Archive for January, 2007

The Excruciating Wait for the Condo Lottery Drawing

Yes, it’s that time again! The Condo Lottery Drawing is near! February 7th, to be exact.

If you haven’t signed up yet, tough luck. The deadline was last Friday.

But for those (thousands of tortured souls) waiting for February 7th, it appears there is a new twist in the drama: according to the SF TIC blog, they will now be doing the drawing digitally, using a computer to randomly draw the numbers, rather than slips of paper and a 40-gallon cowboy hat. And the author of the article, RP, has concerns about how ‘random’ this drawing might actually be. Or for the conspiracy theorists in the house, how the drawing could actually be rigged or influenced.

Ahhh… San Francisco. If it’s not one thing, it certainly is another…

Now I would venture to guess that if you’re involved in the 2007 Condo Lottery, you are more than up-to-speed on the process, as well as when you’ll find out if you were selected (that would be February 14th, one week after the actual drawing).

But for those that are just getting into the process (perhaps waiting out your owner-occupancy requirement), there is a great PDF with all of the details on this year’s lottery here.

Since this is the first year that we’ll be excluding units from consideration [PDF] that had multiple evictions or evictions of ‘protected’ tenants, we’ll see if that has shrunk the numbers at all. My guess is that the pool will be larger than ever. And unlike last year, there is very little favoritism for those that may have already been through the lottery 7+ years in a row.

According to a Department of Public Works study published by the Examiner last fall, there were 1652 units that applied for the 2006 lottery, which leaves 1452 that will likely be back for this year’s carnival (except those who might have done the aforementioned evictions).

And even if we lived in a vacuum and no more buildings entered the lottery (think of how many new TIC buildings were formed in the past three years!), we’re looking at seven or eight years just to clear out the existing applicants.

I really hope that buyers aren’t being told that condo conversion is much of an option in their lifetimes right now… Especially considering that most people are only in their homes in SF these days for 2-3 years. That’s barely enough time to convert a lottery-exempted two unit building!

I wish all of the applicants the best of luck!

I also expect to see at least 20 of those lottery-winning units to hit the MLS on February 15th…

Condo Conversion in San Francisco [Department of Public Works]
2007 Condominium Lottery Information [Department of Public Works]
Condo Lottery Goes Digital [SF TIC]
Condo permit odds toughen [Examiner]


T-Third running, other routes changing

I know that I’m two weeks late on this one. I was still out of town on January 13th when the new T-Third MUNI line started its weekend-only service. But now I’m back, so if you haven’t heard it somewhere else, you’ll hear it now.

Additionally, there are some changes to other MUNI lines coming on April 7th, when the full-time operation of the T-Third kicks in.


Service Effective January 13, 2007

  • T-THIRD introductory service operates January 13, 2007, through April 1, 2007, weekends only, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every 20 minutes. [FREE if you board south of 4th/King]
  • Service Effective April 7, 2007

  • New T line
  • Service changes on the N & J
  • 15-Third service replaced by T-THIRD line and 9X
  • Castro Shuttle service replaced by T-THIRD line
  • T-THIRD: The T line operates from Castro Station, down Market Street, around The Embarcadero and down Third Street to Sunnydale Avenue.
  • N-JUDAH: The N line will now terminate at the Embarcadero Station (not 4th & King)
  • J-CHURCH: During peak hours only, the J line terminates at 4th & King. During regular hours it continues to terminate at The Embarcadero station.
  • So where I used to take the N-Judah from Cole Valley to AT&T Park for Giants games, I’ll now take either the J-Church from Church/Duboce, or the T-Third from somewhere on Market.

    But the important thing is that the T-Third is finally up and running.

    Gonna have to get out and do a lap to see how it all looks. I drive 3rd Street and have seen the construction taking shape, but look forward to seeing how far/long the ride is from downtown.

    Interesting that they couldn’t have moved the opening up just few days, as the first Giants home exhibition game is on Thursday, March 29th, and they will have played 7 home games before April 7th. Not to mention that April 7th is a home game vs. the rival Dodgers. That should make for even more confusion than normal for those poor Dodgers fans…

    I know that the world certainly doesn’t revolve around the Giants, or even around Barry Bonds, but when you’re pushing 43,000 people through the area, you would think that it would have been taken into consideration. – T-Third [official site]
    Third Street rail on track for January run [SFHomeBlog]


    Transit + Housing = Good

    This is another one of the things that I feel strongly about: building new housing close to major transit lines! And it appears that at least one part of San Francisco is heading in the right direction to that end, Balboa Park.

    Where, you ask?

    Balboa Park. [Google Map]

    For those of you who ride BART, but have never been past 24th & Mission, you would continue on to Glen Park, then one more stop to Balboa Park. This is also the end of the line for multiple MUNI lines, including the J-Church, K-Ingleside, and M-Oceanview.

    There are still many folks who refuse to consider Glen Park, no matter how quickly you can get downtown. I know, you have renter-friends who still live in the Marina. I get it. But now you’ll start hearing people talking about neighborhoods like Mission Terrace, the Excelsior, and Ingleside. Many parts of these neighborhoods are walking distance to Balboa Park BART, and have all of your favorite amenities like coffee shops, family-owned restaurants, and a sense of community.

    And the city actually has a long-range plan for the area (imagine that!!), which includes higher-density housing along the corridor streets like Ocean Avenue.

    Now AvalonBay Housing (the same people who run the all-rental building across from the Beacon, which is also next to AT&T Park) has bought up a site which is now a Kragen Auto Parts, and will be building 160 units and a large grocery store space on the site. The housing will be rental, and will likely include the current requirement of 15% affordable units.

    From this week’s San Francisco Business Times,

    Rental housing giant AvalonBay has snapped up a development site near City College of San Francisco and will build a 160-unit mixed-use project.

    AvalonBay, which owns 47,445 apartments in 10 states and has a $4 billion pipeline, would transform the Kragen Auto Parts store at 1150 Ocean Ave. into a mixed-use development with housing above a 30,000-square-foot grocery store.

    City planning officials call it a vital part of efforts to create a transit-oriented village near the Balboa BART station.

    “It’s definitely one of the central proposals in the Balboa Park plan,” said Ken Rich, manager of plans and programs for the city’s Planning Department.

    The Balboa Park Station Area Plan calls for 1,780 new apartments and 104,680 square feet of commercial development clustered around the station and along the Ocean Avenue commercial district.


    The Balboa station is one of the busiest in the BART system, and the city would love to see more development proposals to get more residents living within walking distance to the station, Rich said. In addition to the Kragen site, a mixed-use affordable housing development and new community park is planned for the so-called Phelan Loop, on the north side of Ocean Avenue between Phelan and Plymouth streets.

    While AvalonBay would not comment on the retail portion of the project, the plan clearly calls for a grocery store on the Kragen site.

    “That is the No. 1 desire of the community and the developer is designing the project exactly as the plan asks,” said Rich. [more…]

    So, not only do they have a plan, but so far it appears that there are developers who can make the numbers work. At least until Supervisor Maxwell gets her hands on the project in committee or in front of the full board…

    Now if we could only get this kind of planning and progress at sites like the Schlage Lock Factory near the Cow Palace! Problem is, that’s in Maxwell’s district. Our grandchildren have a better shot of seeing that one get built than we ever will.

    AvalonBay snags Balboa Park site for housing, stores [SF Business Times]
    Balboa Park Station []


    Everybody fights, housing loses

    Guess I should start a series of articles called ‘housing loses’… Because that’s what continues to happen in our lovely town, courtesy of our jackass Board of Supervisors.

    Today’s oh-so-common topics: Trinity Plaza and the Armory (again)

    First, the ‘good’ news. The 1,900 unit Trinity Plaza development was approved AGAIN on Thursday by the Planning Commission.

    Everything was previously on track till ‘Supes Maxwell and McGoldrick (looking to get their names in print, undoubtedly) threw a stick in the proverbial spokes last November, putting the project into yet another tailspin.

    Never mind that Trinity is not in either of their districts, or that the ‘Supe for that district (Daly) was in full approval of what was then-agreed-upon.

    But once again, it’s about making a name for oneself through headlines and/or attempts at setting a new standard in developer extortion or affordable housing minimum requirements. I mean, why should Chris Daly get all of the headlines?!?

    From Friday’s Examiner,

    The commission’s second vote on the amendment came after the Board of Supervisors refused to adopt it in November 2006, as the project became bogged down over competing visions for how much affordable housing should be included.

    In the coming weeks, the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee is expected to hold a hearing on the proposed development, which would go in at the four-acre site on Market and Eighth streets. [more…]

    So although we saw the Planning Commission give it yet-another thumbs-up, we are still in for another round of silliness with Maxwell & McGoldrick…

    From Friday’s BeyondChron,

    Now the question on everyone’s mind is if the same shenanigans will happen all over again. Board President Aaron Peskin has chosen to keep both Maxwell and McGoldrick on the Land Use Committee, allowing for the possibility for further shenanigans. It also means that 1900 units of rental housing might never be built. [more…]

    And what is the fight really about right now? McGoldrick wants another 46-48 units made affordable. So in his fight to get less than 50 units designated affordable, he’s willing to screw you, the residents of San Francisco, out of a MUCH-needed 1,900 units of housing. That makes a lot of sense.

    Then again, let’s not forget about 2007’s favorite cocktail party topic, the conversion of the Armory (14th & Mission) into (depending on who you ask) a big film production facility that will benefit all of San Francisco with the economic boost, not to mention the clean-up of a very dirty and dangerous block, or on the other hand, a den of perversion which threatens to corrupt any school-age child within a one-mile radius.

    The point of bringing up the Armory in this discussion is plain and simple: learn from your mistakes! The well-intentioned folks at the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition, Mission Neighborhood Center, et al. pressured their ‘Supe (Chris Daly) along with their other ‘Supe (Tom Ammiano) into restricting what that HUGE space might have been used for.

    First they wanted affordable-only housing. But that wasn’t enough. Then they wanted low-income housing. And that wasn’t enough, either. Then they wanted NO-INCOME housing. And in the meantime, developer after developer got sick of waiting and moved onto greener pastures (likely outside of SF).

    So in his own free-market brilliance, the most-recent owner did what every good capitalist would: he found a buyer that wasn’t going to use the space for housing, made them agree to a confidentiality agreement (so nobody would get wind of the transaction till it was done), and cashed-out.

    The other key piece to this puzzle is that the new owner, who we all know to be, is not planning any changes that would require government intervention. Meaning they are not changing the use of the building (it has been a commercial use and will continue to be a commercial use). They also are not making any exterior changes to the building, short of repairing windows, and cleaning up, so they are not subject to any scrutiny from the Planning Department. Besides, if this wasn’t such a big news piece, would anyone have known was was going on behind the tall, brick walls?

    From Friday’s Chronicle,

    [Peter Acworth,’s CEO, says that] the film company will be a good neighbor. Acworth already has met with a housing organization and a merchants group, he said, and is open to meeting with others. He also has reached out to the mayor’s office and Daly, he added, but was unable to talk about the sale publicly before it was finalized because of a verbal confidentiality agreement with the building’s previous owners.

    Acworth said he also would like to explore the idea of turning part of the armory into an assembly room for community use, he said, and plans on making improvements to the exterior. “It’s not a porn shop at all — it’s not as if it’s open to the public,” Acworth said. “I have been in business for 10 years” in three other locations in the city “and I’m not even sure the neighbors knew what we were doing,” he said. [more…]

    So where does that leave us? Well, from that same Friday Chronicle article, we find that the Mission neighborhood groups are REALLY sore losers. They thought they had Daly in their back pocket (they do, actually), and that they would ultimately find someone dumb/rich enough to create a little utopia of no-income housing, without any subsidy from the city or state. But since a few decades have passed and nobody rich or dumb enough has come along, the building finds a buyer in, and the neighborhood groups are crying foul.

    Like a bunch of spoiled children.

    Whether you like or not, they bought the building and they will do what is necessary to follow any/all laws/rules/regulations governing the business that they do in the space. And like it or not, there’s really not much anyone in the Mission or down at City Hall can do about it.

    Unless we want to get into a conversation about eminent domain. But we all know that the City of San Francisco doesn’t have $15M to plop down on that sort of solution…

    So what’s the moral of the story? Tell your Supervisor (no matter what district you live in) to quit fighting about this crap and move some of these housing projects forward. Can you imagine if some deep-pocketed shopping mall developer got wind of the problems at Trinity Plaza? Perhaps he offers Sangiacomo a very large sum of money, and converts all of that potential housing to yet-another shopping mall.

    What would Maxwell & McGoldrick have to say about that?

    It’s time to quit fighting and build more housing. Now.

    Amendment propels Trinity Plaza project [Examiner]
    Planning Commission Approves Trinity Plaza — Again [BeyondChron]
    No welcome mat for adult film studio [SFGate]
    Porn wins, housing loses [SFHomeBlog]


    Are cries of Mission gentrification justified?

    Was really surprised to read this one today… BeyondChron’s Randy Shaw lived in the Mission in the early-’80s, and returned last week (for the first time, perhaps??) to find that things aren’t all that different after twenty five years…

    The recent purchase of the Mission’s historic Armory by, and its planned use as a bondage video studio, has raised questions about who, if anyone, is guiding the neighborhood’s future. Business and development interests, along with some merchants and residents, believe the Armory ended up as a site for porno films because pesky neighborhood activists prevented a more neighborhood-serving use. Activists, however, long opposed market-rate housing at the Armory, and have sought to delay any Mission development until their neighborhood plan is released. The irony of all this finger-pointing is that the Mission District is actually thriving, and that for all the talk of gentrification and anti-development zealotry, much of the community has remained remarkably unchanged over the past 25 years. [more…]

    He goes on to detail how many of the same shops are around (especially on 24th Street and Mission Street), and even run by the same owners or employees. In fact, he even defends the few new housing projects that are underway, reminding folks how little new construction has occurred there in the past few years.

    Just a bit surprising to see BeyondChron allow something to run that shoots down so much of what they complain about week-in and week-out.

    The Future of San Francisco’s Mission District [BeyondChron]
    New Affordable Housing Engine Needed in Mission [BeyondChron]