Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Some neighborhood info and Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi All,

You may have noticed that throughout the city, formerly quaint blocks are being converted to monster condo walls.  Front planted areas are replaced with concrete and garage doors.  Heights keep increasing and rear yards are being reduced to small concrete patches.  
Ord Street, north of 17th Street has been ground zero in Corbett Heights for small old homes being replaced with giant south-of-Market looking behemoths.  
The new owners of a 1500 square foot cottage at 53 States hope to replace it with a 7200 square foot "home".  22 and 24 Ord Court has new owners who want to build 2 gargantuan buildings on the back of the lot fronting States Street, leaving a tiny sliver of yard between the two.  Discretionary Reviews (DRs) have been requested for both projects.  If the Planning Commission accepts the request, the project may be delayed as long as a year, and most likely need to be seriously reduced in scale.
With the skyrocketing property values in SF, speculators with extra cash are cashing in and destroying some of our old, cherished neighborhoods.  When a property owner would like to apply for permits to build, he or she must send out a "pre-application notice", stating a time and place during which the plans can be viewed or described.  When neighboring residents receive these notices they usually think that these propositions are either a done deal, or that someone else will certainly be on it.  Unfortunately this is usually not the case.  

Sorry about going off about this, but it's sad to see that what started as one ugly new building on a block has spread to the whole block.

If this sort of thing upsets you also, you have a way to express it when it comes around to our neighborhood.  I'm referring to the SF Planning Commission hearings every Thursday at noon in Room 400 of City Hall.

On Thursday, December 4, it will be Castro/Upper Market Day at the Planning Commission.  After a few other non-local items, they will discuss:

Hamburger Mary's:  531 Castro, formerly the Patio Cafe.  HM is an international chain, and other than the name, bears no similarity to the original restaurant on Folsom Street.  The owner of the building, Les Natali, has kept that property and the neighboring storefront, as well as all of the apartments above empty for over 15 years.  The hearing is about whether or not to offer a "conditional use" permit to the restaurant.  The "CU" is necessary since the business will be formula retail (chain).

SoulCycle:  400 Castro (BofA Building, formerly Diesel).  SoulCycle is a very successful fitness business chain.  There is considerable support for this to move in there, partly due to the difficulty of finding a potentially successful business to operate in that difficult space.  They also require a CU due to their formula retail status.

Philz Coffee:  549 Castro.  Formerly David Chiu's campaign office, and de la Sole shoes before that.  Philz is a very popular, local business and hopes to move from its small space next to the laundromat on 18th between Hartford and Noe.  They also require a CU due to their formula retail status.

22 & 24 Ord Court:  There are a few discussions going on at this hearing: a request for a "variance" to build in the rear yard, and the discretionary review request for both.

Apologies for this not-terribly-appropriate Thanksgiving eve email.

And please put our next meeting on your calendar: Thursday, January 22, 2015.