Archive for March, 2006

Four wheels good, two legs bad?

Arrol Gellner writes today on Inman News about America’s fascination with their cars and the lack of city planning that could do something about it…

We Americans are a puzzling bunch. We travel to Italy, France or Spain and come back smitten with the charmingly walk-able streets, close-knit houses, and humanly scaled public spaces we find there. Yet we seldom stop to wonder why our own built environment is so utterly lacking in those traits.

It’s no mystery: In spite of rising population and dwindling resources, America remains saddled with long outdated planning ideals that are the furthest thing from the European examples we admire so much.

America is a vast nation, and perhaps in consequence, our planners and engineers have historically been trained to think big. This tendency has produced some magnificent civil engineering projects such as railways, dams and bridges. Yet it hasn’t been nearly so successful at the scale of human habitation.

Thanks to the megalomania of our traffic engineers, for example, American cities are among the least pedestrian-friendly in the world. Each year, larger and larger swaths of urban and suburban land are paved over with ubiquitous six-lane thoroughfares bristling with redundant arrays of traffic signals. Aside from creating barren, monotonous and alienating cityscapes, such roads are also daunting barriers to people on foot, no matter how many kinds of whiz-bang pedestrian signals we install. Rather than drawing our cities together, our roads tear them apart, providing one more incentive for Americans to drive instead of walk.

I guess we have some semblance of ‘planning’ in San Francisco… The planning department waits for the Supervisors to come up with something, then they all fight over it with the mayor for a while, and it appears now that eventually there will be nowhere to park your car… So dammit, get out and walk!

Mayor vetoes C-3 parking legislation, but offers amendment [SFHomeBlog]


Don't Mess with Potrero Hill

File this one under “what not to do when advertising real estate”, I guess…

The Potrero Hill blog takes a local real estate company to task for some misrepresentations of the neighborhood in a recent mailer,

I appreciate Hill & Co. promoting the hood, but c’mon guys let’s get some facts straight. The Neighborhood House and Community Garden aren’t exactly businesses, and the locals call the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House ‘the NABE’.

I’m wondering if the residents of Bernal Heights got a similar mailer, as the original Four Star Video store is located there (and no, I don’t refer to it as Dr. Video).

Word of advice to Hill & Co: If you’re going to try to pretend you know Potrero Hill, at least do some fact checking with the locals.

Potrerowhere? [Curbed SF]

Don’t Mess With Bernal… [SFHomeBlog]


Glen Park's Overdue Library (updated)

From CurbedSF,

And even though we probably will never go there, we got all steamed and also wanted to know “what the hell is going on with the library-turned-condos-turned-supermarket that they’ve been building at the corner of Diamond and Bosworth for, like, the last six years (since the last one burned down)? The structure is complete, and it looks like they are doing finishing work on it now, but so far all we see is a sign to support the local library. WTF?”

We know you really want a supermarket (you guys should talk to Noe Valley), but that’s the site of the new Glen Park branch library. It’s supposed to be finished and open at the end of 2006, and get ready for some cool public art because that’s all been comissioned.

3/31 Update from Curbed:

Construction’s supposed to be completed April 1. Since that’s tomorrow, that completion date appears unlikely but based on the project’s history, our hats are totally off to the developers who managed to get it this far.

Some debate about the location of the market in the complex- Canyon Market rather than Bi-Rite, since Bi-Rite pulled out of the deal when the developer changed in 2003. We think it will occupy the big ground floor with the library upstairs. Then again maybe not. One tipster said the market’s requirement for a full-scale kitchen and ventilation slowed the project down, but considering that the original grocery burned down in 1998, that seems to be an exaggeration. Canyon Market is the project of Jane and Richard Tarlov, formerly of Oakville Grocery, and they’re scheduled to open August 1.

Glen Park Community Plan [SF Planning Dept.]

New Construction – Glen Park Branch [SF Public Library]


SFHomeBlog featured on featured this very site today…

Matt’s blog is a great example of how you really don’t need a bunch of fancy graphics and web knowledge to have a great blog. SFHomeblog uses a stock, free template from Matt took the extra step of FTP to his personal website, and has added a few key links, but that’s it. SFHomeblog’s popularity is due only to Matt’s great writing, a goal every blogger should aspire to.

Thanks guys!

And someday I may even spend the time to bring in some bells and whistles, but for now, you see it for what I had hoped it would be… Good info, no fluff…


Bad to worse: Teachers vote to strike

From SFGate today,

San Francisco public school teachers overwhelmingly approved a walkout Wednesday night in the first strike vote taken by the group in 27 years.

The United Educators of San Francisco — which represents 6,000 teachers and aides working in the San Francisco Unified School District — voted 2,203 to 317 to strike.

The union has been working without a contract since July 2004. The teachers and aides last had a pay raise in the 2002-03 academic year.

Interim Superintendent Gwen Chan said she was surprised the strike vote passed by such a large margin.

“I’m disappointed that the vote indicates that the teachers are prepared to strike,” she said. “We have really looked at our books and tried to come up with more, but it’s very challenging. We’ll have to make big sacrifices if the board decides to offer more.”

The union is asking for a 10 percent raise, much of it in retroactive pay, plus a onetime, 1 percent bonus for every member. The district is offering a 7.5 percent raise, with almost half of it not coming until June 2007.

Myong Leigh, the district’s chief of policy and planning, said the money differential between the two proposals is $27 million over the life of the new contract, which would expire June 30, 2007. Kelly said Wednesday he didn’t agree with that number but couldn’t provide the union’s calculation.

The union also is fighting for several new health and safety provisions, including rodent extermination, a first aid kit in every classroom, and a working phone line in every classroom.

SF Teachers Vote To Authorize Strike []

San Francisco Strike? [Intercepts]

SF Teachers and Paraprofessionals Strike Vote set for March 29 [UESF]