San Francisco is a very special place. Right now, some think it’s the epicenter of the universe. The Titans of Tech, the heart of artistic culture and Karl the fog (our weather is now a mascot!) reside here, working and playing hard. But we all need a break…
The folks at SPUR have shared their local real estate expertise in a cell phone application titled, SPUR Secret Spaces & Hidden Oases to showcase destinations for revitalization. The best part, all are open to the public!
I have narrowed to my top 5. Enjoy!
1. Rooftop Reprieves at The Crocker Galleria on 50 Post St. @ Montgomery St. This breath of fresh air location boasts 2 Rooftop Sun Terraces. Complete with lovely benches, flowering trellis’ and a working foundation, this quiet open space has lived up to its name since its construction in 1982. With easy access to restaurants & restrooms, Rooftop Reprieves receives a stamp of excellence!
2. Standing Among Giants at TransAmerica Redwood Park on 600 Montgomery St. @ Clay St. This iconic oasis lives up to it’s fame.
Resting beneath the shadow of this towering skyscraper, an Urban Park accessorized with massive Redwood trees, grass, wooden benches and a stage, takes my first prize for best of the best. Nearby restaurants have cooked lunch for the voyeur of these gentle Redwood giants since 1973.
3. A Moroccan Plaza at Citicorp Center Building on 1 Samsome St. @ Sutter St. This remarkable architectural accomplishment has provided San Francisco with a glass enclosed roof, supported by 2-story arches of white marble since 1912. A visitor is sure to have a few moments of holiday bliss as palm trees accent this quaint cafe scene. Drift amongst the true show stoppers, an art deco bronze sculpture and marble fountain centerpiece. Sit back, relax and enjoy the tables and chairs free for visitors use since 1983.
4. Up in The Clouds on 343 Sansome St. @ Sacramento St. This split location shares 2 open spaces with the public. Savor the sun and the view from the 15th floor terrace.
Travel to the adjacent mall for easy food service. Bring lunch back over and appreciate the olive trees and flower bed planters. This special space has been gifting benches, moveable chairs and tables since 1990.
Bath in sunlight and pull up a chair or a bench to watch daily noon-time entertainment. Delight in the contrasting white marble and black granite decor that frame an over-sized painting and sculpture. What are your favorite San Francisco spaces?
What makes a neighborhood become more of a community? What does making a neighborhood more livable mean to you?
To one of my neighbors, Gillian Gillet, it means long term projects with an end game that adds up to a more livable city for us all.
So here we are, with great success on San Jose/Guerrero with the greening project, the amazing reconfiguring of Cesar Chavez Street with the new sewer line installation, greening and traffic re-organization, both examples of community cooperation that led to safer and more enjoyable streets!
Next on the schedule, I hope, is the safety improvement project on high-traffic Potrero Avenue in the Mission district. Plagued by a fatal bicycling accident in October 2013, the city with local encouragement, will hopefully perform a dramatic facelift.
Focused on blocks 21st-25th Street, city plans are calling for a $3.2million renovation to be completed in 2015. The proposed upgrades compliment the San Francisco General Hospital rebuild. The investment constructs wider sidewalks, new lighting and structured methods to slow traffic and secure pedestrians and cyclists.
Some local merchants and neighbors are supporting the preservation of existing parking spaces, while other neighbors and some San Francisco General Hospital employees express their concerns and needs for increased pedestrian safety. Sasha Cuttler, a nurse at SF General, shared her perspective with SF.Streetblog reporter Aaron Bialick. “I know people that work here (SF General) that have been injured just coming to work, and I’m concerned that we need to do more to protect people”. Cuttler has rallied workers to voice the urgency for buffered bike lanes, longer transit lanes or better yet, exclusive transit lanes to secure their safe daily transit.
The plan also proposes the expansion of street corners, bus stops and the addition of T lights at every corner. “The improvements to Potrero Avenue is a large project with lots of considerations to account for. As San Francisco Supervisor ensuring our citizens safety is the top concern. So of course pedestrian and bicyclist safety is absolutely a priority,” says Malia Cohen, District 10 Supervisor.
Nonetheless, the big debate was in not just the aesthetics but the functionality of the project. At some public meetings, the conversation targeted the addition of a landscaped median, and the removal of many existing parking spaces. Neighborhood residents and businesses strongly rejected this design, contending not only the effect a reduction of parking spaces will have on them, but also the possible effect of increased speed from commuters.
However, there now seems to be compromise, with option 1 being the preferred choice after 5 community meetings, there might be a ribbon cutting in the future, like that at the Cesar Chavez Streetscape project.
The SFMTA Traffic Engineering Public Hearing on the ‘Potrero Streetscape Improvement Project’ is scheduled:
Room 416 (Hearing Room 4)
4th Floor, City Hall
Public Comment needed on the proposed parking, traffic, and transit changes toPotrero Avenue between Alameda and 25th streets. (This is the proposal that will remove 58 parking spaces along Potrero Ave.)
Following the public hearing the project will go to the SFMTA Board for final approval.
The hearing date at the SFMTA Board has not yet been scheduled .
More information on the project can be found at
Neighbors are celebrating the completion of the 3 year transformation of Cesar Chavez Street! It’s happening Wednesday, January 29th @ 11AM with ribbon cutting celebration for the safety and street scape improvement project.
Re-named Cesar Chavez Street in 1995 to reflect the passion and cultural shift in the area, the avenue’s original name Army Street,was first designed as a car-centric thoroughfare to connect Twin Peaks and western San Franciscans to a second Trans Bay Bridge development. Years ago, the city and environmentalists shot down the original second bridge design.
Nevertheless, Cesar Chavez Street cuts through the Mission and Bernal Heights neighborhoods and the three lanes of traffic going each way was an unattractive river of concrete to cross if you were on foot. Despite differences between local special interest groups who wanted easy commuter access, car parking restrictions, traffic calming, school children and cyclist travel safety, and creek daylighting, compromise was reached.
Now, the neighborhood will enjoy:
- A Road Diet: Three lanes of traffic reduced to two in each direction
- Left-turn pockets for vehicles
- A bike lane added in each direction
- A fourteen foot planted median in the middle
- Every corner has pedestrian treatments, including bulb-outs, better crosswalks and storm-water catchment planters
- The end of Capp Street at Mission Street is now a plaza and with crossing distances reduced
- Upgraded Street Lighting with LED bulbs
- Sewage & Storm water drainage management
“For me, the most important improvement has been the elimination of the double left-turn that used to feed traffic from southbound Bryant onto eastbound Cesar Chavez and the freeway ramp, making the pedestrian crossing on the east side of Chavez a death-defying experience,” she said. “The median, especially now that it’s landscaped, makes the street feel smaller and cozier.”
Bialick has been tracking Taylor’s and others efforts to challenge the status-quo of an outdated plan for Cesar Chavez Street and to serve its local neighbors.
Taylor’s efforts are a success. The intention for Cesar Chavez Street has been re-envisioned to enhance quality of life for the neighborhood, promoting ecological functionality in balance with high-volume traffic patterns. Enhanced greenery, trees and landscaping thanks to our Friends of the Urban Forest, evolved an auto artery into a low impact zone, transforming the livability of the neighborhood. Taylor continues the conversation with SF.Streetblog.com reporter Matthew Roth. “It could be good that it’s taken three years because people have had time to get use to the project.”
Coming together to make the best of a long term public project that impacted residents with noise, dirt and traffic, it seems to me that everyone came out a winner. We’ve vastly improved the sewer system, created a better traffic flow with bike lanes, and there’s trees and plants where once there was only concrete. Now on pleasant and safe walks from Precita Park to 24th Street, it is a vast difference for all to enjoy. Safety, quality of life and neighborhood property value increases are immediate benefits of this project’s completion.
Join in the celebration Wednesday, January 29th @11AM at the Si Se Puede Plaza in front of the popular eatery The Palace Steak House. To read more on the development of the plan, visit http://www.sfhomeblog.com/2010/05/cesar-chavez-sewer-streetscape-improvement-project-update.html.
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.
As holistic self-sustainability turns critical, will pairing life down to the essentials be the exclusive path to living large?
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.
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?