Fan of the Farmer's Market? Have no fear!

A few months ago there was a strong possibility that the fabulous farmer’s market at the Ferry Building would be booted from its prime location to allow room for a retrofit project for BART. As a big fan and frequent visitor to the market, I was bummed that it might go somewhere else — because what could be as amazing as its current location?

But, it turns out there’s no need to fret. There’s good news all around: the space needed for the BART project is much smaller than originally thought, and the Farmer’s Market doesn’t have to move.

The Chronicle has the news here.

Newsom coming home from NY with ideas for Golden Gate Park

Gavin Newsom visited Central Park on his trip to New York for the Clinton Global Initiative and is coming home all revved up to solve the problem of homeless people camping out in Golden Gate Park.

Central Park was privatized in 1980 when a group called the Central Park Conservancy took it over, raised $300 million and cleaned up the park. Privatization isn’t in the cards for Golden Gate Park, but a zero-tolerance policy for homeless encampments is.

I predict that Chris Daly and other activists declare war on this plan, outlined in an article in today’s Chronicle.

The Chronicle weighs in on the market

There’s an article in today’s SF Chronicle with the latest statistics about home sales in the Bay Area. A key point in the story: “The data show supply and demand more in balance than during the housing hysteria of recent years, when scores of eager buyers made double-digit price appreciation and multiple offers the status quo. Rather than the much-predicted popping of a real-estate bubble — in which prices might drop dramatically — the softening market appears to be a return to run-of-the-mill business, experts said.”

It’s too soon to call this a buyer’s market, but as we’ve said before, it’s a good thing when there’s more balance and less hysteria. Buyers have definitely gotten the message, and sellers need to pay attention, too. It’s more important than ever to price correctly from the beginning. There’s a huge amount of inventory out there, and buyers are bypassing the places that are overpriced. It sounds simple — because it is!

If you had a million dollars….

…..and you had to spend it on the preservation of a historic site in the Bay Area, which place would you choose? Using an American-Idol style online vote, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express are inviting the public to vote, with the winning site receiving $1 million. Votes can be cast online at the Partners in Preservation site or at kiosks at Peet’s coffee houses in the Bay Area. Voters are allowed one vote a day.

Some of the sites in San Francisco:
* Haas-Lilienthal House
* Japanese YWCA building, designed by Julia Morgan
* Murphy Windmill, near the southeast corner of Golden Gate Park
* Bayview Opera House

Harnessing the power of the Bay

It’s a long way off, but San Francisco is planning a study of harnessing the power of the tides at the Golden Gate to provide power to nearly 40,000 homes. The mayor also wants to explore the possibility of capturing power from the waves off Ocean Beach.

There’s quite a bit to work out, of course, but the Public Utilities Commission is hoping to have a pilot project operating by 2009.

The Chronicle and the Examiner have stories about the announcement.

File this under handy tips

In preparation for a big remodeling job, I’m getting rid of a bunch of stuff from my house, some of which I can carry down to the car for a trip to Goodwill. Some of it, though, like the Barbie Dream House-sized gas range and the portable dishwasher that hooks up to the kitchen sink, are too heavy to get down the stairs and too big to fit in the car.

One of the many things I’ve learned in this process is that the Goodwill doesn’t take appliances. If you find yourself with extra appliances on hand, consider the following options:

Rebuilding Together will take new or new-ish (less than three years old) appliances.

Sunset Scavenger provides each account holder with two bulky-item pickups per year. You haul to the curb, they pick up for free.

RecycleMyJunk.com will come inside, take your stuff to their truck, haul it all away, and recycle what they can. If something looks usable, they donate it to the St. Vincent de Paul society. They charge a fee, but it’s pretty reasonable considering that they’ll come upstairs to the second floor (yay!) and make your unwanted stuff disappear.

And of course there’s always Craigslist, if you want to get a few bucks for your stuff.

Just say no to smoking, yes to window screens

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi has introduced legislation regarding rental properties in San Francisco. The short story: no smoking allowed in common areas (lobbies, hallways, laundry rooms, play areas) and landlords must install window screens in buildings without central air systems. They would also be required to rat-proof their buildings. The SF Examiner has the story.

Happy birthday, Mr. Wayburn

Until I read about him in today’s Chronicle, I had never heard of Edgar Wayburn. But we have a lot to thank him for. He has been involved in the preservation of more than 100 million acres of land in California and Alaska. If you’ve ever looked at the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais and wondered how it escaped development, thank Mr. Wayburn. He also helped pass legislation that protected 103 million acres of wilderness in Alaska.

He turns 100 tomorrow. Happy birthday, Mr. Wayburn.

Warts and all…or not

We all know that there’s more in the air than a hint of fall….the market has definitely changed. No, no, no, it’s not the mythical bubble bursting. The market has softened into a more balanced landscape between buyers and sellers. And part of that is buyers becoming more selective. In today’s Surreal Estate column on SFGate.com, Carol Lloyd covers lots of ground: statistics citywide are a mixed bag; problem houses are not selling well (places with panoramic views of a bus stop or a housing project, for example); buyers’ growing desire for move-in condition homes; should sellers stage their property?

There’s another article in the New York Times about similar trends developing in the Big Apple. Buyers are starting to note flaws in properties — and dismiss them because of it. It’s an interesting read also because it describes some uniquely New York issues that, so far at least, we don’t have to deal with here. The “flip tax” is one of them: it’s a fee charged by a co-op board on the sale of one’s shares in the cooperative. One tax was a jaw-dropping 33% of the sale. Ouch.

Planning Commission Considers Imposition of Moratorium on Garage Construction — Huh?

A little birdie (OK, it was the San Francisco Association of Realtors newsletter) told me that the director of the Department of City Planning is scheduled to make an informational presentation to the City Planning Commission at its meeting on Thursday, September 14, 2006, at 1:30 p.m. in Room 400, City Hall. The presentation will describe the Department’s draft policy for review of new garages in existing structures. If this sounds like something that might be of interest to you or have an impact on you, stop by and pick up a copy of the draft policy, which will not be available in advance of the meeting.