Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Flipping and Building Edges

OK finally the promised the more affordable version (if anywhere in San Francisco can be considered "affordable") of the pattern "building edges" and "light on 2 sides."  I'll keep looking for smaller, thriftier examples of this pattern to share, because it truly does not apply exclusively to expensive homes.

Common expressions of this pattern when buildings are smack up against each other are bay windows or center patio's.

World of Stock














Lately I've been struck by the skillful adjustment of building edges in remodels such as 162 Randall  (floor plans are on the "Description" page).  The views were already jaw dropping, but  the addition of skillfully located decks, windows and sliding glass doors throughout the home brought the views and light into almost every room and radically improved it's livability and beauty.


The gin probably helps that too.

Many of the remodels I see dismay me with their lack of respect for the beautiful old architectural detail. This one does fall in this category somewhat and is laid out better for entertaining than for family life, so I'm not 100% in favor, but it does speak to what wonderful improvements can be made by adjusting building edges.


I think the best remodels keep the historic detail and integrity where possible, while opening up dark and convoluted floor plans to allow for how we live today. Truly rehabilitating the building and it's systems where needed (foundation, electrical, plumbing, roof, heating systems) seems the more noble (albeit expensive and often invisible) path, vs. the quick flip that adds little value.



and that's your rainy Wednesday opinion. Cheers!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Bay Area Voters Approve Smart Growth, Reject Sprawl - Good Job Voters


BY EGON TERPLAN, REGIONAL PLANNING DIRECTOR
November 12, 2014
San Bruno voters approved proposed growth and taller building heights (shown in this rendering) for their downtown. Rendering courtesy Yes for San Bruno.

From a regional perspective, there’s one pretty clear outcome of the recent election: Smart growth and infill development won at the ballot box. (These issues did well nationally, too.) Across half a dozen measures, Bay Area voters rejected NIMBY-led downzoning, approved height increases in their downtowns, reaffirmed urban growth boundaries and voted against sprawl development.
A number of “ballot box zoning” measures asked voters to consider decisions usually made by planning departments and communities through the public planning process. Using the ballot to make decisions about what, where and how tall to build has long been anathema to planners because a simple “yes” vs. “no” choice doesn’t leave room to negotiate or modify a proposed project. Voters in Berkeley, Dublin, Menlo Park and Union City rejected measures put on the ballot by proponents who tried to use the ballot for zoning and planning. In San Bruno and San Francisco, ballot box zoning was necessary because laws in these cities require that voters approve building height-limit increases in certain areas. Voters in both cities approved the proposed increases.
Of course these outcomes don’t mean planning politics will be without friction in the future. But in November 2014, at least, the mood of the voters was consistent: Grow in the urban core and restrict growth in open space and on the edge. In at least one case, the pro-infill coalition showed increased support in just the past four years: 74 percent of Berkeley voters reaffirmed their downtown plan — an increase from 64 percent support for the plan on the 2010 ballot.
Here’s how the planning-related votes went down in each of these cities:
Rejecting Sprawl in Dublin
Eighty-three percent of Dublin voters rejected Measure T, a developer-backed initiative that would have allowed development in Doolan Canyon, an open space area between Dublin and Livermore. Specifically, the measure would have annexed 1,650 acres of unincorporated open space and placed it within the City of Dublin. Given that neighboring Livermore and Pleasanton have urban growth boundaries, Dublin’s rejection of the development is likely the final word on proposed growth in the canyon. 


Doolan Canyon. Image courtesy Greenbelt Alliance.

Upholding Open Space Protection in Union City
Union City voted to prevent development on 63 acres of protected open space land by rejecting Measure KK 65 percent to 35 percent. Despite a clever title (the Union City Hillside View Protection, Parks and Senior Services Initiative) and language about enhancing parks and open space, the measure was essentially an attempt to build low-density single-family housing in an open space area where no development is currently allowed.

Standing With Berkeley’s Downtown Plan
Berkeley voted to stick with its downtown plan and move forward with new development, rejecting Measure R. The measure proposed changing the existing downtown zoning codesto impose new requirements that would have made buildings taller than 60 feet financially infeasible to build. The existing downtown planning policies were first approved by the voters in 2010 and then formally adopted by the City Council in 2012. This year’s campaign was essentially a reprise of the 2010 contest, but this time a broad coalition of environmentalists, developers, labor, affordable housers and others secured 74 percent of the vote in supporting the downtown plan, an increase of 10 points since 2010. 


Berkeley voted to uphold its current downtown plan, which would allow proposed projects like the Residences at Berkeley Plaza to move forward. Image courtesy Rhoades Planning Group.​

Rejecting an Attack on Menlo Park’s Downtown Plan
In Menlo Park, 62 percent of voters rejected Measure M, which would have significantly reduced development capacity downtown. In 2012 Menlo Park adopted its El Camino Real and Downtown Specific Plan. Measure M would have changed the plan to limit total new office development to a little over 240,000 square feet, reducing the previously approved limit of 408,000 square feet. The downtown is immediately adjacent to a Caltrain baby bullet station at the 10th most used station in Caltrain’s system.

Repealing a Slow-Growth Measure in San Bruno
Sixty-seven percent of voters in San Bruno backed Measure N, a proposal to raise building heights from 50 to 90 feet in their downtown. The measure specifically repealed San Bruno’s Ordinance 1284 from 1977, which limited downtown buildings to 50 feet or three stories and restricted new multi-story parking structures, unless approved by the voters. Proposition N could result in an additional 4,000 jobs and 3,800 new residents in the downtown area, which is adjacent to a Caltrain station.

Approving a New Plan for Pier 70 in San Francisco
In San Francisco, 72 percent of voters passed Prop F, approving a mixed-use development on Pier 70. The vote was mandated by a prior initiative that requires voter approval of height limit increases on land owned by the Port of San Francisco. The measure proposed height increases from 40 to 90 feet (the current height of the tallest historic building on site) in order to build a mixed-used development that includes parks, jobs, cultural space and 1,000 to 2,000 units of housing, 30 percent of which will be affordable.

Conclusion
While we think the ballot is not the best place to make planning decisions, the outcomes of these measures reflect an overall sensibility that supports growth around transit and in the urban cores while rejecting greenfield development. Ultimately, the best evidence that many parts of the region are firmly supportive of smart growth is not the outcome of ballot measures. The evidence will come from land use decisions and actions made by local planning commissions and city councils working closely with local communities in a comprehensive planning process.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Tuesday Tour Tidbits - Building Edges


Sometimes it's a bad idea to look at the highest end homes at the beginning of tour, they can make everything else seem a little less fabulous. I believe in "pattern language" though, so next Tuesday I'll look for these patterns (in this case "light on at least two sides" and "building edge") at lower price points. Good architecture can make spaces beautiful and livable at any price level. For today though, here's some high end glory.




Claudia taking in the view from one of many terraces of the beautifully updated 65 Montclair Terrace, on Russian Hill. Designed by Gardner Dailey, this place is so wonderfully organized to the light and views (!) and livability. Recently we've been discussing the kinds of properties that look incredible from the outside but inside can be dark or poorly laid out or cramped, vs. the kind that look a little boring or at least not epic from the outside but are bright and beautiful and livable on the inside. More on this later. This one isn't at all boring from the outside, but inside it's truly amazing, and my photo's really don't capture it fully.




Ok so it's staging, but how fun would this be! and to the immediate 
left are french doors to walk out terrace, and behind me the wonderful kitchen, and the views! Making the guest list in my mind...



This one is taken from 2680 Green St, another amazing remodel ("to the highest sustainability standards,"  in Pac Heights. Roof gardens always get me, and how about that view?

Happy Friday!




Friday, September 26, 2014

SF Building Boom and Beyond- Millennials Are So Smart


I recently attended a panel discussion San Francisco 
Building Boom and BeyondI actually came away inspired. 
As much bad news as there is regarding changes in affordability 
and diversity in our fair city, the good news is that new development
is focused, (as many of us idealistic greenies visualized 30 years ago
when downtown's were dying) around transit and walkable 
communities. I commend the perseverance of planners (including 
SF's heavily burdened Planning Departmentand placemakers, in 
the face of multiple very complex issues. 


sfstreetsblog

One part of this that I found so inspiring is that the buildings with .5
or less parking spaces per unit sold out quicklyand continue to do
so. I know part of this is that people just need any place to live in 
San Francisco these days, but peak US driving was in 2006, and 
Americans have been driving less since then, even in this booming 
economy. This next generation is less car centric and is flocking to 
places where "your apartment is your bedroom and your community 
is your living room".  Small spaces are hip and design creativity is 
making more them pleasant to live in.  Life with a smaller carbon 
footprint can be fun!





As a Realtor I drive a lot, so I know I am a little hypocritical 
advocating transit, cycling and walking.  My bicycle commute 
was one of the best aspects of my previous work. Driving here 
can feel like a stressful and complex video game these days, 
and I'm sure I'm growing new neural pathways as more and 
more bicycles and pedestrians are on the roads, but these 
trends are here to stay. Hallelujah I say!


sfstreetsblog transbay terminal


Off work I get out of the car as often as possible, and always feel 
better for it. Transportation here is reaching peak usage. Walkers 
and cyclists take a lot of pressure off of existing transportation 
systems. Transportation infrastructure is phenomenally expensive, 
so this is one of the bigger challenges facing us as a city, but policy
is in place and we are moving the right direction on a number of
fronts. 




walksf.org



Call me a foolish optimist (I'm not the only one).  I know the 
problems we face are legion, and walk-ability, cycling and transit 
are not panaceas, but I feel more confident about the future as I 
watch the priorities of "kids these days" play out.


Happy Friday!



Friday, July 11, 2014

Gloriously Eclectic Architecture

Arctic Garden Studio

Touring new listings this week with several agents, one new to town, the question arose - how do you tell Victorian from Edwardian? A memory trick I picked up somewhere is that Victoria was a woman, and the style is pretty fancy and curvy, while Edward was a man, and the style is simpler and more square.




Of course it's soooo much more complicated then that. Here's some wonderful video from the amazing James Dixon that gives a good overview of Victorian and Edwardian and San Francisco's multiple other architectural styles: When and Why Styles Changed. The short answer to why so many styles over time is the intersection of architectural fashions and cyclic economic booms.


Paragon Victorian Edwardian


If you like to read text and see still images, look here for Victorian and Edwardian periods. 


James Dixon Architect


The SF Department of Planning's Preservation Bulletin #18 (scroll down a bit for photos) also has lots of great photo's and details about the many styles and periods of San Francisco architecture.
and lest we forget the avenues out there in the fog, here's a link to your Doelger styles.

Curbed - Planning Sunset District Historic Resources


Information on more modern styles, from 1920 forward, can be found here.  So there you have it, now you can impress your friends.          

house.com



Happy Friday!