On January 21, 2021, the UC Regents approved a significant revision of the earlier 2014 Plan for UCSF’s Parnassus Campus- despite objections from San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors who asked for a delay so the Plan could be studied further.
According to a UCSF report, “On Jan. 21, the Regents certified the Environmental Impact Report for Comprehensive Parnassus Heights Plan (CPHP), which amends UCSF’s 2014 Long Range Development Plan to adjust the space ceiling limit, projected campus population, and the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve boundary.”
For us in the Forest Knolls neighborhood, the main impacts of the change will be from the higher Space Ceiling, and the accelerated destruction of Sutro Forest.
THE SPACE CEILING
The Space Ceiling was established in 1976 in response to neighbors’ anger at the impact of UCSF’s unrestrained growth on surrounding neighborhoods. There is more about that here. It has been expanded from 3.55 million square feet – which had been exceeded several times, with existing square footage in as of 2014 in the range of 3.84 million square feet. This Plan will raise the ceiling to 5.05 million square feet.
In the forest, tree felling started in 2019, and the pace appears to be accelerating.
An article in SF Weekly in October 2019 discussed this new Plan, noting that neighbors had concerns and those were not really taken into account.
Anyway, the Plan is going ahead despite any objections, since UCSF is in practice only answerable to the Regents.
The plan is to demolish the existing low-rise wood-shingled buildings, and replace them with tall ones. The first phase will be three 8-storey and one 5-storey building. Here’s their impression from the DEIR document.
One of our concerns is that they’ll remove even more trees to accommodate the new buildings and the construction space to build them. We can probably expect most of the forest lying between Forest Knolls and the Aldea Housing to be thinned to the point that it is merely a few trees standing around instead of something resembling a wood.
I’ve posted here before about the 3.55 million square foot Space Ceiling that was meant to restrain UCSF from over-expansion in Parnassus Heights and Aldea Student Housing. UCSF never quite managed to adhere to those, but it did use it as a guideline and stayed close.
Those days may be over. UCSF is amending its Long Range Development Plan (2015-2035) to include a major 2 million square foot expansion of facilities and student housing, both in Parnassus and in Aldea. The real-estate website, http://www.socketsite.com, has released a good article that describes the expected developments, here:
Also gone – the tall trees that lined Clarendon Avenue in front of the Aldea San Miguel UCSF student housing.
I remember a time when you couldn’t even see the fence from the street. When UCSF thinned the vegetation there many years ago, they promised plantings that would conceal the chain link fence. Well, they planted some vines, but the concealment didn’t happen.
The chain-link fence is more prominent than ever.
And across the road, a swath of trees adjacent to the homes on Clarendon have been felled too, I think by SF Rec and Parks (or possibly Sutro Tower, not sure).
Over the last decade, we have lost a lot of the glorious trees that made Forest Knolls a community surrounded by forest. I’m glad I had a chance to see them in their former beauty.
I attended a meeting at UCSF’s Milberry Union last evening, 20 March 2019.
UCSF is rejigging its plans for Parnassus. After spending the last many years focused on its new location at Mission Bay, they want to come back to where it all started: Parnassus. They’re planning a new hospital by 2029, which will comply with new seismic codes. Beyond that, they want to improve the aesthetics of the Parnassus experience – create a sense of entry, strengthen the connection to Golden Gate Park and Mount Sutro, and build more space. They have a community group working on it, with mostly Inner Sunset residents and UCSF staff. (The list is here as a PDF: UCSF_Parnassus_Heights_Roster )
NEW PLANS FOR ALDEA
For those who aren’t aware of it, UCSF’s Aldea Student Housing adjoins Forest Knolls to the north just above Christopher Drive from Clarendon Avenue to where the forest is cut for the pipeline.
Among the plans to expand housing for students and staff, they are considering rebuilding the student housing at Aldea, from 171 units now to 500+ units when the project concludes. Aldea used to be subject to the “space ceiling” (explained in this post: UCSF’s Space Ceiling Saga) but apparently in 2014, the UC Regents decided to exempt it – as with all the other student housing.
To do this, they plan to replace their current, mostly 3-storied buildings, with 5-8 story buildings. They will probably start with the oldest ones, which are nearest to Forest Knolls.
For our neighborhood, it raises several questions:
Parking. As it is, a lot of UCSF people park in Forest Knolls and Midtown Terrace because of inadequate parking at Aldea and Parnassus. If the number of units at Aldea triples, what happens to parking?
Traffic. Aldea gives on to Clarendon at an awkward spot, just before the wide road up from Laguna Honda turns into the narrow one joining Twin Peaks Boulevard. Right now, Aldea doesn’t generate much traffic. But if it’s going to be housing 500 families? This is an area with NO amenities within walking distance – even a gallon of milk is a car-ride away. The connections to MUNI are also dismal. The only thing they have is the UCSF shuttle, down to Parnassus.
Aesthetics. Aldea is adjacent to Forest Knolls on the north. Right now, the Aldea buildings are low-key, low-rise shingled buildings partially hidden by trees. With plans for major tree removal as part of the “Vegetation Management Plan” for Mount Sutro, these buildings will be much more visible. The most recent structure at Aldea, the community center, is not very reassuring in terms of aesthetic inspiration. (See the boxy structure in the picture below.)
Time Line. I didn’t get a clear sense of the time-line on Aldea. There’s something on the last slide that suggests 2025 as the target date, which means they will move quickly. As a state organization, they don’t need city permission, and are exempt from the usual constraints on building.
I’m uploading a bunch of pictures I took of the presentation. They said that they would be putting it on their website, so hopefully you can get better quality pictures there soon. (I might download it here if it’s feasible.)
This article is taken (with permission) from the SaveSutro.com website. It says UCSF’s Plan for Mount Sutro – which could start as early as this winter – could directly increase the risk for our neighbors on Christopher and Crestmont.
I started thinking about it. It’s a pretty insidious. The cutting of trees, and widening of the road to use heavy machinery and trucks up above our neighborhood could have very long-lasting effects – for five to ten years after the project, according to the research. Nothing might happen immediately – and then along comes a really wet stormy winter and whoosh!
Is this something real estate agents will have to disclose? I don’t know. And if something does happen – what’s the insurance situation? (I’m not even going to think of the risk to families living there.)
Anyway, this article is to let our Crestmont and Christopher neighbors know about these concerns. There’s more about the UCSF 2017 Plan on SaveSutro.com
Recently, we wrote that the Sutro Forest 2017 Plan Imposes a Landslide Risk. A University of Washington study shows that mudslides are most like 5-10 years after trees have been cut down on slopes. The picture below shows the South Ridge, which will be directly affected.
But it’s not just the tree-cutting. UCSF is widening two major trails into roads fit for heavy equipment, and adding nine quarter-acre “staging areas” for machines and felled trees. Both the roads are above Forest Knolls. (The heavy yellow lines in the map below are the new roads. The red squares are the locations of the staging areas, each of which will be a quarter acre.)
The picture at the top of this article gives some indication of how steep the hillside is. And the roads above Forest Knolls are atop a slope *known* to be unstable. Look at this landslide hazard map:
The double black arrows show landslide direction. The wiggly black arrows show soil creep direction. All those dark green areas? Potentially unstable. All the gold areas? Also potentially unstable.
Though the Draft Environmental Impact Report claims it’s making safety its first priority – it doesn’t look like it. In attempting to mitigate one (overstated) concern (dead trees falling), they’re worsening the risk of landslides.
The Sutro Stewards and UCSF are going ahead with plans to build the Clarendon connector trail, which would run inside the screen of trees that divides Forest Knolls from UCSF’s Aldea Housing. This is, coincidentally, the area that was severely thinned in August 2013. (Before picture above, after picture below.) This means that the actual trail probably will cause less destruction than it would have before. They hope to finish it by November 2016.
The trail would start on the Clarendon- Christopher corner, go into the narrow alley behind the pump house and fence, and continue on parallel to Christopher. (That’s the orange line on the map below.)
They’re also going to punch a new trail through on the South Ridge (the purple squiggly line), in addition to the Quarry Road Trail that was built with no notice to the community. These trails would not be bad, except that they always end up destroying trees – if not immediately, a year or two later when tree lining the trail are declared hazardous. Over 1500 trees have been removed since 2013, with around 350 being felled this last winter. There’s such a thing as too many trails for a 63-acre forest.
NEW TRAIL HEAD PLANNED
On March 14th, they had a meeting to design a formal new trail head at Clarendon x Christopher. (The red labels aren’t original to the picture, they’re just to orient you.)
The initial designs showed a seating area of granite, a kiosk with maps and signs, and gravel. The idea was to provide a well-marked entrance to the forest from the UCSF side (there is already one from the Stanyan side) that would avoid the campus, connect to new trails across Clarendon Avenue being built by San Francisco Recreation and Parks (SFRPD) near Sutro Tower, and have street parking available since UCSF has no plans to provide additional parking for this. They were looking for public input on what they wanted at the Trail Head.
Some of the ideas – seating, some kind of shelter from the wind that blows up Clarendon, a water-fountain, an earthen berm along the Christopher side to provide wind protection, permeable pavers on the ground instead of gravel.
So far, no funds have been set aside for this. It seems to be a fund-raising opportunity for the Sutro Stewards, who plan to write grant proposals for the money. UCSF may provide some funding too, but it is unclear how much. The team – the Sutro Stewards, and Julie Sutton of UCSF, seemed to want people to think big. Maybe that would justify a bigger grant?
CONNECTING TO OTHER SFRPD TRAILS
Lisa Wayne of SFRPD attended, to show how the new trail would link to three other trail projects SFRPD is working on: The Creeks-to-Peaks Trail from Glen Canyon to Twin Peaks (already being built); the plan to turn half of the figure 8 on Twin Peaks into a bicycle/ pedestrian area by restricting cars to the other half (in design); and trails to connect Twin Peaks to Mount Sutro via trails past Sutro Tower (yellow dotted line below – in planning).
She’s hoping to get work started this summer, for an opportunity to use VOCAL volunteers. Hope this doesn’t mean cutting down trees in the nesting season. Actually, not cutting down trees at all would be better, but trees are apparently the casualty of every SFRPD project, especially near any “Natural Area.”
CONNECTING TO THE BAY AREA RIDGE TRAIL
Several people from the Bay Area Ridge Trail group came, and Bern Smith spoke about how this new trail would connect to other trails and become part of a 550-mile trail system around the Bay.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR FOREST KNOLLS?
Quite aside from such issues as tree removal and thinning of the forest, this project will practically be part of our neighborhood. On the one hand, if there’s enough seating, it might make a picnic or gathering spot for a neighborhood that doesn’t have one. On the other – could this mean parking problems on nice days?
UCSF is taking comments. You can send them to Christine Gasparac: firstname.lastname@example.org
COMMENTS AT THE MEETING
The gallery below shows the comments from people at the meeting – which included a few members of the public, but no neighborhood representatives. If you click on the pictures, they should become legible.
I just got an email from Christine Gasparac, the Community Relations officer at UCSF saying they’re offering a free dental clinic for kids on Feb 21, 2015. I’m sharing it here in case any parents among you are interested.
Students and faculty from the UCSF School of Dentistry will be offering free dental services – screenings, sealants, and fluoride treatments – for kids 4-17 on Saturday, February 21 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. The screening satisfies the K-1 school oral assessment requirement.
What: Give Kids A Smile Day (ages 4-17)
When: Saturday, February 21, 2015 (9:00 AM to 4:00 PM)
Where: UCSF School of Dentistry, 707 Parnassus Avenue @ 4th Avenue (served by MUNI lines 6, 43, 66, N-Judah)
Questions: mailto: CPHAN@UCSF@gmail.com https://www.facebook.com/ucsfCPHAN
UCSF is offering an open house at its Fitness Center – with free workouts – through January 10, 2015. They’re also offering free enrollments any time in January. Here’s their message:
Happy New Year. UCSF’s Fitness Center is holding an open house event this week that is open to our neighbors. The Fitness Center is offering free workouts now through January 10. If you become a member in January, there is no enrollment fee. Learn more at http://bit.ly/transform2015.
The Fitness Center is located in Millberry Union at 500 Parnassus Avenue.
If you have questions, you can call them at 476-0348.
I attended UCSF’s quarterly meeting of its Community Advisory Group on 3rd Dec 2014. (I’m not on the CAG, I went as a member of the public.)
UCSF’s Long Range Development Plan (2015-2035) has been approved. (This presumably includes removing the Aldea Student Housing from the space ceiling. You can read more about that HERE.)
Right now, there are two ongoing projects on the Parnassus campus (that’s the Inner Sunset campus, on the other side of Mount Sutro from Forest Knolls). The first is demolition and landscaping of 374 Parnassus, where a small building is being knocked down and converted to open space. The larger one is work on the old building, UC Hall which was earlier to be knocked down but is now to be converted to offices and housing.
UCSF staff made two presentations about Sutro Forest recently. One was to the Urban Forestry Council. The Council has a listening series in which they invited a large number of stakeholders to talk about San Francisco’s urban forests. (SaveSutro also made a presentation to them about Sutro Forest.) They expect to issue a report possibly next spring.
The other was to the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Committee (PROSAC). Christine Gasparac, who was one of the presenters, said that PROSAC was particularly interested in recreational access to Mount Sutro.
There was some discussion around Sutro Forest. CAG member Dennis Antenore spoke of the management plan written 14 years ago that embodied Best Management Practices. I pointed out that it didn’t – it was designed to cut down most of the trees. What management is implemented depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you wish to preserve the forest – which is a unique and beautiful jewel of San Francisco – then it requires less intervention, not more. If you’re trying to turn it over to native plants, then you would want to cut down trees. Craig Dawson (also a CAG member, Executive Director of the Sutro Stewards, who favors cutting down trees and using herbicides to stop them coming back) said that the opponents of the plan were stopping UCSF from acting to save the forest and it’s dying.
They’ve been talking about the forest “dying” for years. (Here’s an article from the year 2000 – in which Craig Dawson is quoted. It’s based on the erroneous assumption that eucalyptus has a 100-year life-span, which is not true. It lives 300-500 years.) But experts inforestry, eucalyptus, and ecology have walked through and seen a healthy, thriving forest. Some trees are in poor condition, but that’s natural. If they are actually hazardous, they should of course be removed. But if they’re not, they’re valuable to the forest’s ecology. To say that the forest is dying because some trees in it are in poor condition is like saying San Francisco is dying because it has some people who are old and ailing.
Dr Renee Navarro, UCSF’s Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Outreach, made an excellent presentation about UCSF’s progress in increasing the percentage of women and minorities among its students and employees. On the whole, they’ve done well in terms of employing women; UCSF staff are about 68% women, and even in the rarefied group of the 20 or so people who are in senior management, 40% are female.
For minorities, staff numbers superficially look quite good: around 58% non-white. There are two issues, though. First, most of this diversity is concentrated among the support staff. Only 36% of managers are minorities, and among the senior management, it’s 15%. Second, when it’s broken down, it shows the percentage of African Americans has actually declined between 2006 and 2014 – meaning growth in hiring hasn’t kept pace with UCSF’s expansion from 13 thousand employees in 2006 to 16.5 thousand in 2014. There’s been a marked increase in the percentage of Asian employees (from 33% to 37%), and some increase in the percentage of Hispanic employees, from 11% to 12.%)
It’s possible this reflects the changing demographics of San Francisco and the Bay Area, but UCSF is also taking measures to make attract and retain minority employees, and to create a multicultural and diverse organization.
She also spoke about community partnerships and early outreach to students in High School or even earlier, and opportunities UCSF is trying to create for its own employees to improve their skills and move to higher levels.
UCSF’s Intensive Care Unit at Mount Zion is their designated Ebola Isolation Unit should it become necessary. They are also encouraging medical workers who want to go fight the epidemic in West Africa to do so, preserving their jobs and seniority. There’s a quarantine procedure in place for when they return, depending on the level of exposure they have had. UCSF focuses on professional quarantine, but will co-ordinate with Department of Health in case community quarantine is appropriate.
OTHER ISSUES DISCUSSED
UCSF’s Mission Bay medical center is currently holding community tours and have had an excellent response. The hospital is scheduled to open February 1st, 2015, when a “stream of ambulances” will transport patients from Parnassus to Mission Bay.
UCSF has acquired two parcels of land – Blocks 33/ 34 in Mission Bay – and are beginning to plan what they’ll put there. Meanwhile, they are working with the City and the Warriors to figure out how to mitigate the traffic ad parking impact of the planned new stadium, which will be right next to the hospital’s Emergency Room.
They’re also proceeding with the plan to divest the Laurel Heights campus via a ground lease. They think the actual move from there will take about 4 years. It’s going to be replaced with housing and possibly some retail.
They continue with efforts to hire locally for construction projects. Part of the issue is they use Union contractors, who for skilled trades favor seniority over local residency. They also compete with other projects that seek to hire local workers in the construction trades.
UCSF sent around this message to all the Parnassus neighbors (broadly defined). The event is open to all.
Next week, the fitness center in UCSF’s Millberry Union is hosting a festival with complimentary workout classes and fitness consultations. The free activities are open to the UCSF community and to neighbors.
September 25, 2014
Millberry Fitness & Recreation Center
500 Parnassus Avenue, Level B1
Body Composition Testing Personal Trainer Consultations Event Specials
11:00 am-2:30 pm Free body composition testing and fitness consultations
11:15 am-11:45 am GRIT™ CARDIO
11:50 am-12:35 pm ZUMBA®
12:45-1:15 pm CXWORX™
1:30-2:20 pm BODYFLOW ™
I attended the UCSF quarterly Community Advisory Group meeting on Sept 3, 2014. The two topics of immediate interest to the Forest Knolls neighborhood are Aldea Student Housing and Sutro Forest.
Recently [Aug 12, 2014], UCSF had a meeting specifically to discuss removing Aldea student housing from the Space Ceiling. I reported on that HERE. At this meeting [i.e. the Sept 3rd meeting], they said they will go ahead.
Here’s the background:
In brief – following UCSF’s massive conflict with neighbors about its expansion plans, in 1976 the University of California Board of Regents passed a resolution that introduced a “space ceiling” that prohibited UCSF from expanding to more than 3.55 million sq feet of space in the Parnassus campus. The ceiling (which has been exceeded years ago, but still serves as a target and benchmark) does not apply to housing. However, Aldea Student Housing, which is next to Forest Knolls along Clarendon Avenue, was specifically excluded from the exclusion, meaning that it does count toward the space ceiling. UCSF wants to remove the restriction on Aldea Student Housing.
At the August 12th meeting, nearly everyone present opposed removing Aldea from the Space Ceiling. Here’s why:
Removing Aldea Housing from the space ceiling could trigger an expansion, limited only by funding availability. (Technically, UCSF as a state organization doesn’t even have to follow city codes – though they usually do try to comply.)
It would set a poor precedent in which the Board of Regents could remove any restrictions despite prior agreements with the community.
It ignored earlier commitments. When UCSF built the Stem Cell Research facility, it used about 0.5 acres of the Forest; it was going to demolish two dorms in Aldea Student Housing and return the area to the forest in compensation. Under the new proposal, this would not happen.
As Rick Osmon said in a comment to my earlier report:
“I was at the meeting on August 12. After it became clear that the neighbors who were at the meeting were in agreement that the Aldea housing should not be removed from UCSF’s overall space limits, Lori Yamauchi proposed adding language to the LRDP [Long Range Development Plan that would restrict any increase in density of units at the Aldea housing site. The biggest fear expressed by those at the meeting is that UCSF would embark on intensive development of the Aldea site. The [Associate] vice-chancellor’s proposal was welcomed by everyone I heard speak.”
At this CAG meeting, Associate Vice Chancellor Lori Yamauchi said they will ask the Regents to remove Aldea from the space ceiling. They think only a minority of the community oppose it. However, they were not asking for the repeal of the space ceiling as a whole.
They also said they would not increase the density of units at Aldea beyond existing levels. They only wished to retain the buildings they had earlier undertaken to knock down.
I found this reassuring. However, I met Lori later as we were leaving the building, and mentioned I’d be writing a report to the neighborhood on this website.
“You can say the LRDP has no plans to build more housing at Aldea,” she said.
“No plans to build isn’t the same as will not build,” I said. “Can you give a letter saying will not build?”
“I’m not prepared to negotiate that with the neighbors,” she said. (In all fairness, it was reasonable she wouldn’t give an undertaking then. It was an informal chat, as we were leaving the meeting.)
“But,” she added, “You can write a comment from the neighborhood.” She said they would be taking comments on the LRDP to the end of this month, and on the Environmental Impact Report until October 14, 2014.
You can email Damon Lew at dlew@CGR.UCSF.EDU and Lori Yamauchi at email@example.com
One issue that was discussed was UCSF’s credibility. We’re all supporters of this great medical school. However, we have had numerous occasions when we thought we had a commitment… and found we didn’t.
I don’t think there’s a huge problem with retaining the dorms as they are. But I do think there’s a problem when UCSF undertakes something, and then pretty much decides to waive its decision. Situations do change, and there may be reasons to revisit earlier decisions. But it has to be done in consultation with the broader community.
OTHER ISSUES DISCUSSED
UCSF presented their ten-year capital plan (2014-15 to 2023-24), which included projects greater than $750,ooo in size. It totaled $1.6 billion, and included $460 mn of seismic safety work as well as some major building projects. (The presentation UCSF made, including these details, is HERE.)
They discussed minority hiring goals, and the EXCEL program that trained people from areas surrounding Mission Bay campus. There was concern about the African-American hiring goals specifically, and whether UCSF was doing enough.
They hope to build a new building behind SF General Hospital (which is not seismically upgraded) to move staff currently in the old building.
They discussed the new helipad at Mission Bay, which will be commissioned in October/ November.
They are in talks about the Warriors planned stadium, which will be right behind the Mission Bay campus (and close to the pediatric Emergency Room), regarding traffic flows and security issues.
MOUNT SUTRO FOREST
There’s been another evaluation of the trees for hazard. They said they do a hazard evaluation every two years, and they will be removing trees by year end. They did not know how many trees they would remove. (This would be in addition to around 1200 trees removed in the last 13 months.)
They will putting in signs for mountain-bike riders, informing them that they must yield to hikers and joggers.
A new trail – “The Sunset Trail” is being included in the capital budget. (I think that’s the black line near the top of the map.) It will likely be built this year or next. They did not say how many trees (if any) they would remove now – or later, in consequence of the trail’s existence.
UCSF will be holding a meeting on September 22nd, 2014, to further discuss the Long Range Development Plan.
About a month ago, I’d posted about a UCSF meeting regarding its plans for the Aldea San Miguel student housing. (This is the UCSF area off Clarendon Avenue just up the hill from Forest Knolls – see map at the bottom of this post.)
I attended the meeting, in the beautiful Spanish-revival UCSF Faculty Alumni Building. The gathering was relatively small. Damon Lew of UCSF said they had sent out 2,000 postcards notifying people. I guess it’s summer.
At present, Aldea is currently included in the overall “space ceiling” that restricts UCSF from expanding over 3.55 million square feet in the Parnassus area. (I wrote about those details in an earlier post, HERE.) Now UCSF wants to remove the 130,000 sq feet of Aldea housing from the 3.55 mn sq feet space ceiling. It argues that other university housing is not included in the space ceiling, and Aldea is an anomaly that could be rectified. (UCSF has actually exceeded the space ceiling for years, but seems to use it as a sort of benchmark and target.)
From what I understood, UCSF wants:
Initially, to preserve 3 dorm buildings it wasscheduled to demolish by 2024 in order to reduce square footage and bring it closer to the space ceiling. It represents 42 units of housing.
Later, it could replace them (and others of the 12 buildings at Aldea) with larger and more modern housing units – or, if it’s outside the space ceiling, maybe even with offices or other work areas.
COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC
Here are some of the key comments:
Dennis Antenore, a UCSF Community Advisory Group member, said he didn’t support removing Aldea. However, he thought if the community fought it, there was a real threat that the UC Board of Regents could decide to abolish the Space Ceiling altogether. If UCSF recommended that, the Regents would undoubtedly vote in favor.
Walter Caplan of the Forest Knolls Neighborhood Organization pointed out that our neighborhood would be directly impacted by anything that was done at Aldea, and he opposed removing Aldea from the space ceiling. He considered removal essentially giving UCSF a blank check for expansion in that area.
UCSF’s Lori Yamauchi responded by pointing out that even with the space ceiling, it didn’t limit Aldea to its current size; they could demolish elsewhere and expand in Aldea.
UCSF’s Barbara Bagot-Lopez said that when UCSF built housing elsewhere, it did so in consultation with the neighbors. As a state institution, they are not bound by city regulations about height limits, but they did observe them anyway out of respect for the community. So if they did decide to expand in Aldea, they would do the same thing.
Craig Dawson (Sutro Stewards, and also a member of UCSF’s Community Advisory Group -CAG) opposed removing Aldea from the space ceiling for several reasons. First, it would affect UCSF’s credibility; Aldea was included in the space ceiling for a reason, even when other housing wasn’t. Moreover, the demolition of 2 Aldea buildings were specifically included as an offset to the new Stem Cell research building, which took in 0.5 acres of the Forest. Finally, he said, it’s not a suitable place to expand housing, with no public transport or neighboring community. He also felt UCSF had not kept to the undertakings made in the previous Long Range Development Plan of 1996.
Lori Yamauchi disagreed vehemently; she said UCSF worked in good faith with the community, and though they may not have done everything they said (mainly demolition of some buildings), they were working to achieve the same goals.
Serena, a student of UCSF who lives at Aldea, emphasized how important housing was to students. She left a well-paid Federal job and came to San Francisco a full three months before her course started, only to ensure she got into housing. She pointed out that medical students make good neighbors, and add value to society. We should be supportive.
Several in the group agreed with her on both counts.
Bob (didn’t get his surname) asked what UCSF meant by “community.” Did it consider people like him, who were just residents of the area?
I thought that was an excellent question. UCSF calls the Community Advisory Group the “backbone” of its community engagement – but that’s a hand-picked group, many of whom have been on the CAG for years if not decades. It also refers to neighborhood organizations, but those often have the same structure. It’s important, in my opinion, to get the voices of the broader community – people who may not have the time to attend numerous meetings over many years, but nonetheless care about and are impacted by UCSF decisions.
Another person whose name I didn’t catch thought UCSF should keep its promises to neighbors, and consider the ripple effects of its actions on the neighborhoods – for instance, making parking impossible to get.
I am fine with delaying the demolition of the 3 dorms and preserving the 42 units beyond year 2024, but removing Aldea from the Space Ceiling is too open-ended of a change. From UCSF’s viewpoint, it probably is not worth the loss of credibility nor the potential conflict with the neighborhood. I also think it’s probably true that the Regents would agree to whatever UCSF proposes. But in my opinion, it’s for UCSF to avoid proposing something the community opposes. It shouldn’t be our responsibility to calculate whether the Regents would or wouldn’t support us.
SENSE OF THE MEETING
This is my sense of the meeting as it ended:
Almost everyone was opposed to removing Aldea from the space ceiling; even Dennis Antenore, who said the community should not oppose it, was not in favor. He just thought it might be a compromise.
Everyone understood the need for housing, especially below market-rate housing, for students and faculty near their place of work. Post-docs and doctoral students are paid between $32,000 and $45,000 annually – not enough in San Francisco’s rental market. It also reduces the need for commuting and thus reducing congestion and energy needs.
There was little opposition to retaining the 3 dorms scheduled for demolition.
There were concerns about UCSF and its undertakings to the community.
UCSF should not rely only on the CAG for its definition of “Community” but should broaden the viewpoints represented.
SEND COMMENTS AND OPINIONS
UCSF is in the process of making its Long Range Development Plan (LRDP), about which I posted HERE and HERE. It covers all the physical changes they plan for the Parnassus area (including of course the Aldea segment). The EIR is due out this Friday, Aug 15th, 2014. The UCSF website with all the LRDP information is HERE. They will be accepting comments on the LRDP and the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on it to October 14, 2014.
You can email Damon Lew at dlew@CGR.UCSF.EDU and Lori Yamauchi at firstname.lastname@example.org
UCSF has announced a meeting to talk about its plans for the Aldea San Miguel campus housing.
This is a cluster of wood-shingled buildings nestled at the foot of Sutro Forest, amid tall trees and landscaping. The house of the UCSF Chancellor is also in the same complex. It’s a charming place with almost a mountain-resort feel to it. It’s adjacent to our neighborhood, lying between Cole Valley and Forest Knolls and is approached from Clarendon Avenue and connects to Parnassus Avenue by Medical Center Way, a short winding route that resembles a country byway.
UCSF is in the midst of its Long Range Development Plan, which will be valid for 20 years. They expect to adopt it in November 2014.
In the 1970s, UCSF made an agreement not to expand in the Parnassus area. The Regents voted to impose ‘space ceiling’ that limited their space in the Parnassus areas to and also not to acquire any properties in the surrounding areas. (I attended a meeting in Feb 2014 and reported on that HERE.)
Here’s some background from one of my earlier posts.
“Back in 1976, UCSF had a strategy of stealth acquisition. It quietly acquired a bunch of houses (mainly in the 4th Avenue and 5th Avenue area in the Inner Sunset), used some eminent domain, and planned to knock them down and expand. It was trashing the neighborhood, and the neighbors revolted. The battle was bitterly fought, and went all the way up to Sacramento. When the smoke had cleared away, UCSF agreed to limits to growth in the neighborhood. The UC Regents passed a resolution. This had several important impacts on Forest Knolls.
It agreed to maintain the 61 acres of Sutro Forest as an Open Space. They weren’t going to build on it.
They imposed a limit – 3.55 million — on the total square footage in the Parnassus area. If they built something new, they would knock down something else.
They defined an expansion restriction area in which they would not acquire properties (they cannot accept gifts of properties in this area either. This restriction area – the map in the photo above – includes Forest Knolls (the line ends at Clarendon).
Recognizing that the influx of people (with the transport requirements and other pressures they bring) was also impacting neighborhoods, they included a goal of limiting the population to 13,400.”
WHAT’S UP NOW?
In fact, UCSF soon exceeded the space ceiling. They’ve also exceeded the people limit. (Details HERE.) But they have kept to points 1 and 3, maintaining Sutro Forest as open space, and not acquiring properties in the restriction area.
Student housing was explicitly excluded from the Space Ceiling, with the exception of Aldea Student Housing. Now, UCSF is considering excluding that, too.
What does that mean? I don’t know for sure. I’ve heard people say it could mean knocking down the old dorm buildings, and replacing them with something more modern. Probably not prettier, if the Hall they built a few years ago is any indication. Could it also be bigger? I don’t know. It depends on how they interpret their earlier undertakings – or how they choose to reinterpret them.
Will it impact the forest? It’s possible. In the last “fire safety” action, UCSF removed around 1,000 trees and all the understory on areas around the Aldea campus. This has made the forest in these areas much drier and less healthy, especially after drought conditions.
Will it impact Forest Knolls? Now that the forest between Forest Knolls and Aldea has been thinned to the point that Aldea is easily visible from Forest Knolls, whatever they do in Aldea will have more visual (and audible) impact on our neighborhood. What further impacts it may have I’m not sure.
Here’s the meeting announcement from UCSF. If you have concerns, it may be worth attending.
UCSF’s last Long Range Development Plan (LRDP), created in 1996, was designed to guide the university’s physical development through 2012. UCSF has embarked on its next LRDP, which has an expected planning horizon of 20 years. Community involvement is a key facet of this planning process.
This meeting will focus on the UCSF Aldea San Miguel housing complex. Information regarding past agreements with the community and current proposals within the draft LRDP will be discussed.
Date: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 Time: 6:30pm Location: Faculty Alumni House, 745 Parnassus Avenue @ 5th Avenue, San Francisco, CA
UCSF strives to ensure maximum public involvement in this important planning process. With an open and interactive process — identifying the best ideas and ensuring that all points of view are considered.
The UCSF Faculty Alumni House can be accessed by several MUNI Lines: #6, #43 and N-Judah. Parking is available in the Kirkham Avenue parking lot near the corner of Kirkham and 5th Avenue.
UCSF fully ascribes to the Americans with Disabilities Act. If at any time you feel you have a need for accommodation, please contact UCSF Community & Government Relations at 415-476-3206 or email@example.com with your suggested accommodation.
From time to time, I attend UCSF’s Long Range Development Plan meetings. My main concern is the forest on Mt Sutro, but I’m also interested in what’s happening down at Parnassus. Yesterday, I learned more about the ongoing saga of the Space Ceiling. (My last report on that was HERE and it provides background on some of the issues.)
The Space Ceiling was a self-imposed limit to growth that UCSF decided on in 1976. [See that here:1976-regents-resolution ] That was when it got into a huge battle with its Inner Sunset neighbors as the University spilled out in all directions, and started changing nearby neighborhoods. At the time, the limit was set at 3.55 million square feet. By 1996, it was at 3.66 mn (or 6% over) with a plan to reduce it to only 2% over by 2012. Instead, by 2012, it was 8.2% over the limit, at 3.84 mn sq ft.
WIN SOME, LOSE SOME
What’s happened since? Three things, which left them with a tiny net increase in the space to 3.844 mn sq feet, or 8.3% over the Ceiling.
They knocked down the building at 735 Parnassus, gaining 2,766 square feet.
They gained another 3,121 sq feet when they converted the office building at 1486-1488 Parnassus to student housing, which doesn’t count against the space ceiling. (The only housing that counts toward the Space Ceiling are the student housing units at Aldea, up above Forest Knolls off of Clarendon Avenue.)
However, they also did a careful re-measuring of the existing square footage of the Parnassus campus. They found that two changes increased the actual square footage: They enclosed the Food Court, which made it an inside space instead of an outside space; and they converted a mechanical space in Moffet Hospital into an “occupied space.” They also found some of the old measurements were inaccurate. So all told, they found that the actual existing space had been understated by 10,700 sq feet.
It’s really difficult to start knocking things down mainly to get UCSF under the Space Ceiling, so while it’s doing some demolition, UCSF is also converting more space to student housing (which, as we said, doesn’t count). They expect to double the amount of student housing at Parnassus.
They are also going to ask the Regents to revise the Ceiling specifications so that Aldea housing doesn’t count either.
Here are the current plans:
THE RESTRICTION ZONE
The other restriction on growth was on purchase or acquisition of properties in the “restriction zone” that includes Forest Knolls – see below. (UCSF’s aggressive acquisitions had been changing neighborhoods around it, and neighbors wanted it to stop.)
Anyway, UCSF reaffirmed their commitment to observing that Zone, but noted that they weren’t prohibited from leasing commercial properties, or affiliating with other public agencies in this area.
Here’s a closer view of the Restriction Zone. It includes Forest Knolls, Edgewood, Inner Sunset and Cole Valley.
They seem to have given up on the 16,000-a-day people limit. It’s crossed 18, 000 now. But they’ve promised an annual community meeting to monitor all the parameters.
Neighbors have been concerned with truck traffic, and UCSF did a traffic study. They’re looking for solutions like making loading/ unloading more efficient by having a permanent dockmaster stationed at Medical Center Way; using some of the demolished areas on Koret as additional truck parking, and consolidating deliveries elsewhere into UCSF trucks, so reducing the number of trips.
One commenter spoke about the problems of living next to the UCSF campus – glaring lights by the ammonia tank; 30-50 smokers daily, who were not allowed to smoke on UCSF’s Smoke-Free campus ended up under his window; noise from blaring radios on vehicles as they waited to move; and syringes being tossed over his fence. Not a great environment for his two small kids.
MOUNT SUTRO FOREST
Though the University wasn’t planning to discuss Sutro Forest, some of the changes planned will have a (apparently quite minor) impact on the forest. Also, supporters and opponents of UCSF’s current plan for Sutro Forest took the opportunity of this meeting to speak up. The report is HERE.
At this meeting, UCSF reiterated its commitment to keeping Mount Sutro as publicly accessible open space. (Some commenters had suggested that the University might have other plans.)
Here are the milestones going forward. The LRDP is to be adopted in November 2014.
I guess by now, most people in Forest Knolls have some idea that big changes are planned for the forest behind our neighborhood. Essentially, UCSF plans to cut down over 90% of the trees on three-fourths of the forest, and remove 90% of the undergrowth. The only bit to be spared would be 15 acres or so of steep hillside on the western side, above Inner Sunset.
UCSF is having a hearing on Feb 25th at 7 p.m. (They sent around postcards about this.) It’s at the Milberry Union, 500 Parnassus, CA 94134. If you can attend, please do, and speak up. If there’s a big turnout, they may limit each speaker to 2-3 minutes, so have your points ready.
WHY WE’RE CONCERNED
We’re concerned that it would ruin the forest’s character, and Forest Knolls would face consequences like:
Changes in wind patterns (the tall, closely-spaced trees are an impressive windbreak);
Risk of landslides (the old forest has intertwined and intergrafted roots that function like a living geo-textile and hold up the mountain, while the exposed rock on Twin Peaks has a rock-slide every year or two);
Pesticide drift into our neighborhood, affecting us and our pets (right now, Sutro Forest may be the only pesticide-free wildland in the city; the Natural Areas Program, which controls most of it, uses pesticides regularly)
Increased noise (the vegetation – the leaves of the trees and the shrubs in the understory are like soft fabrics absorbing sound)
Changes in air quality (trees reduce pollution by trapping particle on their leaves until they’re washed down)
Environmental impact – (eucalyptus is the best tree species for sequestering carbon because it grows fast, large, is long-lived, and has dense wood; but felled and mulched trees release this carbon right back into the atmosphere).
The implementation would be in two phases; it would start with the “demonstration” plots, around 7.5 acres in Phase I. The largest of these, #1 in the map is a 3-acre strip directly above Forest Knolls. Most of the trees would be cut, and tarping or pesticides used to prevent resprouting. Later, UCSF would extend the same plan to the entire forest (except for the 15 acre piece mentioned).
WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO:
1. Write to the Board of Regents, who will ultimately decide whether to approve this project. Ask them why they are undertaking this controversial, expensive, and ecologically destructive project, and gutting a San Francisco treasure to achieve a “parklike” environment. You can contact the Regents at their website HERE. (Their email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org )
2. Write a comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Report. The report is HERE. (It will take some time to load.) The person to write to is Diane Wong, and her email address is at: EIR@planning.ucsf.edu
The article below has been copied with some modifications from http://www.SaveSutro.com, which is a website set up to inform people about Mount Sutro Cloud Forest and to defend it.
Mount Sutro Forest has approximately 45,000 trees in the 61 acres belonging to University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and designated as an open space reserve. This dense forest, with an estimated 740 trees per acre, a sub-canopy of acacia, an understory of blackberry and nearly a hundred other plant species, is functionally a cloud forest. All summer long, it gets its moisture from the fog, and the dense greenery holds it in. Where it isn’t disturbed, it’s a lush beautiful forest, providing habitat for birds and animals, and a wonderful sense of seclusion from urban sounds and sights.
UCSF now has published a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on a project to remove over 90% of the trees on three-quarters of the area. Only 15 acres – on the steep western edge of the forest – will remain as they are. Tree-felling could start as early as Fall 2013.
Comments were due on March 4th, but because of the length and complexity of the document, neighbors asked for, and got, an extension. Comments are now due before March 19, 2013.]
On most of the forest (44 acres), UCSF plans to cut down trees to achieve a spacing of 30 feet between trees – the width of a small road – and mow down nearly all the understory habitat. On another 2 acres, they will space the trees 60 feet apart. The stumps of the trees will be covered in black plastic, or else poisoned with Garlon to prevent re-sprouting. Eventually, this will kill the roots, which will start to decay. We’ll address some of these issues in more detail in later posts.
Right now, we want to talk about the number of trees that will be felled. A spacing of 30 feet between trees gives about 50-60 trees per acre. A spacing of 60 feet gives 12-15 trees per acre.
(The easiest way to think about it is that each tree occupies a 30 x 30 foot space, or 900 sq ft. An acre is 43,560 sq ft, so this would give 48.4 trees to an acre. The DEIR calculates it as 61 trees per acre, assuming each tree occupies a circle that’s 30 feet in diameter, 707 sq ft. But there’s no way to arrange circles without wasted spaces between them, so this doesn’t exactly work.)
So on 44 acres, they will retain maybe 50 trees per acre (or maybe fewer). On two more acres with a 60-ft spacing, they will retain 12-15 trees per acre. All the rest will be cut down. Even using the DEIR’s overly optimistic calculation, they will be felling some 31,000 trees. Our calculations are closer to 32,000. Either way, it’s a huge number.
That means that in the 46 acres where UCSF will be felling trees, they will remove more than 90% of the standing trees.
The DEIR says that they will start by cutting down trees that are dead or dying. Aside from their value as habitat (some birds like woodpeckers depend on them), there are not all that many of them in Sutro Forest, which despite everything that has been claimed to to opposite, is a thriving forest. Next in line will be trees with diameters under 12 inches, or roughly 3 feet around – as thick as an adult’s waist. Then they’ll start on the larger trees. Since it’s going to be 90% of the trees, we expect thousands of large trees to be removed.
IT GETS WORSE
However, this is not all. We expect further tree losses for four reasons:
Wind throw. Since these trees have grown up in a dense forest where they shelter each other, removing 90% of the trees exposes the remaining 10% to winds to which they’re not adapted. This can be expected to knock down a significant number of the trees not felled. Since the Plan only calls for monitoring the trees and felling any that seem vulnerable to wind-throw, it’s unlikely any vulnerable trees will be saved.
Physical damage. Damage done to the remaining trees in the process of removing the ones they intend to fell. With such large-scale felling, damage to the other trees is inevitable, from machinery, erosion, and falling timbers.
Pesticide damage. This forest has an intertwined, intergrafted root system. When pesticides are used to prevent resprouting on tree-stumps and cut shrubs and ivy, it is quite possible for it to enter the root system and damage remaining trees.
Loss of support. Compounding the effects of the wind-throw, the remaining trees will suffer from a lack of support as the root network dies with 90% of the trees being removed. This could destabilize them, and make them more likely to fail.
What remains will be a seriously weakened forest with a greater risk of failure and tree-loss, not the healthier forest that the DEIR claims. It is likely that the long-term impact of the Project will be the elimination of the forest altogether, and instead will be something like Tank Hill or Twin Peaks plus a few trees.
IMPLEMENTING THIS PLAN
The project is to be implemented in two phases. In the first phase, trees will be felled and the understory removed in four “demonstration areas” totaling 7.5 acres. They are shown on the map below in yellow, as areas #1-#4. [The 3-acre area #1 is right above Forest Knolls.] One of these, #4 “East Bowl”, is the two-acre area slated to have only 12-15 trees per acre.
One area (#5 on the map) is supposed to be a “hands off” area to demonstrate the untouched forest. However, a trail has already been punched through it in November 2011, even before the DEIR had been published.
During this phase, they would experiment with the 3 acres on the South Ridge, just above the Forest Knolls neighborhood. On 1 acre, they would use tarping to prevent regrowth of felled trees; on 1 acre, they would use pesticides, particularly Garlon; and 1 acre they would trim off sprouts by hand. They could also use pesticides on the understory “consistent with city standards” – presumably those of the Natural Areas Program (See article on NAP’s Pesticide Use.)
In the Second Phase, the plan would be extended to the remaining forest, with the proviso that not more than a quarter of the forest would be “thinned” at “any given time.”
I attended a Community Action Group (CAG) meeting of UCSF last evening, mainly about their Long Range Development Plan (LRDP), 2014-2035. (It was a follow-up to the previous meetings, one of which is reported HERE.) This meeting covered three broad areas: The Space Ceiling; Parnassus Avenue Streetscape and traffic; and UCSF Shuttle bus operations. But first, an announcement, important for anyone following the Mount Sutro forest battle:
The Sutro Forest Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) will be published on Jan 18th, 2013. Then UCSF will take comments for 45 days; respond to the comments; and then they plan to certify the EIR. There’s a meeting on February 25th, at 7 p.m. during which people can give comments and feedback. (Clicking on the thumbnail picture here will take you to a larger – and hopefully readable version of the notice.)
In that last article, I noted that UCSF had set itself a 3.55 mn square foot “space ceiling” in response to neighborhood anger at their expansion strategies in the 1970s. However, it shot past this space ceiling early on, and currently exceeds it by 8.2%. For many neighbors – especially those in the Inner Sunset – space ceiling compliance is one of the most important issues. They hoped the new LRDP would bring UCSF into compliance.
No such luck. It looks like it will actually go to as high as 9% over the limit when the existing Moffat Hospital is demolished and rebuilt, perhaps 10-12 years from now.
UC Hall, an old and historic building, was originally slated for removal. That would have reduced the excess over limit. But now they plan to convert it to a mix of housing and other uses. Since housing doesn’t come under the space ceiling, this helps – but it doesn’t actually reduce congestion and related concerns. Later, UCSF may convert UC Hall completely to student housing, thus taking it out of the calculation. They also plan a similar housing conversion for Milberry Union towers, which also will be gone from the numbers (though not from the campus).
Other minor reductions in the space ceiling will come from demolishing a bunch of small buildings, including several in the forest, and three blocks of student housing in Aldea campus. I’m finding this counter-intuitive. The main congestion impact is down in the Inner Sunset, so UCSF is demolishing buildings in the lightly-trafficked Sutro Forest, and adding housing along Parnassus?
Anyway, by a combination of housing conversions and minor demolitions, they expect to end 2035 at only 5% over the space ceiling, compared with 8.2% now. The map above shows the actual demolitions in turquoise; the pink buildings will either be demolished and rebuilt, or converted to housing. One building, Proctor, is undecided; it could be made Open Space, or converted to housing.
UCSF are also considering giving up their Laurel Heights space and co-locating those functions at Parnassus or Mission Bay (or both).
PEOPLE AND CROSSWALKS
The people numbers – which were originally supposed to be limited to 13,400 average daily population and then to 16,000 – is already at around 18,000. According to the forecast, it will rise to 18,500-18,900 in 2035. Members of the CAG were rather skeptical about this number.
In addition to construction and changes in use in the buildings along Parnassus, they plan to remodel the road itself to make it more pedestrian-friendly and give it a stronger sense of place. Better sidewalks and a huge cross-walk are in the plans. The tree plan involves removing some 60 trees that are hazardous or “poor quality” and planting around 70. They will also evaluate the redwood grove at Parnassus and 7th at some later date, if they haven’t removed it during their construction work first.
There was also a discussion of shuttle-bus operations, the upshot being that they may be better able to match demand (peak demand exceeds number of trips on some routes, but doesn’t match capacity on others) and supply.
I went to UCSF’s long range development plan (LRDP) meeting a couple of days ago. My main interest is in Mount Sutro’s Cloud Forest, but I also wanted to know what the other issues and plans were.
(For more on the Mount Sutro Cloud Forest, go HERE. The meeting report relevant to the forest is HERE.)
UCSF’s plan will be adopted in 2014, and runs to 2035. So they’re looking at issues around UCSF’s growth plans, its impact on neighborhoods, and how to reconcile one with the other. Their full presentation is HERE (as a PDF) on their website.
LIMITS TO GROWTH
First, some background. Back in 1976, UCSF had a strategy of stealth acquisition. It quietly acquired a bunch of houses (mainly in the 4th Avenue and 5th Avenue area in the Inner Sunset), used some eminent domain, and planned to knock them down and expand. It was trashing the neighborhood, and the neighbors revolted. The battle was bitterly fought, and went all the way up to Sacramento.
When the smoke had cleared away, UCSF agreed to limits to growth in the neighborhood. The UC Regents passed a resolution. This had several important impacts on Forest Knolls.
It agreed to maintain the 61 acres of Sutro Forest as an Open Space. They weren’t going to build on it.
They imposed a limit – 3.55 million — on the total square footage in the Parnassus area. If they built something new, they would knock down something else.
They defined an expansion restriction area in which they would not acquire properties (they cannot accept gifts of properties in this area either. This restriction area – the map in the photo above – includes Forest Knolls (the line ends at Clarendon).
Recognizing that the influx of people (with the transport requirements and other pressures they bring) was also impacting neighborhoods, they included a goal of limiting the population to 13,400.
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
UCSF seems to have satisfied conditions 1 and 3. The Sutro Forest is still a forest (for now, anyway). And as far as I know, they haven’t bought anything within the expansion restriction area.
The space ceiling is another story. By 1996, they’d blown through it and were at 3.66 mn sq ft. They planned to reduce the excess by half in the next period, by 2012. That didn’t work. Instead of reducing it, they went even further over the limit. They now have 3.84 mn sq ft, 8.2% over the limit.
The People limit’s also been exceeded. Set at 13,400 in 1976, it had gone to 15,400 in 1996. UCSF adopted a different goal: 16,000 people. They’re well over that now, at nearly 18,000.
So if you’re wondering why Parnassus Avenue seems increasingly crowded every time you go by there – now you know.
The Inner Sunset neighbors were most concerned about traffic and space ceilings. UCSF offered ways to reduce the square footage, the most important being to demolish University Hall. (The UCSF slides discussing those options are HERE as a PDF.)
They are also talking of how to plan for traffic, and for their shuttles. Though we in Forest Knolls aren’t directly affected, it certainly does impact us each time we go down 6th Avenue and through the Parnassus bottleneck.
If anyone wants to get involved, more meetings are planned. The UCSF LRDP website has the details.
I attended a meeting of the Inner Sunset Park Neighbors today. This group represents some 300 households in the Inner Sunset; the meeting was chaired by Andrea Jadwin. Since this is just below our neighborhood, I’m reporting some updates:
PARKLET ON 9TH AVENUE
The parklet outside Arizmendi Bakery (on 9th Avenue) is probably going ahead. This will be a small area with chairs and tables for anyone to sit.
Opponents have chiefly been concerned about putting people so close to traffic; supporters love the idea of a place to enjoy the neighborhood (and perhaps a delicious snack from Arizmendi!)
INNER SUNSET STREET FAIR IN OCT 2011
This year’s Inner Sunset Street Fair is scheduled for October 16th. This would be the second annual Inner Sunset street fair. They’re looking for donations and volunteers. Their website is here, with information about getting booths, volunteering and donating.
The Hidden Garden Steps project is also seeking donations and volunteers. Neighbors want to refurbish an existing staircase with a colorful ceramic tile mosaic — something like the brilliant tiled steps below Turtle Hill. The delightful design starts with a worm and mushroom at the bottom, and rises into a blue sky with flowers and a dragonfly.
PLANS OF THE BICYCLE COALITION
San Francisco Bicycle Coalition‘s Neal Patel made a presentation about their current initiatives. Apparently, 7 out of 10 San Franciscans use bicycles at least occasionally. The Coalition’s focus is on getting people to use bikes more, both for recreation and transport. They’ve added 34 miles of bike trails in 2009, but now want to have bike lanes connecting the city, safe for people from 8 to 80 to use. New bike lanes get people out on their bicycles. Their vision is of a safe biking trail, ideally with a physical barrier between the bike lane and car traffic, from the beach to the Bay.
The Coalition also offers urban cycling workshops covering rules and safety for kids, adults, and older adults who haven’t been on a bike in years… Questions focused on safety (including cyclists’ respect for pedestrians), specific bike routes, and bike-share systems.
I wanted the Coalition to use its outreach capability (it has 12,000 members) to warn people to wear reflective clothing in the fog. I can’t say how many times I’ve seen cyclists riding almost invisibly on Twin Peaks and areas surrounding our neighborhoods.
ADVOCATING FOR PEDESTRIANS
WalkSF’s Elizabeth Stampe talked about her organization, which focuses on making SF safer and more fun to walk. Since we’re all pedestrians to some degree, this is important for everyone. She pointed out the 800 people were hit by cars each year in SF — and thought this was possibly an understated number.
She mentioned measures to improve safety:
School zone speeds will be reduced to 15 mph for most schools in the city, which will make it safer for kids to walk to school;
They’re looking for better law enforcement (people don’t stop at Stop signs, for instance, or yield to pedestrians as they legally should do);
Looking for ways to redesign streets to slow traffic down and curb speeding.
One person described his efforts to get action on the dangerous intersection at 8th and Lawton, the site of several accidents. He wanted a Stop sign put in there. The SFMTA refused because (a) it’s a bus route, and this would slow the bus; (b) it increases carbon dioxide emissions; (c) enforcement of Stop signs is a problem, they’re widely ignored so why bother to add more?
The subsequent discussion focused on other ways to make a street less speedy; Stampe pointed out that the most dangerous roads are wide, straight and one-way because they encourage speed. Someone suggested more of the pedestrian-activated yellow flashing lights at crossings. The yellow signs in the road median saying State Law required stopping for pedestrians also helps.
Besides advocating for safety, WalkSF has volunteer-led walks all over the city. The next one is 12 miles, “Peak2Peak.” Also, they will host a Mayoral Candidates’ Forum on September 12th. (Details on their website.)
UCSF’s COMMUNITY ACTION GROUP
Craig Dawson spoke about UCSF’s Community Action Group (CAG), of which he is a founder member. They provide input to UCSF about issues concerning the community. UCSF initiated this group in 1991, when Laurel Heights neighbors were in legal battle with UCSF. They approached, Dawson said, their critics to be in the Group. He and Dennis Antenore have been on it since then. It includes four ISPN members: Craig Dawson; Dennis Antenore; Susan Maerki; and Kevin Hart.
The CAG is expecting to increase its activity as UCSF is currently working on its new Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) expected to be adopted in Feb 2014. Dawson urged neighbors to get more involved as the new LRDP would bring many changes affecting the neighborhood.
One issue is UC Hall, one of the oldest UCSF buildings. It was slated for demolition so UCSF could get within their “space ceiling” — a total amount of space the University can use within the Parnassus campus. (The ceiling was adopted when neighbors became concerned at the University’s rampant growth, but UCSF has exceeded it for many years.) However, it’s a historic Beaux Arts building, and some oppose its destruction. UCSF is now considering other uses for it; one possibility is housing, which would not count toward the space ceiling. The cost of a seismic retrofit may be an issue. Look out for public hearings.
Neighbors wanted to know how to get involved. UCSF’s Damon Lew (who was present) has joined ISPN, and will be posting information. Also, UCSF offered to host an ISPN meeting to discuss UCSF-related issues.
Speaking as Executive Director of Sutro Stewards, Craig Dawson very briefly described activities on the “underutilized” 61 acres of Mount Sutro owned by UCSF: planting the Native Garden, building trails, and preserving native plants under the eucalyptus. There was no mention of UCSF’s proposed plans to cut down thousands of trees.