What Price Street Parking in San Francisco?

Recently, San Francisco started a trial project in several neighborhoods that aims to adjust hourly parking rates based on demand. A recent report for the Board of Supervisors found that we already have some of the most expensive parking and fines in the nation, so exactly how much higher rates will go remains to be seen.

This article, via the infrastructurist, is an interesting take on the theory and academia behind SF’s little project with demand-based pricing.

When it comes to parking, many drivers embrace the George Costanza system: Look for the dream spot, then “slowly expand out in concentric circles.†Georgie Boy’s philosophy may be a great metaphor for life, as Harvard’s president recently claimed. But it’s also crippling our city streets, argues UCLA professor Donald Shoup—author of the 2005 book The High Cost of Free Parking and the man the Los Angeles Times recently called the “prophet of parking.â€

Shoup’s basic argument is that parking in cities is too cheap, in large part because many municipalities require businesses to provide a certain amount of spaces. The lure of cheap street-parking draws people into their cars rather than onto public transit, bicycles, or their feet. As a result, the demand for parking spaces greatly exceeds supply, and drivers crawl around in search of a spot, increasing urban congestion.

Read entire article “Should we Raise the Price of Street Parking?

Changes to MUNI Fast Pass Coming Soon

Clipper Card, the new card in town, is quickly making obsolete older forms of muni payment. Starting in November, anyone wanting  a “Type A” fast pass will need to replace their old paper card with a clipper card. I got my clipper card a few months ago and I have to say that as an occasional muni rider, I’ve found it very handy to keep stashed in my wallet. No longer do I need to worry about whether or not I have exact change, and it also means I don’t have to board from the front door of the train when the line is 6 people deep.

And while it might be entirely more practical, it probably signals the end of muni fast pass art:

John Kuzich's Fast Pass art at the DeYoung through Sunday, August 30

photo via flickr by Steve Rhodes

From SFMTA, here are the various types of passes available:

  • Adult “A” Fast Pass®, $70. Also valid for BART trips entirely within San Francisco only during the month shown on the pass. Valid for customers ages 18-64.
  • Adult “M” Fast Pass®, $60. Muni-only pass, valid for customers ages 18-64.
  • Senior Pass, $20. Muni-only pass, valid for passengers age 65+; ID required.
  • Youth Pass, $20. Muni-only pass, valid for passengers ages 5-17; ID required.
  • Disabled Pass, $20. Muni-only pass.
  • Note: There is a Senior/Disabled Pilot Pass Program to test a pass that would also be valid on BART within San Francisco. This Pass is not currently available on the RTC Discount Photo ID Card. Please continue to use the paper “P” pass. ID required.

Suburban Sprawl: Satan’s Plan?

Via the infrastructurist, a great collection of articles about suburban sprawl. Even more great reasons to live in a city like San Francisco, even though we have our own set of issues.

Photo via flickr by Mark Strozier

Jeff Speck and Andres Duany, the authors of Suburban Nation, argue that sprawl is a root cause of many problems that America faces, from health to environmental issues. (WashPost)

• Speck also has a blog post and slideshow on the 10 worst things about suburban sprawl. (HuffPost)

• While electric cars are becoming more popular, the number of charging stations needs to be increased so drivers don’t experience “range anxiety.†(NPR)

• An article examines the newly-opened bypass bridge over the Hoover Dam. (Parade)

• A column tries to explain why the cost estimates for some infrastructure projects are so often exceeded. (WSJ)

• Infrastructurist editor Eric Jaffe has a good article/graphic about how Boston’s Post Road helped connect Boston to New York City and shaped New England’s history. (Boston Globe)

• One op-ed writer argues in a column that Gov. Chris Christie was right to stop the ARC tunnel and that the money should be going for New Jersey’s roads. (WSJ)

So gentle readers, take a moment to peruse all these great points of view and do let us know what you think in the comments.

San Francisco Real Estate Times Death Watch

When I first started in real estate in San Francisco, the Real Estate Times was the go-to magazine for real estate. If you were anyone, and at the time I wasn’t, you were in the Real Estate Times, and your listings were in the Real Estate Times, and if you were really someone, your colleagues would find a way to mention you in the Real Estate Times.

Every market has (or had) a version of the Real Estate Times. Ours is full color, high gloss on every (paid) page of information (advertisement). I’ve seen others across the country that are black and white, some printed on newspaper stock, others printed on their brother’s uncle’s ink-jet printer…

It used to be that the Real Estate Times was reliably hundreds of pages, and listing dates and schedules were determined by its print deadline. I picked up the most recent (October 14 – 27, 2010) copy of the San Francisco Real Estate Times, and it is down to 60 pages (including front and back cover, which are paid advertisements).

Below is photographic evidence of the “internet marketing diet” that the Real Estate Times has been on. Anyone want to venture a guess on when they cease publication?

Awesome MUNI repair time-lapse video

Via gawker, watch this awesome time lapse video of recent Muni track replacement in Noe Valley at 30th and Church Streets. The video was made by local Noe Valley resident Ken Murphy, who used a modified canon A590 to take a picture approximately every 15 seconds.

Church and 30th St. San Francisco MUNI Construction from Ken Murphy on Vimeo.

Or, how to spend $3 million in just over 12 minutes (actually, about 3 1/2 days).

This is a time-lapse video showing the replacement of the MUNI tracks in front of my house. Demolition began on the evening of Friday, October 8, and work continued around the clock until early in the morning of Tuesday, October 12. The MUNI folks were nice enough to distribute earplugs to those of us in the immediate vicinity.

This was shot using a Canon A590, with CHDK installed (a firmware replacement for Canon cameras that enables all sorts of additional features). An image was captured approximately every 15 seconds.

Congratulations to the 2010 Realtor Technology Spotlight Recipients

via the Center for Real Estate Technology blog, please join me in congratulating the winner’s of this spotlight on technology awards. While I won’t be attending the NAR convention in New Orleans this year, they will all be recognized at this national event. Real Estate has been slow to adopt technology, so hats off to them all for helping prod the industry along in the right direction.

Advocate Category — a leader of a cause; essential supporter.
Brian Copeland Village Real Estate Services (Nashville, TN)

This individual is the lynch pin when it comes to technology in real estate. They make sense of the new tech ideas by understanding their uses. They jump in and test drive technology, evaluate it thoroughly, and then share their knowledge freely with REALTORS® in order to empower and educate them on the latest tech trends. The advocate reaches out and engages others. They make a difference one person at a time.

Innovator Category — a groundbreaker; trailblazer.
Ben Martin Virginia Association of REALTORS®  (Glen Allen, VA)

This individual pushes technology to the next level. The innovator ensures that real estate technology systems and processes are prepared to meet business and consumer needs today and tomorrow. They implement creative ideas, and drive ‘out of the box’ thinking. Innovators collaborate with others and share ideas openly in order to obtain the greatest benefit for the REALTORS®, consumers, and the industry.

Pioneer Category — a leader into the unexplored or into something new.
Mark Flavin Bay East Association (Pleasanton, CA)

This individual takes technology and pushes its applications to the next level. They are the trend setters that lead the way. The pioneer is the one to watch and the one to follow.

Visionary Category — one with foresight.
Brad Nix MaxSell Real Estate (Woodstock, GA)

These individual see the technology trends and understand how new tech tools & resources can be applied to the real estate industry in the next month, year or even decades. Often times they are the ones that are doing things so extremely different, it takes the combined efforts of the Advocates, Innovators, and Pioneers to embrace this individual’s vision before the industry as a whole understands it. This is what makes the visionaries stand out — they look outside the proven techniques to define the new standard and ultimately change the real estate landscape for the better.

Many thanks to all who took the time to nominate a tech super star and to the  judges of this award.

Bank of America (BOA) exits wholesale loan business

There have been rumors and whispers for quite some time that Bank of America was planning on exiting the wholesale loan business, and they finally made it official on Tuesday.

In a statement released Tuesday Bank of America Corp announced it will close the wholesale lending channel of its company that it obtained with its acquisition of Countrywide Financial Corp.

The company plans to focus more operational resources toward fulfillment capacity for its direct-to-consumer retail channel, which helps existing and new customers obtain mortgage financing, and toward enhancing its leadership positions in corresponded and warehouse lending.

“By exiting the first mortgage wholesale channel, we can redirect critical operational resources to further enhance our capabilities in direct-to-consumer channels,†said Barbara Desoer, president of Bank of America Home Loans.

I’ve never had a strong relationship with a bank of america loan rep, and the mortgage broker’s I work with rarely do BOA loans, so I don’t expect this to have much of an impact in the San Francisco area. But it will be interesting to see how this changes the landscape of the mortgage market going forward.

New Pricing for 1 Ecker

1 Ecker has their re-opening this weekend,and I’ve gotten word about what their pricing will be.

Prices for junior one-bedrooms start at $299,000, One-Bedrooms start at $439,000 and Two-Bedrooms start at $599,000.  Our office hours starting on Saturday – 11am-5pm/Closed Friday.  Please stop by this weekend if you would like to tour a very unique and beautifully appointed new condominium community.

And for those not up on their real estate lingo, let me do a little translating for you: junior one-bedroom = studio.

None of the units have parking, but they do (or, at least they did) have great finishes, and some cool brick and timber details. It is also a very walkable location, so if you want to live in the Yerba Buena area and/or work downtown and don’t have a car, then they are definitely worth checking out. No word yet on what HOA dues will be.

HOAs Gone Wild

via curbed, a story about a HOA down in LA that has, well, to put it mildly, a bit of dysfunction.

Carson’s Scottsdale Estates housing complex has 600 homes, about 3,000 residents, and two homeowners association boards. And they’re fighting each other both in court and in the community’s clubhouse. In this corner is Cyd Balque, who’s run the board for about a decade, according to a March article in the LA Times. She owns property in the Estates but doesn’t live there. In the other corner is a group, fronted by Woody Rowell, that came to sort-of-power in elections they held last October. They’ve claimed that Balque didn’t hold elections and ignored repairs, and they hired the community’s first management firm in more than ten years. A judge invalidated the October results, but ordered a new election this past March

There’s quite a bit at stake here–HOA dues total $1.7 million a year and Scottsdale Estates “has the highest crime rate of any neighborhood in the city,” according to the LAT.

Read more at dailybreeze

Read more at curbed

When buying a condo, the most important investigation a buyer can do is to have a thorough understanding of the Homeowner’s Association, how well it is run, what their financial health is, and what items have been issues in the building. Among other things, state law in California requires the seller to provide the buyer with 1 years worth of HOA meeting minutes, and while it can be a lot of paper to review, it is very important that the buyer take some time and read these documents (when available, which is almost always in large buildings and almost never in small buildings).