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View Poll Results: Which transbay tower design scheme do you like best?
#1 Richard Rogers 39 7.88%
#2 Cesar Pelli 98 19.80%
#3 SOM 358 72.32%
Voters: 495. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1201  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2007, 7:22 PM
BTinSF BTinSF is offline
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^^^PLEASE write him yourself. Let's flood him with letters letting him know that these buildings have a constituency in 21st century San Francisco because it isn't the 1970s anymore.
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  #1202  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2007, 7:58 PM
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Originally Posted by BTinSF View Post
^^^PLEASE write him yourself. Let's flood him with letters letting him know that these buildings have a constituency in 21st century San Francisco because it isn't the 1970s anymore.
He interviewed a guy who moved here after college in 1965, meaning he is in his late 60s, early 70s. Come on John! Your biases are so incredibly visible now, you are going back and baiting the generations of years past who agree with you in a pathetic attempt to somehow prove that this old far is a mirror of the entire community of SF, when in fact it is the minority. How about the young generations, who want to make SF their home and will have to live with the consequences of opinions of people who will be dead by the time this thing is built.
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  #1203  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2007, 8:00 PM
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Originally Posted by BTinSF View Post
My open letter to John King:
Very nice, with a hint of sarcasm, I love it.
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  #1204  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2007, 8:58 PM
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Here's the comment I gave on his story:

Quote:
I find Mr. King's columns more and more biased every time I read them. I greatly back Transbay as it signals a time of change. I think San Francisco has been plagued for too long by people who reject change and prefer to keep things the way they've been for the last 100 years. Its those people who need to leave the city and move into a small town that wont change for the rest of their lifetimes. Leave those that embrace the sight of change and growth in the city to dictate where the future of SF will go. Personally, I am dissapointed that SOM is currently not on top of the three designs to choose from but I am excited that Transbay is even happening to begin with, as something like this only comes by once a millenia (at least in SF). I, myself, a 20 year old, should have among the strongest voices here as it is I who will be living in the future SF that we choose to build starting now. Sure, I like the victorians and all that too but change should not be viewed as a negative by us.
The damage doesnt stop there, I'm planning quite an e-mail as well.
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  #1205  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2007, 9:27 PM
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Finally, here is my e-mail to Mr. King. Its not as good as BT's but I did my part to get my voice heard .

Quote:
Dear Mr. King:

I've read your articles for some time now, and I've resisted sounding off on each of them week after week. However, I can do so no longer. Your bias, along with other people who share your opinion against tall buildings, is unbearable. For example, in your last article you choose to quote people who have little or no knowledge of what beautiful architecture can be. Tall buildings are being built as I speak, or have already been built all over the world, and the people have embraced them as symbols of the city and the city's skyline. Clearly, your repeated stance againt tall buildings is becoming somewhat irritating, not just to me, but to a great deal of people welcoming this new change in San Francisco. The way you write your articles makes it seem like we who like tall buildings are a minority, when in fact we are now a majority supporting a common cause. I for one, do not think 1200 feet is enough, they can do much better than that. Perhaps you should concider those of us who greatly support this endeavor to bring a bold symbol to the world from San Francisco before you choose to write articles from people claiming to know what good looking buildings are. You shall find plenty of up here at this forum (http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/show...36300&page=48). As others have stated, you will not find a warming welcome as you have rejected us for too long. Nevertheless, please make an effort to cover both sides of the story in equal fashion.

Mario,
San Francisco/Chicago
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  #1206  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2007, 9:29 PM
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The weird irony over this whole situation is that I really do believe that if SOMs proposal were chosen, most San Franciscans would get behind it, even some of the NIMBYs. I've read some of their comments, declaring they hate the Pelli proposal because it is "phallic" (perhaps they just need to get LAID!), bulky, etc., but at the same time, saying they would have not such a problem if the SOM tower were built. It is an art piece, and would add grace to the skyline. That is why I hope hope hope that the TJPA listens to US instead of the $$$. If they still have to find a way to come up with over a billion dollars to fund the project, then they could probably find a way to come up with the funds short of what SOM and Pelli are proposing.

If SOMs tower were picked, I do believe there would be less of a fight.
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  #1207  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2007, 10:13 PM
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In case anyone is wondering how the individual scoring went, here is the table of results posted on Transbay's official website:





Source: Transbaycenter.org
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  #1208  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2007, 10:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reminiscence View Post
In case anyone is wondering how the individual scoring went, here is the table of results posted on Transbay's official website:





Source: Transbaycenter.org
Any insights into how the evaluation process went? Were all evaluators in isolation when making the decisions or did they all gather in a room and verbalize their scores to one another?

I work with clients on evaluations of suppliers. I've noted that when you get a group together in a room, groupthink takes over and bias becomes a major issue.
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  #1209  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2007, 11:32 PM
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He interviewed a guy who moved here after college in 1965, meaning he is in his late 60s, early 70s.
Tyler--I graduated from college in 1967 and I'm 62 (just). So he's not quite as old as you think.
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  #1210  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2007, 12:03 AM
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Tyler--I graduated from college in 1967 and I'm 62 (just). So he's not quite as old as you think.
I believe that age is measured more as a state of mind than in pure numbers. BT, with that measurement, you're fairly young in my book. Unfortunately, most of the people who complain about development in the city tend to be old in both measurements.
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  #1211  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2007, 12:37 AM
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Gentlemen,

I think we need to focus all of our energy not on John King, but on the TJPA. This is the week.

I belive that many of you favor the SOM proposal, as do I, and I think as Thursday approaches we need to make our perspectives known.

I've been thinking about it, and the more I consider the Pelli proposal, the less I like both its aesthetics and park, but its office only program. And I belive, this is its biggest weakness, and one we should exploit. In fact, the TJPA requested a mixed-use program, and while SOM complied, the Hines/Pelli proposal decided to use an all office configuration to attract attention with the value of its offer.

I have begun writing emails and will not stop until Thursday morning. I am attaching a back and forth with Gabriel Metcalf the head of SPUR in response to his comments in the Biz Times. Feel free to use any ideas in my writings as a starting point to hopefully write emails yourself. The impact of Thursday's decision on the future of the City cannot be understanded, let's make ourselves heard.

******************

Mr. Metcalf,

I want to begin by saying that I am an ardent fan of yours. I agree with you on many issues, from density and development, to a belief that curbing sprawl and inner city regeneration is the key to California and the Bay Area's future. I am always glad to read your opinion pieces both in the Urbanist, and in the San Francisco Business Times, because I agree with them 100%.

I do, however, disagree with your remarks in today's Business Times regarding the Transbay Terminal. I think that SOM is the clear winner in the competition for many reasons, a few of which I will go into very quickly. I think it is of the utmost importance to remember that this is a work in progress. Everyone I have spoken with, and a majority of the online polls and discussion forums, favor SOM by a large margin. It is a truly beautiful design, it is awe-inspiring, grand, and has an aesthetic worthy of San Francisco's newest icon. It is very well incorporated into the urban landscape, and even includes the participation of two local institutions, SFMOMA and the Sutro library. It also has a public element to it, the grand lobby and entrance, which will create one of the most scintillating intersections of any city in the country, will be open to the public. The Transbay Hall will become both a showpiece for the City, a civic gathering place, and a welcome mat for those arriving. With the Sutro Library, the restaurant halfway up the building, the condominiums above, and the observation deck, it is a true landmark that San Franciscans will have access to, be proud of, and feel a part of. This inclusion will also foster interest and enthusiasm for a project that has a rough entitlement and development process ahead of it. With these mixed-uses, a 24 hour vibrance will also exist on site. With people dining, visiting, travelling, commuting, working and living in this building, it will have a connection to the City around it and will become a cross roads for the daily activities of thousands.

Unfortunately, the Pelli proposal runs contrary to many of the aforementioned qualities. The building as proposed is all office. How many office buildings can you walk in and go see the incredible view from the top? How many office buildings can you even get past the lobby? Furthermore, after hours, and on weekends, I am concerned that this building will be dark and empty, with no life around it, and no public accessability. Yes, the park is a nice idea, but over 50 feet in the air with access by funicular, I don't see it being used nearly as often as imagined. I think it might end up more like the park on Crocker Galleria than Yerba Buena Gardens. And with land so valuable, an enclosed hall and terminal like the SOM proposal allows for all-weather use, whereas in rain and cold wind, the Pelli park will be empty and unused. With such an expensive project, I understand that the TJPA is strapped for cash and the terminal's development is of utmost importance. And I know that Hines' offer of $350 million blew the Jury away. But if either the heights are reduced, or a mixed use program within the building becomes part of the plan, will they still be able to offer that amount of money? I think the best proposal should win on merit and be tweaked through the entitlement process, rather than highest bidder with the least daring proposal accepted based on financials.

It is important that San Francisco be bold and cutting-edge in its designs; especially in the most important project in its history. This is a civic project on the grandest of scales. It is to center our region, identify our City, and truly embrace the ideals of the place we live. It will set the development trend for the next several decades. As a LEED Platinum building, the SOM proposal combines a truly beautiful new icon for the City with its engineering prowess, and environmental stewardship, this is the building for San Francisco. This is the building that will turn the page to the next great era of our City. I hope you agree with me - that an attractive, mixed use, publicly accessible building, designed by San Franciscans for San Francisco is the way to go.

***************

Well, thank you for the thoughtful email. And I have to say that I agree with you on most of your points.

My impression, too, is that most people think the SOM design is the most beautiful. But as you might imagine, as an organization, I tried to keep SPUR far away from any comments on which design is the best, or even which proposal as a whole is best. It just doesn't seem appropriate for us to weigh in on that. We have made sure that the process is legitimate and the criteria for selection are valid -- and beyond that we have been willing to trust the process.

That said, my comment in the Business Times concerns the use of the site and here I do think that my own opinion is that it is far better for the city and region if this project is all or mostly office. Here is my reasoning:
1. Downtown, as it was defined in the 1985 Downtown Plan, is almost fully built. We are out of sites.
2. Downtown San Francisco is by far the best place in the region to locate office jobs. Most people get to work without a car, in contrast to every other center job center in the Bay Area, including downtown Oakland and including office parks near BART. The environmental efficiencies of locating jobs in downtown SF are enormous.
3. Therefore we need to expand downtown. As far as we can tell, there are 2 logical directions for expansion: to the south into Transbay and to the west, along Mid-Market. Downtown is hemmed in by Rincon Hill, South Beach, and Yerba Buena in any case. That leaves one last possible remaining expansion zone for downtown, which is the Transbay neighborhood.
4. If we do not expand downtown in Transbay, we are faced with having to create a second downtown somewhere else (like Midtown, I suppose) or else shifting future office jobs into suburban office parks.

My $0.02.

Thanks for taking a minute to write me.

***************


Mr. Metcalf,

Thank you very much for taking the time to reply to my email, it is much appreciated.

I agree completely with your perspective that the Transbay area is where growth should happen in the coming decades. Supported by past transit investments like MUNI and BART, and future projects like the Central Subway and High Speed Rail, it is the most logical and ecological place in all of Northern California to add offices. San Francisco indeed has limited space for future office development, but more significantly, has limited sites that can be transformed into places for its citizens. Because of this, the Transbay Terminal and Tower should be the exception and truly mixed-use. This tower, with an iconic design, if SOM were selected, would house a place of civic dimension on par with City Hall, Golden Gate Park, and The Ferry Building. In fact, the Ferry Building is the perfect representation of my argument in favor of the SOM proposal, as the Ferry Building's evolution and place in the civic vocabulary correlates with its use at the time. As solely an office structure, and before its genesis as a food market, the Ferry Building was merely a portal, a pass through hallway to the ferry landings beyond. It was neither a destination, nor a part of the fabric of the City. Since its renovation, it has become a gathering place, written up in magazines, newspapers and travel guides, and is a requisite stop on any San Francisco visit. It is a place in which we gather, we linger, and we meet friends -- it has become a destination. The Transbay Terminal can mirror this dramatic transformation, but only if its program follows a similar template. With the Pelli proposal, the Transbay Terminal more closely aligns with the Ferry Building prior to its renovation; mostly office, limited access, and little use for the City's everyday inhabitants. It was a place of hurried passage to further destinations, holding little value in the public's imagination. In strong contrast, the SOM design offers a fluid and permeable place, much like the current iteration of the Ferry Building, with round the clock activity and a cornerstone presence in the City's civic, business, and transportation landscape. In an Associated Press article this weekend about cities transforming their skylines, you mentioned that this will be an exclamation point for San Francisco, a statement of values. But to go one step further, the SOM proposal would re-enforce those values more significantly, because in the public sphere they become an experience, as we meet in that space, live in that space, and greet visitors in that space.

Let's restore the tradition of building on a grand civic scale like those mentioned projects of City Hall, Golden Gate Park, and the Ferry Building. But let's restore the entire tradition and make it accessible to the populace, so they can feel a part of these places and support their presence in the City. A business district in the South Financial made up of tall office towers is something I completely agree with. But from each desk, and out each window, a building will be seen centering this new cluster. My hope is that it is a building alive with its citizenry's interaction, buzzing around the clock, and an emphatic reminder to the City, the Country, and the World, what San Francisco stands for. SOM offers this with their elegant and ground-breaking mixed use proposal. Let's hope that vision is realized.
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  #1212  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2007, 1:28 AM
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Very nice Slock, I too have made my opinions known by once again e-mailing the TJPA on my opinion. I literally begged them to reconcider the choice of the judges, and to favor SOM as their final choice. I believe the public is free to comment on the design choices through September 17th, which is tommorow. As said, now is definetly the time to make one last push for what we believe will be the best terminal and tower out there. The rest of us should do the same as well, the time is near.

On a side note, I'm also caught in the middle of a heated debate with another chronicle commenter on Transbay. Its quite amusing as she (or he) has no valid points to offer, and yet continues to argue against the project. Anyone care to join me?
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  #1213  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2007, 1:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reminiscence View Post

On a side note, I'm also caught in the middle of a heated debate with another chronicle commenter on Transbay. Its quite amusing as she (or he) has no valid points to offer, and yet continues to argue against the project. Anyone care to join me?
I had an exchange with a lady who claimed I wasn't the "real San Franciscan" and that San Francisco is the #2 tourist destination spot in the world and she didn't want SF to become "like LA and New Yawk."

All illogical. All can be disproved immediately. Then when I trumped the benefits of this project, and the fact that its goal is to be LEED certified, she insisted I was one of the developers of the project because I guess I was making too much sense.

Did a little research and found out she was a 60 year old mother of 4 living in MARIN county (SF's Orange County) for the past 25 years.



My letter to the authority:

Hello, I am a San Francisco resident for the past six years. I have written to the TJPA before and have voiced my opinion over the phone on the subject of the new Transbay tower and terminal, as well as attending the first public meeting of the Transbay redevelopment.

I believe that we do need a new landmark in the sky as well as a functional, appealing transit station serving busses, trains, and subways. We need a tower to define our role in the 21st century as an evolving city, changing for the better for the environment and for smart growth.
In my opinion SOM's tower fits these topics best and would be the best option for San Francisco's character and appearance on the world scale, and also the best option for the needs of San Francisco because, unlike the jury's recommendation of Pelli's 100% office tower design, SOM's tower is mixed use with office, residential, and affordable housing, a unique "city in the sky" that would be respected around the world. It fits the message of dense transit, work, and residential use best and the design is so eye catching that we would be the envy of the world for some time to come.

Pelli's proposal just isn't San Francisco. A 1200 foot office tower speaks to the needs of the business community alone, and not the citizens of SF that need a place to live. SOM's grand tower and terminal will make people want to come to San Francisco. The renderings alone make me mesmerized because of the massive scale and context of such human ingenuity.

I really hope that you reconsider the jury's verdict and choose the SOM proposal at its current height and splendor instead.

Last edited by tyler82; Sep 17, 2007 at 2:59 AM.
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  #1214  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2007, 3:07 AM
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Great work BT, slock and Reminiscence. I'll send another comment to the TJPA board too.

I can get behind Mr Metcalf's preference for 100% office. And if that view is shared by the board, why not allow Rockefeller to adjust their proposal based on 100% office? Otherwise, they are comparing apples and oranges.
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  #1215  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2007, 3:14 AM
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Gentlemen,

I think we need to focus all of our energy not on John King, but on the TJPA. This is the week.
You don't think the TJPA Board members READ John King's articles? I sure do. How much time does it divert from a focus directly on the TJPA to dash off an email to John King trying to embarrass him into giving the other side? Mine took maybe 10 minutes. One such article from John King--making very clear that there are large number of San Franciscans who want a tall building--would carry a lot more sway with the TJPA than 5 or 10 individual emails directly to the TJPA I'm betting. Their inbox is probably overflowing and who knows if they even read the contents. I used to work for a Bay Area elected official who shall go nameless and I don't think she ever read her email. I'm less sure if she got summaries--tallies of the pros and cons on issues--from other staff members. But they ALL read the Chronicle and on this issue I bet they all read John King.

By the way, SPUR is a non-profit think tank, the salaries of whose officials are paid by donations and the membership. You bet your bippy they are going to be more responsive to thoughful letters than our elected rulers who set their own salaries.
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  #1216  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2007, 3:43 AM
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My letter to the TJPA:

Quote:
Gentlemen:

As you make your decision regarding a design for the new TransBay Terminal and Tower this week, I urge you to keep foremost in your minds the words of Daniel Burnham, "Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will not themselves be realized." In this instance, "little plans" would refer both to the overall project and to the building itself, especially the tower.

I have no doubt you will receive many communications (and read much more verbiage in the local press from self-appointed "archtecture critics") begging you to downsize the tower and telling you at a height above 1200 feet it is "un-San Franciscan". That is all nonsense. San Francisco is a great city hemmed in by water. It cannot grow horizontally and, if it is to grow at all, it must do so vertically. If it does not learn to do that--to grow tall--in an environmentally sensitive way, it will stagnate.

This building is an opportunity to show the world how to build a LEED platinum skyscraper and, if it is a stump of a thing, no one will pay attention. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to make clear that San Francisco is the center of the Bay Area with a building whose lighted top will be visible over most of the Bay Area like the great lighthouse of Alexandria. And it is an opportunity to save some portion of field and forest in some far flung exurb of the Bay Area by creating space for commerce where it should be--in the urban core--so that it does not have to sprawl over more and more outlying land.

Please just remember the words of Mr. Burnham. You will have opposition if you do, but you will also have a lot of support. If your deliberations and the subsequent negotiations with the chosen developer produce mediocrity, the project will have no enthusiastic support and, as Mr. Burnham said, will have less chance of being realized which would be a tragedy for San Francisco.

Sincerely,

B------ T------
---------------------------
San Francisco, CA 94---
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  #1217  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2007, 3:43 AM
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tyler, good work on yours too. Didn't mean to exclude you, but your letter wasn't up there when I started my post.

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Originally Posted by tyler82 View Post
MARIN county (SF's Orange County)
Let's not get carried away here.
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  #1218  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2007, 4:14 AM
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Great work BT, slock and Reminiscence. I'll send another comment to the TJPA board too.

I can get behind Mr Metcalf's preference for 100% office. And if that view is shared by the board, why not allow Rockefeller to adjust their proposal based on 100% office? Otherwise, they are comparing apples and oranges.
Thanks Peanut Gallery, I say the same about BT, slock, Tyler, and yourself as well. In total, I let my opinion be known to both John King, the TJPA, and had an exchange with a NIMBY, which I will respectfully say I won. Not bad for a day. I really do hope that todays efforts were multiplied by others .
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  #1219  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2007, 4:46 AM
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tyler, good work on yours too. Didn't mean to exclude you, but your letter wasn't up there when I started my post.



Let's not get carried away here.
Oh please, Mariners claim to be so much better than LA and souther California. They have much more in common than their differences.
Both are examples of vast urban sprawl with very low, one and two story horizontally spread homes with big yards, huge lawns which require lots of watering and resources, gated communities abound, and no working efficient public transit system, making their transport dependent on highways, ONE major highway, actually, which is always clogged. I do believe Mariners are more educated and affluent, but that is the only real difference that I can put my finger on.

If you are from MarinCo, please take no offense as I am sure you are aware of these problems as I see them with that area, it's just these ignorant NIMBYs and people who bash other cities (I myself happen to like LA very much, I just wouldn't live there) as a way to some how feel superior that I really can't stand.

Last edited by tyler82; Sep 17, 2007 at 5:40 AM.
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  #1220  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2007, 5:45 AM
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Oh please, Mariners claim to be so much better than LA and souther California. They have much more in common than their differences.
Both are examples of vast urban sprawl with very low, one and two story horizontally spread homes with big yards, huge lawns which require lots of watering and resources, gated communities abound, and no working efficient public transit system, making their transport dependent on highways, ONE major highway, actually, which is always clogged. I do believe Mariners are more educated and affluent, but that is the only real difference that I can put my finger on.
Tyler, the sprawl in Marin is not nearly as massive or uniform as the sprawl in OC. In fact, I can't really recall any parts of Marin that are covered in sprawl except for a few areas on Novato and San Rafael. If you want to see massive sprawl go take a look at what's happening in the South Bay and the rapidly growing Pleasanton/Dublin/Livermore amalgamation. Marin, even with its inherent smugness, is a beautiful place that only adds to the value of SF by providing spectacular openspace and an underdeveloped, small-town feel right across the Golden Gate Bridge. Marin's symbiotic relationship with SF is one of only a handful of attributes that makes San Francisco better than New York City.

Luckily Marin has intentionally had a stance of stringent development restriction, allowing the area to NOT become a mass of sprawl much like San Mateo, for example, did in the 1960s/1970s.
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