Housing bill is SF trying to boss the suburbs
Author: Dick Spotswood
Publication: Marin Independent Journal
San Francisco politicians have long reveled in telling their Bay Area neighbors how to conduct their affairs. We’re experiencing that again with state Sen. Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 827 and its companion SB 828.
The first would allow “by right” construction of apartments and condos up to eight stories tall within a quarter-mile of all bus stops with service at least every 15 minutes during peak periods. The second would massively expand existing regional housing construction mandates.
San Francisco progressives, including Supervisor Aaron Peskin, see Wiener’s bill for what it is: a threat to the city’s very own people-scaled neighborhoods.
Still, given its well-heeled backers, Wiener’s legislation may meet with success in some modified form.
Bay Area suburbs now need to make certain that San Francisco swallows its own medicine.
Exhibit One: Since 1940, the 4.5-acre Francisco Reservoir has laid dormant on Russian Hill’s northern slope. Bounded by Bay, Hyde and Larkin streets and high rises south of a truncated Francisco Street, the square-block site is ideal for dense housing. It’s on multiple bus routes and close to a proposed Muni Metro extension. The area’s atmosphere would remain unchanged, as it’s already home to high-rises.
Given that the posh neighborhood is as white and Asian as Ross or Belvedere, Russian Hill needs diversity. What better site for housing for the city’s ever-struggling tech workers?
The San Francisco Housing Action Coalition said of the reservoir, “This would be an excellent opportunity to use city-owned land for middle-income housing, which is severely lacking in San Francisco.” Somehow, Sen. Wiener has missed the site’s potential for affordable housing.
Instead, the city plans to develop the empty reservoir into a $25 million park. Not one single unit will be built to address the “housing crisis.”
Why burden San Francisco with more traffic-clogging housing when, with a little legislative clout, Marin, Contra Costa and San Mateo can house the city’s burgeoning workforce?
If eight-story apartments are appropriate for San Anselmo’s Hub and central Novato, it’s not too much to ask equally prosperous San Franciscans to forego their views and neighborhood character to “solve” the tech-job-driven housing dilemma by building high-rises on Taraval, Castro, Columbus, Ocean, Clement and other transit-heavy streets now lined with two- and three-story buildings.
If I lived on Russian Hill, I’d be a park supporter, too. I was born and raised in the city’s Marina District and I wouldn’t want Chestnut Street to look like Redwood City’s El Camino Real.
Likewise, I now live in small-town Marin and I want to maintain our neighborhood’s character just as much as longtime San Franciscans do theirs.
The bottom line is, if city residents don’t want Marinites to tell them how to run their big city, they should forgo temptations to tell suburban California what to do.
Those most negatively affected by plans to convert the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge’s long-dormant upper deck third lane to a 24-7 bikeway aren’t Marinites. There’re East Bay residents who struggle across the 5.9-mile span to access North Bay jobs.
It’s telling that the Marin Association of Public Employees, the county’s largest labor union, endorsed “joint use” of the third lane for peak period auto traffic as proposed by Supervisors Damon Connolly and Judy Arnold.
MAPE vice president Thom Tucker, a recreational bicyclist and daily commuter from Pinole, says, “Unfortunately, I have no viable alternative to get to work other than to drive. Public transportation doesn’t work as there’s no easy way to get from where I live to Civic Center.”
If the cycling community honestly believes thousands will commute to work across San Pablo Bay by bike, faith-based evidence no longer cuts it. It’s time to see proof.
To read original article posting, click here: