No Green Garden Day in December or January

Due to everyone’s holiday busy-ness there will NOT be a Green Garden work day on December 4 or January 1.

Our next Green Garden Day will be Saturday, February 5, 2022.

Happy Holidays to all!

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Major Changes to Single-Family Housing – CA Law and SF Planning

State and local changes in land-use law make sweeping changes to single family zoning and to our ability to review projects NOW. Even bigger changes are being proposed.

Two bills (SB 9 and SB 10) passed by the State allow multi-unit development in neighborhoods like Dolores Heights. With the passage of SB 9, single-family lots will allow a duplex, or to be subdivided into two lots, or both. So a current single-family lot in San Francisco could build up to 4 units (plus allowed Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs.) SB 10 lets the City rezone most lots to allow as many as 10 units.

On top of this, Supervisor Mandelman has introduced an ordinance that would allow up to four units (plus allowed ADUs) on any residential lot in San Francisco.

The Planning Department is building on these major changes. At a Planning Commission hearing on Thursday, November 18, the Department will recommend expanding both the State laws and the proposed Mandeman ordinances. DHIC is still evaluating these proposed changes. However, we understand that the Department’s recommendations would rezone all RH-1 lots to RH-2, allow four units in all residential lots and six units on corner lots (plus allowed ADUs in both cases.) For proposed four-unit projects, no public notice or review will be required. That means, neighbors will neither receive a City notice that a four-unit building is proposed near them, nor can they request a review. We are still evaluating the impacts of the Department’s proposals, to ensure they do not affect the DH Special Use District.

Powerful currents of change across the country are affecting housing policy. These changes are hitting San Francisco and Dolores Heights. DHIC continues to monitor and to influence local impacts. Stay tuned for a “call-to-action” for emails or public comment to our Supervisor and/or Planning Commissioners. For more information, email PLU@doloresheights.org.

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Mayor Breed’s Homelessness Recovery Plan

Many neighbors are asking: “what progress is the City making toward ending homelessness?” Thanks to Prop C, San Francisco has $1.3 billion in homelessness funding for 2021 – 2023. Yet, street conditions – with drug sales, drug use, and people sleeping and dying on our streets – do not seem any better. Here’s a report from the Mayor which provides more facts and figures than we’ve seen during the past two-plus years.

Homelessness has long been an issue for the Bay Area and one that was only magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an issue as complex as it is harmful. Some individuals find themselves unhoused because their home life was not safe, some struggle with addiction and mental health, while others are simply desperate for work. Because the people struggling with homelessness are so varied, so must be our response.

And while we have a lot of work to do, let me assure you: we are making a difference. 

Right now over 10,000 people receive shelter and housing every day, and this past year in the midst of the pandemic we moved 5,700 unhoused individuals into safety by activating 25 hotels and other shelter-in-place settings. And more help is on the way.

Our current budget being put into action right now includes a $1 billion expansion of our Homelessness Recovery Plan over the next two years that will create an additional 10,000 placements and prevent over 7,000 households from entering homelessness.

This is an unprecedented financial commitment. From expanded housing solutions to additional City personnel to improved service delivery, our team now has the resources to end the crisis and be a national model for homelessness response.

But with resources, we need to have accountability. That is why we have recently launched a new website that will provide updates on how we are reaching our goals. And as we add housing and resources, we also have to be clear that if people have a place to go, we need to get them there. It’s not humane to leave people on the streets when we have options for them that are safer and can serve as a path to long-term stability.

We will continue being aggressive and innovative, providing services and pathways to permanent housing while also maintaining the safety and vibrancy of our community. That’s my commitment.

How Hotels Saved Lives

To manage shelter capacity loss, 2,600 emergency housing placements were created during the height of the pandemic to keep some of our most vulnerable residents safe.

Reaching People on Our Streets

Of the 4,648 individuals engaged by the Healthy Streets Operations Center between June 2020 and June 2021, 45% have been placed into shelter solutions.

Of those who were placed, more than 40% were in Shelter-in-Place hotels, and more than 30% were at Safe Sleeping Sites.

From April 2020 through June 2021, there was a 67% decrease in the number of encampments.

Looking Forward

Since launching the Homelessness Recovery Plan, 2,662 new placements have been created – 44% of our goal of 6,000.

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Green Garden Day – Saturday November 11

Our next Green Garden work day will be Saturday, November 11 at the 19th & Sanchez Staircase from 9-11 am.

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Green Garden Day – Saturday, October 2

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Rodgers Family Visits, Cleans “Audrey’s Bench”

The Rodgers family and friends clean Audrey’s bench and site on August 1, 2021. Photo: Carolyn Kenady.
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Green Garden Day on August 7, 9-11 am

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2021-2023 Budget: $1.3 Billion Plan to Address Homelessness

San Francisco’s $1.3 billion for housing/other homelessness services has garnered headlines across the country. $800 million in funds from the Proposition C tax (current year’s tax receipts plus funds in escrow during litigation) significantly increased this two-year budget allocation. The City will provide more services ranging from permanent housing, shelter, mental health treatment beds, and homelessness prevention. The budget projects that these programs will assist between 11,000 and 12,000 individuals.

How will this budget be spent? The final budget wrapped up late Tuesday, June 29 — with final figures not yet available. As we go to press, the budget is slated to be approved by the Board of Supervisors on July 13.

Here’s a high-level overview using the City budget figures as of June 2. Proposition C mandates strict funding allocations: 50% to housing, 25% to mental health, 12% to prevention, and 10% to shelter and hygiene, with the remainder to administration. What are the amounts and how much do they buy? The Homelessness Prevention program (proposed at $194M) serves the greatest number. It targets to prevent an estimated 8,000 individuals/families from falling into homelessness. The permanent housing programs (proposed at $681M) are projected to provide 2,725 beds. Mental Health Services’ allocation of $340M provides an estimated 337 treatment beds. Shelter & Hygiene with proposed $137M pays for existing shelter and funds 653 new shelter beds (ranging from Navigation Centers to Safe Sleep/Safe Park sites.) The final figures may vary – as the budget negotiations shifted the amounts/numbers.

How do people become homeless? San Francisco’s most recent Point-in-Time Count (January 2019) included a survey which asked 1,045 individuals the primary cause of their homelessness:

  • Over one-quarter (26%) of respondents identified job loss
  • Eighteen percent (18%) reported drugs or alcohol
  • Thirteen percent (13%) identified eviction
  • 12% reported an argument with a friend or family member who asked them to leave
  • 8% cited mental health issues

For more information, see the San Francisco Homeless Count and Survey 2019 or the Downtown Streets Team’s The Truth About Homelessness (with Bay Area statistics.)

What will homelessness in our City look like in two years? Homelessness Prevention (projected to keep 8,000 housed) has the greatest potential to significantly reduce the number of newly homeless. When the housing funds deliver their projected 2,725 beds, they will be prioritized to house the 1500 people still in the Shelter-in-Place (SIP) hotels. This leaves 1200 beds for those unhoused on the streets. Add to that the 1000 shelter and treatment beds, and SF will have approximately 2200 placements for those on the streets. Conservatively, San Francisco has 5,800 unhoused people living on our streets. (Based on the last official count in 2019 of 8,000 homeless — minus the 2200 placed in the SIP hotel program during 2020.)

Net/net: we are investing in permanent solutions. Yet, we still do not have enough housing or shelter for those on our streets. To close this gap, we need more interim shelter capacity over the coming years while the City ramps up its housing programs. (Based on the progress in placing the SIP hotel occupants – which started in November 2020 and is now projected to end in early 2022 – the City may not achieve its two-year goals.) Interim shelter is the stop-gap and can be increased relatively quickly via expanding indoor shelter capacity, use of small cabins, or more efficient/effective safe sleep/parking programs.

Let’s not continue to use our sidewalks as the waiting line for permanent housing. We are simply allowing more people to fall into chronic homelessness. Being chronically homeless means individuals have more health vulnerabilities that require more services and, tragically, that more people will be dying on our streets.

The 2021 CityBeat Poll (conducted by Dignity Health and the SF Chamber of Commerce) provides a current view of SF voters’ opinions. It documents that we and our neighbors are very concerned about homelessness, crime, and quality of life issues.

  • Homelessness is the top issue: with 65% of those responding rating it the top issue and 71% of respondents saying it’s gotten much worse over the past year
  • 70% say Quality of Life has gotten worse over the past year
  • 46% are concerned about  public safety and crime – with voters supporting academy classes and community-based policing
  • Also voters responded to specific questions about homelessness services – giving a high priority to these programs:
    • 80%: expanding conservatorships for mentally ill individuals
    • 74%: providing more temporary shelter for homeless individuals
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Dolores Heights History: Audrey’s Bench

Do you know the story behind the carved wooden bench on Sanchez near 21st Street? It’s a lovely place to sit and enjoy a sunny day or to catch your breath after walking up Sanchez Hill.

J.B. Blunk carved the bench from a giant redwood, smoothed and coated with a protective finish to reveal its rich tones. On March 27, 1999 Mayor Willie Brown dedicated the bench in honor of Audrey Rodgers, President of DHIC during the 70s and 80s. She organized neighbors to plant trees, underground power lines, preserve open space and – her last and biggest accomplishment – to gain passage of the Dolores Heights Special Use District (DH SUD) in 1980.

In the late 70s the San Francisco Planning Department proposed new residential zoning with heights at 40 feet and reduced rear yards to 25% of the lot. Audrey organized neighbors to obtain standards appropriate to Dolores Heights’ character. At hearings they described the neighborhood with its uniform scale of buildings, mixed with abundant landscaping in yards and steep street areas, rows of houses that step down hillside streets with building setbacks with front gardens and interesting entryways. The Board of Supervisors passed the Dolores Heights Special Use District – setting 35 foot height limits and 45% rear yard setbacks. DHIC supplemented the SUD with its Residential Design Guidelines.

Policy 2.7 of the Urban Design Element of the Comprehensive Plan recognizes Dolores Heights as “one of five examples of outstanding and unique areas which contribute to San Francisco’s visual form and character” and in which neighborhood associations should be encouraged to participate in the cooperative effort to maintain the established character. Audrey Rodgers’ leadership helped to retain these striking visual elements of Dolores Heights that we and many visitors enjoy today.

Janice Quinn, Audrey’s daughter, and other family members will be in Dolores Heights on Saturday, August 1 to visit and clean the bench. Stop by to say hello. For more information, email us (info@doloresheights.org.) And here’s Florence Holub’s lovely first-person narrative in the June 1999 Noe Valley Voice.

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Green Garden Day Returns!

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