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.


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

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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!


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

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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.


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.

Wanted: ‘spectacular delusional hubris’

October 10, 2007

“It’s spectacular delusional hubris to think that good sense will prevail.”

That’s Chico, Calif. developer Jon John Anderson, explaining that while he understands the problems that California’s love affair with destructive sprawl creates, he doesn’t think the state is prepared to straighten up and build right.


Anderson, quoted by John King in the Oct. 9 San Francisco Chronicle, continued, “People feel entitled to their fantasy.”

Anderson’s bleak assessment of California’s future came as part of the 2007 conference of the American Planning Association’s California chapter, in a debate over whether California is “ready for complex urban development.”

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