Archive for July, 2006

Newsom endorses Rob Black for District 6

Not that I’m claiming to be ahead of the curve or anything, but my personal choice for Supervisor in District 6, Rob Black, was just endorsed by Mayor Newsom as his choice for the November election.

From the San Francisco Sentinel,

Mayor Gavin Newsom this afternoon endorsed challenger Rob Black for November election to the Board of Supervisors District 6 seat.

Both Black and Newsom portrayed Black as the best contender to lessen divisiveness in District 6 representation.

Newsom described the mayor’s preferred standard for public service.

“You are held to a real standard in terms of being responsive to everybody’s needs, not just one particular segment of a community,” stated Newsom.

“You don’t get to say, ‘You know what? I’m going to turn my back to all of you because you’re not important to me.’

“That’s not the way you govern.

“And that’s really why I’m so enthusiastic about Rob Black and his candidacy in this district.

“This district is changing dramatically and it’s changing for the better, but we’ve got to harness that change in an appropriate way and brings this community together,” Newsom said.

“Not try to divide it based on ideological lines. Not try to divide it because ‘you’re not one of us – you’re one of them.’

“That’s the stale politics of the past.

“It’s a divisive kind of politics that’s not helped the City. I believe it has hurt the City.

“So I am very enthusiastic about supporting Rob in his quest for this seat and I look forward to working with all of you in the course of the next hundred or so days to make his passion and his dreams represent yours.” [more…]

Everybody Hates An (Alleged) Party Crasher [SFist]
Newsom backs Black in supervisor’s race [SFGate]
ABC Vol. 1 – Anybody But Chris [SFHomeBlog]
SFist interviews Rob Black, candidate for D6 Supervisor [SFHomeBlog]


Developer Throws in the Towel on 39 Chattanooga Street

From the Noe Valley Voice,

For four years, a modest Noe Valley home built during San Francisco’s infancy has been the flashpoint in an intense battle between a neighborhood developer and local preservationists.

But last month, John Williams abandoned his effort to transform the dilapidated 19th-century cottage at 39 Chattanooga Street into a residential complex four times the size of the original building. He sold the property in a deal that closed escrow June 20.

“Life’s too short,” said Williams, a resident of Elizabeth Street. “I spent years trying to make something happen there…but I just found the neighbors very difficult to work with.” [more…]

Rumors Behind the News – Noe Valley Voice [SFHomeBlog]


SFBG's Best Neighborhoods of 2006

Whether you agree or not, the SF Bay Guardian has released their annual Best of the Bay issue, and they list six San Francisco neighborhoods as their favorites…

1. The Castro
2. Glen Park
3. Hayes Valley
4. Third Street
5. Union Street
6. Valencia Street

Get the details on why right here.


'Saving local industry' by driving up housing prices?

First, I am not in favor of housing over existing industry. I’m also not in favor of people complaining about things that have been around since long before they bought their uber-loft. But what I’m REALLY not in favor of is misguided ideas about how to solve problems.

This week’s SF Bay Guardian gets it wrong AGAIN by suggesting that limiting housing to save industry might bring prices down…

It’s almost an axiom in San Francisco planning policy: High-end housing drives out industry. That’s only logical: When people buy million-dollar condos, they don’t expect to get woken up in the middle of the night by delivery trucks or deal with the smell of diesel fuel or look out their windows at barrels of chemicals. When the dot-com boom turned parts of South of Market into a housing mecca for the newly rich and hip, the problem became serious: Businesses (including some nightclubs) that had been around for years and were operating entirely within the law, conducting operations that were well within the existing zoning, found themselves under attack from an influx of residents who considered many of the traditional uses of the area to be nuisances.

As high-end housing creeps farther and farther into San Francisco’s industrial areas and the Planning Department continues to push for expensive housing in the southeast neighborhoods, the potential for even more clashes — which tend to end with an industrial business being forced either to leave or to spend a fortune revamping its operations — just grows.

The simple answer, of course, is to stop building pricey condos in industrial areas. But it’s unlikely that anyone at City Hall is going to put a total halt to housing construction in or near industrial areas, so at the very least there ought to be some protection for existing businesses. [more…]

I do, however, agree with the concept of further disclosure about neighborhood noise and nuisances. I have an acquaintance who was under-informed when she bought her loft on Townsend about the all-night train noise. In case you’ve never been down there in the middle of the night, they don’t shut down the CalTrain engines. Ever. They just run all night. And she didn’t find this out till the first night she slept there. Yes, she was told it was near CalTrain, but full disclosure is always the best way to transact real estate.

Rethinking the Guardian’s suggested homebuilding moratorium [SFHomeBlog]
Moratoriums, Loopholes, and Housing Fees [SFHomeBlog]


More problems at DBI

The Department of Building Inspection is just not getting any better, now is it? Today’s Chronicle is reporting on a little FBI raid of the offices on Wednesday…

FBI agents armed with a search warrant removed documents Wednesday from the files of a senior inspector at the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection related to a residential property on Alabama Street in the city’s Mission District.

According to Building Inspection officials, federal agents spent two hours at the department’s 1650 Mission Street office before taking documents central to the permitting process of a residential building renovation.

A city official familiar with the department said the senior inspector whose files were removed is Leo McFadden. Records show that McFadden owns a parcel at 838 Alabama St. through his company Jersey Street Associates. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

McFadden was the inspector in charge of reviewing a property that has been a focus of the criminal investigation of building inspection Supervisor Augustine Fallay, who has pleaded not guilty to charges in state court that he accepted bribes, including a $50,000 loan, and other favors over a 12-year stretch in exchange for approving permit applications. Fallay’s case is scheduled to go to trial this fall. [more…]

It’s no wonder that we see so many homes for sale with disclosures about work done without a permit. The process has gotten so convoluted that neither homeowners or contractors want to deal with anyone at 1660 Mission Street.

Now that’s not to say that doing work without a permit is a good thing, but we’re seeing more and more of it. Not only is the city losing money, but LOTS of work may be done to the point of being unsafe. And that’s not good for anyone.

The only folks making any money are the third-party permit expediters who help contractors and homeowners navigate the bureaucracy and paperwork of the permitting process. This is usually only necessary for large projects, condo conversions, or changes in building status (adding or removing a unit), but the smaller jobs might just skip the permitting process altogether, knowing that home buyers will likely not know the difference or care.

As a home buyer, make sure you speak to the contractor’s inspection service of your choice about the amount of work done without a permit and the possible ramifications down the road.

FBI probe results in another raid on DBI [Examiner]
Permit manager received loan after condo OKd, papers show [SFHomeBlog]
Help Wanted: SF Planning Department and Building Inspections [SFHomeBlog]