D7 Supervisor Candidates on ‘San Francisco Overlook Project’

As everyone probably knows by now, District 7 is voting for a new supervisor this November. There are nine candidates.

The steep hillside above the planned development

The Crestmont-Mt. Sutro- Forest Knolls Neighborhood Preservation Coalition spoke with four of them (or their representatives) about their positions on the controversial San Francisco Overlook project.

(This is a project that plans to build 34 apartments on a steep slope at the end of a cul-de-sac below another steep slope where the houses are supported by concrete pilings. That Background is HERE. The public comment period on the recent Draft Environment Impact Report ended in June 2012; an appeal’s been filed through a lawyer HERE.)

I’m republishing the position statements here from the coalition website (www. CrestmontPreservation.org)  with permission and minor edits and formatting differences – and added pictures.


BULLETIN from Crestmont-Mt.Sutro-Forest Knolls Neighborhood Preservation Coalition

Positions on SF Overlook Development     
Position Statements by Four District 7 Supervisorial Candidates

We have met and spoken with four of the major District 7 Supervisorial candidates, or their representatives, and provided them with extensive materials outlining the reasons why our neighborhoods are united against a project the size of the proposed San Francisco Overlook development. We solicited their comments for distribution to the Crestmont-Mt.Sutro-Forest Knolls community.

The following responses were provided by FX Crowley, Joel Engardio, Mike Garcia and Norman Yee (in alphabetical order):


Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the Crestmont-Mt. Sutro-Forest Knolls Neighborhood Preservation Coalition regarding the SF Overlook Development. I share the Coalition’s concern over the current DEIR [Draft Environmental Impact Report]. The developer’s vision for the project appears too dense for the surrounding neighborhood.

The developer must address the issue of compliance with the neighborhood’s Mount Sutro Declaration of Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions. Given the site’s history of frequent landslides, the developer should also provide a “design-level” geotechnical review, especially since that data is required to fully identify the project’s environmental impacts and adequate mitigation measures.

I support the Coalition’s request to consider alternatives to this project. As Supervisor, I will be an advocate for the Crestmont-Mt. Sutro-Forest Knolls neighborhood as I am for my own Lakeshore neighborhood and surrounding community. I will ensure that any proposed building development is properly vetted and neighbors’ concerns are addressed going forward.




I oppose the San Francisco Overlook development. It’s a matter of common sense. When we have homes hanging out over one of the steepest hills in San Francisco, supported by concrete poles, do we really want to begin moving earth for a major development and risk destabilizing the area? Why risk a landslide?

I’m sure the developers will make a good case that everything can be built safely. But there’s also the issue of everyone’s safety when it comes to getting firetrucks and ambulances down that one, little road to serve all the new residents. Then there’s the parking nightmare — and if you don’t want to drive, where’s the nearest bus line? None of this makes sense.

I’m certainly not anti-development. I believe San Francisco needs to grow for the future. I also believe District 7 needs to play its part to provide more housing in places like Park Merced. But the development on Crestmont Drive is not a good fit. Neither are condo towers in Miraloma Park. We have to be smart about development. As your supervisor, I will work for you and not for the special interests that back other candidates. That means I can be an advocate for what’s truly good for the city and the residents of District 7. I am the only candidate that the San Francisco Chronicle endorsed for supervisor in District 7. I hope you read why the Chronicle says I have “the right stuff” to represent you. It’s reprinted on my website: www.engardio.com



In an effort to familiarize myself with all the issues involved having to do with the San Francisco Overlook Development, I met with Dr. Sobol, Dr. Gorman, and other concerned neighbors. They provided me with a great deal of information and expressed their concerns and took me on a tour of the site for the proposed development. I later also talked with Alice Barkley, the attorney for the neighbors, and an old friend whom I know and respect from my years on the Board of Appeals. I then talked to Jessica Berg, of Berg/Davis Public Affairs, the consultants to the developer, Gary Testa. I met with Ms. Berg and Adam Phillips, the project lead, who gave me information from their perspective about the project.

My understanding is that what is left in the process is the acceptance or rejection of the Draft EIR, to be followed by a final EIR, which is appealable to the Board of Supervisors. Also to be completed, is the analysis required under the Slope Protection Act, passed by the Board of Supervisors in 2008. My understanding of the Slope Protection Act is that while safety having to do with structural engineering issues is important, so are issues having to do with neighborhood character. After the slope analysis, another step in the process, or perhaps part of the process required under the Slope Protection Act, is a peer-review overseen by the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection at which point an analysis is made having to do with the engineering feasibility of the proposed project. In addition to all this process, yet to be held, a site permit then has to be attained from the Department of Building Inspection (DBI). That permit is appealable to the Board of Appeals. The point being, there is a considerable amount of process still to be had, and it would be a highly unusual project that goes through this much process without getting whittled down. The real issue for your neighborhood is just how much it gets whittled down.

Because I have 7 years of experience in land use having served on the Board of Appeals I am reluctant to ever express an opinion without seeing all the facts. Allow me, however, to say this – without having put pencil to paper I feel as though the project is economically infeasible. I also, again without having seen all the facts, am leaning heavily toward thinking that a considerable amount of mitigation has to take place.

Please let me be emphatic about this, regardless of where I land on this or any other project that takes place in District 7, which is not to indicate that I favor this development, it is my intent, where there are tensions between the developer and the neighbors to always be willing to have conversations with the developer about mitigation measures that would alleviate the concerns of that neighborhood. In closing, I have a record on the Board of Appeals of opposing projects that do great harm to neighborhood character, particularly if there are concomitant life-safety issues. Thank you very much for the opportunity to respond to your request for a position statement on the SF Overlook Development.




From what I’ve heard, I would support the neighborhood against a development of this size, and favor a smaller development such as the alternative proposed as Plan B* in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR).



*Alternative B in the DEIR, p. 274, is a Reduced Project Alternative: 16 single-family residential buildings, with 38 parking spaces. =====================================================

We have posted the position statements on our web site, www.CrestmontPreservation.org


STOP SF OVERLOOK t-shirts can be ordered here: http://www.zazzle.com/preservecrestmont
We have also posted a link on http://crestmontpreservation.org.

REMINDER: Please display the poster in your window and urge your neighbors to also display the poster! If you need a poster, please call Sam Sobol, 415-640-3869 or email info@crestmontpreservation.org.

Working to preserve our neighborhood

Crestmont-Mt.Sutro-Forest Knolls Preservation Coalition
Samuel M. Sobol, M.D.

Six maybe-Supes for District 7

Click on the map for a larger version

Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood Association hosted a District 7 Candidates’ Forum, and I went to see and make notes. Of the 9 candidates running for Board of Supervisors for District 7, 6 showed up. (Lynn Gavin, Julian Lagos, and Bob Squeri weren’t there.)

I’ll try to be impartial, but I’ll state my bias up front: I love trees and habitat for wildlife and those are my issues. Each candidate made their brief statement, and then the audience asked questions.  The questions related to:

  • Parking: Sunday parking meters, extended parking meter hours. SF MTA (which is independent of the Board of Supervisors) has been talking about adding meters, extending hours, and adding Sunday meters. This will add costs for everyone, and push cars into the neighborhoods as they try to avoid meters.
  • The difficulty of getting downtown with so many road improvement projects going on simultaneously, and the need for interdistrict co-ordination
  • Lake Merced, which is currently managed (or not) by the SF Public Utilities Commission (because of the lake) and SF Rec & Park (for boating and fishing). Who should manage it? The gun club occupies – and has polluted with lead shot – 14 acres of land. Remediation may cost $5-10 million. Who pays?
  • Tree felling and pesticide use in the Natural Areas via the Natural Areas Program (NAP) – part of San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. What are your views about the thousands of trees to be felled, especially the 1600 trees to be felled on Mount Davidson? (I asked this question.)
  • The need for affordable housing vs preserving neighborhood character. How to balance the two?

So in alphabetical order, here they are. (The pictures weren’t taken at the forum. I forgot. They’re from a bunch of other sources, so if any candidate wants the picture replaced – email me at fk94131 at yahoo.com.)


He introduced himself as a professional geographer and cartographer who’s done work for the City, a smart small business owner, father, and husband. (His daughter is 5th generation San Franciscan.) Sean Elsbernd appointed him to the Pedestrian Safety Committee. He’s also volunteered with Project Homeless Connect with the homeless, and with Project Open Hand, and plays guitar for children’s programs. He stands against the use of public funds in elections, and believes the money could be better spend on other things. Key issues: Homelessness, panhandling – and preserving trees.


Andrew had to leave early (clashing appointment) and could only answer the first question, on parking. He opposes Sunday meters and extended hours, and sees a need for training the enforcement workers. People get tickets even when they’re legitimately parked, which becomes harrassment.


FX spoke about his deep roots in District 7 where he’s lived most of his life and raised his family – a neighbor. He was a stagehand and served on the Board of the SF PUC, and also on the Ports Commission. He spoke of a deeply personal reason to run; his brother John, ill of terminal pancreatic cancer, charged him with doing something to benefit the future generation. So he decided to run for Supervisor. His vision for San Francisco includes jobs, infrastructure, neighborhood character, reforming non-profit organizations, preserving green spaces.


  • Parking. He thinks people should tell their supervisors about problems, and different places have different issues. For example, making parking difficult in West Portal will push people to Stonestown and Daly City malls.
  • Getting downtown. Since it’s an issue involving a number of districts, he’d bring everyone to the table to work out the problems.
  • Lake Merced. Dual responsibility is best, with both SF PUC and SF RPD on it.  They are dealing with it now, it’s getting better.
  • Trees and NAP. He’d approve removing the dead and dying trees, working with the rest.
  • Affordable housing. The Mayor’s housing trust fund may help. He favors increased density on transit corridors, and more development in places like the 3rd street corridor, Treasure Island, and Park Merced.


Joel ran through his background – raised by a single mom, went to University of Michigan on a scholarship and became a journalist – a watchdog. He worked for the ACLU, on protecting everyone’s constitutional rights. Then he got a mid-career scholarship to Harvard, where he got a Masters in Public Administration because he wants to focus on working for people in the government. Hence his run for Supervisor. He stressed that as a candidate who had qualified for public funding, he was truly independent and not beholden to any special interests; he would be an advocate for the people of his district. People were concerned about ideological decisions in the government, and he stood for common sense: Focus on the basics before trying to raise more money. He supported viable small businesses in San Francisco; the city shouldn’t be a theme park with all the real work going on in Silicon Valley. As an example of common sense: there’s room for trees, and there’s room for native plant gardens, but spending tax money to cut down thousands of trees for the sake of native plants doesn’t make sense.


  • Parking. Raising parking rates is unsustainable. It discourages people from going places by car, and hurts small businesses, who have to compete with places easier to get to. He also opposes parklets, which are difficult to maintain, and take away 3-4 parking spaces.  He suggests SF MTA look for more revenue by cracking down on ticketless travel on Muni.
  • Getting downtown. The Westside needs an advocate. The City’s “transit first” policy sounds good, but becomes counter-productive for many westside areas – an example of ideological thinking that lacks common sense.
  • Lake Merced. It should have only one manager, the SF PUC. Too many cooks spoil the broth. The gun club should have been required to carry insurance; since it doesn’t, it’ll have to be the SF PUC.
  • Trees and NAP. We should leave them alone. San Francisco has no native trees! He’s not against native plants, but he doesn’t think the ideology should determine the use of tax dollars for cutting down trees.
  • Affordable housing. The city needs growth, it needs housing, but it also needs to preserve single-family homes. He favors development in certain areas, for instance Park Merced, and along transport corridors, where he’d be okay with ownership condos.


Mike has an MBA from Loyola in New Orleans, and ran a couple of small businesses. He  moved to San Francisco when he became an options trader after he bought a seat on the Pacific Stock Exchange. He’s on the board of  St Stephen’s and of the YMCA and volunteers in various areas. Former Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed him to the Ethics Commission and later to the Board of Appeals. He has 40 years of business experience, and 10 years of government experience. He noted a Chamber of Commerce survey found people were most concerned with the economy, pensions (or pension reform), and quality of life issues, i.e. homelessness. He thinks pension reform is essential going forward, with a cap on retirement benefits for new hires.


  • Parking. Mixed feelings. Some West Portal merchants want Sunday meters because otherwise people park their cars and go elsewhere. But in other places – like the Zoo –  it becomes a de facto tax on the poor and on small businesses.
  • Getting downtown. The problem is the cumulative impact of multiple projects all over the city. When such projects are planned, SF’s planning department tries to stagger them to avoid impacting residents too much. SF MTA could easily do the same with some planning.
  • Lake Merced. SF PUC has the deep pockets, they should manage it. No use going after the gun club for remediation, they have no insurance and can’t pay.
  • Trees and NAP. It’s ironic that the city forces people to adopt the street trees in front of their property, whether they want to or not; but then it turns round and chops down trees. SF RPD hasn’t engaged the neighbors in the process of planning. Though he’s a friend of Phil Ginsburg (head of SF RPD), he’s against NAP in its current form. (He used his summation speech to push the Parks Bond 2012 to say that even if it funds NAP, you should vote for it because it will be used to refurbish playgrounds.)
  • Affordable housing. It’s important to do it sensibly with infill, not overbuild. He definitely wants to preserve the character of D7 – where people have lawns.


This is the first time I’ve seen Glenn Rogers. His platform is listed on his website, and that’s pretty much what he ran through in his statement: Creating a Department of Public Safety;  standardizing fire hydrants so all firehoses can access all hydrants; tax Recology (the garbage company); Parks Bonds should include maintenance costs (at present, they’re restricted to capital expenditures); plant road medians with native plants; install solar windows in downtown buildings (like solar panels, only they’re windows, and they generate electricity), and those buildings should have green roofs.

On the questions:

  • Parking. Glenn said SF MTA hired new parking enforcement people each costing ~$50, 000 annually and thus needed to write a lot of tickets to cover the costs, but didn’t think they could. He facetiously suggested they break all the meters so they could ticket everyone.
  • Getting downtown. He suggested more research. Adding bus lanes, for instance, wouldn’t help because cars encroach all the time.
  • Lake Merced. He supported dual responsibility, and also closing the gun club. He didn’t think they would shift to steel ammo, because lead is cheaper – so as long as they stay, they’ll pollute.
  • Trees and NAP. Eucalyptus poisons the soil through allelopathy, so eucalyptus forests are deserts where nothing grows and there are no birds or animals. [This is factually incorrect. See photos HERE for pictures of the lush understory on Mt Sutro, and HERE for a partial bird-list for the forest.] On Mount Davidson, the city should cut down enough trees to show the cross, however many trees that is.
  • Affordable housing. Park Merced shouldn’t be built up, it’s is not transit-friendly. A shuttle to the BART doesn’t count. It will increase traffic congestion. But affordable housing is important. We want our police, firefighters, and educators to be able to afford the city.


Norman said he was a 3rd generation San Franciscan, and his focus was improving the lives of families and children. Though he initially trained as an engineer, his true interest was education, and so he went back for an MA in education. He was President of the School Board for 8 years. He believes his strength is getting people together to discuss and work out problems. He mentioned some successes of the School Board – reducing truancy, raising test scores, reversing declining enrollment, and saving the Sunset Childcare Center that ran out of funds mid-year leaving working parents stranded.


  • Parking. He’s against Sunday meters, and he’s personally observed mistaken enforcement. When he pointed it out to the Parking worker, she didn’t reverse her actions, she just went off, leaving an bunch of erroneous tickets. Norman thinks that downtown parking rates should be raised instead, since it will impact outsiders more.
  • Getting downtown. Norman said he’d fight for the interests of our district.
  • Trees and NAP. The plan for Mount Davidson is a bad plan. We should manage dead and dying trees, and replant trees. We should preserve recreational access and usage.
  • Affordable housing. Norman’s facing this problem right now: His adult daughter would like to stay in the city, but is not sure if she can afford it. He thinks multi-unit developments are possible, but need to allow ample time for stakeholder inputs – and make the effort to do it right.

It was an interesting evening, and kudos to Golden Gate Heights for setting it up. I’m hoping to attend more forums, and get their views on a broad range of issues. Meanwhile, I welcome any comments.

D7 Candidates Forum today, 30 August 2012

[EDITED to Add:  HERE is a report on the forum. Six of the nine candidates came.]

There’s a candidates forum for District 7 candidates Thursday 30 August 2012. It’s hosted by the Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood Association, and its President says you’re invited. So if you’re curious about the nine contenders, most or all of them are expected to come to the forum. I’m planning to be there. (There’s a full list HERE, and video of five of the nine.)

Listen to the candidates, ask questions, share refreshments.

District 7 Supervisor Candidates Forum
Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood Association
Thurs, August 30 at 7 pm at
Parish Hall, Christ Church Lutheran, 1090 Quintara St at 20th Ave, San Francisco

District 7: Here’s a Video of Some Supervisor Candidates

Edited to Add: 

There’s a candidates forum for District 7 candidates Thursday 30 August 2012. It’s hosted by the Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood Association, and its President says you’re invited!

Listen to the candidates, ask questions, share refreshments.

District 7 Supervisor Candidates Forum
Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood Association
Thurs, August 30 at 7 pm at
Parish Hall, Christ Church Lutheran, 1090 Quintara St at 20th Ave, San Francisco

We’re in District 7, and Supervisor Sean Elsbernd will be termed out this November. The position’s up for grabs, and now there are NINE candidates running. Here’s a 3-minute video of four of the candidates (FX Crowley, Joel Engardio, Mike Garcia, and Norman Yee) speaking at a Town Hall meeting on the Arts. (Click on the picture to go to the Youtube video.)

Click on the picture to go to the 3-minute Youtube video

Edited to Add: Andrew Bley was at that meeting, but somehow wasn’t included in the previous video (which we didn’t make, incidentally) but we’d include him with the “top candidates.”  Here he is, making his point in a musical half-minute.

Click on the picture to go to the video

Here’s the list of all nine candidates, cropped from the city’s website:

I’ve met five of them thus far: Andrew Bley, FX Crowley, Joel Engardio, Mike Garcia, and Norman Yee. Over the next few weeks, in the run-up to the November election, I’m hoping to write something about platforms and views. Meanwhile, here are the websites for those who have them:

  1. Andrew Bley:  andrewbley.com
  2. FX Crowley: fxcrowley.com
  3. Joel Engardio: engardio.com
  4. Mike Garcia: mikegarcia2012.com
  5. Lynn Gavin: gavin4seven.com
  6. Julian Lagos:  No website (yet)
  7. Glenn Rogers:  voteglennrogersdistrict7.nationbuilder.com
  8. Bob Squeri: bobsqueri.com
  9. Norman Yee: normanyee.com

No Public Meeting Tonight 10 August 2012

Sorry, folks, it seems there’s been a misunderstanding somewhere.

FKNO is not organizing a Forest Knolls Neighbors’ meeting for tonight. It’s essentially a potluck by and for people who have been walking their dogs at the reservoir. It’s not intended as a large public event. The candidates were invited to stop by if they wanted.

I will be removing the previous post on the matter.


Joel Engardio, Supervisor Candidate, Takes a Position on Dogs

I’ve posted here before about Joel Engardio, one of the candidates for Supervisor for District 7. (Sean Elsbernd is termed out this November.)

At the time, it was because of his forest-friendly video. (Click on the owl picture to watch the 2.5 minute video.)

He’s made another 2-minute video, this one about dogs in San Francisco. I’m not a dog-owner, but I am pleased our neighborhood is dog-friendly. As I said in In Praise of Dog-Ownerspaws on the street mean eyes on the street.

Click here for Joel Engardio's dog video

If you’d like to find out where this candidate stands – clicking on the picture above will take you to the video.

Meeting Joel Engardio, D7 Supervisor Candidate

A couple of weeks ago, Joel Engardio contacted me. He’s running for District 7 supervisor. (Some of you may already know – as I didn’t – that the current District 7 Supervisor, Sean Elsbernd,  terms out this year.)

Joel doesn’t like the idea of wasting millions of dollars to cut down trees, close trails and deny access, use toxic pesticides on public land, and destroy habitat. He wanted to use some of the pictures from the SutroForest.com website (of which I’m webmaster) in a short video. Sure, I said. That’s a cause I believe in. (He asked separate permission for photos on the site that were taken by someone else.)

Clicking on the picture below will take you to the video he made. It’s sensible and  it’s beautiful and well worth watching. (Also see the Comments below.)

He’s not a single-issue candidate, though. Here’s what his website says he stands for: Common Sense. Accountability. Fiscally Responsible. Socially Progressive.

I asked if he wanted to say something here, and he sent me this note:

I’m running for supervisor to bring more common sense and innovation to City Hall. We must champion the entrepreneurial spirit to create jobs and fund the programs we need. Throughout my career, I have fought for the social issues San Francisco cares about like marriage equality, immigration and human rights. As your supervisor, I will fight for the fiscal responsibility and government efficiency San Francisco needs to be a vital and vibrant city that works for everyone. Every effort by City Hall must be held accountable and measured for success. I’m running in District 7, but will work for all San Franciscans. That’s why people are supporting me citywide. Please join us: www.engardio.com

I don’t know who else is running for District 7, so I’ve no idea what they stand for. But I have to say I’d be pretty happy to have Joel Engardio as my Supe. Or even as a Supervisor, even if it’s not for my district…

which could happen.


Right now, Forest Knolls is in District 7. But as readers of this site will know, we’re in the middle of the ten-year redistricting exercise. The initial draft planned on moving Forest Knolls, Midtown Terrace, The Woods all into District 8. The Supervisor there is Scott Wiener, and he’s there until 2014.

Meanwhile, the West of Twin Peaks Central Council is fighting to keep these neighborhoods in D7. (The report on the meeting to discuss that is here.)

Here’s the map they propose:

(The colors indicate various neighborhood associations.)

Chances are that WoTPCC will prevail. We’ll know by April 15th, 2012. That’s when the redistricting commission has to submit its final map.