russian Hill.
The Freeway Battles  For decades, Telegraph Hill Dwellers, San Francisco Tomorrow and many others fought the freeways.
Over time, by tapering heights downward towards the waterfront, public vistas and San Francisco’s beauty will be preserved for everyone.
– Regards, Howard Wong, AIA

The Canary is Dead: With the Central Subway Project, the Only Way Out is Through

By Joe Eskenazi : sfweekly – excerpt

News that the Transbay Terminal is something like $300 million over budget should not come as a shock to anyone. We always knew the initial estimate was way under the real cost. Just like we never had a real cost for the Central Subway or the Bay Bridge or any other massive construction project. So get off it. In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment. If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved. The idea is to get going. Start digging a hole and make it so big, there’s no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in.
Willie Brown, San Francisco Chronicle, July 28

Losing by less is the new winning. Keeping your job is the new raise. And being honest about your dishonesty is the new truthfulness. We laugh so as not to cry.

There’s plenty in the Chronicle these days to make you laugh or cry. But nothing induces the urge to house-train a puppy quite like the ongoing platform provided to former Mayor Brown, who ridicules the public for believing him while he admits lowballing projects covered with his fingerprints — by billions…

At times, it’s difficult to remember that voters approved the Central Subway. That’s because the project, a 1.7-mile extension of the T-line running from SoMa to Chinatown, as described in Proposition K of 2003, hardly resembles its current iteration. A $647 million budget has swelled to some $1.6 billion. An estimated daily ridership exceeding 100,000 is now pegged at 35,100.

But if misery loves company, we’ve got both. A recent U.S. Department of Transportation study of 10 major rail projects revealed an average cost-per-passenger 500 percent higher than the initial figures used to sell the idea. “It is certainly possible,” the study concludes, “that decision-makers acting on more accurate forecasts of costs and future ridership … would have selected projects other than those reviewed here.”…

Save Muni August 19 agenda

TEP INFORMATION
2011.0508E Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP) Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR)
Given the citywide nature of the TEP project, the Planning Department is extending the public comment period to 5:00 pm on Tuesday, September 17, 2013.
Written comments on the DEIR should be submitted to the Planning Department at the following address:
By Mail:  Sarah B. Jones, Environmental Review Officer, Planning Department, 1650 Mission Street, Suite 400, SF, CA, 94103
By Email:  sarah.b.jones@sfgov.org or debra.dwyer@sfgov.org
The DEIR document is available on-line at http://tepeir.sfplanning.org .
FOR INFO:  Heidi Kline, LEED AP, Environmental Planner, Planning Department, 1650 Mission Street, 4th Floor, SF, CA 94103
(415)-575-9043,  heidi.kline@sfgov.org

SOME SAVEMUNI.COM POINTS
Simplicity is a good strategy for public transit.  Even developing countries can move millions of daily riders with limited resources.  Forty years ago in Curitiba (Brazil), Mayor Jaime Lerner (an architect and urban planner) integrated public transportation into a comprehensive urban plan.  Curitiba’s transit-priority streets and bus rapid transit were consistently implemented in stages, avoiding large-scale and expensive projects in favor of modest initiatives.  Meanwhile, Muni has fewer riders now than it did a decade ago—the only major transit agency to lose customers among the nation’s top six transit districts.  Rather than reinventing the wheel, let’s adopt best transit practices.
1.    Bad City priorities are wasting millions of dollars that are needed to improve Muni service.
2.    Implement transit-priority streets throughout the city in every neighborhood.
3.    We can reverse Muni’s poor on-time performance, shorter hours, breakdowns, accidents, missed runs, switchbacks and declining ridership.  Let’s move scarce Muni funding into smarter transit investments.
4.    By extracting the tunnel boring machines in Chinatown, we can save $9 to $13 million.
5.    By not digging the empty tunnels from Chinatown to North Beach, we can save $80 million.
6.    Also, as revealed in recent reports and independent analysis, we need to prevent Central Subway cost overruns of $400 million or more—because Muni needs the money more.
7.    Better yet, like the Embarcadero Freeway, stop the Central Subway and save hundreds of millions of dollars.

Regards, Howard Wong, AIA
http://nonorthbeachdig.org/
www.SaveMuni.com
https://savesfmuni.wordpress.com/author/zrants/

Pagoda Palace: Restaurant Owner Discovers Brick Fragments on Roof, Gets Angry

By Joe Eskenazi : sfweekly – excerpt

Yesterday we noted that the Piazza Pelligrini restaurant received a pair of unwelcome guests: Bricks, which fell from the Pagoda Palace demolition site next door.

Restaurateur Dario Hadjian was less than thrilled with the notion of construction debris coming to a rest next to his outdoor cafe tables (the bricks purportedly tumbled within the construction zone, then rolled beneath a fence). So, this morning, when he found more bricks, he was even less than less-than-thrilled.

And he called the cops… (more)

ASBESTOS AND LEAD:  SAFETY PRECAUTIONS IGNORED Despite many requests, SFMTA has not identified hazardous materials to neighbors nor divulged abatement procedures.  If any haz-mat removal has occurred, such work was done without any containment or protective barriers—throwing particulates into the air.  Nearby residences and restaurants with outdoor dining have been ignored.

The “Phase I Environmental Site Assessment” (by “Ceres Associates”, May 30, 2001) and “Asbestos and Lead Survey” (by “EnviroNova”, June 19, 2009) identify lead (paint, tiles, soldered plumbing connections….), asbestos (roofing, mastic, flashing, plaster, putty, tiles….) and mercury (thermostats).

RISKY GEOTECHNICAL CONDITIONS
The Pagoda site has saturated sandy soils, a high water table and underground streams.  Structural loads onto cavity-prone soils have high potential for soil subsidence and damage to adjacent buildings.  Independent Geotechnical Evaluations: “Karp Report 1, 2 and 3”.  http://www.nonorthbeachdig.org/PagodaSiteProblems.html  

SFMTA ACKNOWLEDGES THAT PROJECT IS NOT NECESSARY
The demolition is being rushed for political reasons.  Internal SFMTA documents show that demolition is not necessary:  In SFMTA’s Risk Management Report No. 46, Risk Item 208 notes:  “March 2013:  2. If resolution of costs associated with the Pagoda option is not achieved, the TBMs will be buried to maintain budget requirements.” http://nonorthbeachdig.org/docs/sfmta/RiskManagement/2.%20Mitigation%20Report%20(Active%20Status%20Sheets)%20-%20May%202013.pdf

TBMs (Tunnel Boring Machines) can be buried under Stockton Street or extracted in Chinatown, eliminating the empty 2,000 foot tunnels from Chinatown to Washington Square and the Pagoda Project.  Cost savings of up to $80 million can be used to quickly improve Muni throughout northern and western San Francisco.

RUSHED DEMOLTION  =  BAD CONSEQUENCES The Pagoda Theater’s rushed demolition is unwise and illegal.  At minimum, surrounding business/ property owners should be allowed to review engineering and demolition procedures.  Thus far, neighboring businesses and property owners have been left in the dark.

RELATED:
Some Say Signs of Trouble Apparent Days Before Building Collapse

DEMOLITION WITHOUT PERMITS, POSTING AND NOTIFICATIONS

Please forward this to appropriate parties.

PAGODA THEATER, Central Subway Project:
DEMOLITION WITHOUT PERMITS, POSTING AND NOTIFICATIONS
Property Address:  1731 Powell Street, Block/ Lot:  0101/ 004
Demolition Permit No.:  201302190452, Filed 02/19/2013

Compared to Chinatown’s open permit process, the Pagoda’s attempted demolition without permits is symptomatic of the project’s flaw – namely, SFMTA acknowledges the project is not even necessary

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NO PERMITS:  The Demolition contractor, MH Construction, has been jack-hammering, digging with backhoes, using electric saws and attempting to hide work behind opaque screens.  Each day, when asked for permits by neighbors, MH Construction makes different excuses.

NO POSTING:  There is no large poster on the building for a mandated time period, showing the granting of a demolition permit, permit application data, contact phone numbers and timelines for questions and appeals.

NO PUBLIC NOTIFICATION:  No mailing to properties within 300 feet of the site has occurred, showing the granting of a demolition permit, permit application data, contact phone numbers and timelines for questions and appeals.

NO REVIEW OF ENGINEERING PLANS:  Because of an independent geotechnical engineer’s warnings of unstable saturated soils, neighbors have been asking to review the Pagoda’s Engineering Plans.  But neighbors have had no such opportunity.  Moreover, there has been no follow-up to Neighborhood Meetings—at which a majority of neighbors asked that TBMs (Tunnel Boring Machines) be buried or extracted in Chinatown.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:
PAGODA THEATER, 1731 Powell St.,. Demolition Permit No.:201302190452,

If you witness illegal work without permits:
DBI Illegal Activities:  File a Complaint at (415)-558-6570.
DBI Permit Violations:  File a Complaint at (415)-558-5570.

Police Non-emergency Complaint:  SFPD doesn’t have jurisdiction but report any serious infractions.  Ask police to talk to contractors about obeying the law at (415)-553-0123Feel free to call your own contacts at DBI, Planning, City Attorneys, Board…..

 SFMTA ACKNOWLEDGES THAT PROJECT IS NOT NECESSARY:  The demolition is being rushed for political reasons.  Internal SFMTA documents show that demolition is not necessary for the Central Subway:  In SFMTA’s Risk Management Report No. 46, Risk Item 208 notes:  “March 2013:  2. If resolution of costs associated with the Pagoda option is not achieved, the TBMs will be buried to maintain budget requirements.” 

So, TBMs can be buried under Columbus Avenue, Stockton Street or Chinatown, eliminating the empty 2,000 foot tunnels from Chinatown to Washington Square and the Pagoda Project;  and saving up to $80 million – better used to quickly improve Muni throughout northern and western San Francisco.

BAD MUNI PRIORITIES:  For many years, SFMTA has continued Muni service cuts, route eliminations, shortened bus lines, deferred maintenance, switchbacks, increasing fares/ fees/ fines/ meters….  Muni has fewer riders now than it did a decade ago—the only major transit agency to lose customers among the nation’s top six transit districts.   Only 17 percent of all trips within the city are made by public transit; 21 percent are by biking-walking and 62 percent are by motorized vehicles.  Politicized management, not insufficient funding, is Muni’s roadblock for world-class public transit.   The agency has wasted funds on transit-poor projects, like the 1.7 mile Central Subway, while taking money from Muni. 

Regards,
Howard Wong, AIA, SaveMuni.com
http://nonorthbeachdig.org/