August 30, 2010

Land Grab On Linden?

Linden Street: 8/30/10 (www.SocketSite.com)

Four years ago Loring Sagan (Sagan Piechota Architecture and Build Inc.) and David Winslow (Winslow Architecture & Urban Design) who both have offices on Linden were awarded a challenge grant of $100,000 by the City of San Francisco for a master plan to make Linden Street more pedestrian friendly.

As the execution of the master plan for Linden nears completion, however, not everyone is thrilled. From a reader who resides off Linden:

Now that the concrete curbs are pored, it's become clear that this pedestrian plaza was designed without any thought put into the existing driveways/garages that exit onto Linden, or the industrial users further up the street. I've spent the last two days watching my neighbors struggle through 12-point turns to access their homes -- it's only going to be worse when we have to navigate around pedestrians who don't realize they're loitering in the street because we've managed to "blur the distinction between the pedestrian and automobile realms and to create a unified space." That is poor urban planning -- period.
It's not an "outdoor living room". It's an alley -- a public street. An alley that people drive through, put their garbage bins in, and park trucks to deliver things to the light-industrial users. It's also one of the last blocks with free all-day parking in Hayes Valley, and you've managed to take away three more parking spaces (plus the one that blue bottle took, when you cut the curb to pretend they were just a driveway).
The primary (and possibly singular) goal of the project was obviously this: “When completed, Linden living alley will serve as a comfortable “great good place” for the habitual customers of Blue Bottle café.”
And it's going to do a very good job of that, at the expense of virtually every other user of this alley.
It should come as no surprise (considering the financial relationship between Blue Bottle and the architects involved in this project) that the neighbors' concerns were ignored in favor of providing greater benefit to Blue Bottle and their habitual customers. Blue Bottle is a tiny cart in a block-long mixed use street. It's also a relative newcomer here (2005), and has never made much of an effort to make nice with the residential neighbors nearby.
[It's worth noting that they went through the motions of soliciting input from the community when they were trying to get the permits in 2008, until the neighbors voiced the very concerns and objections that are now becoming realities. They made no effort to change the plans to alleviate our concerns -- just paid us lip service and thanked us for our feedback (which they ignored). All communication stopped when we refused to sign a document that would make us perpetually responsible for additional maintenance costs and liability.]
This entire project is really just an expansion of Blue Bottle, who will soon get the benefit of a rent-free plaza, owned by the city and used almost exclusively by their customers (if this weren't about Blue Bottle, it would be at the other end of the street, where it would logically connect with Patricia's Green and the impending pop-up spaces in the city-owned lots).
I predict tables and no more through traffic, within two years -- the complete elimination of this as a public roadway. That's great if you're running a cafe (permitted as a kiosk/cart), and want a place for your customers to sit...but it's not so good if you happen to have a 20 car garage that opens into someone's living room.
I can only hope that the residents of Ames and Sumner alleys have better luck than we did (or have alleys that are more suited to pedestrian-only use). Initially, we were excited by this project. It would clean up the alley, and probably make our home a more desirable place to live. Instead, it's only confirmed our fears about having to share an alley with professional property developers that own a cafe next door.

We’re not taking sides and keep in mind that the Proxy project at the other end of Linden is intended to be temporary. Regardless, if you’re lining up to buy a cup of coffee, get on the sidewalk. Standing in the street is more annoying (and dangerous) than hipster cool.

A Building, Coffee and Movement That We Love In Hayes Valley [SocketSite]
Sagan Piechota Architecture [sp-architecture.com]
Winslow Architecture & Urban Design [winslowarchitecture.com]
The Evolution Of EnvelopeA+D’s Proxy Project For Parcels K+L [SocketSite]

First Published: August 30, 2010 1:00 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

We understand, automobile drivers think that they own the road and that no one else has any right to use public space.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 29, 2010 5:27 PM

Nope, we just want to share the road, which my family has been doing successfully on Linden for almost 20 years.

Three of the light-industrial buildings on the block are auto-related (one body shop, one repair shop, and one detailer). Being able to shunt that traffic onto this alley is one of the things that made Patricia's Green possible.

There was a compromise available, but the developers wanted no part of it. They want to own the alley, for the benefit of their cafe customers, and that's not OK either.

I'm sorry if that's too much for someone who doesn't live in Hayes Valley (a place that, for better or worse, does attract people who want to be near freeway access).

They are architects, not urban planners. They didn't take into account the entirety of the alley's usage, just the part directly in front of their cafe. And that's not very neighborly (though not at all surprising to anyone who was here when they renovated their building or opened their cafe).

I expected to get at least a reach-around.

Posted by: T at August 29, 2010 5:56 PM

I can understand the concerns about complicating the ability to navigate into garages. But if this project does go through to blocking through traffic then this seems like a big win for the residents of this street because of the elimination of through traffic.

Good point about placing the plaza closer to Patricia's Green. It seems as if the good intention of creating a more human scale street experience could be tainted by small business cronyism.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at August 30, 2010 1:12 PM

Your reader fails to entirely miss the point of these types of projects - its precisely to blur the distinction between automobile space and pedestrian space in order to make it MORE difficult, LESS convenient, and LESS attractive to own and use an automobile in our urban spaces. Period.

Less cars, more pedestrians = more vibrant urban areas. More cars, less pedestrians = go buy a condo in Daly City.

So yes, maybe your neighbors now need to make 12 point turns to get into their garages. With any luck, they will eventually get so frustrated as to sell their car, get a City Carshare membership and re-organize their life around not having a car like countless millions on this planet do. Or, they'll move out and someone less car-centric will move in. Either way, its a win for the City.

Posted by: Dave at August 30, 2010 1:44 PM

@NoeValleyJim: Your statement is one of the most outlandish I have heard here on SS. It's not about anyone or "cars owning the road". It's about that this road is, in fact, a road for vehicles. The residents need this roadway to get to and from their homes with their vehicles. A public road should not be automatically turned into a "public plaza" for just walking..without involving the needs of the residents.

From what I have read by the SS post, this is a terrible example of urban planning and trying to green a space without consideration for other uses.

Posted by: noearch at August 30, 2010 1:45 PM

Seems like the city is doing a fine job in pissing off drivers. Now how about they work on actually improving public transporation.

Posted by: brandno at August 30, 2010 2:04 PM

Uh...its called a "shared street" for a reason. Such spaces have been successfully used for decades in other cities around the world. Everyone is a pedestrian at some point - at the beginning and end of their journey, at least. It makes eminent sense that our public rights-of-way should be able to do double duty – especially on alleys like Linden that have moving vehicles on them…what…maybe 60 minutes total in a 24-hour period. Our kindergarten teachers understood – there was a rating for "plays well with others." Everybody just calm down, chill out, and we will all see how well this works after a few weeks when everyone gets used to it.

Posted by: Jim at August 30, 2010 2:22 PM

-Roads are made for transportation of all types not just cars. In fact they were originally designed for HORSES.

-I'm sure there are plenty of residents in the area here long before you were that don't have cars, so why should your needs be met at the expense of quality of life of other nearby residents? Ever notice how much noise automobiles make, especially in alleys at low gears?

-Nothing takes away public street parking spaces more than private garages and curb cuts. You can't have it both ways.

-Electric scooters are stylish, insurance in cheap, and you can zip in and out of driveways and gridlock with ease.

-Bicycles are cheap, you can get to your destination faster than MUNI or a car without having to look for parking and sitting in stalled traffic.

-Why should we be the ones to adapt around you? Enough with the automobile, it's killing our communities and urban quality of life!

Posted by: onerinconhillonceofakindiconicaddress at August 30, 2010 2:37 PM

I echo Jim...if that photo is current, and this is all just under construction, it is more than a bit unfair to judge the final product. Unless there is something egregious with the design that will make turns much more difficult (which I really can't see from the picture), then I think it may well simply be a case of trying to navigate through a construction site.

Yes, chill out indeed. And, NoeArch, hear it hear from a genuine (certified!) transportation planner: the streets are for multiple modes. Linden Alley is not "a road for vehicles" only.

I'm not discounting the need for cars to access garages (both residences and the auto-related businesses down the block). Hopefully this design does not present any insurmountable barriers to doing so, and I look forward to wandering down to take a look.

Posted by: curmudgeon at August 30, 2010 2:38 PM

@Dave - now there's a splendid idea! Many of us would love to follow your suggestions. Perhaps you have some pull with MUNI, and can influence the much-needed improvements to routes and scheduling that would make re-organizing our lives (i.e., by making it possible to take public transporation to offices that are currently ill-served by the same) according to your vision, viable? Or how about with the Education Placement Center, which doesn't guarantee SF families a placement in a neighborhood school, thus throwing another variable into the complex commuting equation?

Yeah, didn't think so. Utopian ponderings totally disconnected from reality = not a win for Socketsite commenters and readers.

Posted by: NoeChick at August 30, 2010 2:40 PM

Can someone, calmly, explain what 'blue bottle is and how they managed to gain so much political clout in a city that loves to cater to every nimby interest preventing or delaying virtually every other project across the city?

Posted by: badlydrawnbear at August 30, 2010 2:42 PM

What a joke. I'm all for increasing pedestrian areas/removing cars, but did SF really pay $100,000 so the hipster patrons at a hipster coffee shop wouldn't be disturbed by cars?

And their coffee isn't even very good.

Posted by: annony at August 30, 2010 2:46 PM

The tipster, who, based on his/her post, might be "T" lost credibility with me in the second paragraph, after complaining about the loss of 3 parking spaces. I have bigger problems in this world to worry about than, heaven forbid, the loss of a few parking spots.

The complaining about everything benefiting Blue Bottle smells like paranoia too. Everything I've read on the site indicates that planning will axe a project given one strong complainer about the change. How did these guys ram this down the throat of planning in the face of strong opposition? I find it difficult to believe that things are as extreme as you claim.

San Francisco is a city that, especially in the northern half, chooses to make it difficult for cars in return for other qualities we enjoy. This has been going on since at least the 89 quake, and probably much longer. Ranting that the city approves projects that further this goal seems a bit silly.

Posted by: rr at August 30, 2010 3:15 PM

Yea right, cars are killing our communities! BS.

Cars, pedestrians, bikes, scooters, buses and trucks can ALL co-exist together, even in very dense cities. Think of London, as an example. We are no where near as dense and large as London.

But when someone starts to tell me HOW to live, and get rid of my car and use a bike, then I start to get pissed off. Bikes work for some, so do cars.

Don't start pushing the pro-bike people and their one sided agenda on us, over here at SS. They're focused on making us live "just like them" on other blogs.

While I support the greening of Linden Street, perhaps the designers/architects did not do their homework enough and consider the needs of existing homeowners and car owners when making these changes.

Cars are not going away for many people. Bikes are not going to replace transit needs for many people either. They both can exist safely and smoothly.

Posted by: noearch at August 30, 2010 3:20 PM

Agree with the above. Also, $100k spent on making Linden Street more pedestrian-friendly? The city couldn't come up with a better way to use that money?

Posted by: Gigi at August 30, 2010 3:36 PM

@noearch

what do you need a car for?

And I'll provide you with options.

But try not to be pig headed about it, open your mind and consider alternatives.

Posted by: questionfornoearch at August 30, 2010 3:38 PM

I live on Linden street. That's my evil gas guzzler you see parked in the picture. I have to drive through the Blue Bottle line every day in order to get to my garage. The plans as drawn are going to require a 4 point turn in the middle of a crowd of people for me to do so in the future.

This is quite simply a land grab as the post title says. The architect/designer makes money from Blue Bottle, and Blue Bottle wants seating for the throngs of oblivious patrons who love to loiter in the street. The city clearly put the interests of a single business above those of the neighborhood. No one other than Blue Bottle customers is going to benefit from this. They are the only pedestrians who use Linden. The other end of the street near Patricia Green is a much better place for this. No on lives there and it's adjacent to a park.

A lot of the commenters here are quick to pass judgment on my neighbor, T, but they don't have a government-financed coffee shop being built in front of their home.

The response to legitimate concerns from the neighborhood should be more than reflexively hollering "get an electric bike".

Posted by: jrm at August 30, 2010 3:53 PM

Bike Nazis should move to Berlin.

Posted by: stucco-sux at August 30, 2010 4:02 PM

questionfornoearch, we don't put a lot of miles on our car (~5000/yr), but we do use it for the following:

(1) I occasionally need to drive down to the peninsula to meet with clients (note that my billing rate is $600/hr so taking the time to rent a car is not a reasonable option unless you can show me otherwise -- I'm all ears)

(2) getting to soccer practice at the Marina for our 6-year-old from school in Hayes Valley (bus takes about 45 minutes each way including the walk on each end; driving takes 15-20)

(3) getting both our kids to violin and cello practice in Forest Hill (6 blocks uphill from nearest muni -- try carrying a cello)

(4) my wife runs by her grandmother's in Berkeley (1 1/2 miles from BART) to do some errands for her, sometimes with our 6- and 8-year olds

(5) skiing at Tahoe 3-4 times a season.

What alternatives to driving our car do you suggest? We all have fast passes and ride Muni very often. But we need our car unless we want to hire a car & driver to take us all these places, which really would not accomplish anything other than to waste money.

Posted by: anon at August 30, 2010 4:58 PM

well know that this thread has turned into a game of 'uh uh, yeah huh' ... is there a point to this thread at all?

Someone emailed a relatively typical nimby rant to the editors about how this or that is ruining their quality of life in SF because trees were planted and sidewalks widened and there are people standing on the sidewalk spending money at a successful small business in SF.

Fine.

What's do the Linden residents want? The city to stop work and tear everything out? Should the owners be compensated for lost property value? Should Blue bottle be forced to put up ropes to control the crowd? Should Linden car owners get a credit to buy a compact car to make parking easier?

And no one has yet to explain how blue bottle coffee has so much political clout that they are able to ram through a proposal above residents objections without at least some changes to accommodate the existing owners.

Posted by: badlydrawnbear at August 30, 2010 5:07 PM

It's not a "typical nimby rant"..badbear. They have voiced some legitimate concerns than any of us living there would probably feel the same.

From what I have read and understand so far, some of the residents of Linden St. were not part of the dialogue and process to "re-purpose" their street without proper notice and review. Perhaps some of them didn't understand the changes to be made, or not. I don't know.

Let's hope we hear more info thru SS as to the developments of this issue.

Posted by: noearch at August 30, 2010 5:21 PM

Just because you ride a bike, take muni, walk everywhere and have a lifestyle that works with those choices does not mean that everyone else has that same experience.

I've never been able to take my two kids on a regular grocery shopping run on my bike, nor can I afford to hire a babysitter to watch them while I spend 40 minutes on muni getting to the store. My car is just more convenient and affordable.

It should be possible to improve public space while accommodating lifestyles that require cars (which ps, many people have). I don't understand why all planning decisions in this city are so draconian, nor do I understand why the bike group is so intent on telling people how they should be living...and more reasons why people with kids flee the city to places where no one passes judgment when they drive their car.

Posted by: xyz at August 30, 2010 5:31 PM

"and more reasons why people with kids flee the city to places where no one passes judgment when they drive their car."

Yeah, and more ways SF slowly becomes an overpriced Disneyland for adults. I never quite understood why some people are so intent on telling others how to live, but I guess that's how it works here.

Planning processes are the same way here. Every NIMBY gets a voice.

I find it odd that Blue Bottle gets more political consideration than something like Ike's. Would love to know the full story here.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 30, 2010 5:36 PM

"I find it odd that Blue Bottle gets more political consideration than something like Ike's. Would love to know the full story here."

maybe because most of the opponents of Ikes are renters whereas these neighbors are owners... sf hates property owners

Posted by: abc at August 30, 2010 5:40 PM

A comment stating "Bike Nazis should move to Berlin" is kept but "Mustangs are so passe" is deemed to offensive? Weird set of priorities you got there, Socketsite. Who are you working for?

[Editor’s Note: The four comments that followed "Mustangs are so passe" in their entirety: “So is Blue Bottle.” “So are fake names.” “Oh my girls settle down before someone gets called something nasty like "poopyhead". And Mustang's are awesome. Though they're terrible off road. And Firebirds can fly. Literally.”

Sometimes we Intercede in order to get a discussion back on track, this was one of those times.]

Posted by: why at August 30, 2010 5:44 PM

Sorry to spoil your ranting, but nobody suggested you get a bike. One person put a bike as an alternative, amongst many others.

Also sorry to spoil your conspiracy theory, but bike advocates are not secretly running all city decisions. One guy and a lawyer were able to stop all bike improvements for over 3 years, the city is planning on spending a few million on bike improvements over the next few years, doesn't sound like all that big a deal to me.

This is one small street that pretty nobody has ever been on, or really cares about. The project doesn't even seem to be complete, and already a couple people (who were probably already opposed) are claiming it is somehow ruining their lives because they have to put a little extra time and effort into getting in or out of their cars. At least wait until a few weeks after it is finished and people have some time to get used to it before you start complaining.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 30, 2010 5:47 PM

"This is one small street that pretty nobody has ever been on, or really cares about."

Then why bother doing *anything* with this street. Seems like the architect is in cahoots with Blue Bottle and defrauding the city here. They are free to rebut.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 30, 2010 5:51 PM

Car drivers never realize that maybe they are the problem and by their actions they are the ones telling/ preventing others how to live.
More cars on the road drains the tax coffers through constant maintenance.
More cars and pollution caused from them cause asthma symptoms in young children and the elderly.

It seems like San Francisco is not meant for many readers of SocketSite. If you are so fed up and angry with the way the city is and its politics, then it probably isn't meant for you.

Posted by: responsible auto driver at August 30, 2010 5:52 PM

"Also sorry to spoil your conspiracy theory, but bike advocates are not secretly running all city decisions. "

I couldn't disagree more with this statement. The bike folks, livable city, walkable city etc lobby heavily against parking and get their changes implemented in new planning policies. They also are singlehandedly responsible for making development difficult (if not completely stopping it) for any planned development that has parking as part of it. It IS a conspiracy and the bike people ARE behind it. If you disagree, attend a few planning meetings.

Posted by: doubtful at August 30, 2010 5:56 PM

Yea, since when is SS starting to censor comments? This seems new and is starting to smell just like Streetsblog..if you don't share "group-think" over there and live on wheatgrass and soy milk, you are brandished from the site forever.

Why did SS not publish my response to the question posed by "questionfornoearch"? censorship?

not good.

[Editor’s Note: See note above. And your response ("As for your question: None of your effing business.") wasn't helping.]

Posted by: noearch at August 30, 2010 5:57 PM

The parking trolls have united with the coffee hipsters and have created the equvalent to the line at Ike's here at SS.

Oh for an ignore function

Posted by: givemeabreak at August 30, 2010 5:59 PM

If you are really all ears anon, here are some suggestions anon:

1) cab, bill it to your clients or just eat the cost
2) there is no soccer practice closer to Hayes Valley?
3) cab or zipcar, or find another teacher who is closer
4) zipcar
5) rent a car for the occasional weekend.

You will feel good about using less resources and save money to boot. Even a car only used 5000 miles/year costs at least $5k/yr, since most of the cost of an automobile is fixed costs.

I will take seriously car drivers complaints about "other people telling them how to live" when they stop killing hundreds of thousands a year for their convenience.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 30, 2010 6:10 PM

How'd you get hundreds of thousands/year, NVJ? The only stats I've ever seen are around 40K deaths per year in the US (down from ~45K in the 80s), and it's been dropping with the economy, and the dead are typically other motorists or themselves.

Oddly, 4 of your suggestions involve driving OPC -- other people's cars. :)

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 30, 2010 6:22 PM

"They also are singlehandedly responsible for making development difficult"

that's quite a stretch. Development was pretty much put to a halt long before any of those groups existed, or had any influence. If you are going to make such claims you should provide some evidence to support it.

In fact, most of those groups are for development, as the denser the city gets, as dense cities tend to be more "livable" as many things are within walking distance, and less people feel they need a car.

And of course any group that is for affordable housing, particularly affordable by design instead of legislation, would be opposed to minimum parking requirements, as reduces the number of units that can be built on a particular parcel, thus driving up costs.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 30, 2010 6:25 PM

"Then why bother doing *anything* with this street. Seems like the architect is in cahoots with Blue Bottle and defrauding the city here. They are free to rebut."

I'm not clear how there's any fraud going on. I've also heard a lot of talk about the architect being in cahoots, but 0 evidence.

At least 1 resident of Linden who posted here said there was already a problem, as patrons were standing in the street, so this is an attempt at a fix.

"How'd you get hundreds of thousands/year, NVJ? The only stats I've ever seen are around 40K deaths per year in the US (down from ~45K in the 80s)..."

It's about 40K per year in the US, perhaps he meant globally. By saying it's down from 45K in the 80s are you suggesting that 40,000 people dead every year is an acceptable number? I'll point out that the number of people killed every year is up from about 0 at the turn of the century, I think that's a lot closer to where the number should be.

"... and it's been dropping with the economy... "

not nearly enough

"... and the dead are typically other motorists or themselves."

That's completely false, cars are the number one cause of death for children every year, very few of whom are motorists. Thousands of pedestrians are killed every year.

There are some pretty simple things that could be done to drastically reduce the number of people killed every year: reduce speeds, enforce the laws, change the laws so they are more safety oriented, and changed traffic engineering practices to focus on safety rather than throughput.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 30, 2010 6:36 PM

I will take seriously car drivers [sic] complaints about "other people telling them how to live" when they stop killing hundreds of thousands a year for their convenience.

Your righteous indignation can only be taken seriously at the level of clever performance art meant to satirize the stereotype of insufferable San Franciscans.

Posted by: Debtpocalypse at August 30, 2010 6:38 PM

"Seems like the architect is in cahoots with Blue Bottle and defrauding the city here. They are free to rebut."

Oh, now I see the point of this thread. Trying to bait the architects to defending themselves/project in hopes of digging something up for a lawsuit. Nice.

Posted by: badlydrawnbear at August 30, 2010 6:40 PM

Debtpocalypse -- well said, I think. This thread really seems to have swerved off of RE?

Posted by: givemeabreak at August 30, 2010 6:42 PM

"I'll point out that the number of people killed every year is up from about 0 at the turn of the century, I think that's a lot closer to where the number should be."

Yeah, but people also got hit by trains and fell off their horses and got trampled by them. And they also died of many more things that modern technology prevents. This is a silly argument against cars. No one thinks there should be deaths from anything in particular.

Look, all of NVJ's solutions involved driving other people's cars. You haven't convinced anyone that cars aren't necessary.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 30, 2010 6:45 PM

Hear hear, Debtpocalypse. That's exactly how I generally feel with NVJ's anti-car rants. And that's as someone who takes transit to work.

I mostly think these pro and con arguments against cars on SS are a waste of time, but people should at least use facts sometimes and use less hyperbole.

I've seen some of the anti-car people be against more dense development in SF, which makes no sense.


To turn back to this thread, I've yet to find anyone give any support to why we even have this architect's project. Anyone have any ideas? Why is this street more special than all the other streets?

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 30, 2010 6:51 PM

I've also heard a lot of talk about the architect being in cahoots, but 0 evidence.

Loring Sagan has an ownership stake in Blue Bottle Coffee. I'm not sure what more evidence you need.

I live in one of the buildings at the corner of Linden and Gough (and I have an old ratty car that I use about once a week and park in the garage). T's comments are absolutely right about the garage access problems for 300 Linden and 301 Gough, and this being purely a land grab for Blue Bottle. The garage situation is likely to actually get worse once the tree wells and planters are in place and filled. It was a narrow street to begin with, and it is about to be much narrower.

I'm still hoping for the overall transformation of the alley to be a good thing for the neighborhood, and I was gung-ho on the project prior to construction. Now that it's taking shape, I'm starting to move over to T's way of thinking.

Posted by: J.B. at August 30, 2010 6:52 PM

"Loring Sagan has an ownership stake in Blue Bottle Coffee."

Owned. He should have never gotten this project with that huge a conflict of interest. The city screwed up, as it often does, and probably won't be held accountable for this handout.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 30, 2010 6:58 PM

In fact, here's a doc on sfgov.org that mentions his ownership interest in Blue Bottle:

http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/port/port_commission/BuildInc_Seawall%20Book_LR.pdf

What a scam.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 30, 2010 7:01 PM

@Lyqwyd

You do know that there were traffic accidents before automobiles, right?

Take for example this hit & run in 1889:
Los Angeles Times, Feb 17, 1889 [partial]
RUN OVER AND KILLED.
Last evening about 7 o'clock an old Mexican named Jose Maria Garcia, was run over by a hack on Main street, opposite the Pico House, and so badly hurt that he died in a little over an hour from the time the accident occurred. He was struck by a hack, knocked down, trampled by the horses and run over by the vehicle. The hack was going at a very rapid pace, and never checked up a moment to ascertain the extent of the old man's injuries, but, on the contrary, the driver whipped up his horses and made off.

Posted by: HappyRenter at August 30, 2010 7:07 PM

NoeValleyJim, see, it is not easy at all.

1) cab, bill it to your clients or just eat the cost -- seriously? Eat the $200 round trip cost? And the cab would almost certainly get lousier mileage than my Corolla.
2) there is no soccer practice closer to Hayes Valley? There is not.
3) cab or zipcar, or find another teacher who is closer -- don't know of any that are closer. Take a cab? Another car? See point above re mileage.
4) zipcar -- Another car? See point above re mileage.
5) rent a car for the occasional weekend -- Another car? See point above re mileage.

Posted by: anon at August 30, 2010 7:08 PM

Note to SS editor:

Sounds like you just had a slow day and decided to look at what was being posted..and stuff you didn't like, you decided to "edit"..I mean censor.

not cool.

[Editor’s Note: You have got to be kidding. And now, back to Linden…]

Posted by: noearch at August 30, 2010 7:17 PM

Ha ha, yeah, you're going to claim pre-car automotive fatalities at the turn of the 20th century? Check your numbers, trustafarian, horses were MUCH more dangerous than cars. In London alone, they had to clear 15,000 horses from the road each year, and the annual number road deaths at that time exceeded the number of automotive fatalities today...for the entire country. That is, London had more traffic deaths each year from horses as the entire UK does from automobiles today.

Posted by: EH at August 30, 2010 7:39 PM

"I mostly think these pro and con arguments against cars on SS are a waste of time, but people should at least use facts sometimes and use less hyperbole."

You should follow your own advice: you are ignoring the fact that 40,000 people a year are killed by cars, and that they are the number 1 cause of death for children in the U.S. and that many of these deaths are easily preventable.

You then set up the straw man argument about trains and that technology has prevented deaths. In fact very few people are killed by trains, about 350 per year. So if that number is of concern, you should be much more worried about auto fatalities than train fatalities.

I ask again, is 40,000 people killed a year acceptable? Is having cars be the number 1 cause of death for children acceptable? Your comments, and attempts to distract from those issues, seem to indicate that you don't find these facts to be important.

"I've seen some of the anti-car people be against more dense development in SF, which makes no sense."

agreed.


"To turn back to this thread, I've yet to find anyone give any support to why we even have this architect's project. Anyone have any ideas? Why is this street more special than all the other streets?"

according to jrm: "I have to drive through the Blue Bottle line every day in order to get to my garage."

That means there is a problem that needs fixing.

"Loring Sagan has an ownership stake in Blue Bottle Coffee. I'm not sure what more evidence you need."

I agree that it's questionable that the city would pay the owners of the business to do this.

"You do know that there were traffic accidents before automobiles, right?"

@HappyRenter, you do know we were talking about auto fatalities, right?

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 30, 2010 8:04 PM

jrm: "I have to drive through the Blue Bottle line every day in order to get to my garage."

lyqwyd: That means there is a problem that needs fixing.

The line spilling into the street isn't all that big a problem, most of the time. It's irritating when someone smugly stares you down: "I'm standing here in line on the street, dude! Why would you want to drive your smogmobile through here, where I'm clearly standing and waiting?"... but right now, that's fairly rare.

{I'm exaggerating... but just barely, though only my neighbors will believe me}

I'm not sure that making the street look more like a big sidewalk is all that good a solution for this particular issue.

Posted by: J.B. at August 30, 2010 8:20 PM

EH, are you talking to me? I didn't say anything about horses, only pointing out that for sfrenegade to put any significance on the drop from 45,000 to ~40,000 deaths from the 80s ignores the rise from before. His numbers are actually wrong, it was over 50,000 at points in the 70s & 80s. I'll agree that horses are a dangerous mode of transportation, and I'm glad we don't need to rely on them anymore, but that doesn't mean 40,000 people killed every year is an acceptable number, especially when the majority of those deaths are easily avoidable.

And I'll point out again, cars are the number 1 cause of death for children in the U.S.

I'm more than happy to continue to point these facts out as long as you want to try to avoid them ;)

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 30, 2010 8:21 PM

I have never understood why people line up into the street at that Blue Bottle rather than on the sidewalk. Is it because the line would block the entrance to Sagan's office if they did or is there another reason?

Posted by: Michael at August 30, 2010 8:32 PM

@J.B.

I hope for the best out of this project, whatever that may be. I have no personal interest, as I've never even been on this street, much less spend any significant time there... but if people are regularly standing in the street anywhere, then in my opinion it's worth trying to fix, there's lots of options on how to make such a fix.

I suspect blue-bottle is overrated, and I would certainly not wait in line all the way out on a street for any coffee, and I like good coffee!

I don't know if this is the right fix, but as far as I can tell (and please correct me if I'm wrong) the project isn't even finished. If that's the case, I think the hubbub is extremely premature, and even if the project is not good, I bet people will get used to it and will probably think it's just fine a year from now. That tends to be how these things work out.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 30, 2010 8:35 PM

And all this over some minor delays or inconveniences. Apparently, for some people "share the road" means "as long as there are no obstacles to my driving through it at maximum speed, pedestrians are permitted to cross. Don't expect me to slow down for them though."

Posted by: Al at August 30, 2010 9:13 PM

wow, I am amazed at the number of people who feel entitled to tell others how they should live and that they should simply make their lives more difficult so a bunch of yuppies can drink over priced coffee. No one in their right mind would buy a place in the city, certainly no one with a family. Funny how with all the claims of tolerance and openness of SF are only applicable if you are part of the far left bike/dog loving single crowd.

Posted by: snafu at August 30, 2010 9:14 PM

Why does "families buying in the City" have to equal "place to own a car"? I know plenty of families living in San Francisco who seem to do perfectly well without owning a single car. Zip, zilch, nada.

How do they accomplish this apparently amazing, nigh impossible feat, pray tell? Do they own a magic flying carpet? Sadly, no. Its far more mundane - they use public transit, they bike, they have a carshare/zipcar membership. If they need to take the kids to the grocery store, they put them on the backseat of their bike. Or hop in a zipcar. Same thing for getting to work meetings - if they need to get somewhere for a half-day meeting, they use a carshare. It winds up being $10 or less an hour, so a 4 hour use is only $40, whether billed to an employer or billed to a client.

Its really not that frickin' hard.

As for bicyclists imposing on car owners - thats got to be the most retarded thing I've seen in a long time. Vast quantities of real estate in SF are consumed to accommodate cars - streets, parking lots, parking lanes on the streets, parking garages. Actually, when you look at, there are vast quantities of land used (wasted) just for cars NOT being used (i.e. parking). (and heaven forbid the City should have the effrontery to CHARGE a fee to use those street spaces)

Further, the costs for all this infrastructure for the auto is never covered in full by the drivers themselves - gas taxes and other forms of direct assessment against drivers rarely even covers 50% of the cost for maintaining all these streets and parking spaces. The rest comes out everyone's income taxes, sales taxes, etc.

So, yeah - boo fricking hoo is some entitled yuppie has to make a few extra 3-point turns to get into a garage.

Posted by: Dave at August 30, 2010 9:36 PM

Agreed snafu, it's annoying how the driver yuppies want to force everybody to drive everywhere like them. If we could only get drivers to tolerate those who don't want to drive! Can't we all get along?

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 30, 2010 9:36 PM

I've seen some of the anti-car people be against more dense development in SF, which makes no sense.

No argument here.

Hey anon, there are plenty of zipcars, rental cars and even cabs that will get better gas mileage than your Corolla. And you will undoubtedly travel fewer miles total if you get rid of your car. $6000/yr will pay for a lot of cab rides. And car sharing reduces the total tooth to tail load of car ownership quite a bit. Baby steps, baby steps :)

I am raising a family here snafu, but you are right. If you prefer groupthink and sheeplike conformity over reasoned debate, you will
probably be happier in the suburbs.

The planet is pretty obviously suffering from resource depletion. It is a collective problem that requires a collective solution. If everyone pitches in and tries to use a little less, we can make a big difference. If everyone takes the "I've got mine eff you!" attitude that some on this thread display, we are probably headed to resource exhaustion and mass die off like too
many bacteria in a petri dish. We will probably be dead before this happens, but I would still like to leave my grandkids a fighting chance.

Look, all of NVJ's solutions involved driving other people's cars

No they didn't. Go back and read again. I was trying to give anon some pretty easy solutions to his "problem." We personally do things like loading the kids onto two bicycles and taking them to Costco and bringing the groceries back in a trailer, but I know such a solution is beyond most people's imagining. I would think nothing of bicycling from Hayes Valley to The Marina with the kid in a bicycle seat, in fact I would enjoy the exercise. I don't believe that there is no cello teacher or soccer practice that is closer, I found both with a few minutes of web search.

40k/yr die directly in accidents, plus another estimated 70k/yr due to pollution and there must be at least another 20k/yr due to resource wars. And that is just in the US. But if your convenience and comfort triumphs everything
else to you, then go ahead Gentlemen Start Your Engines!

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 30, 2010 9:58 PM

anon,

At $600 per hour you could move down the peninsula...as in Atherton.

Posted by: inmycountry at August 30, 2010 10:01 PM

San Francisco's reputed tolerance?

Natives tolerating the endless stream of intolerant transplants with (extreme, usually) political/social/sexual/etc.. agendas to impose upon all.

San Francisco's reputed openness?

No choice in a society and country as mobile as ours. Natives resigned to the constant influx and exodus of intolerant extremist transplants.

Posted by: nnona at August 30, 2010 10:07 PM

...and the notion that SF should be a bedroom community catering to people who are paid $600/hour! I would a rather the city acted a thousand times for the benefit of people who live, work and relax in the city, than for the city to cater to the people who insist on clearing everyone else out of the way so they can jet off to their well-paid appointments.

And to the guy who lives on Linden. I quote: "[Blue Bottle customers] are the only pedestrians who use Linden." So you live down the street, and yet you never walk anywhere from your house? Maybe if people like you changed your habits a bit, SF wouldn't be the traffic and parking mess that it is.

Posted by: Al at August 30, 2010 10:15 PM

Wow.

Does SS have some sort of award for whiniest thread? Because I think we have a winner.

Cars vs. Coffee: Cage Match!!! Two will enter! One will leave! Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!
OH, NOEZ! Won't somebody think of the children?!?!

We need a spare the derriere day because there's a third degree smug alert in here.

Posted by: Mr. #$%$#^# Hyperbole at August 30, 2010 10:38 PM

Question for all the auto centric folks out there.

Why do you consistently ignore the facts and data out there (such as 40K + deaths a year, number 1 cause of death for children, leading contributing factor to global warming, highly subsidized, etc...), and then accuse the opposition of wanting to force others to do what they do, when the reality is that you are completely closed to the idea of anybody doing anything other than driving?

Less than 70 years ago almost every major city in the U.S. had a pretty extensive streetcar system (including LA) which was ripped out, largely at the request of auto & tire manufacturers. For example, the Key System/Key Route used to run trains across the bay bridge, with 1 minute intervals, and had far more capacity than the bay bridge has today used exclusively for cars (and the trains were contra-flow, meaning there were still always 5 lanes of auto traffic available in the commute direction, 3 lanes in the reverse commute direction).

Is it playing devils advocate? Are my data & history wrong (if so, please provide references)? Something else? just curious.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 30, 2010 10:38 PM

^^^
Thanks for the history lesson, Clavin. Completely irrelevant to the issue at hand, but you never know when "Early 20th Century Public Transportation" will pop up as a Trivial Pursuit category.

Posted by: Mikey at August 30, 2010 11:02 PM

@Mikey

I think the subject changed quite a while ago, in fact before I even started posting. But thanks for your very relevant and informative addition to the conversation!

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 30, 2010 11:11 PM

@lyqwyd:
No, the project is not finished. I'm trying to withhold judgment until it is. The reality of the new street layout became apparent this week, where it wasn't before, so I know what triggered T's angst.

I agree with you, and I hope it all works out in the end.

And Blue Bottle does make good coffee. I wouldn't wait for it either, but I understand why people do.


@al

You're picturing something that isn't the reality of the current Linden street.

In no way this about "pedestrians looking to cross" the street, spooked by the cars racing through. Quite frequently, especially on the weekend, there is a line of 10-20 people waiting to place their coffee order (which represents about a 25 minute wait for coffee). Usually, this line stretches straight across the street (which is a little bizarre, considering there is a sidewalk running the length of the block, on both sides).

Every 5 minutes or so, a car or delivery van or truck will roll 5-10 MPH down the alley, and 5 or 6 people in the line need to disassemble, let the car through, then reassemble. Most of the time, there's no drama here, because we're urban dwellers, and we know how to share the space, not cut in line, and get on with our lives.

Is it a problem? Not really, unless some A-hole decides to make it one. Both the drivers and the coffee-waiters have been guilty of this. When you live on the alley, you inevitably come into contact with both of them (I walk through the alley probably 20 times for every time I drive, and I can tell you the drivers are worse during the weekday mornings, the patrons are worse during the weekends, and 99% of the time, everyone is civil).

Would it be less of a problem if the line went down the sidewalk, instead of across the street? Probably.

Does making the street more like a sidewalk, and providing more off-street places for people to sit and hang out help with this, and make Linden street a better place for us all to enjoy? I hope so, but only time will tell.

The fact that many of the SS supporters of this project seem to be of the "Eff your car" mindset is not very reassuring about our ability to all get along.

Like T, apparently, I was more hopeful a week ago, before the layout was obvious and I realized that I would occasionally need to back my car into an area that is engineered to be full of pedestrians or cafe patrons (the alternative is to move, or give up driving, neither of which I intend to do). I don't want to drive through your cafe any more than you want me to, but my building does have a garage right there, and my neighbors and I intend to continue to use it.

I hope that most of the time, we can all be adults about it.

--

It's strange that this has become a "kill your car" debate. I'm more interested in the conflict of interest.

Does it smell a little that SF paid $100k to do this work at this end of this particular alley, under the direction of someone who is going to both design it and directly financially benefit from it? Yes it does.

Perhaps that was the motivation that made it possible for this to happen.

Honestly, I'm content that The City is putting some money into our neighborhood at all. We were a forgotten part of town until Octavia got built (I managed to buy here back before the freeway came down; I sure couldn't afford it now. I can't make $600/hour in my dreams, even the filthy ones set in Atherton). Not all of us want to keep our little hood forgotten... even if that means that folks in Noe Valley feel justified in calling us yuppies. I am legitimately urban, so I guess 1 out of 3 ain't bad.

Posted by: J.B. at August 30, 2010 11:31 PM

I still can't figure out what the deal is with people waiting in line like this for coffee. It's bizarre. There's plenty of great coffee out there people, and you don't have to wait in a traffic-challenged alley for 25 minutes for it. Better yet, save some money and just make it at home.

I feel for the homeowners on this alley.

Posted by: Schlub at August 30, 2010 11:58 PM

Those pesky pedestrian people, they think they own the sidewalk! I love my car. Will miss the parking spots on Linden.

Posted by: Kathleen at August 30, 2010 11:59 PM

"$6000/yr will pay for a lot of cab rides"

NVJ, That's an interesting angle to analyze based on your assumed car cost of $6000/year. San Francisco cabs are $3.10 for the first 1/6 of a mile and then 45 cents for each 1/5 of a mile. That means you could go about 3.2 miles for $10 if you don't tip or get stuck in traffic (at 45 cents per minute). Let's make it 3 miles with a real cheapskate tip. So for $6000/year, you could take one 3-mile, round-trip cab ride per day, 6 days per week for 50 weeks. That's a total of 1800 miles/year. If your needs to travel by car are less than that, the cab alternative looks pretty good. However, at significantly more than 1800 miles/year, cabs don't look that great.

Posted by: anonanon at August 31, 2010 12:03 AM

I think homes cause more pollution than cars.

If you really want to get to the bottom of global warming, everyone should start sleeping outside.

Bull doze a McMansion today.

Posted by: Kathleen at August 31, 2010 12:14 AM

This discussion has gone quite a bit away from SF real estate and the entire car debate is so nonsensical to me. However, I do have to "call on the carpet" the use of some "facts" to make an argument. @lyqwyd keeps trying to make some kind of point that "cars are the number 1 cause of death for children", cause "40k + deaths a year", etc. The misuse of facts like this is a pet peeve of mine, and to quote "cars don't kill people, people kill people".

For instance, if you really want to do an analysis of the danger of a certain activity then you must look at the death rate to the number of hours of doing such activity or other meaningful utility rate. These rates are actually calculated by insurance companies and actuaries. I don't have time to look them up, but I can tell you with almost 100% certainty that driving is a heck of a lot safer than commuting on a bike in both time and miles covered. (No flames bike riders, I'm a big road bike rider myself and have even commuted from SF to Redwood City on my bike. Also, I have been hit by a car on Hwy 1 so I know the dangers first hand.) Secondly, you must look at the total impact of the alternatives. As pointed out, if you want to speak of dangers to humans, and specifically children, what are the dangers of the alternatives such as riding a bike (or horse), commuting on a street car or train, or even walking. Once again, I will venture a guess that these activities are not much safer than driving. More environmentally friendly, most certainly, but also less convenient and not always less costly or even possible. Thirdly, you must look at the factors we can control. There were 1,335 children

Throwing around facts that are somewhat out of context or without the a complete analysis does not really make your point that cars are somehow overtly dangerous. Life must be lived with acceptable risks that are traded off with pleasure, convenience and cost. This trade-off should be a personal decision IMO and not forced upon us by some bureaucrat. Yes, I'm all for better public transportation and more energy efficient and environmentally friendly cars, but until we have reasonable alternatives, which we don't have right now, we are going to use our cars. Honk, honk!

Posted by: Skirunman at August 31, 2010 12:18 AM

...
There were 1,335 children under 15 killed in car crashes in the USA in 2005. However, 1/4 were killed by drunk drivers. Therefore, reducing the number of drunk drivers would have a huge impact. Also, many children killed were not using any kind of restraint or were restrained incorrectly. By changing our own behavior we can greatly effect the risk profile.
...

Posted by: Skirunman at August 31, 2010 12:23 AM

This thread sez:

We must kill car owners because their cars kills people.

And whoa be tide any local business owners who dare to become involved in their community, donate their time, talent and raise money [free work + free money for city, it is a tragedy] for a street beautification project!

The horror!

To create change in this rather sad alley.

Bad, bad architects. They must be in cahoots with people who drink coffee, then jump into fast cars and drive badly.

Get a rope.

Posted by: Kathleen at August 31, 2010 12:29 AM

"leading contributing factor to global warming"
I don't want to start an entire global warming debate, but according to EPA website, leading source of CO2 emissions in USA is power generation, representing 41 percent of all CO2 emissions. Transportation is number two. What we should do is build more nuclear power plants and come up with a very small fission reactor for powering our cars.

Posted by: Skirunman at August 31, 2010 12:39 AM

J.B. @ 11:31 PM - well said.

I think its been established over many, MANY threads on SS that anti-car types will not agree with pro-car types. These are not even discussions by and large, just conflicting stats and opinions.

Personally, until quite recently I found - from a condo in the Inner Sunset - commuting by MUNI to be pretty easy. My car was totaled in 2005 and I didn't replace it. However, MUNI continues to get worse as it gets more expensive. At some point that balance may tip in favor of my replacing the car. How many of us have the luxury of arriving late to work on a regular basis due to MUNI? Anyone who has traveled on public transport in almost any other major city in the US or Europe must understand that MUNI is horrible.

Bicyclists - my hat is off to you. I considered riding a bike. I test rode some...but frankly, the roads in this city are way too dangerous for my taste. Yes, I realize this is in some way an argument for getting cars off the road but it is also a chicken and egg argument. You cannot expect people to give up cars to ride bikes in conditions that are not safe...due to cars..(especially if they are transporting children)..honestly not sure how to get around that. If there were dedicated, separated from traffic bike lanes I would be on a bike tomorrow...or the day after ;-)

So, maybe if drivers are more cognizant of bicyclists and pedestrians AND on the flip side bike owners and pedestrians realize that not everyone can live their lives without a car we can all be better citizens together. Lets not further the anger. That won't do anyone any good.

Posted by: CameronRex at August 31, 2010 12:44 AM

Homes and buildings use 1/3 of all energy consumed in America.

Maybe we should buy everyone a car and have them
live in it.

I think Detroit owes everyone in the US one car.

Posted by: kathleen at August 31, 2010 12:51 AM

...but I can tell you with almost 100% certainty that driving is a heck of a lot safer than commuting on a bike in both time and miles covered.

The reason biking is dangerous in an urban environment is because of the presence of cars. No cars, and bikes become much safer.

It's like people who justify their full-sized SUV because it's safer. Well, guess what? It's not safer for everyone else out there!

Biking could be a lot safer if cyclists simply obeyed traffic laws and made themselves more visible at night. I routinely see hipster-bicyclists wearing dark colors with no lights running stop signs on Harrison in the Mission.

Posted by: joh at August 31, 2010 12:59 AM

I'm excited to see the resolution to the argument between people who drive cars and bicyclists in the city. Anyone have any predictions when that will be?

Posted by: pacific at August 31, 2010 1:34 AM

I bill at $600/hour. I don't take home that much.

NoeValleyJim, I live in SF primarily because that is where I work. And we love it here. I take Muni to work nearly every day. Environmentally-speaking, people should live near where they work rather than driving, taking a cab, or taking a bus a long distance.

Your $5000-$6000/yr estimate for ownership is off (at least for me). We've had our $15,000 Corolla for 10 years -- $1500/yr (roughly -- less actually since it's still probably worth $5k). Insurance is $900. Gas (5000 mi @ 30 mi/gal @ $3 gal.) = $500. Maintenance is about $250/year max. (actually far less than that). That's ~$3200/yr. We have a garage, but go ahead and figure some cost for that. Regardless, cabs and rental cars would outstrip that amount very quickly. And, as I noted, at my billing rate I only need about 6 hours a year of idle time dealing with zipcars etc. to far exceed the cost of ownership. Is it possible to live in SF with two kids and no car? Sure. Would it be a big pain in the arse? You bet.

Posted by: anon at August 31, 2010 8:31 AM

Maybe Blue Bottle needs the Ike's treatment.

The reason biking is dangerous in an urban environment is because of the presence of cars. No cars, and bikes become much safer.

Now you're being a fundamentalist.

Posted by: EH at August 31, 2010 9:00 AM

joh isn't suggesting that cars be eliminated, just drawing an extreme example to demonstrate that cars are the cause of the vast majority of cyclist deaths. Cycling by itself is quite safe since most people never go faster than 15 MPH. Road danger is caused by larger motorized vehicles : mostly cars but also buses and trams.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at August 31, 2010 9:13 AM

Here is a TCO calculator from Edmonds, a site that is generally automobile friendly:

http://www.edmunds.com/used/2007/toyota/corolla/100773492/cto.html?setzip=94114&vdp=off

You didn't include the cost of taxes and fees, borrowing (or opportunity) costs or repairs. You maintenance costs are unreasonably low as well, unless you did all your own maintenance. Even cutting the fuel, maintenance and repair costs by 2/3, I calculate the TCO for a 2007 Corolla to be $4366. This isn't terribly far from your estimate of $3200 though. The cost of the garage to you is probably $300/mo in finance costs -- $80k at 5% interest rates, but I will let you do your own calculation there. How much more did you pay for your home in order to get parking? It is probably fairer to charge you market rate for parking though, since the best you could do now would be to rent out the space. What is that, $200/mo? Owning a car also has time costs as well: dealing with the DMV, auto maintenance and repair, parking hassles, insurance, etc.

It amuses me to see people complain about the inordinate political power that groups like the Bicycle Coalition wield. Our national foreign policy, land use planning and energy policies are all dominated by Big Oil and its allies. Car drivers receive taxpayer subsidy, land use planning is generally bent to their favor and they endanger everyone else on the road. And then they have the chutzpah to suggest that anyone merely pointing these things out have "no right to tell them what to do"? Wow!

It is no doubt very difficult to organize our lives without using a car, mostly because of the massive public investment in automotive transportation and the concomitant lack of investment in other transportation alternatives. To me, this is an argument in favor of projects like this, not against them. Even relatively moderate and mainstream planning groups like SPUR are asking their members to imagine an alternative transportation future. This is hardly extremism.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 31, 2010 9:24 AM

I can tell you with almost 100% certainty that driving is a heck of a lot safer than commuting on a bike in both time and miles covered

Have you done a calculation with the impact of exercise on mortality rates figured back in? For many of us, cycling is the only exercise we can fit into our busy lives and since heart disease is the number one killer and mortality rates are greatly influenced by how much you exercise, I suspect it is a wash.

It is a hard calculation since you have to profile age and sex of the riders, but if you have seen anyone that has tried, I would like to see it.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at August 31, 2010 9:30 AM

It is no doubt very difficult to organize our lives without using a car, mostly because of the massive public investment in automotive transportation and the concomitant lack of investment in other transportation alternatives. To me, this is an argument in favor of projects like this, not against them.

An argument it may be, but it is a weak and worthless one, nonetheless.

"It is no doubt very difficult to organize our lives without housing in Noe Valley, mostly because of the massive public investment in housing and the concomitant lack of investment in other shelter alternatives. To me, this is an argument in favor of projects like bulldozing Noe Valley structures and encouraging all its current residents to occupy yurts on the resulting grassy terrain, not against them."

Posted by: Debtpocalypse at August 31, 2010 9:32 AM

re: standing in the street waiting for coffee, I do it because it's warm and the sun is shining on the street.

Pretty simple.


Posted by: BDB at August 31, 2010 9:36 AM

"questionfornoearch, we don't put a lot of miles on our car (~5000/yr), but we do use it for the following:
...

(5) skiing at Tahoe 3-4 times a season."


I go to tahoe about 10 times per ski season plus trips to the sierras 2-4 times during the summer/fall. I don't own a car. Zipcar works just fine and is still cheaper (and far more convenient) than either car ownership or traditional car rental, if you factor in the full annual costs of car payment+insurance+parking+gas+maintenance+registration+your soul. People need to learn how to do math.

get a grip dude. despite your rantings, the street improvements will increase the value of your condo and you'll cash in on it when you sell. I can just the MLS ad now: "live next to hip pedestrian alley in Hayes Valley." You won't be complaining then.

Posted by: hmmmm at August 31, 2010 9:59 AM

People need to know their facts.

LORING SAGAN HAS NO OWNERSHIP IN BLUE BOTTLE.

THE CITY DID NOT PAY FOR THE PROJECT. THE MONEY CAME FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD PARK COUNCIL AND PRIVATE DONATIONS.

Posted by: Mark at August 31, 2010 10:07 AM

"I don't want to start an entire global warming debate, but according to EPA website, leading source of CO2 emissions"

sorry, meant to say "a leading", not imply that it's "the" leading cause of global warming.

Definitely on board with replacing coal with nuclear power.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 31, 2010 10:25 AM

[LORING SAGAN HAS NO OWNERSHIP IN BLUE BOTTLE.]

He doesn't?

"Loring’s background in art, architecture and environmental design has extended into community planning and residential multi unit development. In 2000, Loring purchased the Linden Street office as a base for art, architecture, and development. With architecture, a coffee kiosk on the alley, and community development business’ coexisting in the Linden St. building, it has become a catalyst for community and neighborhood engagement.

Loring received a matching community grant from the City of San Francisco to transform Linden Street into a landscaped alley friendly to pedestrians, a sort of “public outdoor living room.”

Loring is also a partner in Blue Bottle Coffee Company and is a promoter and investor of his wife’s restaurant, the Piccino Café near Potrero Hill."

Posted by: Michael at August 31, 2010 10:30 AM

Was there any community input when this plan developed?
If not then i can completely understand the critics. However, i feel that this is a situation where you can't please everyone. US cities are recovering from the last century's myopic automanifest destiny which all but destroyed our urban landscape. If you compare this alley to the say Cesar Chavez as it is today -it's easy to assess the alley's redesign is far from a urban planning disaster.

To the garage and ground floor space owners, this reformat of the alley could be a boon for your bottom line. Retail/commercial space pulls in more dollars per square foot than monthly parking. To the residence, Linden will be more desirable with less auto traffic... trust me.

Posted by: matt at August 31, 2010 10:32 AM

hmmmm, it is true that the "math" takes into account "carpayment+insurance+parking+gas+maintenance+registration." As for "your soul" you're just making up a number -- that is a factor but it has nothing to do with the math. All your trips to Tahoe alone amount to about the same total miles we put on our car every year (never mind all the cabs, etc. you need to take on top of that). Is renting the car you drive thousands of miles a year better for the soul than owning the car you drive? Only with some pretty twisted logic.

Just the zipcar cost of your 12-14 tahoe trips/yr is a pretty hefty fraction of my total car spend, and we also use the car for lots and lots of other short trips, noted above. The math clearly favors owning a car rather than renting one every time I need one in my case.

Also, you forgot about the cost to deal with zipcars or rentals of those who -- like me -- bill their time hourly. My firm and I would lose many tens of thousands in income if I had to deal with that instead of just hopping in my trusty ol' Toyota. That is part of the math. The convenience factor alone certainly counts, but in my case there is a measurable value to it.

Posted by: anon at August 31, 2010 10:36 AM

"I didn't say anything about horses, only pointing out that for sfrenegade to put any significance on the drop from 45,000 to ~40,000 deaths from the 80s ignores the rise from before."

If I remember correctly, there was a brief rise to approx 50K right after we switched to smaller cars during the oil crisis, maybe '78-'81, but it dropped significantly right after to 40-45K.

Anyway, skirunman's got it right on the BS use of statistics, and a lot of other people have it right on the smug. (70K from pollution specifically of automobiles? really?)

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 31, 2010 11:00 AM

"LORING SAGAN HAS NO OWNERSHIP IN BLUE BOTTLE."

This is a lie. See the sfgov.org doc I sent above.

"THE CITY DID NOT PAY FOR THE PROJECT."

This is a lie too. The money came from a city grant.

But good job trying to get your propaganda out there.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 31, 2010 11:03 AM

Since this thread has fallen so far off the San Francisco real estate cable car track, I figure that I can't damage it any more by responding to the responders:

To me, this ss article seemed to be a micro neihborhood discussion about the ingress and egress hazards for both the alley's resident auto drivers and the area's consumers who venture in for coffee, architectural design and auto repairs. Since I don't live in the area, I figured that it would get a few responses mainly from those who are truly affected or are in the categories I mention above.

Last night when I checked ss to see if any new articles had been posted, I noticed at that point there were already 58 responses. This morning there are currently 90, and this one makes 91. Is this destined to be a ss all time record breaker?

(Side note about this side note - Hmm...Maybe ss should have a contest with a prize going to the ss article that gets the most relevant responses and another prize going to the article that gets the most off topic responses by a certain future date and time. The winning last responders of the winning threads could receive or choose a gift certificate from some business associated with the derailed thread or topics within. Example, if this particular Linden article was one of the winning threads, the posting winner might have a choice of donated gift certificates from Blue Bottle, area auto repair shops, or a muni pass for those who don't don't own or drive a car. SS should have enough clout by now in San Francisco to get the GCs donated by those vendors (give them some free advertising for a month on ss to encourage them to see what a benefit it is to donate).

Back to my off off track comments -

My first thought when I saw how many responses this article had attracted last night was "what did I miss when I read this the first time?" Curiosity got the best of me. I figured that there had to be a debate going on and just love reading all of the righteously San Francisco, green and NIMBY responses (you know who you are, yes, YOU).

It's so entertaining yet perplexing why so many continue responding over and over and over trying to sway others to their way of thinking. I guess they never heard the old saying "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the hell out of the pig."

Anywho...(yes, I meant to spell it that way)can't we all just get along?

If I want to discuss the merits of Blue Bottle coffee it's owners, followers, competitors and all of those who hate it and everything about it, or why automobiles should be banned, or why people should stay on the shaded sidewalk where it's safer and colder instead of in the middle of the street where it's warmer and more dangerous, I'm sure I could find blogs discussing those topics because, hey, this is San Francisco.

If not, then those who want to continue any and all aapects of this Linden debate should consider starting their own blog because from what I've read here so far, there seems to be enough interest to vigorously support it.

Now play nice in the ss sandbox.

Posted by: RSVP at August 31, 2010 11:14 AM

@skirunman

"However, I do have to "call on the carpet" the use of some "facts" to make an argument. @lyqwyd keeps trying to make some kind of point that "cars are the number 1 cause of death for children", cause "40k + deaths a year", etc. The misuse of facts like this is a pet peeve of mine, and to quote "cars don't kill people, people kill people".

Just because you put quotes around the word facts doesn't make them stop being facts. OK, so people driving cars kill 40,000+ thousand people a year, and people driving cars are the number 1 cause of death for children, is that better? How about these as well: Not counting disease and illness, people driving cars are the number 1 cause of death, (number 10 when including disease/illness). cars are the number one object that people use to kill other people. We have extremely stiff safety regulations for objects that are far less likely to result in somebody's death. By the way, how are these facts being misused?

"For instance, if you really want to do an analysis of the danger of a certain activity then you must look at the death rate to the number of hours of doing such activity or other meaningful utility rate. I don't have time to look them up, but I can tell you with almost 100% certainty that driving is a heck of a lot safer than commuting on a bike in both time and miles covered."

While you are correct with regards to mileage, you are wrong with regards to time, cycling is about half as dangerous as driving by time spent, which you said above was the most important factor.

"Secondly, you must look at the total impact of the alternatives. As pointed out, if you want to speak of dangers to humans, and specifically children, what are the dangers of the alternatives such as riding a bike (or horse), commuting on a street car or train, or even walking. Once again, I will venture a guess that these activities are not much safer than driving."

You would again be wrong, being a passenger on a train, plane, bus or walking are far safer than driving.

"Throwing around facts that are somewhat out of context or without the a complete analysis does not really make your point that cars are somehow overtly dangerous. Life must be lived with acceptable risks that are traded off with pleasure, convenience and cost."

I'll agree context is very important, but it's also extremely difficult to compare risk rates among different modes of transit, but here's a quote from a random study I found:

"Earlier papers calculated a trade-off distance under which an individual contemplating a trip would be better off driving than flying. If the same is done for comparing auto travel to the safest alternatives, taking the bus or rail, the answer is trivial. For all classes of driver, all classes of auto, all classes of road, seat belt or not, sober or not, the distance it is safer to drive is zero miles. That is to say, the bus is always safer. The same is true for rail travel."

From "A Comparative Analysis of Six Methods for Calculating Travel Fatality Risk"
by Kopl Halperin

"This trade-off should be a personal decision IMO and not forced upon us by some bureaucrat."

I agree, too bad It's already being forced upon us by bureaucrats. Driving is extremely subsidized, the gas tax doesn't come anywhere close to paying for roads, much less to the environmental and health damage caused by autos, and other ancillary costs around automobiles.

"There were 1,335 children under 15 killed in car crashes in the USA in 2005. However, 1/4 were killed by drunk drivers. Therefore, reducing the number of drunk drivers would have a huge impact. Also, many children killed were not using any kind of restraint or were restrained incorrectly. By changing our own behavior we can greatly effect the risk profile."

What exactly is your point? I agree, these deaths are very avoidable, and obviously we are allowing irresponsible behavior to go on unchecked. I've already said there are fairly simple means to reduce these deaths, which just points out how ridiculous the auto uber alles crowd's position is. People complain horribly whenever a city tries to put in red light cameras, or make talking on the cell phone in a car illegal, or speed cameras, or ticket drivers for breaking the weak safety laws we have. The thing is, these simple and inexpensive solutions would make driving less convenient.

But ultimately I disagree with your disregard for the huge number of people killed by cars. Even if other modes were more risky (which they aren't, they are generally MUCH safer), since the number of auto related deaths are so huge, we would get the most bang for the buck (the highest reduction in total deaths) by tackling auto related deaths.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 31, 2010 11:39 AM

@sfrenegade

I was referring to another posters comments about horses.

"Anyway, skirunman's got it right on the BS use of statistics."

Where's the BS? The only BS I see is the attempts to ignore the easily preventable 40,000 + deaths every year due to our use of cars. Number 1 cause of death for children.

"(70K from pollution specifically of automobiles? really?)"

That's why I don't include the numbers for ancillary damage, it's hard to get exact numbers, while it's pretty easy to determine if somebody has been directly killed by a car.

But there have been many studies that show lower lifespan next to freeways, and in regions that have a higher car usage, as well as significantly higher rates of respiratory & cardiovascular disease (generally attributed to pollution from cars, and the reduced level of exercise that regular drivers get).

Ignore the numbers all you want, but if you are going to try to deny them, you should really do your homework.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 31, 2010 11:51 AM

"I still can't figure out what the deal is with people waiting in line like this for coffee. It's bizarre. There's plenty of great coffee out there people, and you don't have to wait in a traffic-challenged alley for 25 minutes for it. Better yet, save some money and just make it at home.

I feel for the homeowners on this alley."

Schlub, Michael et al.

Since this is already so off topic ---

The waiting in line phenomenon is simply an uberish-me-too-in-the-bamboos experience that I petition has nothing to do with coffee. Coffee from BB beans is undrinkable, tho I've had a cup of coffee @ Ferry Bldg and it was a cup of coffee.

That a small city of 900,000 can create endless buzz over itself as if we're Paris or London is the same phenomenon of the must-haveness of a cup of coffee, or a salivating line for the flan cart, mini cupcakes, or compote. Huh?

I don't really understand it, but doubt it's related to coffee or other basic foodstuffs. Rather, it's the scene.

Posted by: Invented at August 31, 2010 12:15 PM

"he only BS I see is the attempts to ignore the easily preventable 40,000 + deaths every year due to our use of cars."

If you think this is easily preventable, then we're not even part of the same discussion. How would you make up the number of passenger-miles traveled in an instant?

Seriously, as I pointed out, many of the solutions here are Other People's Cars. That's not getting rid of the automobile. Give me a viable idea, and I'll use it. Don't say Muni, although as I mentioned, I take transit to work.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 31, 2010 12:27 PM

I happened to walk by this site yesterday on the way home from errands. I often cut down this alley because it's quiet and I get to cut through a bit of the Green.

I was surprised to see how narrow the car lane is at the end near Gough. If there aren't bollards, I predict bumper-knee injuries. I thought it was weird that they widened the sidewalk across from BB, as that's just a blank wall with one door.

$100,000 seems ridiculous, as all they've done is dig up the granite curbs and replace the sidewalks with cheap, boring concrete. Stupid waste of money.

As for parking, well, let people build parking off the street, preferably underground, and direct efforts at restricting driving in the city.

Posted by: BobN at August 31, 2010 12:29 PM

@lyqwyd, it is hard to argue with a true believer. You said: "While you are correct with regards to mileage, you are wrong with regards to time, cycling is about half as dangerous as driving by time spent, which you said above was the most important factor." I don't have complete or conclusive studies, but the study I did read that parsed data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, US Dept. of Trans., and Bureau of Trans. concluded that "cyclists are either 3.4x or 11.5x as likely to die as motorists, per passenger mile". As there are no accurate numbers on biker miles traveled in a year in the USA this is based on estimates at 6.2 billion and 21 billion miles traveled levels. Assuming avg. bike speed of 15 mph and auto at 45mph then we are at more like 10x to 30x times more dangerous. I agree that when a car meets a bike it usually is a bad outcome from the biker. However, unless you argument is to remove all cars and trucks from all roadways then we have to deal with the current reality. Anyway, my point is that stats are so easily manipulated and thrown about without full critical analysis and thought...and yes, I am a huge supporter of cycling and put at least 2k miles/year on my lovely baby, aka Serotta Ottrott. Now back to SF real estate.

Posted by: Skirunman at August 31, 2010 12:30 PM

Invented is spot on. Most (many) people in this city, like just about everywhere, are quick to jump on a fad no matter how ridiculous. Especially one that makes them feel discriminating.

Ike's is another example. The sandwiches are perfectly good -- fry something, slap a ton of mayonnaise, olive oil, and salt on it and it's bound to taste good. Wait an hour in line for something so least-common-denominator as that? You gotta be kidding me (hint: you can call it in and then go pick it up w/o waiting in line).

We bought my wife a Nespresso machine for her birthday (yep, I'm not immune to it). Better than Blue Bottle, right in our own kitchen . . .

Posted by: A.T. at August 31, 2010 12:30 PM

It should be noted that hardly any of the car deaths in this country occur in close-in urban neighborhoods.

And one last point on granite curbs. The architectural offices have granite curbs in the lobby as "art", almost like they were trophies...

Posted by: BobN at August 31, 2010 12:34 PM

Mea Culpa, ignore my brain f*rt on the math with regards to bike safety versus time. Should have divided instead of multiplied so biking risk is equivalent to 3x more dangerous as per one study. Damn stats!

Posted by: Skirunman at August 31, 2010 12:57 PM

97% of bike deaths in NYC were not wearing a helmet.

Only 1 death in 9 years from a bike in a marked bike lane.

Wear a helmet, be careful around buses and trucks (they can't see you) and never run a red light and your chances of dying or even being hit are very, very low.

If the death rate is 3X that of cars, and 97% of deaths are people without helmets, wear a helmet and your death rate drops to 1/10th that of a car.

Wear easy to see clothing and lights, stay in the bike lanes, don't run red lights and watch for buses, trucks, and for cars turning right or left, and your chance of even being hit on a bike is basically about the same as being struck by lightning. Not being male 45-54 helps too.

http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/episrv/episrv-bike-report.pdf

Posted by: tipster at August 31, 2010 1:08 PM

@sfrenegade

Here's just a few ways:

Reduce speed limits, particularly on city streets
Have the police enforce the laws, such as coming to a complete stop at a stop sign, signaling before turning or changing lanes
Take people's cars if they are caught driving drunk, and suspend their license for 2 or more years. If they are caught driving again without a license, or with a license but drunk, toss them in jail.
Implement new laws that have proven safety records, such as no passing on the right on the freeway.
Change the rules so drivers are automatically liable for hitting more at risk travelers such as cyclists & pedestrians.
If somebody kills another person while driver they automatically should lose their license for at least 2 years.

These are just a few examples of no cost actions that could be implemented that would have significant reductions in the number of people killed and hurt. There are many more, as well as numerous relatively low cost changes that could also result in fewer deaths and injuries.

"Seriously, as I pointed out, many of the solutions here are Other People's Cars."

I didn't make any suggestions, but the idea of using other people's cars is valid, as it is shown to result in less overall driving.

But there are other options as well:

For the gentleman who occasionally goes down to the peninsula, the obvious one seems to be caltrain, so he can actually work and earn $600 during each leg, rather than earning nothing while driving. Transit is certainly slower, and I agree MUNI is pretty miserable, but conversely, you can very often do productive activities while taking transit.

For groceries, using a grocery delivery service, of which there are tons in SF.

Both of those wind up being safer for everybody, better for the environment, and more productive individually.

Obviously not all of these options will work for everybody, but they will work for most people if they are open minded.

I'm not trying to force, or even convince, anybody to give up their car, just to realize that there are lots of negative aspects to driving, many of which could be easily eliminated. I own a car and drive all over the place, but I follow the law pretty rigorously, and keep myself aware of the fact that I'm operating a potentially deadly machine, and drive accordingly.

My issue is with people who act like it's impossible to do anything without a car, or want to ignore the pretty serious social and personal costs involved with driving.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 31, 2010 1:08 PM

My wife and I have a total of two houses, four cars and five bicycles. And I LOVE Blue Bottle unreservedly.

What I'm trying to say here is that while I'm (obviously) Satan, I've also been to San Jose and Cupertino today and am now downtown at work. Not possible without a car.

I don't drive when I am in places with alternatives. San Francisco is not one of those places, unless you're a weird hippie with tons of free time. I am not.

Posted by: amused at August 31, 2010 1:42 PM

@skirunman:

The CPSC survey estimated fifteen billion hours of bicycle use and thus just .067 fatalities per million hours, which makes biking seven times as safe as operating a motor vehicle per hour.

Why did you ignore the hours spent by the very survey you are quoting from? At least try to be internally consistent with the data you use.

From my research, I don't think it's as rosy as that, I think biking is slightly safer than driving per hour, but the data is all over the place, so it's hard to get a good gauge. But what's pretty easy to show is that as more people cycle, individual safety goes up.

"Anyway, my point is that stats are so easily manipulated and thrown about without full critical analysis and thought..."

yes, you gave us a perfect example of how the numbers can be manipulated. That's why I pick some pretty simple numbers that are actually quite difficult to manipulate, and very easy to verify. I doubt

I find it interesting that you ignore all the other modes of transit that I mentioned, plus the fact that even if cars were safer (which they aren't) the sheer number of auto related deaths and injuries far outweighs any other mode, so there is the most room for saving a large numbers of lives.

I'm happy to continue to discuss these numbers.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 31, 2010 1:56 PM

"These are just a few examples of no cost actions"

Okay, you lost me again. Some of your suggestions would make us less safe, and we'd have to spend inordinate amounts on law enforcement, courts, and jails, and we would need additional enforcement, courts, and jails to offset all the things you made less safe.

I'm also not convinced that delivery services are better for the environment or safety in the city -- it's at least debatable.

I don't think any motorist thinks that there are no alternatives, except for stupid ones, but most of the solutions involve more cars. I would love if we spent more money on infrastructure instead of banksters or pointless wars, but we don't.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 31, 2010 2:01 PM

How can I get some bump outs like these built at the end of my street?

Posted by: sparky-b at August 31, 2010 2:13 PM

Hypothetically speaking, I doubt if Mickey D's was serving up coffee in that location, (or some no name small business owner for that matter), that this project would have ever been approved.

Posted by: Willow at August 31, 2010 2:15 PM

I love watching open-minded San Franciscans tell each other how they should be living their lives.

Oh, the irony.

Posted by: Toady at August 31, 2010 2:15 PM

These were literally in subsequent sentences in your post:

"I own a car and drive all over the place"

-and-

"My issue is with people who act like it's impossible to do anything without a car, or want to ignore the pretty serious social and personal costs involved with driving."

Please choose one.

Posted by: amused at August 31, 2010 2:15 PM

@sfrenegade

"Some of your suggestions would make us less safe"

such as? and how?

"and we'd have to spend inordinate amounts on law enforcement, courts, and jails"

I don't think so: you'd have less drunk driving, and only the hardcore offenders would wind up in jail, which they do anyways already. Fines could be increased to offset any increases, although I doubt there would really be increases in costs, as most people violate the law because they know they can get away with it. If the cops actually enforced the law, people would follow it much better. And of course there would be the savings in emergency services that wouldn't have to go out and care for people and clean up after accidents, so net savings in money.

"I'm also not convinced that delivery services are better for the environment or safety in the city -- it's at least debatable."

It is debatable, here's the pro: The more experience a driver has, the safer they tend to be. Delivery drivers have lots of experience. Delivery vehicles have a much larger portion of their gross weight in goods, anywhere from 50% to 80% of the weight is actually for deliver, while private auto grocery shopping accounts for 1% or less of the weight used for the actual goods, so deliveries are much more efficient.

"but most of the solutions involve more cars."

I'm not sure how you come to that conclusion. There's plenty of people who use car share & cabs but don't own a car, car share has also been shown to reduce overall mileage, plus help people to get the point where they feel comfortable giving up their car.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 31, 2010 3:04 PM

tipster is on the right track concerning cycling safety. There's another effect in play as well. A significant percentage of cyclists ride dangerously : bad street position, running stop signs and lights, no helmet, invisible at night, poor route choice, etc. Those riders cause a disproportionate number of collisions. Experienced cyclists are significantly safer.

The motoring public also contains a significant percentage of poor drivers. They also cause a disproportionate number of collisions. The difference is that those bad drivers are less likely to pay with their lives for their mistakes thanks to numerous safety features built into cars. Too bad that they technology of car safety is only directed inward to the occupants of the car and not outwards towards the rest of the world.

So the moral is that if you're a safe operator, you'll be safe whether you ride a bike or drive a car. Obviously you're more vulnerable on a bike which is why experienced cyclists ride very defensively.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at August 31, 2010 3:08 PM

@amused

I drive many different locations, I also carpool, I also take muni, I often walk, I occasionally bike.

There's no conflict in using more than one mode, and wanting ones options to be more realistic.

I don't drive all that often, but the different locations I drive are quite varied.

I like how you ignored the part between the two quotes you provided: "and keep myself aware of the fact that I'm operating a potentially deadly machine, and drive accordingly."

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 31, 2010 3:21 PM

lyqwyd, reducing speed limits sounds good to some people, but it causes problems if the conditions are such that people could drive faster. The safest speed limits tend to be at the 85th percentile speed, which is the speed at which the 85th percentile of drivers would drive if there were no posted speed limit. If you lower speed limits too far below 85th percentile, you get two clusters of people: 1) those who slavishly drive the speed limit, and 2) those who drive closer to the 85th percentile that one would naturally drive given the conditions. Having two clusters like this with speed differentials is much less safe than setting the speed limit correctly.

Jailing drunk drivers is not cost effective when it's a first offense. That's why they typically do work-release. These are not violent offenders, and the overall fines plus weekends taken away for community service give the message for all but the most dedicated drunk driver.

Taking away someone's driver's license, if they are not simultaneously convicted of a crime, for 2 years is not effective. If they aren't simultaneously convicted, they will likely drive anyway and do it without a license and uninsured because this is draconian. If they truly did something wrong, they will probably be convicted.

Passing on the right is fine to ban IF you also ban blocking the passing lanes. Passing on the right is banned in Germany on the autobahn because the right lanes are truly slow lanes. Here in SF, you have numerous left-lane blockers who think they are entitled not to let people pass (often even driving below speed limit). This is actually more unsafe, because it again results in two clusters of speeds sharing the same space and more weaving when people invariably pass on the right to get around these jerks.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 31, 2010 3:29 PM

I can keep going, btw.

You can't make driver's automatically liable in a collision with a bike or person. That's a violation of due process for one thing, plus it has many implications, and you would see a significant increase in fraud as homeless run in front of cars for a payout. This is a really dumb idea.

If you have a way to increase enforcement of stop signs or turn signals on today's municipal budgets, more power to you. But those supercops should also ticket the bikers running stop signs and red lights and not letting pedestrians have the right of way. SF bikers are much better than other cities' bikers in this regard, if you exclude Critical Mass, but they still need some work.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 31, 2010 3:39 PM

@sfrenegade

To slow speeds all you need to do is change the timing of the lights so that you cannot go faster without hitting a red light. As can be seen on Valencia street. sure somebody can speed for the brief time it takes them to get to the next light, but that's of minor concern. You can also re-stripe the lanes to be narrower. The 85th percentile rule is not a safety rule, it's just an engineering convention. The 85th percentile of speed is based on the design of the road, not the other way around.

I said "Take people's cars if they are caught driving drunk, and suspend their license for 2 or more years. If they are caught driving again without a license, or with a license but drunk, toss them in jail." which means they have to do a second offense before being jailed.

"These are not violent offenders"

No, but they just got lucky that they didn't kill somebody. Strong punishments for such reckless behavior will put a strong incentive not to do it.

"they will likely drive anyway and do it without a license and uninsured because this is draconian"

That's why you take their car away too. It is draconian, but it's an extremely hazardous and anti-social behavior and should be punished accordingly. Sorry, I don't have a lot of sympathy for drunk drivers.

"Passing on the right is fine to ban IF you also ban blocking the passing lanes"

agreed, that would be critical, but that I mean only for freeways, I don't think it makes much sense for city streets in general.

"You can't make driver's automatically liable in a collision with a bike or person... " You can, it's all a manner of properly writing the laws.

"and you would see a significant increase in fraud as homeless run in front of cars for a payout."

I think you are grossly exaggerating any potential for abuse. People who think jumping in front of cars is a good way to make money will quickly be dead, the self solving the problem. Plus, somebody driving carefully will not be a particularly good target for such fraud, as they will have the ability to stop, or avoid.

"If you have a way to increase enforcement of stop signs or turn signals"

Just make cops enforce it. I've seen tons of situations where cops let people violate this rule. If a citizen takes a video of the cop letting a violator get away with it the cop should get a penalty, you'll see cops enforcing much more rigorously quite quickly.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 31, 2010 4:42 PM

The 85th percentile rule of thumb is otherwise known as the "design speed" of a roadway. Adjusting the design speed is the best way to control traffic speeds. There are numerous methods to lower the design speed of a road. One of them is what is called a "choker" that narrows the width of the road, much like what is being installed here on Linden.

See, we're back on topic....

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at August 31, 2010 4:48 PM

Thanks, Milkshake! We converged again! I agree, you need to change the design speed of the roadway to change the 85th percentile speed, but that again costs money. lyqwyd said we should change speed limits as a "no cost" change, but didn't mention changing design speeds, which definitely costs money and uses more gas and any number of other things. Of course, if it's a direct transfer from the city to Blue Bottle, all the worse for our financial situation.

Anyway, my point is that many of lyqwyd's changes are overbroad and could have several unintended consequences. I am far from a libertarian, but I don't really understand the need to legislate driving as heavily as lyqwyd does. The automatic liability provision is patently absurd and unworkable. Being reasonable and prudent seems to work in other areas and other countries, but apparently SF is special and you need to be told what to do. As they say on SFist, "not smug, just better."

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 31, 2010 4:56 PM

Wow. Whenever you put varied opinions about how one should live, in the same room, you are bound to get lots of heated discussion and strong voices.

Especially in open minded and liberal San Francisco.

Bikes vs. Cars: Green/hipster vehicles vs. Death Machines.

Renters vs. Owners: Artist/hipsters vs. solid working home owners.

We own a house (that I worked and saved very hard to get), We own 2 cars, and we also take Muni, and we also walk a lot. We recycle. We have a garden. We planted street trees. We shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joes.

We're not evil. We're not Satan. We don't drive Death Machines. We're just good solid San Franciscans.

Posted by: noearch at August 31, 2010 5:04 PM

according to wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_limit#Effectiveness

Almost every time you reduce speeds, crashes also drop.

repainting lanes, enforcement, and signal timing changes are for all intents and purposes no cost, as all the people involved are already on payroll, and the materials required are essentially zero.

"The automatic liability provision is patently absurd and unworkable."

just because you claim something doesn't make it true. It's by no means absurd to require the people most likely to cause harm to have to highest level responsibility.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 31, 2010 5:10 PM

I'm definitely an anti-car nut in that I don't like riding in cars or driving them, but I don't give a bleep if someone else does.

HOWEVER, I do get pissed when we design urban areas around cars. Dense urban areas should be designed around people, and then try to work in some space for cars if possible. I very much like projects like this - we need many, many more to solve the horrid scars that a half century of auto-above all planning has inflicted on our city.

Posted by: anon at August 31, 2010 5:15 PM

"It's by no means absurd to require the people most likely to cause harm to have to highest level responsibility."

Yes, and I said that everyone should be reasonable and prudent. You are trying to determine legal liability a priori, lyqwyd. That doesn't work. Drivers already have a presumption that they're at fault, especially in SF, and need to be able to rebut the presumption. But you can't formally shift legal *liability* like that without an opportunity fact-finding. Your suggestion is absurd and has no legal basis whatsoever.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 31, 2010 5:21 PM

"We're not evil. We're not Satan. We don't drive Death Machines. We're just good solid San Franciscans."

who said your evil? Nobody on this thread, nor did anybody say driving is evil.

You may associate criticism of car culture, and pointing out the large number of negatives that cars have, as somehow accusing you of evil, but that's simply not the case.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 31, 2010 5:26 PM

lyqwyd - I'm not going to debate most of your points as many of them come down to opinion. You are right that lots of people die in accidents with, between or by cars. Whether it is safer to ride a bike in this city or be inside a large reinforced metal machine usually driven at fairly low speeds within the city....I have my gut reaction but that's all it is.

However, I do need to address your 'automatic liability' proposal....the law is already written such that if a driver hits a pedestrian or bicyclist that if the driver is at fault he/she can be charged with assault or even manslaughter if a death occurs. Hefty fine, civil liability and jail time can result...but it must be proven that the driver is in fact at fault.

Are you really claiming that just by driving a car that if a bicyclist runs a stop sign or a child runs suddenly into the street chasing a ball that the driver should automatically be liable, no trial, no proof of fault....?

If that is your view than the statement:

"The automatic liability provision is patently absurd and unworkable."

...is very true.

I would add that it would also be contrary to our society's notions of fairness and innocent until proven guilty to assign 'automatic liability'.

You are clearly very passionate about this topic but don't let the passion get in the way of logic.

Posted by: CameronRex at August 31, 2010 5:39 PM

"You are trying to determine legal liability a priori"

it's already been determined. Drivers rarely suffer any legal repurcussions for killing others. Rarely even a ticket, it's just written off as an "accident".

"But you can't formally shift legal *liability* like that without an opportunity fact-finding. Your suggestion is absurd and has no legal basis whatsoever."

Parents can be held liable for the actions of their children, so I think there's plenty of legal options to apply liability here.

But If it's the specific word liability that you are having problems with then use fault or responsibility, or whatever word you like. I'm not worried about the specific legal implementation of it. It could be heavy fines, loss of license, or some other strategy. My only concern is that the highest level of harm is associated with the highest level of responsibility. I'm fine with some outs for drivers where it's clear the pedestrian/cyclist etc. is grossly negligent.

"Drivers already have a presumption that they're at fault, especially in SF"

I just disagree, there's not really much to debate here, as that's simply a matter of opinion.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 31, 2010 5:51 PM

Not the longest thread in Socketsite history but certainly the most sanctimonious.

Congratulations to lyqwyd for providing a full 16% of all of postings to this thread thus far (20 and counting) - all in less than 24 hours!

Posted by: Mikey at August 31, 2010 5:52 PM

we need many, many more to solve the horrid scars that a half century of auto-above all planning has inflicted on our city.

Really?

A half century of "auto-above all planning"?

You don't say?

Been to the Ferry Building recently? Seen the elevated freeway there?

I'm guessing you first moved here after 1989.

Please.

If you are going to exaggerate for impact, don't.

It makes too many here seem ill-informed at best, and spittle-chinned simpletons at worst.

I mean, fercrissakes, passenger service on BART is less than 50 years old....

Posted by: Debtpocalypse at August 31, 2010 5:53 PM

Let me make it simple for you:

The law is pretty simple: drivers of larger vehicles must take sufficient care to avoid hurting those in smaller vehicles, or more at risk.

Of course they get a trial. If they can show they took sufficient care, then no penalty. But merely saying you didn't see the person they hit is not sufficient care.

It's a basic application of negligence. I don't even know if we need new laws, just apply them in a more rational manner. If somebody doesn't pay sufficient attention while operating a dangerous vehicle, they are negligent, thus liable.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 31, 2010 6:04 PM

Agree with Debtpocalypse that anyone who claims SF is "auto-above all" is nuts, given many events here. Ever heard of the Freeway Revolts (technically a little over 50 years ago)? Anyone remember the Oak and Fell Street ramps? Anyone remember the 3rd St. ramp? N00bs. People who think SF is auto-friendly clearly don't drive around here.

lyqwyd, you don't understand the law, and you don't understand liability, and you don't understand the consequences of liability. Parental liability is not at all relevant to this situation (and you still have to determine liability through fact-finding, i.e. that the child is liable), and you're just digging a bigger hole with each response on this "automatic liability" scheme of yours. There's really no point in discussing this further.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 31, 2010 6:04 PM

"Been to the Ferry Building recently? Seen the elevated freeway there?"

"Anyone remember the Oak and Fell Street ramps?"

right, those are great examples... it only took a massive earthquake to get them down.

"you don't understand the law, and you don't understand liability, and you don't understand the consequences of liability"

I'm not really too concerned about whether it's liability, or the specifics of the law. If you want to argue semantics feel free. I'm much more interested in the bigger ideas, not the implementation. I'm confident this can be implemented in one manner or another that will stand up in court, so if you want it to be something other than liability, cool.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 31, 2010 6:13 PM

right, those are great examples... it only took a massive earthquake to get them down.

I understand now.

Your handle "lyqwyd" pays homage to the permanent moisture on your chin.

Posted by: Debtpocalypse at August 31, 2010 6:18 PM

"I like how you ignored the part between the two quotes you provided: "and keep myself aware of the fact that I'm operating a potentially deadly machine, and drive accordingly.""

... I thought it prudent to edit out something that is so obvious as to be entirely irrelevant. Your presumption is that you (and only you) are a safe driver, while the rest of us are hell-bent maniacs.

Posted by: amused at August 31, 2010 6:21 PM

Toady,

They're not San Franciscans. They're from elsewhere...and therin lies the whole problem.

Posted by: inmycountry at August 31, 2010 6:39 PM

"it only took a massive earthquake to get them down."

It is a myth that the earthquake was the only reason for taking down the Embarcadero Freeway. although the quake did stir the pot. The reality is that the Board of Stupidvisors voted to take it down in 1985 before the quake, and then a ballot proposition before the quake failed. Then the earthquake happened, but Caltrans planned to rehab the structure. Then, the mayor came up with a plan for a boulevard, and got some people behind it, except for Chinatown, which is why Chinatown now gets the Central Subway to Nowhere, and then finally mayor drummed up the funding, and then the freeway actually got demolished.

It is also a myth the earthquake was the only reason for taking down the Central Freeway in Hayes Valley. Caltrans had already started rebuilding the earthquake damage, and a proposition passed to ratify Caltrans' plan before a second proposition to take it down passed. A third ballot proposition to keep the Oak and Fell St ramps failed. The structure was around for a long time after Loma Prieta. Check out the timeline here:
http://articles.sfgate.com/2004-10-20/news/17449924_1_ramps-freeway-decks-freeway-opponents

However, I believe the 3rd Street ramp being cut could be directly attributed to the earthquake.

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 31, 2010 6:41 PM

Debtpocalypse - BART, seriously? Have you seen the freeways that we built/widened/repaved/etc during that same time? Tearing down one freeway? Seriously? Have you seen the price tag on the Bay Bridge reconstruction project - for only ONE HALF!?!?

So are we then to assume that national-level planning has not been auto-above-all for the past half century because Amtrak was formed in the 70's? Good lord, take a history lesson. We had 1:1 residential off-street car parking minimums in place in EVERY neighborhood in this city from the early 50's through the early 00's. That's a half century, by my math.

Spending a trifle on some non-auto-only items doesn't diminish the fact that we spent several orders of magnitude more on infrastructure that is truly auto-only. Oh well, at least we built sidewalks with most of our roads in the Bay Area - a lot of other places didn't even do that over the past 60 years.

Posted by: anon at August 31, 2010 6:45 PM

"They're not San Franciscans. They're from elsewhere...and therin lies the whole problem."

Well, inmycountry, I'd love for you to explain what a San Franciscan is and how a San Franciscan is supposed to feel. I have the same question of nnona with the "natives" comment. That's another loaded term...

Posted by: sfrenegade at August 31, 2010 6:45 PM

Yes, there were anti freeway folks long before the freeway collapsed, and had they not taken the opportunity to keep it from getting rebuilt it probably would have been. But nothing happened until the earthquake, and nothing would have had it not happened.

I used to drive on the central freeway, I remember it well, I also know that many wanted the offramp moved even farther back, and in fact there were some pretty legit protests, but those folks were essentially ignored.

Without Loma Prieta those freeways would still be standing.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 31, 2010 6:53 PM

"Your presumption is that you (and only you) are a safe driver, while the rest of us are hell-bent maniacs."

Nope, that's your presumption.

I know there are many people who drive better than me. I try to keep vigilant to my unsafe driving practices, and try to avoid them in the future, which is sometimes difficult as it's based on many years of bad habits. I've definitely become better, but there's still plenty of room for improvement.

Posted by: lyqwyd at August 31, 2010 7:00 PM

Yes, anon: "BART, seriously."

At the outset, you made an absolutist claim that was silly on its face.

Now, you wish to deride the example that revealed the emptiness of your absolutist claim by arguing relative spending on competing forms of transport.

Since it may escape you - but likely no one else on this thread - your invocation of relative spending undermines your original absolutist claim.

You'd find me more interested to engage you further if you'd originally engaged the discussion here sensibly.

Even half-sensibly.

Posted by: Debtpocalypse at August 31, 2010 7:08 PM

Kids cars schools coffee subways and the true nature of san franciscans. And bit about a dog.

I miss the central Freeway.

It made North Beach so much more accessible from hayes valley and points west.

SF needs real subway. No one is digging tunnels anywhere except maybe to Chinatown.

Lets dig a north beach to golden gate park underground bullet train with a final stop at Ocean Beach.

Go from 85 degrees to 54 degrees in 20 minutes!

Rumor has it some company called Starbucks copied the cafes of North Beach for taste and quality.

They drove down from Seattle.

In a van.

8 cylinders.

Our charming beatnik italian coffee custom was twisted into the fashioinista baristas who will not serve your coffee the way you want it because they must layer the flavors and be true to the bean.

I an switching back to tea.

We have not lost one coffee fashionista to reckless driving on Linden Alley.

Proof that pieds and cars can coexist.

Linden Alley is and always was very tight for anything over a mid-sized car.

Everyone who drives in the alleys knows this, drives slowly and they figure it out.

Families have cars. It is not some yuppie curse. Picqueup Andropov requires cars.

Whether it is car pool, a zip car or taxi -
these are all cars.

Go past any school at 7:50 am there is a lineup of mother truckers.

Public transit should be free for school age children. Everything up to a masters degree

Make Ph.D's pay.

the alley project was lot of work and the folks who worked on it did a lot of fundraising.

Before you hate it, wait until its finished.

All these folks crying cahoots, what have you done for your neighborhood, lately?

If you want famiiles to stay in cities improve the schools, and allow kids to walk to schools
near their home. So simple. Every school a good school.

Every teacher degreed in their subject matter.

We build too many jails, fight too many wars, argue andspend millions fighting over privte ideals and selling it as moral values. We spend more money and time on hate and fear then we spend on hope and joy.

We need more music teachers not more incarceration centers.

Put the best schools, principals and teachers the most challenged neighborhoods.

Real san franciscans think driving is okay, some cars are cool and they like biking too, and they clean up their spot on la playa after burning man.

The city should stop hiring temporary workers in the school system and attract and develop real career educators. The SFUSD has been been playing a shell game to avoid paying benefits for 30 years.

Real estate values for families is driven by school quality. As a realtor I long for better schools in the town that I love. I spend most weekends moving clients north to Marin or out to the East Bay.

Pleasanton is very pleasant and they have awesome schools.

I miss the kids. That is why I have a dog.

And 600 dollars a billable hour will not buy you in a house in Atherton.

Posted by: kathleen at August 31, 2010 8:17 PM

Wow. Is this really that interesting?

I live across the street from Blue Bottle, I am the most impacted from this project regarding car access (that is, I live in the place with the car elevator). Been there for 7+ years. I enjoy trying to run over the pedestrians in the Blue Bottle line with my SUV, its entertaining to me, this project makes it even more possible for me to finally succeed.

BTW - you'll also find me in the line as I am a habitual Blue Bottle drinker.

So, I suppose the project is a win-win for me then eh?

Posted by: TallGuy at August 31, 2010 10:16 PM

At the outset, you made an absolutist claim that was silly on its face.

Um, no. I said that we had spent half a century planning for autos-above-all. Throwing a few billion at BART doesn't negate the fact that we spent FAR more on freeways during that time. BART has ONE line with eight stops in San Francisco. How many lane-miles and exits worth of freeways do we have that were built during that time? And that's just in SF!

Are you actually suggesting that we haven't spent the majority of transportation dollars (exactly what autos-above-all means - a majority) on auto-centric infrastructure? Freeways alone will account for more money than all transit infrastructure monies during that time.

Good lord, take a look at a map sometime.

Posted by: anon at August 31, 2010 11:25 PM

@sfrenegade

"I have the same question of nnona with the "natives" comment. That's another loaded term..."


The sense that "native" is used in regard to San Francisco is far from "loaded". There are no racial, colonial, or nativist underpinnings to its use in this context.

Is it loaded to say a "native New Yorker" or a "native of Houston", for example?

Without getting into a full "native" v. "transplant" debate, let me try and answer your question.

A native San Franciscan is influenced by growing up in San Francisco in the same way a native of a small rural town in Texas, urban Chicago, or anywhere else in America (or the whole world, really) is shaped by their respective environments.

While these differing environments bestow a unique cultural influence on their natives, the one similarity for natives of any environment is the fact that the native environment is quotidian and familiar, concrete and real.

In SF, as in the rest of America, this native environment includes schools and Little League, dance classes and summer camps, park picnics and sleepovers, high school sports rivalries and family get togethers, etc, etc.. In short, the real experiences and attachments that bond people with their native environments.

This often clashes with a certain type of transplant's perception of SF. For this type of adult transplant, SF is a "liberal hotbed", "gay mecca", "hippie (hipster, more recently) paradise", "tech capital", etc... In other words, their move to the city is principally an idealistic or political decision.

As this type of transplant is attracted by an "ideal" of what SF is and should be, they tend to be highly politicized and loud ultra-defenders of whatever that particular ideal may be, often to the heights of intolerance alluded to several times in this thread.

This type of transplant tends to become the temporary über-San Franciscan that natives love to despise, particularly as natives have seen these transplants come and go, with no real roots in nor attachments to the city or region.

Chris Daly is a prominent example of this type of transplant (though to be fair, he is still in the region and plenty of non-natives despise him too).

My earlier allusions to the tolerance and openness of SF natives was a bit tongue in cheek, but nonetheless true. Could you picture how less kindly native New Yorkers (City) or Texans would take to highly politicized and loud Californians moving in and telling them how to live?

Posted by: nnona at September 1, 2010 12:26 AM

Whenever I see a debate regarding speed limits and lives saved, I can't help thinking about an old Bloom County cartoon from the late 80's. It's probably from 1988 since that was an election year and the scene is a political "practice" debate between Opus and Milo.

Milo: I understand that my opponent supports the 55 mph speed limit.
Opus: Saves 500 lives a year! I fully support saving lives.
Milo: Then he'd support the saving of another 10,000 lives by lowering the limit to 40 mph.
Opus: 40?
Milo: Or to 20... saving 30,000 lives per year.
Opus: Gee... 20 is pretty slow.
Milo: Apparently my opponent would send 30,000 men, women and children to fiery, mangled deaths just so he can zoom along to his manicurist at 55.
Opus: I DON'T HAVE A MANICURIST.
Milo: He probably doesn't. Most mass murderers don't. Hitler didn't.
Opus: STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!!
Milo: Rebuttal?
Opus: What?
Milo: Give your rebuttal.
Opus: Uh... Bush is a wimp.

Posted by: anonanon at September 1, 2010 1:29 AM

And Godwins law has been satisfied...

Posted by: lyqwyd at September 1, 2010 8:44 AM

I see that the die hard debaters are still trying to teach pigs to sing their song this morning. It looks like this thread will slow down but not die for a while. Hope ss is looking around for some contest prizes. ss has been a mecca of free advertising for Blue Bottle and their most famous or infamous branch. I wonder if they know it yet. That's another debate - how far does ss reach the masses?

Back to the off, off, off cable track debate - as a native Californian (but not born in SF) I entered the world in the '50s and from the moment I had my driver's license, was in SF as often as possible back in the day to experience the one and only summer of love whent there was still a real Haight Ashbury, attended the first earth day held in GG Park and everything in between. Thinking back on those nostalgic experiences put a smile on my face this morning (well that and the freshly ground, faux double expresso brewed at home in a regular coffee maker with my Starbucks knock off Costco brand coffee beans helps).

Then the memories wouldn't stop coming. One that came to mind was - the classic Bullitt. Whether you love or hate cars, it's hard to deny that this is one of THE most thrilling car scene chases ever filmed for the big screen. Why? Because "only in SF" could this kind of action be filmed. For those who want to enjoy "the ride", copy and paste the link but please don't try this at home:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMc2RdFuOxI&feature=player_embedded&fmt=18

Nnona - you are a native from where? Everyone is native from somewhere. In my humble opinion, I kind of doubt that you were born and raised a San Francisco. The reason I think that is because San Francisco is alien nation (or an alienation), with many neighborhood "states" within the city boundaries. It's a country of its own like CA is a state and planet of its own. Transplants to SF from other cities, states or countries are only one part of the issue here. You don't mention that there are native and non-native transplants from one SF neighborhood to another for whatever reason - economic, status, political, or any other kind of orientation. These neighborhoods are as unique to each other as our 51 states are to each other. You can tell just by crossing the neighborhood lines. Yes, SF is a melting pot, but in SF it goes waaaaaaaaaaaaay nations and nationalities. Opinions, clashes, debates in this city are just outside your front door, or as on Linden, just outside the Blue Bottle or your garage door.

Have a great weekend. Peace and Love.

Posted by: RSVP at September 1, 2010 8:58 AM

Instead of traveling at 55, it is much safer to travel at 200 ... on HSR

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at September 1, 2010 9:18 AM

Unless you are missing last member of the extinct Yelamu tribe you are not a Native San Franciscan.
(NSF)

You are just another member (JAM)
whether your family is FOB
(fresh off the boat),
or JOJ (just off the jet),

An offspring from one diaspora
or another seeking freedom
in one of the last american frontiers,
the wild, wild west.

from wikipedia.
The Yelamu were a tribe of Native Americans of Northern California in the Ohlone (Costanoan) language group. The Yelamu lived on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula in the region comprising the City and County of San Francisco before the arrival of Spanish missionaries in 1769. They were absorbed into the Mission San Francisco de Asís that was founded in 1776 by the Spaniards, and became some of the first "Mission Indians".

Within two generations of European contact, the effects of colonization and missionization, including disease and loss of their traditional economic model, drove the Yelamu people to extinction.

I am Wild about Waller...

Posted by: Kathleen at September 1, 2010 9:26 AM

"This type of transplant tends to become the temporary über-San Franciscan that natives love to despise, particularly as natives have seen these transplants come and go, with no real roots in nor attachments to the city or region."

nnona, this only brings up more questions. Your basic answer is that natives are people with families who stay in the city? That seems like an odd assertion when this city is so hostile to families. I know plenty of born and raised "native" SF people who think SF has changed over the years, and so they live in the rest of the Bay Area with their families and still visit quite frequently (and in many cases, grandma lives in the city still).

What percentage of natives vs. transplants do you think are in the city? Hypothetically, do you think someone who came here in the 60s and 70s (let's even say due to being a liberal or gay mecca) is a native or a transplant? At what point do you cross the line or can you never cross the line? What do you say to the argument that a lot of SF culture and history has been shaped by these "outsiders"? What about someone who grew up in any of the Bay Area counties but then moves to the city? Were you born and raised in the city? Did you go to high school here?

FWIW, it seems like the Yelamu and any other Ohlone-related people, plus many people of Mexican, Chinese, or Irish origin have a better claim to being "native" than some of the people who claim to be natives.

Posted by: sfrenegade at September 1, 2010 9:55 AM

Please stop. This thread has wandered too far off the path and disintegrated into vapid BS. Everything that needed to be said has been said. Just stop.

Posted by: steve at September 1, 2010 10:11 AM

Lyqwyd: "And Godwins law has been satisfied..."

I guess you missed it, but Godwins Law was satisfied in the first three hours (post #18 in the thread) by Stucco-sux.

Posted by: Rillion at September 1, 2010 10:31 AM

"BART has ONE line with eight stops in San Francisco. How many lane-miles and exits worth of freeways do we have that were built during that time? And that's just in SF!"

It's easy to come up with more examples if you're going to pooh-pooh BART. Muni Metro? Caltrain? Transbay Terminal redux? All of these were built well after the freeways. In fact, the only freeways "built" in SF after BART are the rehabbing of US101 at the Central Freeway after Loma Prieta (which may have decreased lane-miles) and the rehabbing of I-280 north of 101 after Loma Prieta (which reduced lane-miles).

And let's answer your question with how many total freeways and miles there are in the city, whenever they were built):
I-80E: 2 exits in the city proper, the other two are Yerba Buena and Treasure Island
I-80W: 5 exits in the city proper (101N shouldn't count as an exit as the freeway terminates there), the other is Treasure Island
US101N (freeway only): 11 exits (Octavia is a 12th, but the freeway dead-ends there, so it's not a true exit), 2 more if you include Doyle Drive, which I wouldn't, especially since it was built in the 40s
US101S (freeway only): 7 exits, 3 more if you include Doyle Drive
I-280N: 8 exits
I-280S: 7 exits

I get 7 exits on I-80 (3.5 per direction), 18 on US101 (9 per direction), and 15 on I-280 (7.5 per direction), for a total of 40, or 20 per direction. Many of those exits share an exit ramp or are part of the same interchange complex, so the true number is harder to ascertain (does 6th St. really count on I-280 since the freeway terminates and branches?), but I'm going by Caltrans exit numbering.

I-80 is about 1.58 miles (per Caltrans) from US101 to Fremont St. in the city proper (plus another 2.16 per Caltrans to Yerba Buena/Treasure Island)
US101 is 5.4 miles (per Caltrans) from Daly City to the end of the Central Freeway
I-280 is around 7 miles (per mileposts)

So I get 14 miles of freeway in the city proper. Lane-miles is harder. I-280 is pretty much 4 through lanes each way throughout. I-80 is 3 through lanes each way. US-101 varies depending on where you are.

How much of this was built in the last 50 years? Good question. The Embarcadero Freeway portion that was built was done by 1959. The Central Freeway (US101) was done by 1959. The Bayshore Freeway was partly opened by 1953, but construction wasn't finished until 1962. The I-280/Southern Freeway wasn't finished until 1973, so it's the real offender. How much of that was built after 1960, I don't know. Very little it seems.

Posted by: sfrenegade at September 1, 2010 11:20 AM

dammit, I did miss it! and all while I was wondering how long it would take, it had happened long ago...

Posted by: lyqwyd at September 1, 2010 12:14 PM

It's easy to come up with more examples if you're going to pooh-pooh BART. Muni Metro? Caltrain? Transbay Terminal redux? All of these were built well after the freeways. In fact, the only freeways "built" in SF after BART are the rehabbing of US101 at the Central Freeway after Loma Prieta (which may have decreased lane-miles) and the rehabbing of I-280 north of 101 after Loma Prieta (which reduced lane-miles).

Again, read what I said. A half century of auto-above-all planning (50's through the turn of the century). We have done a bit better with the balance over the last ten years.

Posted by: anon at September 1, 2010 12:49 PM

sfrenegade - are you forgetting the billions in retrofits and rebuilds for I-80? The current Doyle Drive project?

Posted by: anon at September 1, 2010 12:54 PM

I responded quite carefully to multiple posts you made, anon @12:49PM. But even if we adjust to 1950-2000 only, all of this was planned only in the 50s and was largely killed by the end of the 50s during the freeway revolts, parts of I-280 excepted. Even so, it's hard to claim that's "auto-above-all" for all of 50 years from 1950 to 2000.

BART was planned in the 50s and 60s (started in the late 40s) and built in the 60s, 70s, 90s, and 00s. Muni Metro is a product of the 80s, and let's not forget the T-Third, which has been in SF's plans since the 50s at least (and was originally part of the BART talks). Caltrain in its current form is a product of the late 80s, but largely the 90s. CAHSR had been spec-ed before the 00s.

You also asked how many lane-miles were built since BART. I gave the answer of practically none, and that's correct also. If SF is "auto-above-all," then you're not driving in the same city I drive in. SF has done everything it can to make driving in the city suck, and it truly does suck.

Posted by: sfrenegade at September 1, 2010 1:06 PM

"sfrenegade - are you forgetting the billions in retrofits and rebuilds for I-80? The current Doyle Drive project?"

It is extremely hard to argue that either of those projects are "auto-above-all" (especially given the new design of Doyle Drive), and it's hard to argue that the money for those projects would have gone into transit improvements in SF. Retrofitting is not the same thing as adding lane-miles.

Are there lane-miles being added for Doyle Drive? I can't remember. It's possible there's something right near the bridge and maybe something on approach/departure ramps.

It's just as silly to say *nothing* should be spent on road improvements as it is to say SF is "auto-above-all." We still get potholes here, and seem to have more than even some third world countries.

Posted by: sfrenegade at September 1, 2010 1:11 PM

Waaaahhhhh, it has been made marginally more difficult for me to drive my car on a small section of a tiny street! How dare another human being who is not in a car get in my way! Don't they know my car makes me more important than them?

Posted by: transitfirst at September 1, 2010 2:08 PM

you can tell Streetsblog is on vacation this week; all their commenters came over here.

Posted by: James at September 1, 2010 2:10 PM

@sfrenegade

"Your basic answer is that natives are people with families who stay in the city?"

No, my basic answer is that natives are people raised in and thereby influenced during their formative years by the culture of a particular place. Wherever that place may be in the world. Many people on this thread (including you surprisingly) are missing the nuance completely.

In a literal sense, being a native could imply being born in that place. However, if a person is born elsewhere but is primarily raised and influenced by a particular culture (say born in Las Vegas or Mexico City but raised from the age of 4 in SF), then that person would be exposed to the same cultural and geographical influences as a native born San Franciscan, in my opinion.
-------------------

"I know plenty of born and raised "native" SF people who think SF has changed over the years, and so they live in the rest of the Bay Area with their families and still visit quite frequently (and in many cases, grandma lives in the city still)."

Of course SF, like any other place in the world, has changed for better and worse over the years. Whether or not a "native" lives elsewhere in the Bay Area, though, is probably more a function of job, schools, space, weather etc.. than the fact that SF has changed. Many other places in the Bay Area also have changed drastically over the years (a good chunk of Silicon Valley = orange trees around the time when I was born).

But I do see where you are getting at with the example of extended families and people moving in and out of the City and how that adds ambiguity into the concept of "native". That has certainly happened in my extended family and most others that have been around the region for a few generations.
--------------------

"What percentage of natives vs. transplants do you think are in the city?"

No clue, but probably more natives than most transplants would think. Do most PacHts, Noe, and Castro bound transplants ever meet many people who grew up in and live in the Sunset, the Excelsior, or in housing projects around the City and work non professional jobs? Or know people who pack Kezar and USF for the Bruce Mahoney games? Probably not, because they orbit completely different social circles.

-------------------

"Hypothetically, do you think someone who came here in the 60s and 70s (let's even say due to being a liberal or gay mecca) is a native or a transplant? At what point do you cross the line or can you never cross the line?"

Hypothetically, I would say that person is probably a very well assimilated non native. If said person was raised in Brooklyn or Des Moines, that fact can never change. But for me personally at least, someone who has been here for 40 or 50 years and thrown down some roots is a "San Franciscan" at heart.
--------------------

"What do you say to the argument that a lot of SF culture and history has been shaped by these "outsiders"?"

I would say that "outsiders" have influenced SF culture and history to some extent like "outsiders" have done pretty much everywhere in our very mobile country.
--------------------

"What about someone who grew up in any of the Bay Area counties but then moves to the city?"

They are Bay Area natives, and will usually describe themselves as such. I have described myself as such many many times, no problem. I guess this sort of answers your question up above, this existence of a more pan-regional descriptor "Bay Area native".
--------------------

Were you born and raised in the city? Did you go to high school here?

Yes, in spite of the perceived hostility toward families and to the astonishment of not a few posters here, there actually are kids who grow up in the City. Of course, those same posters will bitch on a different thread about a house being to close to Town or GWHS because of the noise generated by the non-existent "native" kids.

Yes, preschool-12. College outside of the Bay Area. A good chunk of my 20s living, studying, and working outside of the Bay Area (partly abroad). So I understand what it means to be a transplant and an expat, for that matter.
--------------------

In the end, I'm not so sure why everyone is so touchy about the concept of a San Francisco "native". The term "native" in the sense I've used it is used all around the country, and indeed around the world, with no problem in understanding its meaning or intent.

For a recent and local example, when Jeremy Lin signed with the Warriors, there were repeated references to him being a "Bay Area native" and a "Palo Alto native". No one referred to him as being a "Boston native" in spite of him living there for the past four years and probably adapting well enough to the city.

And no one understood "native" in the context above as having anything to do with the indigenous strawmen introduced repeatedly and erroneously into the discussion. Not to mention whatever the hell RSVP tried to say, because s(he) made no sense at all.

@RSVP and Kathleen

I'm an anonymous poster on a blog. Believe me or not, I truly don't care. But I've found it very revealing that so many SF transplants have problems grasping that there are natives (in the sense I've repeatedly used) who do live in the City.

Do natives of Nairobi, Barcelona, LA, Philly, or Little Rock face the same issues as native San Franciscans when they describe themselves WHILE IN THEIR HOMETOWN to transplants as natives of their particular cities?

If one wants to take issue with my description of a "certain type of transplant" (note- I intentionally did not lump all transplants together in my above post), go ahead as that was the controversial part of my prior post.

But to start your argument (or end it in sfrenegades case) with some variation of "na na na na na na, you're not a "native" is revelatory and insinuates a deeper insecurity about the topic, if you ask me.

Posted by: nnona at September 1, 2010 2:54 PM

I would like the pro-car and anti-car folks to meet me right now in front of Blue Bottle, the main cement pad was just poured, its still wet. I'll etch your primary arguments in the cement, bullet points of course, medium font, such that your arguments will be etched in 'stone', and so that we can move on. I'll think about them when I drive over them every day.

But would you mind if we get a cup of BB coffee before we start?

Posted by: TallGuy at September 1, 2010 3:01 PM

afrenegade - autos-above-all planning has to do with more than simply freeways, that was just one example. You managed to never respond to why and how FORCING every single residence built in the city from the 50's through early 00's was not autos-above-all. That policy alone had a disastrous effect of killing many neighborhood commercial districts and pricing out countless folks and businesses.

Mandating that someone must buy a parking spot with a new unit seems pretty sutos-above-all planning to me.

Posted by: anon at September 1, 2010 3:07 PM

nnona, FWIW, I wasn't suggesting in the least that you're not a native. And with the indigenous person talk, I'm mostly poking fun at the typical SF attitude toward these things. I shake my head at those people too. I don't *actually* think the term "native" is loaded, but it is loaded to the people that you seem to dislike (the hipster/liberal transplants), and that's too bad.

To my point, I did want to get an idea of your formulation of the native San Franciscan, and I liked your answers. It seemed like you were trying to get at some weird blue collar SFer vs. trustafarian dichotomy that is almost reactionary-to-liberal/hipster, but I see after reading your answers that you're more balanced and reasonable than that. More people should definitely spend more time in the neighborhoods you mentioned, and there's a lot more to the city than the Mission. Cheers!

Posted by: sfrenegade at September 1, 2010 3:11 PM

"You managed to never respond to why and how FORCING every single residence built in the city from the 50's through early 00's was not autos-above-all."

That's not autos-above-all if it's done right. You're complaining more that SF is mostly SFRs instead of tall buildings, but that's a consequence of the market -- that's what people wanted. We could have gotten better design, but the development-by-committee attitude around here doesn't help either.

Even now, the NIMBYs come out in full force whenever someone wants a tall building (just look at the proposed building on Second, or that building proposed for Washington near Transamerica). And even now, the NIMBYs come out in full force when we eliminate parking (see the "historic" North Beach Library) because they're afraid it'll be harder for them to find a spot.

Developers could easily have built underground garages that were less obtrusive, and the unit-owners without cars could easily have leased out the parking spots like they do now. But people weren't willing to pay for better design and they still wanted their cars. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people who live still here want cars. I'm not a free-market-above-all person, but it's a good explanation here.

Posted by: sfrenegade at September 1, 2010 3:19 PM

Thanks to sfrenegade @11:20 AM.

Posted by: Debtpocalypse at September 1, 2010 3:22 PM

sfrenegade, you're talking about design, not about the MANDATE that FORCED every person, whether it be SFH or giant building, to build a parking spot, whether they wanted to or not. Forcing people to build a parking spot for every unit absolutely helped coat the city in SFHs more than it likely would have, and that encouraged more folks with cars to take up residence.

Of course, over time, the folks that don't want a parking spot simply leave or pay for it - but that's NOT the market acting, and those who really don't want or need the spot will just deal with it. It becomes the norm. However, any type of mandate is not "market-related" unless you can somehow prove that the exact same thing would have happened under a free market.

The vast majority of the rest of the US followed the same rules (or even more absurd - mandating multiple spots per residence), so you can't really look at any other place and say "it's the market working." If you started making everyone pay for a donut each day, after fifty years we'd probably have many people arguing that people buy a lot of donuts because of the market.

Posted by: anon at September 1, 2010 3:33 PM

You're telling me that the collective action of the market, i.e. voters, couldn't have gotten the mandate changed earlier? Once again, nothing forces people to buy cars, whether or not they have a garage.

Posted by: sfrenegade at September 1, 2010 3:40 PM

Who is talking about forcing people to buy cars? Certainly not me.

Providing something for below cost or forcing the market to build more than it would naturally create are the same thing. Subsidizing anything results in more of the product being consumed than naturally would be.

Voters are not "the market" working, otherwise you can say that rent control has been determined by the market. Voters can screw up policy just as easily as politicians or kings (usually more so), because they are easily manipulated by special interests (I say that not in a negative way - every entity that tries to influence voting is a special interest, good or bad). Voters can set the rules of the market, but that has nothing to do with collective action of the market - that's a mandate enforced by the voters on themselves, which may have completely unintended consequences on the market itself.

Posted by: anon at September 1, 2010 3:54 PM

Wasn't Dan White a San Francisco native?

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at September 2, 2010 9:47 AM

UPDATE: The cement has dried, the curbs are gone, and the lines between street and sidewalk at the eastern end of Linden have been "blurred." And according to a plugged-in tipster, benches will soon be in place, perhaps by the end of the week. (Photo: The Lines On Linden Have Been Blurred, Benches Coming Soon)

Posted by: SocketSite at September 7, 2010 3:10 PM

And perhaps by then we will have reached the end of this thread!

Posted by: Salarywoman at September 7, 2010 5:16 PM

^^^ I stopped reading after the sanctimonious hypocrites dissed Blue Bottle. I can't waste time with addleheaded extremists :-)

Posted by: dub dub at September 7, 2010 8:27 PM

Hey, folks. Go look at it ( I did). This is a great design. You don't have to believe me. It doesn't cause AIDS. It won't prolong the war in Iraq. It is just a streetscape redesign. And guess what - it slows down cars, and allows cars and pedestrians to co-exist. Duh. Everyone wins.

Posted by: Jim at September 7, 2010 9:09 PM

I'm betting on a West Village vibe, allowing me to comment that only certain kinds of Manhattanization are taboo in SF.

Posted by: EH at September 7, 2010 9:15 PM

So, does that mean that the West Village counts as Real San Francisco?

Posted by: justme at September 8, 2010 12:21 AM

Nice quick story on this today: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/10/26/DDV31G0LI8.DTL

I'm a fan - hope others who might have dissed the idea may re-consider.

Posted by: DanRH at October 26, 2010 5:57 AM

From the article :

"Another sort of concern was raised by neighboring building owners: Who's liable if there's an accident?"

You wouldn't believe how many innovative ideas are torpedoed because the city doesn't want any additional exposure to liability. I cannot blame them and it is certainly good to be cautious when experimenting with roadway infrastructure and exposing taxpayers to lawsuits.

So usually it is far easier for the city's attorneys to just say "no" than to try something new. The history of this Linden Alley project shows that determined people outside of the city have to keep the energy going in order for something like this to meet reality.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at October 26, 2010 9:06 AM

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