We learned recently that D7 Supervisor Norman Yee proposed the creation of a citizen’s advisory committee (CAC) for the Balboa Reservoir. A CAC is an official City-recognized body composed of volunteer appointees who advise it on a selected topic. A CAC comes with staff support from the applicable City agency and its meetings are publicly noticed. There are dozens of them in San Francisco. This would not itself be noteworthy except that there’s already an existing CAC for the Balboa Park Area Plan which was adopted in 2009. All of the City’s adopted Area Plans (Eastern Neighborhoods, Market & Octavia, etc.) have their own CAC.
A reasonable question would be, “Why should there be two CACs for Balboa Park?” Answer? “We’re not sure.” The Balboa Reservoir is a highly significant site in that it consists of 17 acres of fallow SF Public Utilities Commission land adjacent to City College and next to Ocean Avenue – a major transit corridor. It’s apparently the first major public site under consideration for conversion to mixed-use with the potential for lots of housing. The opportunity to put a site like the reservoir back into productive use comes along about once a generation. It’s important that it not be squandered.
A concern about a second Balboa Park CAC might be that there’s the potential for conflict with the existing one. If the two CACs came to differing views regarding the eventual use of the vacant land, which CAC’s view would take precedence? For instance, what if one CAC agreed that the best use of the site was high-density urban infill with lots of housing, a high level of affordability, vibrant open space, lots of neighborhood benefits and strong integration with transit, yet the other disagreed? What if one CAC agreed that the loss of neighborhood parking and an increase in housing density was highly detrimental to the neighborhood’s character? How would these disagreements be resolved?
The Balboa Reservoir CAC proposal will be heard at the full Board of Supervisors on March 24th. It appears that creation of this CAC is a foregone conclusion. Of far higher significance, however, is who gets appointed to it? Stay tuned!
Image credit: Socketsite