of Twin Peaks Central Council - Since 1936
WEST OF TWIN PEAKS CENTRAL COUNCIL BEGINNING
In mid-1936, the leaders from eight west of Twin Peaks neighborhood associations organized a community meeting at Aptos Junior High School Auditorium (now Aptos Middle School). That night they launched a drive to defeat Charter Amendment 15 on the March 9, 1937 ballot. Proposed Charter Amendment 15 added a few words to City Charter Section 117 that dealt with zoning and setback regulations. Those words would have taken away the right of anyone besides the Planning Commission and the owner of a subject property to object to changing that property to commercial use. To the West of Twin Peaks neighb! orhoods this meant uncontrolled proliferation of gas stations and hot dog stands in their residential areas.
Charter 15 was not only defeated, but its author, Board of Supervisors President, Warren Shannon, recommended a no vote after he realized the impact of the amendment. The San Francisco Chronicle commended Shannon on his sportsmanship and dubbed Amendment 15 the orphan amendment.
During the campaign in 1936, the decision was made to form a council of West of Twin Peaks neighborhood associations. In December 1936 a constitution was written, and on March 16, 1937, a week after its stunning triumph, the first official meeting of the West of Twin Peaks Council was held at Forest Hill Clubhouse.
Below the photos is a more detailed hisotry and read more here.
TWIN PEAKS CENTRAL COUNCIL - THE BEGINNING
members of homeowner associations from west of Twin Peaks who had been
battling for years to block property owners who were intent on converting
their residential lots to commercial use. The revelation that the opposition
had gained support from the Board of Supervisors brought the struggle
to the crisis stage. The homeowner associations decided that they had
to pool their efforts if they were going to protect their neighborhoods
from being invaded by gas stations and hot dog stands. The West of Twin
Peaks Central Council was formed as an outgrowth of that meeting in mid-1936.
The city planning commission, from time to time, shall consider and hold hearings on proposed changes in the classification of the use to which property in the city and county may be put, and the establishment or changing of building set-back lines, in either case on its own motion or on the application of an interested property owner.(Underline added)
15 proposed to change the words, "an interested property owner"
to "the owner of the particular property involved in any such proposed
change. " People on the west side of Twin Peaks neighborhoods immediately
recognized the significance of the proposed wording change. The Building
Zone Ordinance required that any application for a zone change required
notification to property within 275 feet of the subject property. The
Planning Commission considered the impact on adjacent property of a proposed
zone change in its decisions to grant a zone change.
of Twin Peaks folks suspected that Marculescu and other like-minded property
owners had persuaded Supervisor Shannon to place Charter Amendment 15
on the ballot. Shannon told a San Francisco Chronicle reporter, "I
had a reason for introducing the amendment. 1 didn't think it right that
property owners other than the owner of the parcel involved should have
the right to ask that it be rezoned." i That statement reflected
the 19th Century concept of property rights, but the new concept of city
planning considered a neighborhood as a whole which took precedent over
individual property rights.
After the meeting in Aptos Junior High Auditorium, the newly formed West of Twin Peaks Central Council launched a citywide campaign to educate voters about the hidden dangers of City Charter Amendment 15. John Craig was the secretary and superintendent of the St. Francis Homes Association in 1936, and he stepped up to organize a letter writing campaign to hundreds of civic and improvement organizations throughout the city. He enlisted the support of reporters at the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner and vigorously campaigned against the amendment.
15 was defeated on March 9, 1937 and, on the eve of the election, even
Warren Shannon conceded that it was a bad idea and withdrew his support
of his own amendment. He said in the San Francisco Examiner, "I am
not so hot for the amendment now. ii On March 4, 1937 a San Francisco
Chronicle editorial stated: "In a commendable spirit of fair play
he (Shannon) has withdrawn his support of Charter Amendment No. 15 and
aligned himself with the home owners to defeat this proposal." iii
City Charter Amendment 15 had been abandoned by its sponsor and became
known as The Orphan Amendment.
The first event was the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 that introduced the City Beautiful Movement that created a new discipline of city planning throughout the country. The advocates of the City Beautiful Movement were "convinced that the redesign of cities could cure many of the ills, social as well as physical, that resulted from the laissez-fair development of the nineteenth century." iv
The second event was the death of Adolph Sutro. When he died in 1898, he left his San Miguel Rancho to his six children stipulating that no part of it could be sold until the death of the last remaining child. The Rancho constituted land about a tenth the total area of San Francisco in the western part of the city. Five of his six children challenged his will, but 13 years elapsed before the will was settled and the land was distributed. In those 13 years from 1898 to 1911, the visionary concepts of city planning had taken hold in San Francisco.
In 1904 Mayor James Duval Phelan brought the Chicago World's Fair's architect-planner Daniel Burnham to San Francisco. Burnham drafted plans to redesign the city from his studio on Twin Peaks. Burnham departed from the architectural excesses of the Victorian era and designed buildings of simple, classical beauty. Contoured roadways accented with terraces were also a feature of the City Beautiful Movement. The Board of Supervisors accepted Burnham's plans in 1905 and they were ready for public distribution on the day before the April 18, 1906 earthquake." v
The earthquake of 1906 could have provided an opportunity to rebuild the city in the City Beautiful format. But the shocked city was eager to get back to business as usual, and Burnham's plans were employed only in the rebuilding of the Civic Center.
When the Sutro's land was put on the market, A. S. Baldwin was commissioned to survey the property. He suggested development in keeping with Burnham's concepts of city planning: "villa-sized" lots, minimum cost of houses, exclusively residential areas, and curvilinear street patterns rather than square block method of subdivision." vi
Beautiful Movement in America was short lived. Architectural historian
David Gebhard summed up the end of the City Beautiful Movement: "The
grand city plans of Burnham and others never came to fruition due to their
often prohibitive costs and the array of difficulties posed by the private
ownership of land and buildings" vii, While the City Beautiful Movement
was alive and well, the developers of west of Twin Peaks neighborhoods
followed the advice of A. S. Baldwin in creating residential parks. They
were convinced that it made economic sense to create aesthetically pleasing
housing tracts. Development of west of Twin Peaks housing developments
continued into the 1960's with a focus on aesthetics and quality building.
They are a lasting legacy of the City Beautiful Movement.
After the March 9, 1937 election and the smashing defeat of City Charter Amendment 15, the West of Twin Peaks Council had its first official meeting on March 16 in Forest Hill Clubhouse. Their first order of business was to deal with applications on file with the Planning Commission requesting commercial zoning on four residential lots: the southeast and southwest comers of Sloat Boulevard and 19 Avenue, the northeast comer of 20th and Ocean Avenue, and the northeast corner of 19th and Ulloa. Craig dispatched letters to the Planning Commission under West of Twin Peaks Central Council letterhead requesting that those four requests be denied.
his role as secretary to the Council, recruiting association members,
collecting dues, and organizing the first meeting in which delegates from
seven home associations attended. They were Balboa Terrace Homes Association,
Forest Hill Association, Laguna Honda Association, Miraloma Park Improvement
Club, Merced Manor Property Owners Association, Westwood Highlands Association,
and St. Francis Homes Association. Banker John Curran of St. Francis Homes
Association was elected president.
took its place in the city with other civic organizations and was solicited
for support by anti-picket organizations, organizations to keep fast intercoastals
liners running, improvement of rapid transit, and airport improvements.
Most of the issues continue to this day except for one that barely got
off the ground, or more correctly off the water. Support for city funding
of the San Francisco airport included funds for a seaplane base in the
Bay, which was cited as having a promising future.
Today on 19th Avenue from Hollaway Street to Taraval Street where West of Twin Peaks Central Council member organizations fought to block gas stations and hot dog stands, there are no gas stations or hot dog stands. On 19th Avenue from Taraval Street to Lincoln Avenue, there are eight gas stations, two oil-change services, but no hot dog stands. The site of Michael Marculescu proposed gas station at 401 Dewey Boulevard is now the Korean Presbyterian Siloam Church. John Craig served for twenty years as the secretary of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council. The West of Twin Peaks Central Council, now with seventeen member organizations, still meets at Forest Hill Clubhouse.