Jim Siegel’s Response to Questionnaire
1) The current proposal for the U.C. Berkeley Extension property, a 6-acre site located between Laguna, Haight, Buchanan and Hermann streets, calls for the development of 500 housing units, with 80-88% market-rate rentals and the remainder income-restricted rentals. Market-rate rentals that are not subject to rent control often have a high rate of turnover, attracting transient renters who are looking for a “temporary” home. On the other hand, “affordable” housing tenants tend to remain in their apartments for many years. Do you believe the proposed amount of affordable housing is appropriate? Further, do you believe that housing on this site should be entirely rental? If not, what will you do to negotiate housing opportunities for a wider mix of income levels or home ownership on the U.C. Extension property?
I support the most recent proposal for 20% income restricted rentals and 80% market rate. I think that the proposal is realistic and reflects the surrounding neighborhood, although I would consider supporting up to 25% affordable. It is my understanding that UC wants to hold onto the title of the land, so if there were to be home ownership opportunities, the land will have to be leased.
2) The Park and Rec Department seems particularly hard hit with layoffs and cutbacks. There will be a new director for Parks and Rec who will have to deal with these challenges. Explain how you will select and support this new director with these specific issues in mind:
A) voters repeatedly approve capital improvements funding for parks showing their support, but then the city cuts maintenance resulting in rapid deterioration of parks (in our community, the focal Koshland Park is one such example). What is your commitment to adequate maintenance budgets? What is your target level of financial support for parks (vs. current actual levels)?
B) another mission of Parks and Rec is children's programs. These have also seen severe cutbacks resulting in kids with little outlet for productive expression. The result is detrimental to the children and the community. The Western Addition, including Hayes Valley, is especially hard hit with its high concentration of at-risk children. How are you going to support Park and Rec restoring these programs?
I honestly don’t feel that there is any accountability at Park and Rec. The disappearing bond money is the most obvious problem, since the department ran out of funds long before its promised list of improvements was completed, leaving parks like Hamilton Playground in D5 without funding for needed improvements.
The Mayor has already selected a director for the time being. I don’t see how the new director could be any worse than the last one, at least in terms of working with the neighborhoods.
I think that Park and Rec should institute site-based, and program-based budgeting, so we can see for ourselves whether our parks and programs in D5 are getting their fair share of funds. Once we see what the maintenance and program costs actually are for each of our neighborhood parks, we can make intelligent long-range funding decisions.
I will not support any more park bonds until we do.
3) Part of the purpose of the recent chain store legislation spearheaded by Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association is that it will help to preserve San Francisco's cultural and architectural heritage from being replaced by the "formula" architecture and interiors of large national chain stores. There is also sentiment in Hayes Valley in favor of designating certain parts of the neighborhood as historic districts as a way of preserving neighborhood character. What is your position on Historic and Architectural preservation?
I am known for my historical preservation values. I was the leader of the effort to save the Fallon Building at 1800 Market Street and personally paid to landmark the building with my own money.
I enthusiastically support the creation of Historic Districts in D5, such as Mint Hill, lower Haight Street, the Haight Ashbury, and the Beideman Area. My neighborhood, Alamo Square, is a Historic District and I am always eager to educate people about the benefits of living in a Historic District, e.g. advance notice of proposed building modifications.
My home is a San Franciscolandmark and on the National Trust for Historic Preservation list.
4) The replacement of the elevated Central Freeway with the Octavia Boulevard presents an opportunity for Hayes Valley to balance automobile traffic with other modes of travel, including public transit, walking and bicycling. What measures do you recommend implementing that would limit auto congestion and encourage the creation of a pedestrian-oriented community where residents can shop within walking distance of their homes?
I was a big supporter of the Octavia Blvd. Plan and hosted fundraisers in my home for the ballot campaigns several years ago.
I will support the Better Neighborhoods Market/Octavia Plan. I did not participate in those decisions, but many neighbors did, and I won’t try to second guess their collective choices.
The subject is of great interest to me because I commute by bicycle to my store on Haight Streetdaily.
5) Define “Community Policing” in three sentences or less. How many times in the last year have you attended the Northern District Police/Community Relations Forum?
The foundation of “community policing” is familiarity based on regular communication. It means regular personal interaction between people in a community and the officers on the beat. It means taking personal responsibility for reporting suspicious behavior, getting to know your neighbors and watching out for them, and not depending on the police alone to keep your community safe.
I have not attended any meetings at Northern, but I see Captain Ehrlich from Park Station at least monthly at meetings of Alamo Square, HANC, and the Haight Ashbury Merchants Assn. When I am elected I will be vigilant in monitoring both district stations because I know that good dialogue with the police is key to managing crime.
6) The Market/Octavia Plan creates a blueprint for a high-density, pedestrian-oriented, urban neighborhood where owning a car is a choice rather than a necessity. Please describe the elements of this Plan that you consider most important in determining the success of the Hayes Valleyneighborhood. Please also identify any elements you think should be changed, and explain why.
As I said earlier, I will support the plan as written by the participants.
But I will say that owning a car should remain a choice, and not be made impossible by failing to provide parking for the majority of the new units that are to be built. If the units are ownership units, then they must have parking no one is going to pay $600,000 for a condominium and not need a parking space for a car. We may be able to except studio or one-bedroom rentals from the parking requirement, should they have excellent access to public transportation, but larger rental units that will be occupied by families with children must have parking.
7) Name the key crime areas in the Hayes Valleyarea. Name some individuals, groups, and community based organizations located in the HayesValleyarea that are currently working on reducing crime and improving the quality of life in our neighborhood.
Key crime areas, involving rampant drug dealing, are McAllister between Fillmore and Webster, Webster between Fulton and Grove, and Grove between Buchanan and Webster. The African American Cultural Center has many youth programs, as does Ella Hill Hutch.
8) Please comment in detail on the recently passed chain store legislation.
I was an active supporter of Matt Gonzalez’s chain store notification law. I spoke on behalf of it at many community and merchant groups, at the Planning Commission, and at the Small Business Commission. I also led the fight to keep Urban Outfitters from opening an 8800 square foot store on the 1700 block of Haight Street.
Formula businesses take away neighborhood charm, drive up rents, and make San Franciscolook like “Any Mall USA.”
9) The Octavia Boulevard Project includes the creation of a new neighborhood park on Octavia Street, between Fell and Hayes. We expect this park to be an important gathering spot for the neighborhood and the performing arts community. The Octavia Boulevard Project does not include any funding for the maintenance of this park. The Recreation and Parks Department has no funding to maintain this park. How do you propose obtaining funding for the maintenance and upkeep of this very important park?
The Recreation and Parks Dept. should provide for maintenance because it is their responsibility. Until it does, we should seek grants from corporate sponsors and private philanthropy.
10) What is your position on green space as a requirement for any UC Extension development plan? Please provide as much detail as you can on what you feel adequate green space would be in this major site.
I have spoken with developer representatives who tell me that open space and a community center will definitely be included in the project. The developers envision families with children and are providing recreational facilities for them.
I would like to see the community center built to receive HayesValleyneighbors as well as development residents, which could help reduce neighborhood petty crime by giving the youth somewhere to go.
Ideally, I would like to see about 40% open space.
11) A payroll tax exemption has been proposed for biotech companies while existing small businesses have recently been saddled with a new gross receipts tax. Do you support an exemption for biotech companies? Yes. Why? Biotech has the potential to bring new jobs and tax income to the city at a time when we need them the most. The tax break is a good investment. Do you support the new gross receipts tax? No. Why? I testified at the Board of Supervisors against the gross receipts tax and the sales tax increase because they are both counterproductive to new business start-ups and well as struggling existing businesses. As a small business owner for almost three decades, the last three years have definitely been the worst. Most Haight Streetbusinesses have seen a 30% drop in sales at a time when commercial rents, workers comp, and insurance rates have skyrocketed. We should not be thinking of raising business taxes until the local economy stabilizes. We should be trimming the payroll instead of raising taxes. How do you propose to help independent, locally owned and operated businesses thrive in San Francisco? By not raising their taxes!
12) In order for our commercial districts to thrive we need to encourage many more customers to visit our shopping areas than can arrive by personal automobile. What creative ideas do you have for encouraging shoppers to travel to shopping districts by walking, biking, public transit or taxi?
I support building parking garages in commercial areas.
I also support Car Share, the Bicycle Coalition’s 20-point Plan, and 24-hour BART service.
I would like to see MUNI operate a “shopper shuttle” on weekends to serve the city’s neighborhood commercial districts. Many of the commute line buses run empty on weekends, and it would be a better use of the drivers and equipment that we pay for anyway.
13) When you become supervisor how do you propose to reduce crime and improve the quality of life for residents who live within the H.V.N.A. boundaries? Please give specific examples.
The Housing Authority must become a more responsible landlord. Most of the crime happens in or around public housing. After 5 PM there is no on-site management and the developments become magnets for outside troublemakers. It’s not fair to the residents or the neighbors.
I would also like to see the police district boundaries redrawn, so that Northern includes the Alamo Squareand Beideman areas.
14) Our performing arts center often has performances that draw many more patrons than can be accommodated by personal automobile. What creative ideas do you have that would encourage patrons to use public transit? What other suggestions do you have for effectively transporting patrons to and from the performing arts center? Do you support the construction of additional parking garages, or the expansion of existing garages in the Civic Center vicinity?
I support construction and expansion of parking garages to serve the center, and all commercial areas.
Although I ride my bicycle to work every day, I realize that some seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children prefer to drive and often must drive an automobile. In an ideal world, buses would be safe and less crowded and more people would choose to ride them.
15) Funding for the traffic calming/pedestrian safety portions of the Octavia Boulevard Project's "ancillary projects" has been budgeted at $5 million. A large portion of this money will likely be spent on enhancing the livability of the South of Market neighborhood located near the touchdown ramp. This South of Market area will require a great number of amenities to maintain any reasonable quality of life.
Spending the majority of the "ancillary" project money on South of Market leaves very little money to spend north of Market on traffic calming or on developing "living streets" on the alleyways crossing the Boulevard. Pedestrian safety and the enhancement of the livability of our alleyways are key elements to the success of the overall Octavia Boulevard Project. How do you propose funding these improvements?
Developer fees. Developers are expected to pay for infrastructure costs and physical amenities in most cities. They will make huge profits from developing these parcels and should pay their fair share of neighborhood improvement costs.