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Community Issues

This area is to discuss and report on issues the neighborhood is facing (Updated Aug 29, 2017).

1. The Crestmont Development (now called San Francisco Overlook). A builder plans to add an apartment block at the end of Crestmont, a narrow winding road just below Mt Sutro. Most neighbors opposed it on the grounds of safety (landslides, fire access), neighborhood character (no apartment blocks in Forest Knolls); and infrastructure issues. The Environmental Impact Report was released in May 2012. The eight-year battle ended recently, with the city giving the builder permission to proceed. The latest is here.

2. Sutro Cloud Forest. UCSF, which owns three-fourths of this beautiful eucalyptus forest above Forest Knolls, is planning to fell trees on their portion of it. Apart from other issues, cutting down trees – even ones in poor condition –  can significantly increase landslide risk on the unstable slope.

In May 2009, UCSF sought FEMA funding to cut down thousands of trees on a quarter of the forest, ostensibly in the name of fire mitigation. Opponents believed this was a ruse for a native plant conversion of the forest, and the fire threat an excuse to get FEMA funding for a landscaping plan. They considered it dangerous because of increased fire hazard from a more open and dryer forest; greater landslide risk; concern about toxic chemicals (Roundup and Garlon) being used; and worries about the area being artificially reclassified as a High Fire Risk with impacts on disclosure requirements and insurance rates. (At present, Cal Fire notes there are no areas of Very High Fire Hazard in San Francisco.) In February 2010 UCSF withdrew its applications from FEMA. In February 2013, it published a plan that could have resulted in cutting up to 30,000 trees, and using 3 times the amount of herbicide used by the whole Recreation and Parks Department in 2013. Owing to strong community opposition and comments, UCSF changed its plan. It commits to continue its policy of using no herbicides, and planned to cut down around 4-5,000 trees starting August 2014, after publishing a new Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in March for public comment in April.  (Forest Knolls is the most affected neighborhood.) In March 2014, however, it announced that it would not be keeping to the planned time-line for the revised EIR. They said this effectively puts the plans on hold for now, though “routine maintenance” will continue: Between August 2013 and August 2014, they have cut down some 1200-1300 trees.  In February 2017, they published a new plan, and in July came out with a new draft EIR. This shows a significant landslide that is poorly addressed.  [Details on the SaveSutro website.]

3. Laguna Honda Reservoir. Another issue that affects Forest Knolls indirectly is SF PUC’s plan to build a gravel distribution center dive site office on Clarendon Avenue, on the eastern edge of the Laguna Honda Lake. This area was apparently presented as a temporary staging post, but then was to be made permanent. Neighbors protested, and also discovered that the reservoir and its surrounds are zoned as open space. At present, the dive office has been opened, but the gravel yard is apparently in abeyance. The neighbors are battling to have it maintained as open space. For now, the issue seems to have died down. SF PUC has planted roses and other vines on the chain-link fence near the site entrance, significantly improving its appearance.

4. The 36 Teresita route. In 2009, the City planned to curtail the service of the 36 Teresita, the only bus serving Forest Knolls, on the ground of inadequate ridership. Neighbors pointed out that it was not so much a matter of numbers as a matter of access; there were people without cars who relied on the bus. The feedback was accepted, and the route changes – implemented from 5 Dec 09 – did not affect Forest Knolls. However, the frequency falls to 30 minutes (instead of 20 during weekday rush-hours); and the last bus leaves Forest Hill at 11 p.m. There were other changes to the route, however.

The latest: The proposal to drop Forest Knolls was again raised in 2014; strong objections from the neighbors made SFMTA decide to retain this portion of the route.

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