FOGG Open Letter – August 12, 2009

We wish to thank the many FOGG supporters who attended last Wednesday’s (August 5), Community Planning Workshop.  It was gratifying to see so many of you lend your support to saving our community’s open recreational space.

However, we are noticing that the Planning Department and the Port, while listening to public statements of concern expressed by the attendees about the 8 Washington Street proposed project are displaying a different view than what we have heard.  We have reviewed the Study Comments – (please see this link to view the web site and comments – and encourage you to also do so – Study).

For example, we do not agree with the Summary of Comments to Date in Item IV Seawall Lot 351 and Adjacent Parcels, which we quote here:  Planning Department Response.  The Study will provide recommendations regarding development on Port SWL 351 and the adjacent parcels, including requirements to include in any development agreement for Port SWL 351 should the Port Commission decide to engage in one (footnote 2).  Footnote 2 says:  If the study is ready in time, the Port Commission has instructed the Port staff to incorporate the recommendations of the study into any development agreement between the Port and the developer who is proposing to incorporate Seawall Lott 351 into any proposed development at 8 Washington.

What does “If the study is ready in time” mean?

On page 2 of the Summary of Comments to Date, the Planning Department says that the Study will be completed by the end of 2009.  Yet, the Port’s Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA) with San Francisco Waterfront Partners calls for an October 2009 decision.

We question whether this entire Community Workshop effort is merely for show, and that the Port and the Planning Department have already determined that the 8 Washington Project is what they want to do.  The Community Workshop initiative is just a way to justify their actions as the Planning Department controls the written word – and they are selecting what to include.

At the Workshop, we sat through a 40 minute presentation presented by the Port, and their plans for developing the Northeast Embarcadero corridor, including the new Cruise Ship terminal and the Exploratorium project.  Not once in this presentation did they mention the proposed development for SWL Lot 351/8Washington!  WHAT IS THE SECRET?

This is the 2nd Community Workshop (3rd if you consider the makeup one), and at no time are there proposals on the development and improving the access for pedestrians on the west side of the Embarcadero along the Northeast corridor.  What about connecting the seawall lots with a connecting open space plan that includes both passive and active parks?

An even larger issue needing to be addressed is:  What protection is planned to preserve the Public Trust?  In Summary of Comments to Date in Item III Use of Land the only mention of this is “…Be respectful of the public trust.”

What does this mean?  There is no mention of the Public Trust in the Planning Department response on this item.

There has been no effort to offer a plan to open access along Washington, Clay, Broadway and those streets that feed into the Bay front from Chinatown.

While mentioning rising Bay waters in the Summary of Comments to Date, we did not see or hear anything about what to do concerning this potentially serious issue and its effect on the possible future development of waterfront properties.

There has been no discussion of public view corridors that could affect the sight line from the Bay side to the surrounding hills.

Also, what about transportation and parking in the future?  The SFMTA presentation was very informative, and we are happy to see the positive changes planned.  What concerns us most is that a comprehensive transportation and parking plan is not part of this Study.  As stated in the Summary of Comments to Date in Item VIII The Need for Parking, Planning Department ResponseAs with transit, the scope of this study does not include a means for extensive parking analysis and programmatic conclusions.  However, to the extent this work identifies parking needs or relationships in the area or on specific sites, these will be forwarded to the Port, the SFMTA and City leaders for consideration.

We are deeply concerned with this statement about parking and transportation.

How can any of the proposed projects along the waterfront be approved without a comprehensive parking, transportation and public access study.  This includes the 8 Washington Street project, the Exploratorium project, the Cruise Ship Terminal project and the Sue Bierman Park renovation.

We question whether the Port is adhering to its own transportation study issued in June 2005.  The Study is available at this link Port Transportation Study.

We quote from this Study as follows:  Despite the adoption of these Transit First policies and the package of associated implementation measures that are included in Port development projects, public concerns and debate about parking, congestion and transit service along The Embarcadero and nearby areas persist, raising larger City transportation policy and implementation questions that extend beyond the Port’s reach.  The intent of this report, therefore, has been to attempt to discuss the interactive pressures, policies and factors that play key parts in understanding, and ultimately resolving these issues comprehensively for the Northeastern Waterfront Area.  To accomplish this will require the City’s continued resolve, cooperation and coordination amongst the various transportation planning and implementation agencies, decision-makers and constituencies involved.

FOGG will ask our Supervisor and Board President, David Chiu that what is stated in the Port’s report from 2005 about transportation must be updated and included as part of the Northeast Embarcadero Study.

We could mention more details, but you get the picture.  We feel that these Community Workshops have energized our FOGG base to take the initiative in preventing those who wish to profit from their own personal interests without considering the negative impact it will have in our neighborhood, and the effect on our City wide supporters.

 Time is on our side as we gather steam and facts to support our position.  That also means continued financial support through your tax free donations.  You can help FOGG succeed in its efforts by sending your checks, made out to AGAPE/FOGG, stating “tax donation” on the memo line, and sending it to Jim Eggert Treasurer & CPA 550 Davis St. #46, San Francisco. CA. 94111, or donate on line at this web site.  Every little bit helps.