Category Archives: uncategorized

"Illegal Demolition" At 412 Noe Street

This story needs a lot more help.

Members of our organization attended a "neighborhood outreach meeting" with the project sponsor and her representatives regarding 412 Noe (the one that burned/totally demolished). Although we do have questions regarding the"illegal demolition" and concerns about the design of the replacement structure of 412, our major concern is about 420 Noe. This structure appears to be a "Fernando Nelson" Victorian, but in the early 70's, the building had the historically significant facade sawed off to build the front extension. That structure is currently vacant, with fire damage of the original old structure now visible and the 70's addition remaining, also in poor condition.

At our meeting with the project sponsor, they seemed reluctant to discuss plans for 420. We do not know why. From the neighborhood perspective, it makes no sense whatsoever for 420 to be salvaged. In my discussion with the project sponsor's architect, Mr James Cline, he, too, agrees that a repair would cost significantly more than a demo/rebuild, in both time and money.

The bottom line for the neighborhood is that we would like to see reconstruction be started as soon as possible on both structures, minimizing the length of time that the immediate neighborhood must live with the inconveniences of construction, and getting the properties developed for much needed for housing. We would to like to pursuade the project sponsor to get going on this.

Current and Future Board Vacancies

At our last General Membership meeting on May 15th, EVPA Board Member was elected as EVPA Treasurer to fill out the rest of the term. This now leaves one of three “At-Large” Board Positions vacant. All EVPA members are welcome to express their desire to serve on the EVPA Board of Directors. We have had one member so far express an interest. If you are interested, please let one of the board members know.

Additionally, the nomination and election of our 2009 Officers and Board is just around the corner. Again, all EVPA members are welcome to become part of the "Internal Affairs" Committee that will choose the slate of officers for us.

EVPA to Recommend Changes to Planning Code for Castro & Upper Market NCD's

It has been over 20 years since the sections of the San Francisco Planning Code that define the Castro Neighborhood Commercial District (NCD) and the Upper Market NCD were last changed. But in those past 20 years, our neighborhood and the needs of our neighborhood have changed.

Last year as part of the SF Planning Department's "NCD at 20 Review" - the EVPA Planning Committee did a thorough review of both NCDs, then brought their proposed changes to the Planning Code to the General Membership for ratification. That review was all-encompassing, with no distinction made between changes which were "good" versus those that were essential or critical for the immediate future to ensure our NCDs trive. Additionally, the proposed changes were only to be included as part of the review and report to the Planning Comission, and not intended for actually modifying the Planning Code.

The Planning Committee has again revisited the NCD requirements, this time to distinctly calling our changes that we feel are very necessary for the immediate future. At the next EVPA General Membership meeting on July 17th, the Planning Committee will once again be coming to the EVPA membership for approval of proposed changes to the Planning Code. In this round, the only changes being proposed are those that are both essential to ensure our NCDs remain lively, profitable and neighborhood serving. As such, we will not pe proposing any changes that could be considered "policital." Proposed changes are:

Planning Code Section 715 (Castro NCD):

  • Change permitted operating hours to 6am to 12 Midnight, otherwise by conditional use
  • Allow bars by “Conditional Use” (currently not permitted)
  • Allow Full Service Restaurants by “Conditional Use” (currently not permitted)
  • Allow small self-service restaurants by “Conditional Use” (currently not permitted)
  • Allow Animal Hospitals on second floor with “Conditional Use” (currently only allowed w/CU on first floor)
  • Allow Administrative Services on the second floor (currently not permitted anywhere)
  • Allow residential use on the ground floor only with “Conditional Use” (currently permitted)

Planning Code Section 721 (Upper Market NCD):

  • Change permitted operating hours to 6am to 12 Midnight, otherwise by condition
  • Allow Full Service Restaurants on second floor by “Conditional Use” (currently only allowed w/CU on first floor)
  • Allow movie theaters on second floor (currently only allowed on first floor)
  • Allow Mortuaries on first or second floor with “Conditional Use”(currently not permitted)
  • Allow Administrative Services on the second floor (currently not permitted anywhere)

Levi Strauss & Co in the Castro

On June 12th, the San Francisco Planning Commission granted Levi's the required "Conditional Use" (CU) to open a "Formula Use Retail" store within the Castro Neighborhood Commercial District (NCD). Levi's is very excited about opening this store. Construction should begin as soon as permits are issued, most likely by the end of June, with a goal of having the store in full operation by "Folsom Street Fair." This is the first time in memory that a national chain actually has a goal based on our neighborhood culture.

Although some EVPA members expressed valid concern that this formula use retail is not consistent with the EVPA position of not allowing any further formula use retail within the Castro NCD, the overwhelming majority of EVPA members felt that Levi’s was uniquely qualified as an “exception.” Levi’s unparalleled corporate support of the community and the long-time connection with our neighborhood significantly outweighed the concerns of formula retail use.

Because there was no known opposition to Levi's, the s item was placed no the "Consent Calendar" meaning that the Planning Commission was able to approve the conditional use without lengthy hearings. The EVPA would like to thank planner Sophie Middlebrook who was the planner responsible who made that possible, as otherwise the hearing date would have been significantly delayed.

We look forward to the grand opening party!

Draft minutes from 5/15/08 EVPA membership meeting

The president called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

The president made the following announcements:
-Castro/Upper Market Community Streetscape Design Workshop, June 4, 6:30, Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy
-Castro Theater programming -- Indiana Jones movie will cause parking issues from June 22-29
-Website upgrade -- the site is becoming much more interactive and members are encouraged to contribute content
-The Eureka Valley Foundation has finally received 501(c)(3) status from the IRS

Pink Saturday
Sister Barbi Mitzvah from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence presented the Sisters' plan for Pink Saturday (night before Pride). The Sisters will continue to organize security for the evening and are working with law enforcement to increase safety, to prevent underage drinking, etc. A media blackout will be enforced again, which was successful last year in preventing the neighborhood from being overrun. Castro Community on Patrol will once again provide security assistance on the perimeter of the event.

Levi's
Representatives of Levi Strauss presented their plans for the 525 Castro Street location that they propose to use. They stressed Levi's longstanding role in the LGBT community, the HIV/AIDS community, and the Castro neighborhood, as well as Levi's generous giving. They described the uniqueness of this store, unlike other chains. After a number of questions and discussion, on motion and second the membership voted to support the Levi's store at 525 Castro.

Jet
Greg Bronstein presented Jet's proposed expansion into the gallery space next door to the bar. Greg presented renderings and provided details about hours, usage of different parts of the space, and Jet's efforts to be a good neighborhood. After a number of questions and discussion, on motion and second, the membership voted to support Jet's proposed expansion and to authorize the Planning Committee to work out conditional use requirements.

Treasurer election
The president announced that Joe Caruso had resigned as treasurer. Alan Beach was nominated as treasurer and was unanimously elected by the membership.

Bylaws
The president provided an overview of the proposed bylaw changes. The proposed amended bylaws have been posted on the website for several months. On motion and second, the membership approved the bylaw amendments.

There were no additional reports or announcements. After discussion on various topics, the president adjourned the meeting at 8:44 p.m.

I Love Living in Eureka Valley

I live on Hartford Street in Eureka Valley, aka The Castro, with my partner, John Kruse, and our 4-year-old daughters, Zola and Veronica Kruschel. Hartford Street is a quiet little residential street just steps away from the hustle of Castro Street and the bustle of Market Street. I love living here.

We have a great mix of businesses in the neighborhood. Take a walk with me and I'll tell you my personal faves. I buy birthday cards at Wild Card! I'm addicted to the Morning Rush coffee beans at the Castro Cheesery. I love the Castro Theater. Its marquis defines the neighborhood, and I'm thrilled that it has begun mixing first-run movies into its fare, giving me yet another reason to patronize it. When I need hardware to hang a picture of Veronica, I head to Cliff's Variety. I'm happy that both A Different Light Bookstore and Books, Inc. carry "Papa and Daddy and Babies in Alaska", the book I wrote about how John and I became fathers to our daughters. I window shop for real estate porn at Herth Realty. I bank at Wells Fargo, the most gay-friendly bank I've ever been in. We get takeout at Thaihouse Express. Buffalo Whole Food satisfies my Barbara's Cheese Puffs and Reed's Ginger Brew cravings. The underwear I buy at Injeanious Lounge makes me feel sexy. I feel virtuous shopping at Under One Roof. I just bought a nightlight of the Castro Theater there. I shop for groceries at Delano's – I love their cold cuts. (I wish Trader Joe's had been welcomed in the Duboce Triangle, and I hope one day to see a fruit and vegetable store closer than Church Street or 16th and Mission.) Sumi is great for an intimate dinner. The burritos at Zapata are quick and yummy. Walgreen's is great for buying a box of Sponge Bob Squarepants bandages to make Zola's booboo feel better. The croque madame at A Bon Port is an indulgence I grant myself. At Superstar Video, I rent movies the whole family can enjoy, as well as ones just for John and me. The roast turkey sandwich with swiss cheese at Rossi's Deli makes a good lunch. I'm sad when a restaurant I like closes – farewell Ararat – and excited to see what takes its place – welcome Poesia. I'm glad to see some businesses go – bu-bye Wolf Camera, but I don't understand why some storefronts are vacant so long, and wish they would be filled.

I love seeing children in the neighborhood. My block has ten, with more on the way. I love seeing multi-culti tutti-frutti families coexisting with traditional ones. Toto, we're not in Kansas! Walk by the playground at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center on a weekend and burst with pride at the diversity.

I'm glad to live in a neighborhood in which neighbors take care of their property. I like to stop and smell the roses in front of Al and Govinder's house. Don't pick them! I'm heartened that my neighbors care enough to make a difference. When The Cafe wanted to remodel and expand, my neighbors got the EVPA involved and made sure that The Cafe did it in a way that respected the interests of the community, as well as the interests of The Cafe. My neighbors recently formed the Hartford Street Neighborhood Association. We're currently fighting MUNI's plans to run the 37 bus line down our street. Aside from that, I like MUNI because it makes it so easy for me to visit other neighborhoods. The F-line, especially, makes me smile. It's an amusement park ride with a purpose.

LEVI’s “BOUTIQUE” STORE PROPOSED FOR CASTRO STREET LOCATION

Levi Strauss and Company is proposing to open a “boutique” Levi’s Store at 525 Castro Street in the the space that was previously occupied by Castro Video, between the Sausage Factory and the long-time shuttered Patio Café. View a draft rendering of the store at http://evpa.org/docs/080505leviplan.pdf

EVPA has previously taken a position for a Formula Retail Use ban in the Castro Neighborhood Commercial District (NCD), but this ban has many hurdles to jump before it would ever go into effect. About 200 of Levi’s 1000 corporate employees based here in San Francisco are members of our community. And unlike Walgreen’s Company (the only Formula Use retail institution that the EVPA has ever opposed on the grounds of Formula Use), Levi Strauss has a very long and consistent record of being a very good supporter of our community.

Levis representatives will be at our membership meeting on May 15th to explain their proposal and to request our support for the Conditional Use required to open a Formula Use Retail store in the Castro NCD. Our May 15 meeting has a very busy agenda, so if you have questions you want to ensure are answered during the presentation, please send them to planning@evpa.org by May 7th.

JET Bar Proposes Expansion

EVPA Member Greg Bronstein, owner of the Flavors you Crave and Lime restaurant will be presenting his proposal to expand the JET Bar into the space formerly occupied by the Reaves Gallery at 2344 Market Street.

Greg has already begun working with the EVPA Planning Committee to ensure the proposed “Conditions of Use” will be beneficial to all parties concerned.

Greg will be asking for EVPA support for obtaining the required “Conditional Uses” for this expansion. If you have any questions you want to ensure are answered at our membership meeting, please send them to planning@evpa.org by May 7th.

PROP 98 IS BAD FOR CALIFORNIA AND BAD FOR SAN FRANCISCO

In 2006, California voters wisely rejected Proposition 90, a stealth measure that would have dramatically reduced government’s ability to protect the environment, enact zoning laws, and engage in many other regulatory activities that enhance Californians’ quality of life. Having lost on Prop 90, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has come back with a supposedly scaled back version, Prop 98.

Prop 98, however, is every bit as overbroad and dangerous as Prop 90, and even more deceptive. If it passes, it will repeal rent control. It also may cripple California’s ability to deal with the significant natural resource and infrastructure challenges facing the state, as well as undermining government’s ability to enact effective zoning measures and to protect the environment.

First, some history. In 2005, the Supreme Court, held that a city could use eminent domain, consistent with the U.S. Constitution, to forcibly purchase a private home to encourage private redevelopment. The decision sparked an outcry across the political spectrum, and broad support formed for banning government from taking private homes for private development projects.

It would be straightforward to accomplish that goal by simply banning government from transferring private homes to private developers. But, unfortunately, certain conservative anti-government groups took advantage of the situation by submitting ballot measures across the country that, in name, were limited to the taking of private homes for private use, but in effect, contained buried text that exploded the definition of eminent domain to include most regulation, including environmental and zoning laws. Prop 90 was one of those stealth measures.

After the defeat of Prop 90, Democrats in the California Legislature introduced a constitutional amendment (Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8) to reform eminent domain by prohibiting use of eminent domain to acquire an owner-occupied home or a small business for transfer to another private party. ACA 8 had the strong support of the League of California Cities and the League of Conservation Voters, but Republicans in the Legislature killed it, because they wanted a broader Prop-90-style measure. (The League of California Cities then collected signatures to place the measure on the ballot as Prop 99, which is a good, common-sense eminent domain reform without a hidden agenda.)

That measure is Prop 98. Its statements of findings and purpose seem innocuous enough and appear to limit the measure to reforming eminent domain. However, when one examines the text, and particularly the definition section, its broader impacts becomes clear:

→→ Prop 98 explicitly repeals rent control statewide. It leaves local jurisdictions with no ability to control escalation of rents. Whatever one’s views on rent control, this is a draconian measure that would eliminate local control of this very local issue.

→ After banning the taking of private property for private use, the measure defines “private use” to include the taking by a public agency of private property “for the consumption of natural resources.” The measure therefore would prohibit government agencies from using eminent domain, for example, to acquire property for public water projects to increase California’s capacity to store, transport, and deliver water. The language also likely bars use of eminent domain for preservation of open space.

→ Prop 98 further defines prohibited “private use” as regulation of private property in order to “transfer the economic benefit” to another person. This language could have devastating effects on land use planning and environmental regulation by barring government from engaging in regulation that reduces the market value of property. Examples of prohibited activities could include historic preservation laws and height limitations. All zoning decisions arguably transfer economic benefits among property owners, as courts have held, and this measure therefore would reduce the ability of government to engage in traditional land use regulation – regulation that is especially important in dense urban environments.

→ The “transfer economic benefit” prohibition also would create problems for new development. Any land use or zoning decision designed to facilitate new construction could be tied up in court on the ground that it transfers an “economic benefit” from current property owners to new ones, such as reduction of a view or changes in traffic patterns – changes that could reduce property values.

→ Prop 98’s “transfer economic benefit” language also could seriously limit government’s ability to require developers to provide public benefits in connection with development, such as making street improvements, contributing to park enhancements, or other expenditures traditionally required of developers in order to provide adequate public infrastructure to support the increased population that development spurs.

→ Prop 98 also fails to provide an exception for health and safety regulations and is arguably retroactive to existing regulations. This makes Prop 98 more extreme than Prop 90, which contained a health → Given how vaguely Prop 98 is drafted, it will create immediate and significant litigation. Any decision by government in California that arguably affects the value of property or arguably transfers an economic benefit from one property owner to another will result in a court challenge seeking compensation and injunctive relief. Even if courts eventually interpret the measure narrowly, taxpayers will spend huge sums of money litigating its scope. In San Francisco, the funding for this litigation will typically come directly from the General Fund – i.e., the fund that pays for parks, street repairs, police, and other services on which we all depend.

California, and the Bay Area, are growing rapidly and will continue to do so for decades. We have seen the results of poor planning in California – clogged roads, pollution, suburban sprawl that covers up open space, inferior public transit, and a looming water crisis because of inadequate storage capacity. We need our government to be able to plan effectively for growth. Prop 98 is exactly the opposite of what we need and will take California in the wrong direction.