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Letters: SB 827 is not the answer

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Members of the public fill out cards to speak on a resolution opposing Senate Bill 827, which would rezone most of San Francisco to allow greater density and building heights near transit, during a Land Use and Transportation Committee hearing on March 12, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

“Senate Bill 827 could raise height limits throughout SF, transform city,” The City, Feb. 18

Senate Bill 827 is not the answer

Senate Bill 827, authored by San Francisco state Sen. Scott Wiener, would “allow five and eight-story buildings to sprout in neighborhoods that traditionally have seen mostly single-family homes and two-unit duplexes.” This is because Wiener has decided San Francisco is not doing enough to solve the region’s housing crisis. His bill would nullify local height and density controls and vastly increase the residential height and density limits in virtually all of San Francisco, all based on the theory that housing built within a quarter mile of transit service would reduce traffic congestion. 

There is so much wrong with the senator’s approach to city-building that it’s hard to know where to begin. In the first place, when planners talk about the traffic-reducing characteristics of transit-oriented housing, they are talking only about commute trips. But commute trips account for just 20 percent of total trips — and not all commuters take transit.

If less than 20 percent of the trips are commute trips, then more that 80 percent must be non-commute trips. The logical question becomes: How many of the non-commute trips are transit trips? To get an answer to this question, ask the father chauffeuring his teenagers to their soccer matches, basketball games and piano lessons. He would know. Ask the mother struggling to get her kids across town to pre-school. Or the homeowner with a long list of errands to run. Or the family member taking a sick relative to the hospital.

The inconvenient truth is that living near a bus or rail line does not, and will not, cause most people taking most kinds of trips to abandon their cars or ride-hail options. In other words, more people equals more traffic.

Wiener has called for “density equity,” apparently meaning that all parts of San Francisco must take their share of a steadily increasing population. This ignores the fact San Francisco is already, by far, the most densely populated city in the region. The campaign to pile still more residents into San Francisco is strongly supported by all the low-density surrounding counties.

San Francisco, a city whose transportation infrastructure is already at least four decades behind its development, could transform itself into a hopelessly gridlocked junior Manhattan.

Gerald Cauthen
Oakland

 

“Helping those who cannot help themselves,” In My View, March 11

Farrell’s deceptive plot

Mayor Mark Farrell’s proposal is a dangerously deceptive tactic to frighten and manipulate the people into accepting the loss of their right of substantive due process, under the Fourteenth Amendment, under the guise of protecting the public from the purportedly mentally ill.

Despite the constitutional protections against such abuse of police power, the legal procedures for civil commitment, conservatorships and mental health treatment do not follow any due process, and innocent people can be summarily railroaded into psychiatric hospitals, forcefully drugged and deprived of their assets. Farrell’s current proposal — and his previous one, “Laura’s Law” — is nothing but a heavy-duty police action under a noxious guise of helping people.

The media is deceptively portraying the homeless as nothing but alcoholics, drug addicts and mentally ill. However, the truth is that the skyrocketing cost of housing is forcing the middle class out of their homes and into tents on the street. Ironically, the Department Of Public Health has been operating so-called “safe injection sites,” where people can get free drugs and syringes so they can stay addicted instead of getting off drugs. How is Farrell’s plan for court-mandated mental heath treatment going to remedy double digit rent increases, evictions and government-sponsored drug dealing and addiction?

Unfortunately, the public is frightened and much too willing to accept Farrell’s insidious plot.     

Galen L. Dutch
San Francisco

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