Planners look at new rules for 'bird-safe' buildings in San Francisco
San Francisco's avian visitors will get a much-needed break under new "bird-safe" building standards that will go before the Planning Commission for study today.
The new rules, which are months away from taking effect, are designed to make it easier for migrant birds to navigate in and around the city, without becoming disoriented or slamming into heavily glassed buildings.
According to the report prepared for the commission, as many 1 billion birds may die each year from structure and window collisions in North America, many of which can be avoided by some simple design changes.
While San Francisco already has taken some steps to ease the carnage, such as its long-standing ban on mirrored glass and 2008's voluntary "Lights Out, San Francisco" program for office buildings, the new rules will help architects and developers design bird-safe buildings from the start, said AnMarie Rodgers of the planning department.
The problem isn't with the pigeons, sparrows or other birds who make their year-round home in San Francisco. Instead, it's the migratory birds who use the Pacific Flyway and young birds who haven't learned the ins and outs of urban living (i.e., you can't fly through glass), who suffer the most casualties.
The new rules would have the most effect on high-risk structures, which include buildings with at least 35 percent glazing in or near open space, next to open water or on a pier. It also includes structures with such "bird traps," as glass courtyards, clear-glass walls and transparent building corners.
Many of the problems can be fixed by using frosted glass, permanent stencils, exterior screens or lighting changes.
The bird-safe building plan will be available for public comment until the end of the year and will go back to the Planning Commission for approval early next year.
Posted By: John Wildermuth (Email) | October 14 2010 at 09:15 AM
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I'm so full of optimism, reading that post. Then, the comments. Not so much.