Thursday, June 26, 2008

Back to the Parkmerced Landscape...(re-post)

  • Back to the landscape, the simple forms, the reason why we live @ Pakrmerced, and why it should not have been allowed to be rennovated without due review and process of city agencies. Why was the development never reviewed prior? Are rental communities to be treated differently landmark wise than individual sites? Why should tenure/tenancy dictate whether someone has any say in the projects future? Why should renter's who contribute to the economy daily not be involved directly in the decisions of the areas planning, from simple small scale improvements to larger scaled change? Where are the "options" the mitigation measures? Why did the "vision" being proposed by developers not include any alternatives as suggested by tenants? Why is the same design scope being pushed forward as the "communities" input? Why has the LPAB held off on communicating and reviewing the submitted Bulletin No. 19 since Oct/Nov. of 2006, allowing all the seen changes that drastically change a neighborhoods character? (this cannot be considered a small scale change to date.) There are many questions, and few have to date been answered....perhaps some visitors will email your input for posting or an image of what you consider important in this discusison. Jack Gold Executive Director of SF Heritage visited the site and also questioned the reasoning for the "applied-trim" I mentioned the "guilding of property" per the CA Tenant's Manual... A prime case if there ever was one, of a developer running rampid with no control. Stating it is "deferred maintenance" of past owners as reason for large scale re-vamping of the site does not sit well with tenants who only have received verbal promises, with nothing in writing...

East Coast Neighbor has similar issues of urban pressure.

Article from the NY Sun on preserving Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

Article on the "UP-scaling" of the property, and intentions....

Article on the NYU influx into the rental community. (Similar to SFSU Masterplan and Columbia University impact on neighborhoods...) [Note: you cannot discriminate against students, but there are rules about impacts on neighborhoods, and the de-facto use of neighboring property as dormitories. The impacts on Universities on local rental and housing stock must be reviewed by city agencies. The SFSU MOU did not include HOUSING as a mitigation measure to be reviewed and looked at...]

Park La Brea Real Estate item, on changes.,0,1036326.story?coll=la-class-realestate

The Curbed Article on Park La Brea Redevelopment

Does this look familiar? The new transcribed with the old....

The Images Shown are from the website, and relate to the re-design and additions being recently proposed to this development in southern california. The owner has similar goals of "up-grading" peoples life-styles, the "hollywood" style entry re-design, and revised lineal plaza design, again tear-out the old landscape in favor of modern "renewal"... The rennovated pool building design is a modern scheme, (much better than their current CMU block building) however its placement, the integration of the original design with the proposed "new" additions bring into question "intent" and how preservation and modernity must be worked on cohesively and not without process. A remarkable image is the tower older windows, which we only have one left on 405 Serrano's north-west side. These windows functioned better for air, and opening than the current ones at parkmerced. Tenant's complaints are numerous and visible through the web-blogs, and info. The websites are for leasing info. and the Tenant's organization is at They have a "neighbors helping neighbors" program and a library program which both sound like great additions that could be made to Parkmerced's and PRO's outreach to tenants.

Park La Brea (our sister development to the south)

Interestingly enough they too are undergoing the "new" and improved motto from ownership, and are being plastered with developments, improvements, and changes. The large open spaces set in the vicinity of the "la-brea tar-pits" is a part of th design and elements such as the sculptural dinosaur follies, and "disney-esque" post-modern color schemes that owners typically try to use to attract. The landscape again is the "pleasurable element" and its open space is the reason why people are attracted to the area.

Parkfairfax Historical Images

Some historical images of another met-life project on the national register in Virginia. Which has a conco, unit owner's association and is a well-liked and enjoyed complex, maintained and preserved.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Maybe its just the 4th of july...? or am I really "color-blind"

Arballo is getting repainted as we go home for the day... The dark blue is starkly colored, the myriad of color schemes seem to be someone's "pick-of-the-day" instead of a well thought out palette... The end of the street I see another scheme that makes me think of the fourth of july...I start to hum...."This apartment complex aint your land, it sure as hell aint my land, from 19th avenue, to lake merced boulevard. From the northside of Holloway, down to the Brotherhood stream, this property was meant for developers and not for me..... (sung to the tune of "this land is your land") Another view of an apartment rental community going to the wayside and quickly.....

What to do? Get away?

I step away from the tree carnage, look over towards the spot where I reviewed the curved wall and overlook from the west side of Chumasero's tower, I need air, a place to think, I drive down along brotherhood way, the engineered hilldside looking ominously bare from trees being removed and not replanted. The Block 37 corner around the maintenance building looks somewhat untouched, but painters are already at work. A dead tree stands in the Higuera Avenue area another at the corner of Arballo and Gonzalez, why cut a healthy tree when two dead ones are very visibly dead in front of the maintenance areas? Whose really pulling the decisions and day-to-day instructions in this madness? The Villas Parkmerced prior placed signs on the property, they stand like tombstones and are not removed. I wonder where to go to regain the peacefull quiet that was once the existence at parkmerced...

That tree we were seeing "trimmed" now removed

Nice image of the "changes" consistently being "inflicted" on the community... The tree prior was being trimmed, now its been "removed" completely... It was not dead, it was not in danger of tipping but progress is progress right? The fencing was not there prior, the lot was placed by parkmerced to provide additional parking on this south side of Block 18 Chumasero Tower. A new emergency generator is placed on a concrete pad. They are being placed around the towers. Any thought of "burying them" or placing them within the tower basements was not even considered?

designed destruction in slow motion.....

Density and the obliteration of parkmerced is shown in slow motion, "opportunity sites" are noted within 1 year, these could be started immediately after the EIR process, they shovel large buildings in tight next to existing towers. "This allows the area to be densified and tenants switched over to these units without disturbing the neighborhood." How does one build a tower next to another and not "disturb" tenants? Phase2 and Phase3 show development and block removal through years 6-10 and 15-20 with eventual total densification of the site. The total density and effects are not noted for the 800 Brotherhood and 77 Cambon sites, nor the SFSU Masterplan and its effects of additional more students with ongoing expansion proposed into Parkmerced on the north side. Density is not shown for University Park North and University Park South, or Stonestown developments. Caltrans does not budge or show any interest in updating the 19th and brotherhood way intersection built in 1940. 19th Avenue will come to a standstill, and the housing shown will be "value-engineered" like german styled "platenbau" works as shown in the general imagery. Do we need to waste three times or more the environmental waste of tearing up this neighborhood for something as un-promising as this development? Why not trade the rights, Transfer Development Rights Downtown, or allow tenants to make a land-trust and buy back the development? There must be another site in the city that can utilize this kind of density. Without the infrastructure (not even mentioned) nor the community services required, fire, police, ambulance, and basic infrastructure this dream is a big pipeline, like the bay-view, meant for the "new" rich urbanites flocking to the city.. (See SF Chronicles Article on the SF Exodus of the middle class...) For me as an architect, bay-area native, and concerned citizen I dont believe this project is the "eco-green" scheme they are promoting, we need to re-educate the citizenry about parkmerced. Look back through this blog to the initial posts, and see the landscape worth saving.... Landmark Parkmerced it should be on the agenda of the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board soon enough....

The SF Better Streets Program, and the efforts of the planners is being shown today, with faint outlines of building density and height, grandiose suggestions of "paris, and european streets" are used as a reason to destroy the beaux arts plan, and create longer linear boulevards. The type of which is shown, with underground parking, and urban scaled density. Why is parkmerced not seen for the well designed landscape it already is? Do we need all of this urbanization to succeed in the future? I dont believe so....

Parkmerced "Vision" June 24 + 25th Meeting(s)

Latest "presentation" material presented to the tenants. (a) image shows block formations, totally gridded plans, and lack of any curvelinear elements. (b) Image of exisiting parkmerced shown from an air view. (c) image of transportation changes proposed that brings muni directly through the site. Caltrans and effects due to massive development, and additional proposed developments at 77 Cambon, 800 Brotherhood, SFSU, and Stonestown not mentioned. Supervisor District 7 Sean Elsbernd has proposed traffic studies, however no impact study on the rental housing market of the area since the sell off to SFSU, and developers. (d) list of meetings and community groups and associations reads like a laundry list, the planning team wants to show it has "out-reached" and received "consensus" from the community, when the most affected people the tenants at parkmerced have voiced their concerns and noted without a historical resources survey properly conducted and vetted there should not be a total tear-down of this district.

Block 13 and Cambon Drive

Its simple small scape and scale that does the property its due, although sparsely planted this patio with minor effort could "sing" and be a pleasant urban pad. The tree although poorly maintained, has at least the hedges and surrounding smaller trees, perhaps this one could be replanted with a larger matching type, not much would be lost. The view of the cambon shopping centers east end shows where the proposed Parkmerced Vision shows a routed muni line which serves the tower's garages. Negligence and lack of maintenance has turned the shopping center into a wasteland. Although still used by tenants, the lack of maintenance has driven businesses out repeatedly. The proposed 4-5 story development will bring urbanity right to the footsteps of these units. The design shown by the developer was internally focused, blocked off and not shared in design and scope. The prior design of the area, was much better shown as a shared space, set back, allowing an open area and benches and planters. Fixing this areas should be the priority not the trim and guilding of the area. Neighborhood retail space was sold off, and now is being offered back in terms of density. The new scheme shows 225,000 s.f. of retail space. The same amount as what's shown in the mid-market scheme downtown. This is a peril for the neighborhood. The consistent push for retail when we have stonestown, ocean ave, west portal, and westlake, not to mention SFSU's masterplan which shows commercial on Holloway and Buckingham, and Stonestown's proposal for more density on their site... What's the priority and zoning currently? (Parkmerced is not shown as commercial, but developers sense the "NEED" for capitalizing on our mis-fortunes.)

Block 13 (hesitate to think...)

Walking back a few steps I look up again, and see above the high wall in this patio the "live-large" at parkmerced slogan plastered on large banners that make the property an "add-used-car-lot" rather than a residence. The emphasis on "large" against the tall wall, reminds me of what "density" will do to this neighborhood. Proposals for 3-4-6-8-13 story buildings all will block views, sunlight, and remove scale and character. I look back and the framed entrance gives a glimpse of what lies beyond, a pleasant courtyard, the next one again I am jarred back to the reality of the north side, where a former hedge has been cut up and chopped, the painting scheme way too dark, and the effects horribly evident. A simple white painted wall, with full hedge and planted bed behind would improve this space, the "rennovations" keep taking their toll on this property.

Interesting how the light colored towers "disappear in the fog, and sky, (a tribute to the re-selection committee on colors) much closer to the white colors of the orihinal property. Next image is of a interior patio in a pie-block that is still in good condition minus the trellis's last photo tucks to the north courtyard which pulls you along to the stairs and opening the leads to the market/commercial area. The tower also disappears above the orange portion of the building behind in the fog, so there is no discerning the building in the background.

Block 13 (east end) Font and Cambon entry

Image of this courtyard made me feel better again, with barrel planter patio, and sloped yard, curved paths, and lush green landscape design. One lower planter looked like it needed some care, but the space was intact and well looked after by the residents.