No Green Gardens in July

Our Green Gardens team is taking a rest in July!

Mark your calendars for our next stairway clean-up

Saturday, August 3 from 9:30-11:30 am

Our mission is to improve our public staircases and their surrounding green areas with a healthy combination of gardening*, safety, neighbor involvement and fun!

Everyone is welcome.

E-mailstairs@doloresheights.orgfor more info, or just show up!

*Heavy lifting and hill climbing are not required.

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Dennis Richards’ Recap of SB 50 at our Spring Gathering

At our June 1 Spring Neighbors Gathering, Dennis Richards recapped Senator Scott Wiener‘s bill SB 50. That bill would sweepingly upzone (that is, change zoning to allow more density on each lot) most of the City (and indeed much of the State). It would incentivize more market-rate & luxury housing, but would not effectively promote more affordable housing which we so desperately need.

In addition to these general points, we should add that the bill in its current form would have significant impact on Dolores Heights:

  • Increase height limits within theDolores Heights Special Use District from 35′ to 55′ (in most cases; 45′ in a few locations) because of proximity to the J Church. It would do this without requiring that developers build multi-unit or affordable housing
  • Waive all maximum controls on density for all of Dolores Heights because of proximity to the J and the 24. So any lot can have any number of units, as long as the result complies with the Building Code.
  • Not increase the production of affordable housing in our area: Most lots are not large enough to hold more than 10 units legally. SB 50 only requires affordable or inclusionary requirements for projects with more than ten units.
  • Because of the increased density, a proposal that would demo a single family residence and replace it with multiple units on what is today an RH-1 lot could be approved “by right” without review by the City or appeal by adjacent neighbors.

SB 50 is officially on hold until next year. However, Senator Wiener may be able to use any number of legislative maneuvers to bring it back at least in part this year. As an example of a step he could take, Senator Wiener just resorted to a legislative trick called “gut and amend”. He’s taken a bill that originally dealt with licensing for barbers and cosmetologists – SB 592 – and amended it to create another housing bill which is different than SB 50 but in some ways might be even worse.

SB 592 is a very complex and detailed piece of housing legislation that would undermine a long list of local controls over residential developments by extending the scope of the Housing Accountability Act (HAA). The HAA was originally passed in the 1980s to protect communities from housing discrimination, but has been increasingly used to sue cities in order to force approval of development permits. SB 592 changes the HAA to an anti-local controls measure that appears to disallow Discretionary Review and appeals and protects proposed McMansions from neighborhood objections. We will write more about SB 592 as we understand it better.

What can you do? Call Assembly Housing Committee Chair (and our state assemblyman) David Chiu at (916) 319-2017. Urge him to oppose SB 592.

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A Look Back at our 2019 Spring Neighbors Gathering

DHIC’s Spring Gathering brought together neighbors and several key city leaders: Rafael Mandelman, our district supervisor, and Dennis Richards, a San Francisco Planning Commissioner (more on his remarks and key legislation HERE.)


Supervisor Mandelman provided updates on neighborhood/district issues and answered neighbors questions. He also introduced Jessica Closson, our new District 8 Safety Coordinator. Jessica is meeting with community groups to identify top safety issues and how she can help us address them.


Before the gathering, neighbors met for the monthly Green Gardens clean-up. They worked to clear and trim the green areas adjacent to the Sanchez Steps (above 19th Street.) Everyone is welcome to this first Saturday event. There will be no stairway clean-up in July but we’ll be back in action on Saturday, August 3. For more info, see Green Gardens announcement in our next newsletter or write

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Dolores Park History Day Sunday, May 26 from 2-6 pm

Dolores Park History Day ~ Sunday, May 26 from 2-6 pm

Why are all those shacks in the park (Hint: It’s 1906)?

What streams ran near the park and where did they go?

Who was buried in the parkland (before it was a park)
and why were they moved?

Who lived in the Mission Dolores area –
starting with the native peoples through today?

How and why has it changed over the centuries?To hear these and other stories, stop by Dolores Park on Sunday, May 26 from 2pm on. Neighbors at six separate tables will outline important historic events. Each speaker will cover a key period in the area’s history.

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Dolores Park – Homelessness Update

Robert Brust, a leader of the Dolores Park Ambassadors & DHIC member, and several neighbors recently met withRec and Park staff members.TheyaskedthePark representativesto take action in response toincreased illegal camping and other violations.Significantly moreunhoused peopleare sleeping in the park andputtingtheir belongings in the park andonCity sidewalks. This week aParkstask force was in the park alerting the 40 or so folks sleeping there that they have to leave.

The Rec and Parkteam will continue to enforce the Park’s ban on overnight sleeping/camping . And they will be joined by DPW, SFPD, and the Homeless Outreach Team (SF HOT) who offer shelter and other services to homeless individuals.

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Green Garden Day – Saturday, June 1

Our Green Garden Day stairway clean-up takes place on Saturday, June 1 from 9-11 am at Sanchez & 19th Street stairs.

Plan to stay on and join us at 11 am for the annual Spring Neighbors Gathering!

Heavy lifting and hill climbing are not required.

There’ll be coffee provided by Spike’s Coffees & Teas and treats from the DHIC, garden tools and gloves courtesy of SF Parks Alliance and SFDPW, as well as lots of friendly faces.

Our mission is to improve our public staircases and their surrounding green areas with a healthy combination of gardening, safety, neighbor involvement and fun!

Everyone is welcome.

E-mail for more info, or just show up!

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Join us! DHIC Spring Neighbors Gathering ~ June 1

Let’s get together & continue to improve our neighborhood!

Join hosts
Bruce Bowen and John O’Duinn

and our special guests

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman

Dennis Richards, SF Planning Commissioner

Engage in dialogue with Supv. Mandelman on District 8 issues, homelessness, conservancy, demolition, housing issues

Get an SB 50 update from Dennis Richards and ask your questions

Spikes Coffee and Yummy Treats!

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Get Informed on the Proposed Green Benefit District

A special assessment district, the Mission Dolores Green Benefit District, is proposed for our neighborhood and a surrounding area. It would have its own special assessment paid by all property owners in the district (estimated at $150 to $300 per year for an average size property.) The creation of this district requires a petition then a vote of property owners. DHIC has not taken a position on the GBD and urges residents to be informed on this important decision.


DHIC Board members, Hans Kolbe and Bruce Muncil, collaborated on this summary of the pros and cons for a green benefit district. Please educate yourself. The next steps in forming a green benefit district are: collecting signatures on a petition to authorize a vote on a green benefit district and then (for all property owners in the proposed district) a vote for/against the green benefit district.


  1. The GBD provides a long term framework for neighborhood activities and improvements through a fixed funding mechanism.

2. The GBD will bring together and amplify the voices of neighbors and neighborhood groups. The GBD will not compete or interfere with existing groups but support them.

3. The GBD activities will be prioritized and controlled by neighbors, merchants, and neighborhood groups.

4. Initial Priorities as determined by neighborhood surveys and group meetings are:

  • Enhanced maintenance and safety of our neighborhoods public spaces
  • Small scale greening improvements such as sidewalk and median gardens
  • Improved pedestrian and bicycle safety
  • Special services around business corridors: 18th Street and Valencia Street

5. For the DHIC area the GBD will put an emphasis on safety and cleanliness of the hillside stairs (lighting, power washing) and supporting the garden committees activities and possibly attempting new gardening areas currently not maintained by city or neighbors

6. The GBD will organize and support neighborhood activities honoring our historical legacy and engage in shaping our future

7. The GBD will be a strong advocate towards the City and its agencies and hold them accountable for providing their baseline services. The GBD will not make up for a shortfall of city services.

8. The GBD will be professionally organized and managed. Its spending and priorities are public and auditable.

9. The GBD will have stature to attract significant outside funding from private businesses and foundations, goal 30% of budget.

For more information go to the Mission Dolores Green Benefit District website. And for an example of existing GBD in the Potrero Hill/Dogpatch neighborhood see:


  1. GBD expands on City services already available now, at additional cost to our current taxes. Assessment is ostensibly an extra tax to cover what we already pay the City.


  1. Implementation not democratic: Final vote only requires a majority of votes cast, not a majority of all property owners. Votes are weighted by lot size and building square footage, giving City Government properties (Parks, DPW, Police, Fire) and affluent residential properties a larger block of votes over average property owners. Not one vote for one property.


  1. Creates another bureaucracy in addition to the City departments. Can create confusion as to who is called and for what services. Why do we need a $120,000+/yr GBD manager when we have our very responsive Supervisor Mandelman?


  1. Three other SF Neighborhoods have rejected GBD proposals: Inner Sunset, Greater Buena Vista, and Golden Gate Heights all rejected GBD because residents determined GBDs had more cons than pros.


  1. The Mission Dolores Neighborhood Association opposes the proposed Castro/Mission Dolores Green Benefit District:


  1. Assessment has no current provision for relief for seniors or limited income: Unlike supplemental taxes which exempt seniors, by law GBD assessment cannot. Additional parcel assessments/taxes reduce affordable housing viability for long term vulnerable fixed income senior residents.


For more information see – Concerns Around Green Benefit Districts from Mission Dolores Neighborhood Association and this Mission Local article on GBD



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Neighborhood Safety Update

Thank you to the block safety groups in Dolores Heights and on adjacent streets for their work! We want to alert you to recent trends:

  • Car break-ins especially around Dolores Park on the weekends
  • Organized gangs commit most break-ins and target tourist areas
  • Call 911 if you see anyone looking in parked car windows –Mission Station Police want to arrive before or during a break-in
  • Block groups may post warnings not to leave any belongings in cars
  • Suspicious activities in our neighborhood
  • People checking out doorsteps (UPS drivers continue to hear of package theft activity) or spending time in parked cars on isolated or dead-end streets

If it doesnt look or feel right, call the SFPD non-emergency at 415-553-0123 which will dispatch a patrol car

If you are not on a block safety alias, email to get connected.

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SB 50 Has Been Amended – What Does that Mean for Dolores Heights?

SB 50 has been amended. Yet it still overrides San Francisco’s thoughtful planning for density and growth. And it is a top-down, cookie-cutter proposal that benefits real estate developers . It provides significant value to developers through upzoning, by-right building, greater heights and mass. Yet, it doesn’t require developers to provide any additional contribution to fund affordable housing, transit or infrastructure.

It guts the Dolores Heights Special Use District height and rear-yard setbacks — allowing buildings to rise to 45 or 55 feet and include any number of units. When combined with other existing laws, it can allow projects to override the City’s demolition controls and our setback rules. And it can allow all of this without any additional investment in our already overtaxed transit and water infrastructure, and without even providing for any new affordable housing. Finally, Sensitive Communities (including parts of the Mission, Bayview, Tenderloin, and parts of SoMa) have no guarantees that their local plans will be implemented. Moreover, the plans must comply with the bills density requirements. So SB 50 doesn’t protect them from the market pressures that drive displacement and gentrification.

This article by a former Los Angeles city planner provides a more detailed summary.

Cities are standing up to SB 50s heavy-handed two-sizes fits all approach. San Francisco officially opposes SB 50 as the wrong way to solve our affordable housing crisis. To date, 35 other cities joined us in opposing SB 50. More cities and groups are reviewing the bill.

So, if not SB 50, how can we solve our affordability crisis in San Francisco?

Here are some ideas. Let us know what you think

  1. Continue San Francisco’s planning for growth: In 2018 the City authorized 6,097 units of new housing (only 31 single-family) – on track to produce a projected additional 92,000 housing units needed for new San Franciscans in 2040. This is more housing authorized than other Bay Area county except Alameda and Santa Clara counties with 15 to 30 times more land area.
  2. Target incentives to close gaps: Identify shortfalls in the required state RHNA goals for housing by income level (market-rate,moderate, low, and lowest). Apply the SB 50 framework to those categories (e.g., market-rate or affordable) in which cities are under-producing housing. In San Francisco, we aren’t achieving our RHNA goals for affordable housing, so apply SB 50 incentives/ waivers to affordable projects only.
  3. Prioritize affordable housing production
    1. Use our state and local bond mechanisms and tax dollars to fund affordable housing (e.g., Mayor Breeds proposed $500M bond and the announced education tax refund )
    2. Apply SB 50’s incentives and waivers to projects that are minimum 50% affordable
  4. Implement a rental registry to track rental housing stock and prevent tenant evictions/housing demolition
  5. Recommend cities conduct community-based planning to achieve the community’s housing goals. Example – Supervisor Mar has initiated community-based planning for the Sunset District neighborhoods
  6. Have SF Planning Department conduct an Environmental Impact study to quantify total development capacity and effects on transit, infrastructure, and quality of life before implementing a program with the scope and scale of SB 50
  7. Fund transit as the foundation for sustainable development before implementing SB 50. Target state transportation funds to denser areas such as San Francisco. Have SF Board of Supervisors & SFMTA solve the $21 billion deficit which SF Muni needs to fund its projected 2045 capacity
  8. Obtain funding for infrastructure investments for denser development:
    1. Developers: additional infrastructure (water, sewer, schools, etc.)
    2. Employers: increased mass transit costs (operations and capital)
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