Developments in development: awkward relief

Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Developments in Development is a “weekly” column recapping real estate, business, planning, zoning and construction new

You know, in a time when San Francisco reportedly saw the biggest year-over-year rent drop in the country and we keep hearing about how rents are slowing down, I really wasn’t expecting to see this monstrosity.

Having a shower and toilet directly adjacent to a sad excuse for a kitchen might be bad enough. Trying to get someone to rent it for $2,000 a month? That’s legitimately frightening. Also, one might speculate, not strictly code compliant. My first thought is that San Francisco must be counterintuitively striving for its Gold Rush history of renting tents for the equivalent of more than a million dollars a year.

Part of me wonders if that kind of situation is what people picture when they think of density — that we will be so densely packed into tiny spaces that there will be no room to breathe, let alone relieve oneself in peace.

Even in non hyperbolic terms, San Franciscans are discussing density all the time. One storage company has offered up one way to imagine how tightly we could be crammed in with a density visualizer. It’s a fairly straightforward tool, telling you how close together we would have to be to fit into less space and vice versa, but that to me seems like it’s only really useful if you have actually been to most of the cities you can set it to compare to.

But there is more to city living than simply how closely together we are packed. It’s the type of housing that gets built, the way it looks, what the streets feel like. All of these are being debated in City Hall right now, in the form of battling proposals for affordable housing, the amount of family-sized units that should be built, and the endless stream of reviews of proposals based on what they look like.

One of those reviews you may remember, because it was requested for a 100 percent below-market-rate housing project on 17th and Folsom streets based on a concern over height and sewage impacts.

At the time there was a fear that that it would take months before that could go to the Planning Commission to get its second hearing before that body. But somehow it got on the agenda for this week — where a decision was delayed until next week because a prior item went on for so long that several commissioners already had left.

On a happier, quality-of-life related note, San Francisco has completed its survey of its trees. Yes, the tree census is complete, and you can see its results in all their leafy glory here. Be warned that at first glance it looks like this city is bursting with plant life, but a lot of those green dots are empty planting sites. But how cool is this – I now know that one of my favorite trees is a purple-leaf plum, and that it has removed 119.3 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air.

Meanwhile, Brava Theater continues to move ahead with its long-anticipated renovation. You can see the shell of new dressing rooms, a cabaret, and other structures begin to take shape:

And lastly, plans have been submitted for a six-story development with eight units headed to 2976 Mission Street, near 26th Street, with the residential space over a commercial ground floor and no basement. The building continues, or tries to.

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One Comment

  1. J Lin Hong

    Really, you think we are moving to a more density future?. Au Contraire, the trend is blocking out the sun with height, but less occupancy per apartment. Used to have 6-9 Central Americans, and Yucatecos who crammed in a railroad flat. Now its two techies, and a high pedigree Urbanist in the same units complaining the rent is too high while making at least 40 thousand each.

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