Anniversary Issue: First, do no harm - Page 3

A sustainable land use plan is about what we don't allow as well as what we do
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And by retaining ownership, the city also retains control over what happens to the land."

<\!s> Work with nonprofit developers

Gullicksen said that the city should work with small nonprofits, and not big master developers, to create interesting, diverse neighborhoods.

Local architect David Baker says nonprofits are more likely to build affordable housing than private developers, even when the city mandates that a certain percentage of new housing must be sold below market rate.

"Thanks to the market crash, very little market rate housing is going to be built in the next five years, which means almost no inclusionary," Baker explains. "During a housing boom, you can jack up that percentage rate to 15 percent, or 20 percent, but then the boom crashes, and nothing gets built."

Gullicksen says the good news is that planners are beginning to think about how to create walkable, vibrant, and safe cities.

"They are thinking about pedestrian-oriented entrances and transparent storefronts, about hiding parking and leaving no blank walls on ground floors. Corner stores, which are prohibited in most neighborhoods, are a great amenity.

"San Francisco needs to figure out where it can put housing without destroying existing neighborhoods, or encroaching on lands appropriate for jobs."

<\!s> Design whole neighborhoods

Jim Meko, chair of the SoMa Leadership Council, was part of a community planning task force for the Western SoMa neighborhood. He told us that one of the most important things his group did was think about development and preservation in a holistic way.

"WSOMA's idea is to plan a whole neighborhood, rather than simply re-zoning an area, which is how the Eastern Neighborhoods plan started," Meko said. "Re-zoning translates into figuring out how many units you can build and how many jobs you will lose. That's a failed approach. It's not smart growth. If you displace jobs, the economic vitality goes elsewhere, and people have to leave their neighborhood to find parks, recreational facilities and schools."

Meko noted that "housing has become an international investment. It's why people from all around the world are snapping up condos along the eastern waterfront. But they are not building a neighborhood."

San Francisco, Meko said, "has the worst record of any US city when it comes to setting aside space for jobs in the service and light industrial sector. But those are exactly the kinds of jobs we need. The Financial District needs people to clean their buildings, and I need people to repair my printing press. But I don't like having to pay them $165 an hour travel time."

<\!s> Practice low-impact development

Baker recommends that the city stop allowing air-conditioned offices.

"We've got great weather, we need to retrofit buildings with openable windows," he said. "We should stop analyzing the environmental impact of our buildings based on national tables. This stops us from making more pedestrian friendly streets. And people should have to pay a carbon fee to build a parking space."

A citywide green building ordinance goes into effect Nov. 3 and new storm water provisions follow in January, according to the SFPUC's Rosey Jencks.

This greening impetus comes in response to San Francisco's uniquely inconvenient truth: surrounded by rising seas on three sides, the city has a combined sewer system.