How San Francisco Helps Culture Survive Gentrification

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Major cities around the world continually grabble with the complexity of gentrification, at the recent World Cities Culture Summit San Francisco shared what they do. One of the city’s approaches is to protect cultural organizations that are unique to their neighbourhood. The idea is to protect what makes the city special while also keeping culture accessible to everyone. Indeed, what they’ve done is so effective that other cities are starting to copy it.

Like an idea London recently stole from San Francisco to reduce cultural displacement — Community Arts Stabilization Trust — or CAST for short.

“London has been completely inspired by the San Francisco CAST model, to the extent that we are setting up our own version of it,” Simons said.

CAST is a nonprofit real estate development and holding company that helps arts groups secure space through long-term below-market leases and a lease-to-own model funded by philanthropy and other sources. It has raised $36 million to support a handful of projects since 2013.

The company has also helped nonprofit cultural groups keep the lights on in the shorter term, through providing $1.8 million in grants and technical assistance to date.

Read more.

WorldFuture Conference 2015

If you’re in San Francisco this July you’re going to want to check out the conference of the future: the WorldFuture Conference. They’ll be looking at future-critical issues (many of this issues are what this very site looks at) and be discussing how to prepare for what the future holds.

If we’re not thinking about how our current actions will impact the world in the future we are not giving enough thought to our actions. Think and act about the future people you’ll never meet.

WorldFuture 2015: Making the Future is expected to gather hundreds of foresight-minded professionals of diverse backgrounds. It will provide participants a unique opportunity to network with industry and government peers from around the world, collect actionable insight on future-critical issues and emerging technologies, and build alliances across World Future 2015’s three conference tracks: the Business of Foresight, Global Issues, and Technology & Innovation.

In keeping with our action-oriented theme, we are pleased to announce that Steve Jurvetson, a partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson will be the WorldFuture 2015 keynote speaker. Known as venture capitalist making the future, Steve was the founding VC investor in Hotmail, Interwoven and Kana, and he serves on the Boards of Tesla and SpaceX. Steve was chosen by the SF Chronicle and SF Examiner as one of “the ten people expected to have the greatest impact on the Bay Area in the early part of the 21st Century.”

In addition to two high energy days of interactive sessions, WorldFuture 2015 will also offer two days of pre-conference master courses, a Millennials’ morning of activities for student futurists, special networking events, and offsite trips to relevant area attractions.

Check out WorldFuture 2015.

San Francisco Fluctuates Parking Prices, Reduces Wasteful Driving

Car culture in North America has led to massive subsidies for car drivers that go pretty much unnoticed. One of these subsidies is in the way of “free parking,” which is anything but free. Cars occupy space during the day that could be used for productive means or green space, instead cars sit unused with nobody inside of them most of the time.

In San Francisco they have changed their municipal parking system to reflect market demands for parking space. The result is a drop in people who “cruise” looking for parking spaces. Therefore, car drivers have become a little less destructive in the city.

According to a study published last month in Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, the program has worked. San Francisco’s occupancy goals have been met, and “cruising” for parking — driving around and clogging up streets after you’ve already reached your destination — is down by 50 percent.

The group of researchers — who represent the University of California, Santa Cruz, Carnegie Mellon and transit consultancy Nelson\Nygaard — analyzed the 256 blocks subject to SFpark and compared them to a 55-block control group. With access to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s data, the team had a total of more than 2.4 million data points during metered hours to analyze.

Using a model to simulate a driver looking for parking (the model “cruises” down a street and, if it doesn’t find any open spaces, takes a series of random turns until it does), the researchers estimated that the blocks under SFpark saw a 50 percent reduction in cruising. They also found that the program met its goal of a 60-80 percent occupancy rate for spots. Under the program, if occupancy was below 60 percent, parking rates were cut by 25 cents. If more than 80 percent of spots on a block were occupied during metered hours, rates were hiked by the same amount.

Read more at Next City.

Toronto Joins Other Cities and Bans Plastic Bags

Toronto has joined other cities around the world that has banned plastic bags. San Francisco banned plastic bags earlier in the year, and we mustn’t forget that a small town of Leaf Rapids, Manitoba was the first place in North America to enact such a ban. This ban flies in the face of an incompetent and backwards-thinking mayor that wanted to remove a tax on plastic bags, so the councillors voted to ban all bags instead.

“These bags are junk, whether you want to call them biodegradable or not. They end up in the same place: blowing around the streets or in landfill,” said Councillor David Shiner, a member of Mr. Ford’s executive who surprised many by introducing the ban.

“Let’s get rid of the plastic bags. Let’s make today a real statement. Let’s tell the industry that we’re not accepting your baloney any more,” he said.

Mr. Shiner said he didn’t know he was going to move the motion until partway through the debate. He based the language largely on Seattle’s recently passed ban on bags. Retailers will still be allowed to sell or give away single-use paper bags, he said, using the example of retailers such as provincial liquor stores and some department stores who already offer free paper bags to customers.

Read more here.

Riding the Green Wave in San Francisco

For the past two years, Valencia Street in San Francisco has been experimenting with a system called “The Green Wave.” By programming the timing of traffic signals, the city of San Francisco has made it possible to ride a bicycle at a steady 13 mph (~21 km/hr) without hitting a single red light. This effectively eliminates the tiresome stopping and starting for cyclists, thus making biking even more efficient! It was recently announced that the pilot project will now become a permanent feature of Valencia Street.

Although the concept of optimizing signal timing for cyclists isn’t new, the programme in San Francisco has made some improvements that make it even better than similar systems in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Portland.

San Francisco’s Green Wave is already unique because it is the first in the world to work two ways simultaneously, something Mayor Newsom calls “another example of our leadership in providing quality cycling improvements for this community.”

“Those who bike in San Francisco have seen their rides become safer and more efficient. Our continued commitment is to further the progress made and further establish San Francisco as a champion for providing multiple modes of transportation,” said Newsom.

Read more at Streetblog.org, and check out their information on cycling in cities around the US.

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