City plans new network of wells on west side of San Francisco

January 20, 2010

San Francisco is planning a groundwater well system that would draw millions of gallons a day from new and enlarged wells on the west side of the city, mixing the water with existing supplies for residents of western San Francisco to drink.

The proposed project is part of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s efforts to improve the safety and reliability of local water supplies.

WSIP_GSP_map

Proposed Groundwater System Project

Six wells are planned as part of the project, from Lake Merced in the south to the northern edge of Golden Gate Park. Some new wells would be dug, while others would be modified to boost their pumping capacity. In addition, pipelines would be laid under neighborhood streets to get water from the wells to the recently renovated Sunset Reservoir at Ortega Street and 24th Avenue.

Neighborhood residents and businesses can weigh in on what kinds of environmental impacts the city should study before it launches the well project, starting tonight at a meeting in Golden Gate Park.

The Planning Department will hold a “scoping meeting” on the San Francisco Groundwater Supply Project at 7 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Golden Gate Park Senior Center, 6101 Fulton St. at 37th Avenue. People will be able to tell the city what subjects it should study in its environmental-impact report on the project and how deep its analysis should be.

The department also will accept comments from the public in writing at the meeting or via mail, fax or email through Jan. 30.

More information about the San Francisco Groundwater Supply Project is available from the Planning Department (PDF).

Written comments should be sent to by mail to the San Francisco Planning Department, Attn: Bill Wycko, Environmental Review Officer, San Francisco Groundwater Supply Project Scoping Comments, 1650 Mission St., Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94103; by fax to (415) 558-6409; or by e-mail to jamie.dean@sfgov.org.

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Collected tweets about San Francisco’s Central Subway

March 18, 2009

On March 17 I tweeted from a forum about San Francisco’s Central Subway at the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association. But all my tweets about the meeting subsequently disappeared from Twitter. A couple of people (including the excellent Transbay Blog) have asked me to repost the tweets, so here they are, with the misspellings and fat-thumb typing cleaned up. Thank goodness for the fact that I tweeted by text message, since my phone retains sent messages.

12:34 p.m. At SPUR forum on San Francisco’s Central Subway: John Funghi of SFMTA and SPUR’s Steve Tabor.

12:37 50 people not counting staff at SPUR’s Central Subway talk.

12:53 Funghi sez Central Subway designed so it could accommodate surface travel to Fisherman’s Wharf.

12:56 The proposed temp traffic realignment to extract Central Subway boring machine looks like it will be a puzzler for area near WashBag …

12:58 … But Funghi sez disruption at that triangular park across from WashBag will be only about 18 weeks.

1:08 SPUR’s Steve Tabor: “I have grave doubts” the Geary rapid buses could ever go farther downtown than Laguna.

1:10 Tabor sez SF is the densest population and destination center in the nation not already served by a Metro-style system.

1:13 Tabor explaining possible expansion of Central Subway all the way to Doyle Drive. Pie in the sky?

1:14 Wait, that pie is higher in the sky: Central Subway to Golden Gate Bridge?

1:17 Another Central Subway option could send line toward Presidio but route a spur line off to Fisherman’s Wharf.

1:18 Tabor: Success of Central Subway hinges on ability to accommodate three-car trains.

1:23 Funghi: $1bln / mile is as cheap as Central Subway can get.

1:30 Though Tabor sez three-car trains needed, Funghi says two cars are where Muni is headed. In part because stations planned for two cars only.

Regarding the 1:23 and 1:30 tweets, I think they bear some clarification.

When Funghi said that $1 billion per mile is as cheap as the Central Subway can get, he meant that’s as cheap as the city can do it by bore tunneling instead of cut-and-cover tunnel construction. He explained that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency went with bore tunneling because of concerns about the potential social and economic disruption that might be caused by a lengthy process of tearing up city streets.

About the disparity between Tabor’s three-car statement and Funghi’s caution that that isn’t what Muni’s going to do, Funghi said that Muni thinks it can make up for the reduced capacity by running trains more frequently. Besides, he said, it costs more time and money to have two drivers couple and uncouple three-car trains than to just run more trains. Make up your own mind about whether you buy that explanation.

To view a PDF of Funghi’s slide presentation at the SPUR forum, click here.

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Will telecommuting kill the office tower?

September 24, 2008

Could the high-rise office buildings that dominate the skylines of many cities around the world be replaced with mixed-use structures utilizing solar power and offering green spaces and high-speed wireless connections?

Office high-rises such as these in San Francisco could be on their way out, according to a new report from the U.K.

Office high-rises such as these in San Francisco could be on their way out, according to a new report from the U.K.

According to the United Kingdom’s Sky News, that’s the prediction of a recent report on the future of urban Britain. The report suggests that mobile technologies, coupled with a desire among more workers to work from home and gain some free time during the day — plus a willingness among employers to encourage them to do it — could change the face of cities.

According the report, 13 percent of Londoners already work away from the office two days a week and 44 percent said their employers have allowed them to work from home.

Microsoft researcher James McCarthy put it this way, according to Sky News: “The UK’s landscape is being significantly redrawn. … Old-fashioned spaces will be replaced with green WiFi spots, and new multipurpose spaces will be erected which will combine apartments, offices, shops and cafes, making our cities a much more inspiring landscape to work in.” (Punctuation corrected by PretePress)

Office Towerblocks Will Vanish From City Skylines As Home Working Takes Over, Researchers Predict | Business | Sky News

Photo by m.john16 / Michael Larson, reproduced under Creative Commons license Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic.

Happy Park(ing) Day!

September 19, 2008

Today is Parkin(ing) Day, one of my favorite events to develop in recent years. The brainchild of San Francisco’s REBAR Group, Park(ing) Day started as one of their projects combining wierd street theater with a serious urban planning context. The group plunked some quarters into a San Francisco Parking meter, rolled out some sod in the street space they had just

People enjoy a temporary park set up in a parking space on a San Francisco Street in 2006 as part of the Park(ing) event created by REBAR Group.

People enjoy a temporary park set up in a parking space on a San Francisco Street in 2006 as part of the Park(ing) event created by REBAR Group.

rented, set up a bench and invited everyone to enjoy the park they had just created.

I don’t know if what they did was legal the first time, but I loved the presumption: “Look, I’ve just rented this spot on the street for an hour, right? Why do I have to only put a car on it? Why not a park — if I roll it up and take it with me when the time is up?”

From that single parking space on Mission Street (spitting distance from my old office at the San Francisco Examiner), the idea has grown to an annual event in many cities across the United States.

There are a number of interesting Park(ing) spaces to see in San Francisco, but I’ll put in my plug for the one at David Baker + Partners Architects, at the northwest corner of Second Street and Bryant Street. I don’t know what David has planned (and I’m on deadline today so I can’t go), but he does interesting work and he’s an interesting guy, so I’m sure it will be worth a visit.

Photo by Steve Rhodes under the Creative Commons license “Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic.”

More resources:

Find Park(ing) Day events near you!

REBAR Group

National Park(ing) Day at the Trust for Public Land


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San Francisco lawyer, fundraiser Robert McCarthy dies

September 17, 2008

Robert J. McCarthy, a lawyer, lobbyist and political fundraiser who counted scores of San Francisco city leaders as his friends and clients, died of cancer Sunday at his home in the city’s St. Francis Wood neighborhood. He was 61.

— Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle

Back when first started covering the San Francisco Planning Commission (in the days when Frank Jordan was mayor of San Francisco) as a reporter, I noticed a big, well-dressed guy who seemed to make all the commissioners sit up and pay attention whenever he spoke. That was Bob McCarthy, and I came to see him around quite a lot at City Hall.

I guess Bob eventually noticed me, too, because on occasion he would pull me aside in the hallway and complain — gently — about something I had written. I know that later on, when I became neighborhood editor and then managing editor of the San Francisco Independent, he also noticed those rare occasions when one of  my reporters misunderstood a story or just wrote it in a way that required him to speak up in defense of one of his clients.

I’m not one to hang around politicians and lobbyists except as professionally required, and of course I frequently disagreed with Bob and was annoyed at the way he tried to spin the stories, but I always found Bob McCarthy to be an exceptionally effective advocate for his clients and an interesting guy. San Francisco will be a less interesting without him.


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Robert McCarthy dies – S.F. lawyer, fundraiser.


Last chance to comment on GGNRA management plan

August 1, 2008

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is revising its policies for managing the lands and facilities under its jurisdiction, but the period for public comment is drawing to a close.

This revision is important to anyone who uses the GGNRA in any way, as it is intended to guide the management of the park for many years. Friday, August 1 is the last day the GGNRA and the National Park Service will accept comments on the plan from the public.

Read the four alternative proposed management concepts, and make your comments before 11:59 p.m. Pacific time.

My understanding is that after the GGNRA selects a general set of guiding principles (the management concepts), it will undertake further study and gather additional public input to turn those principles into actual working regulations, policies and practices.


To do: Tuesday, Nov. 27

November 27, 2007

The Northern California Megaregion

Some issues affecting the Bay Area not only exceed the capacity of municipalUrbanist_megaregion_map002_thumb governments to handle, but go far beyond what we’ve traditionally conceived of as our nine-county region. But if the nine-county Bay Area isn’t always a relevant model anymore, what is our region? What kinds of structures do we need to plan for and govern this area? How do San Francisco and other central urban areas fit in? Where will the 10 million new residents anticipated by 2050 live? How does all of this affect our economy?

These are the issues the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association will address today in a lunchtime talk at SPUR’s offices near Union Square in San Francisco. SPUR Executive Director Gabriel Metcalf, one of the leading thinkers about the concept of emerging megaregions and the Northern California megaregion in particular, is scheduled to speak, along with SPUR Economic Policy Director Egon Terplan, who should provide some insight about the function of a megaregional economy.

More details about today’s event here.

Resources:

The November/December issue of the Urbanist, SPUR’s monthly publication, features an extensive article about the Northern California megaregion.

Maps from the Urbanist megaregion article.