Architecture for Humanity - SF
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Mar 31 Redefining Community, Recreating Space

Diversity Lecture Series 6 PM, Nahl Hall, CCA

Oakland campus Artists and educators Keith Thomas and Julio Morales, both CCA faculty members, will explore creative collaborations bringing together artists, youth, community agencies, schools, and public institutions to successfully re-create public space.

4/1/04 Livable Berkeley Presents Affordable Housing Architect David Baker

6:30 PM - 8:30 PM Berkeley Central Library Community Room (third floor)

David Baker is a strong advocate of affordable housing that takes into consideration environmental factors such as parking, transportation, and the need for walkable urban neighborhoods. Refreshments will be served. For more information, visit www.livableberkeley.org.

About Livable Berkeley: Livable Berkeley is a broad-based organization that advocates smart growth and sustainable development in Berkeley, California. The mission of Livable Berkeley is to harness the forces of change to improve our city and quality of life, preserve the environment, and offer increased housing, employment and transportation opportunities for current and future generations.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004
And here are the details in case you have not already gotten them on the next Housing/Land Use Seminar I am helping to organize.
San Francisco legends Calvin Welch and Joe O'Donoghue present an overview of San Francisco land use issues, in a talk entitled, "San Francisco Housing and Land Use battles: A historical review from the 1970's to the present."
This monthly seminar series is sponsored by the San Francisco Green Party and the Center for Education and Social Action at New College of California. See the Housing and Land Use working group page for more information about the seminar series.

This is the second workshop in a monthly series that will be a great opportunity to educate yourself, share your thoughts, and get involved with local advocacy groups trying to create a better San Francisco. The series will take place on the last Thursday of each month at New College, located at 777 Valencia Street.

The seminar series includes a diverse range of topics and speakers--Supervisors, activists, attorneys, developers, nonprofit builders and city planners-- policymakers and advocates from all sides of our housing and development battles. Here’s a chance for you to consider diverse, frequently contradictory opinions, and make up your own mind on important issues facing the city. The seminars should prove informative, lively and entertaining.

What: Green Party Housing and Land Use Seminar Series, co-sponsored with the New College Center for Education and Social Action
Who: Joe O'Donoghue and Calvin Welch, and you with your thoughtful and probing questions.
When: 7:00 p.m., Thursday, March 25
Where: New College, 777 Valencia Street, near 19th Street

And last night I attended Supervisor Daly's showing of 'The Fall of the I-Hotel' at City hall, in vigilance of his anti-demolition ordinance and the Trinity Plaza Tenants who are facing a very similar profit-over-people predicament. If you haven't seen the documentary it is amazing, extremely powerful, and is one of the most important Land Use battles this city has faced in the last 30 years. Another movie worth seeing relating to displacement and housing battles here in SF is Boom! The Sound of an Eviction. I am trying to purchase copies, Boom I think you can view on line, and will host another showing if people are interested.


Here is a review of the Coalition for Homeless Benefit last week at Slim's, and an old but good article by one of the Coalition's brightest advocates, Jim Tracy.

And if you are interested in a full list of the new Homeless Council Members assembled by Alioto and responsible for this city's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, here it is.

And here is a Radio Interview with Bruce Mau, Brenda Laurel, and Cameron Sinclair regarding Design and Social Change, with a little nod to the AFH Meetup Crews! Scroll down to the bottom.

Archvoices has written a bit on AFH here, in context of Architecture being recognized from outside the industry for its work in helping to push Design into larger notions of societal effect, and the value of outisde-the-field acknowledgement.

Sam Davis, Prof at UC Berkeley will be releasing a new book this Novemeber 'Designing for the Homeless: Architecture that Works'. should be a great read and I am trying ot hustle a review of this book for a future magazine. He also designed the Larkin Street Youth Center, and will be lecturing next month.

Some great bits in these articles.

Saturday, March 20, 2004
Another profile of estudio in San Diego and Teddy Cruz’s posse:

“The work emerges out of a constant investigation and speculation about relationships between architecture and different aspects of contemporary life and the socio-cultural and political implications of constructing space.

Community engagement originates and shapes projects as a matter of social relations and their co-existence with the landscape they inhabit : Ideas and forms are drawn from existing physical and urban conditions and from patterns of spatial occupation and social interaction that can redefine the limits imposed by rigid zoning and planning laws.”

In PERSPECTA 34 there are some great articles by Gans & Jelacic, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Shigeru Ban / Kartikeya Shodhan, Roy Kozlovsky, and many others. The entire issue is dedicated to Temporary Architecture. It opens with an extract from Kobo Abe’s ‘The Box man’ which is a great crazy novel about a man who decides to live in a box in urban Japan, and the subsequent perceptions of him and their effect on the public, his own sense of body and place as an object of a sniper, a romantic possession, and a doctor's strange self-idealism to beocme a boxman himself. On of my favorite fictions from one of Japan’s greatest writers. You should check both of these reads out.

In light of these organizations, UN HABITAT, UN Refugee Agency, World Studio Foundation, Design for the World, there is TechnoCraft's HEMP HOUSE. A ½ scale model is built at the BAC for Shelter and Beyond , a conference on the East Coast.

And here is a great article on Community Development in Australia putting aside politics for a new inclusionary effort into helping the underserved.

“The leading candidates vying to become Australia's next prime minister, Peter Costello and Mark Latham, both want to champion the cause of building "social capital", so here is the challenge: instead of a "league-table" of disadvantage that stigmatizes communities and infuriates the vast majority of their hard-working families, let's have a Social Capital Index, to measure the progress made by partnerships between the three tiers of government, business big and small, and community groups to find solutions to local problems in these disadvantaged postcodes.

It's time to pursue creative, non-partisan solutions rather than continually describing the problems to families who already feel the political process has abandoned them.

The City of Hume, which stretches from Broad meadows' old housing commission estates to the grape-growing estates of Sunbury, is a case study of a community's determination to replace the symbols of the neglect of the past with landmarks of opportunity for the future.”

In the NY TIMES, there is a great article about landscape urbanist Walter Hood, who teaches at UC Berkeley, and talks about the role of the landscape architect in reshaping cities, noticing all the things most people would never pay attention to. "One thing I value about public work is that you can allow people to understand their predicament by making connections between the physical world and how they live. Then they can move forward. You don't get stuck in one place."

And here is some nice San Francisco work pushing scale and aesthetic in their Modular Dwellings.


Making the cover of the Examiner last week was our friend Jim Reid, who is nearing closer to eviction from his home and launching a homeless movement ever more in response. When we toured ‘the smallest house in America” it was amazing the level of organization and the amount of furnishing Jim was able to compact into the unit. But since his effort to get zoning approval from the city to build his little houses around town has failed, he ‘now plans to camp out across from City Hall after his eviction and is recruiting homeless people for a "Justice Army" of political activism.” Last he told me was he was intending an accumulative gather of homeless people across the nation towards an exodus camp on the White House lawn. That would be amazing.

“San Francisco has to do better than the status quo and any ideas that emanate from that quarter. Holding homeless people hostage to self-aggrandizement and self-righteous cupidity is a fine opening target for the first salvoes of a 10-year process that has an abolitionist intention." ... That's the quote Angela Alioto likes as a motto for her effort to pull together a 10-year plan for homelessness. With Mayor Newsom ultimately leading homeless policy, civil rights attorney Alioto is hard at work to wrangle some kind of unity out of homeless activists, businesspeople, service providers and bureaucrats, trying to make her 10-year plan more than just a federal funding document to shelve next to all the other homelessness studies. "I pray a lot. I do," she said.

Meanwhile homeless benefits cuts are prompting a law suit and a challenge to the city to make good on its revised Care Not Cash initiative, Real Housing, Real Care. “Attorney Oren Sellstrom, who helped file the suit in Superior Court, said the Real Housing, Real Care law passed by the city Board of Supervisors last summer as an alternative to Care Not Cash specifically forbids cutting general assistance checks in exchange for a shelter bed. The suit asks the court to permanently block any cuts pertaining to emergency shelters.”

And just down the road in Fresno, an encampment of 100 people is demolished and people are moved out of town, without the legal protection of retaining any of their property. Homeless persons' rights to retain personal property was a law SF lawmakers failed to pas not too long ago.

These are all worthwhile articles regarding the SF Housing Crisis:

Beyond Gentrification: Strategies For Managing Community Change, by Jill Slater (SF Planning dept)
Elberling on the Legacy of Brown era Affordable Housing
Redevelopment back in the Supes hands?
Affordability in Nob Hill?
Tenderloin Park Revival
More Feng Shui?
Gonzlaez Wants Say in Newsom’s Probe of Dept of Building Inspections
De-regulating condo-conversion in Oakland
The Bay Area Housing Market

Friday, March 12, 2004

With all eyes on Newsom, he is talking about setting a housing policy coalition to bridge the diversity of political groups and come back to the debate of low income housing now that Prop J has lost. Or perhaps to re-assert measures like Prop J, M, Care Not Cash, but in slightly less sneaky and devisive terms. The activists want to see him make good on his candidacy rhetoric of building real affordable hosuing for the city’s poor. The debate though gets at the heart of the political divide in this city: what type of housing needs to be built, where, what is the inventory of city-wide available parcels, what are the plans for them and how do they include the lowest wage earners, how do we protect housing for the middle class without losing it to an abundance of loft and luxury condo space? There are those who want to let the free market decide our land values and definition of affordability, Willie Brown himself said no one making under fifty thousand should have the right to live here, against those who want to force developers to build the necessary affordable hosuing neglected for the past 30 years because in Critical SF it should be the only investment available right now. And that is what the Trinity Battle gets at, who shall decide how, when, and where to protect our affordable housing stock?

Supervisor McGoldrick wrote this article about his recent ordinance proposal Public Benefits Incentive Zoning (PBIZ), a mechanism and framework for allowing developers to exceed existing height/density limits by providing varieties of any Public Benefits. Not only housing is needed to save our crisis, but new relationships between community stakeholders and developers must be steered by our policy to reverse the trend of speculative land values.

Matt Smith : On Prop J
Home Prices Not Fully at Fault: Report examines reasons for state's housing shortage.
Red Tape Tangles Hotel Renovation
Whatever Happened to Bryant Park? : City planning lessons lurk in the open pit where a family housing complex is finally set to rise.
Oakland & Housing Grants


"Mayor Newsom's fifth day on the job included a meeting with Philip Mangano, who heads the federal Interagency Council on Homelessness, which the Bush administration brought back to life to better coordinate federal outlays for the various pieces of the homeless puzzle: substance abuse, job training and mental health services. Mangano is a visionary. He wants to attack homelessness through a series of 10-year regional programs that focuses on results-driven techniques. It's a different approach, one that outside-the-box mayors might be willing to try.

Something more about the president's point man on homelessness: He doesn't come from Republican central casting.

Mangano is a former director of services for homeless people in Cambridge, Mass. He calls himself a "homeless abolitionist," which explains why he likes to quote William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass. He says the French philosopher Simone Weil and St. Francis of Assisi are his "patron saints." After seeing Franco Zeffirelli's "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" -- a movie about St. Francis -- he gave up his career as a music agent and manager for bands such as Buffalo Springfield and Peter, Paul and Mary.
Where did he go after leaving the music industry? To Boston, to work on a bread line." (SFGATE, Sun. 03.07)

SAN FRANCISCO Mayor Picks Panel to Tackle Homelessness: Broad council of 33 members has until July to craft new plan.
Alioto Seeks Unity For the Homeless
Kroc Money in the Tenderloin
Containerization of Housing

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Well, after a long hard opposition campaign Prop J has been successfully vetoed by the voters , and a new message is sent to Mayor Newsom. Even amidst his gay marriage heroism and national upstart glory-days for his role in the future of the Democratic party, the public saw Prop J as yet another giveaway to profiteering developers, an insult to community process, and a pure scam on affordability. So, the same old question stares this city in the face, what’s the housing plan from here? San Francisco is the only city in the nation that has no depreciation in land value within its 49 square miles of landlocked peninsula. However, right now prices have stabilized some compared to Fresno ) and other surrounding California Real Estate. Yet the affordability wars still wage on in the Mission. And while Supervisor McGoldrick proposes his strict legislation on Public Benefits to incentivize developers, some critics claim they only back up SF’s reputation for being anti-development. And Newsom finally responds to Supervisor Daly’s anti-demolition ordinance. After Chris sent this letter to Newsom’s office, and a vigil was held by the Trinity Plaza tenants on the step of City Hall pleading with the mayor to not allow the demolition of their homes and the loss of further rent-controlled housing stock in this city, Mayor Newsom , to no surprise, vetoed the legislation claiming it was too broad, and would "stifle our ability to build new affordable housing.'' READ FULL MAYOR CORRESPONDENCE WITH TENANTS AND GONZALEZ HERE.


This time Randy Shaw writes a great piece for the Guardian debunking the Chronicle’s Lies, Newsom’s reputation and claims regarding the homeless.

“IT'S BAD ENOUGH when the media parrot the Bush administration's ongoing mistruths about homelessness. It's even worse when the San Francisco Chronicle aggressively promotes such lies, first to elect Mayor Gavin Newsom and now to portray him as an unparalleled leader on the issue.”

And CHANCE Martin returns with this article, 'Rambling through the CHANGES' and articulates clearly the invasion of privacy, and the inventorizing of homeless people.

“Call it the commodification of people - another "free market solution" for social control. Human beings are the inventory - at least, those humans who for whatever reason can¹t actually participate in our economy as active consumers. Under today's global economic prerogatives, if you're deemed unlikely to represent potential value as a consumer of products (read: poor), you are frequently assigned a role as a "consumer" of government-funded and regulated "services." These can range from welfare-to-work, a subsidized room, a shelter bed, case management, a prison cell, etc.

These consumers' value to the economy, and by extension their identity, is governed by the potential reimbursement they represent to providers and regulating agencies of these government-funded services. Thus people in custody and economic wards of the state in turn become the state's inventory. As a result, our increasingly privatized social institutions have become increasingly alienating and dehumanizing for the people they are supposed to serve.”

This federal report offers 7 lessons from the most innovative strategies around the nation proving successful at solving homelessness. SF pays close attention.

"Moving people into permanent housing -- with "wraparound counseling services" on site -- is exactly the direction San Francisco is headed. In fact, the city already hosts innovative programs of its own. The city-run Direct Access to Housing project, for instance, has persuaded hundreds of indigents with acute substance abuse and mental problems to live inside, and the Brinton Homeless Project sends counselors all over the city to find the most mentally ill people sleeping on the sidewalks and steer them toward services."

"San Francisco has components that work very well, and the challenge is to stitch the components together into a comprehensive system that will show that the whole is greater than the parts," said Larry Bush, spokesman for HUD's San Francisco office. "

· Coalition on Homelessness Benefit. March 17. Slim's. (On sale now.) (415) 255-0333.


Check out the portfolio of Archeworks, some interesting approaches and definitely pushing the social relevance factor in their work.

Another proposal I am exploring now with the SF Bicycle Coalition is possible plan for various Bicycle garages , a la Europe.

And check out this man, Jesse Salcedo, who is a carpenter/developer by trade, but has dedicated a huge portion of his energy to placing the structures of his Apache heritage, the tepeeall around California. The ideal summer home?

And this man, Krystof Wodicszo is who got me interested in architecture to begin with. Some of his work : Homeless Cart , QT on his book Critical Vehicles

In the same vein, the Orta Intervention.

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