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Daily News Roundup for Monday, July 13, 2015

Illustration by Mitch Green
Construction costs paused during the downturn, but the development boom has got them soaring again across the Bay Area. Who's getting the worst of it? Affordable housing developers.

Here's what's happening in the Bay Area, as curated by KALW news:


S.F. loses affordable housing almost as quickly as it builds it // San Francisco Business Times

“The San Francisco Planning Department released its first ever “housing balance report” Tuesday – a report card for affordable housing production. It’s not that newsworthy to say that San Francisco got pretty bad grades, but this report underlines a complex reason why the city is failing: It’s not enough for the city to build affordable units. It has to save them, too. 

“While the city has built 6,559 new deed-restricted, affordable housing units for low-income people since 2005, it has lost 5,470 rent-controlled, affordable units over the same span. In other words, for every 10 affordable units that developers build, more than eight units have been taken off the market by landlords.

“The data clearly shows that the evictions crisis and resulting loss of rental units is a tremendous handicap to the city meeting its affordable housing production goals,” said Supervisor Jane Kim, who pushed for the legislation this spring that requires the city to publish a housing balance report twice a year."


S.F. May Impose Controls on Mission Development // Mission Local

“In a room packed with contention, the Planning Commission decided in a 5-to-1 vote Thursday to begin considering temporary controls on development in the Mission.

“The decision came after two hours of public comment, during which almost all of the members of the public encouraged the commission to reject a resolution that will essentially make developers of new market-rate housing go through a more rigorous review. Those who were pro-development argued against more building restrictions and considered it unfair to impose new controls. For those against development, the resolution was simply too weak: They wanted to see a flat-out moratorium on new market-rate housing. Other protesters were residents of the Mission who fail to qualify for below-market-rate housing but cannot afford luxury housing.

“The Planning Department sees the controls, which would last for a six-month period, as just one small but important step in its “multifaceted” approach to deal with the current housing crisis in the Mission District.

“The commission plans to meet with the Planning Department in the coming weeks to discuss the specifics of the controls — including the January 1, 2015, cutoff for grandfathering projects in — and will meet again about this issue on July 23. The vote could come as early as August 6.”


Clamor for noise abatement in S.F. is growing// SF Chronicle

“When Dominick Guzzo moved to San Francisco's Mission district six years ago, the first thing he noticed was the noise. Car alarms from the nearby Zipcar parking lot kept him up at night. So did drunken brawls on the street below, the neighbors’ shouting, police sirens, fire engines, construction and traffic.

“Last year, the Police Department fielded 28,213 noise-related calls. Of those, 97 percent were classified as “low priority. But for officers to cite an individual for a noise complaint — say, a street performer for loud music — the complaining party would have to sign a citizen’s arrest form stating that he or she wishes to press charges. It’s why so few people follow through, said police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza.

“Thousands of noise complaint calls are funneled every week through 311, a telephone line for nonemergency services. A half-dozen government agencies then respond to the different types of sound. But the categories of noise complaints and their corresponding agencies can be confusing. Issues with offenders that don’t violate a noise ordinance also likely won’t be placed high on the response list."


Battle over S.F. couple’s frozen embryos heads to court// SF Chronicle

“Just 10 days before her wedding in September 2010 to financial analyst Stephen Findley, San Francisco anesthesiologist Mimi Lee was diagnosed with breast cancer. The couple was eager to start a family, but realized that treatments and her age would probably make her infertile, so they created five embryos through in vitro fertilization and had them frozen.

“The marriage unraveled and, in December 2013, Findley filed for divorce. Lee said she was shocked when Findley told her he wanted the embryos destroyed, potentially robbing her of her only remaining chance to have biological children.

“The couple’s conflict has turned into a potentially precedent-setting case that could determine what happens to frozen embryos in California when one person in a divorce wants them destroyed and the other one doesn’t.

"A hearing to decide the fate of the embryos is scheduled for Monday in San Francisco Superior Court.

"The number of cryopreserved embryos in the U.S. has climbed to more than 600,000."


Ambitious project aims to address tidal flooding, restore marshland // San Jose Mercury News

“An agency charged with solving flooding along the San Francisquito Creek says that nearly 5,000 properties could be protected from tidal flooding if new levees are built in Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and Palo Alto.

“Covering nine miles of shoreline, the SAFER Bay project (Strategy to Advance Flood protection, Ecosystems and Recreation along the Bay) is also the biggest in the state to address sea level rise, said San Francisquito executive director Len Materman.

"The project would utilize "horizontal levees," which, in addition to offering protection against tidal flooding, would allow more than 1,000 acres of historic marshland to be restored. Materman added that, "Everything that we build we put a trail on top of."

"The solution may sound simple enough but the project promises to be "incredibly complicated," Materman said. "The biggest issue is figuring out where to build the levees and whether any key pieces of infrastructure should be excluded.

"A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences found that ocean levels south of Humboldt County will rise up to 1 foot in the next 20 years, 2 feet by 2050 and up to 5 feet by 2100.

"Materman said public meetings will be held on the project in the three cities later this year."


Presidio Parkway, the new Doyle Drive, set to open // SF Gate

“Downtown San Francisco’s main route to the Golden Gate Bridge was set to reopen early Monday — with a new name. The $1.1 billion Presidio Parkway, which replaces Doyle Drive, took 15 years of planning and preparation, capped by an extended weekend closure that forced anyone approaching the bridge from the south to use Highway 1. The new 1.6-mile route features two sets of tunnels and a high viaduct climbing above the Presidio en route to the bridge.”

"A project spokeswoman later told NBC Bay Area News that Doyle Drive actually reopened Sunday night at 9 p.m., eight hours ahead of schedule.

"The construction team, Presidio Parkway, wrote on their website that "this opening marks a major milestone for a project that has transformed the northern waterfront for San Francisco, turning an aging, outdated roadway into a graceful parkway and gateway to San Francisco and the Presidio national park."