Proposed Condos At Pagoda Theater Site Could Stymie Central Subway Extension Plan

BY CALEB PERSHAN : sfist – excerpt

With the goal of expanding the Central Subway project from Chinatown to Fisherman’s Wharf, an oft-cited item on the SFMTA’s future project “wish list,” Supervisor Julie Christensen is pushing the City of San Francisco to purchase land at the intersection of Columbus and Powell in her district. The former home of the now-razed Pagoda Theater, the site was used as an exit point for the Subway project’s tunnel boring machines, but as Hoodline first reported, plans are in motion to break ground on the site for luxury condos as soon as November. Now things are heating up, the Examiner reports, with Christensen redoubling her efforts to claim the property for the City, a move she cites as important to the subway’s expansion. She’s now asked city government’s Real Estate Division to re-assess the property.

“We are lighting bonfires under their fannies,” Christensen said. “I’ve finally gotten a lot of people to share my sense of urgency.” Christensen is joined by vocal “let’s always be building a Subway” advocate Supervisor Scott Wiener, who writes to Facebook “I’m proud to join my colleague Supervisor Julie Christensen to co-sponsor her initiation of the process to purchase a critical site in North Beach to preserve it for a future North Beach subway station for the extension of the Central Subway…We can’t afford to lose this site to condo development.”… (more)

Supervisor takes steps to purchase key site for Central Subway expansion


Development interests have been working for 3 years to push the Central Subway northward. The $173,000 study below, completed in October, prompts ideas for better transit projects.

SPEAKERS: A few speakers at the below MTA Board Hearing would be good. Some points:

· With $173,000 spent for the Phase 3 Study, a $100,000 Study should evaluate quicker and inexpensive transit improvements—like free shuttle bus loops.

· Free shuttle loops are the hottest transit trend in the United States, with big new ridership increases—like in Baltimore, Dallas, Raleigh, Denver, Minneapolis, Bethesda, Aspen, Long Beach, Oakland, Emeryville, Walnut Creek, Palo Alto, South San Francisco…..

· The Central Subway takes large sums of money from the rest of Muni—with small new ridership and service cuts in other neighborhoods.

· Instead of service cuts, we need to prioritize dollars to modernize the entire Muni system. For example, the 15 existing Muni lines in northeast San Francisco can be improved.

· Instead of 20% transit modal shares, Muni should strive for the 60% transit modal shares of Zurich and other cities, which have implemented transit preferential streets and bus rapid networks.

· Bus rapid networks are more democratic, without a subway’s impacts on land values and gentrification.

SFMTA BOARD AGENDA: Tuesday, December 2, 1pm (Item 15, after 2pm) The Phase 3 Study is Item 15—the fifth item on the Regular Calendar.
The Board Hearing is worth watching on TV (Channels 26 or 78) or attending. Items include purchase of new low-floor buses, SFMTA Annual Report, All-Door Boarding and SFMTA Audit.

PRESENTATION: T-Line, Phase 3 Concept Study, December 2, 2014

STUDY: T-Third, Phase 3 Concept Study, October 2014

TRANSPORT POLITIC: “Cities Develop Alternative Bus Networks to Combat Perceived Disadvantages of Mainline Routes.” [See list of cities with circulator routes].

“Baltimore’s new transit network, which supplements the city’s metro rail, light rail, commuter rail, and bus routes, is the most recent example of a trend that has taken American cities by storm: The creation of auxiliary routes for the inner-city that are designed for frequent, high-quality service with the goal of attracting onto buses people who aren’t used to public transportation.”

– Howard Wong, AIA

SaveMuni = FRISC

Fast, Frequent, Reliable, Inexpensive, Safe, Clean and “Cool”.  SaveMuni is dedicated to improving the entire Muni transit system in every neighborhood of San Francisco – quickly and inexpensively – emphasizing best transportation practices in the world, transit-preferential streets, bus rapid networks and high benefit-to-cost infrastructure projects.

Sleepless nights in North Beach above the tunnel

cbslocal – excerpt

Folks who live in North Beach are tired of all the noise. They say they cant sleep with all the heavy construction from the central subway project. Construction workers are going 24/7 at the pagoda site to remove the large tunnel boring machines. Tommorow at noon people who live near the site at powell and columbus will meet in the area to protest the work they are calling “expensive and unnecessary”… (more)


SAVE NORTH BEACH VILLAGE: movie night for the neighborhood

Film Night: Woman on the Run (1950). Join us at The Emerald Tablet, 80 Fresno St (behind The Saloon), Thursday, February 27 at 7. Doors open at 6:30, program 7:00 to 9:00. $5 suggested donation, complimentary snacks, drinks by donation. More information and map.
There will be a brief update on the legal action to protect North Beach historic buildings and parks. Following will be a screening of Woman on the Run, a fine film noir shot in North Beach (77 minutes runtime). Follow Ann Sheridan as she searches for her husband throughout 1950’s San Francisco and North Beach, aided by reporter Dennis O’Keefe. Snappy and witty dialog, and scenes of the neighborhood as it was more than 60 years ago.
Legal action update: We’re in continued discussions with Muni and the Feds over the Pagoda Option. News on the outcome of discussions within a few weeks. See Legal action. Please donate to the legal fund so we can continue this action to protect historic North Beach… (more)


CHRONICLE:  “Rats scatter from Central Subway construction”


Central Subway construction will continue through the holidays at two NorthBeach sites, the Pagoda dig and the newly announced Bank of America dig.

Most here figured there would be a holiday construction moratorium, but this applies only to work on City streets and property.  Work on private property is exempt from the moratorium, including the Pagoda and BofA sites.

By signing this petition, you can tell the decision makers below that holiday construction here is unacceptable.  Messages will be emailed automatically to each of them when you sign the online petition.  Call your Supervisor, the Mayor, and Muni (SFMTA) and let them know residents and businesses here have been through enough this summer and fall, and deserve a peaceful holiday season.

Mayor Ed Lee, City Hall, Room 200,1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, S.F. CA 94102  (415) 554-6141 ,
Supervisor David Chiu, City Hall, Room 244, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, S.F. CA 94102    (415) 554-7450 ,
Mr. Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation, One South Van Ness, S.F. CA 94103  (415) 701-4720 ,

Please alert your fellow merchants and neighbors. 

Save NorthBeachVillage

Save Muni August 19 agenda

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: or
The DEIR document is available on-line at .
FOR INFO:  Heidi Kline, LEED AP, Environmental Planner, Planning Department, 1650 Mission Street, 4th Floor, SF, CA 94103

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

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).

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”.  

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.”

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.

Some Say Signs of Trouble Apparent Days Before Building Collapse

Grout Expectations: The Central Subway Plan Tries to Compensate for its Shortcomings, but May Just Frack it Up

By Joe Eskenazi : – excerpt

In the days before cell phones, bored undergraduates in the restrooms of institutions of higher learning passed time by scrawling puns in the grouting between wall tiles: “The Grout Gatsby;” “It’s the Grout Pumpkin, Charlie Brown;” “Grout Expectations;” and, of course, “Three Strikes and You’re Grout.”
This, incidentally, is called “groutfiti,” and could be the first, last, and only time many people gave a moment’s thought to grout. North Beach residents, however, may be thinking a grout deal about the stuff in the coming weeks. As part of the ongoing plan to extract Central Subway tunnel-boring machines from the derelict Pagoda Palace theater, an engineering firm contracted by the city has proposed injecting “compaction grouting” into the earth to prevent nearby century-old, brick-foundation structures from sinking during the subterranean construction project…

Continue reading

Hi Everyone, let’s keep together as a neighborhood!

The Land-Use Committee is your only opportunity to make public comments.
Voice your concerns and tell your stories.  Members of our community will still suffer from the Pagoda Theater’s unnecessary work.  Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) can be buried underground or extracted in Chinatown.  The Pagoda Theater requires a Supplemental EIR—due to unstable soil conditions, adjacent historic buildings and spot-zoning to benefit one property.  Let’s support ALL our North Beach merchants and neighbors!

City Hall Legislative Chambers, Room 250
AGENDA:  Item 2 Special Order at 1:30 pm—Pagoda Theater

Email the Mayor and Board of Supervisors:
Mayor and Supervisors: (Updated January 13, 2013)

AGENDA:  Item 33 Pagoda Theater—3:30 PM (?)
Note: No further public comments are allowed.

Bury TBMs or Extract TBMs in Chinatown – The Pagoda Theater’s TBMs extraction is totally unnecessary.  It is fiscally irresponsible to spend up to $80 million for the northern tunnel extension to North Beach—to get only $4.4 million in TBM salvage value.  Instead, per the original plans in 2005-08, the TBMs can be extracted or buried in Chinatown, saving up to $80 million and eliminating all disruptions.

Pagoda Theater Extraction Cuts Muni Bus Service – TBMs extraction at the Pagoda will cost an unnecessary $9.15 million in Muni operating funds.

STREETSBLOG:  “Central Subway Pagoda Deal Will Take $9 Million From Muni Operating Funds”

Telegraph Hill Dwellers asks for TBMs extraction in Chinatown. –  If built, the Central Subway Project will reduce surface transit throughout the northeast quadrant.  In the Federal Transit Administration’s summary, the Central Subway will take $15.21 million in operating funds from Muni—annually.  Per the Final SEIS/SEIR, the subway will cause 76,400 hours of reduced Annual Diesel/ Trolley Bus Hours.  In the FY 2012 New Starts Criteria Report, the subway will cause 34,426 hours of reduced Annual Trolley Bus Hours.

SFMTA reaches private property lease terms for Central Subway construction – excerpt

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) finalized the lease terms with the owner of the Pagoda Palace property in North Beach, Calif.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) finalized the lease terms with the owner of the Pagoda Palace property in North Beach, Calif.
This step brings SFMTA closer to finalizing plans to extract its two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will be used to construct the Central Subway. The lease is subject to approval by the SFMTA Board.
“The Central Subway invests in a modern 21st Century public transportation system for San Francisco that will connect our city’s diverse neighborhoods and create thousands of jobs,” said San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee. “This next step will allow the project to move forward in building a transit system for the growing population and workforce of the future and minimizes the construction impact to the North Beach neighborhood.”
The two-year lease, capped at $3.15 million, allows SFMTA to demolish the existing structure and utilize the property to retrieve the TBMs…
The project will also require National Environmental Policy Act clearance by the Federal Transit Administration. If all of the necessary legislative processes and approvals occur by April 1, 2013, then the demolition of the Pagoda Palace site can then commence. Before any construction begins, SFMTA will conduct building surveys on the properties adjacent to the Pagoda Palace site to assess existing conditions…  (more)