Oceanview Library at 100 Orizaba Avenue? No.
After nearly 2 years, District 11’s Oceanview Library project is back into consideration. No doubt this community needs a new library, the question is — is the location for the proposed library at 100 Orizaba Way ideal for the district?
Unfortunately, this location is at the periphery of most residents of District 11. Despite this, Supervisor Safai contends that the library must be built in the Brotherhood Way Greenbelt or not at all. For this reason alone, residents in district 11 have rallied around that site. Those living in District 7 are not so happy with the location.
Rethinking 100 Orizaba
The proposed library location is on an adjacent narrow street of Orizaba Avenue, two blocks away from the “M” streetcar stop, on a hill that is over an 8% slope, in a Greenbelt and on an earthquake fault. In addition, the trees there have a 3 foot diameter which would require the roots to be removed in addition to the tree itself which will be expensive. Also, the soils, created from what was a stream bed for millennia are organic in nature — this too will require additional construction expense. This location would require 20 foot deep piers to provide a stable footing for a library. Unlike numerous other proposed locations, this has no synergy with adjacent businesses and would provide no foot traffic fostering other business activity. With all the things that are wrong at this location, wouldn’t another site be more desirable? However, there is more bad news about this location for the library.
To get to the proposed library, patrons, including children and the elderly from District 7, will need to cross five (5) different crosswalks. Crosswalk (1) and crosswalk (4) are especially heavily traveled. Safe to say, this location is an “attractive nuisance” for children and could lead to accidents and death.
Another dangerous cross walk is located at crosswalk (6). Here traffic habitually speeds down Sagamore Street. Should there be a pedestrian crosswalk here, the traffic is likely to be backed up Sagamore Street considerably and accidents could be frequent. With the addition of the proposed library, more children and the elderly would use this crosswalk and this location would become more dangerous.
Unfortunately, removing the five awkward crosswalks at this location is only likely to encourage jaywalking. Therefore, the first likely solution would be to provide a signal light to control traffic, but the amount of traffic and the speed of this traffic would make it an unsafe solution. Imagine the length of time required for the elderly to cross all five crosswalks to gain access to the library. Then, imagine this happening more frequently with the increased foot traffic of children and the elderly for a proposed library. A traffic signal solution is unworkable.
Anyone living beside crosswalk (1) who decided to avoid these five crosswalks to get to the proposed library, might take the “safe” route. Walking down Alemany Blvd. to the west, five blocks, next wait for two traffic signals, then walk east on Brotherhood Way five more blocks, would get you to the same place. That “safe” diversion is nearly one mile.
Traffic on Brotherhood Way is busy because motorists driving here are going to San Francisco State University, Stonestown, Parkmerced, 800 Summit, Oceanview, Sunset and Richmond districts. Today, Sagamore Street is functioning adequately, but should there be more traffic or an additional traffic signal, it will not function properly.
Also, the entrance to Highway 280 is located on the south side of Alemany Blvd. (see Map of 5 crosswalks). From a traffic engineer’s perspective, should there be increased pedestrians crossing on Alemany Blvd. it would cause traffic to back up as far as Brotherhood Way. When this happens, traffic proceeding west on Alemany Blvd. will be unable to move forward.
Will anyone in our neighborhood realize the intrinsic value of open space and a Brotherhood Way Greenbelt? Time will tell.”
The yellow bumped surfaces that mark the entrance of improved crosswalks in San Francisco do provide guidance for the visually impaired. However, when George Wooding, who is wheelchair bound, saw the five crosswalks he said he could not make that crossing. The yellow bumped surfaces can be an obstacle to the handicapped and the elderly who find this surface difficult to cross with a walker or a wheelchair. Crossing one street with this surface is one thing, but crossing all five crosswalks at once, is beyond the ability of many who are physically challenged. Is this five-crosswalk intersection in its current configuration therefore, compliant with the American Disabilities Act (ADA)?
THE TRAFFIC SOLUTION
A solution to this traffic problem could be a pedestrian bridge. A pedestrian bridge (A) could allow children to walk safely to the library from Alemany Blvd. (see Map or Five Crosswalks). The pedestrian bridge (B), that crosses the Brotherhood Way, is just as necessary. These bridges will be expensive and make the supposed costs savings for “free” land for the new library meaningless. Advocates of the proposed library in cursory discussions, have said a pedestrian bridge is out of the question. That is because the appeal of this site at 100 Orizaba is that the land is “free.” Obviously, the hidden cost of a necessary pedestrian bridge makes this location no longer affordable.
SF COUNTY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY — BROTHERHOOD WAY PLAN BY SF PUBLIC WORKS BUREAU OF ARCHITECTURE
The traffic solution provided by SFCTA (above) misses all but one topic discussed in safety concerns for a traffic solution. Even worse, it misdirects westbound traffic down Alemany Blvd. to Arch Street, to make a right turn and eventually continue on Brotherhood Way. This solution would cause congestion in both District 7 and District 11 and is completely unworkable.
This plan ignores the narrow street of Orizaba Avenue which would need to be widened beside the proposed library. Also, this plan does not address the five crosswalks leading to the proposed library from the south side of Alemany Blvd. This solution does recognize the danger of crosswalk (6) at Brotherhood Way. (see Map of 5 Crosswalks). However, they solved the problem by removing the crosswalk entirely by creating a park. This ignores the fact the Greenbelt is a park already. Safe to say, this traffic solution does not adhere to the guidelines which the traffic designer was attempting to follow by “Improving community connections, livability and safety through the Brotherhood-Sagamore-Alemany corridor.” This solution generates no capital improvement or expense besides the proposed library, which is the goal of those who support this proposed library location.
EXISTING LIBRARY AT 345 RANDOLPH STREET
This is the present location of the Oceanview Library. In library meetings proponents have said that building additional floors onto the existing library would require two librarians for each additional floor and this would be unnecessarily expensive. Is this a justification for ignoring this space? Besides, the proposed larger library on 100 Orizaba Avenue also has 3 stories. No-one dismisses this site for that same reasoning.
The other excuse is that the existing building is not robust enough to support additional floors. I believe this is untrue. All public buildings are built to a different standard than residential buildings. All public buildings generally should be able to support additional weight. Besides, this existing building could be retrofitted.
This location at 345 Randolph Street is beside the ‘M” streetcar stop with no pedestrian obstacles. Considering the difficulties with the site in the Greenbelt at 100 Orizaba Way, that would seem important. Talk on the street implies this old library has been decided to be sold to the public. Could the future owner of this property be getting a “sweetheart” deal? The residents of this neighborhood should pay attention to the new buyer of this property. Another possibility is that the existing library would become the property of Public Works.
SITE OPPOSITE EXISTING LIBRARY, 308 RANDOLPH STREET
This location is beside the Little Footprints preschool and the M streetcar stop. This property is both wider and longer than the existing library location. Since the space is presently a play ground, the cost of the land would be minimal. Once the new library is built, children coould play on the new roof of the library. An agreement whereby the City could donate the use of the roof playground could be arranged. This location stimulates other businesses nearby. 90% of the EIR for the library should be readily approved because it is so close to the existing library.
Another solution is to tear down the existing library at 345 Randolph Street and create a children’s playground at that site, purchase the existing playground next to the Little Footprint preschool and build the library there. The preschool would benefit by a library next door and would still have access to a playground close by. Most importantly, the preschool will have cash from the sale of their adjacent playground. It would be hard to find a worthwhile reason for this option to be turned down.
BROAD STREET BAPTIST CHURCH, 267 FARALLONES STREET
This location is presently a church, which is primarily a parking lot and would be less expensive than many other locations. The site appears to be a collection of 3 residential lots. Only one living unit is present, so only one family would be inconvenienced by a move. This location is only 100 feet from the M streetcar and is next to the Oceanview Market and would stimulate business there. Other businesses nearby could flourish also. This location has no traffic conflicts that would immediately dismiss the site as it does the 100 Orizaba Avenue site.
SITE LOCATED ON 137 BROAD STREET
This large parcel of land on Broad Street is close to an M streetcar stop. This location for the library is likely to bring back businesses that used to exist beside the old library at Ana’s Market or 105 Broad Street. This residence is shuttered and the adjacent property is a side yard. An EIR was provided in the past for the old library at Ana’s Market. Therefore, another EIR could be easily prepared.
ANA’S MARKET AT 105 BROAD STREET OR THE OLD LIBRARY SITE
Today, numerous businesses are shuttered here which used to be open when the Oceanview Library was present at Ana’s Market. It is my hope to have the new library beside other businesses that would benefit from a library and increased foot traffic. This is one reason why the location 137 Broad Street is desirable. The isolation of the proposed library location at 100 Orizaba Avenue does not provide any synergy to existing businesses, and should be avoided.
GANG ACTIVITY AT PLYMOUTH AVENUE AND BROAD STREET
In the not-so-distant past, gang members frequented the area by Ana’s Market and there were frequent shootings. Fear of this activity explains why this location is discouraged by some residents in District 11. One way to inhibit crime is to have more foot traffic and prying eyes watching the activity of nearby neighbors and businessmen. If a library is here, more foot traffic would be present and past bad behavior is less likely to occur. Note the cameras now monitoring this site on the streetlight here and on the other side of the street.
WHY THE LIBRARY AT BROTHERHOOD WAY GREENBELT?
Why is the proposed library at 100 Orizaba Avenue desirable? The proposed site has so many failings and the traffic problems are so enormous. Is there a hidden agenda with this proposed site that’s not being discussed? When the neighbors of Orizaba Avenue were canvased, they told canvassers that a City employee proceeded them, asking if they opposed a housing development on the Greenbelt. Is the construction of a proposed library on the Greenbelt the first step to having the public accept a residential development there? Real estate interests are willing to build housing elsewhere in the City despite the fact 6.3% of the population of San Francisco has moved from the City. Not only that, but working remotely has become increasing more popular in San Francisco, making home ownership even less desirable. Still, the state, city and local real estate interests push the narrative that housing is a must and should be built at the rate of 800 units a year and 8,000 units over a decade. Since land is scarce in the City, this verdant stretch of Brotherhood Way Greenbelt must be deeply desirable for real estate speculation. Waiting a decade will mean those who oppose the construction of a proposed library today will be absent, but real estate interests will not. Will anyone in our neighborhood realize the intrinsic value of open space and a Brotherhood Way Greenbelt? Time will tell.
Glenn Rogers, RLA