Posts Tagged ‘Development’

The cost of living in the Bay Area

urban_land_institute_logoA liberal think tank, the Urban Land Institute, has issued a report on the cost to working people of living in the Bay Area. The report, Bay Area Burden, examines the impact on working people of high costs of housing and transportation, looks at how proximity to mass transit helps relieve the burden, and asks policymakers to take working people’s needs into account when making land use decisions.

Their website,, has a Housing + Transportation Calculator that’s fun to play with.

Cathedral Hill Hotel to become hospital

      Gene Hackman as Harry Caul monitoring the goings-on in the Jack Tar Hotel

I was shocked to see this Curbed SF story on the proposed conversion of San Francisco’s Cathedral Hill Hotel to a hospital by the octopus-like California Pacific Medical Center. I don’t know about you, but the first thing I think about whenever I pass that hotel is that part of the great Coppolla film The Conversation (1974) was filmed there when it was known as the Jack Tar Hotel. (Part of it was also filmed at the Embarcadero Center, and somehow that office complex does not evoke the same associations.)

A personal memory I have of that hotel is the 1990 and 1991 Out/Write conferences, which brought together the whole LGBT literary world for the first time. Searching for some mention of these conferences on the web, I found a lovely piece by Edmund White, in which he gives a glowing description of the 1991 conference.

Also read: Curbed SF on the Jack Tar Hotel

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 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.


The Unforeseen Screening in SF

unforeseenposterfinal500.jpgIn what looks to be an amazing film, The Unforeseen, we get a look at a battle between a storied Austin developer and a community that finds itself on the brink of losing one of it’s long held treasures. Imho it’s not development that is the enemy, it’s the nature of the way things are developed today. The capitalists version of development is essentially the oldest get rich quick schemes our society has ever known, and it’s this brand of short term thinking that clashes with a newfound american values of heritage and stewardship.

An ambitious west Texas farm boy with grandiose plans tires of living at the mercy of nature and sets out to find a life with more control. He heads to Austin where he becomes a real estate developer and skillfully capitalizes on the growth of this 1970s boomtown. At the peak of his powers, he transforms 4,000 acres of pristine Hill Country into one of the state’s largest and fastest selling subdivisions. When the development threatens a local treasure, a fragile limestone aquifer and a naturally spring-fed swimming hole, the community fights back. In the conflict that ensues, we see in miniature a struggle that today plays out in communities across the country.

Screening at the Red Vic Movie House, 5/18/08 – 5/19/08.

Trailer after the jump

Update – Haight Whole Foods EIR

This is just a quick update to my earlier post about the public comment period for the proposed Whole Foods and the EIR for this project. The comment period has been extended to the end of this week, 3/7. If you live in the neighborhood, you are encouraged to review the impact report and voice your opinions to the Planning Department.

You can send an email to:, use the subject re: case number 2006.0460E.

Postal letters should be sent to:
Bill Wycko
San Francisco Planning Department
1650 Mission Street, Suite 400,
San Francisco, CA 94103 re: case number 2006.0460E

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