Dear Neighbors,

I’m pleased to be able to report to you that PHAN directors continued to work on the projects I outlined for those of you who were able to attend PHAN’s annual meeting last May.  What follows is an update on progress we have made.

I will begin with a report and request that you participate in one of our projects, the renaming of Julius Kahn Playground. The City itself has already determined that the playground must be renamed.  PHAN’s role is to recommend a new name, working together with both Chinese American, Jewish and neighborhood groups.  You can help, perhaps even have the distinct honor of suggesting the new name that is ultimately approved by the City.  Send your suggestions to PHAN through our website, info@phansf.org.  A working group composed of representatives of the organizations I mentioned, will tabulate the three or four most popular names suggested and then solicit your vote on those names and report the winner to the City, which will either approve or disapprove of the final choice.  So, although we’ve just gone through a lengthy mid-term election and voting cycle, please send your own or your family’s suggestions to us. There is no limit on how many names you can suggest!  

Fire prevention and protection were important focal points in our annual meeting, particularly along the Presidio Wall.  I am pleased to report that the Presidio Trust seems to have heard and understood our concerns, as the Trust has done much of what our fire prevention consultant recommended.  Tree-limbingof lower branches and clean-up under the trees has occurred between the Presidio and Arguello Gates on the Presidio’s side of the wall. As was pointed out at the May meeting, fire prevention activities are not a one-time event; they must be performed year after year.  PHAN’s board will continue to monitor the Presidio’s fire prevention efforts and encourage the Trust to do what we feel is necessary for our safety next summer as well.

Two major development projects, 3333 California Street and the CPMC Campus, as well the Litke development on the southside of the 3600 block of Sacramento Street, were discussed at the annual meeting.  All three remain active developments. Given the interest of residents in these three projects, PHAN will start carrying links on its website (www.phansf.org) with information concerning the status of each project.  At this time, it appears the City is intent on pushing more housing into our neighborhood than any of these three developers originally planned or requested. The Planning Department has indicated an interest in increasing the 3333 California Street project to a level of approximately 770 units. As many of you know, our neighbors in Laurel Heights have legally established that the project should be treated as a state historic resource, both the building and the grounds.  The exact impact that legal status will eventually have on the project is unknown at this point.  The City Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors will have to decide, as well as the courts if anyone is dissatisfied with what the City decides to approve. PHAN has not expressed support for the project in writing yet.  Generally, my sense is that the board would vote in favor of supporting the project if the number of units was limited to the mid-500’s.  It is unclear to me what position the PHAN board would take if the City insisted that 770 units had to be built before the Supervisors would approve it. 

The TMG project on the CPMC California Street campus will learn what the City thinks of its proposed project relatively soon.  PHAN has already gone on record and submitted a letter to the Planning Department supporting the project as proposed.  To my knowledge, no surrounding neighborhood association has opposed the TMG project, but some members of PHAN who reside close to the project have objected to specific buildings or portions of the project on the ground that they block their current views or sunlight. Whatever number of housing units the City insists on for this project, the number will be smaller but the size of individual units will be larger than will be the case at the 3333 California Street project.

The Litke development on the 3600 block of Sacramento Street contains an additional story as compared to what was once presented to PHAN. PHAN understands that this was requested by the Planning Department.  Due to the heavy involvement of the Planning Department in this project, there is nothing that PHAN can oppose with any hope of success, although I know that many of you object to the aesthetics of the project. But we will be watchful when the project breaks ground and we will give serious consideration to opposing any construction techniques or processes that contravene the City’s building code which you bring to our attention.  There are some merchants on Sacramento Street who have expressed serious concerns about the possible effects of the construction of this project at the same time as the TMG project is being constructed.  They fear that they and the rest of the Sacramento Street merchants will be affected in much the same way as the construction on Van Ness Avenue has harmed businesses along that street.  Accordingly, PHAN recommends that all residents of Presidio Heights continue to support the merchants along the Sacramento Street corridor throughout the construction phases of these projects, no matter how messy the streets may become.  Meanwhile, PHAN will work with the Sacramento Street Merchants Association to induce those at City Hall and in the Building Department to regulate the construction processes on the three development projects to minimize the negative impacts on our business neighbors as much as possible, as well as ourselves.

Turning to construction on our own homes, PHAN will be issuing a set of guidelines for residents to adopt when they launch home renovation projects.  These will appear soon, certainly before the spring of 2019 when home sales and renovations begin to pick up. The guidelines will be published on PHAN’s website (www.phansf.org).

We survived Halloween without incident as far as I know.  I must congratulate Traci Teraoka on organizing the Sacramento Merchants Association to provide an opportunity for  youngsters to trick or treat on Sacramento Street immediately after preschools and elementary school end.  It seems to have triggered an earlier start to the trick or treating on the residential streets, which  many of us appreciated

Do not hesitate to contact me or other members of the PHAN board through info@phansf.org. As many of you know, we do respond promptly and comprehensively to your inquiries.  I look forward to seeing your suggestions for rename JK Playground and I send you my best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season.

Warm regards,

Charlie Ferguson