CALL TO ACTION:
Call or write London Breed, Scott Wiener, and David Chiu, asking them to hold Wiener's proposed CEQA legislation until both Jane Kim's and Wiener's can be heard at the same time before the Land Use Committee and the Board of Supervisors. Wiener's legislation is scheduled to be heard before Land Use on Monday, April 8.
Two pieces of legistlation regarding local implementation of the California Environmental Quality Act are now making their way through the legislative process at San Francisco City Hall. Representatives of the Community CEQA Improvement Team are supporting the legilsation sponsored by Supervisor Jane Kim and hope that the legislation serves as the basis for improving local application of CEQA.
It is important to remember that CEQA was first passed four decades ago, in 1970, to:
- mandate environmental analysis of projects that may have environmental impacts;
- require alternatives to and/or mitigation of those projects that do have environmental impacts;
- mandate public disclosure of the environmental findings;
- allow the public ample time to appeal those findings.
District 5 Supervisor London Breed was featured at the March HANC General Membership meeting. For many of the 70 people who attended it was their first chance to meet the Supervisor and ask her questions about important neighborhood and City wide concerns and issues. She was joined by former Supervisor Beven Dufty, who is now Director of the SF program HOPE (Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement) which addresses solutions to homelessness in San Francisco.
The Supervisor began by sharing some of her background including the fact that she grew up in public housing in the Western Addition and emphasized that fixing the public housing problems in SF is a major issue on her agenda as Supervisor. So is working to connect young people with job and other opportunities to help them build successful lives. She believes the solutions to crime must include economic and social solutions along with a police component.
The questioning started off with queries as to her position on the Weiner/Farrel TIC condo conversion give away legislation that many in the audience and HANC oppose, seeing it as a major threat to the maintenance of affordable rental stock in the City. She refused to state her position one way or the other, maintaining that both sides of the debate were providing questionable "facts" and she was doing more research via the City's departments and reports to get the real information before making up her mind. When queried as to what her research had turned up she was unable to state any of the facts she had found so far.
The next major topic to be addressed was homelessness both in the Haight and as a larger social issue in San Francisco. She stated that the non-profits and agencies which the City funds to deal with the problem need to do a better job of getting services to the people who need it. She felt that people who break the law should be prosecuted but that a police solution alone was not the answer to homelessness and that sometimes the police can escalate a situation.
French American International School has partnered with the San Francisco Unified School District and is taking steps to build a stand-alone Early Childhood Center for its youngest students at the former SFUSD site at 1155 Page Street. SFUSD has not used the site since 2007 and had considered it for other uses. Based on community input, the District sought proposals for educational development of the site and French American was selected from amongst several bidders.
The new facility, approximately one mile from the School’s main campus at 150 Oak St., will be purpose-built and house the School’s Pre-K 3, Pre-K 4, and Kindergarten classes. The current plan is to build a nine-classroom facility that would add to the vibrancy of the existing community, maintain a low profile in this mainly residential neighborhood, reinforce the School’s commitment to diversity, and substantially improve the safety and aesthetics of the currently abandoned plot. The target is to open this new facility in time for the 2014-2015 academic year.
HANC’s February general meeting included presentations on the Homeless Bill of Rights and a discussion of how homelessness affects our neighborhood. We also received two emails expressing both support for homeless rights, but frustration with conditions the senders believe to be related to the homeless population. We have posted these emails and our response to them in the article below.
At the meeting, Paul Boden from the Western Regional Advocacy Project explained how discrimination against the homeless stemmed from a long history of mean-spirited laws to keep “certain people” out of public spaces. These included Jim Crow laws, Anti-Okie laws, Sundown towns, and Ugly Laws. Descriptions of each of these can be found at www.wraphome.org/images/stories/ab5documents/HistoricalCriminalizationFactSheet.pdf. Each of these laws was eventually found to be discriminatory and unconstitutional. When the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development was established in 1965 its mission was to ensure that decent and sanitary housing would be made available to all. By the 1980’s, this was no longer HUD’s policy.
Wiener’s legislative changes are primarily designed to reduce the amount of time citizens have to review and appeal environmental impacts to proposed development projects. Wiener seeks to restrict appeals regarding projects to a short time period, so that government and project developers can then go behind closed doors to modify projects without further citizen oversight.
The Planning Department receives approximately 90% of its operating income from developer’s fees. The uncertainty of the public environmental appeals process is considered to be “bothersome,”as appeals cost the Planning Department time, and money....The Planning Department is already brimming with excess cash. According to Keith DeMartini, the department’s financial manager, “We’re projecting better than a $6 million surplus by the end of the fiscal year. We’ve seen more volume of development and more large projects.”
In 1971, the State of California passed an environmental bill of rights called the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). CEQA became law because many California developers and city projects were deemed environmentally harmful. Prior to 1971, the public had little legal say over — and no way to appeal —environmental impact decisions concerning private and public development projects.
At our February general meeting, we discussed the Homeless Bill of Rights. We received two emails about the topic. We believe they deserve a response. The emails and our response are below:
A CONCERNED CITIZEN
Hello, I am writing in response to the statement posted on your homepage about AB 5. I have lived [in the Haight-Ashbury] for [some] years and I am extremely concerned about the state of our neighborhood. I support efforts to help homeless people gain access to clean water, bathroom facilities, employment opportunities and rehab facilities. However, I feel that the homeless situation in the Haight is unique and different than homelessness in other parts of the city and that it is not appropriate for us to encourage it.
Members of the HANC Board made two presentations regarding the actions of the Recreation and Parks Department's (RPD) incredibly rapid demolition and re-configuring of the former HANC Recycling center site at 780 Frederick, pointing out the failure of RPD to meet a previously announced community planning process and its violation of the March, 2011 Resolution of the Board of Supervisors.
On January 24th, at the RPD Commission meeting, HANC’s Vice President submitted a letter and gave testimony calling upon the Commission to direct its staff to involve neighborhood residents in the planning and development of the new “community garden” at the old recycling center site. He also reminded the Commission of the failure of RPD staff to address the March 8, 2011 Resolution of the Board of Supervisors dealing with recycling in Golden Gate Park (see full text at this link or scroll down).
On March 9, the first annual tennis and basketball tournament to raise funds for programs run at the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center in the Western Addition will be held.The tournament will benefit health, fitness, and nutrition programs offered at the center for over 700 children, youth and their families. For more information, check out their Facebook page.