Archive for November, 2013

Living Large in Micro-Housing

SF Efficiency Living!

Efficiency Living @ 83 McAllister, San Francisco!

A trend is spreading across the country, less square footage is more living. As a raging housing market battles for competitive square foot prices, behind the front-lines, a transition targeting quality of life supplied by ease and simplicity stands. San Francisco, Fort Worth and New York City are carrying a new American lifestyle, living large in micro-housing. Tiny house architects and dwellers alike are prioritizing freedom from tiresome property management, favoring an affordable lifestyle choice.

The micro-housing movement is a part of a much larger change. According to these pioneers, like HausBau Architects, the vision behind Cubix-SF, an urban micro-condo building, living in a modest 200-300 square feet in of one of the country’s highest priced locations is very attractive. Even San Francisco District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener is campaigning for budget friendly micro-accommodations.

He is leading the legalization and construction of existing property in-law units, ranging in size from 200-750 square feet. “Our housing crisis is a complex one, and no one policy proposal will solve it. The units will have to be within existing habitable space – i.e., a garage, a large storage space, a large basement area. The units will have to come from unused space,” said Wiener to The Bay Area Reporter.

With smart and thorough design concepts, narrow spaces lend a cozy, efficiency without sacrificing functionality. Natural light, air and creative storage solutions reduce the tension between acquisition and display for a clean and modern aesthetic. Ancient design concepts are recycled to prove compact quarters save on tidy time, energy costs and encourage a limited footprint alongside Green living. “Even when you’re in these relatively tight areas, the eye doesn’t focus on the smaller moments- you’re getting borrowed views from the other rooms, making the space feel more generous”, says architect Philip Ryan of Studio Modh Architects in Brooklyn, New York. Tiny homes compliment their natural landscape, drawing the outdoors inside to broaden and protect the environment. To further expand the appeal of these small settings, architect Peter Fehrentz of Berlin, Germany encourages the use of a variety of color tones from the same palette to maximize the calming effect. He further suggests removing as many interior walls as possible and installing sliding doors to open and transform a scaled-down home.

San Francisco’s wave of miniature, cost-effective lodging has been borrowed from deeply rooted international traditions. With a historic focus on minimalism due to high-density population, space limits and affordable housing challenges, European innovators Gore, Gibberd and Saunders of Hampshire, England constructed the Emsworth Yacht Harbour in the late 1960’s. 50 elevated, free-standing structures span a modest 538 square feet. Arranged neatly in rows to capture privacy and sea views, residents share a unique and secret community get away. Units are highly desired. Most ownership transactions happen off-market, from word of mouth.

The micro-housing market’s momentum has spawned plans for a community of tiny homes state side in Sonoma County, California. Jay Shafer of Four Lights Tiny House Company is experimenting with the possibilities of micro-dwellings. Set to be completed by 2015, Shafer has zoned 70 houses to each be under 400 square feet. There’s even a conversation for a communal farm for residents. Currently, a restricted, yet active tiny house community in Washington D.C. serves as a teaching ground for Shafer’s big sister west coast project.

Jay Shafer's Micro-Dwellings Community

Jay Shafer’s Micro-Dwellings Community

As holistic self-sustainability turns critical, will pairing life down to the essentials be the exclusive path to living large?

Rita Roti is a broker associate / assistant manager at Zephyr Real Estate and can be reached at Rita@ritaroti.com.

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Public Housing, Community Friend or Foe?

Join the conversation!

Join the conversation!

Affordable housing in San Francisco may be an urban legend. Since 2000 the Bayview Hunter’s Point Community Revitalization Concept Project Area Committee has started to write history. Striving to return balance to a desperate community, historically labeled by crime, gang activity and under employment, the Project Area Committee (PAC) has stepped forward to repair these neighborhoods. Drawing in hungry developers with the promise of $95million residential construction contracts, the committee has lobbied on behalf of this struggling environment.

The project guarantees 25% of all new structures to be dedicated to the public financial assistance Housing and Urban Development program, or HUD vs the standard 10%. Additionally, the committee has secured the allocation of project funds to renovate existing properties and to safeguard historic structures to be reused for the public. The Bayview College Track Center and Opera House anchor restoration efforts for the area and will soon be joined by senior community centers, medical buildings and services.

Focused on economic development, community enhancement and the vital opening of affordable housing, local residences have had their first taste of this new beginning. May 2013 marked the official start of turning dreams into reality as stage 1 of 5 housing sites by HOPE SF reached completion. 107 lucky home winners qualified for entry into a lottery by meeting a maximum income of $50,600 for a household for 4. With a long road ahead and the need for an additional $250million to complete the project, the mark of positive change has set into motion Green Streets, a safety and aesthetics movement, bringing landscaping and lighting of district streets and public spaces. This stimulus plan has created diverse opportunities for local citizens to fight for more than just survival, however in early 2014 Bayview Hunter’s Point faces its next phase of transition.

Stage 1 New Residences Complete

Stage 1 New Residences Complete

The new homeowner’s reside in a zone protected from eminent domain, however with the pending destruction of Candlestick Park and rising land prices, what is the next chapter for this district of San Francisco?

Rita Roti is a broker associate / assistant manager at Zephyr Real Estate and can be reached at Rita@ritaroti.com.

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8 Washington Street- War or Progress?

On November 5th, voters will decide the fate of the more than three year battle over waterfront parcel 8 Washington Street in San Francisco’s renowned Financial District. A proposal to build a mixed-use, twelve story building has been approved by The Board of Supervisor’s, however local neighbors are putting up a fight. The grassroots group, “No Wall on the Northeast Waterfront” collected over 30,000 signatures in just 30 days to admit the controversial initiative onto the ballot. Now San Francisco residents will decide if they too oppose the elevated height restrictions and limited public access to waterfront property or if they will gladly accept the $11million affordable housing funds and the new ground-floor retail and restaurant scene on Embarcadero.

Pacific Waterfront Partners LLC design proposal

Pacific Waterfront Partners LLC design proposal

Simon Snellgrove’s Pacific Waterfront Partners LLC, the project’s owner, has paid $1.4 million to promote “Parks not parking lots”. Snellgrove has hired big hitters to star in his television and media advocacy campaigns, notably San Francisco’s favorite former Mayor Gavin Newsom and current Mayor Ed Lee, who publicly support the $350 million venture. The project’s proposal replaces The Bay Club at the Gateway and assigned parking lot and argues the transformation will open the waterfront to the public for recreational, leisure activities and economic growth.

Not to be left in the shadows, “No Wall on the Northeast Waterfront” has generated over 1,000 individual campaign donors and advocacy/political groups who reject the construction of the multi-million dollar 134 unit plan. “Do we want to see luxury condos along the waterfront like they have in Miami where really the access to the views of the bay are limited to those who can pay premium dollar?” said Michelle Myers from the Sierra Club. Neighboring residents Barbara & Richard Stewart have put their money where their mouth is, donating over $390,000 to prevent the passing of Measure B & Measure C.

No Wall

Is this an age old battle between residents and developers or is this a new war where old and new money face-off? Irony lends average Joe voter to reveal the victor Wednesday morning.

Rita Roti is a broker associate / assistant manager at Zephyr Real Estate and can be reached at Rita@ritaroti.com.

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