Monday, August 31, 2009

NOPA Fails W.H.O. Noise Standard

Just 10% of NOPA's blocks are quiet enough to meet standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO). The global health body recommends ambient, or background, noise levels of no more than 55 decibels (dba) for residential neighborhoods, and most NOPA blocks exceed that limit. Much of our neighborhood falls in the range of 60 to 65 dba while our perimeter traffic corridors -- Fell, Masonic, Turk, Divisadero -- boom into a higher level at 65 to 70 dba. El sitio de la lucha contra el ruidoWas WHO targeting suburban or urban residential neighborhoods? Considering the health and livability impacts of the plus-55 dba on home-dwellers, does it much matter? Health authorities regularly link noise-induced stressors to negative impacts for individuals, including "chronic elevated blood pressure, coronary disease, ulcers, colitis and migraine headaches." But what of the effects on communities? Excessive noise in the neighborhood, especially when the sources are long-term and repeated, can disrupt sleep and trigger psychological stress to the degree that neighbors experience resentment, anger, a sense of powerlessness, and a tendency to disengage from their community.

WHO is notorious for convening expert panels that disseminate voluminous reports that stack nicely on bookshelves and make file drawers extra cozy. By its own admission the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) and other city agencies sometimes slog in the same bureaucractic swamp. In 1972 a "Transportation Noise Element" was included in San Francisco's General Plan, but most of its recommendations for noise abatement were summarily ignored. The Police Department shelved plans to regulate vehicular noise. Siren noise became even louder and more frequent. Recommendations to reduce the number of one-way streets and the greater noise that comes with their higher speeds faltered.

San Francisco's push to "smart growth" and "urban infill" land-use policies fly in the face of guidelines to discourage residential development in high noise areas such as along high traffic corridors and near freeways. A significant amount of noise-control mitigation will be required to make smart growth a good neighbor to healthy decibels.

Local efforts to monitor noise problems now rest with a Noise Task Force comprised of representatives of city departments. A review of task force minutes suggests the group is moving beyond "exchange of information" every quarter. For example, SFDPH developed a new program this spring to train motorcycle police to identify excessive cycle noise without the aid of a decible meter and to issue "fix it" notices to drivers based on the assessment.

San Francisco Transportation Noise MapThe city also developed a San Francisco Noise Map to help guide noise control efforts. But the map also helps neighborhoods identify problem areas, and that brings us back to NOPA. Our perimeter streets are noisiest; no surprise (but let's not assume that residents along them shouldn't receive the health benefits of traffic calming). But here's an anomoly: McAllister Street is among these high-noise offenders. Is Muni's #5 Fulton the culprit? The higher dba on the west end of McAllister begins at Central, right where the #5 turns onto or from McAllister. But if the #5 makes McAllister louder, why doesn't the #21 do the same for the much-quieter Hayes Street?

NOPA can boast blocks of relative calm and quiet, at least according to the Noise Map. Perhaps you're sleeping better if you live on these blocks:
  • Grove, between Masonic and Central
  • Golden Gate, between Lyon and Broderick
  • Central, between Hayes and Fulton
  • Lyon, between Grove and McAllister
  • Baker, between Turk and Golden Gate

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Intimidation on Oak Street

I didn't start this blog to write about myself, but my focus on bicycling and livability took a new twist that seems relevant. An hour ago a motorist tried to force me from the lane by steering his or her black Lexus within six inches of knocking me off my bike and possibly worse.

There were no visibility problems; it was 6 pm. I was on the brief stretch of Oak Street between Baker and Scott. Bicyclists ride these blocks all the time to get from NOPA and the Richmond to connect with the Wiggle and get to Market or Mission. The lane is not wide enough for both a vehicle and a bike to be safely side-by-side. Cyclists must, or at least should, "take the lane" and travel in the near-center to avoid getting doored by motorists who don't check before opening their car doors.

I don't piddle along when I bike; on Oak I'm moving, keeping pace with motorists. As i rode through Divisadero a car close behind me honked and then, without a pause, sped up for the near sideswipe. For several seconds as the Lexus invaded my space, I struggled to keep my balance. The driver kept going without a pause. Without realizing it, I had slowed. The next motorist behind me -- who had to have seen the incident -- honked several times to get me out of the way as well.

After turning onto Scott, I stopped and asked the cyclist behind me if she had seen what happened. I asked her if it looked like the driver was indeed trying to force me from the lane. She replied, "Definitely." She added that she was visiting the city and she wondered if this happened all the time.

I've been honked at and yelled at before while biking on our streets, tonight's incident, however, was a first. For me. I completed my errand and returned to NOPA with a new appreciation for motorists who share the road as needed and a new awareness of drivers who take the road at all costs.

Biking to Lindy-in-the-Park

There's dancing in Golden Gate Park every Sunday at noon: the swing-time sensation for everyone, no matter age or ability. Come as you are or dress for the occasion, as NOPA's Dale Danley chose to do this past Sunday. One more example of "Who says you can't dress well while biking?"

After a brief
run-in with the city bureaucracy -- what do you mean you don't have a permit for these dance lessons that have been going on for years? -- the Lindy hoppers continue doing their steps with the park concourse in the background.

Bike on by anytime for a turn! Walkers encouraged as well.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Too Uppity for NOPA

Remember the billboard at Hayes and Divisadero that we posted earlier? The anti-war, anti-gas guzzling Uppity Bike Commuters appropriated an apparently abandoned Clear Channel billboard to plaster their poster. No more. The UBC posters are down; the billboard has been removed.

While blogger Dale of Dale's Scene took comfort in the clear brick wall with no advertising of any sort, he exposed other problems nearby with the Harding Theatre. He notes the back-and-forth discourse over the development of the performance and potential housing space, but he finds fault with the landlord's disregard for his property. See the post "Blight on Hayes from the Harding Theatre?" With Divisadero set for its mini-makeover soon, it's time to get the street properties in better shape.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Spooked While Biking

Right there blissfully riding the Wiggle, the sun bright and warm, the air still -- could this be summer? -- and suddenly at Waller and Pierce the sky darkened, the trees reached menacingly over the street, and the Victorians were decidely tricked out. Had Duboce Triangle been transported to the nether world?

Not exactly. Duboce Triangle has gone Hollywood. The neighborhood gave a few blocks to NBC's new spook series, Trauma. "An action packed drama looking at one of the most dangerous medical professions in the world: first responder paramedics." In case you wondered. And here we thought the most scary healthcare scenario was being trapped in an overwrought health reform town hall.

The bicycle/livability connection? This was a real "seen while biking" opp. And I hope Duboce Triangle folks get to celebrate Halloween earlier -- but did they get some perks or neighborhood improvements out of the deal?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Barring Kids from Biking to School - Not Here

In some school districts in the country, students are forbidden from riding their bikes to school. School administrators cite concerns over liability to justify the bans. That's not the case in San Francisco and certainly not in Portland. Both cities have undertaken campaigns to encourage more physical activity by youth, including walking and biking to school. Last May 28 more than 20 San Francisco schools participated in the Bike To School Day, and federal funds will help boost that number through further promotion during the upcoming school year. Momentum, The magazine for self-propelled people, previewed San Francisco's First Bike to School Day.

Portland isn't a top-tier, platinum level, bike-friendly city for nothing. At one southeast Portland elementary school, nearly 40 percent of students walk or bike to school. Those kinds of stats made the city a natural for hosting the recent Safe Routes to School National Conference. For an account of the conference, see this Oregonian article. For a comprehensive report on Oregon's plan for Safe Routes to School (SR2S), check the state's "How to Guide for Oregon Schools and Communities on Enabling and Encouraging Kids to Walk and Bike sto School," including a Safe Routes tool-kit. Even more information available from the national SR2S center.

Door Zone Danger: Wider Than You Think

How much space do you allow to avoid getting doored? A new vid posted by CommuteOrlando Blog, "Avoiding the Door Zone," reveals how cyclists are in danger of being doored even when they're at the traffic side of a bike lane. COB suggests riding outside the bike lane to get booth physically and psychologically far enough from the opening door. You don't want to get hit and you don't want to reflex-swerve into traffic when the door swings your way. That advice might work in Orlando but what about many width-starved San Francisco bike lanes?

Most San Francisco streets have little room to spare, at least the way they're apportioned now. The bike lanes are usually narrow: one door swing out and the full lane is often blocked. Biking west on Fell Street from the Wiggle, what are you going to do? Choose the visible hazard (zipping, if not speeding, vehicles) or the unseen menace (the passenger or parker who doesn't look before opening the car door)? Avoid Fell altogether, the unitiated might suggest although the few Fell and Oak Street blocks between Scott and Baker are esential links between the Wiggle and the Panhandle for easties and westies. Same situation elsewhere.

What can happen to cyclists in the door zone? Another vid here, "The Swinging Door," from COB. It's not pretty.

On NOPA streets with bike lanes, the exception to the door zone hazard is Baker. But wait, beware the cars backing out into the lane from head-in parking.

Door zone danger: THIS is why cyclists often take the full lane when there aren't striped bike lanes, as they are allowed to do by state law. (They should keep to the right if the lane is wide enough and there are no obstacles to safe travel). Thanks to Wikipedia for the photos (no time here to stage my own); also see the Wiki's entry on door zones.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Seen While Biking: One Big Cistern in NOPA

Today sewer excavation and replacement work began on Lyon between Golden Gate and McAllister, but only part of it. Seems the ever-appearing sinkholes in the NOPA area are being dealt with one block at a time. The current cutting, digging, piping, and re-paving will involve only the north end of the block.

Who knew a cistern this large lay below Golden Gate at Baker? Nearly the width of the block and extending into the intersection. The water cache perimeter is maked for SF Fire Dept. Will this make NOPA safer when the Big One strikes and fires follow?

Curb appeal, anyone? Finally, this poor stump of a tree finally gave it up. Perhaps all it took was the stiff afternoon breeze -- or resting a bike against it. From the look of the tree base and roots, the rot was well set in. The extreme "pruning" of awhile back certainly did its part. Now the building at this location, the NE corner of Lyon and McAllister, is up for sale. Might the realtor improve sale prospects with a new street tree? Don't hesitate to call them with the suggestion.

"I'm A Geeky Bicyclist": Mariana Parreiras

"I stop at lights and stop signs, and I always wait for pedestrians,"
reported NOPA bicyclist Mariana Parreiras. "Every day I have "you first, no, you first" moments with motorists at intersections. They're pleased, amazed really, when I direct them to go first, especially when they have the right of way."

Geekiness? Perhaps more a mix of civility and real politic. "There's a lot of room for more courtesy on the part of cyclists. If cyclists scream past pedestrians, it's like cars that scream past us."

Mariana has her own rule of the road: "I put pedestrians at the top of the food chain." Based on the notion that the most vulnerable party in public arenas deserves the most deference, bicyclists get the next tier down, followed by motorists.

Mariana used to ride with Critical Mass*, but she's conflicted about the group rides today. "I'm not sure Critical Mass helps our cause as cyclists any more," she said. Mariana believes safer streets will prevail only when all users drop the road-bike-walk rage (or the disregard for one another) and adopt more civil, even friendly, behavior.

Mariana's good intentions get put to the test on city streets everyday. While we chatted at the Fell and Masonic intersection Friday morning, we watched six motorists fail to observe the relatively new red bike light meant to protect cyclists and peds through the crosswalk. The drivers pushed through in front of or immediately behind bicyclists and pedestrians. Even seeing a family of four on bikes -- with two little ones -- failed to slow these drivers. Mariana recognizes that proper responses to the bike light will follow a learning curve on the part of drivers, but she also rails against motorists who always put their interests first, even when it comes to endangering people in crosswalks. And she wasn't so benignly civil that she refrained from yelling at one especially egregious driver.

"I'm working toward a career to make streets safer and better-designed for all users," Mariana explained. She's in a dual degree program at UC Berkeley, pursuing a Master's in City Planning from the City and Regional Planning Department and another Master's in Transportation Engineering in the Civil Engineering Department. But study is hardly her sole endeavor. She also volunteers with the BART Bicycle Access Task Force, works with the grassroots group Fix Masonic, and co-edits the electronic newsletter of the Pedestrian and Bicyclist Council of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (now THAT is geeky!)

And that's not all: the last two summers she has interned with the city's Muncipal Transportation Authority (MTA). She's helped write grants for safe routes to schools and the city's new SF Park program. Last Friday she was at Fell and Masonic counting bicyclists in MTA's annual city-wide bike count, noting the number of riders but also directions travelled, whether they wore helmets, whether male or female, and whether they ride on sidewalks or in the wrong direction. (Early reports suggest the bike count at 35 points across the city is UP once again this year. There was a 43% increase in overall bike ridership from 2006 to 2008). Mariana is also an active member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and helps with advocacy when her schedule permits.

NOPA has been home for Mariana for 4 1/2 years. She lucked out and found "really cheap rent" on Central Avenue. She loves bicycling through NOPA but is a bit peeved that BIKE NOPA let the word out on "one the best kept secrets in the bike network." She hops on her red patent leather bike seat -- umm, that's red tape, Mariana -- and heads east on Golden Gate to get to work or take BART. Once she reaches the Broderick crest, she takes a lane, and usually makes all green lights until Franklin or Gough. "It's fast, furious and with relatively low auto traffic, particularly if you go early in the morning. A total pleasure." And then, she qualifies, "It's the only time I ride fast!"

* For a thought-provoking take on the future of Critical Mass and use of San Francisco streets, see Dave Snyder's article on Streetsblog, "Is Sunday Streets the Next Critical Mass?"

Monday, August 24, 2009

Before Our NOPA, there was Their NOPA

National Oilseed Processors Association

So much for our supposedly distinctive, on-target-cool acronym, NOPA. The North Panhandle Neighborhood Association, NOPNA, first touted NOPA for our little space in the San Francisco world of neighborhoods. Sorry, New York Times, "NOPA" was launched before our top-flight restaurant of the same name appeared. No rivalry here: NOPA the restaurant put us all on the map. But neither the association nor the restaurant were the first. Google "nopa" and after the three NOPA restaurant entries, there's an unexpected one.

On August 1, 1989 the National Soybeen Processors Association changed their name to the National Oilseed Processors Association. Yes, "NOPA." Their NOPA represents "oilseed crushers of canola, flaxseed, safflower, soybeans and sunflower." At least they're HEALTHY oils!

Their hot issues: international trade, domestic farm policy, the importance of the livestock industry to the oilseed sector, biotechnology, renewable fuels, regulatory and environmental policy. Our issues are a big more down-home, but we like their biotech, renewable fuels, and enviro focus.

Should we propose "sister organization" links? Their NOPA has an office in DC with all their member plant facilities in the solid Midwest and South.

But wait, there's one more: NOPA, National Office Products Alliance. Stop right there. Let's take the San Francisco fall-back position: we really are a world of our own.

Tomorrow we're back to our mission: bicycling and livability issues in NOPA. We couldn't help but stray a bit on the weekend.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Escape to the Mission

There's always the Mission when fog plays its gray tones all over NOPA and parts west. And isn't this what the Wiggle bike route is for on the weekends? Get us to the Mission!

Today was all Mission-all afternoon. First stop: the Mission Bicycle Company on Valencia near 18th in the old New College of California Building (and before that, the career-making Valencia Rose performance space and club). Fellow SF Bicycle Coalition member, Jefferson with the ready smile, greeted us at this new fixie bike shop. He joined an awesome Group of Eight staff led by co-founders Zack Rosen, Zach Klein, and Matt Cheney. Eyeing our lavendar SFBC T-shirt, Jefferson pointed to their exclusive offering of Bike Coalition hoodies and Ts. "We're the only bike shop in the city to carry the line."

Suitable for framing and hanging -- but you really, really want to ride then -- their custom-made bikes are stunners. "Itzaboy" in powder blue, "Spring Awakening" with wake-up green, canary yellow and blue accents, "Dark Violet" sets the pace for Halloween with"sinister matte black" and "violet Australian rims." "Design orange," I want it. Really, if only for the colors, check out their site and then visit the shop. On fixies like these, you'll also want locally designed, casual but fine bike wear: check their special line.

The Street Food Festival on Folsom beckoned. Sponsored by the exceptional La Cocina, a gem of a resource "cultivating food entrepreneurs," the food feast is enormously popular. The closer we got, the more we wished we had come earlier. All the parking meters and traffic sign posts were slung with bikes five blocks away. (Good thing SFBC's bike parking crew was in full operation on site). Admission to the festival was free, but the huge lines to get the tasty fare discouraged us. NOPA's Poleng Lounge was offering its best, but 20-30 minutes to wait when Poleng is just a few blocks away? Or tacos and mole when Green Chile Kitchen is down the block from home?

We ditched the food lines on Folsom (wishing them all well) and backtracked to Mission Pie. Vegan pot pie with okra, tomatoes, onions, and wheat bulgar. Quiche with bacon and radish greens. Taylor-made coffee with walnut pie. Very happy in the Mission today, and ready for the ride back to the fog, dreaming of a Mission Bicycle.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Love Your Bike Lanes: Baker Street

Cyclists love the Baker Street bike lanes. The five blocks from Fell to Golden Gate are a godsend for north/south bikers. Whip off the Wiggle onto Fell and then charge up Baker and you get to all of NOPA's east-west streets.

Going to the Richmond? A quick left on Golden Gate and you're on the way to Parker, Turk, Arguello, and then
Lake or Cabrillo. It's a clean sweep all the way to the ocean. Morning commute downtown? Re-trace your ride through NOPA or hit the Panhandle to reach Baker. On to Oak with the Wiggle ahead.

It's quick, it's essential. But it's not smooth, not the NOPA stretch between Fell and Golden Gate. Here's the odd thing: not long ago the worst pavement in NOPA was Baker between Hayes and Fell. Thankfully, the city intervened and re-paved...but only some of the block, down the center, for the cars. Left behind and untouched were the bike lanes on either side -- rough, ridged, and bumpy. Why not pave the whole block?

Just over a year ago Arguello received just the opposite treatment. The city re-paved the bike lanes -- but not the vehicular lanes. Never again, said the Dept of Public Works. It cost almost the same to pave the bike lanes alone as it would have to resurface from curb to curb. So why not all of Baker? If we were stuck in the bikes vs. cars paradigm -- that's so pre-injunction -- we'd say, "one for one; we're even; move on."

Today motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians seek livability for all. Pave all of Baker and all of Arguello. Safe surfaces on major routes for all. When will it happen? DPW is set to repave Baker through NOPA beginning October 31st of this year. No more straddling the traffic side of the bike lane. And Arguello? Not till July 2012.

Love the lanes; make them smoother, safer. To find when your NOPA block will be repaved see the earlier post here; for any block in the city, check the DPW site here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Seen While Biking: Panhandle Mornings

Early morning rides on the Panhandle Path -- whether commuting or energizing -- find good company and bike fashion too! A family on their way from Cole Valley to Pacific Primary School and beyond. A dad with kids in a counter-commute stroll-and-ride. And who says you can't dress well while biking? NICE.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More Bike Parking Coming to CPMC/Davies

The surge in bicycling appears all over San Francisco -- even at hospitals and clinics. But once cyclists arrive, where do they park? Davies Hospital at Castro & Duboce is a case in point for NOPA residents and others who frequent the medical complex. (And, yes, it's now officially the "Davies Campus of California Pacific Medical Center," but I've been around awhile and it's "Davies" or "Davies Hospital" to me).

Davies provides 8 racks of bike parking just inside its parking garage. The conditions are pretty ideal: easy to access, easy to use (none of those spiral racks!), sheltered from rain, and right next to the garage attendant station for extra security. But there aren't enough of them, not anymore.

Who would bike to a medical complex if they were guaranteed adequate parking on arrival? Obvious answer: the staff, visitors, "the biking well" (an adaptation of the standard "walking well" person capable of getting around while ill), and some outpatients. The very question betrays an outdated notion that all "sick people" need transport by car, taxi, Muni, or ambulance.

There's lots of good reasons for more bike parking at hospitals. Bringing bikes indoors might be a hazard for less mobile and agile patients and clients in hallways and elevators. According to hospital personnel at Davies, medics and administrators considered whether bikes indoors might also carry infectious agents on their surfaces. The more people cycle to get medical care, the less need for costly additions to accomodate more vehicles in parking garages. And then there's the obvious health benefits from exercise through biking, something hospitals might actively promote.

Davies has a relatively easy solution to the parking crunch. Next to the existing, well-used racks is a two-car wide space intended for bike parking in the past. But did anyone really use these metal-stumps-in asphalt to secure their bikes? (see photo). If they did then, they don't now. Here's a bike improvement way overdue for its makeover.

After cyclists requested more parking -- a few times, but who's counting? -- Davies' Engineering Department now expects to review a design proposal this week and will then install new racks within about 30 days. (Thanks to staff for moving forward with this!) We'll let you know when they're up.

If you're interested in the bigger picture of bike parking, check out "What Would Get Americans Biking to Work? Decent Parking" by Tom Vanderbilt in Slate.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Welcome to NOPA: Marc Caswell

Marc Caswell probably has boring and dispirited days, but you'd never know it. He has the kind of kinetic energy and infectious enthusiasm that makes you order thick, intense Turkish coffee to keep up with him. That's what I did when we stopped at NOPA's newest restaurant, Jannah, on Fulton Street.

Marc moved to NOPA earlier this month, and he's thrilled to be here (with a few reservations).* He was drawn by the chance to live with friends in "a gorgeous and pretty-cheap- for- San Francisco house" on Masonic. Now that he's settled in a new home base, he continues to play bike polo two nights a week, and carve the rest of his time into "20% for progressive politics and 8o% for bikes."

Marc spent his boyhood in Hollywood, Florida, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale. After he
earned a BA in Sociology of Religion from the University of Florida, he knocked on doors for the John Kerry presidential campaign and got involved with Working America, "a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO." He took a position with a Florida state legislator and focused on health care and education. But by June 2006, he was ready for a change.

Ask Marc why he moved to San Francisco, and you hear what so many of us have said, "Because it's San Francisco!" He visited here twice during college and was sold on the city as "a young, fun place." "We live here to be part of a city and a community," he added. He first worked with Urban Habitat, a social and environmental justice organization, to help with programming and media planning. He also became a member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC), an organization he admired for its community work and committment to a more livable city.

In September 2008, the SFBC hired Marc for "the perfect hybrid job," as Program Manager. "I get to be involved in legislative issues and advocacy, transportation and sustainability, community organizing and event planning." He describes this piled-on job description with a big grin like he can hardly wait to get back on the job.

What's the best part of working for the SFBC? "The people I meet; their dedication. And the appreciation so many members express for what I do. The job gives me the chance to make things better, to help build a better city."

Anything surprise him about the job? "We're an advocacy organization, but our relationship with the city is much more collaborative than I imagined. We're not in an adversary position very often, and when we are it's in the context of working together overall."

What's new with SFBC? "We've focused on streetscape improvements through helping develop the bike plan and then pushing to get new bike lanes approved. Now we can shift and diversify our efforts to improve bicycling education, bike safety, and building the base of new cyclists."

Many of today's cyclists are "Kamikaze bikers," according to Marc. "They're going to bike no matter what the conditions are." He's pumped about reaching beyond this core constituency and encouraging more people to start cycling. He notes, "So many people say 'I would cycle if' and then mention their wish for more and safer bike lanes, smoother pavement, and improvements like bike parking. SFBC topped the 10,000 member total last year. Marc says the goal now is to add another 1,000 by making biking better and safer in the city and then keep attracting more.

What does a dedicated cyclist like Marc miss about driving? "When I was driving, I often felt solitary, alienated, and unconnected to the community, but I loved listening to NPR while on the road." That drawback aside, Marc bikes to be outdoors, to stay healthy, and to hear the sounds of the city and feel a part of it. "It's like going to a soccer game or watching it on TV. Bicycling allows you to be part of the living, breathing city instead of passively watching it."

An advocate for a more livable NOPA. Marc is eager to be an active neighbor, working with NOPNA, pushing to get street improvements for a safer Masonic Avenue and bike lanes for McAllister. (Both projects were held back for more study and not approved in the recent group of bike improvements adopted by the Municipal Transportation Authority and the Board of Supervisors). And progressive politics in District 5? He'll be on it.

*Marc's only reservations about living in NOPA? The afternoon head winds, especially if he bikes home on McAllister from the SFBC office on Market Street. And he regrets he won't be able to vote in 2010 for a new supervisor in District 8, his old digs. (No slight to our own Ross Mirkarimi; he's in for 3+ more years). Marc's already got a favorite in the D8 race.

Say hello to Marc and ask him about progressive politics or anything to do with bicycling, better streets, and living in San Francisco. Just have a strong cup of coffee close by.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Seen While Biking: Crane In to Get Crane Out

Cranes have to help each other out, with a little assitance from human operators. On Saturday the largest crane seen in NOPA for years anchored itself down with massive blocks to pluck the working crane from the innards of the 3 story construction site at Golden Gate and Broderick streets. Traffic slowed for several hours while the one crane positioned itself and then dramatically lifted the folded, no-longer-needed-on-the-job crane to a waiting base. Visions of preying mantis and folded chryssalis came to mind.

The new development is the Zygmunt Arendt House, a 47 unit building designed to accomodate formerly homeless seniors. The Community Housing Partnership: Solutions to Homelessness teamed up with the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation to complete the project. Begun in late 2008, the Arendt House is expected to begin operations in early 2010.

A February 16, 2009 article in the Business Times by writer J.K. Dineen, described the affordable housing project further:

"The project is called Zygmunt Arendt House and is being named after a World War II refugee who left $6 million to the City and County of San Francisco. His will specified that 60 percent of his estate be used for the poor and needy and 40 percent for the neediest seniors. Some of that money paid for the land at 850 Broderick.

"When completed Zygmunt Arendt House will provide 47 studio apartments, each with a full bathroom and kitchenette. Five of the apartments will be fully accessible to persons with disabilities. The building will include a welcoming lobby; an outdoor courtyard garden and landscaped roof deck; a community room with a kitchen and dining areas; onsite laundry facilities; as well as offices for property management and social services."

This site was formerly home to Florence Crittenton Services, one of San Francisco's oldest social service agencies, that specialized in services for struggling families and unwed teen mothers.

In advance, welcome to NOPA, Arendt House!


More bicyclists seem to appear in the North Panhandle every day
, partly because our streets host so many vital bike routes. Every east-west street in NOPA includes official bike blocks while Masonic and Baker help move north-south bike traffic. No wonder then that BIKE NOPA window signs are cropping up all over our the neighborhood: a nice combination of cyclist, livability, and neighborhood pride all together.

You can download and print your own BIKE NOPA sign here or -- Special Offer -- if you live in NOPA and would like a window sign on card stock in very cool colors, let me know ( and I'll bring one by.