SF to improve handling of chronic quality of life offenders?

An article in this morning’s Chronicle by CW Nevius talks about talks that have been occurring to possibly do something about dealing with individuals on the sidewalks that are a continuous source of problems. To quote the article:

For decades there has been confusion and general inaction when it comes to the hundreds and hundreds of citations that police give to aggressive panhandlers and those who drink and urinate on San Francisco’s streets. But there might soon be a plan in place to hold the worst offenders accountable.

Spurred by a Chronicle story earlier this month that detailed how the citations are regularly dismissed, thrown out or simply ignored, representatives of the Police Department, mayor’s office, district attorney and Superior Court have put together a series of proposals that should significantly improve the handling of these so-called quality-of-life infractions.

The plan focuses on chronic lawbreakers – those who rack up dozens of citations over a few months – and require them to appear at court. Currently, chronic offenders shrug off infractions. If they don’t show up at court – and they rarely do – a bench warrant is issued, but it hardly ever results in any consequences.

“We want to look at the process for the top 40 offenders,” said Dariush Kayhan, the city’s homeless policy director. “We want to be able to flag these people, require them to show up in court and then have the judge walk them through all the violations that have occurred.”

Stranger things have happened in San Francisco, and it is nice to see public officials paying attention, but I’m not holding my breath.



Garbage In, Garbage Out: My Concerns with Using Listing Price as a Market Metric

Coldwell Banker recently released a study of the most expensive and least expensive housing markets in the United States, using the listing price of a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom property as their metric, which I think is an absolutely horrid and pointless metric to use when conducting a study of housing prices.

It’s been blogged about just about everywhere, and well, I’m blogging about it here so from a public relations point of view, they are certainly getting their mileage out of it…

And while I think just about every study will show that San Francisco is one of the most expensive places to live (we like to think of it as the culture tax), I really disagree with the use of listing price as a metric. Listing price is a statement of what the seller would like you to pay for his or her house. However, in every market the buyer ultimately sets the price of the house. Yes, their is negotiation, but if the buyer doesn’t ultimately agree or come to a compromise with the seller, then the house will never sell. So who cares what it lists for?

You could argue that home prices generally sell within some percentage of their list price (it’s usually within a few points in San Francisco, on average, in my experience), so it is a “close enough” metric to work with… but really, to me it comes across as lazy and sloppy and something you’d use if you wanted some cheap PR and didn’t want to spend a lot of money getting the data.

And as long as I’m ranting, I think the use of a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home as the metric is a bit silly. A 4/2 home in San Francisco is much larger than our normal home, so it distorts a bit what the average cost of a home is. And yes, you can argue that for comparison’s sake, it presents a consistent property type to compare in different markets. But I think that you easily run the risk of having a very small sample size in some markets that doesn’t accurately represent the true cost of housing in that market. And since it isn’t titled “where are the most expensive 4 bedroom, 2 bath homes” I say it’s misleading.

All of which I guess is my way of saying that I’m thrilled to be working for a local San Francisco real estate firm, even if we don’t pull cheap PR stunts like using a bad market metric – listing price – to make broad conclusions about affordability.

Condos at One Hawthorne, San Francisco

The condos at One Hawthorne in San Francisco were released for sale several months ago, and I toured the building at the time it opened.

One Hawthorne, San Francisco, CA

Described in their marketing as offering “hand-selected materials and thoughtfully edited details meet the eye at every level, beginning with the hewn wood and stone surfaces of the lobby and rising through the warm, artful interiors of each home,” I would have to agree that the One Hawthorne finishes are nicely done and tasteful. Pretty much what you would expect for a building in this location, built at this time, and being sold at this price. It was nice to see that gas cooktops were standard throughout, the only exception being JR 1′s (studios), where city code prohibits a source of gas from being open to the sleeping area (don’t quote me on that, but you get the idea…)

One Hawthorne dues seem a bit high for the amenities (beautiful roof deck, attended lobby, valet parking, gym and outside terrace), particularly when you factor in the valet parking fee. Not to sound petty, but I’m not sure that “three high speed elevators” qualify as an amenity in a high rise building built in 2010, but I guess it was generous of them not to make us all take the stairs.

The clients I’ve taken through so far have been most interested in the two bedroom corner units, some of which have really smart layouts and a nice open feel to them.

Parking is definitely one downside to the building, with a monthly fee for parking and a less than 1:1 ratio (hence the valet parking) – however the location of One Hawthorne is such that hopefully you won’t need a car and are planning on getting most places on train, muni, or foot.

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So there you have it, a quick overview of the condos at One Hawthorne in San Francisco, CA. If you are interested in taking a tour or would like additional information and thoughts about the building, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us today!

Because Everyone Needs a Firehouse!

You’re a hip urbanite. You’ve got your iPod iPhone, iPad, Blue Bottle Coffee frequent buyer card, a hip wardrobe, thousands of twitter followers, and yet you still don’t feel like your life is complete. What are you missing?

A Firehouse!

And depending on the budget, we’ve got a few options for you.

Want the original deal in a Dogpatch location? Ready to throw some elbows at an auction sale? Then 909 Tennessee might be for you. Being sold off by the San Francisco General Services Agency, the auction deadline is Tuesday, November 23 at 9:00am. See the invitation to bid for more details.

Then...

Now

Now...

Auctions not your thing? Not looking for a firehouse fixer?Afraid the Dogpatch will scare off all your friends in the BMWs? Then how about a beautifully redone firehouse in Noe Valley? Listed by Joseph Marko and Rafael Acevedo of Paragon Real Estate, it is currently yours for the price of $4,250,000. Which is substantially less than the original asking price of $6,375,000 when the home went on the market for the first time.

Noe Valley Firehouse

Noe Valley Firehouse

And finally, if you’re in the market for a firehouse but don’t have a hose full of cash to spray at it, then you might want to think about 117 Broad St., listed by Luba Muzichenko of Zephyr Real Estate for $975,000. But hurry, the MLS lists it as under contract with contingencies, so if you want your firehouse for under 1 million, you’ll need to move quickly.

117 Broad St.

117 Broad St.

So regardless of the style of firehouse you need to complete your hipster lifestyle, we’ve got you covered!

San Francisco Bay Area Race/Ethnicity Infographic from flickr

I found this incredibly interesting and awesome mash-up of data on flickr.

Someone took the time to represent race and ethnicity as reported on the 2000 Census data and create a visual representation for the bay area. They also did the same for a bunch of other cities, it is pretty slick stuff that you can see here.

Race and ethnicity, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley

And what do the colors represent? Well, a look at Marin county should tell you what the red dots are for.

Seriously, here’s the breakdown:

Red is White, Blue is Black, Green is Asian, Orange is Hispanic, Gray is Other, and each dot is 25 people.

Walmart in San Francisco?

Thanks to the Bottom Line column on SF Gate for the post about the possibility of Walmart attempting to open stores in San Francisco. A short excerpt:

Walmart? In San Francisco?

As part of its new “urban strategy,” the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., is looking to open two dozen stores in the Bay Area, I’m told.

Most of them are in the East Bay, but also on the Peninsula, in San Jose, and in the city that has always said, “No way, Jose” to the Bentonville, Ark., big-box giant.

But these aren’t big boxes.

Instead, they are the “smaller format” stores favored by the likes of Trader Joe’s Co., Whole Foods Market Inc. and the British supermarket chain Tesco PLC, whose Fresh & Easy “neighborhood markets” are coming to the Bay Area, including San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood.

And, like these others, they’ll be primarily grocery stores, with plenty of fresh foods and prepared takeout.

“Wal-Mart is throwing out their old playbook,” said Garrick Brown, vice president of research at Colliers International, a global real estate brokerage. “They’re going after the urban market, which they haven’t been able to penetrate, mostly because of their size.”

“That’s where the money is”: Wal-Mart has not disclosed details, but Brown said a company source put the nationwide number of planned new, city-centric stores between 300 and 400.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/09/21/BUL41FGNJN.DTL#ixzz10AyZJYuW

Please forgive me for sounding like an arugula-eating-hybrid-driving-tree-hugging liberal, but I think Walmart has a very hard next-to-impossible time ahead of it if it wants approval for a store in San Francisco.

To begin with, you have our city’s aversion to “formula retail” which requires extra steps and hearings during the planning process, including neighborhood and community input. Throw in Walmart’s track record as an anti-union employer and some rather nasty lawsuits about gender discrimination, racial discrimination, and healthcare, and you’ll understand why I think they are a long shot for having a store approved in San Francisco anytime soon. Like this century…

Ridiculous: San Francisco Residents sue over Below Market Rate Housing Restrictions

For those not familiar with this program available in the wacky city by the bay, the Mayor’s office of housing offers a number of units for sale as “Below Market Rate” units – commonly known as BMRs.

Developers building new construction since 1979 have been required to submit a percentage of units in any new construction for inclusion in this program. The percentage varies based on whether the units are included onsite with the main development, or offsite at a separate location.

BMR units have very clear guidelines about what you can do with them upon resale. Essentially, the city will set the sale price and it is usually tied to a bay area income index, so it tracks income appreciation not real estate market appreciation.

While I feel bad for people who didn’t understand the program when they purchased, it just highlights the need for a competent real estate agent. Suing the city just seems, IMHO, an absolutely ridiculous course of action.

SAN FRANCISCO – A group of San Francisco residents is suing the Mayor’s Office of Housing, claiming that city officials are stripping them of their right to sell their condos at market rates.

The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court last month, has revived a decade-old battle between hundreds of below-market-rate homeowners and San Francisco’s housing officials.

In the lawsuit, which includes 60 homeowners, residents accuse The City of egregiously mismanaging one of San Francisco’s low-income housing programs by allowing residents who are not considered low income to purchase below-market-rate housing at the discounted price.

The problem is that many of these residents who bought low-income houses say they were never told that they were investing in below-market-rate houses, which restricts them from ever selling them or willing them to anyone other than low- or moderate-income residents.

They are now asking the court to force San Francisco housing officials to release their condos from their current below-market-rate status, which would give them the opportunity to sell them at market rate.

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/SF-homeowners-cry-foul-on-sales-restrictions-103260579.html#ixzz105uC78WJ

1 Ecker, Take 2

It appears that Polaris marketing is relaunching sales at 1 Ecker this month.

1 Ecker was originally on the market back in 2008, but the project was pulled after the developer couldn’t meet his obligations and the bank took the project back. Bad developer, bad!

The units are very nicely done, have some beautiful original details and nice finishes in the kitchens and baths. Sizes range from studios to 2 bedrooms. There is no parking in the building, but it is in a very walkable location.

We had clients in contract in a unit several years back, hopefully this time they’ll be able to close escrows!


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Learn if a major natural gas line is near your next home

The tragic fire in San Bruno last week has unleashed an avalanche of stories about PG&E and their complicity in events that lead to the destruction of a neighborhood and the deaths of too many individuals.

The folks at the SF Gate real estate blog “on the block” had an interesting article about the National Pipeline Mapping System, which offers a piss-poor (IMHO) program for trying to determine if your home (or prospective home) is near a major gas transmission pipeline.Unfortunately, they only allow you to zoom in to a 1:24,000 scale, anything closer than that and the pipes disappear from the map. You can access it yourself from this link.

My search created the following map, which doesn’t seem to show any major transmission lines on the west or north side of the city.

SF Gas Transmission Lines from NPMS

This map is more detailed than the one at the “on the block” blog, but their map does seem to indicate that somewhere on the west and north sides of the city there are major transmission lines. Their map is from the state of California, but it is a bit depressing to think that the national resource for this misses such major lines in San Francisco.

And the news also just seems to get worse for PG&E, with allegations that they asked for and received a  $5 million rate increase to replace the pipe that exploded, they never actually did the work.

The request came as a consumer watchdog group said pipeline owner Pacific Gas & Electric had planned in 2009 to replace a section of its gas pipeline just a couple of miles from the section that exploded, but never spent the $5 million in rate increases to do the work.

TURN [The Utility Reform Network] also said the utility asked for another $5 million for the same project in 2009 — the year it should have completed the work it hasn’t even started — saying it wouldn’t be completed until 2013.

“The money was spent on what they call higher priority work,” said TURN senior attorney Mike Florio.

“You can’t track the dollars one by one, but we do know they spent $62 million more on management incentive business than they had forecast in 2009,” he said. “They spent $60 million on going back and re-doing gas leak surveys that they had botched elsewhere on their system.”

PG&E responded that it “is committed to performing the work necessary to assure the safety of its gas transmission system.”

The utility said it had identified the line section as a “high priority project” in the earlier transmission rate filing, but “rescheduled the project” after an updated assessment in 2009. But the company did not explain why it needed an additional $5 million and three years to complete repairs on a section it said, in its most recent rate filing, was in the top 100 risks for failure.

“Coupled with the consequences of failure of this section of pipeline, the likelihood of a failure makes the risk of a failure at this location unacceptably high,” the company said in that filing.

TURN officials think they know where some of the money went — in 2009, the year PG&E didn’t spend $5 million on fixing the pipeline, the company did spend $5 million on bonuses for six top executives.

“The company’s priorities appear to be skewed,” TURN executive director Mark Toney said.