Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Changes that affect "integrity" of a possible landmark district....

A)Trim again is being added, this time stapled around the windows, with additional shutters being plastered on the prior minimal facades. Prior the trim was manufactured off site on other block changes, this time its more of a hurry to get it in...

B) plantings changed for "showcase" units emphasize drought resistant plantings, and change the original plant types without review.

C) Did you order a crown? Like mall designs, the units on Arballo are being served a crown, as large moldings painted black are added to the tops of units, a quick search online determines that no permits were issued for this work, again the city is not paying attention to developments and change in character and alterations that affect a possible landmark candidate.

D) Revise, Revise, Revise, until no-one knows whats new or old, the planters out front of the towers were being worked on again today, in addition landscape installed less than a few years ago, is removed and other types will be planted. What a waste, as usual, no input, no review, no info. on the costs, and waste of this effort on the landscape changes. Jackhammers go during the day, more signs of un-habitability of these units with on-going construction, landscape work, and development daily.. Moving trucks appear more frequently, students move in, families move out...

generators in the landscape

What to do with "upgrades", rennovations included on the towers elevator upgrades, now large mechanical boxes dot the landscape between the towers. Could they be placed underground out of site? Was this the best option or was there a better alternative? Safety improvements are needed, but what is the overall costs? The tree removed near the meadow was over 80+ years old, and may have been a historic landmarkable tree. The only thing it was disrupting was the pavement, now planter, pavement is removed, and a new box, and concrete pad take its place...Integrity comes into question when developers intentions dictate the future at the city level.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Images of the Landscape Design

Some images of the landscape, walks through the site, random selection, versus what we see being "implemented".

SFSU Creative Arts Center vs. Parkmerced Community Recreation Area

A few more images of the area, its sad condition emphasized through years of neglect already by the SFSU campus. Tenants were never compensated, or rent reduced due to the loss of used on this site, and obvious deterioration that has occured. SFSU's new creative arts center has a donor, and a new architect selected. What happens to our prior ammenity? What happenens to our open space. The SFSU purchase of this site should be highly questioned, and the permits protested until the community receives some form of compensation, and possibly our rent's reduced for the loss of use of the site, and its demise due to neglect. Parkmerced's original outlay of 191+ acres has been reduced by these "land-sales" to the SFSU Foundation. The overall effect on our neighborhood and loss of ammenities is why we keep seeing densification as the "trade-off" and not renewal of our facilities. Landmarking Parkmerced's original district boundaries, could place a hold on such land-bait-switch tactics that have subverted our prior control of these areas.

Parkmerced's Recreation Area (closed till creative arts center built)

A sad sign of what occurred during the prior "land-sales" to the SFSU Foundation is the prior ammenity of the recreation site of parkmerced. These images of the recreation center, and fields shows what has occured since the purchase by the SFSU Foundation, and transfer to CSU, for the future "Creative Arts Center" of SFSU. When parkmerced was built numerous children and adults congregated at this site as a community center. Since post leona-helmsley, the maintenance was deferred and post owners let the site decay. The installation of the montessori school breathed new life into the building for a time but the eventual shift of the school, and quick sell-off to the SFSU Foundation brought on only additional neglect. The center is currently closed, and used by the university as a storage bin. The basketball courts used by students is in terrible neglect, with cracked pavement, and no nets. The landscape areas are not maintained or cleaned, and the handball courts only accessible by walking in around the site. The fencing on site locks off most access on weekdays, and weekends, and the tennis courts seem also to be neglected. There are tenants and students who use the site, and the SFSU Softball signage is the only seemingly maintained portion of the site. The Softball woman's team had to fight to get the space as it is, and thus SFSU due to "explained" lack of funding seems unable to maintain or keep up what they have purchased. Therefore the need for "donor" sites, where funds are generated to create new facilities at the expense of other neighborhoods space. The low walls in the parcel seem a part of parkmerced, though lost to weeks and chain link fencing installed and locked up by the university, this area served a greater purpose which was open space for the tenants of parkmerced. The original design can be seen in the layout of the facilities and community center which had an open tunnel allowing access to the areas. Kids biked here from the towers, to play. Now the university stores its "emergency supplies" and only the softball field is made useable for the team sports. No areas used by tenants has been maintained or allowed to continue its prior function. No proposal by the SFSU Masterplanners, or the EIR and further MOU between the city and CSU regent negotiators included community input towards the original masterplanned community, its ammenities or there loss of use to the university! This again is how developments, state entities, and neglect all lead towards change that is not beneficial to the communities they prior served. The signage which states "Gate to remain locked in the open position during school hours or during public functions" does nothing to allow tenants in. They are now exluded members of the community. The wasted space, dead grass, deferred maintenance and locked gates show the treatment of community by the university and its masterplanners. Before kids biked all the way into this site, and could leave them un-attended. The c.v.c code posted denotes no such kid transport systems are allowed. Campus rules now dictate use, and lack of care. The SFSU Library gets the cash first, and the prior joint facilities are locked and fenced off, to prohibit tenants from enjoying the ammenities that were part of the original design of parkmerced.

405 Serrano Drive Huge Tree #1006 Removed

Another tree was removed over the last weekend, between the towers at 405 Serrano Drive also known as "the meadow", this was done with last minute with a quick notification being posted on tenants doorways after 6pm. The memo was dated July 18, 2008, and noted that the tree removal was to occur Monday July 21st. Well these photos were taken on the morning prior to notification, prior to the 21st. On the friday There was a series of A-frame street signs posted with a worded note of tree-work and not to park, but no info. or marking of the tree to be removed. The memo itself notes that "As beautiful as this tree is its roots are causing HAVOC to our walkways, causing hazards and concerns." What hazard is not stated besides the pavemennt repair. The area already had portions redone as is visible in the photos, and although the planter is cracked considerably the age of the tree is noticeably old based on size. The tree could easily be landmarked, along with a number of other trees on the site by the current owner. The extent that the tree rooting is affecting building service lines was undocumented. The pavement wood strips were already just recently replaced to prevent tripping. And the photos appear to denote that the un-levelness was not the major concern. This was a huge tree, one that served as possible migration and nesting locations for birds. The tree was not able to defend itself, and as usual the information sent out at such a late notice and so last minute, shows the true nature of the development and the rush to "fix" from the prior neglect of tree-maintenance on site. These tree's had been topped prior and the growth outside on edges tends to cause splitting and internal deterioration. Although the "topping" was a prior concern of maintenance. The notice I viewed in the leasing office stated from Arborwell that they had been reviewing this site for over 10 years... (Where is the Lorax when you need one...?) Further tree-cutting is scheduled, and yet no overall information on numbers to be cut, stage of disease, or condition has been given to tenants to date. The landscape is formed by the canopy and trees, and when you drive the area, whether brotherhood way, parkmerced, SFSU, or neighboring major streets, its obvious maintenance, and care has never been the priority. Perhaps it should be for all of our futures....

Parkmerced's "Tree-cutting" vs. Arbor Day

Parkmerced's recent forray into public relations, also includes some much needed attention, as the recent advertised "Arbor-Day" event which is being done in connection with the PRO group. The PRO tenant's group, is deeply concerned with the care and maintenance of the site as has raised this issue repeatedly with prior owners. Now a new owner comes along, and with it comes a "vision" for the future. Tree-maintenance and landscape review is now a part of this package. Arborwell has made a "tree-survey" on the site, and an Environmental Consultant has reviewed the natural habitats of some of the trees proposed for "removal". The difficult issue is in the report, the specifics, and the priorities. There are obvious dead tree's on site, and I have emphasized the need to remove the obvious dead tree's due to the known hazards witnessed in Stern Grove. There are the non-visible issues of tree-rot, and fungus growth, beetle infestation, and general age which we as individuals cannot discern so readily. Than there is the building lines, electrical, sewage, water, that in some cases have been compromised by tree-roots, in a similar vein the paths and paving. What determines whether a tree should be removed, replaced, or left to die of natural age? As a majority of the trees are at a 70-80 year growth on site, there is a difficult issue of how to preserve a modern landscape, while at the same time take into consideration the existing saftey and maintenance costs required. These images are of a tree-cutting that occured today on site Tuesday July 22, 2008 around 9-10am. The tree was not "labeled" as one to be removed. There was no permit posted on the tree, it was an obviously dead and distressed tree, yet, another one removed nearby seemed healthy and not in need of cutting? Other trees at the Juan Bautista Circle have been marked, some do not have the permit label. One tree was pointed out by the Arborwell foreman as "dangerous and in need of being removed" it was one of the smaller trees on the outer ring, part of the "right-of-way" on the circle. One tenant called the police, and Parkmerced supervisors were soon in the vicinity. Discussion with the officer, and the supervisors and tenant's took place with concern on method, saftey, permits not being posted, right-of-way hazards no being followed, and general concern for how this info was relayed. The Foreman from Arborwell had an 11x17 sheet with general blue dots noting trees to be removed today or in the near future. (Lots of them) Meanwhile the permit and the map did not particularly coincide or show precisely with numbering which trees per the permit were to be removed. In the world of paperwork and legal issues, its astounding that the map the foreman had did not specifically show the trees in the vicinity, and numbers to directly pin-point the tree to be removed. Again the lack of signage, or info. deems that the rules are followed haphazardly, and the need for oversight greater than ever. Tree #1285 was removed today from Juan Bautista Circle. The tree itself was not the problem, the lack of care, maintenance and proper process and notification in its removal was.

800 Brotherhood Way (Park or Development?)

Drove by the 800 Brotherhood way site proposed for a 200 unit development on the south side of parkmerced. Thought I would again look from the access level and see what images these photos conjure up in you the viewers mind. The Benny Bufano statue was set there and the area dubbed the "peace-park" and has been used as such by the religious institutions on brotherhood for some time. The historic photos of the site show it as a dune-scape, and aireal historic photos show the steady demise of the property due to neglect. The city open-space provisions state clearly that open land and space should be acquired/preserved/maintained and protected. Yet the site here seems to be another target and victim of subversive development tactics. Steve Vettel a known land-use attorney noted in his statements to the Planning Commission that this site was never a "public-park". The photos seem to state differently. There is the statue, its use by neighboring groups along brotherhood, the park benches, the park-trash-bins, the rough access path that leads down brotherhood, and the demarcated edge on the perimeter that seperates the prior hill and parkmerced property edge, with the low lying green-space of the prior peace park outline. There is even tags from the city on maintenance, and checks on water lines in the park. Obviously there is a record of it being a "park" and the developer's tactics through prior Supervisor Tony Hall to switch the legal "wording" on brotherhood way to allow for this to become a "development" site is highly questionable actions. Than to top it all off the development was approved without an EIR per CEQA. No check on what birds may nest in this area, no check on where the parkmerced border is in relation to this site, and the prior use of the land that due to neglect ran it into the ground. What of the carcinogens located here due to it being a prior railroad line, and the run-off which goes direct to lakemerced? The city arts commission mandated protection for the statue so that it would be relocated and or protected. Well what happens to the trees, the landscape here? Why should we pay for park bonds when the open space we hold dear is sold off to the highest bidder through unscrupulous moves by development interests. The city should protect such land, and the open space for community use. The EIR should be mandated, the permits revoked. I have drafted legislation that looks at revoking the permits for this property as the joint effects of multiple developments was not checked per CEQA, and this PARK is part of those lasting effects that we as a neighborhood do not want.

SFSU CSU cuts trees along right-of-way without permits posted

SFSU CSU again goes forward with development(s) and fails to notify surrounding communities of their ongoing devastation. A full mature grove of trees on the south side of the library along Holloway was cut down recently. There was no notification on the construction site fencing, and no posting of the pending work on the trees themselves. President Corrigan was noted standing along holloway with a police squad car observing early morning watch duties since the SFSU campus was seemingly un-aware of the work to be done. This street is a public right-of-way and as such trees within 15'-0" of the roadway would be required to be "permitted" prior to such work. Jason Porth PR man for the SFSU masterplan noted that CSU is not required to post signage or permits for such work. The police presence and President Corrigan's checking in shows what concern they have for tree-huggers who never appeared both from on the campus or from the neighborhood until it was too late. University officials should be held accountable for such work done without notification. If city and local developers are required to permit such tree-removal, than so should SFSU, and landmarking of trees on campus should also be a requirement by law so that development plans dont consistently over-ride tree-scape. No modern library regardless of the design, will replace the natural beauty lost to the chainsaws...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"Radiant City" + Sustainability = Parkmerced

Interesting Film, "Radiant City" available at most video stores, which of course highlights why projects like Parkmerced deserve more "attention" and not destruction.

The last 50 years we have seen suburban sprawl and growth with no end. Average home sizes increased from 800sf in the 1950's to 2226sf in 2000 (US Census) The majority of new developments seem "soul-less" and without any sense of "community" being built.

The focus on developments and "life-style" living. Improving your personal being through larger space, ease of access to ammenities for commercial development, and the focus on getting you within 10-15 minutes drive to your ammenities.

Parkmerced once again, is a life-style, has large s.f. space, and ease of access to ammenities neighborhood areas, recreation and social spaces.

The new developments often end up enforcing more of the "pure-private" vs. the "pure-public"
Parkmerced's streets are public and open, the courtyards are shared and public social spaces.
Front and back of units see bothe sides, of the unit, and still allow a degree of privacy.

The emphasis in the film on the "mis-allocation" of resources can be emphasized in Parkmerced's "vision" where they propose tearing out what they just fixed... No info. has been made public on the real "condition" of the units.

The emphasis on "home-buying" and creation of 2-tiered neighborhoods (The "renter's vs. the "owners") has created more of this sense of Parkmerced as not a part of the community. This is not the fault of residents. This is the lack of scaled development of rental tenure housing.

The need for suburbs to change more radically than urban areas is very prevelant today. Density of suburbia should rank higher than re-densifying already dense neighborhoods like parkmerced.

Looking at neighborhoods as "first generation construction" and not just at Parkmerced is and should be the rule. Looking precisely at the existing infrastructure and immediate methods to densify at stops, and along transit should be the priority.
Rules must be changed in real estate, zoning, and codes to allow for the proper scaled densification along existing lines regardless of the prior property owners location and value...

Our overall value as humans dictates that the density and redevelopment of ALL areas should occur in some scale. The question is why is Parkmerced and low-middle income groups the focused target in such a rich-man's city? Why should we not look at the wealthier regions and prime real estate for this change 1st and foremost? The need for a human factor in the decisions and proper adequate and timely review is something not easily achieved.

The radiant city of the future could very well be based on the prior designs of Parkmerced. Should we eradicate the past just to promote the future of individual corporations who were the cause of the disaster we currently see?

I think we need to challenge the current methods more, or we will not escape the vicious development cycle that has ruined our state and communities...

Craig Hartman's key descriptive words (June 24th Presentation)

Words give key character to the developments, and emphasis on certain lingo bodes again ill to the re-vision of parkmerced's beaux arts street layout and open character, and current population.

a) Paseo's (new form of street alley design)

b) hedge row's (another form of street)

c) parisianne street boulevards (another form of elitism in the re-design)

d) socially "vibrant" (meaning we dont currently have social activity, nor an urban "life-style")

e) create a "culture of cultivation" vs. one of "consumption"... (excuse me what the hell is the re-vision "eco-friendly" in its tear-down of the whole neighborhood? post rennovations?) Whose consuming who anyways, I think SOM and the developers are consuming Parkmerced with SFSU, not the other way around...

f) towers built first will "not impact" any existing housing.... (where are you from Craig the moon? construction at SFSU can be heard across the site daily)

g) "rich-tapestry" sorry we have one of those too its the landscape design, and its a tapestry worth more than the proposed 3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13 story buildings you plan on cramming into the site.

h) "uniqueness" is what we have already at parkmerced one of 4 nationally, and only 1 of the developments that has not been attacked and changed by developers to date.

Always pay close attention to the verbage in presentation's as it usually underlines the real considerations of "green-$-greed" and redevelopment for the profit of some, the loss of tenancy and livability to others.....