October 25, 2014

Sierra Club files suit to protect California coast

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Marin coastline; Photo by Louis Nuyens.

In 1976, the California Legislature enacted the Coastal Act, which created a mandate for coastal counties to manage the conservation and development of coastal resources through a comprehensive planning and regulatory program called the Local Coastal Program. New action in Marin County threatens to weaken these coastal protections, but the Sierra Club is fighting back.

Last month the Club filed legal action to challenge a dangerous amendment to Marin’s Local Coastal Plan. The amendment was submitted by Marin County and approved by the Coastal Commission in May. If allowed to stand, Marin’s amended Coastal Plan would substantially weaken environmental protections and set a precedent for poor process and lack of environmental review along the entire California coast. The result would be to open up our coastline to increased development and allowed uses without public process.

The Coastal Commission’s approval of the Local Coastal Plan Amendment ignored five years of repeated warnings from the Sierra Club, other environmental groups, and even its own staff, that the document was in violation of the California Coastal Act. The Coastal Commission’s action could result in less environmental review and protection for coastal areas than in similar areas outside of coastal zones. This would create a confusing and unequal application of land use planning laws.

Marin’s Local Coastal Plan update needs to be more protective of the environment than the original 1981 Plan—not less. The Sierra Club believes that if allowed to stand, the Marin County amendment will set a statewide precedent and result in more inappropriate development and less environmental protection for California’s sensitive coastal areas.

The Bay Chapter’s Marin Group has set up a Marin Coastal Defense Fund to help protect and preserve our spectacular California coastline. For more information or to make a donation, visit the Group website.

—Elena Belsky, Sierra Club Marin Group

Dublin Council votes to protect Doolan Canyon!

Looking south-southeast down Doolan Canyon at the area that Pacific Union Homes wants to develop. Doolan Road is in the middle of the picture. The ridge in the distance is the East Bay Regional Park District's Ohlone Regional Wilderness containing Rose Peak, the highest peak in Alameda County, just 32 feet lower than Mount Diablo. Photo by Dick Schneider.

Looking south-southeast down Doolan Canyon at the area that Pacific Union Homes wants to develop. Doolan Road is in the middle of the picture. The ridge in the distance is the East Bay Regional Park District’s Ohlone Regional Wilderness containing Rose Peak, the highest peak in Alameda County, just 32 feet lower than Mount Diablo. Photo by Dick Schneider.

The Dublin City Council did an extraordinary thing Tuesday night. It unanimously adopted the Dublin Open Space Initiative of 2014, immediately enacting an Urban Limit Line along the eastern city limits to protect Doolan Canyon from urban sprawl (see “Doolan Open Space Initiative submits signatures”.

As icing on the cake, the Council also voted unanimously to oppose the developer’s counter-initiative and agreed to write the ballot argument against that initiative.

We’re talking Dublin here, the third fastest-growing city in the state!

We can bask in the satisfaction of having won an extraordinary victory, oh, for about two days, but we will have to regroup shortly because the developers will certainly run an expensive, distortion-filled campaign in the fall to pass their initiative. If we can’t defeat it, their measure would trump our Open Space Initiative.

Dick Schneider

Don’t sign Union City hills initiative

The Masonic Home in Union City is circulating an initiative petition to remove protection from 63 acres of flatlands in front of its assisted-living facility on Mission Boulevard. The land is currently protected from development by the Union City Hillside Area Plan.

The Plan was approved as Measure II in 1996, with strong Sierra Club support, by 65% of Union City voters. Voters have said loud and clear that we want no visible development in our hillside area. Masonic’s attempt to circumvent the Hillside Plan is an attack on our hillsides and a waste of our time.

The Masons claim that this whole effort is to build a memory-care facility, but the site is laced with Hayward Fault traces that would preclude such a use.

Don’t sign the Masonic petition.

Now is time to stop Faria project in San Ramon

Aerial view of the two ridges that would be flattened for the “Faria Preserve” development. Note the two red symbols denoting earthquake epicenters.

Aerial view of the two ridges that would be flattened for the “Faria Preserve” development. Note the two red symbols denoting earthquake epicenters.

Update (May 28, 2014): the project has been appealed, and the appeal will tentatively be heard by the City Council on Tue., July 8.

 

On May 6 the San Ramon Planning Commission approved a new 740-home version of the Faria project.

The commission approved a Recirculated Negative Declaration, rather than requiring a full Environmental Impact Report, even though the project would be on 450 acres of environmentally sensitive hills and valleys just north of Crow Canyon Road (see Dec. 2013, page 6).

We expect that the project will be appealed to the City Council.

WhatYouCanDo

Write to the San Ramon City Council at:

2226 Camino Ramon
San Ramon, CA 94583
www.ci.san-ramon.ca.us/council/members.htm

Urge the Council to reject the project as proposed, and to require that any subsequent version of the project should receive a full Environmental Impact Report.

Doolan Open Space Initiative submits signatures

Looking south-southeast down Doolan Canyon at the area that Pacific Union Homes wants to develop. Doolan Road is in the middle of the picture. The ridge in the distance is the East Bay Regional Park District's Ohlone Regional Wilderness containing Rose Peak, the highest peak in Alameda County, just 32 feet lower than Mount Diablo. Photo by Dick Schneider.

Looking south-southeast down Doolan Canyon at the area that Pacific Union Homes wants to develop. Doolan Road is in the middle of the picture. The ridge in the distance is the East Bay Regional Park District’s Ohlone Regional Wilderness containing Rose Peak, the highest peak in Alameda County, just 32 feet lower than Mount Diablo. Photo by Dick Schneider.

Dublin’s Save Doolan Canyon initiative (officially titled the “Dublin Open Space Initiative of 2014″) was submitted on April 16 with 3,670 signatures. It took just eight weeks of an all-volunteer signature drive to gather the signatures. The state Elections Code allows 26 weeks for the process. The initiative needs 2,282 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

As the Yodeler went to press, the Alameda County Registrar of Voters was verifying the signatures. We expect verification to be complete and the initiative reported as sufficient to the Dublin City Council on May 20.

Dublin voters were eager to sign the petitions because they are fed up with the rapid growth in their city, and they want to prevent additional sprawl into open space areas in and around Dublin. They frequently voiced their thanks to petitioners for doing what they clearly felt was long overdue.

Just as the signature drive was ending, developers wanting to build in Doolan Canyon began circulating a competing initiative. The developers found from their own polling that they would be unable to defeat the Open Space initiative directly, and so they decided to run a counter-initiative to confuse the electorate. Posing as an open-space-protection measure, the developers’ “Let Dublin Decide” initiative would allow their 2,000-unit subdivision to be built in Doolan Canyon without voter approval.

To win in Dublin will require enough resources—volunteers and money—to get our message out. The developers will surely unleash a massive, confusing mail campaign. Fortunately, we know what the voters want, and if we can clearly distinguish the Open Space initiative from the sham Decide initiative, we will prevail.

To help in the campaign, or for more information, go to www.SaveDublinOpenSpace.org or contact Dick Schneider at richs59354@aol.com or (510)926-0010.

Vote yes on Proposition B–waterfront height-limit initiative in SF

YESonB_ 191x300

Update (April 21, 2014): “We thank the Warriors for abandoning their wall on the waterfront and encourage the voters to make their voices heard by passing Proposition B.” — Sierra Club Bay Chapter chair Becky Evans.

The Sierra Club urges San Francisco voters to vote yes on Proposition B–”Voter Approval for Waterfront Height Increases”–on the June 3 ballot. The measure would require voter approval for waterfront luxury-condo towers or other waterfront development projects that violate existing legal building height limits (see Feb., page 4).

A record-breaking petition drive by a coalition of environmental and community groups collected 21,000 signatures, more than twice the required 9,702 in just three weeks. The initiative is backed by the Sierra Club and the No Wall on the Waterfront coalition, who came together to defeat the 8 Washington waterfront luxury-condo towers, which were rejected by 67% of San Francisco voters last November.

“The overwhelming success of this petition drive shows just how strongly the people of San Francisco feel about keeping the waterfront a special place that is open and accessible for everyone to enjoy,” said Becky Evans, chair of the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club and the official proponent of the initiative.

Despite the overwhelming voter rejection of the 8 Washington luxury condos, the San Francisco Port Commission has proceeded to move forward with a series of other proposals to raise waterfront height limits for luxury-condo high-rises, office towers, and hotels. Waterfront height limits can currently be changed by a majority of the Board of Supervisors.

The initiative builds on a previous initiative passed by San Francisco voters in 1990 that required the creation of a Waterfront Land Use Plan to guide development along the city’s waterfront.

To volunteer in the campaign, or for more information, see www.NoWallOnTheWaterfront.com,

Vote yes on Proposition B.

SF Elections Department certifies waterfront height-limit initiative for June ballot

B

B

Update (March 4, 2014): The ballot measure has been designated as Measure B on the June 3 ballot.

After reviewing the 21,000 petition signatures submitted earlier this week by a coalition of environmental and neighborhood groups (see Feb., page 4), the San Francisco Department of Elections has issued a letter officially certifying an initiative for the June 3 election ballot that would require voter approval for waterfront luxury-condo towers or other waterfront development projects that violate existing legal building height limits. A record-breaking petition drive collected more than twice the required 9,702 signatures in just three weeks. The Waterfront Height Limit Right To Vote Initiative is backed by the Sierra Club and the No Wall on the Waterfront coalition that came together to defeat the 8 Washington waterfront luxury-condo towers, which were rejected by 67% of San Francisco voters last November.

“The overwhelming success of this petition drive shows just how strongly the people of San Francisco feel about keeping the waterfront a special place that is open and accessible for everyone to enjoy,” said Becky Evans, chair of the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club and the official proponent of the Waterfront Height Limit Initiative.

Despite the overwhelming voter rejection of the 8 Washington luxury condos, the San Francisco Port Commission has proceeded to move forward with a series of other proposals to raise waterfront height limits for luxury-condo high-rises, office towers, and hotels. The Waterfront Height Limit Right To Vote Initiative would require voter approval for proposals that would increase existing waterfront height limits, which can currently be changed by a majority of the Board of Supervisors. The initiative builds on a previous initiative passed by San Francisco voters in 1990 that required the creation of a Waterfront Land Use Plan to guide development along the city’s waterfront.

For more information see www.NoWallOnTheWaterfront.com.

Sierra Club and San Francisco Waterfront Coalition to submit 21,000 petition signatures today to put initiative to protect waterfront height limits on June ballot

Former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos calls this “the most beautiful spot on the waterfront”. Should this land be used for the Warriors’ sports arena or for better public access to the shoreline? Photo courtesy San Francisco Waterfront Alliance.

Former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos calls this “the most beautiful spot on the waterfront”. Should this land be used for the Warriors’ sports arena or for better public access to the shoreline? Photo courtesy San Francisco Waterfront Alliance.

A record-breaking signature drive has collected more than twice the number of needed petition signatures in just three weeks with the help of more than 300 volunteers citywide

At 3 pm today, a coalition of environmental and neighborhood groups today will submit more than 21,000 petition signatures to qualify an historic measure for the June ballot that would require any proposed height-limit increases along San Francisco’s waterfront to be approved by city voters.  The Waterfront Height Limit Right To Vote Act will require voter approval for proposals to increase existing waterfront height limits for high-rise hotels or condo towers that would exceed the current legal building heights.

The Waterfront Initiative is backed by the Sierra Club and the No Wall on the Waterfront coalition, which came together to defeat the 8 Washington waterfront luxury condo towers, which were rejected by two-thirds of San Francisco voters last November.

After the 21,000 petition signatures are submitted this afternoon, the SF Department of Elections has up to 30 days to verify whether there are at least the 9,702 valid signatures required to certify the initiative for the June 3 San Francisco ballot.

Just days left to gather waterfront signatures

Former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos calls this “the most beautiful spot on the waterfront”. Should this land be used for the Warriors’ sports arena or for better public access to the shoreline? Photo courtesy San Francisco Waterfront Alliance.

Former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos calls this “the most beautiful spot on the waterfront”. Should this land be used for the Warriors’ sports arena or for better public access to the shoreline? Photo courtesy San Francisco Waterfront Alliance.

The fight for San Francisco’s future will be fought on our waterfront.

In November we defeated Measures B and C, stopping a massive highrise at 8 Washington (see Dec., page 4). Now we are collecting signatures for a new ballot measure. Under this initiative, any exception to waterfront height limits would require a vote of the people. We need your help now–the deadline for turning in signatures is Feb. 3.

This ballot measure is not aimed at just one project. A rash of projects are at different stages of planning that would require waivers of current height limits: a proposal for two 300-foot towers on Seawall Lot 337; the Warriors proposal for a multi-use event center, arena, and retail at Piers 30 – 32 (with adjacent hotel and condos on Seawall Lot 330); and Pier 70, a Forest City project.

The current height limits are set in the Waterfront Land Use Plan, which was prepared to meet the requirements of the Prop H initiative of 1990.

The plan states: “The Waterfront Plan also promotes low-scale development along most of the waterfront, consistent with the existing 40 foot height limits which apply to all piers, except in the Ferry Building area where there is an 84 foot height limit. Most of the Port’s seawall lots also have a 40-foot height limit, with 84 foot and 105 foot height limits for a few parcels and the planned ballpark site on Pier 46B which has a height limit of 150 feet. All of the permitted commercial uses can be developed within these existing height limits.”

WhatYouCanDo

We have just a few more days to gather signatures–they must all be turned in by Feb. 3. Come help out right away.

The campaign headquarters is at 15 Columbus Ave. (between Jackson and Montgomery. Office hours for volunteers to pick up and drop off petitions are:

  • Monday – Friday, 10 am – 6 pm
  • Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm
  • Sunday, noon – 4 pm.

You can contact the campaign at (415)410-9588 or at its web site www.nowallonthewaterfront.com.

After Feb. 3, we will need your help turning out voters for the June 3 election.

Becky Evans

San Francisco updates–Presidio and Warriors

Aerial view of former Commissary site, the large gray building to left of center, facing onto Crissy Field. Photo from RFCP.

Aerial view of former Commissary site, the large gray building to left of center, facing onto Crissy Field. Photo from RFCP.

Presidio Commissary development

On Mon., Jan. 27, the Presidio Trust will hold a hearing on updated versions of the three competing proposals for the Commissary site facing Crissy Field (where Sports Basement is now).

Nancy Bechtle, president of the Board of the Presidio Trust, has been resistant to public pressure from celebrity endorsers of the George Lucas Cultural Arts Museum proposal. Letters from the National Park Service, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Haas Foundation have urged caution and proposed possibly delaying a decision until completion of the Doyle Drive project, which will greatly change the site’s landscape, in particular by constructing a new bluff above it.

Rarely mentioned beyond the proposed buildings (height and mass) is the extensive parking area on the site.

Warriors proposal for Piers 30 – 32

The Golden State Warriors have released design 3.0 for their proposed megamall-event center/arena on Piers 30 – 32. The changes from 2.0 are minimal and primarily cosmetic. The arena building would be lower–but would still tower above the 40′ height limit for piers. The proposal contains no significant maritime-related uses to justify approval by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission. Retail space has been reduced, and sight lines in the retail area have been improved somewhat.

Becky Evans, chair, Sierra Club San Francisco Group