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›San Francisco Public Press›



GROWING SMARTER Planning for a Bay Area of 9 million


• Glide Memorial





STRUGGLE TO FIND A BED: Disabled, elderly homeless often out in cold PAGE A3







• Jack London State Historic Park









• Caltrain depot, San Francisco

• San Jose and Fremont populations boomed while San Francisco and Oakland stagnated • Regional planners target smart growth projects at urban core, transit hubs PAGES B4-B5











• Eskender Aseged


• San Francisco, 1928






• Passengers hop on the 38-Geary


• Roberto Alfaro




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doesn’t mean free



• Removing bell pepper caps


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A2 Summer 2012

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San Francisco Public Press • Vol. 3, No. 2 (Issue 7) • SUMMER 2012 Published June 13, 2012

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A3 Summer 2012



In Overcrowded System, Inmates Are Mostly Male, Nonwhite, Aging California’s prison population


Incarceration rates represent state prisoners per 100,000 adults in the general population. The numbers are age-adjusted and use California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and Census Bureau data from 2010.

45 %


35 %

30 %

33 %

















Violent Drug Property Other

45 % 29 %






36 %

29 %

40 %

16 %


25 %



cent, from 161,000 to 141,000 at the end of February 2012. Incarceration rates have followed a similar trajectory, increasing from 443 per 100,000 adults in 1990 to a peak of 673 in 1998, then declining to the current rate of 595. California’s incarceration rate ranks 18th among states. The prison population is aging. In 1990, 20 percent of prisoners were under age 25, but by the end of 2011 that dropped to 13 percent. During this same period, the number of prisoners age 50 and older grew from 4 percent to 19 percent. There are at least three reasons for this: The state’s overall population is aging, prisoners are serving longer sentences and more older adults are new admissions to prison. These last two factors are likely to change as the court-ordered realignment process continues.

14 %




Informing and improving public policy through independent, objective, nonpartisan research.



he state prison population has stabilized in the past five years, but the system is still overcrowded. After several decades of rapid, steady growth, California’s state prison population peaked at 173,000 in 2006. Since then, a gradual decrease brought it Story and down to 163,000 at Infographic: the end of 2010. Even Joseph M. Hayes so, California penal // Public Policy Institute of institutions were opCalifornia erating at 175 percent of their design capacity. Poor health care delivery prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to order the transfer or release of more than 30,000 prisoners within two years. Realignment of the criminal justice system has begun to accelerate the prison population’s decrease. In response to the Supreme Court mandate, California now sends many lowerlevel offenders to local custody instead of state prison. Since the advent of realignment on Oct. 1, 2011, the total in-custody prison population has fallen by 12 per-

Sources: State incarceration rates come from Bureau of Justice Statistics from 2009. Crime data are from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, 1990–2010. Except where noted, all other state-level figures are from 1990–2011.



Thousands of Tickets Handed Out to Homeless Ignoring ’quality of life’ fines can lead to warrants, jail


Jimmy Wallender, far left, waited in the main line for food outside Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco. He said he has never tried waiting for a bed at Glide because of the long wait. “It’s too much of a hassle,” Wallender said. Tearsa Joy Hammock // Public Press

City to Tackle Shelter Waiting Game for Disabled and Older Homeless Many wanting beds for the night spend fruitless hours waiting in long lines


he health of homeless people — especially older and disabled ones — is endangered by the time-consuming wait they endure daily when reserving beds in San Francisco’s public shelter system, advocates and city officials said recently. In an attempt to solve the problem, the city is putting together a group of providers, city officials and clients, led by homeStory: less policy director BeT.J. Johnston van Dufty, to seek im// Public Press provements in shelter access and the health of senior and disabled clients. District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, who had requested a meeting on shelter reform in early April, said she met a largely aging clientele at the Next Door Shelter on the night she stayed there in January. “I did not expect our shelter clients to be so much older,” she said. “I did not see a lot of young people in our shelters. I was one of the few younger people there.” Though estimates vary on how many of the 1,134 beds for the homeless go to seniors, Kim’s observations from her shelter immersion agree with a recent data sample from the city’s Human Services Agency. During select months from March 2009 to March 2011, city-funded shelters admitted more than 200 clients age 60 or older for at least one day. The agency also surveyed shelter residents last year and reported that 55 percent of clients have a disabling condition. But the city has a problem tracking individuals to determine who might not receive full services. The computerized intake




Population of homeless people in San Francisco




Percentage of homeless people with a chronic medical ailment

Total beds in single adult shelter system funded by taxpayers

Beds assigned to County Adult Assistance Program (Care Not Cash) clients


Percentage of shelter clients reporting a disabling condition


Percentage of beds used by clients age 60 or older

March 2009 to March 2011 Sources: San Francisco Human Services Agency, Department of Public Health

system only measures how many of those beds are occupied each night. It doesn’t record which people are filling them. Navigating the system can be draining. Clients frequently line up outside resource centers overnight, waiting for an opening. When the centers open their doors, the first few people might reserve an available bed. Some get a bed for 90 days, others a one-night booking. But most are left out and take their chances at another resource center to wait it out again. Life on the streets usually takes a physical and mental toll. The Department of Public Health estimates that 75 percent of its homeless patients have chronic medical or behavioral problems. Deborah Borne, the former co-medical director of the Tom Waddell Health Center, said the problems of shelter clients demand a high level of maintenance. “The No. 1 issue affecting our clients

is their ability to function within the system,” she said. “There is a gap between the level of services that we’re able to supply at the shelters giving the best care and the levels our clients have.” In a video presentation to the supervisors’ Rules Committee, homeless client Greg Allen said he camps outside the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center before its 7 a.m. opening. “We’re stuck out here praying for a bed,” he said. His mobility is curtailed by degenerated discs and a bad knee, so Allen has to forgo one-night stays at the Providence Baptist Church shelter, about three miles away, and hopes for an opening at a nearby shelter. “I have been on the priority list for a medical bed, but no Sanctuary or Next Door beds have popped up on the screen, because they are gone by 7 o’clock,” he

said. Why are so many unhoused San Franciscans locked in a cycle of “hurry up and wait”? The way beds are allotted to subsets of the population plays a role. Joyce Crum, director of the agency’s Homeless Services Division, said that 390 beds — about onethird — are slated for clients who are guaranteed a 90-day placement when they enroll in the county welfare program, known as Care Not Cash. But the agency reports that only 568 of the city’s 6,544 homeless folk are active in the program, and advocates from the nonprofit Coalition on Homelessness say tying the proportion of beds to Care Not Cash recipients forces others with different income sources — such as Social Security and disability benefits — into a waiting game, because they make too much money to qualify. “They make up only 7 percent of the homeless population, and they get to keep the beds even if they do not use them,” said L.J. Cirilo, a coalition board member. “The unused beds are released one night at a time. This creates an undue burden on people with disabilities.” The Board of Supervisors adopted Kim’s resolution calling for a work group to seek improvements in providing shelter access and assessing the health needs of senior and disabled clients. Amanda Kahn Fried, Dufty’s assistant, said the group will explore the option of booking reservations with the 311 telephone system for city services. “We’re thinking of using 311 as an additional entry point,” she said, “not as a replacement to reservation centers.”

an Francisco is an expensive place to find an apartment, sure. But it can also be a costly place to live outside. Police served homeless people in the city with almost 40,000 citations over a five-year period, according to records compiled by the city agency that provides homeless services. Data from the San Francisco Human Story: Services Agency show that local law T.J. Johnston enforcement issued 39,714 citations // Public Press between 2006 and 2011 for a variety of “quality of life” offenses, including sleeping outside, blocking sidewalks and trespassing. In response to an information request from the San Francisco Public Press, the agency provided data on how often homeless people get ticketed for 35 state and municipal codes. More than half of those citations were given in 2008 and 2009, when police wrote out 12,726 and 12,895 tickets, respectively. Of the total number of citations, alcohol-related offenses account for the majority, but sleeping in parks and trespassing are also among the most frequent infractions cited. Possession of an open container consistently led among all other violations with 12,250 citations issued. Overnight sleeping in a park yielded 3,512 write-ups. Running neck and neck for third place are two similar infractions for trespassing: Obstruction of a street or sidewalk at certain times resulted in 2,254, and trespassing, 2,222. QUALITY OF LIFE This year, the number VIOLATIONS of citations could increase 2006-2011 thanks to newly enacted local laws, including one that extends the camping ban Alcohol 20,548 enforced in parks to two Animal 82 Castro District plazas. Camping 5,293 Paul Boden of the WestPanhandling 2,002 ern Regional Advocacy ProjTrespassing 5,324 ect criticized such police Public Health 2,098 practices as reflecting a naOther 3,266 tionwide pattern of crimiTotal 39,714 nalizing homelessness. “National crime statistics Source: San Francisco Police reveal millions were sitting, Department lying down, hanging out and — perhaps, worst of all — sleeping,” he said. Other homeless-serving organizations, such as the Neighborhood Justice Clinic, maintain that enforcement of such laws unfairly targets homeless people. Citations that don’t get resolved lead to arrest warrants and incarceration, said Elisa Della-Piana, director of the Berkeleybased Neighborhood Justice Clinic. A criminal record acts as a barrier to public housing. A client of Della-Piana’s moved to the top of a public housing waitlist, but unfortunately outstanding warrants on his record prevented him from getting housed. The warrants stemmed from sleeping in a park and on a sidewalk while he was homeless. “Criminal enforcement can act to keep people homeless,” she said. In April, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness reported a nationwide increase in the passage of laws prohibiting camping, loitering and panhandling since 2006. The federal task force called for more housing and supportive services, as well as problem-solving alternatives to the criminal justice system. Last year, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, noted that San Francisco imposes time- or place-specific restrictions on 10 of 14 public behaviors. But Albie Esparza, a police spokesman, attributed the issuance of fewer citations in the last two years to its work with other city programs. “We attempt to use long-term solutions so that we see less violations,” he said.

A4 Summer 2012

CIVICS San Francisco Public Press //


Children as Young As 11 Forced Into Commercial Sex Trade in Bay Area


any people think child sex trafficking is an overseas problem, but the FBI has identified the Bay Area as one of 13 hot spots in the United States for the domestic, commercialized sex trade. Children of all races and ethnicities as young as 11 are forced into prostitution in the Bay Area, and the problem is growing every year. The following is a transcript of a discussion about juvenile sex trafficking in the Bay Area edited by Anne Shisko of the Public Press. Participants were: Mollie Ring, chief of programs for the Standing Against Global Exploitation ProjStory: Lauren Meltzer ect; Sharmin Bock, // KALW ”City assistant district Visions Radio” attorney for Alameda County; Lt. Jason Fox, San Francisco Police Department Special Victims Unit; and Adriane Beckman, deputy probation officer for San Mateo County. Lauren Meltzer: The FBI has identified the Bay Area as a hot spot for what is called commercial sexual exploitation of children. Who are these children? Mollie Ring: There are girls and boys and many transgender youth who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation as well as labor exploitation. One of the main trends we see is early childhood sexual abuse. Many of these youth were abused prior to being abused in the commercial sex industry. The majority of them have interfaced either with the juvenile justice system or the foster care system. They are not absent from existing child welfare systems. It really just takes having the right protocols to identify them in order to get them into intervention services.

Many of these youth were abused prior to being abused in the commercial sex industry. We see many kids who are runaways who have become homeless on the streets of San Francisco, or who have come to San Francisco because they think that it’s maybe easier to be homeless here. These traffickers know how to identify the youth who clearly don’t have access to resources. Meltzer: Why is the Bay Area such a hot spot? Sharmin Bock: We’re the home of the Internet, Silicon Valley, and it’s radically changed the face of what was once known as traditional pimping and pandering. You don’t know what love looks like, you can get very easily lured over the Internet into trafficking. We’ve seen that rising more and more each year, especially when you see how profitable it is to sell a child. Meltzer: Who are the johns? Jason Fox: They come from all walks of life. Some of these customers know exactly how old these young women are, and they seek them out. Adriane Beckman: These young people are really at risk to be manipulated and abused and put back on the street and led to believe that this is something normal, that there’s no way out. The johns keep this business going. The pimp[s] put them out there. There are witnesses that watch this happening, and now we’re trying to step in. Everyone should step in. Ring: When a youth comes into our program, the pimp controls 90 percent of her mind. We maybe can tap into 10 percent. The goal is to flip that through education, building peer support, meeting their needs in ways other than the ways they’ve been surviving through prostitution. They will come to see that there are other opportunities for them, that they can be loved, that they can be children again.


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To Preserve or Privatize California Parks? As deficits loom, wilderness and historic sites are at a critical crossroad


n early 2008, faced with a $16 billion state budget deficit, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed an unprecedented closure of 48 state parks. Schwarzenegger promised months later that all state parks would remain open with further reduced staff, hours and maintenance. Story: In May 2011, Paul Barrett and Gov. Jerry Brown Casey Mills announced that // California 70 of California’s Northern state parks — primarily those with the lowest attendance and revenue numbers — would be permanently closed. Now, as the state begins to close the gates, the parks’ strongest — and perhaps only — hope for survival lies with the nonprofit sector and private philanthropy. Assembly Bill 42, authored by Bay Area Assemblymember Jared Huffman and recently signed by Brown, allows parks to hand over operations to qualified nonprofit organizations if it means preventing their closure. For those parks able to find sufficient funding, things may go on largely as they have in the past. Those without funding will either shut down completely or continue on in a severely reduced capacity. While considered a last resort by many, AB 42 received immediate and almost universal support. It passed unanimously in the Assembly and received only two dissenting votes in the Senate. The California State Parks Foundation, a nonprofit independent of state government and devoted to the protection of the parks, praised Brown’s decision to sign the bill. “Our state park system was created by the creativity and passion of dedicated citizen groups,” said the foundation’s president, Elizabeth Goldstein, in a press release, “and it is time for today’s generation of organizations to pick up the torch.” But it’s unclear just how much nonprofits and their donors can salvage of the crippled parks. It’s also unclear whether, should they save them, the original intent of the state parks will remain intact. A small town on a winding, twolane road between Santa Rosa and Sonoma, Glen Ellen seems almost entirely sustained by the legacy of Jack London, whose name and visage appear on countless signs and windows. Having spent most of his life in San Francisco and Oakland, London withdrew from society in 1905 to a secluded northeast corner of the town and began pouring his earnings into creating a large-scale ranch. Today, the ranch’s remains are preserved, along with the rest of his estate, as Jack London State Historic Park. According to the foundation, Jack London State Historic Park drew around 46,000 visitors last year, a relatively low number even by endangered park standards, and thus was placed on the list for closure in 2012. Valley of the Moon Natural History Association, a nonprofit that has supported operations at the park through fundraising and volunteerism for 34 years, and currently supports two other parks slated for closure — the nearby Annadel and Sugarloaf Ridge state parks — recently took advantage of AB 42. The association submitted a proposal to the State Parks Department to take over operation of Jack London State Historic Park, and the proposal was accepted earlier this year. Throughout the proposal process, Valley of the Moon’s President Greg Hayes remained committed: “If we’re successful, maybe there’s hope for the rest of the parks on the closure list, and we’ll provide a model of a sort that people can use.” In truth, few of the endangered parks are lucky enough to have a safety net like Hayes and his organization. “Valley of the Moon is a sophisticated partner who has been working in that particular location for a long time,” said State Parks Foundation President Goldstein. “Some of these parks do not have partners at all.” A number of parties have expressed interest in operating state parks since the signing of AB 42, and the foundation is working toward identifying further potential partners for those parks in need of stewardship. Despite the level of interest, Goldstein finds it highly unlikely that all 70 parks will avoid closure. One other type of partner now under consideration — private companies — is sure to raise some eyebrows. The state currently has about 200 contracts with private outlets that operate campgrounds, snack bars, retail stores or equipment rentals within state park boundaries. “Private industry does it better, and it provides jobs for people,” said Roy Stearns, deputy director of communications for the California De-


California Northern Magazine is a biannual publication exploring the region’s cultures, environments, histories and identities. It provides a California-based forum for exceptional essays, long-form journalism, literature and photography. This is an edited version of a story from Issue 4 of California Northern. Purchase a copy online to read the full version.

Wolf House ruins, top, and Jack London’s writing desk, in Jack London State Historic Park. Kate Sawyer // California Northern

partment of Parks and Recreation. Some parks were prevented from closing in 2012 because private companies operated within their borders, and the state did not want to put them out of business. Now, according to Stearns, the state hopes to look to these businesses for proposals describing “how they could operate a park for us, and how they could make a profit for their company while operating a park for us.” Depending on private interests to help bankroll state parks is not without precedent in California’s history. Private organizations helped fund the establishment of multiple parks prior to the formation of the State Park Commission in 1927. The conse-

quent passage of a $6 million bond for park acquisition a year later shifted more of the financial burden to the public, but while further bonds directed more tax dollars to the parks over the years, the system continued to expand in no small part due to the efforts of privately organized groups. It could be argued that private altruism has allowed the state park system to expand, while leaving the public with the bill for maintaining the newly acquired lands. Some correction would seem to eventually be in order, as total state parkland couldn’t grow endlessly without a corresponding growth in state revenue to support it. There is reason to believe this cor-

rection — shifting some of the financial burden of park maintenance, rather than simply park acquisition, onto the private sector in the form of AB 42 — might work. Even before Gov. Brown signed the bill, Coe Park Preservation Fund, a nonprofit founded in early 2011, agreed to provide $300,000 annually for the next three years to keep Henry W. Coe State Park open. Henry Coe is the largest park in Northern California. It’s unlikely many parks can hope for this sort of largesse. In addition, those who are able to fund certain parks will begin their tenure facing down their share of the park system’s $1.3 billion maintenance backlog. Other parks are taking the first

steps down the path that Yosemite Valley took more than a century ago. Three state parks — Tomales Bay, Samuel P. Taylor and Del Norte Coast Redwoods — have already been removed from the list of possible closures after the federal government agreed to maintain them. With the exception of those parks now being maintained by the federal government, it would appear that, from a certain vantage, the enactment of AB 42 might represent a victory for those interested in championing a more localized way of life. By encouraging those near each park to take responsibility for its care and future, a new, communal investment in the park could be a welcome byproduct. But it’s worth considering whether those bankrolling the newly independent parks may not have a stronger say in their futures than the public. The Coe Park Preservation Fund’s $900,000 gift to the parks is certainly worth saluting, though the waters become a bit murky when one considers that the bulk of the money came from one person — Dan McCranie, chairman of the board of ON Semiconductors. AB 42 does require nonprofit organizations to submit a report on their operations of the parks to the state every year, to be followed up by a public hearing on the report. Further, the Department of Parks and Recreation must report to the state legislature twice a year on the status of the agreements. “It’s not a relinquishment of authority,” said Goldstein. “No matter who is the ultimate operator, State Parks is still in the driver’s seat.” Yet even with the state continuing to oversee park operations, handing over control of their everyday affairs — potentially including, for example, ecosystem management, trail maintenance and hiring employees to staff the parks — will mean relinquishing some authority. The purpose of placing parks in the public trust was to ensure that every decision made about their future would be in the interest of preserving their resources for all to enjoy. It’s possible that whoever takes over an endangered park may do just that. But it’s uncertain that one public hearing and a couple reports per year will provide enough information to ensure organizations are adhering to the park system’s mission. There’s also no guarantee the public will find out about damage caused by mismanagement in time to stop it. It’s hard not to see AB 42 as a step down the slippery slope toward a more privatized system of park management. It’s possible that once the state regains its financial footing, parks will return to public care. But it seems just as likely that as private interests continue to take on the burden of managing certain parks, the state will further divest itself of its active role in their future. And, should the state fall even deeper into debt, ceding more control of parkland to reduce staff time — or selling the land to caretaker organizations to save money and earn revenue — may become logical next steps. The idea of selling state parkland would seem alarmist, if not for Gov. Schwarzenegger’s 2010 proposal to sell 24 historic state buildings — including the California Supreme Court — to fill budget gaps. The same proposal was revived by the Democrat-controlled state Assembly a year later during the 2011 budget debate. Of course, AB 42 represents an alternative to a far more distressing reality — that of 70 parks being permanently closed to the public. The arguments to save the parks for their recreational value have been extensively made, particularly by Proposition 21 advocates in the months leading up to the election. In the end, a privatized park is certainly preferable to a closed one, and despite its flaws, AB 42 will go a long way in keeping some of California’s most vital treasures open to the public.

CIVICS // San Francisco Public Press

A5 Summer 2012

On Dec. 20, 1928, an audience of 10,000 packed into Civic Auditorium to hear the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra’s world premiere of Ernest Bloch’s “America.” Alfred Hertz was the conductor. MUSIC

Innovative Conductors Boosted S.F. Symphony in First 100 Years Author Larry Rothe reveals how world-renowned orchestra always reflected spirit of San Francisco


n May, the San Francisco Symphony hosted “Barbary Coast and Beyond: Music From the Gold Rush to the Panama-Pacific Exposition,” bringing to life sounds from San Francisco’s early history. In contrast, the symphony just completed its American Mavericks festival, where it performed avant-garde works by composers, including Terry Riley, Harry Partch, Meredith Monk and Story: John Adams. This is part Justin Allen of the orchestra’s centen// The Creosote nial celebration for its 2011– Journal 2012 season. Photos: The occasion also saw the Courtesy of release of a book, “Music for San Francisco a City, Music for the World: Symphony 100 Years with the San Francisco Symphony,” published by Chronicle Books. Written by long-time San Francisco Symphony publications editor Larry Rothe, previously co-author of “For the Love of Music,” the book charts the history of the orchestra as it rose to national prominence. I caught up with Larry for a talk about the book and about the history of the symphony. (Full disclosure: I used to work at the San Francisco Symphony. Also, this interview has been edited and condensed.) Justin Allen: How does the history of the San Francisco Symphony reflect the history or character of its home city and the things San Francisco is known for, like new technology, being a frontier city, an arts city and so on? Larry Rothe: San Francisco was always known as a musicloving town. The facts really bear that out. Even in the Gold Rush days, lots of musical acts and orchestras and singers came through here. An early history of the symphony’s first decade claimed that the catalog of visiting musical acts covered 17 single-spaced typed pages. The San Francisco Symphony was founded as part of San Francisco’s revival after the earthquake. The same spirit that rebuilt the physical infrastructure led to the birth of the orchestra and regeneration of cultural life. Allen: A century is a long time to distill in a book. How did you approach this when writing “Music for a City”?

you’re quite familiar with him and enjoy his music. Can you talk a little bit about that relationship? //

The Creosote Journal is a new publication dedicated to the development and support of emerging voices from the contemporary West, with an emphasis on intersections of culture and place.

Rothe: I wanted something that wasn’t just a promotional piece but a serious history. And that’s what everyone at the symphony wanted. So I was able to look at the valleys as well as the peaks. I wanted to look for the human story. I wanted to trace symphony history according to music directors’ tenures, mainly because every music director puts a stamp on the period over which he presided. Whether that was really extraordinary (as in the case of Pierre Monteux) or not so extraordinary (as in the case of Issay Dobrowen in the 1930s, or Enrique Jordá in the 1950s). I was also drawn to some of the quirkier parts of our history. For example, in 1919, a player piano was on stage with the orchestra, acting as soloist in a piano concerto. That might strike us today as a kind of Barnum and Bailey act, but it was a serious presentation back then — not to mention something that took enormous skill, since orchestra and “soloist” had to remain in perfect sync. Allen: When did the symphony start to get a name nationally? Rothe: It began to get a name, nationally, way back in the 1920s, when Alfred Hertz was here, our second music director. Not many people today know about Alfred Hertz, but he’s really one of the unsung heroes of American music. A German conductor, he had worked with Gustav Mahler at the Metropolitan Opera. He was a master, and he started packing in the audiences. Under him, the orchestra blossomed. In 1925, Hertz and the orchestra made the first San Francisco Symphony recordings. The Victor Talking Machine Company, which became RCA, was a national company that was already recording the Boston Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra. For an East Coast firm to commit to a West Coast enterprise in the mid-1920s was a major statement. Califor-

Needing a place to perform, the San Francisco Symphony spent a decade at the Cort Theatre, at 64 Ellis St., which opened in September 1911. This official portrait shows conductor Henry K. Hadley and the orchestra on the Cort stage. nia was still a long way off, on the far side of the country. There must have been something out here for Victor to commit themselves that way. The recordings from that period really bear that out. You can also look at those first recordings as an early harnessing of technology. In 1927, Hertz appeared on the cover of Time magazine. People knew about this orchestra on the West Coast. But remember that, for a long time, our season was shorter than the seasons of other major North American orchestras, because we had to share the stage in the Opera House with the S.F. Opera and the S.F. Ballet. It was really when the orchestra moved to Davies Symphony Hall that an amazing period of growth started. Which is not to say that it wasn’t a fabulous orchestra back in the 1940s, with Pierre Monteux — before Herbert Blomstedt and Michael Tilson Thomas came on, Monteux’s era was one of the high points in the orchestra’s history. In 1947, Monteux led the orchestra on one of the most extensive tours that any American orchestra had made: 56 concerts in 57 days, across the country.

Allen: So, you have a lot of perspective from looking back over the last 100 years of this orchestra. Now I’m going to ask you to prognosticate — what are the next 100 years going to be like? Rothe: (Laughs.) I have no idea! The core repertory will remain, but there will be a lot of innovation. There will be lots of changes that are absolutely impossible to predict. But one thing that music and any art gives us is an anchor. We listen to music written 100, 200 years ago because it continues to touch us, and there’s nothing that suggests Bach and Beethoven and Brahms won’t continue touching us for the next 100 years. That’s going to stay. It has to stay. It’s who and what we’re about. Allen: At the same time, the symphony is known for doing a lot of contemporary music. There’s a special connection the San Francisco Symphony has with John Adams, and I know

Rothe: John came on board as new music adviser in 1978, helping review scores that were coming in. When Edo de Waart came here as music director in 1977, he made it known that he wanted to play a lot of contemporary music, so he was inundated with scores and couldn’t handle them all himself. Edo and John struck up a great professional relationship almost immediately. Four years after John came on board as new music adviser, he became our first composerin-residence. While he served in that capacity, we commissioned him to write several pieces. The first big one was “Harmonium”; that was a work for chorus and orchestra. That helped establish John as an up-and-coming composer. In 1985, he wrote “Harmonielehre” on commission from the symphony. That has turned out to be a seminal work of late 20th century music. It inspired a lot of young composers at the time. It announced that there was still a lot to be said in tonal music. Incidentally, the San Francisco Symphony recently released a new recording of the piece by Michael Tilson Thomas and the orchestra. Our relationship with John Adams has continued. We gave the North American premieres of two works we co-commissioned: “El Niño” and “A Flowering Tree.” “Absolute Jest,” which he wrote for the centennial season, was part of a multiyear commissioning agreement that we entered into with John back in ’01. That agreement also resulted in “My Father Knew Charles Ives” in 2003. Allen: In your book, “For the Love of Music,” which you co-wrote with Michael Steinberg, you talk about the connections between writing and music, and the challenges of writing about music. Rothe: The task is to try to examine the feelings music stirs — how, in a sense, the music leads to those feelings. If you can somehow verbalize this, you begin to understand emotions, thoughts, responses you may not have understood at first. Music can lead you into places you may not have known were there. In attempting to describe them, your world enlarges, your knowledge of yourself enlarges.

A6 Summer 2012

CIVICS San Francisco Public Press //


Muni to Try Quicker Boarding Scheme In Latest Effort To Meet Elusive Performance Goals Additional fare inspectors to monitor passengers using all doors to get on buses


lipper Card readers placed in the back of Muni buses long ago will finally get more use starting July 1. Transit officials are gearing up for all-door boarding throughout this system, which will reduce travel times, speed up loading on Muni buses and generate more fare revenue, said Muni spokesman Paul Rose. Muni will become the first bus and light-rail system in the country to have all-door boarding for its entire system. “That’s something many of our Story: riders want and deserve,” Rose said. Jerold Chinn Currently, Muni riders are — in theory // Public Press — allowed to board only in the front of the bus, but can board at any door on Photos: the light-rail vehicles as long as riders Jason Winshell // Public Press tag their Clipper Cards or have proof of payment, such as a 90-minute paper transfer. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors had to change the transportation code. “The queuing up in the front door and boarding process is a significant time delay, which slows down the Muni system,” said Ed Reiskin, director of transportation. According to National Transit Database numbers from 2010, San Francisco had an average of more than 65 boardings per hour per vehicle compared with other major cities such as New York (62 boardings per hour) and Honolulu (52 boardings per hour). For years, Muni riders have been boarding at the back doors of buses with and without proof of payment, ignoring signs posted on rear doors of Muni buses that read: “Stop! Enter Through the Front Door Only.” The transit agency hopes to reduce the number of free

riders by adding more fare inspectors. The 2012–2013 and 2013–2014 two-year budget approved in April included hiring 10 additional fare inspectors, which will cost the agency $900,000. A staff report from the transit agency said the additional fare inspectors could bring in $200,000 in fare citations annually and could add $4 million in fare revenue due to both higher ridership and more Muni riders paying their fares. If caught by one of the 36 transit fare inspectors without proof of payment, Muni riders will be socked with a $100 fine, 50 times the cost of an adult fare. Fare inspectors issued 11,855 fare evasion citations between October and December of 2011.

We think Muni’s riders will appeciate the improvements that will stem from all-door boarding. Mario Tranev, Transit Riders Union

“The philosophy is to get our staffing just to a level where anybody riding the transit system at any time has a reasonable expectation that they’ll be asked to prove they paid their fare,” said Reiskin. Muni officials are also working on creating pictorial decals to put on the backdoors to explain to riders who can board the back of the bus. Data will be collected before and after implementation

Riders board through the back door of a 38-Geary bus during afternoon rush hour on Market and Post streets near the Montgomery BART station. Muni hopes that an all-door boarding system will enhance service.

to gauge improvement in boarding times at busy stops, said Jason Lee, project manager of the all-boarding system. The San Francisco Transit Riders Union, a grassroots organization aimed at improving transportation in the city, has pushed for all-door boarding. “We believe that it will improve reliability of service, make trips faster, reduce overcrowding and save Muni money that can be reinvested into more and better service,” said Mario Tanev, a member of the Transit Riders Union and coordinator for the all-door boarding campaign. “We think Muni’s riders will appreciate the improvements that will stem from all-door boarding,” said Tanev. All-door boarding is one of several improvements Muni officials are working on to provide more reliable service and meet a city goal of being 85 percent on time, which the transit agency has never met. The Transit Effectiveness Project, a blueprint to overhaul some of the busiest Muni lines, includes plans to reduce stops, and provide traffic signal priority for buses and transit-only lanes at busy intersections. Those changes will not take place until fall 2013, according to the transit agency.


How San Francisco City Workers Are Organizing for Contracts Activists say government budget cuts have led to wage cuts, higher health care costs


n April, more than 1,000 union workers took to the streets of San Francisco to raise awareness about negotiations with the city that include wage cuts and higher health care premiums. How are workers negotiating fair benefits? If you are a city employee, how are budget cuts affecting you? We asked Larry Bradshaw, San Francisco vice president of the Service Employees International Union Local 1021 Interview: and a paramedic for the San Francisco Rose Aguilar Fire Department; Brenda Barrows, San // KALW's ”Your Francisco General Hospital and bargainCall” ing team member; and Kristy Morrison, teacher at Galileo High School in San Francisco and an organizer with Against Cuts. The following is an edited transcript of the conversation with “Your Call” host Rose Aguilar, which aired on April 24 on KALW. Rose Aguilar: In today’s “Your Call,” we continue our Agenda for a New Economy Series by taking a look at how city workers are organizing when they are faced with pay and benefit cuts. So, Kristy, let’s start off with you. You’re a teacher at Galileo High. What are you currently facing? Kristy Morrison: Well, it’s the same thing I’ve been facing for the past seven years as an English teacher. There’s an increase in class sizes and continually, every year, there’s cuts constantly to outside resources that come into our school that help our students. As an English teacher, I think the biggest thing that I’m facing is the kind of multidimensional abuse that students face, so at the same time they are being cut in the school, their social services are being cut. These are students whose parents have lost their jobs; perhaps they’ve lost their homes. This leads to fighting and stress levels in their home lives that they bring into the classroom on a daily basis. Aguilar: So, you are not only dealing with budget cuts, but also you are dealing with kids whose families are also dealing with economic problems. Morrison: Yeah, the fight against the budget cuts, it’s not just a K-12 or education issue, it’s a public service issue and, in fact, social services are the first to be cut, the most to be cut, and these are things that provide the basic needs of human beings in the state of California. If these needs aren’t met, it makes education next to impossible

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Aguilar: And, Larry, before we talk about negotiations and organizing, as a paramedic with the San Francisco Fire Department, how are you being affected by budget cuts? Larry Bradshaw: We’re seeing the social safety net shredded. We’re seeing the closure of clinics. We’re seeing longer wait times for routine appointments. We’re seeing people delay treatment for chronic conditions that then become acute. And it’s very hard to plug the patients we see on an emergency basis on the ambulance into a fabric of care, whether it’s ongoing medical care to address their medical needs or mental health or detox beds. We’ve seen just a dry up of detox and mental health beds in the city and county. So we’re sort of playing a revolving door.

year by not having that gross receipts business tax. City Hall has not addressed the lack of a fair business tax, and that lets the biggest corporations off without paying anything. And our members have had concessions fatigue. We stepped up to the plate when the stock market crash occurred in 2007, 2008; our members have been paying concessions in their wages, we’re paying more for our retirement because of all the money that the retirement system lost. Now they want us to pay hundreds of dollars more per month for health care benefits and we’re saying: “We’re not doing it anymore.” Aguilar: So what does that mean when you say you’re done? Bradshaw: We’re seeing clinics that are being closed, we’re seeing wait times being increased, we’re seeing the people who benefit from public services having to put off using those services, and we’re seeing the people who provide those services are members being asked to make concession after concession. And so we’ve just said: “We’ve helped out and we’re done.”

Aguilar: Is there any end in sight here, Larry, because San Francisco is facing a $170 million deficit over a two-year budget?

Aguilar: And, Kristy, I understand you are taking part today at 5 o’clock.

Bradshaw: We’re saying there is no budget deficit in San Francisco. There is a revenue deficit. The revenue deficit comes from the wealthy corporations and the downtown commercial and investment firms that have not paid their fair share of taxes the last 10 years.

Morrison: Yes. I’m also a union member with United Educators of San Francisco, and we’re going through bargaining right now and the district’s negotiating proposal is atrocious. They are proposing 10 furlough days in the next two years, elimination for several prep periods for department heads and advance placement teachers, no salary increase at any time, and elimination of Prop A professional development days. So today teachers are coming together at the school board meeting to say “no,” and that’s the big thing that I wanted to get out.

Aguilar: Why don’t you elaborate on this, because you make a really good point between what is a budget deficit and what is a revenue deficit. Bradshaw: Only) about 10 percent of businesses in San Francisco pay any business tax at all, and that’s because 10 years ago, 52 of the largest corporations in the United States — people like Levi Strauss, Chevron, General Motors — sued the city of San Francisco and said they had an illegal business tax. And so the gross receipts business tax was thrown out and replaced by a payroll tax. So we’ve lost anywhere between $25 and $50 million a

Aguilar: Now I would like to welcome Brenda Barrows to the show. How are budget cuts affecting the work you do at S.F. General? Brenda Barrows: Actually, the way I see it is work speeds up and short

staffing is having a definite impact on the clients we serve, because I work at a hospital. So we’ve had an increase in clients but very little increase in staffing, and they’ve made it extremely difficult by the cutting of our paychecks in the health care field to attract the best of the best that we had been attracting before. Over the last 10 years, I’ve seen over a million dollars in pay cuts we’ve taken that we’ve given back to the city — 10.5 percent of our pension we’re all paying now. We’ve done furlough days. We’ve taken pay cuts for the last 10 years — they’ve totaled to about a million dollars — and what we get in return, we see billion-dollar corporations that haven’t paid anything, and the city refuses to make them pay anything.

We’re seeing the people who provide those services are members being asked to make concession after concession. And so we’ve just said: ’We’ve helped out and we're


Larry Bradshaw, vice president, Service Employees International Union

Aguilar: Kristy, you, I know, have worked very hard to try to make connections between people like Brenda, who work at the hospital, and people like Larry, who is a paramedic with the fire department. How is that going? Morrison: That’s why Against Cuts exists. The bottom line is every teacher, every student, they take Muni buses to school or they use the health care services given to us by places like S.F. General. The students that we teach have parents that have these jobs that Larry and Brenda both represent. And so there is potential there to build links in other public sectors to really build something big. It’s really difficult, especially from a teacher’s perspective.

CIVICS A7 // San Francisco Public Press NEIGHBORHOODS


S.F. Latino Youth Face Violence, Deportation as Services Shrink

What Can’t Money Buy? Do markets have any moral limits?

Advocates say public safety emphasis has been placed on law enforcement


oberto Alfaro has become the exception in a city of transplants. He grew up in San Francisco’s Mission District, a historically immigrant and working-class neighborhood, and remains there, although the place has changed. Over the past decade, he’s watched the neighborhood morph into a destination for young professionals with a taste for the hip and money to spend. The demoStory: graphic changes, Alex Emslie said Alfaro, have // New America come with a Media shift in the public’s perception of the neighborhood’s Latino residents, particularly youth. Young people are of special interest to Roberto Eligio Alfaro, director of Homies Organizing the Mission to Empower Youth, or HOMEY, a San Francisco organization Alfaro, who directs Homies Organizwhose mission is to help at-risk youth, folds silk-screened T-shirts, whose sales support youth programs. Jason Winshell // Public Press ing the Mission to Empower Youth, or HOMEY. This violence-prevention program was formed in 1999 to serve dance of guns. cut by the Department of Children, some of the Mission’s most at-risk “You have to look at the historiYouth and Families. Today, only 20 youth, many of whom are Latino and cal trajectory of violence in these young people regularly attend HOMcome from immigrant families. neighborhoods,” she said. OverarchEY programs. // “Not enough emphasis is placed on ing reasons why certain populations Ironically, said Alfaro, the need for what immigrants do that’s positive,” become more susceptible to violence, violence prevention and youth servicNew America Media is the country’s first Alfaro laments. “It’s a disgrace to see Alfaro said, are poverty, inequales in the Mission is more critical than and largest national collaboration and adhow these young people get treated.” ity, institutional racism and broken ever, despite the changing face of the vocate of 3,000 ethnic news organizations. The negative perception of the Mishomes. neighborhood. sion’s Latino youth, he said, has only In 2008, political fallout from the Crime reports issued by the city Alex Emslie studies journalism at San gotten worse since the slaying of AnBologna slayings caused then-Mayor appear to back up his assertion. AlFrancisco State University. His reporting is thony Bologna and two of his sons in Gavin Newsom to amend San Francisthough the overall homicide rate in part of a special “Stories From the Diaspo2008, a crime for which Salvadoran co’s “Sanctuary City” policy — a city San Francisco has been in decline — ra” series profiling the lives of immigrants immigrant Edwin Ramos was conlaw that restricts local law enforcethe total number of homicides in the across California and beyond. victed on May 10. ment from cooperating with federal city dropped by 50 percent over the Since news of the slaying and acImmigration and Customs Enforcepast three years — the trend doesn’t companying photos of Ramos hit ment — to allow the handover of hold true for city neighborhoods the front page of the San Francisco housing, they would prop up the undocumented juvenile offenders to identified by police as “hot zones,” Chronicle, Alfaro said he’s seen the economy, have more resources and federal immigration authorities. such as the Mission. In those neighpublic take a much harsher stance be farther from the poverty line,” Mayor Ed Lee has partially reversed borhoods, young people of color are against the type of young people he Bohm said. “And you would see a that change, declaring that only conoverwhelmingly among those killed works with. great reduction in gang activity.” victed youth can be handed over to on the streets. The negative perception hasn’t Overall, during its most recent immigration authorities. Regardless, The number of homicides per year been helped by a series of recent round of grant applications, the Alfaro and Oliva-Aroche agreed that in San Francisco shrank from roughly high-profile federal trials of MS-13 Youth Department received 139 reanti-immigrant laws will do nothing 100 in 2006 to about 50 in 2011. But gang members from the Mission Disquests for funding from local nonto decrease youth-on-youth street vioa 2011 department study found that trict. Many of those convicted in the profits, totaling close to $35 million lence. The gang problem, they said, homicide rates had not decreased in trials were still juveniles at the time — but the department had only about is not an immigrant problem but an six city neighborhoods: the Mission, their crimes, often brutal and bra$15.5 million to distribute, according American one. Bayview-Hunters Point, Visitacion zen, were committed on the streets to Oliva-Aroche. “Did the [Bologna slayings] happen Valley, the Tenderloin, SoMa and the of San Francisco. “This is real to me. If we can help because we were loose on immigraWestern Addition. Even though only a few individuyoung people get a green card, I tion? No,” she said. Oliva-Aroche said That report shows that 38 percent als committed the killings, dozens could get a bunch of them jobs,” gang-related gun crime and street of the 98 homicide victims in 2008 of young adults have been removed Alfaro said. “That would really help.” violence started in the United States were under age 25, and almost all (94 from the community — incarcerated The loss of funding for case manand migrated south. She also said, percent) were high school dropouts. or deported — because they were afagement hit HOMEY hard. Alfaro “The ‘Sanctuary City’ policy helps “Violence is a public health issue and filiated with the perpetrators. They talks about it with frustration in his prevent violence. It’s important for a silent epidemic,” said Diana Olivawere prosecuted under the Racketeer voice. He said the program allowed law enforcement to have a working Aroche, the Youth Department’s Influenced and Corrupt Organizathem to do real one-on-one work relationship with the community.” planning and policy manager for viotions Act, enacted in 1970 to wipe with the most at-risk youth, and the Instead of deporting young people, lence prevention and intervention. out large crime syndicates, such as 10-year-old program was beginning said Oliva-Aroche, the city should try In 2010, Latinos made up just over the Italian Mafia. to produce real results. increasing access to services for un15 percent of San Francisco’s popula“You read the comments under stoBut HOMEY will continue to follow documented immigrants if it wants tion, and African Americans constiries in the L.A. Times and other placits guiding mission of youth empowto see street violence decline in tuted almost 6 percent, according to es, and people write, ‘They should erment, turning kids on the street neighborhoods like the Mission. the U.S. Census. But the department deport them all,’ and really derogainto mentors and community leadAlso in the Mission, the Central reveals the two groups accounted for tory, racist language. And you can see ers. American Resource Center lost its 75 percent of referrals to the city’s juhow criminalized young people have Alfaro said, “When you see young funding for the city’s only tattoo-revenile justice department. Andrea Carla Michaels become,” Alfaro said. people succeed and become leaders moval program. Vanessa Bohm, who Oliva-Aroche said there are many Since the killings,andrea HOMEY has also carla michaels — that’s violence prevention at work. coordinates the program, believes reasons why violence remains enseen its annual city-funded budget We’re saving our community one that prioritizing law enforcement trenched in some neighborhoods. shrink. Last year it served 64 youth, person at a time. That’s the hopeful over social services is a misguided apAmong them are multigenerational 1100 Leavenworth St #6 12 of whom were in an intensive casepart.” proach to public safety. gang membership, a street economy San—Francisco, management program which was CA 94109 “If you gave folks legitimate emoffering better pay than legitimate shut down this year due to a funding ployment and got them stable job prospects, poverty and an abun-

San Francisco Public Press Crossword // Andrea Carla Michaels ACROSS 1. Cuban dance 6. Probably gonna, more formally 11. Family member 14. ”Fuzzy Wuzzy was ___” 15. It’s a wrap! 16. ”Surfin’ ___” (1963 hit) 17. Sci-fi series featuring Will Robinson 19. Best Buy buys 20. One of the seven deadly sins 21. ”Give ___!” (”Try!”) 22. Exhausted 23. Umpire’s call 25. ”Forgive me” 27. Incites some bulls 32. Vex 33. ”I don’t believe you!” 34. Didn’t move a muscle 37. Barcelona-born muralist 39. Sarcastic remark 42. Winter coat? 43. Timex competitor 45. ”An ___ is salvation by imagination”: Frank Lloyd Wright 47. Chemistry suffix 48. Dueling distance 52. French manicure target 54. Oomph 55. Rod for a hot rod 56. Skin care brand 59. Comparable to 63. ”Thanks a ___!” 64. Change things around in the garden, and a hint to the circled letters of this puzzle 66. Abbr. in a help-wanted ad 67. Became an issue







14 18


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68. Pitch at AT&T Park 69. Some T-shirt szs. 70. Blake’s ‘burning bright’ beast 71. Clues, to a detective DOWN 1. Shopper’s mecca 2. ”___ Ben Adhem,” Leigh Hunt poem


Summer 2012

3. Botch 4. Skirmish 5. ”… ___ quit!” 6. Abbr. before D.A. 7. Daddy 8. Heartbreaking 9. Port on Puget Sound 10. Song from ”A Chorus Line”

11. Like the Concorde 12. Roommate of Felix 13. Spiteful 18. Type of acid 22. Dutch colonists in South Africa 24. Subj. for some immigrants 26. Letters on a Coppertone bottle 27. Oshkosh’s state: Abbr. 28. Square measure 29. Castle built by Louis XIII 30. Mr. Potato Head part 31. Sap 35. ”The Twilight ___” 36. Lambs’ mothers 38. Deed 40. Chi. clock setting 41. Security-system component 44. Giant slugger Mel 46. Buffoon 49. Napa business 50. Last words? 51. Military helicopter named for an American Indian tribe 52. Some people drop them 53. Words to live by 57. Still-life subject 58. Cabinet dept. formed after the 1977 oil crisis 60. Former ”American Idol” judge DioGuardi 61. Apple MP3 player 62. The skinny 64. Squealer 65. The Cardinals, on scoreboards

Answers on page B8


hould children be paid to get good grades at school? Should air travelers be able to pay to board the plane first? These are some of the ethical questions explored by Harvard University political philosopher Michael Sandel in his Interview: latest book, “What Michael Krasny Money Can't Buy: // KQED’s ”Forum” The Moral Limits of Markets.” The following is an edited transcript of the conversation with “Forum” host Michael Krasny, which aired May 15 on KQED-FM. Michael Krasny: What is the best and proper role for markets in a democratic society, and how can we ensure and protect the moral and civic goods that markets don’t honor and money can’t buy? (You lament) the fact that markets are presently in use to allocate health, public education, public safety, national security, criminal justice, environmental protection, recreation, procreation and other social goods that were, for the most part, unheard of three decades ago, and yet today are taken mostly for granted. These examples that you have cover such a broad swath that I wondered, how did you get them all? Michael Sandel: I’ve been collecting them for 15 years. It’s intrigued me for a long time — the reach of markets and market reasoning and market values into every sphere of life. Economics used to be about inflation and depression and recession and stocks and bonds and banks and foreign trade — things like that. But these days, it’s been transformed. Economics aspires to be a science of everything, of all human behavior. Krasny: Well, this commodification of just about everything, everything for sale, has gone down into so many institutions and so many ways of life — even the American pastime, baseball, as you point out. Sandel: That’s right. I’m a big baseball fan, and I noticed listening to the games on the radio or watching them on TV, the narrative — the play-by-play account — is now laden with product placements and ads. I’m not talking about the commercials between innings. That’s always been there, and we accept that. But now, if a player slides into second base, the announcer must say, “Safe at second: safe and secure” and then give the name of a life insurance policy that paid for the ad and show their logo on the screen. Krasny: Your concern is with the inequality, and with the corruption potential. Sandel: Both of those things. What’s interesting and worrisome is how even the language we speak — listening to a baseball game, speaking to one another, reading books — is now suffused with commercial advertising. Think of the commercial advertising that is now rife in public schools. There are ads on school buses and within schools themselves. And essentially what that does is it makes public education a kind of basic training for a consumer society rather than a form of education for citizenship. Krasny: You also point out that markets have moral limits or ought to have moral limits. Sandel: In many ways, that’s the challenge of the book. Not to give an answer in every given case but to provide a philosophical framework for thinking this through. We have, over the past three decades, outsourced criminal justice to


KQED’s live call-in program presents wideranging discussions of local, state, national and international issues, as well as in-depth interviews.

private, for-profit prisons. There are owners of private prisons or juvenile detention facilities that lobby the legislature for stiffer sentencing requirements to fill more beds. Now that seems to me a perversion of the public democratic deliberation about justice. Krasny: What you’re really saying is what we need to think of is what serves the public good. Sandel: Yes, and we’ve slipped into the assumption that goes back to the 1980s and 1990s, and also to some extent the end of the Cold War, when there was a sense of “market triumphalism.” We’ve slipped into the assumption that markets by themselves can define the public good and can define a just distribution of income and wealth. And that’s not true. That’s a flawed assumption, but it has not really been challenged directly in our politics. Krasny: Not challenged! We’ve got the tea party talking about the free market even more than it was talking about it before the market collapse. I mean, it’s counterintuitive. Or it seems at least paradoxical in many respects. Sandel: With the financial collapse, I think there was a widespread sense at the time that markets had become detached from moral values, and we had somehow to reconnect them.

Economics aspires to be a science of everything, of all human behavior. Professor Michael Sandel

What is striking to me, though: There were debates about regulation and some — I would say inadequate — regulation of the banks and Wall Street firms put in place. Krasny: That’s being kind. Sandel: Well, and now it’s being watered down by the lobbyists for the industry. But, what has not really happened is, there has not been a serious public debate about where markets serve the public good and where they don’t belong. Krasny: As you point out, you can’t sell jury duty anymore. You can’t sell voting rights. We don’t buy slaves or children. There are limitations that have historically been part of the record, and there probably ought to be some more. “What shouldn’t we pay for?” is really the question. Money replacing moral or civic values is really what we’re talking about. Everything’s up for sale. But then you talk about paying kids to read books, or paying kids to get higher grades. A lot of people are really championing that. In fact, they say, “As long as I can get my kid to read, what’s the difference?” But the message, you’re saying, is the same kind of message of commodity and commercialization. Sandel: Well, it can backfire. In many school districts around the country they are doing experiments with just this. They’ve done it in New York and Washington and Chicago, offering children — especially from disadvantaged backgrounds, who lack motivation — cash for good grades or for high scores on standardized tests. In Dallas they paid third-graders $2 for each book they read. You might say, “Anything to get these kids reading.” Actually, the results have been very mixed. In New York City, the cash payment ($50 for an “A,” $40 for a “B,” I think it was) did not improve grades. In Dallas, paying the $2 per book did lead to the kids reading more books. It also led them to read shorter books. And the bigger question is what are these kids really learning by this mechanism? Are they learning that if they apply themselves and read books, they will be rewarded, so that when they get older they will do it without pay? Or, are they not learning the intrinsic love of learning?

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A8 Summer 2012

CIVICS San Francisco Public Press //

Dan Archer, a 2011 Knight Journalism fellow at Stanford, is author of “Borderland: Seven Stories of Human Trafficking,” and “The Honduran Coup: A Graphic History.” His work has appeared on ”Marketplace” from American Public Media, and The Guardian U.K. [] // San Francisco Public Press

B1 Summer 2012

GROWING SMARTER Planning for a Bay Area of 9 million

BART is just steps away from a new senior housing complex rising in West Oakland. Planners say more transit-oriented developments will discourage driving, improve street life and cool the planet. Jason Winshell // Public Press

Tea Partiers Can San Francisco Add 150,000 More People? And Occupiers Make Strange I Bedfellows Land’s carrying capacity under stress as Bay Area expected to add 2 million


t a community meeting in March, Debbie Baccigalupi, a tea party activist, listened to James Lee, an Occupy movement activist, tell Bay Area “smart growth” planners they were not operating inclusively. As the session ended, she asked if they could meet for lunch to discuss joining forces. “Occupiers don’t believe in private property, and I think that’s the big divide,” Baccigalupi said. “But Story: Maureen Nandini they felt the plan Mitra didn’t include // Public Press enough people, and I have to agree with that.” The forum, held in Oakland, was one of numerous public meetings planners started holding across the region before the modern-day tea party movement and Occupy Wall Street even came into being. But in the last year organized activists on both political sides have dominated the discussion. Baccigalupi, a South Bay biotech consultant who described herself as a supporter of private property and limited government, told Lee that if they could establish “common ground” they could oppose Plan Bay Area more effectively. The two have spoken over the phone a couple of times, though they have yet to meet again. Lee, who is a media spokesman for a group calling itself Occupy Redwood City, said his comrades were “open to collaborations.” So far, Plan Bay Area — an ambitious regional blueprint for dense urban communities convenient for walking and public transit — seems to have more strident critics than defenders. Some libertarians, liberal Democrats, environmentalists, professional urban planners and anti-capitalist Occupiers have all found issue with parts of the plan, and the way its authors have sought public opinion. Critics’ concerns include inappropriate siting of “priority development areas,” lack of transparency, inflated growth projections and even fears (among right-wingers) that this is a first step in a United Nations plot to establish global government. Sorting through these myriad issues, the far sides of the political and ideological spectrum are sometimes finding common cause to rally against regional planning. “Certainly we have some common interests here,” Lee said. “Unlike them, I do like the idea of smart growth. I think local agencies should be working together and planning for growth, but the process is being subverted here.” While the plan protects open space across the region, some controversial developments remain. Lee said developers’ plans to build homes on 542 acres of Redwood City’s low-lying salt ponds far away from downtown or the Caltrain station was an example of how the regional plan failed to meet its own environmental goals: “What we are seeing is big projects like these are being pushed through in the name of smart growth.” Since March, following sustained protests by environmentalists and nearby residents, developers said they would scale back the geographic scope of the Saltworks development, though it is unclear how many houses will ultimately skirt the bay. In at least 20 public meetings with regional planners in all nine Bay Area counties since January 2011, tea party activists and others espousing conservative views have been the most vociferous and the most organized in their opposition. Having come late to the party (restory continued on page B2

n 1968, biologist Paul Ehrlich wrote the best-seller “The Population Bomb,” warning of mass starvation in the face of uncontrolled human population growth. Taken as alarmist at the time, the book nevertheless started a debate about the world’s limited natural resources and the human race’s voracious appetite. Of course, we didn’t all starve, Story: thanks in part to advancements Alison Hawkes in agriculture. But more than 40 // Public Press years later, with the doubling of the world’s population, we’re faced with a different doom-andgloom scenario: climate change. Ehrlich, now a population studies expert at Stanford University, hasn’t backed down. He says the government should actively discourage childbearing. “If you’re a patriotic American, you stop at two, and if you’re super-patriotic you stop at one,” he said. That’s certainly not how most city planners, let alone Americans, are thinking. In places like San Francisco City Hall, officials enthusiastically embrace a pro-growth strategy to expand the city’s tax base, and create vibrant communities in blighted or underdeveloped areas. Most of that growth will come from new people moving into the city, since San Francisco has the smallest percentage of children of any major metropolitan center in the country — 13 percent. But a larger population stretches resources, even in a dense, efficient metropolis. People create waste, and consume water, food and energy. They pollute the air with cars. And they encroach on the last vestiges of natural habitat. Environmental resources begin to deteriorate when San Francisco’s natural ecosystems — and those of the larger Bay Area — reach their limit, or “carrying capacity.” The accepted regional projections over the next 25 years show the region increasing air pollution, exceeding water supplies, battling sea-level rise, and consuming more power — all due, in large part, to population increase. “There’s not only a carrying capacity in terms of water and space,” said Tina Swanson of the Natural Resources Defense Council and former executive director of the Bay Institute, an environmental group focused on protecting the bay. “There’s also a quality-of-life carrying capacity. We don’t want to grow to a point where it isn’t a beautiful area, because then people won’t want to live here.” Net growth in the city continues to rise, despite the shrinking average family size and the ups and downs of the economy. The Association of Bay Area Governments predicts San Francisco will reach 969,000 people by 2035 — a nearly 20 percent jump above today’s 815,400.

The Bay Area, now nearly 7.2 million, would reach 9.3 million people by 2040 under that growth scenario. That amounts to 2.1 million more people at a growth rate of nearly 30 percent. A California Department of Finance report in early May found that the Bay Area is the state’s fastest-growing region, thanks to the booming tech economy in Silicon Valley. As the Bay Area struggles to meet sustainability goals, double-digit population growth presents a clear challenge to reducing the region’s ecological footprint. Residents must use resources more efficiently to counteract the addition of more than a million new residents. In many ways, it mirrors a challenge the planet is facing. Can population growth in San Francisco and the Bay Area be sustainable? Planners argue that sustainable growth can be achieved if new development is funneled to the right places. Indeed, they say that the urban core — notably San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and any other cities along BART or other rapid-transit lines — are the ideal places to put new people. They need fewer cars and the basic infrastructure is already in place. Plan Bay Area, the growth blueprint approved in May by regional agencies, calls for San Francisco to create 92,410 new housing units by 2040 — 14 percent of all the new housing in the region. That’s a 29 percent increase over the city’s current housing numbers. If they are coming, the hope is, they might as well be coming to San Francisco. But some environmentalists say population growth will inevitably deepen the effect on a local ecosystem. The region’s vulnerability to earthquakes and sea-level rise only heighten the economic and safety risk to those living along the coastlines and seismically weak ground. “We may not want to face up to this, but the truth is we’re going to grow, because the human population is growing and the economy is growing,” said Richard Walker, a geographer at the University of California, Berkeley. “Then there’s the much larger question of why do we have to grow so much? The system we live in demands endless growth, and in that sense we’re trapped.” GROWING PAINS San Francisco has dealt with a sudden population explosion before. In 1848, the Gold Rush turned a small Pacific outpost with fewer than 1,000 residents into a boomtown of 40,000 in just over a year, putting San Francisco on the map as a major commercial hub. After World War II, returning servicemen in search story continued on page B3

Cities Resist Regional Plan to Limit Sprawl Weak regional agencies could miss pollution targets if they are unable to persuade local leaders to change


high-profile effort to focus new Bay Area housing into energy-efficient transit villages is seen as unworkable even as it makes its public debut this summer, say urban planners, because regional government lacks the authority to make cities build dense urban neighborhoods. The three-decade Plan Bay Area, unveiled in May, is the product of more than two years of research on the region’s demographics, economy, transpor tation and architecture. Story: Angela Hart Proponents say // Public Press “smart growth” could be the future of the Bay Area — if regional agencies had either the legal tools to enforce the grand vision or enough money to make it worthwhile for cities to participate. But authors of the plan say that so far it remains more symbolic than realistic, because they have no recourse if cities decline to channel home building away from sprawl and into walkable and transit-friendly areas. And local governments became less able to afford their own infrastructure projects after this year’s elimination of all local redevelopment agencies in California. Egon Terplan, regional planning director at the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, admitted it might be a harsh critique, but the effort “becomes, as a planning document, kind of useless. It’s more of a political document.” He said “micro-negotiations” among hundreds of local leaders have fractured the idealistic vision, as many cities scramble to toss housing growth requirements to their neighbors like hot potatoes. POLITICS IS LOCAL

Piles of recycling are organized by backhoes before being placed on conveyor belts and hand-sorted by employees, many from surrounding neighborhoods, at the Bayshore Recology center in San Francisco. Tearsa Joy Hammock // Public Press

About this reporting project


egional planners, long dismayed by environmentally destructive suburban sprawl, hope to turn a lot of the Bay Area into something more like San Francisco — walkable, BARTable and very energy efficient. But the “smart growth” renaissance — key to the state’s climate change goals — is facing stiff resistance from cities, and financial pressure from the cash-strapped California state government. Some experts say that on its current path, the plan is too unwieldy to reshape where and how we will live. In this special report, produced in collaboration with the CAGE Lab at UC Berkeley’s Geography Department, Earth Island Journal and Bay Nature Magazine, the San Francisco Public Press also delves into the murky science of population projections, the odd left-right alliances to oppose regionalism, and the notion that a Bay Area of 9 million people or more might strain its environmental “carrying capacity.” Research was contributed by Mary Catherine Plunkett, Chase Niesner and Ian Umeda; photography by Jason Winshell, Tearsa Joy Hammock and Audrey Whitmeyer-Weathers; and cartography by Darin Jensen, Mike Jones and Madeleine Theriault.

The problem stems from the weak state laws that spurred the plan. Without real enforcement, regional agencies must seek political consensus among 110 local and county governments. And without their buy-in, the Bay Area could fail to deliver on a 2008 law requiring the state to curb per capita greenhouse gases from automobiles by 15 percent by 2035. Plan Bay Area has so far accounted for a reduction of only 9 percent. The prospect of more money, the tool most supporters say could rescue the process from political squabbling, is fading by the month as California’s budget deficit deepens. The professional staff at regional agencies rolled out the formal plan in May. Right away, they admitted they were pessimistic about achieving their main goal: limiting uncontrolled housing construction in the suburbs by steering most new development into 200 “priority development areas” in at least 60 cities, many along transit lines. “The resources are going to be tight, but there’s no way we can carry out this level of development without some sort of replacement to redevelopment,” said Miriam Chion, the No. 2 planner at the Association of Bay Area Governments, which is working with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission on the plan. “We need to leverage some state and federal support,” she said. “It’s not going to be easy.” Chion said smart growth could dig the Bay Area out of the housing crisis and speed economic recovery. “Infill” development can attract jobs to the urban core, encouraging housing development and new businesses in cities. Ken Kirkey, the association’s planning director, was more sanguine

 Read the entire plan at

about the plan’s chances. “We think it can work,” he said. “It’s fairly optimistic, but we think not unduly optimistic. When we look at the feedback from local governments taking on most of the growth, their concern isn’t that this is a bad idea. Their primary concern is: How are we going to do this?” He was somewhat dismissive of the public opposition over the last year, particularly from vociferous antiplanning activists. “There seems to be a lot of anger in the body of politics these days.” But the current prospects for the plan seem somewhat dimmer for another key consultant, Karen Chapple, an associate professor of city and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley. “This is really a great idea, but it’s just basically impossible to implement,” Chapple said. “People fighting it are essentially wasting their time. Because without major change at the state and federal level, nothing is going to change.” PUBLIC SKEPTICISM Planners have become more discouraged about the plan’s prospects in part because of recent resistance from conservative activists, who pack meetings across the region to denounce the plan as “authoritarian” and “social engineering.” The Association of Bay Area Governments has held dozens of community meetings since 2010, some generating more than 200 oral and written comments. A small cadre of tea party activists pushed back hard against the Plan Bay Area draft. The most outspoken call the unelected regional agencies a step toward a repressive world government. Opponents often say they don’t want their towns to look like “cookiecutter” communities or be “forced” to live in high-rise apartments. “It seems like it takes away some freedom, that we can’t live where we want to live and work where we want to work,” said one of about twodozen irate speakers during public comment at a Plan Bay Area meeting in March. Another lamented: “They want you to think you have input, but we don’t.” What many protesters do not, perhaps, realize is that regional government is so weak it cannot force cities to do much of anything. Agency officials say some town leaders refuse to enact minor zoning changes to raise permitted heights of buildings in transit corridors. So there is little danger they will start relocating residents en masse. Association officials acknowledged in a recent report that the opposition remained a significant challenge: “They’re fearful of losing local character of cities and towns.” But public opinion seems at least initially skeptical of the idea of regional planning. Planners held four focus groups in Novato, Walnut Creek and San Francisco and conducted a survey of 1,610 residents regionwide last November through January. Fifty-one percent opposed regional planning for the Bay Area, opting instead for cities and counties to plan on their own. Fortyfour percent supported a regional plan. Support for regional planning does not necessarily correlate with city size. Big cities like Oakland and small towns such as Dixon in Solano Counstory continued on page B6

B2 Summer 2012

GROWING SMARTER San Francisco Public Press //


Ever-Changing Population Predictions Frustrate Bay Area Smart-Growth Planning State, regional forecasts vary widely, generating uncertainty about long-term housing needs


tate and regional planning agencies have produced differing predictions of how many people will migrate to the Bay Area in coming decades. The disagreement is frustrating efforts to forge a consensus on how many hundreds of thousands of new homes to build across the region, and where. In May, the California Department of Finance took a fresh look at economic forecasts and officially backed away from its prediction that 9.5 million people would live in the Bay Area in 2040. The state now says it is likeStory: Maureen Nandini ly to be closer to Mitra 8.4 million. // Public Press But the Association of Bay Area Governments pegged the population for the same 2040 target date at a robust 9.3 million. The agency is charged with developing Plan Bay Area, an ambitious agenda to reshape the sprawling region by building 660,000 new homes in the urban image of walkable, transit-friendly San Francisco. Population prediction is an inexact science, and previous regional forecasts that relied on overly optimistic job-growth estimates proved to be wildly wrong — some by more than 50 percent. Planners say they are doing the best they can with the mathematical tools they have and are constantly adjusting the numbers as the economic reality changes. The complexity of these calculations has created tension within the regional association itself — between board members and professional planners, who break down the numbers and assign growth to specific cities. The group’s elected chairman, Mark Luce, confessed in a recent interview that to him, “the numbers just aren’t making sense at all.” At stake in the population debate is the credibility of the Bay Area’s “smart growth” vision — compact, energy-efficient communities that encourage people to spend less time in their cars. The move is a key component of the state’s goal to cut California’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent in a little more than two decades. Planning agencies, led by the Association of Bay Area Governments, seek to build enough housing to prevent the expected population explosion from creating an ecological and sociological disaster zone. While state demographers see relatively meager economic growth for years to come, the regional association’s assessment assumes that an improving job market will attract 1.2 million more jobs in a little less than three decades. Right now there are about 3.4 million jobs in a region of 7.2 million people. While demographics play a role in the predictions, current trends in the real estate market also affect their models. By some measures, the region’s housing market is rebounding. Numbers released June 5 by the online real estate directory Trulia show increas-

ing demand for rentals across the Bay Area and especially in San Francisco. Over the previous year, the average rental asking price in the city is up 14.4 percent, the sharpest increase in cities among the nation’s top 25 rental markets. Oakland and San Jose saw rent increases of 11.4 percent and 9.1 percent, respectively. Nonetheless, critics say the regional agency’s projections for both population growth and the resulting housing needs are way too high. The uncertainty has spurred objections from the region’s 110 cities and counties. Many of these objections come from relatively wealthy communities that have long resisted providing the expected level of low- and moderateincome housing to house their lowerwage workforce. But some argue that they would waste resources by rezoning their neighborhoods for more development than they need. “Are they creating problems for the state by having such a high expected growth rate, and then using that to encourage more house building than might be appropriate?” asked Greg Schmid, a city councilman in Palo Alto. He is an economist and consultant for corporations and the city of San Francisco and a former Federal Reserve researcher. Schmid questions the economic assumptions behind the regional agency’s population forecasts, citing recent examples in which some of the smartest professional planners turned out to be dead wrong when actual census figures were published at the start of each decade.

greenhouse gas savings per capita, according to regional agencies’ own estimates, and there is no clear path to reaching the state’s goal of 15 percent.


The component studies — from the Department of Finance, UC Berkeley’s planning school, the UCLA Anderson Forecast and others — on average forecast a 15 percent population increase. But the actual growth, the 2010 census figures showed, was 10 percent. “Population projections for California are especially difficult,” the institute noted in a report. “In addition to overweighting contemporary trends, forecasters are notoriously bad at predicting fundamental demographic shifts.” One piece of advice from the Public Policy Institute: “Planners should consider alternative population scenarios.” Part of the problem with California is that it has historically had a “fairly volatile” growth pattern with a lot of in- and out-migration, said Hans Johnson, the Public Policy Institute’s research director. The point of the report, he said “was to say that it’s dangerous to put all your eggs in one basket with a set of projections because they are uncertain. It’s best to try to make your plans at least flexible enough to accommodate alternative future scenarios.” While Plan Bay Area relies on one set of projections for now, plans will be updated every few years. This can be done, he said, by presenting a range of high, medium and low projections. Plans should then be based on the average and there should be contingency plans “that

The Association of Bay Area Governments has not ignored the criticism from Palo Alto and more than a dozen other city and county governments. The current plan, announced in March, is to add 660,000 new homes by 2040. But that was a radical revision from the previous estimate of 903,000 homes. Planners now acknowledge that they had not sufficiently accounted for the hundreds of thousands of suburban houses seized by banks or abandoned by owners in the foreclosure crisis that began in 2008. The loss of credibility for Plan Bay Area could add to criticism that the whole endeavor is not worthwhile. Planners say that underestimating housing needs could lead to more unplanned housing sprawl, worsening the region’s carbon footprint. But overestimating could also have economic consequences for the 200 planned “priority development areas” in about 60 communities if it causes them to make bad infrastructure investments. If Plan Bay Area were to fall short, the state would need to re-examine its climate-change strategy, which relies on regionwide land-use changes to reduce carbon emissions from cars. Planners acknowledge that shifting economic realities might undercut their cause. The current plan, as ambitious as it is, reaches only 9 percent

FUZZY MATH Overestimating population growth is a common complaint, planners say. And as the fluctuating numbers show, California has been anything but clairvoyant. The state finance department, for instance, has consistently overestimated growth in California for the past two decades. The department’s projections for 2000–2010 overshot Bay Area growth rates by about 56 percent. (The prediction error for the entire state’s growth was 48 percent.) Private think tanks and universities also make off-the-mark population predictions. In 2005, the Public Policy Institute of California compiled a five-year “consensus” forecast that aggregated the work of academic and government researchers. That figure turned out later to be 50 percent higher than the state’s actual population growth.

Every time we come up with these numbers, there’s a lot of heartburn. It’s the least favorite activity ABAG goes through.

Mark Luce, Association of Bay Area Governments

would allow you to accommodate potential changes.” But California does not routinely produce alternative scenarios, he said. Those have to be generated by regional agencies themselves, including the Association of Bay Area Governments. “Recognizing the uncertainty of projections is something that makes planning very hard,” Johnson said. “It’s a tremendous challenge for ABAG and for people who are trying to plan housing.” CITIES REVOLT Some critics of Plan Bay Area, especially among officials in cities that will have to plan for significant growth, see a pattern of overly aggressive growth predictions. Palo Alto has officially questioned Plan Bay Area’s methodology, while protesting the designation of a portion of its downtown and a stretch of El Camino Real as priority development areas. The plan currently requires the city to make room for 7,130 new housing units by 2040. Officials from Contra Costa, Marin and other Bay Area counties are also skeptical about the numbers. The Contra Costa County Transportation Authority, one of the regional agencies protesting the plan, has complained in writing that projections “remain at the high end of remotely plausible outcomes for the forecast period.” The Marin County Board of Supervisors has called for the projections to be peer reviewed. After the Marin city of Corte Madera criticized figures in the plan’s initial vision scenario, the association cut the housing projection by nearly 50 percent, to 270 units. Yet the city’s leaders voted unanimously in March to pull out of the association because they were still skeptical. Other citizens’ groups, including the Novato Community Alliance and Save Orinda, have also expressed misgivings about the numbers. “As they make their projection into the future, the numbers seem consistently higher than the trends that have been established in the Bay Area over the last two decades,” said Schmid, the Palo Alto councilman. “I think the new Department of Finance numbers are more practical and reasonable,” he said. “ABAG should let communities decide whether they want to be aspirational or practical. That’s just good policy when facing the uncertainties of the future.” ACKNOWLEDGING FLAWS Luce, of the Association of Bay Area Governments, is clearly frustrated by the political tumult around the growth predictions. “Every time we come up with these numbers, there’s a lot of heartburn,” he said. “It’s the least favorite activity ABAG goes through.” As the regional land use planning agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area, the association must produce a “regional housing needs

allocation” every eight years, assigning the number of housing units, in different levels of affordability that, each community must plan for. Determining the total housing need for the region is the job of the California Department of Housing and Community Development. Luce said his agency then merely tries to sensibly spread the burden of that growth across the region. Here’s how it works: The state’s housing agency looks at the finance department’s population projections, checks the current housing stock and calculates how many more homes California will need over eight years. Then it divvies them up across the state based on the population predictions. Regional agencies can ask for those numbers to be revised, though state housing officials have final say. “So ABAG is in the middle,” said Luce, who is also a Napa County supervisor. The association’s board consists of elected officials from Bay Area cities and counties. “It’s a state law — you’re going to get an allocation whether you’re part of ABAG or not,” Luce said. “But with 101 cities and nine counties, somebody is not going to be happy with what you’re trying to do.” Regional planning is hard enough, but to further complicate things, it must now meet state environmental targets for transportation efficiency and sustainable growth. Plan Bay Area is designed to comply with a 2008 state law, Senate Bill 375, which calls for steep reductions California’s transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions from cars. Under the law, every region needs its own “sustainable communities strategy” to put new housing close to public transportation. In the Bay Area the task falls to Luce’s agency, as well as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission. The plan aims to expand housing not just to accommodate a growing population but also to use housing growth as a tool to “create jobs to maintain and expand” the regional economy. That sounds backward, said Schmid, the Palo Alto councilman: “ABAG’s job is to distribute housing mandates, not allocate jobs.” While Luce defends the regional planning agency he leads, he also is fighting for his own Napa County turf. He said he was particularly upset with the housing allocation of 5,640 units for the largely rural county, though he expected the agency eventually to lower that number. Giving out housing targets to cities and counties, he said, is a thankless task. “Sometimes what happens is you get in this rut of, ‘OK, the state has given us an allocation, you got to distribute it,’” he said, “and lose sight of what we’re really trying to do. That’s where you have to step back and hope that there was some planning in this whole process.” That kind of talk hints at deep divisions between the professional

staff at the Association of Bay Area Governments and its directors, many of whom appear to be dubious that what they are doing adds up to a coherent regional strategy. The agency’s planning director, Ken Kirkey, defended the staff’s efforts. “What we do is long-range planning,” he said. “Thinking forward to 2040, you can’t be stuck in the mindset of 2012, which is really hard.” A MOVING TARGET Some experts in the field of population prediction said the concern with quantifying future growth is overblown. Housing targets for as far off as 2040 are hardly something to get worked up about, said economist Stephen Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, a research group in Palo Alto. Levy has been helping the Bay Area planning agencies tackle the job growth calculations based on national and regional economic trends. “These projections are long term in nature and have a self-correcting mechanism in place,” he said. “If trends change, the growth projections will change. But right now there’s every indication that ABAG’s projections are low. We used fairly modest numbers,” he said. Other urban planners maintain that the population projections are not a problem because to a certain extent the region can influence the size and shape of its own growth by setting a target. “What’s a reasonable number?” asked Egon Terplan, the regional planning director at the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association. “Nobody has a crystal ball for the future. It’s easy to be skeptical of any number that comes up. I would be skeptical of someone who says these numbers don’t feel right.” Terplan said that while job growth may have slowed in recent decades, the Bay Area was in “a pretty good place economically” and would continue to add population. “The main future impediments to that growth are, frankly, land use policies that are restrictive of growth, and particularly the ability or inability to add significant amounts of housing,” he said. “I think that what’s important is having a number that encourages places to plan.” Terplan said he hoped that higher population growth projections would end up encouraging economic growth. But if the region sets housing needs too low, he warned, communities would not make the big planning and zoning adjustments they would need when growth returned. They would have no impetus to prepare for the eventual economic boom. “Let’s just think about the longterm goal for a moment, getting back to what are we trying to do,” he said. “It’s not producing a report. It’s not a fight about numbers on a piece of paper. It’s to change the way we do business.” Mary Catherine Plunkett and Chase Niesner contributed to this report.

Tea Partiers, Occupiers Make Strange Bedfellows Opposing Regional Plan story continued from page B1

gional planners started engaging the public in the process nearly five years ago) the activists used the Internet to organize attendance at the meetings, where they spent hours condemning the proceedings as an effort to take away their freedom to live where they want and drive their cars. Pages of written comments logged by regional planning agencies, as well as video recordings of meetings, document repeated accusations that planning officials are violating Americans’ private property rights and civil liberties. While some of the comments may seem paranoid, others are merely hyperbolic. “I want all of you people doing this regional planning and social engineering of all of our lives, we are here telling you no!” said Heather Gass, a real estate agent and tea party activist from Danville, at a March planning meeting in Oakland. She called regional planning “coercive,” to scattered applause. “This whole body is unconstitutional,” she told board members of the Association of Bay Area Governments, the lead regional planning agency whose leadership is chosen by local officials, not by plebiscite. “What you are doing is wrong.” Occupiers, on the other hand, have been more muted in their criticism.

At the same meeting where Gass laid into regional planners, Lee stepped up to the microphone, with a ballpoint pen tucked behind his left ear, shuffling papers, looking more like a planner himself than a rabblerousing activist. “Increasing connectivity usually means increasing road capacity,” he said, critiquing rural priority development areas poorly served by public transit. “Which opens up the door for developers to come in and say, ‘Hey, you have great connectivity now, why not put some more apartment buildings in here and housing in here?’” His mild demeanor drew chuckles from the audience. “We kindly ask — er, kindly demand — that you remove the rural PDAs from consideration.” Understandably, some Bay Area Occupiers have also joined with green groups like the Sierra Club and Greenbelt Alliance to urge the planners to reject proposals to designate certain “priority development areas.” Some of these higher-density zones would rise in sparsely populated coastal communities, such as San Mateo County’s unincorporated Miramar, Moss Beach and El Granada. Promoting growth so far from the urban core, they say, is “greenwashing” — an attempt by business interests to open tracts of protected land to development. Tea partiers, too, are skeptical of rural development areas. They oppose what they call “centralized planning”:

Protesters with Occupy Redwood City take a stand in the heated debate about the proposed housing development on the old Cargill salt flats, which jut out into San Francisco Bay. Developers, though, say the project is smart growth. Audrey Whitmeyer-Weathers // Public Press

favoring public transit instead of private cars and “stack and pack” housing instead of single-family homes. They say they are defending civil liberties and the freedom to choose how

and where they want to live. “I’m literally fighting side by side with people from the Sierra Club who are opposed to this plan,” Gass said. She would like to see the Plan

Bay Area killed and the repeal of Senate Bill 375, the 2008 state law that requires regional plans across California to reduce greenhouse gases from auto travel.

“Occupiers, liberal-left environmentalists — I’ll work with anybody and everybody who wants to oppose this plan,” Gass said. “To me this is not about left and right, this is about right and wrong.” Planners, however, express exasperation about how tea party activists have been disrupting the public workshops and shutting down debate. At a January San Carlos City Council meeting, opponents of smart growth called councilmembers “Nazis” and “fascists.” A similar incident at a meeting in Santa Rosa resulted in a call to the police to restore order. Ken Kirkey, chief planner at the Association of Bay Area Governments, said the hysteria has tended to eclipse the more substantive critiques of the plan: “For most communities when we actually look at the feedback we’re receiving, besides the noise and the press, it wasn’t like, ‘Oh my God, this is insane, I don’t want to grow.’ Their issue was, ‘How do we move this forward? How do we make this happen?’”

GROWING SMARTER // San Francisco Public Press


Summer 2012


Marin Cities Rebel Against Regional Planning Critics say plan calls for too many isolated new housing units alongside highways


orte Madera, population 9,300, kicked off a fierce debate in Marin over housing mandates earlier this year when the town council voted to become the first member to secede from the Association of Bay Area Governments. At the time, the nine-county planning agency (until then, made up of representatives of every Bay Area city) was launching a big regional Story: housing-growth Kelly O’Mara initiative called // Public Press Plan Bay Area. Now, several local groups across the Bay Area are questioning the value of the regional plan, saying it will sacrifice local control. They also say the proposed developments for Marin — some of which are built on the sides of freeways — won’t create either walkable communities or transit hubs, which are among the plan’s intended “smart growth” goals. While there is hardly a mass revolt, local resistance is still a worry for regional planners. Pinole, in the East Bay, made a similar decision to leave the association in July 2011, but later reversed course and rejoined the agency. Corte Madera has no plans to reverse its decision, which would not go into effect until July 2013. While critics argue that the move is largely symbolic, a groundswell of community support in the county has coalesced behind the decision. “This is really about whether a small town should be forced to turn into a big city,” said Mayor Bob Ravasio. “We thought about this. We’re not crazy.” At a series of talks and meetings in March and April, the Marin Communities Coalition for Local Control brought together community groups in a countywide discussion about re-

gional planning mandates. The meetings drew county supervisor and congressional candidate Susan Adams, supervisor candidates David Weinsoff and Eva Long, and state Assembly candidate Marc Levine. Some activists hope to create an independent council of Marin governments that would operate separately from the Association of Bay Area Governments. “We need to stand up and resist political pressures and dominance of unelected officials that have no stake in the Marin County community,” Corte Madera Councilwoman Carla Condon wrote in an op-ed in the Marin Independent Journal, urging other towns to follow in Corte Madera’s footsteps. “Without local control, we are unable to protect and sustain the quality of life, character and natural beauty of Marin County.” HOUSING WITHOUT JOBS? Critics of the regional plan and housing requirements span the political spectrum, from not-in-my-backyard conservatives to liberal activists who argue that planners’ ideas about smart growth are not actually very smart. All of them agree that decisions about where and how to build should be made on a local level. “If you’ve angered the moderate communities of Larkspur and Corte Madera, then you’ve gone wildly offtrack,” said Weinsoff, a candidate for the Marin Board of Supervisors and a Fairfax councilman. Residents say they can get behind the goals of Plan Bay Area: decreasing greenhouse gases and providing affordable housing near jobs. The regional plan favors high-density, multistory complexes near transit corridors to achieve these goals. But critics say that zoning in Marin and other counties would ultimately create high-rises next to freeways, which

If you build housing

before you have jobs, you’ll turn into Las Vegas.

Bob Silvestri, Marin County Communities Coalition

neither would force residents to drive less nor be enjoyable places to live. “It’s silly,” Ravasio said. Another frequent critique was the plan’s housing-first approach. Constructing more homes as a way to decrease environmental effect makes no sense, said Bob Silvestri, a member of the Marin Communities Coalition whose weekly online anti-plan op-eds have drawn hundreds of supporting comments. “If you build housing before you have jobs, you’ll turn into Las Vegas,” Silvestri said. The government of Marin itself also has concerns about the plan, even though it is not threatening to leave the Association of Bay Area Governments. Approximately 80 percent of the county is preserved as open space and even the least zealous county officials say there are problems with the plan that must be addressed. In March, the Board of Supervisors called for an independent review of regional job and housing projections. With virtually no job growth in the county in the last 20 years, a projection of 19,000 new jobs and 11,000 new homes by 2040 seems questionable, supervisors said. “The methodology has been opaque,” said Levine, a San Rafael councilman. A large part of the concern over the regional plan and housing numbers is a lack of clarity about how the

projections were determined. The last round of housing allocations required 4,882 new units in Marin by 2014 — including 1,849 for residents with low or very low incomes. But it was the most recent projections out to 2022 that were the last straw for some. “We’re built out — we don’t have any more land,” Ravasio said after learning the town would have to add more units by 2022. The March projection of 19,000 jobs for the county was a reduction from a preliminary report from the regional agency in August 2011, which foresaw 32,000 new jobs in a county of 250,000 people. Marin had just over 122,000 jobs in 2008, according to the American Communities Survey, a detailed report by the Census Bureau. A March report from the Association of Bay Area Governments also decreased the housing projections for Novato (population 53,500) from about 1,600 to 890 and for Corte Madera from 560 to 270. But the scenario increased the numbers in Mill Valley (population 13,000) from 500 to 740. REGIONAL AGENCY RESPONDS Planning officials disagree with nearly all the arguments raised. Marin has its fair share of housing allocations, said Ezra Rapport, executive director of the Association of Bay Area Governments. The allocations were arrived at after taking into account Marin’s land use and lack of job growth. In the most recent scenarios, Marin accounted for just over 1 percent of job growth in the Bay Area and 2 percent of housing growth by 2040. “We tried our best to maintain the character of Marin,” said Rapport, who also called high-density transitoriented housing “standard practice” in regional planning. “It’s up to the

local jurisdiction” to decide how to implement the housing requirements, he added. The state is backing that idea with legislation to spur smart growth. California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, authored SB 375 in 2008. The law provides incentives for high-density, transit-oriented housing and smart growth in an effort to curb greenhouse gases. “The main goal is to make it so people aren’t sitting in traffic for hours,” said Alicia Trost, a spokeswoman for Steinberg. But Trost emphasized that towns don’t have to do anything they don’t want to do. Local officials and activists disagree, saying that unwanted development is repeatedly being forced on them. Corte Madera, after being sued by affordable housing advocates, approved a 79-unit affordable housing project near the highway in 2007. And this January, the town gave the OK for a 180-unit development on a former WinCup factory. Though the density (40 units per acre) and height (four stories) continue to be hotly debated, the developer, McFarlane Partners, said both were necessary for the project to be economically feasible and include 18 low-income units. Councilmembers said they felt compelled to approve the project to meet regional and affordable housing requirements. “It’s the highest density we have in Corte Madera. It’s also the tallest,” said Condon, the councilwoman. OTHER TOWNS TROUBLED Larkspur officials said they were also concerned that regional and state regulations could automatically require more than 2,200 additional housing units within a half-mile of the Sonoma-Marin Area Rapid Transit

train station and Golden Gate Transit ferry terminal. Transit hubs, such as the one where the train and ferry terminals meet, trigger additional housing requirements. Residents are also worried about a regional plan to widen Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in that same area, in order to connect Highways 101 and 580. In Mill Valley, a townhouse-style 20unit project on nearly 1.5 acres has spurred a fierce debate over the best use of land. The developer has said 20 units are necessary in order to include the two affordable units that are required and still make a profit. But some residents would rather “Save that hill!” — as a protest sign adjacent to the property proclaims. Silvestri said the land could be better used for a small green startup that would create jobs, something lacking in Marin. “Instead that was all sacrificed for two affordable units that aren’t even that affordable,” he said. Even the towns that are not ready to withdraw support from the regional association are considering plans that they say work specifically for them, even if they may be outside the regional plan. In Fairfax, which came to blows with the state over its refusal to zone for three-story buildings, affordable housing projects are being constructed in partnership with churches and local landowners. “We are approaching these things our own way with the same goal in mind,” Weinsoff said. Local-control activists are adamant that they have no problem with those goals — as long as they get to decide how to achieve them, not regional or state planners. No one wants to be one big Bay Area, they argue. They want to be their own small communities. “People move to Corte Madera because it’s a small town,” said Ravasio. “Shouldn’t we be allowed to stay small if we want?”

150,000 More San Franciscans Would Strain Infrastructure may be limited and we have additional impacts … I think should be reevaluated.” Regional smart-growth planning does sometimes work, said Sam Adams, the mayor of Portland, Ore., one of the best-planned cities in the country. “Portland’s last city plan, developed over 30 years ago, focused on limiting sprawl, urban renewal, light rail (instead of highways), and helping to inspire new business sectors, including cleantech,” he wrote in an essay on, an environmental news website. “As a result, we have lowered total carbon emissions 6 percent while the rest of the U.S. has increased by more than 10 percent. And we’ve done it while growing our population and jobs.”

story continued from page B1

of shipyard jobs brought their families to the city, leading to a housing boom that developed the sand dunes west of Twin Peaks. During the 1940s, the city grew more than 20 percent. The new people and their industry left a deep footprint on the San Francisco Bay: Imported sand and moored ships created new land and a waterfront on top of mudflats. Sediment from gold mining destroyed wetlands, while toxic contaminants from mining and other industries polluted the waters. Invasive species were unleashed and changed the bay ecosystem. These days San Francisco’s population growth is attributed to some of the same underlying causes. People migrate here internationally and from other parts of the country in search of jobs because the Bay Area is a desirable place to live. The city isn’t just passively letting them come — it has adopted a pro-growth strategy to strengthen its economic competitiveness with other cities. That strategy includes accommodating more people by increasing housing. That said, San Francisco has precious little open land, so new development opportunities are limited. Ted Egan, San Francisco’s chief economist, said adding housing, particularly affordable housing, is wrapped up in the city’s strategy and its attempt to stabilize an unstable tax base. A tight housing market drives up wage inflation, he explained, without putting the cash in the pockets of the workers who are paying high rents. “The money goes to those who they bought the house from, or to landlords,” he said. “To the extent that the city expands the housing supply, it will reduce housing prices in San Francisco. That’s the goal of the strategy.” BUILDING BOOM Guided by the city’s encouragement and direction, massive new housing redevelopment projects will be popping up on Treasure Island, Hunters Point Shipyard and Parkmerced over the next decade. Nearly 750 other projects, mostly residential or with a residential component, are in the planning and construction phases. They are expected to add almost 43,000 new housing units, according to the city’s 2012 Pipeline Report. At the same time, San Francisco is trying to realize another goal: to become the “greenest city in America.” To that end, it adopted a “zero waste” policy to send virtually nothing to the landfill. Its climate action plan would reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. City agencies are increasing water and energy efficiency and are


Chris Neal, a city employee, inspects underground sewage pipes at the Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Plant in San Francisco. Tearsa Joy Hammock // Public Press encouraging bicycling and walking. To city officials, high growth and sustainability are not mutually exclusive. In a 2010 interview, Jack Sylvan, then director of the Treasure Island redevelopment project under Mayor Gavin Newsom, reacted strongly to questions about the sustainability of adding more than 7,000 people to the man-made Treasure Island, constructed on bay shallows landfill. The Treasure Island plans call for remaking the former military base into a high-density “eco-city” with high-rises clustered near a high-speed ferry terminal. “The notion that this is going to happen somewhere else that’s better, I think, is fundamentally flawed,” Sylvan said. “You’re talking about fringe people who think that a back-to-theland movement is our solution to an environmentally sustainable built environment.” BIG FOOTPRINT Yet some environmentalists see the city’s pro-growth agenda as anything but sustainable. The debate centers on “smart growth,” an urban plan-

ning concept that advocates building high-density neighborhoods, preferably in the urban core, and getting people out of cars to use public transit and start walking and bicycling. Smart growth is seldom challenged, especially in the Bay Area, since it represents a progressive change in planning from the massive suburban sprawl of previous decades. But in certain environmental circles, smart growth is quietly criticized for ignoring population growth’s destructive effect on nature. Critics say smart growth will reduce the damage, but cannot erase it entirely. “The notion of smart growth is an oxymoron,” said Dick Schneider, an activist in the San Francisco chapter of the Sierra Club since the 1970s. “San Francisco is already unsustainable, so further growth is only going to imbalance the situation even further.” A 2005 white paper, “Unsustainable City,” produced by local planning and design firm MKThink, reasoned that San Francisco had an ecological footprint of 18 acres per person. That means 18 acres of land are needed to sustain the basic consumptive needs

of an average city resident. Compared with the Bay Area’s 20.9 acres and the U.S. average of 23.6 acres, San Francisco doesn’t look so bad. The footprint analysis was based on a 2004 study by the Oakland-based think tank Redefining Progress. MKThink takes San Francisco to task for not being “smart growth” enough in its housing density and independence from cars. Schneider has a different reaction. Multiply 18 acres by the city’s population and that’s far greater than the size of San Francisco. “That’s over 15 million acres of land and water to support the current population of San Francisco,” he said. “San Francisco’s acreage is about 150,000. So clearly, the San Francisco population is living beyond its means and is therefore unsustainable by any reasonable interpretation of the word.” IS GROWTH INEVITABLE? Smart-growth advocates counter that halting population expansion isn’t a path to sustainability. “If you look at Northern Califor-

nia, and if we care about issues like climate change and the environment, in fact, the best place to live is the San Francisco Bay Area,” said Egon Terplan, the regional planning director for the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association. Terplan said San Francisco’s temperate climate requires less power for air conditioning and heating, while the city’s residents have a smaller environmental effect than those in outlying areas. “What’s your feeling about the environmental impact that’s going to happen in the Central Valley and in Northern Sonoma County?” Terplan asked. “If the growth doesn’t come here, it’s going to be happening in other places. You can’t look at it in isolation.” But is it San Francisco’s responsibility to solve the Bay Area’s sustainability problems? When considering sustainability, should improving local conditions take precedence? “Every time I hear it’s going to grow this much, I want to challenge the premise,” said Swanson of the Bay Institute. “The idea that we have to grow, when in fact natural resources

In the face of constant environmental pressures in the Bay Area, the smartgrowth movement is sounding optimistic, the criticism about its blind spots notwithstanding. A shrinking region is a worse outcome, said Jeremy Madsen, executive director of the Greenbelt Alliance, a San Franciscobased anti-sprawl advocacy group. “If you look at the alternatives, we could end up like Cleveland or Detroit,” Madsen said. “We’d rather be what we are.” Madsen said growth can spur innovative planning and infrastructure investment. That is happening in Oakland and San Jose, where strip malls and auto body shops — not high on any sustainability index — are being torn down and replaced with highdensity housing and businesses. “If it’s done right, you use development as a tool to develop,” Madsen said. Greenbelt Alliance mapped out the underdeveloped land within the Bay Area’s urban footprint and found that as many as 800,000 new homes, virtually all the new growth in the next 25 years, could be accommodated without treading onto open space. Perhaps the most hopeful note for environmentalists is the Bay Area’s historical success in digging out of environmental crisis while growing: the campaign to save San Francisco Bay. “The bay was a cesspool when I was a kid,” said Walker, the Berkeley geography professor. “There was no fishing to speak of in the bay, so some things are better. The sea otters and seals have made a comeback after being nearly extinct. There’s so much parkland that wasn’t there.” Walker said “utopian goals” are sometimes achievable, with diligence, as the population booms: “You wouldn’t believe the changes that have been made even in my lifetime. The bay is so much more livable in so many ways, despite tripling in size.”



The Bay’s 50-Year Boom






Calistoga Windsor


St Helena








Santa Rosa Sebastopol

THE DELTA The Delta region is the capture point for the waters of the great San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers, draining and filtering the Sierra runoff through brackish waters and mixing with the bay and then the world ocean. These counties are home to the exploding suburbs of the Bay Area, like Vallejo, Fairfield and Antioch — now ranked 10, 12 and 14, respectively, on the list of largest cities in the Bay Area.

Yountville Vacaville


Rohnert Park Cotati


Sonoma Petaluma


Fairfield Suisun City

American Canyon

Rio Vista



San Mateo and Marin counties are hemmed in by water on their largest sides, which keeps development prospects lower, in turn contributing to higher land values and an exclusivity similar to San Francisco.

Vallejo Benicia

MARIN Hercules


San Rafael

San Anselmo Ross Mill Valley

Pleasant Hill


Larkspur Tiburon






San Francisco

Like trees, cities can be thought of as adding growth rings every year. For most cities on this map, the outer ring represents the current population, from 2010 census data. The smallest, inner growth ring was the population in 1960. The largest cities of 1960 — San Francisco and Oakland — have large inner rings. San Jose is a notable outlier, having swelled to consume the Valley of Heart’s Delight. The spacing of the decennial rings allow the reader to understand whether cities’ population growth is sudden, like Concord between 1960 and 1970, or gradual, like Pleasanton, denoted by the regular interval between the growth rings. Slow-growing Moraga doesnn't show a 1960 ring at all, because it is covered up by the 2010 growth ring.



San Ramon



Union City


Hillsborough San Mateo



San Bruno


Foster City


San Carlos



Newark East Palo Alto

Redwood City

Palo Alto


a lar aC nt Sa ale yv nn Su

Atherton Menlo Park Woodside


25 mi

Los Altos Hills Los Altos Mountain View




San Leandro

Portola Valley




Brisbane South San Francisco


Half Moon Bay




Daly City











Walnut Creek

El Cerrito

Corte Madera



Pinole San Pablo


50 km

San José

Growth rings that are farther apart show the most dramatic increase in population. San Jose has grown from a medium-size city (a little larger than Santa Rosa and a little smaller than Fremont) into the third-largest city in California. Apparently plenty of people know the way to San Jose.



Monte Sereno Los Gatos

Morgan Hill

HISTORIC CITIES HAVE LIMITED GROWTH The populations of most cities in the historic ”core” of the Bay Area have not increased dramatically since 1960. It seems in many cases that the places with the most money grew in population the least. The growth rings are close together in San Francisco, along the Peninsula of San Mateo County, the western edges of Alameda and Contra Costa counties and southern Marin County.


AGRICULTURE It is in the hinterlands, as places of resources, that the Bay Area has spread its influence. The great agricultural arc of the mid-coastal agricultural belt, that includes Monterey County’s Salinas Valley, really starts in the Santa Clara Valley near the shores of San Francisco Bay.

Why Smart Growth? Sprawl is commonplace in the Bay Area — from places like Antioch and Brentwood on the outskirts of Contra Costa County to parts of Santa Clara and Sonoma counties. The pattern emerges from an all-too-familiar suburban formula that for decades earned developers high profits: perfectly manicured lawns, streets that meander around small neighborhood parks and cul-de-sacs at the end of nearly every block. Mixed use is forbidden — businesses are clustered into shopping malls a car trip away. Though the Bay Area started out on a European-style city grid in the era of the horse and buggy, the neighborhoods developed after World War II, after the rise of the automobile industry and interstate highway system, became the American dream. Mainstream thinking has changed radically. Planners now say that 20th century pattern is the opposite of what the Bay Area needs to remain an attractive place to live

and work. “Think about it — the most desirable places in the Bay Area now were built before World War II, before the automobile, places like Rockridge in Oakland and downtown San Francisco,” said Egon Terplan, planning director at the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association. “The question becomes: Are you going to live in a community where you can walk around and get some stuff for your daily life in your neighborhood?” Terplan said. “Can you hop on a bus or hop on a train and get to your job or get to a medical appointment or get to school?” Plan Bay Area attempts to increase urban density in cities throughout the region by establishing “priority development areas.” Cities can concentrate “infill” development on vacant or under-used city lots in neighborhoods well served by transit. The idea is to zone roughly 80 percent of the region’s new

housing in new or existing downtowns. The grand statewide goal, through two state laws, Assembly Bill 32 and Senate Bill 375, is to develop regional greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for motorists by building enough housing for people at all income levels and concentrating new housing and jobs near transportation hubs, allowing residents to live closer to where they work, thus shortening their driving time. One organization that has argued for years for such a strategy, the San Francisco-based Greenbelt Alliance, says the need for more housing is urgent: “If new development continues to sprawl outward on the urban edge, it will drain resources from existing cities and create longer commutes, more traffic and more climate-changing greenhouse gases. … This kind of development will not meet the need for more affordable homes closer to jobs.” Angela Hart // Public Press

Households per square mile GREATER THAN 4,000


2,000 - 4,000


1,000 - 1,999





Where We Live Now




A current map of household density in the Bay Area looks somewhat like the circulatory system of a growing organism. San Francisco Bay is the region’s thick heart, with arteries and capillaries stretching out along major interstate highways. Planners prefer to make already walkable, transit-friendly urbanized areas even denser, reducing the pressure to spread out to places only reachable by cars.

Household density, shown here in shades of red, is a measure of the number of households (family units, not dwellings) in a given area. This map employs census block group data for a detailed representation of household density. (Most census block groups are not as large as a square mile.)





25 mi


40 km


PRIORITY DEVELOPMENT The priority development areas are shown in blue outline and transparency. These zones in the current draft of Plan Bay Area are strung along the region’s traditional core, and follow long-established corridors of communication in the West Bay, South Bay and near-East Bay, and sprinkled amid and adjacent to the fast-growing suburbs of the far-East Bay. They also appear in the last underdeveloped bits of the Santa Clara Valley, as well as concentrated pockets in Solano County, where density is still low.

0 0

10 mi 15 km

B6 Summer 2012

GROWING SMARTER San Francisco Public Press //


With Redevelopment’s End, Bay Area Cities Scramble to Keep Grand Plans Alive Oakland’s Auto Row renaissance may have to work on a smaller scale


akland’s Auto Row was once a bustling mecca of retail — a 1.3mile stretch lined with dozens of dealerships and auto repair businesses that provided the bulk of the city’s sales tax revenue. But in recent years the strip has fallen victim to a dwindling economy. Car sales dropped 40 percent since 2001, and some dealerships were vacated or abandoned. Story: Yet the derelict Alexis Fitts strip has the mak// Public Press ings of “smart growth” gold, local urban planners say. It’s near two BART stations and the AC Transit express bus. It’s close to scenic parks, including Lake Merritt. And there are renewed signs of street life, including the monthly Art Murmur gallery crawl and a new Whole Foods. Since 2000, city officials have had big plans for Auto Row. They called it the Broadway-Valdez project, a 96acre development that included a strip of housing and restaurants next to the 19th Street BART station, the Valdez Triangle. Planners said the effort, if fully funded, would be Oakland’s best bet to revive its sagging retail sector. But the project’s prospects have dimmed since California killed redevelopment funds as a way of backfilling the state budget deficit. Oakland was banking on its ability to lure developers by promoting the project with an estimated $20 million from its Redevelopment Agency. City leaders pitched it as an innovative “private-public partnership.” That changed in January 2011, when Gov. Jerry Brown announced his intention to dissolve 400 redevelopment agencies across California. Using special tax districts, the agencies provided an estimated $1.7 billion in revenue for cities to combat urban blight. Of that, about $1.36 billion was used to build or promote affordable housing. This year, without redevelopment, cities will be forced to reinvent their models for both residential and retail expansion. While redevelopment funds have been used very differently from city to city, planners in economically struggling urban centers doubt that aggressive growth accommodating all income levels can happen without a change in strategy: relying more on help from the private sector to guide and fund infill development. OAKLAND AS MEGAMALL The regional smart growth blueprint, Plan Bay Area, leans heavily on Oakland to absorb thousands of new housing units. The plan calls for the city to have 38,950 more housing units in 2040 than it does today, an increase of 23 percent. That is the largest increase demanded of any city

in the region. Together Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco must provide one-third of all new housing. Oakland still is betting that the project will take root with less public funding because of the promise of revenue from a revived retail sector. Oakland has one of the most underutilized retail sectors in the United States. About 75 percent of its residents’ purchases, $1 billion annually, are made in neighboring communities such as Emeryville, San Francisco and Walnut Creek. To the city, this represents $10 million yearly in potential new sales tax revenue, as well as 10,400 new jobs. In 2008, the city released the Oakland Retail Enhancement Strategy, an aggressive plan to turn the BroadwayValdez corridor into a new retail district. PowerPoint presentations trumpeted the great megamalls of California as inspiration — photos of Union Square in San Francisco and the Glendale Galleria pop up repeatedly. They dreamed of Nordstrom and Macy’s as desired anchor stores. Early proposals called for more than 1 million square feet of retail space, with significant office construction (up to 150,000 square feet) and entertainment (up to 250,000 square feet). The plan required funding, both public and private. “Something this significant doesn’t happen totally in the private sector — it will be a publicprivate project,” said Linda Hausrath, an economic consultant on Oakland’s plan, at a community meeting in 2009. TOO MANY OWNERS Though developers would be responsible for the actual building, the city would bundle together a limited number of properties in key locations to lure investors. The Broadway-Valdez district, like many areas settled in the 19th century, is divided into 242 smaller parcels, 75 percent of which are less than a quarter acre. They are in the hands of 135 landowners, a developer’s nightmare. The area was perfect for redevelopment money earmarked for urban blight. The vast majority of parcels were “underused” — 29 were underdeveloped, 39 used just for surface parking, 15 had vacant buildings, and another 37 percent were deemed “under-utilized” by the city — often large plots of land with small structures. City leaders called consolidation of property ownership “critical for plan success.” Redevelopment money was also slated to be used to upgrade public works infrastructure such as water and sewer lines in the dilapidated district, where more than half of the structures were built between 1900 and 1920. The upgrades would be necessary to accommodate the needs of modern big-box retail. But plans to use public funds to

push along the private sector ended on Dec. 29, when the California Supreme Court upheld votes by the Legislature to eliminate redevelopment agencies throughout California. They officially dissolved on Feb. 1. In Oakland, where redevelopment had long been used to fill in funding gaps — including paying staff salaries — the loss of redevelopment created a budget hole of $28 million. In January, Oakland issued layoff notices to 2,500 employees. Any city money for large-scale planning projects, such as Broadway-Valdez, evaporated. MIDDLE-CLASS HELP When the economy bottomed out in 2008, private funding for construction and development projects became increasingly limited. Economically stressed cities began turning to redevelopment funding as an increasingly important financial tool to lure developers. Though developers still provided the bulk of financing, redevelopment money could provide incentives such as façade improvement or signage. And cities could purchase and bundle small chunks of land, or underwrite the value of inflated properties. Redevelopment has also been a tool for creating projects that the private sector will not do on its own, such as multifamily units and homes designated as affordable for low- and middle-class residents. State law requires 20 percent of redevelopment funds be set aside for affordable housing, providing the bulk of affordable stock for many cities. Some cities exceeded that goal. San Francisco historically allocated 40 to 70 percent of its redevelopment funding to affordable housing projects. For the 2011-12 fiscal year the city set aside $56 million of its $286.1 million redevelopment budget for affordable housing, and another $38 million for public improvements. But redevelopment’s main goal was to spur the economy to grow, say defenders of the program. “Almost entirely our activity that we focus on, whether it be economic development, business improvement or acquiring sites, is related to business retention and growth,” said Lila Hussain of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, which after official dissolution is now managed by an interim group called an Oversight Board. NO MONEY, NO PLAN Without a reliable funding source, Plan Bay Area will move on a slower timeframe, said Ken Kirkey, a planner with the project’s lead agency, the Association of Bay Area Governments. “We’re in this place where redevelopment is gone, there is nothing to replace it yet, and there has been a huge drop-off, not just in the Bay Area but nationally, in terms of hous-

Pedestrian improvement alone will not be enough. It’s not like you widen the sidewalk and suddenly Macy’s wants to move in. Marla Wilson, Greenbelt Alliance

ing permits,” Kirkey said. So far, the agency has not created a contingency funding plan. “There’s an assumption that something is going to have to come back in that place,” he said. Reagan-era policies that promoted roads and car-centric housing make it harder to fund transit-oriented infill developments, said Karen Chapple, a professor of urban planning at the University of California, Berkeley, who contributed to the regional plan. “Without major change at the state and federal level,” she said, the plan “is really a great idea, but it’s just basically impossible to implement.” It’s also difficult to fund real estate growth in an economy still in the midst of a foreclosure crisis. Chapple anticipates the Bay Area is only halfway through the total stock of foreclosures. “It means that we’re not going to be building, even though the plan calls for tons and tons of housing in areas that will be sustainable,” Chapple said. “In reality, we’re going to be relying on this foreclosed stock to provide much of our housing in the next decade.” ROADS, NOT HOMES The Metropolitan Transportation Commission promises that cities won’t lose basic transit and road maintenance funding. But the grants aren’t designed to build megaprojects or provide any funding for development. “Where the cities are prioritizing for housing, we can improve the streets, we can improve the road quality by repaving the roads, we can use that money to provide more transit service there — all kinds of things that make it a more desirable place to live — but they’re going to be transportation improvements,” said Dave Vautin, a transportation planner with the agency. A $14 billion pot for transportation improvements, set to be distributed over 27 years, “sounds like a lot of money, but when you split it up it’s not,” Vautin said. But it is enough to help with things like small streetscape improvements. In the first four years as many as 200 proposed priority development areas will vie for a piece of about $320 million in grant funding — a pittance. “The amount of money relative to the need is minuscule,” Chapple said.

The grants will be distributed to counties based on a formula: overall population counts for 50 percent, meeting past lower-income housing demands counts for 25 percent and need for future growth counts for 25 percent. Vautin said the loss of redevelopment money “makes it a bit harder to implement this type of plan. But it really is a visionary plan, and we’ll really need the local jurisdictions to buy into this as well. We as a regional agency can’t really get this done all by ourselves.” Even if development comes back, it won’t pay for the infrastructure, such as sewers and water systems. “Can new development help with it? Yes, if it’s replacing the whole system,” said Stephanie Reyes, policy director of Greenbelt Alliance, an affordable housing and open space think tank. “But it’s unlikely new development can help with all of that.” ‘ORGANIC’ GROWTH With less funding, Oakland has been forced to re-envision development on a smaller scale, crafting a plan for “organic growth.” The city’s new model for retail: reuse, retrofit, redevelop. The plan called for façade improvements and temporary use of vacant lots — popup stores and food trucks. Small, inexpensive pedestrian improvements such as bike lanes and streetlights could bring more foot traffic, and eventually encourage developers to build. Ed Manese, project manager for the Broadway-Valdez project since 2010, said the new plan relies on community feedback. He worried that a massive influx of retail might create an “inauthentic vision of Oakland.” Instead of large-scale projects, such as parking lots, the new plan would fit about 1,800 more housing units on existing lots. Though the big projects funded by redevelopment sometimes created a boom in tax revenues, slower growth might be more sustainable. From 1990 to 2001 Emeryville’s redevelopment agency spent $157 million on economic development, working with developers to build a bustling retail sector, which created about 5,500 jobs. But the project had its drawbacks: Because the city meets only 27 percent of its affordable housing needs, many Emeryville workers live in places like Richmond and Oakland. The East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy charges that fast growth increased income inequality in Emeryville. “As the North End neighborhood became more affluent, long-term residents were displaced,” the group wrote in a 2003 report. Poverty increased, traffic worsened and all the extra land that might have been used for public purposes was grabbed up by business.

NOT DEAD YET Marla Wilson, a sustainable communities associate with Greenbelt Alliance who has worked on the Auto Row project since 2008, sees the loss of funding as positive, allowing the city to focus on preserving the character of Oakland. “There are no specific plans for the site, only conceptual,” Wilson said on a recent walk past the vacant car dealerships on Broadway. “Now there’s a general idea of encouraging business in a smart-growth sort of way.” Still, Oakland officials maintain that the Broadway-Valdez project is still alive. In February, an East Bay Express cover story proclaimed the project dead, a victim of lost redevelopment funds. Not so, said the city. “To echo Mark Twain, reports of the death of the Broadway Valdez District Specific Plan have been greatly exaggerated,” Eric Anglestadt, the city’s planning director, wrote in an open letter to the public. But the plan is not without challenges, including high land values, public safety concerns and a lack of “retail identity” — on top of the Great Recession. “Doing pedestrian improvements alone will not be enough,” said Wilson of Greenbelt Alliance. “It’s not like you widen the sidewalk and suddenly Macy’s wants to move in. It’s necessary but it’s not sufficient.” The 1,800 housing units may provide the retail boost the city is looking for. More residents will lure smaller retail jobs without big anchor businesses, Reyes said. “Given the setup they have, hoping for 1.5 million square feet of retail is likely to be a big failure,” Reyes said. “Why would you want to have a plan that doesn’t go anywhere? Why not build on what works in Oakland: smaller-scale organic restaurants, retail, art boutiques? “Can Oakland kind of grow its own Oakland-local successful hipster area?” she said. “Maybe they get some American Apparel or hipster retail to go along with the restaurant and arts scene. That could be a way for Oakland to increase its tax base and jobs, while also adding housing.” “I think one of the biggest challenges cities will have is that the market will build on the easy sites,” Manese said. “For a place as mature and developed as the Bay Area, and for us to densify as much as ABAG and One Bay Area envisions, there are lots of properties that are going to take a lot of effort, which are going to be more than developers can take on alone. They’re going to require a public-private partnership, and unless we have funding to create them we’re not going to be able to reach those goals.”

Cities Will Find It Hard to Grow Smartly Without Regional Cooperation

HORSE TRADING Kirkey said the problem from the start has been that each city lobbies for its own interests. To make Plan Bay Area work, regional officials need to persuade cities to think in a regional context. The best they can hope for is a negotiation: Cities that want more growth can grab it, and others can

A tabletop model of the Bay Meadows housing development that will rise next door to a Caltrain station in San Mateo. Jason Winshell // Public Press pass. The challenge from the start was to deal with expected Bay Area population growth in a way that treated all communities equitably while preserving the environment. The state estimates that the region will need sufficient housing for 2.1 million more people by 2040 to prevent overcrowding and long commutes. That would require the creation of about 1.1 million more jobs. The State Department of Housing and Community Development translates those numbers into housing needs, which in March it set at 660,000 new units for the region, though some electSee related story ed officials who page B2 don’t want that much growth say the numbers are too high. The Association of Bay Area Governments is not actually a government body in the sense that it can pass laws or levy taxes. It is best described as a quasi-governmental group. It calls itself “part regional planning agency and part local government service 

ty are eager to take more housing. But Curtis Williams, city planner in the relatively well-off city of Palo Alto, said his and other small and midsize places are already built out. Under the climate-change legislation, all regions in the state must have a “sustainable communities strategy” to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by getting commuters out of their cars. The Bay Area plan also aims to build enough housing in cities to accommodate all income levels over the next 30 years. But cities sometimes have other priorities, and many were facing steep budget cuts year after year even before state funding vanished. Ken Moy, legal counsel for the Association of Bay Area Governments, said cities are not obliged to act in accordance with the plan. “No,” he said, “the state won’t come after you.” The agency enforcing the climatechange laws, the California Air Resources Board, said legal action is unlikely if cities ignore it. “We’re still in the process of working through nuts and bolts,” said Dave Clergen, a spokesman for the board, which is responsible for implementing AB 32, known as the Global Warming Solutions Act, and a related Senate bill, SB 375. “This is an ongoing process, and our goal is to get the job done, not necessarily to penalize people,” Clergen said.

provider.” Each of 101 cities in the region and nine counties has one vote. Most of those cities want to lead the organization, not follow. Chion said the combination of a grand vision and the lack of enforcement power is a recipe for coming up short: “Cities are not required to match their general plans with the regional effort. This plan provides a sense of direction for the type of development we would like to encourage. There are no consequences for cities that don’t do anything.” Just because cities end up with more housing allocations from regional planners, they are not required to build it. All they have to do is zone for it. Cities can relax restrictions on building height, spacing between units, the distance from the curb and developers’ ability to stack housing on retail or commercial space — elements that separate suburbs from cities. But city councils and county boards of supervisors have few tools to make dense building actually happen. Without market demand to spur

private-sector investment, maps that take hundreds of hours to draw can end up on dusty shelves. So regional planners have to convince and cajole using economic arguments. “There’s an inherent supply-anddemand challenge here in the Bay Area,” Kirkey said. “Then you have to look at, OK, what does this mean in terms of housing demand, and how much housing as a region can we produce.”

“It sounds like a lot of money, but when you split it up, it’s not,” Kirkey said. The most recent financial blow came last February, when Gov. Jerry Brown killed 400 redevelopment agencies, depriving cities of hundreds of millions of dolSee related story lars for infrastrucabove ture.


When the Association of Bay Area Governments released its list of priorities in May, job growth topped the list. All other activities — housing for all income levels, infrastructure for walkable communities and environmental protection — ranked lower. “Planning in advance for job growth should result in more jobs for the economy, better neighborhoods, improved transportation choices, lesser taxes, better schools and a higher quality of life for residents,” the agency said. But that kind of “win-win” language glosses over a key dilemma, said Terplan from the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association. Cities want to attract businesses because they bring in more tax dollars than does housing. But they need housing to attract workers. This leads to a chicken-or-egg scenario: “We quite frankly can’t add a million or two million jobs unless we add lots of new housing.” He added that the solution is not transit villages, but transit-friendly jobs. “For five or six years I’ve been hammering this point,” he said. “Lots of studies show that if your job is right near transit, particularly regional rail transit, you are more likely to take transit than if you just live near transit.” Data show that the most job growth is expected in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Alameda counties. So those areas are the focus for Plan Bay

That approach puts success in the hands of private developers who are more concerned about sales than innovating mixed-use developments that planners say are good for the region. The problem has deep historical roots. Regional planners are trying to change the pattern that led to the rise of post-World War II suburbia: voracious expansion into open space far from city centers, areas that were accessible only by car. But in recent decades, cities have increasingly sought to build housing within existing urban growth boundaries, preventing encroachment into green spaces. But with the financial woes plaguing the housing industry since 2008, few projects are getting built. A consensus has emerged among policymakers that the region does not have enough money — either public or private — to do much with the regional planning document right now. Though the Association of Bay Area Governments barely has any money itself, it has worked with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to create a pool of funds called One Bay Area grants. Over four years, the agencies will distribute the $320 million fund to cities to pay for road repairs, affordable housing and programs to encourage walking or riding bikes. Another $475 million will go to regional projects.

story continued from page B1


Area housing development. Santa Clara County exemplifies the Bay Area’s comparative advantage for job growth nationally. Regional planners say Silicon Valley is becoming one of the most desirable places to live and to do business. In 30 years, Palo Alto and Sunnyvale could be even hotter job centers. The Bay Area’s housing allocation reflects that optimism: Santa Clara’s housing stock is expected to grow by 32 percent by 2040, the fastest in the Bay Area. Economists say that if the regional plan has any chance, it will be through encouraging business to generate the same kind of rapid expansion the area relied on for decades to support a higher-than-average standard of living. “The region could capture another 110,000 jobs of the total national growth,” said Stephen Levy, director of the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy and one of Plan Bay Area’s independent researchers. “However, it’s constrained by the Bay Area’s political and economic will to produce new housing.” But clearly the biggest challenge facing regional planners who want more smart growth housing is instilling that resolve in hundreds of dubious county supervisors and city council members, each of whom faces a restive electorate. Terplan, the urban researcher in San Francisco, said he was saddened to see the specter of political negotiations cloud the state’s 2008 vision of environmentally friendly growth. The idea, he said, was supposed to be about cooperation — “the region taking leadership, and saying this is where we want to go.” But that’s not how it’s gone so far, he lamented: “It doesn’t have enough policy tools to achieve concentrated planning.” // San Francisco Public Press

B7 Summer 2012



Rising Gas Prices Exacerbated Foreclosure Crisis, Researchers Find


Housing bust linked with sprawl as transportation costs increase in suburbs


piking gas prices in recent years were likely a contributing factor to foreclosures in newly built outlying housing developments in the Bay Area, researchers say, suggesting that sprawl may be bad for the region’s economic stability. Two recent Story: studies found Dhyana Levey links between // Public Press gas prices and foreclosure rates across California and other parts of the nation. The highest concentrations of Bay Area foreclosures were in eastern Contra Costa and parts of Solano and Sonoma counties. The areas with the lowest foreclosure rates were in the urban corridors of Oakland, San Francisco and parts of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties — areas most accessible by public transit. An implication of the economic analyses, researchers said, is that one way to protect the Bay Area from future housing shocks would be to build more dense neighborhoods close to public transit. As the cost of commuting first jumped to an average of $3.35 per gallon in 2008, suburban neighborhoods that for decades continued to sprawl across the region became less desirable. As the housing bubble collapsed, long commutes increased household expenses, causing more economic pain in the region’s fringes and more mortgage defaults. A study published in February by University of California economists showed that in 2008, transportation costs were 23 percent higher in the 15 California cities with the most foreclosures. The high-foreclosure cities were on average 16 miles farther from a core city and had half as many public transit riders per capita. For regional planners facing political opposition to the idea of “smart growth,” this research suggests that there is a compelling economic justification for what has been considered primarily an environmental movement. The idea is that prevention of air pollution, preservation of open space and avoidance of more infrastructures to service new developments can help avert future crises. “I don’t think you can make the case that lack of transportation caused the foreclosure crisis,” said Scott Bernstein, president of the Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology, which recently collaborated with Bay Area transit planners on a similar study. “But those with higher transportation costs were more likely to foreclose. Transportation ends up being a pretty good predictor of where it’s going to happen first.” The economics of suburban life changed after gas prices spiked, Bernstein said. So homeowners had these two huge costs of living — housing and transportation. But they were counseled by real estate advisers as if both were fixed costs. That was a big

problem, Bernstein said: “There isn’t a counseling program around that can help you with both costs going up.” ALTERNATIVES TO CARS Building new developments that give residents transportation options — walking, biking, taking BART, Caltrain, Muni or AC Transit — might soften the next crash and help residents hold on to their homes, said Doug Johnson, a Bay Area native and senior planner focusing on smart growth for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The University of California study, produced by the Center for Energy and Environmental Economics based at the Berkeley and Santa Barbara campuses, “How High Gas Prices Triggered the Housing Crisis,” further argues this concept: While cheap fuel prices led to urban sprawl and the expansion of homeownership to low-income households that settled in the suburbs, dramatic increases in fuel prices disproportionately impacted suburban homeowners who suffered the greatest commute cost increases and home value declines. Mortgages became unaffordable for some households and imprudent for others, leading to unavoidable and strategic defaults. The reasons behind foreclosures varied across the nation, said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, a real estate website that monitors foreclosure data for consumers and businesses. Borrowers without good credit took out risky loans to buy homes they could not afford. Subprime loans, offered to borrowers not qualifying for prime-rate loans, pushed the mortgage bust in Detroit, Chicago and other cities before spreading to the suburbs, he said. But in other areas, where the foreclosure problem started in the outlying areas and continues to be worst farther out from job centers, transportation cost may have tipped more homes into default. “I think that’s a piece of what we’ve learned from all this,” Blomquist said. “You have to take into account the location of developments and realize that the farther people are away from jobs and other amenities, probably the more risky the developments are for foreclosure rates.” SAN FRANCISCO FARES WELL RealtyTrac observed sharp contrasts in foreclosures among Northern California counties over recent years. Contra Costa County ranked the 13th highest foreclosure rate in the state: It peaked at 5.8 percent in 2009, falling to 4.1 percent in 2011. The easternmost portions of the county, including Antioch, Brentwood and Oakley, were hit hardest. Brentwood had some of the high-

Transportation ends up a pretty good predictor of where it’s going to happen first.

Scott Bernstein, Center for Neighborhood Technology

est rates, peaking at 20.17 percent in 2009, down to 12.84 percent in 2011. San Francisco came in at 57th — second to lowest among counties in the state — peaking at 1 percent in 2009, falling to 0.8 percent in 2011. More-urbanized Alameda County ranked 33rd, San Mateo ranked 51st and Marin ranked 52nd. San Joaquin County, within theoretical driving distance from Bay Area jobs, was on the other end of the scale. It ranked No. 1. “The smart-growth movement has done a good job in getting people to ask the right questions,” Bernstein said. “It’s not just what you are building, it’s where you are building it. There should be universally affordable and accessible communities.” But the term smart growth has become a dirty word to political conservatives and local control advocates, who say the urban planning movement hurts residents’ ability to live where they want to live. Tea party adherents and community activists have come out against a collaborative effort by the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to create compact, transit-accessible communities to accommodate population growth. The regional plan does not favor single-family homes, but rather mass transit and getting people out of their cars, said Heather Gass, a Danville real estate agent and East Bay tea party activist. She said limiting development to urban zones increases the cost of living, and residents will resist giving up their cars. “If smart means we are crammed into housing next to mass transit while we still have our cars, what’s smart about that?” she said. “I don’t have anything against people living in high-density housing, but people who move to the suburbs move there because they want to get away from all of that. We shouldn’t all have one cookie-cutter solution.” Johnson, the transit planner, said smart growth is about giving people choices, not trying to force everyone out of their cars or into places they do not want to live. And, although change can be scary, the region will continue to grow and attract people from elsewhere. “We have an expanding population and we need to think about places where we can put people,” he said. “So I don’t think ‘smart growth’ or ‘dumb growth.’ I think about looking for growth that allows people to have travel choices and live convenient lives.”

Chef Eskender Aseged prepares crimini mushroom crostini in his swank new kitchen at Bayview’s Radio Africa & Kitchen.

Radio Africa Restaurant Comes to Third Street


adio Africa & Kitchen is one of a growing list of city-supported food businesses on Third Street in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood. It's all part of a calculated redevelopment strategy to drive foodies to this long-neglected corner of southeast San Francisco. Yes, there is plenty of the mouthwatering barbecue and soul food you'd expect to find, but Bayview has a lot more to offer Story and photo: now, including at least three places Rachael Myrow to get a latte. (Is it just me, or is that // KQED News Fix a key indicator of foodie culture?) “Welcome to our Bayview. Welcome to Third and Oakdale,” said Mayor Ed Lee at the restaurant's launch. Most restaurant openings don’t feature the mayor, but the people packing this party were mostly city officials. Because San Francisco is this project’s biggest backer. Radio Africa & Kitchen's chef, Ethiopian-born Eskender Aseged, has served “pop-up” dinners at one venue after another over the past eight years. His approach is heavily influenced by his experience at the now-defunct Square One, one of the first restaurants to take classic recipes from the Mediterranean and reinterpret them for the California palate. “We take any country from all over Africa, specifically Ethiopia, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal or Nigeria, and then we sort of bring on the fresher, more straightforward focus and cleaner taste,” Aseged said. You won’t find fried food at Radio Africa. Or ketchup. Or hot sauce. Aseged uses what he likes to call the power of Ethiopian spice mixes, like berbere. “It’s a combination of sweet, spicy and aromatic. That is to say, bird’s-eye chile, which can be substitute for cayenne chile, sweet paprika. We got cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, fenugreek, basil, shallot, ginger.” Aseged couldn’t afford to launch a brick-and-mortar restaurant on his own, but he could put down about $35,000. The city, through a variety of agencies, brought roughly $710,000 to the table and built the restaurant from scratch. It's a street-level commercial anchor to a new condo complex. Aseged is still in a state of shock over his good fortune. This is a man used to making dinner for about 100 people off two hot plates. “We have 12 burners, a grill, griddle, salamander, two ovens. It’s kind of like overkill over here,” he said. Aseged is expected to source some of his labor locally. The restaurant is serving dinner now, but will soon open

for lunch, featuring a new crop of young line cooks. They’re being trained nearby at the nonprofit Old Skool Café, which works with troubled youth. Even though the 5-year-old Muni T has made this stretch of Third easily accessible, the street intimidates pedestrians, much like Geary and mid-Market. “It doesn’t feel walkable,” said Andrea Baker, a consultant for San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “And therein lies the difficulty. Because small businesses tend to rely on foot traffic.” While sipping a large cappuccino from the Road House Coffee Company at Third and Thomas, Baker said the city might help launch a bakery next — or something Indian. (These days, there are more Asian Americans in Bayview than African Americans.) “Why is it government’s job? Why isn’t it, I would say!” She laughed. “In our system, people pay taxes in the hope that if we all put a little something into it we can create big things.” Forty years ago, Bayview became a code word for urban decay and gang violence. A lot of people have not reassessed this district, despite the arrival of gourmet pizza, outdoor concerts and a new library under construction. “You know, it’s not just me saying it. I think if you talk to community leaders, they’re seeing a renaissance here,” Captain Paul Chignell said. He is the Police Department’s commanding officer for Bayview. It’s not that the area is crime free. There are lots of beat police in evidence day and night along the corridor. But Bayview still struggles to get the big crowds other crime-plagued neighborhoods in San Francisco enjoy. Amy Cohen runs Neighborhood Business Development for the city. “It’s very challenging to get people to come here," she said. “That’s honestly the power of restaurants in this town. We really feel like people will go anywhere for a good meal.” Even though Radio Africa & Kitchen was bustling and busy on a recent Friday night, it’s an expensive bet, perhaps the last of its kind after the state put the kibosh on local redevelopment funds. But Chef Aseged brings with him a loyal clientele willing to give him — and Bayview — a chance to impress.

// News Fix is KQED’s Bay Area news blog. KQED has served Northern California for more than 50 years and is affiliated with NPR and PBS.


S.F. Farmers Market Gives Away Ton of Food


Al Hullana, left, a farmer and member of Heart of the City’s board of directors, passes over his weekly donation of cabbages and root vegetables to Nella Manuel, lead donation program volunteer, who also coordinates the Tenderloin People’s Garden.

t 4:30 on a damp Wednesday afternoon, farmer Al Hullana slid a red plastic bin of cabbages and root vegetables across the table to TNDC volunteer Nella Manuel. She grinned broadly at the bounty. He nodded happily, if a little wearily. It was the end of a long day at the Heart of the City Farmers Market for Hullana, who’s been trucking in produce from his 70-acre Story and photo: organic farm in Merced to sell every Marjorie Beggs week since the market opened three // Central City Extra decades ago. Since November, Hullana has joined more than 20 other farmers, when they’re done selling at the end of Wednesday market days, to set aside perishables for a free giveaway to central San Francisco’s poorest residents. Their donations, weekly tipping the scales at 100 to 300 pounds, now have totaled more than 2,000 pounds. Manuel and other volunteers from the Tenderloin Filipino-American Community Association and Tenderloin Chinese Rights Association pick up the produce and deliver it to the Barangay Tenderloin Community Center, 476 Eddy St., where it’s weighed and set out for distribution the next morning. Early spring produce such as oranges, apples, broccoli, cauliflower, onions and cabbage filled the bins in recent weeks. The program has about 200 regulars with up to 40 people lining up at 10 a.m. each Thursday, said Lorenzo Listana, a Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp. community organizer. “The residents pick out what they want,” he said. “Depending on donations, we limit them to 5 to 10 pounds. And if there’s any leftover produce, we

// Published monthly by San Francisco Study Center Inc., a private nonprofit serving the community since 1972.

bring it to the Crescent Manor apartments.” Crescent Manor is Section 8 housing for seniors and the disabled. The donation program is win-win for everyone, says Kate Creps, farmers market operations manager. It promotes the Healthy Heart of the City nutrition and education campaign and TNDC’s Food Justice Program, both launched to add healthy foods to the tables of residents who live in the Tenderloin’s “food desert” with no full-service grocery store and few sources of truly fresh produce. Not having to truck back unsold perishables isn’t what motivates farmers’ giving — they have to haul home tables, tents and boxes, full or empty, anyway, Creps said. Yet many set aside produce to donate what they might have sold. “They want to help because they’ve spent so much time among these people and feel like part of this community,” she said. “It’s their way to give back to a neighborhood that’s supported their small farms since the market started in 1981.” Heart of the City is a rarity, she says, a nonprofit run by its farmers and operated to keep direct marketing costs low so savings can be passed on to shoppers. The donation program is expected to continue indefinitely, “as long as farmers are willing to donate, and there are Tenderloin residents who need food,” said Listana.

B8 Summer 2012

ECONOMY San Francisco Public Press //



Bay Area Program Helps Seniors, Disabled Live Independently


Pilar Sandoval, a palmero, pollinates and ties together the flowers of a date palm, which will later ripen and become dates. Sandoval is working about 30 feet above the floor of the grove, in Coachella Valley. He is a United Farm Workers member, and because of his union seniority rights, he has been able to keep this same job for more than 20 years, unlike most farmworkers, who are plagued by extreme job insecurity.

Every Worker Is an Organizer 5 decades later, famed union’s struggle captured in documentary photo exhibit


A young worker cuts lettuce in a field near Lompoc in 1998. Lettuce workers are paid piece rates, bending over constantly and practically running through the fields. The average age for farmworkers in California is now around 20.

arm labor is a key element historically in the photographic documentation of social reality in the U.S., and in particular the documentation of social protest. Dorothea Lange, Hansel Meith, Otto Hegel and the generation of the 1930s and 1940s left a body of work showing the extreme exploitation of farm workers, and documenting the early farm labor organizing efforts, part of the great labor upsurge of Story and photos: those decades. David Bacon The iconography of social documentary // Public Press photography was shaped by images like Lange’s mother and children in Nipomo, or those of the Pixley cotton strikers packed onto the back of a truck under their banner “Disarm the rich farmer or arm the workers for self-defense!” or the growers with their rifles waiting in ambush. The first two decades of the growth of the United Farm Workers was undoubtedly one of the most photographed social protests of the civil rights era. It too had its icons — the line of marchers on their way from Delano to Sacramento, silhouetted against the sky, or Cesar Chavez weakened by his fast, at the side of Robert Kennedy. In 1994, a year after the death of Chavez, the union made a second march from Delano to Sacramento. In 1996, it began an effort to organize the central California coast strawberry industry, employing 25,000 workers. That struggle pitted workers and the union against mass firings, blacklists, company unions and the use of the legal structure to subvert workers’ efforts. In 1998, workers at the country’s then second-largest vegetable grower, D’Arrigo Brothers, walked out on strike in the Salinas Valley. These photographs document this period in the union’s history, especially the organizing drive in Watsonville and the strike at D’Arrigo. Some also document lives of workers themselves. Straw-

From a recent exhibit in the California State Capitol, organized by Assembly Member Luis Alejo and his staff. It is part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the United Farm Workers of America.

berry pickers bend over in the rows, run as they pick wine grapes or tomatoes or balance at the top of date palms without safety lines. They show as well the extreme youth of farm workers today, where the average age has fallen to 20. Like all workers, farm laborers take pride in the skill it takes to do their jobs, their bravery in the face of dangerous conditions (farm labor has one of the highest occupational injury rates of all U.S. employment) and the social contribution they make in providing food for millions of people. These are not images of passive exploitation, designed to elicit just a sympathetic response. They are a documentary record of the efforts workers have made to organize a union in the face of brutal working conditions and low wages. The images are a view from below, looking at the work process and the union from the point of view of workers. The union has had an enormous impact on the U.S. labor movement over the last 50 years. It helped to inspire a resurgence of interest in organizing, and trained hundreds of people who became organizers for unions and community organizations all across the country. These photographs are part of a larger exhibition and documentary project about farm workers and migration today. This set of images was exhibited at the Oakland Museum of California, the U.S. Labor College, Bread and Roses Gallery and the American Labor Museum, thanks to support from the Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights and the Zellerbach Foundation.


S.F. Businesses Hit by ‘Drive-by’ Disability Act Lawsuits Merchants often end up settling out of court


he owners of Elsy’s Restaurant on Mission Street have faced their share of roadblocks to operate in San Francisco. For reasons that are still unclear, the San Francisco Planning Department delayed Elsy’s opening for eight months in 2006. In 2008, a corrupt restaurant inspector asked them for money in exchange for a food Story: handler’s certificate. Rigoberto Hernandez The inspector was lat// Mission Local er fired by the Department of Public Health. Finally, in 2009, they thought they would be able to focus on their Salvadoran cuisine. Then in January 2010, noted serial litigator Thomas Frankovich sued Elsy’s for allegedly violating the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, which requires buildings to be accessible to people with disabilities. The lawsuit alleged that Craig Yates, who is paraplegic, had difficulty accessing Elsy’s cashier counter and bathroom. As with most of the lawsuits filed by Frankovich, Elsy’s owners decided to settle and make the required alterations, which involved lowering the cashier counter about 8 inches and building a new wheelchair-accessible bathroom. The old bathroom was in a back room near the kitchen and required negotiating a small set of stairs. “All of this cost us money,” said owner Jaime Gonzalez, detailing the list of expenses: about $100,000 for the fixes and $17,000 to settle the lawsuit. They aren’t the only ones. Frankovich has sued at least 23 businesses in the Mission since January 2010 — most of them small, minority-owned restaurants. They join the thousands of businesses up and down California that Frankovich has sued for ADA violations.

“It can be the Mission, it can be the Tenderloin, it can be in the Embarcadero; if it’s not accessible, we will be there,” said Frankovich in an interview from his home in Mazatlán, Mexico. “Who do we sue? Off the top of my head, there are so many places that I couldn’t tell you.” Critics say Frankovich violates the spirit of the law and is interested only in the settlement money he shares with the plaintiffs. Settlements can cost up to $20,000, according to the city’s Small Business Commission.

If I had known this would happen, I wouldn‘t have opened a business in San Francisco. Jaime Gonzalez, owner of Elsy‘s Restaurant

Typically, Frankovich’s plaintiffs send a letter to business owners recounting their experience at the shop and asking that the ADA violations be remedied. If the establishment fails to respond, Frankovich files a civil rights lawsuit asking for damages under the state’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, enacted in 1974. The act provides statutory damages of $4,000 per visit. Gonzalez said he answered the letter, apologizing and promising to fix the problems, but was sued soon after sending his letter. It’s unclear how much of the $17,000 settlement Frankovich received, but a 2007 SF Weekly article reported that a Los Angeles attorney fighting a similar lawsuit found that in previous cases the plaintiff walked away with $4,000, and Frankovich took about $20,000. Most business owners sued by Frankov-

ich refused to speak on the record and did not want their names to appear in an article associated with accessibility lawsuits. Such ADA lawsuits have caught the attention of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who wrote a letter to state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, stating that the lawsuits are “shakedowns” that “threaten the viability of small businesses in our state.” Last year, state legislators considered a bill that would give businesses 120 days to remedy violations, but that failed to pass. Now there is talk of proposing a 90-day “right-to-cure” period. For now, Frankovich has the law on his side. Feinstein has said that if the state does not remedy the situation, she will ask Congress to take up the issue. “I will consider introducing legislation in the U.S. Senate if this problem cannot be solved by the California State Legislature,” Feinstein wrote. For struggling businesses in the Mission, being sued is a daunting test. “All the businesses on the corridor feel very defeated,” said the owner of a business on 24th Street. Two owners, including Gonzalez’s wife, have become ill from the stress. “If I had known this would happen, I wouldn’t have opened a business in San Francisco,” Gonzalez said. But Frankovich has no sympathy for businesses like Elsy’s. Tenants, he said, know that landlords have passed the costs of lawsuits on to them. Buildings have been out of compliance for years, Frankovich said. In his view, he’s making them accessible. “I’ve been doing this almost 20 years,” he said. “It’s like us being in Afghanistan — is it ever going to end? No. People don’t want to do anything until they have to do it.


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Don’t you think they should have figured it out by now?” Gonzalez and other business owners say that no one in the city bureaucracy warned them that their locations were out of compliance. Currently, the Small Business Commission is conducting outreach to businesses, but it has only two staff members for the entire city, said executive director Regina Dick-Endrizzi. One of the biggest mistakes businesses make, Dick-Endrizzi said, is ignoring the letter that typically precedes that lawsuit. “Once you get sued, you are going to pay money,” she said. In addition to informing businesses about how to comply with the ADA, the commission is providing small business loans to make the necessary fixes. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has committed an additional $1 million to the fund. Elsy’s Restaurant reopened in March after being closed for a month and a half to make the necessary alterations, and the owners are hoping to move past the episode. Their 24-year-old son, also named Jaime, who has an accounting degree from UC Santa Barbara and a knack for business, has come back to help. “It took a toll on the entire family,” said the younger Gonzalez. “Hopefully, now we can focus on being merchants.”’ The San Francisco Small Business Commission has a Web page with information about what businesses can do if they are sued.

hen so many nonprofit organizations are cutting back due to lack of funding, one Bay Area program is still thriving: the Community Living Fund. The program is a collaboration between the city of San Francisco and the local Institute on Aging and was established to help disabled and elderly adults transition out of hospitals and care facilities, so they could Story: return to independent life in the Matt Perry community. The fund provides // Healthy Cal nurses and case managers who help clients in three areas: overall care, in-home supportive services and housing assistance. “I don’t know how any senior can handle all of this stuff,” said Mary Anne Humphrey, 68, who suffers from limited mobility from a spinal cord injury. Humphrey is explaining the endless paperwork, doctor appointments and prescriptions she juggles as a disabled senior. She is one of 1,200 San Francisco residents who received help from the fund since its inception. The Board of Supervisors created the fund in 2007, responding in part to the federal Olmstead Act of 1999, which requires that disabled people wanting to live at home can do so. The fund, unique in the country, receives $2.74 million annually from the county’s general fund. Participants come largely from the two county facilities that serve the poor: Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center and San Francisco General Hospital. “Those are basically the have-nots of San Francisco,” said Linda Edelstein, director of long-term care operations for the county’s Department of Aging and Adult Services, which administers the program. “They don’t have a lot of options.” The fund has not only helped people to live independently, but also helped reduce the patient load at the new state-of-the-art “holistically planned” Laguna Honda rehabilitation facility, which reopened in the summer of 2010. Keeping patients in hospitals is far more expensive than integrating them into the community, said Dustin Harper, program director for the fund and director of care management for the Institute on Aging, which contracts with the county to provide direct services. “So it’s also in the county’s best interest,” he said. The fund assists 200 to 300 residents at any time. Eligible clients must be at least 18, a San Francisco resident and have annual income of up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level (currently $31,200). Applicants must be unable to complete at least two activities of daily living: eating, dressing, moving, bathing, grooming or going to the bathroom. Those who require nursing facility care or are unable to manage their own affairs because of emotional or cognitive impairments are also accepted. About 70 percent of those who apply for the fund are eligible. Last August, there was a waiting list of 27 patients seeking assistance. After acceptance into the program, clients are assessed and then given a detailed care plan. Clients normally are supported by the fund from six months to a year — sometimes longer — until they are stable and can live independently with existing social services. Before the fund was created, patients either remained hospitalized or struggled after their release. “Individuals that had been living in an institutional setting and coming back into the community had to be their own case manager,” Harper said. Another Community Living Fund client, Tracey Sorrell, suffered an aortic aneurysm followed by spinal cord damage. After rehabilitation, she had to leave her three-bedroom home and move into wheelchairaccessible housing in Chinatown. The fund provided her with additional furniture, dishes, a bathing chair and a power wheelchair. Her case worker, Kari Kientzy, helped coordinate inhome support services and physical therapy, as well as stress management. “Anytime there was something on my mind,” Sorrell said, “I was always able to talk to Kari about it.” Now stabilized in the community, Sorrell is being transitioned out of the program to make room for other clients. Some clients in the program were actually homeless before they became ill, said Kientzy, and so the fund offers them a rare chance to have independent housing for the first time, instead of going back to the street. For those who can now live on their own, they cite a common mantra. “Freedom,” Sorrell said. “I can go and come as I please."


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Issue 7 of the San Francisco Public Press

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Issue 7 of the San Francisco Public Press