Archive for the ‘Development’ Category

Public transportation 2.1

I was inspired by Tara’s post, Public Transportation 2.0, to add more than a comment.

When I was in Bangalore in 2007, I was struck by the utility of the ubiquitous motorized rickshaws, known locally as autocabs or just autos:

Any visitor to Asia has seen these things, since they’re in every Asian city. And they are cheap and they are everywhere. When I mentioned them to one of the panjandrums of the Bay Area public transportation scene, the executive director of one of the NGOs that lobbies for transportation policy, he was dismissive. “Oh, the tuk-tuks,” he said. “They clog up the streets, and they pollute. That’s not what we need. We need commuter rail that goes everywhere.”

Oh, fine, Mr. Bay Area Transit Boss! So I’m on my way to work in the morning. Never mind how I get to the BART station; I take a train across the bay to, say, Ashby. Now that I have alighted at your gigantor 1970s-era concrete monster BART station, I need to get to work, 2.3 miles away. It’s too far to walk. I could wait 20 minutes for a bus, and then that bus would take 20 minutes to poke along for the two miles, making my trip to work take over an hour… And that’s why I drive every day instead.

Read more

Chain stores on Valencia? NFW, says writer-activist

San Francisco writer and activist Stephen Elliott whose Progressive Reading Series raises money for progressive causes and candidates, and who just founded the online magazine The Rumpus, walked up Valencia St. the other day and saw this:

Click for a full-size version

According to the notice, the American Apparel chain of clothing stores wants to open a branch on Valencia St., next to Artists Television Access. Appalled at this prospect, Elliott is organizing people to show up at the February 5 hearing and voice their opposition.

I interview Elliott briefly about his efforts, after the jump.

Mean and Green, hopefully lean

Earlier today the Mayor signed into law the nations most ‘stringent’ green building codes, for both residential and commercial construction. This being a continuing effort by the mayor to put San Francisco in the spotlight when it comes to progressive politics. All politics is local as they say, and energy policy is probably the most pressing issue the world is facing today.
From the Chron earlier today:

The new codes are to be phased in by 2012. Projects will be evaluated on a point system with credit given for materials used in the building, the location of the building site and water and energy efficiencies…..

Despite those predictions, the city’s Office of Economic Analysis estimated that the new codes would cost the city between $30 million and $700 million a year in economic output, as it could lead to higher rents and businesses choosing to locate elsewhere.

Newsom called that report inaccurate and predicted the new regulations would actually attract businesses to the city. That opinion was echoed by Phil Williams, an executive at San Mateo-based Webcor Builders, who sat on the city task force on green building that developed the new regulations.

The LEED certifications for green building will apply to larger projects, both residential and commercial and the Greenpoint system will apply to smaller projects.

The opposition are crying that the added expense will further drive up the cost of owning a home or a business in SF, and I cry bullshit on that. For far too long people have not paid the true cost of housing, energy and other resources. And this is where government certainly has a role, protecting the commons.

There will be cost savings aplenty as people fall in line with the added up front expense of building to codes that make sense in today’s world.


Photograph CC by Chance Gardener.

Whole Foods / Cala and the Haight

Earlier this year Whole Foods and the owner of the propert where Cala foods is located proposed a new development, including housing and a full service Whole Foods market. The project has been met with deft opposition by the HANC (Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council). An organization that seems to largely be concerned with protecting their own vision of the Haight and their political clout is significant.

The Haight Ashbury Improvement Association is taking a much more progressive stance and is in favor of the project. Long story short, if you live anywhere close and have a point of view, the time to speak up is now, and the person to talk to is Ross Mirkarimi. Email him at .

Statement to HAIA and poll

AT&T backs down on Utility boxes

AT&T has backed down on their plan to install 850 large utility vaults throughout the city. As reported back on July 15th, there was a supervisors meeting on July 29th, and several neighborhoods organized a significant opposition and showed during this Supes meeting. The following report from one of my neighbors who was there:

Wrestling with reality at

I was invited last night to attend a rather San Francisco1 event — live tag-team nude model wrestling at the Fortress of Pornitude, The local web porn provider — whose purchase of the early 20th century Armory building caused a small stir in early 2007 — streams and webcasts more than a dozen porn channels2 featuring nubile women (mostly) and men doing forceful, lascivious things to themselves and one another.

NB: Most of the links in this post from here on are NSFW and shouldn’t be clicked if pornography offends you. The language in this post after the jump also contains NSFW descriptions.

The all-girl wrestling match was held, with a live audience3, as part of’s Ultimate Surrender channel, which consists exclusively4 of this wrestling-as-porn subgenre.

Like many, I was curious about the Armory, a former National Guard facility which sat as an abandoned hulk over Mission Street for thirty years before the porn company moved in and cleaned up the building. And the prospect of watching several naked women cavort wasn’t unpleasant either, so I was quick to accept the invitation of Thomas Roche, an acquaintance from the erotica-writing game, who works there.

post continues after the jump

Stupid idea of the year

Supervisor Chris Daly wants to close Market Street to all but mass transit traffic.

As I wrote in May, that idea has failed in city after city. In Chicago, State Street — “that great street” — utterly died when they tried it there. They re-opened the street to all traffic a few years ago, and the street is recovering.

Market Street isn’t some quaint pedestrian mall like Boulder’s Pearl Street, and it never will be. It’s a living artery in a major city. Daly’s plan would be an economic and social disaster.

AT&T Wants To Take The Easy Way Out

Many San Franciscans have waited a long time for utilities to move underground, at great expense of time and money to each homeowner who was lucky enough to have the utilities undergrounded in their neighborhood. The effort to underground utilities has made the city safer and cleared the skies of overhead wires.
Now AT&T would like to nullify that effort by “upgrading” their services and placing utility boxes above ground, in every neighborhood of the city. AT&T intends to upgrade its telecommunications network to a high-speed data transmission technology referred to as “Lightspeed.” In July 2007 AT&T posted flyers in the Inner Sunset neighborhood notifying residents of its intention to install above-ground utility boxes.

Subsequently the San Francisco Planning Department issued an environmental impact report finding that AT&T could move forward with its plans. AT&T immediately requested a permit from Public Works to begin installation. However, the permit was appealed by a neighborhood organization forcing a hearing before the Board of Supervisors. The Board will hear the appeal at its meeting on Tuesday, July 29th. The Board has the authority to deny the appeal or refer the matter back to the Planning Commission for review.


Preview Presidio Renovations

100px-presidio_trust.jpgIn 1994, the Army turned the Presidio over to the national park system. And in doing so created one of the finest public spaces in SF and California. Originally founded approximately 1776, there are now plans to renovate some key sections of the Presidio, including the greening of what is now a parking lot, but what used to be called the Parade Ground. Along with building a tunnel for the Doyle drive approach to the Golden Gate bridge. The Parade grounds are lined by Barracks, which are mostly offices and at the southern edge where Donald Fisher wants to build a museum.

The tunnel plan is really interesting as it will connect the western edge of the Parade Grounds with the beachfront at the west end of Chrissy Field, whereas today if you were to walk from the parade grounds to the beach you would walk under the Doyle drive approach (it’s elevated freeway). This would also create some nice beach views from the newly recreated Parade grounds.


Funding? From what I’ve read it’s not fully evident where the money comes from. The current docs state:

To achieve its mission, the Trust generates revenues by leasing the park’s buildings. Federal appropriations diminish each year and will cease at the end of fiscal year 2012. The Trust uses these sources of funding to operate the park and undertake necessary capital improvements.

Overview of new area, parking and poll

City Hall hosting software startups?

Something strange in this map of software startups, published today in Valleywag:


The map, by a site called StartupWarrior, purports to show “76 startups on either side of the 101 [sic!] between McAllister and Grove streets in San Francisco.” The only problem? Those blocks are occupied by City Hall, the Opera House, and the War Memorial Building.

I don’t think so!

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.