Development must protect the arts

|
(139)


By Stephanie Weisman

OPINION Recently, the Bay Guardian ran an article critical of The Marsh theater's position on the condo development proposed for 1050 Valencia St. (see "Street Fight: Driving us crazy," 11/12). It incorrectly claimed that we oppose the project. Thank you, Guardian, for now giving us the opportunity to set the record straight.

The Marsh does not oppose a proposal to develop condominiums and commercial space next door to us at 1050 Valencia St. Rather, we are trying to get conditions attached to the project's building permit — for both during and after construction — that reflect that this developer chose to build up against a world-renowned, community-based theater. We believe it is reasonable to expect the developer to be a good neighbor.

For almost 25 years, The Marsh has developed solo performances, presenting nearly 700 performances annually with 400 in our Mission location alone. We also offer solo performance workshops and year-round after-school classes and camps for youth where no child — toddler through teen — is turned away because of lack of money. We foster risk-taking and diverse artists from novices to those with worldwide acclaim, giving voice to the vital stories of our times.

The construction plans for 1050 Valencia directly affect our theater space and our ability to continue to host live performance. As currently designed, the plans for both construction and occupancy could mean noise that would drown out unamplified solo performance. The project will also reduce theater lighting and ventilation.

We've seen the history of new affluent residents in fancy SoMa live/work lofts who didn't like living next to the loud music and milling crowds they chose to move near. These wealthy newcomers could afford to hire lawyers and fight expensive legal battles, and they successfully closed down entertainment venues that had defined SoMa for decades. We seek conditions to prevent this from happening to us.

We are requesting the large open deck adjacent to our building be moved behind a sound barrier. We are concerned that when residents have a party or open their windows with music blaring, the sound will disrupt our performances. This endangers our existence. We are also asking for conditions prohibiting the commercial space next to us from having live entertainment that would impact our performances.

Without specific legally enforceable conditions attached to the permits, we have no recourse if the developer or subsequent property owners lack good faith. To date, based on developer Mark Rutherford's treatment of us, we have no reason to believe in his good faith. San Francisco's development history shows that only legally enforceable conditions really protect the public interest over the "lifetime" of a building's construction and use.

The Marsh is a metaphor for the current displacement of people and culture in the Mission District. Miraculously, we were able to purchase our building in 1996, a market low, with the support of our artists, patrons, board, and forward-looking foundation and nonprofit and commercial loan entities. Otherwise, The Marsh would not exist today. We would never have been able to afford today's market-rate rent.

We are now a safe house for artists to develop their work at our space, for the children who take our affordable classes, and the audiences who attend our critically-acclaimed shows. But we are not indestructible. If protective conditions are not written into the building permit, and we end up with disrupted programs and performances, we will not survive artistically or financially.

Comments

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 11:14 am

I wonder what it's like to believe that not having heard of something means that unheard-of something is insignificant? It boggles the mind . . . .

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 11:26 am

statement that it is world-renowned, or even city-renowned, let alone is crucial, has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 11:51 am

How do you know what the majority of of people have heard of. Did you take a poll because nobody called me. Audiences have been coming to the Marsh for almost 25 years. That's why it's still in business. But they won't come if they hear the amplified music blaring from the building's open deck next door or jackhammers during the weekend matinees or the children's daytime performance. The developer needs to put it in writing that noise issues will be addressed.

See you all December 11

Posted by Marga Gomewz on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

stayed in business (although apparently it hasn't so well enough to buy some basic sound-proofing).

The rest of the world happily lives with the odd noisy neighbor. What's so special about you?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

How do you know what the majority of of people have heard of. Did you take a poll, because nobody asked me. Audiences have been coming to the two stages of the Marsh on Valencia for almost 25 years and thousands of shows. That's why it's still in business. But audiences won't come if they hear the amplified music blaring from the building's open deck, next door or jackhammers during the weekend matinees or the children's daytime performance. They are asking for the developers written cooperation - They have asked nicely and been ignored. Nothing wrong with being assertive.

See you all December 11 at Board of Appeals hearing at City Hall 4:45pm

Posted by M. GOMEZ on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

He has as much claim as you do.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

One of the conditions the entire Mission Community wants to see attached to this project has to do with the City's Transit First Policy. This is the City's policy to encourage public transit and discourage private transit -- notably cars.

Study after study show an income relationship to vehicle ownership rates: higher income groups own cars at a higher rate than lower income groups. The study, "Transportation Spending by Low Income California Households" concludes, "Vehicle access rates in the Bay Area indicate that 73% of low-income households report having access to a vehicle, compared to 94% of higher-income households." In other words, the people who buy these units will own cars, whether parking is provided or not, unless we give our "Transit First" policy some teeth.

"Maintaining Diversity in America's Transit-Rich Communities," a landmark study on smart growth, makes several key conclusions relevant to the consideration of 1050 Valencia: i) "people of color, low-income households and renters are disproportionately likely to live in households without vehicles"; ii) "People of color, low-income households and renters are all more likely to use transit than the average American"; and iii) "transit planners frequently speak of the need for transit-oriented development to support ridership, but what transit stations need is transit-oriented neighbors who will regularly use the system." Summing it all up, the report notes that transit-rich areas tend to become gentrified with the result that "the most likely potential transit riders are being crowded out by car owners less likely to be regular users of transit." Bottom line: Our "Transit First" policy combined with high density, high cost housing is more likely to result in lower ridership per capita than providing no development at all. We need to find ways to increase transit ridership with these projects, not push out low-income renters who use transit now.

As pointed out by the speaker at the neg dec hearing representing Walk SF, it is true some car owners will self-select themselves out of buying the condo units at 1050 Valencia St. because no parking is provided. However, with the units affordable to the income group that owns vehicles at a rate of 94%, it is statistically unlikely the buyers will not own vehicles, and statistically impossible that all units already approved by the City without parking are purchased by people who don't own vehicles because there are more units in that category than there are people who don't own cars, who can also afford the units. There must be additional constraints placed on buyers of these units to ensure transit ridership, bike riding and walking will be increased or at least made neutral by the project. Without constraints, "Transit First" is an empty mantra which results in cars parked on the streets instead of in private garages.

Attaching a condition to new parking-free development that prevents residents from obtaining preferential parking stickers is now being implemented in metropolitan areas all over the country and in Western Europe. Why? Because it is the only effective means of ensuring our public transit will be patronized by households who otherwise are proven to own cars at a 94% rate. Happly, as the developer points out, the neighborhood is "Transit Rich." It also has one of the largest concentration of Zip Cars in the City. And prospective buyers will be alerted to the prohibition before they buy. Who knows, maybe this might even result in unit prices that are not so substantially disparate with the median Mission housing price.

I agree with writer above ("I'm puzzled"). Come to the hearing and help make the proposed project something that works for Transit First and the Mission, as well as The Marsh.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 11:34 am

A car can be a cab or car-share, and can carry several people.

A bike is the ultimate in private transit.

This "war on cars" is getting tedious.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 11:53 am

You think that you have the right to determine who is allowed to use public space and who does not have that right. You also want to tell everyone where they can live, what kind of art they should be allowed to enjoy and how much they are allowed to spend on housing.

You seem like someone who really would prefer to live in a totalitarian society.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 5:26 pm

You know, where people can testify in public, providing their opinion (backed up by facts as the speaker on transit did), or without facts (as you did).

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

I am also saddened to read the harsh comments about the Marsh here. I have lived in the neighborhood for 10 years and while I'm not a theater buff, I really appreciate what the Marsh offers to our community. Not only does it contribute significantly to the cultural diversity of the neighborhood, but it has a lot of great theater programs for kids.

Institutions like the Marsh helped to make the neighborhood the interesting, vibrant spot that it is today. The Valencia corridor was as recently as 15 years ago not a place where you would necessarily consider spending $1.7M on a condo. Places like the Marsh contributed to improving the neighborhood and making it appealing to live in. The lack of respect for longstanding institutions and people that built the Mission to what it is today is really sad.

Support the Marsh!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 11:35 am
Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 11:54 am

I tried to post something to support the sentiment re. the wonderful Marsh.
However my comments were not posted apparently because someone thought they might be 'spam'!!!

Posted by Guest julie sperber on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

There's no way that a reader of the Bay Guardian has NOT heard of the Marsh. The Marsh has been written about regularly in the Bay Guardian for decades.

Are you merely a "guest" of the developer and just discovering the Bay Guardian for the first time to comment on something you have never heard about? That's definitely how it seems.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 11:42 am

who have EVER read the SFBG have all heard of the Marsh without a single exception?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 11:55 am

You don't look at the cover of the paper? The Marsh has been mentioned and featured on the cover of the Bay Guardian. Or do you just go directly to the comics and massage parlor ads?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

meaningless fluff.

i'm excited about these new "transit first" homes though.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

So you can look at a Bay Guardian cover and photograph (mind you, they're large enough for your third-grade reading level), read the words sufficiently long enough to register whether they're worth reading, and still claim that you haven't seen any mention of the Marsh in your life? How good is your vision? Does your brain register what it sees?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

I never said I have never heard of the Marsh at all. I simply said it is not well known even within the city, let alone elsewhere.

The Marsh should invest in some soundproofing if they are that over-senstitive.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

So you can look at a Bay Guardian cover and photograph (mind you, they're large enough for your third-grade reading level), read the words sufficiently long enough to register whether they're worth reading, and still claim that you haven't seen any mention of the Marsh in your life? How good is your vision? Does your brain register what it sees? How do you choose the masseuse at that massage parlor in Daly City?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11th. 5 PM ROOM 416, CITY HALL.

PROTECT THE MARSH
PROTECT THE MISSION
PROTECT TRANSIT FIRST

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 11:44 am
Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 11:56 am

Until the new, artist live/work buyers (whose only relationship to the arts were their Gucci shoes) hired expensive downtown lawyers to lodge nuisance lawsuits against commercial uses next door -- uses that in some instances had been there for generations. These PDR uses, mom and pop operations giving blue collar San Franciscans a living wage -- weren't doing anything wrong, but could not afford expensive legal battles, and so THEY WERE FORCED OUT. The Eastern Neighborhoods Plan is the SOMA Plan all over again.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 12:45 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

The Reality is:

The Marsh was there first--20 years before a greed-driven developer decided to make his mega-buck development.

Developers come-and-go. They stay long enough to make a killing, then move on to destroy other streets and neighborhoods. Tthey--and our society, claim it is their God-given right. Their neighbors like the Marsh, has proven its human investment in the neighborhood by staying and providing cultural enrichment for close to 20 years. The Marsh and its neighborhood deserves some protection from the consequences of another quick-buck development..

Any cultural institution that survives the Test of Time by providing a rich cultural experience to adults and children alike for 20 years has become "renowned" and valuable in my book. I remember going to a performance at the Marsh about 2 decades ago with a visiting friend from New Zealand, who was a national syndicated radio host on Radio New Zealand. She was so impressed by the performance that she wanted to import the performer to New Zealand. Yes, the Marsh is world-renowned, no doubt about it!

I think that what the Marsh is asking--some concessions or guarantees from the developer to protect its survival as a performance space, is modest and reasonable.
This would result in a Win-Win solution for all concerned.

Shimon--a Mission/Eureka Valley Expatriate now fighting a losing battle against developers seeking to inundate our New York's Upper West Side Neighborhood with new high-rise, overpriced housing and commercial developments.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

Not worth reading beyond that since clearly you are massively biased.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

And why are your comments "worth reading" past the third word?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

Why should anyone read past the third word of your posts? You are clearly massively biased toward wealthy developers who destroy cities.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

I do want to see new homes built in the Mission, and the Marsh is just playing the classic NIMBY card here.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

Give me a break. I have been watching these development battles for 30 years. These pro-development comments are bought and paid for. Do you know how I can tell? Because absolutely NOBODY showed up at ANY of the hearings to make ANY of these claims against the Marsh.

On the other hand, I witnessed a large and incredibly diverse collection of people from a wide cross-section of the Mission and the City stand up, GIVE THEIR NAME, and speak sincerely about their interaction with and impressions and appreciation of the Marsh.

Honestly, I wasn't even going to go to the hearing. But I will now. And I'm going to bring as many people as I can muster. People need to stand up and help this wonderful non-profit, not to oppose the development, but to make it work in the context of its site.

Hearing is Wed. 5 pm City Hall, 4th floor.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

everything. But this development has gone through the planning process and passed because it complies with all the rules.

The Marsh needs to buy some soundproofing if it is that over-sensitive.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

The Marsh provides high-quality live art at affordable prices. Shows created there have toured the country and the world on U.S. State Department official diplomatic missions. It has been an anchor in the community for more than twenty years, bringing joy and inspiration to diverse audiences in the Bay Area.

Performers and audiences deal with sound bleed from sirens, but this is momentary.
The stage backs up right next to the side of the building where the new proposed development is, so as i understand it, the sound disturbance would be a lot closer to the audience than existing street noise. An ongoing sound disturbance that close to the stage could make performances there impossible. Because The Marsh keeps ticket prices low and the economics of non-profit theater are always challenging, they can't afford to spend more on sound-proofing than they already have. The Marsh has been running a fund-raising drive all this year just to fill gaps in running costs and unforseen expenses.

The Marsh is a very good thing in San Francisco. Have the developers build the sound-proofing and respect a cultural institution that continues San Francisco's rich traditions of artistic excellence, creative innovation, and broad accessibility.

Posted by Dan Hoyle on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 3:55 pm

that other places of entertainment routinely use?

The new condos that just sold at Valencia and 19th were mainly sold to older people paying cash. How many wild outdoor parties do you think these 50-something folks are going to have?

The kind of kids who party won't be able to afford these new condos.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

seriously? one guy who has never seen a theatrical production in his entire life. and you guys are arguing with him? he doesn't understand the importance of art. the municipal requirement of it. all he's interested in is money. and power. not right and wrong. not history. not the intrinsic value of a neighborhood. he can't imagine that anything is worthwhile if he hasn't heard of it. talk about small minded. and you're right. he's in league with the developer. only explanation for his feeble attempts to defend the right to sell and build anything he wants. obviously not from the neighborhood if he thinks the four years dead KFC is still on the corner. do not address him any longer. continue with your arguments but do not respond to his. they are meaningless. he is worse than a troll without substance. he's a paid hack.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 4:13 pm

He/she keeps using different fake names to try and make it appear that a lot of people support the Marsh here, but regular people I talk to barely know the Marsh exists and certainly do not think it should get special treatment.

If they put the same effort into fundraising for some soundproofing that they put into whining, they'd have no problem.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

Because there were about 100 March supporters at the Board of Supervisors hearing last month. Wow, I knew those Marsh performers were talented -- but, really, one person who can seem like 100 in a public hearing. Astounding.

Come to the Board of Appeals Hearing at 5 pm on Wednesday, Dec 11th in City Hall to see this AMAZING act again. Only this time the lone Marsh supporter will appear to be 200 people, of all sizes, shapes and race!

PLUS you will get to see performers like Margot Gomez for free. It promises to be the best show in town all the while serving an important public service.

STAND UP FOR THE MARSH

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

is that 799,900 of them do not support your position? At least not enough to show up?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 08, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

Its hilarious that anyone who isnt singing the praises of the globally renowned Marsh is considered working for the developer.
I find the restrictions that the Marsh is seeking to be completely unrealistic and one sided. Apparently being neighborly in SF means doing everything your neighbor tells you to.
I cant imagine why we have the most expensive housing in the country!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 4:35 pm

buy half at 3/8ths and half at 5/8th

Put down all of one size first. then split the seem and put down the other size. When putting down the first layer use sheet rock adhesive, it wouldn't hurt to do second layer same way.

Posted by Matlock on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 4:49 pm

The key thing is to get a good seal on the seams. Plenty of tape and spackle.

You can lay up a foot thick wall of 5/8th sheetrock but if you don't seal up the seams the sound will come right through.

And I think the job would come in a bit more then $500.

Posted by Pete Moss on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 7:12 pm

The developer should be forced by the City to provide whatever it takes for the Marsh to stay where it is. Way too many wonderful venues are closing all over the United States due to the 1% ers wanting to make as much money as they can. New Yorkers are looking back at their ruined city and wondering why there are only chain stores and Deune Reeds, banks and cell phone shops. That's it. Oh, pizza, ice cream, smoothies, cakes, dog shops, take outs. Nothing of quality or interest.

Posted by Guest julie sperber on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 4:51 pm

The City should make a law to keep the existing wonderful entertainment venues free from rising rents. Otherwise you're going to loose everything of value and interest in SF.. I know, I live on the UWS in NY and we've got nothing but chain stores, banks, i/phone outlets, Walgreens, pizza, ice cream cakes, dog shops. Anything of any interest hasn't been able to keep up with the doubling rents.
Watch out SF!

Posted by Guest julie sperber on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

This is the third time I've tried to post this.. there seems to be a belief that my message is spam or something??

The City should make a law to keep the existing wonderful entertainment venues free from rising rents. Otherwise you're going to loose everything of value and interest in SF.. I know, I live on the UWS in NY and we've got nothing but chain stores, banks, i/phone outlets, Walgreens, pizza, ice cream cakes, dog shops. Anything of any interest hasn't been able to keep up with the doubling rents.
Watch out SF!

Posted by Guest julie sperber on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 5:07 pm

The City should make a law to keep the existing wonderful entertainment venues free from rising rents. Otherwise you're going to loose everything of value and interest in SF.. I know, I live on the UWS in NY and we've got nothing but chain stores, banks, i/phone outlets, Walgreens, pizza, ice cream cakes, dog shops. Anything of any interest hasn't been able to keep up with the doubling rents.
Watch out SF!

Posted by Guest julie sperber on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 5:11 pm

So hilarious to watch this pan out.
This is what, internet version 1.0 for Ms Sperber?

Are you waiting for your "youve got mail" sound file to play?
I'd love to meet one of these people that was also very tech savvy

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

If you'd like to meet any of the many Marsh supporters
please come to City Hall Dec 11th 5pm Board of Appeals room.
Let's all talk face to face at City Hall without the anonymity of a comment board.
I'm sure we would all be a lot more polite. I know I may have gotten snarky on this board and I apologize for that.
SFBG acknowledges this board is confusing the first time one tries to post and so they post more than once. Attacking Julie personally for her opinion because she's not comment board "savvy" reflects on your message not hers.
Thank you for your consideration.
Marga

Posted by M. GOMEZ on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 7:36 pm

'Julie Sperber' aka Chromefields.

I'm surprised the geezer hasn't come up with anything nasty to say about what's her name the rrrriot grrrl.

Posted by Mary Howard on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

Or it could be Jason Grant Garza or the Aesop guy, off their meds.

Posted by Ivan Denisovich on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 7:19 pm

I don't see a lot of theater here in SF, but i've seen several shows at The Marsh over the years and find it an important and all-too-rare venue for indie artists who must shoulder great effort to create art.
developers can bring improvements to areas, but can also change them for the worse thru naivety or elitism; usually both. and they may 'get' to do this by leveraging power and influence, i.e. money, that a community cannot. the community must leverage community appreciation, community organization, and community standards and laws; a long-term ordeal against the pernicious incursions of short-term developers.

Posted by Charlie Canfield on Dec. 06, 2013 @ 11:11 pm

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.