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.
As this beautifully repainted Golden Hydrant reminds us, April 18 marked 115 years since the earthquake in 1906 that did so much to change and define our city. As we look back, we should remember that being prepared for the future is the best way to honor our past, ensure the safety of ourselves and our neighbors, and preserve the beautiful buildings and public spaces that mean so much to us.
Our city is made up of many neighborhoods. We need to prepare to be one ready community when it counts. The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management offers several ways to get involved in keeping our city and citizens safe in the event of a disaster.
Another option is to get involved with the San Francisco Fire Department’s Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT), a free training program for individuals, neighborhood groups and community-based organizations in the city. Through this program, you will learn hands-on disaster skills that will help you respond to a personal emergency as well as act as members of a neighborhood response team.
Supervisor Mandelman is introducing two proposed housing ordinances. Although the two ordinances share some of the same DNA, they are separate and distinct in their intent, content and timelines. Neither bill directly changes the Dolores Heights Special Use District (SUD). Both bills would lead to process and zoning changes in the neighborhood. DHIC has not yet taken a position on either bill.
1. Monster Home” Ordinance: This ordinance has already been introduced at the Board of Supervisors and will be heard at the Planning Commission in April. The ordinance is, in part, a response to the onslaught of very large home developments in Dolores Heights.
The purpose of the ordinance is to make it more difficult to build a very large single family home, unless the project provides additional, and more equitably sized, units. The ordinance would require Conditional Use approval for a new home larger than 2,500 square feet, or any construction that expands an existing home by more than 50%, or beyond 2,500 square feet in size, unless the project increases the number of units on the lot.
2. Supervisor Mandelman is also drafting an additional ordinance that would allow for up to four units on corner lots, and on lots within a half-mile of a major rail station (i.e. Muni Metro underground or BART stations – stations with a turnstile). Per the chart below, some Dolores Heights properties are in a half-mile of the Castro Muni-Metro stop and will be covered by this upzoning.
The DHIC Green Garden Group hopes to be able to resume their monthly work bees on Saturday mornings as soon as City Health Orders permit. Fingers crossed for April! Keep your eye here on the DHIC Website and our Facebook page.
Our neighbors live with the effects of street homelessness. Street sleeping is not safe, not healthy, and not compassionate. A Place for All proposes a policy that the City provide shelter to all who will accept it. It also requires a City implementation plan to replace street sleeping with safe and healthy off-street interim shelter.
Sanctioned safe sleeping sites benefit both our unhoused and housed residents. They keep our unhoused residents safe from violence, crime, and the coronavirus. They also bring welcome relief to the City’s housed residents. Unsanctioned encampments in neighborhoods have produced blocked sidewalks, litter, open drug use, and crime. A January 2020 poll found that 71% of San Francisco voters identified homelessness and street conditions as the City’s top issue.
While the solution for homelessness is housing, the waiting line cannot be on our streets. SIP hotel occupants have priority for housing, and those on our streets slide further into chronic homelessness with over a majority suffering from behavioral health/substance abuse.
Safe sleeping sites operating for nearly one year are a proven model that now host approximately 300 people. Guests have safety, stability, and support services – a key first step on their path out of homelessness. The sites can be cost-effective when they shelter 100 guests as the legislation proposes.
A Place for All will have a public hearing in April. More details to follow. Email email@example.com with questions, ideas, or help.
A Place for All: shelter for all who want to get off the streets
WHAT IT DOES:
Enacts a SF policy to provide shelter for unhoused seeking a safe place to sleep
Mandates a detailed plan: potential locations, estimated individual places needed, phased timeline, and estimated costs
Provides that the plan be reviewed in public hearings and approved by the Supervisors — before implementation
WHAT IT DOES NOT DO:
Allocate any budget funds: the legislation contains no funding. Funding requires a separate vote by the Board of Supervisor after they review the proposed plan and cost estimates
Increase the 2020-2022 budget: to fund this program, Supervisors must vote to reallocate existing budget dollars. They cannot increase the existing City budget
Not build to shelter the total street population: the plan has a phased timeline to create only enough placements for those who accept off-street shelter