Archive for February, 2006

Some in Bayview fear the 'r' word

As I’ve been posting about for a couple of weeks, the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency is about to have its way with the Bayview/Hunters Point. Today’s Chronicle highlights one woman’s perspective.

Patricia Wright’s girlhood home in San Francisco’s Western Addition and most of the houses on her block were bulldozed in the 1960s by the Redevelopment Agency. In the name of urban renewal, longtime residents — mostly poor and African American — were sent packing, and many never came back.

For Wright, who is now 52 and lives in the Bayview home to which she relocated as a child, the resentment still runs deep. “I have no trust in them whatsoever,” she said. “When I hear the words ‘redevelopment’ and ‘urban renewal,’ I think it really means urban removal.”

Those painful memories have Wright and some others who live in the Bayview-Hunters Point area, a predominantly black community situated on the city’s southeastern edge, fearful that history could repeat itself.

They’ve come out in force against a Redevelopment Agency proposal to place about 1,300 acres — more than half of the Bayview — under its jurisdiction. The plan would create the largest redevelopment district in San Francisco history, and the agency promises to clean up blight, build affordable housing and stimulate business with the help of property tax dollars.

“Commissioners from the Redevelopment Agency and the city’s Planning Department will hold a joint hearing Thursday on an environmental impact report for the proposal, and on March 7 the Redevelopment Agency commission is scheduled to vote on the plan itself. The Board of Supervisors has the final say.”

But to those backing the plan, the fears are based on misinformation.

Eminent domain, the powerful tool used by the Redevelopment Agency in the 1960s to seize people’s homes, is strictly forbidden in residentially zoned areas under the plan for the Bayview. The agency would be allowed to seize commercial land, but only after a neighborhood advisory group for the agency weighs in with a recommendation, agency officials said.

Also, mowing down neighborhoods and rebuilding them is a practice that redevelopment officials say was traded in long ago for projects that have community support.

Whichever side of the debate you’re on, you’ll want to make your voice heard now…


SPUR meeting today to present Treasure Island plan

If you’re looking for something to do during lunch today and you’re in or near the financial district, the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association is having a lunchtime presentation of the plan for Treasure Island.

A noontime forum, held at SPUR, 312 Sutter St. (at Grant), Fifth Floor, from 12:30 to 1:30 pm. We are located close to the Powell St. BART station and several Muni lines. Feel free to bring a lunch. SPUR Forums are open to the public, free for members and $5 for non-members.

Come see the proposal everyone is talking about—a plan that is probably the most complete expression of ecological urbanism to ever be proposed at the neighborhood scale in the Bay Area: 5,500 new homes; 235,000 square feet of retail space; 320 acres of open space, including parks, plazas, community gardens, and demonstration urban gardens; and 10-minute ferry trips to downtown. Make up your own mind: will it work? Come see the presentation by the development team, Treasure Island Community Development, LLC.


New Eviction Disclosure Legislation Headed to the Board

BeyondChron gets it wrong (gasp!) again! Today’s little confusion stems from Bevan Dufty’s amendment to Daly’s eviction disclosure legislation which was smartly vetoed by the mayor then the veto was upheld by four Supervisor votes.

The original legislation would have basically required that we as real estate agents beat you over the head with a vacancy disclosure before you even walk in the door of an open house. That’s akin to beating you over the head with a termite report or a 3R (building permit history) report. It’s not what open houses are for. They are for you to see if you are interested in a property. If you like the property, you would request additional information, such as inspection and other pertinent disclosures.

Now Supervisor Dufty is looking for an amendment that would just clarify the job that we already do as agents.

I’m a full-time Realtor®. I do my job and follow the law. The law currently states that I must disclose how a property (or individual unit) became vacant, if it is vacant, during the sale of the property.

Just like everything else that we as agents must disclose, vacancy is an important disclosure. For those who haven’t been through the purchase process, a buyer is likely to get all of the disclosures for their transaction BEFORE they write their offer to purchase a property. Any disclosures that they DO NOT receive before writing their offer create a new contingency. If you are a buyer and you have a contingency, that means you have a way to get out of contract.

For this purpose, we as agents disclose as much information as we can get from the seller prior to offers being written. If we provide new information to a buyer after they are in contract (including, as the author of this article writes, when you are signing your loan documents), that buyer typically has a NEW contingency and an opportunity to cancel the contract.

Do agents or sellers withhold disclosures till the last minute in hopes that a buyer won’t back out? Perhaps. Is this a common occurrence? Definitely not. If we lose a deal at the last minute because the buyer is sensitive to a previous eviction, we don’t get paid. If the seller loses a buyer because they get the disclosure at the last minute, the property is likely to become damaged goods. There has NEVER been a benefit in this town to withholding disclosures, and there’s not likely to be any reason for that to happen in this more balanced market.

This is nothing more than a not-so-covert ploy to circumvent a state-mandated law (the ellis act) that the Supervisors have not found any other way to circumvent. This is not about disclosure. This is not about helping tenants. It’s about burdening an already difficult process and hurting everyone in an effort to teach a couple of people a lesson.

In the article, Casey Mills writes, “As anyone familiar with the housing market knows, waiting until this point [when your offer is accepted] to pull out of a sale when merely getting an offer accepted by a realtor is difficult would be a tough thing to do.”

First of all, some copy editing is in order. Second, Realtors® don’t accept offers, SELLERS accept offers. And third, this is how real estate works all over the world. You like a house, you write an offer, you review any disclosures, you do your diligence, if you like what you see at that point, you proceed and close escrow.

Only because we as professional agents in San Francisco, looking out for both the buyer’s and seller’s best interests, started putting immense disclosure packages together for people to review PRIOR to writing offers, do people think this is the way it has always been. For example, one of my current listings has a 183 page disclosure package and one of my last listings had a 216 page disclosure package.

As a buyer, you have a right to the information, and if you don’t like what you see, you have a right to get out of the transaction. That’s real estate. Here in San Francisco and all over the country. Why pretend this is any different or make it any harder than it already is?

Could it be that Chris Daly needs to find a way to look good in the eyes of his flagging consituency?


Don't Mess With Bernal…

Well, construction has begun on Bernal Park. And the neighborhood (as promised) is not one bit too happy about it.

From a post today on (the reprint of a letter sent to the Parks and Rec Commission), “If you think this is the end, it is not. The moment the road gets blocked, pandemonium is going to set in. We don’t have to do anything, in fact I will be out of town. You will be setting the trap yourself. We have warned you. We have told you over and over this is a terrible idea and an unbelievable waste of tax payers money. You have stubbornly refused to listen and keep clinging to your flawed process as if this is the life raft that will save you when the project goes down. Which it will.”

“As a neighborhood, we have no idea who the people are who want this. Seriously, who is it? Because we do not know them. It’s like boxing with a ghost. Who has this much power to over-ride the concerns of so many people?”

“What I have to fight with is an amazing community of people who know right from wrong. You have done more to bring us together than any single act that has happened on Bernal Heights in decades. If we had come at this with lawyers it would cost $50k, $60k. Instead, we decided to spend our time and money to educate the court of public opinion. We are enrolling the public in taking ownership of our public space. It is not yours. What you are doing is a travesty and is more like the Balkans than the great and enlightened city of San Francisco. We will not forget. We are sick of being pushed around.”

Note to self: don’t ever piss off Bernal Heights…


Podcast Episode #2 now available

So, I didn’t quite make episode #2 ‘weekly’ this first time around, but as I get more comfortable with the technology and as we have good news items to report, I’ll do my best to stay on a weekly schedule (hopefully releasing a new episode on the same day each week).

PodcastDownload the latest podcast in MP3 format here.

The links below correspond to the stories on this week’s podcast.

Lead news stories
Bayview/Hunters Point redevelopment
Neighborhood association involvement
– Local housing statistics
– Mortgage report from Monica DiPerna @ Guarantee Mortgage

Current/upcoming legislation
Ellis Act Relocation Assistance Law upheld

Upcoming events
– March 2 – Special SFRA meeting on BVHP Environmental Report
– March 7 – Bayview/Hunters Point redevelopment commission hearing

new construction condos selling at record pace
– interest rates flat
– inventory levels holding steady or dropping

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