UNN Community Meeting Jan 18, 2023 Summary

Supervisor Mandelman provided citywide updates and informed us about his activities.

We looked at SFMTA’s newly published How To Use Slow Streets Fact Sheet click here.

We reviewed our 2023 neighborhood goals including a look at the recent survey results click here.

UNN member Kit Carson provides this excellent summary of this meeting in the February, 2023 Noe Valley Voice:

The Good, The Bad and The Neighborly
Mandelman Gives State of the City at January Meeting
By Kit Cameron
On Wednesday, Jan. 18, a score of Upper Noe Neighbors turned out for the group’s first meeting in 2023. The attendees got a chance to hear about Slow Sanchez rules, meet the city’s Neighborhood Safety Liaison, learn the results of a neighborhood survey, and pepper their supervisor, Rafael Mandelman, with questions about everything from transit to housing to the fractious subject of unhoused San Franciscans.

The newly re-elected supervisor was greeted with warm applause as he joked that the number of rounds of votes for the president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in January exceeded that of the U.S. House of Representatives for Kevin McCarthy but finally Supervisor Aaron Peskin had been elected.

Mandelman, who chairs the county’s Transportation Authority, bragged that getting Proposition L passed in November gave the city crucial money to revitalize Muni. “We are closer than we have ever been to getting trains [from outside the city] going all the way to downtown San Francisco. It will be a seven-billion-dollar job, funded mostly by the state and federal government, with San Francisco kicking in 300 million,” he said. But he added, “Transit agencies are in a world of hurt,” because the pandemic money that was provided by the federal government is drying up and ridership is still not up to what it was pre-pandemic. “Muni is facing a grim year.”

Strain on City Budget

It is not only Muni looking at a budget shortfall. “San Francisco has a 200-million-dollar deficit this year and is facing a 500-million-dollar deficit next year,” Mandelman said. “The mayor’s office is trying to figure out how to make seven million dollars’ worth of cuts without diminishing city services.

“The police department is already understaffed,” he said. “We need to bring on new officers even as cuts to the budget are being contemplated.” Also, he said, “Mental health services continue to suffer, as we are woefully short on board-and-care and locked facilities for the mentally ill.”

On the housing issue, Mandelman noted a ruling by a San Francisco judge that prohibits the city from forcibly removing tents from the streets until the city provides shelter for everyone on the street. On the face of it, he said, this seems like a beneficial law but it is a bad idea. “Ultimately, we need to make laws to clarify jurisdictions, to be able to remove encampments,” when they are places of harm for individuals or vectors of crime or drug abuse.

The future, he said, is about building more housing. Mandelman is hopeful his own and State Senator Scott Wiener’s initiatives to create more aggressive targets for new housing, as well as changes in zoning and height restrictions, will eventually deliver.

Local Comings and Goings

Unsurprisingly, Noe Valley residents wanted news on two local issues: the future of the J-Church line and of the storied bathroom for the Noe Valley Town Square on 24th Street.

Yes, Mandelman said, he is committed to keeping the J-Church in the tunnel. More importantly, he wants to see J-Church trains come more often and on a regular schedule. “Right now, the schedule is dysfunctional,” he said. A robust discussion with UNN president Chris Faust followed, as to whether keeping the J in the tunnel could
improve reliability and frequency.

Plans to reduce costs for the town square bathroom are on track, said Mandelman, with rec and park now promising a price of under a million dollars. (See story on page 1, this issue of the Voice.)

You’ve Got a Friend

Legislative aides Jackie Prager and Adam Thongsavat made themselves known to the crowd and encouraged people to contact Mandelman’s office for information or help in specific situations. (Email mandelmanstaff@sfgov.org or call 415- 554-6968. Or sign up for the supervisor’s newsletter at SFbos.org.)

Dave Burke introduced himself as District 8’s public safety liaison, a civilian employee of the police department who works closely with Mandelman’s office. “If people have a break-in or interface with the police and feel their needs are not being addressed, call me,” he said, stressing that this is not the thing to do when an actual crime is in process; in that case, call 911. He gave both his email, dave.burke@sfgov.org, and phone, 415-933-9379.

The members of Upper Noe Neighbors were cheered by the recent official designation of UNN as a 501c(3) organization. As a non-profit, explained treasurer Erin Zielinski, the organization can apply for grants and expand what it does with the city and
other entities.

Group vice president Tony Harris added that the new status meant members could make donations to UNN. And, he added, the membership page at uppernoeneighbors.com made it “as easy as one-two-three” to join, at $20 a
year per person or business.

Slow Street Rules Solidified

The evening was drawing to a close when Faust reported with great satisfaction that the push by UNN and others to create guidelines for Slow Streets had resulted in a new document put out by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, as it made Sanchez Street a permanent Slow Street on Dec. 6 last year. The fact sheet can be accessed on the SFMTA website (sfmta.org) by searching “How to Use Slow Streets.”

The guidelines direct pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers to make space and be kind and considerate to one another. People are reminded that activities “need to preserve the use of the street as an active travel roadway.” Finally, the Slow Streets guidelines tell us, “Don’t be hostile toward other Slow Street users or make people feel unwelcome on the street.”

Picturing Church Street

The last order of business was to quickly review answers to a neighborhood-wide survey on the character and use of Church Street. Preservation of parking spaces and J-Church stops was resoundingly popular, as were ideas for decorative lighting along storefronts and adding a stop sign at 28th Street.

There was more muted approval for proposals including new benches, kiosks, banners, or flower baskets. As one response put it, “The current ‘brand’ of the neighborhood is low-key, unassuming, and neighborly. Improvements to generate more traffic must preserve that brand and avoid any glitz that simply cheapens it.”

With that, the first meeting of the year came to an end, chairs were put away, and neighbors dispersed into the night.

Comments are closed.