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Posted by Brock Keeling

“A celebration of diversity”

The 47th annual Pride Parade and March begins at 10:30 a.m. today. The parade starts at Market and Beale streets and ends at Market and Eighth. If you cannot make it to the Sunday morning festivities, where more than 240 contingents will proceed down Market Street to the cheers of tens of thousands of well wishes, you can see it live here.

This year’s theme, “a Celebration of Diversity,” will also have another added element—resistance. In lieu of the Dykes on Bikes contingent starting the parade, a resistance-themed protest contingent will lead today’s march.

After the parade, people will gather at Civic Center to dance, mingle, and celebrate queer San Francisco.

Also of note, there will be many street closures and Muni reroutes happening today. People who want to catch the parade IRL are strongly encouraged to take public transportation.

And now, via SFGate, catch the San Francisco Pride Parade in all of its glory.

We're live at the 47th annual Pride parade!

Posted by SFGATE on Sunday, June 25, 2017

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Posted by Adam Brinklow

Message coming through loud and clear

Earlier this week, San Francisco officials used the Golden Gate Park Conservatory of Flowers’ sterling white exterior as a canvas for a psychedelic light show.

Meanwhile, in Oakland, local blogger Geek Pondering noticed that unidentified protesters took similar advantage of the white plastic-shrouded exterior of 1955 Broadway to project some criticism of Donald Trump on Thursday.

The message was decidedly direct.

The old Beaux-Arts Sears building on Broadway, which dates to 1929 (then an H.C. Capwell department store and a big ticket for downtown Oakland in its day), is under all of that plastic now as it undergoes a metamorphosis into a new office and retail hub dubbed “Uptown Station.”

Ride-hailing company Uber originally planned a sizable Oakland expansion into the completed building but stepped away from those plans in March, telling the San Francisco Business Times that only a few hundred Uber employees will move in and that the company will lease the rest of the space.

Although it’s likely none of that has much to do with Thursday’s display. It’s just that a blank canvas of sufficient size will probably never stay blank for long in this town.

This comes on the heels of a similar incident in Washington D.C. where an artist briefly projected anti-Trump messages on the Trump International Hotel.

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Posted by Adam Brinklow

Très beau, n’est-pas?

Just how much imitation French chateau in Napa is too much imitation French chateau in Napa, and how much is just right?

Most people never even get the chance to seriously consider such questions, of course. But the working example of 256 North Fork Crystal Springs Road (yep, even the street address is overladen with ornamentation) in St Helena serves as a handy case study anyway.

At first blush this four-bed, six-bath (not counting the guest house, which is a separate Euro vision of its own) seems to invoke Greece more than France, perhaps in unconscious deference to the Helen name.

After all, there are Doric columns, the poolside pavilion goes for the Parthenon-light look, there’s a fountain depicting the likes of Achilles and Ajax, and the wine cellar features a mosaic of Galatea and Pygmalion.

But it turns out all of those details are just Greek by way of France, as this Napa number—which, although it seems to have the air of a home from one of the Bay Area’s 19th century mining barons or 20th century industrial magnates, only dates back to 2003—largely imitates the homes of various French royalty.

“The family room is a copy of the Great Hall of the the Charles VIII wing of Chateaux Amboise,” notes realtors Cheri Stanley and Barry Berkowitz.

“The front entry is modeled from the front entry of Chateaux Azay-le-Rideau except that the Porcupine (the emblem of Louis XII) above the front door is from Chateaux Blois.”

Even the door to the wine cellar came from a 17th century French castle. Presumably for the sake of oenophiles who want to keep their stock really, really secure.

In truth, this mix and match style gets a bit dizzying when it comes to throwing around terms like “Galatea's turret,” “a Chateau Chateaudun inspired spiral staircase,” “French Loire Valley Chateau stone fireplace,” and “Chateau Le Lude Mosaic Floor” all within a few paragraphs.

It’s chateau fever.

But at least it’s an education. The home itself goes by “Chateau Galatea.” Perhaps its freewheeling mixture of architectural accoutrements is apropos for a home that mingles France and Greece with Napa— a blend of history’s three great wine loving cultures.

The new $13.2 million price is actually a discount, after this place aimed for more than $16.9 million in 2014.

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Posted by Eve Batey

Three things to know today

Welcome to Curbed Cuts, a tri-weekly digest connecting the dots between shelter, structure, parks, transportation, and more.

Art beneath the freeway

Keeping Alemany Island beautiful is an uphill battle. Located in the area beneath where the 101 and 280 freeways meet in San Francisco, you might expect it to look like most beneath-freeway areas look in the city, with encampments, illegal dumping, and worse.

Since 2013, however, it’s been home to public art, first with a remarkable pillar installation by (then) 19-year-old Mission High School student Cory Ferris, then “the first time Caltrans has permitted an artistic interpretation on one of its freeway supports,” the SF Chronicle reported at the time.

The beautification project also included a community garden and a fence mural of “48 plywood art panels” to cover the Caltrans-installed “cyclone fence topped with rolls of razor wire.”

According to a Portola Planet report from 2013, “These works of art were designed by Kate Connell and Oscar Melara. Volunteers from the Portola then spent many nights painting the pieces...Each panel has some reference to the Portola and Kate tells me a lot of research went into the designs.”

The elements and other strains of city life left the area in need of some cleanup, and after a year of planning a “month-long project to bring the neighborhood gateway back to life” kicked off this spring, the Portola Planet reported this week. “15 or so volunteers dedicated three weekends to weed, mulch and plant the island’s overgrown garden. A final weekend was needed to clean and apply three protective coatings to the murals resulting in the vibrant and gleaming panels you see today.”

The cleaned up area, which you can see photos of here, is a night-and-day change from how things looked just a few months ago. It’s a testament to what can be accomplished by people who, instead of complaining about the state of the city over drinks or on the internet, put their time and hard work into making things better.

 Photo by Agent Akit

A tough price to pay for roomier transit

The San Francisco Giants’ dismal season has made a lot of fans miserable. And the pain their performance causes goes beyond the ballpark, transit planners learned Thursday.

The team, which pundits say is on track to be the worst in San Francisco, has depressed fans so that they’ve stopped going to games, causing a remarkable decrease in riders on the Golden Gate Transit ferry service.

In a presentation on bus and ferry ridership to the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District Board of Directors on Thursday, Director of Planning Ron Downing says that “the special ferry service to AT&T Park had fallen ‘generally flat,’ while in past years the ferry would ‘sell out,’” the SF Examiner reports.

“If they win, people fall out of the [ferry] windows,” said Downing, an announcement we hope is a figure of speech. Fortunately, the drop isn’t significant enough to make a major impact on the ferry system’s budget, says Downing, but it certainly does nothing to debunk the worst stereotypes about certain Giants fans as reprehensible bandwagoners.

 Screengrab via KRON 4/YouTube

Shaming transit lane violators (among others)

KRON 4’s Stanley Roberts is a Bay Area treasure, a camera-toting vigilante out to document the many rule-breakers plaguing our streets, parks, and more. In his People Behaving Badly series for KRON 4, for over a decade Roberts has been taking on scofflaws without any agenda other than that of any good hall monitor—to restore order.

Rule-breaking cyclists are just as much a target for Roberts as bike lane violators, and cops who park at fire hydrants get as much of his ire as people pulled over by those same cops for various transgressions.

SF Weekly did a great profile of Roberts in 2013, just a few years before the reporter suffered a series of strokes that put him on the disabled list, but only for a few months, as Bay Area’s rule-breakers were certainly not taking a break during his convalescence.

In a segment this week, Roberts tackles drivers who don’t know/don’t care that they’re passing up traffic they should actually be sitting by illicitly using a bus-only entrance to the Bay Bridge. It’s a classic Stanley piece: a couple puns, lots of footage of rule-breakers, and a sweet ambush slash interview with one of the rule breakers.

In this case, the interview was plum get, as the lane violator was a hapless Postmate who was also screwing around on his cell phone when Roberts approached. Yes, that feeling you’re experiencing right now is schadenfreude. Doesn’t it feel good?

Here’s Roberts’ archive page with all his glorious, shameful segments. If you’re one of those people who can still bear Twitter, you can follow Roberts there for new content. He’s also very active on Facebook, if that’s more your jam.

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Posted by Adam Brinklow

They don’t make ‘em like this 1886 gem anymore

Dating San Francisco homes before 1906 can be a bit tricky (the earthquake and fire consumed almost all relevant city records—isn’t that always the way?), but the new listing for 313 Scott pegs it at 1886.

That’s certainly not the oldest Victorian in the city. Then again, when Curbed SF went looking for older homes back in 2013, the search turned up only 14. There are others out there, but this three-bed, one-house is a choice example of historical pedigree.

Realtor Richard Bennett says the last time this place went up for sale was in 1953, handed down to the same family ever since. And it’s a lovely space, one that’s been well-maintained over the years.

The old moldings and wainscoting on the inside are still hanging tough after all of these years. Even the vintage wallpaper in the dining room looks perfect here.

Note the Corinthian columns on the front porch—technically a showy detail, but the classical vibe keeps it in good taste, so a nice touch all things told.

The listing claims this house as the work of none other than Charles Hinkel, produced one year after the iconic Charles Hinkel House that still bears his name. While Noe Hill refers to that stunner as “transitional Second French Empire residential architecture” (ooh la la), the Scott Street home is much more straightforward and traditional of a San Francisco Victorian in the Hinkel style.

The asking price for this slice of history: $1.77 million.

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Posted by Brock Keeling

House once used to photograph Jerry Garcia underwent a drastic renovation

Once owned by Rolling Stone magazine alum Baron Wolman, the Queen Anne Victorian at 164 Belvedere, where a slew of Summer of Love stars hung out in the 1960s, finally found a buyer.

Initially landing on the market for $5.99 million, this Cole Valley abode sold for a cool $4,995,000. This after a hefty price cut in May.

The five-bed, five-bath, 4,580-square-foot home once played host to the likes of Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Wolman sold the place for $31,000 in 1971, and one family held it until 2014.

Since then it saw an antiseptic renovation, one that polarized Curbed SF readers.

Kudos to the new buyer. May the groovy vibes of yore keep you feeling fine in your pricey new pad.

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Posted by Megan Barber

Where to take the wee ones

Known around the world as a first-rate destination, San Francisco has carved out an enviable reputation for its steep rolling hills, pastel-painted Victorians, cable cars, and iconic Golden Gate Bridge. But the city is also a mecca for families, with a laundry list of kid-friendly attractions that go way beyond the cliched tourist destinations (we're looking at you, Alcatraz).

From historic theaters to museums with dozens of hands-on experiences, San Francisco offers both locals and visitors a never-ending list of things to do. And while there's plenty of activities if rain forces your family inside―like the de Young Museum and the Exploratorium―the city really shines when the clouds clear and you can play outside.

Gorgeous beaches will entertain kids for hours, and the 1,000-acre Golden Gate Park and the Presidio national park offer families the opportunity to row boats, play in tree forts, and explore innovative playgrounds. Perhaps the best part of the city is how easy it is to navigate; most kid-friendly spots are in a concentrated area with access to public transportation.

So without further ado, here are the 27 best places in San Francisco to visit with kids. Have another favorite spot that didn't make it onto our list? Let us know in the comments!

If you're traveling to other cities, don't miss our maps of kid-friendly things to do in Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Detroit.

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Posted by Brock Keeling

“We have admired Oakland's thriving community of creators, entrepreneurs, and change makers from the other side of the bay since we first came to the area,” says cofounder

Shared workspace outfit WeWork, who are currently worth an estimated $16 billion, has plans to open their first Oakland office.

WeWork City Center, as it will be christened, will be located at 1111 Broadway in Oakland, featuring four floors and approximately 75,000 square feet of workspace.

The space will accommodate roughly 1,000 members and will feature artwork by Oakland artists and designers.

“Opening is currently slated for late 2017 and we will be working closely with Oakland's startup, business, and civic leaders to further establish WeWork's roots in the community,” said WeWork's cofounder Miguel McKelvey in a written statement.

Cofounded by Adam Neumann and McKelvey in 2010, WeWork has more than 140 locations in 45 cities, including spaces in Argentina, China, Netherlands, the U.S., and France.

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Posted by Adam Brinklow

Five new rentals, from Excelsior to South Beach

Welcome to Curbed Comparisons, a regular column exploring what you can rent for a set dollar amount in different neighborhoods. Is one person's studio another person's townhouse? Let's find out. Today's price: $3,950.

South Beach emerged as one of San Francisco’s most consistently most expensive neighborhoods for renters in recent years, so how far does $3,950/month go here? Well, at least as far as a one-bed, one-bath loft at 200 Brannan (a 2004 building), with concrete trim on the walls and ceilings. It also comes with elevated views of the lovely grounds below. “Living here is a practical decision, a lifestyle choice, and a personal statement,” which is a lot of pressure to put on 725 square feet, but we won’t hold that against the apartment itself. No word about pets.

↑ Meanwhile, the Excelsior is and perhaps always will be San Francisco’s most affordable neighborhood come rent day. Here $3,950/month is enough to net a renter a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath midcentury house (from 1957) on Alemany Boulevard. The ad claims the floors are new, but most of the place looks like it’s still rocking a 1957 vibe. Alas, no pets.

↑ On the other hand, here’s a house in the Sunset with a nearly interchangeable look and feel for the same $3,950/month rent, switching out Alemany Boulevard for 36th Avenue. It comes with three bedrooms and two baths. But for giving up the extra half bath over the Excelsior house, it comes with permission to bring a dog along. More importantly, it’s a firmly and definitely western neighborhood, as opposed to the Excelsior, which is still relatively untouched, but in years to come will be adjacent to a lot of new development. The parquet is roughly the same either way.

↑ Speaking of which, Bayview and Candlestick Point’s contribution to this week’s five-home potluck comes in the form of a waterfront condo on Crescent Court. It’s yet another three-bed and two-bath batch for $3,950/month, this time in an apartment that’s almost cresting 1,400 square feet altogether. What’s this one have that the others don’t? Well, for those who never visit, it’s worth pointing out that Candlestick is an unusually beautiful cove. No word about pets here either, though, which is less beautiful—but you can’t win ‘em all.

↑ Those who simply must reside a little closer to the action for $3,950/month can look to Cole Valley, where accommodations come smaller—just one bed and one bath in this apartment—but the locale puts renters right across the street from Gamble Park and down the block from the Haight. Although the classy editions here are simple, like the French doors and the wide three-centered arch separating the living room and kitchen, they make a difference. Something about white subway tile seems particularly satisfying in a kitchen. No dogs, but cats are okay here.

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Posted by Brock Keeling

Modernist home conceived by the former dean of UC Berkeley's school of architecture

Architect and teacher at the UC Berkeley and M.I.T, William Wurster is best known for his Bay Area residential designs (especially this Presidio Heights gem that snatched $11.3 million). One of his works, located in Orinda, landed on the market this month. And it’s a treat for any fan of his work.

Featuring seven beds, six baths, and 5,818 square feet, 515 Miner Road sits on 1.19 acre creekside parcel. All of it landscaped by Tommy Church. And don’t forget to peek at the pool, added years later after the home’s completion.

The main level of the home includes four bedrooms and three and a half baths. And the lower level has an additional three bedrooms and two baths, including a separate au pair residence. Which is to say, two families could live here comfortably.

Asking is $3,850,000.

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Posted by Adam Brinklow

We’re building more, but still lagging way behind

The good news in University of California Los Angeles’s new Anderson Forecast—the Anderson School of Management’s regular assessment of how jobs and housing will shape up in California and the larger United States—is that California cities are building more housing than expected.

The bad news is that it’s still not enough, at least not according to UCLA Senior Economist Dave Shulman. In an accompanying essay titled “Housing Activity Grinds Higher,” Shulman says:

Although we marked up our forecast from last quarter to 1.27 million units in 2017 and 1.34 million units and 1.37 million units in 2018 and 2019, respectively; that level of activity remains below the 1.4-1.5 million units per year we estimate to be consistent with long-run demand.

Shulman expanded on the problem in comments to the Sacramento Bee this week, noting:

“California is still attracting high-income people, who are creating an enormous amount of wealth, but low and middle-income people like teachers are leaving because housing has become extraordinarily expensive.”

The UCLA report calculates that of the seven least affordable cities in America, six are in California and two are in the Bay Area—San Jose and San Francisco, naturally.

Affordability in this case is a measure not just of how much it costs to buy or rent a home but of the gap between prices and median income.

As Curbed LA notes, Los Angeles got it worse than anyone, as Shulman says LA is the least affordable city in the U.S. right now, with San Francisco and San Jose’s higher median incomes somewhat balancing against higher home prices.


Building still isn’t that robust compared to how strong local industry is these days, which the forecast calls “puzzling.”

Shulman points the finger at “tighter credit standards,” the “hollowing out of the middle class,” Millennials staving off home ownership, and the fact that income isn’t growing as fast as industry.

On the bright side, the university does also anticipate a pivot away from luxury housing and toward more attainable housing stock:

Although there have been signs of over-building high-end units in New York and San Francisco we still believe [...developers will] shift their focus from high rise urban to more affordable mid-rise suburban product. The apartment developers have, at long last, realized that there is a limited market for $3500/ month one bedroom apartments.

Shulman also notes vacancies in the very-high end condo market, adding, “In Manhattan, San Francisco and Miami, [...] it is not surprising to see the several floors of unlit apartments at night.”

So, how much should San Francisco build? The National Apartment Association and National Multifamily Housing Council put out a report this week claiming that SF needs 72,000 new apartments by 2030 to meet what they say is the projected demand.

Do note, however, that the NAA and NMHC are both non-profit trade groups composed of apartment builders, and also that when the report says “San Francisco” it actually means San Francisco plus four other nearby counties—Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and San Mateo.

 Nickolay Stanev

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Posted by Breanna Reeves

“In a city that is in some ways very youth-focused, it’s nice to have a home that’s specifically about seniors.”

As a dearth of affordable housing continues to plague San Francisco, the Mayor’s Office of Housing has partnered with Openhouse, a nonprofit LGBT organization, and Mercy Housing to develop affordable housing for queer San Francisco seniors.

Openhouse LGBT Senior Housing, Community, and Services celebrated the grand opening of an apartment complex billed as the country’s first housing geared toward the elderly LGBT community.

Mostly financed “with low income housing tax credits and with monies from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development,” according to a San Francisco Bay Times article by Marcy Adelman, co-founder of Openhouse, the residential development will be a hub for LGBT seniors.

“In a city that is in some ways very youth-focused, it’s nice to have a home that’s specifically about seniors,” says Dr. Karyn Skultety, executive director of Openhouse. “That’s specifically about seniors who led a particular civil rights movement from this city, in this city, who can stay in this city.”

Once a college building called Richardson Hall, the Openhouse complex is now comprised primarily of one-bedroom units, ranging from $821 to $1,146. The new space also houses the Bob Ross LGBT Senior Center, the city’s first space dedicated to the needs of the LGBT elder community.

As for who gets to call the place home. Openhouse used a lottery system with a seven-day application window, open to citizens who are 55 years and older, whose income “does not exceed 50 perfect of Area Median Income (AMI).”

For individuals that’s roughly $40,000/annually, and for couples, $46,000, according to the Area Median Income (AMI) for HUD Metro Fair Market Rent Area (HMFA).

Senior Development Officer Gayle Roberts shows off some of the restored building artwork. Photo via Openhouse’s Facebook page
Senior Development Officer Gayle Roberts shows off some of the restored building artwork.

While the complex does not solely house LGBT seniors, seventy percent of the residents are LGBT seniors. Other units are reserved for people living with HIV or for residents at risk of homelessness.

There was also a higher preference placed on neighborhood location, according to Skultety, where 40 percent of the LGBT housing population must come from nearby neighborhoods.

“A lot of the work that we do is about bringing people together [and] what better way to be together than to live in an LGBT-welcoming environment where your support system becomes your neighbors and other people who live in the building,” says Skultety.

In August, Openhouse will break ground to add an additional 79 units and 7,000 square feet of program space.

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Posted by Adam Brinklow

So. Many. Rainbows.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

However, for the hardworking people over at Parade Guys (formerly EastWest Parades) at Pier 54, it’s the most frantically busy time of year. This one company on the waterfront builds all of the floats for the annual San Francisco Pride parade by hand in a frantic but fabulous race to finish everything by Sunday.

Curbed SF popped in to get an exclusive preview of the floats in-progress for the big day. Some of these recycle elements or designs from years past—Salesforce’s rolling cloud bank returns once again—while others are entirely new designs.

To the surprise of no one, a Summer of Love sub-theme seems to be emerging in the work, as well as some roundabout yet pointed political commentary (note the “Love, Strength, Unity” slogan).

The parade kicks off at 10:30 a..m. Sunday, running an east to west course along Market Street from Beale to Eighth Street. Market will be closed from Steuart Street to Van Ness Avenue until about 5 p.m.

Unless, of course, you’re driving a giant cellophane rainbow.

Lots to love.

A sign of the times.

A moment of reflection.

A layered message.

For us? You shouldn’t have.

Good policy base.

Partly cloudy.

So much rainbow.

Outline it for us.

Taste the rainbow.

Up in the air.

A very special delivery.


Cotton candy tree!

A different kind of peace float.

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Posted by Brock Keeling

Tell us what takes your breath away

We all know that San Francisco’s architecture varies in style, ranging from Victorian and Edwardian to Art Deco and modern. Yet while the city’s landmarked architecture so often focuses on exteriors and facades, what about what’s happening on the inside? After all, as the saying goes, that’s what counts most.

So for this week’s open thread, here’s what we want to know: Which buildings in San Francisco have the most beautiful interiors?

Are you stunned by the Art Deco lobby of 140 New Montgomery? Does the Redwood Room at the Clift Hotel give you goosebumps? Or perhaps the French Neoclassical interior architecture of Salon Doré does it for you?

Tell us which buildings have the best interiors in the comments below, and feel free to share photos if you have ‘em. We’ll compile the best of the best in a forthcoming article.

4 San Francisco homes with pools

Jun. 22nd, 2017 09:26 am
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Posted by Brock Keeling

Take the plunge

Today the heat is supposed to reach its zenith insofar as this most recent heat wave goes. (And, yes, anything above 80 degrees in the city is considered a blistering heat wave.) Instead of standing in front of an open freezer door begging for mercy, why not take a look at these rare San Francisco homes that come with pools.

Save for our residential towers, a pool is a rare sight in San Francisco real estate. Now and then, however, we’re lucky enough to come across a few. Not sure how often one would ever need a pool in a city as typically glacial as SF, but on a day like today, it makes perfect sense.

466 Hill - Eureka Valley

This recently remodeled five-bed, three-and-a-half-bath Victorian home high atop Eureka Valley comes with a heated salt water pool on its renovated deck. Not too shabby. Asking is $2,790,000.

11 San Jacinto Way - St. Francis Wood

Over in one of the city’s toniest neighborhoods, one will find many a manse with a pool. Take, for example, this four-bed, four-and-a-half-bath, 6,383-square-foot stunner built in 1982, which comes with a pool, jacuzzi, and cabanas. Asking is $6,800,000.

1745 20th Street - Potrero Hill

Built in 1875 by dairy farmer Charles Dow, this Victorian in Potrero Hill was purchased in 1985 by Italian designer Larry Masnada (designer to such stars as Mel Brooks, Diane Sawyer, and Frank Sinatra) who transformed the stately home into the gem it is today. Among the new additions is the backyard pool that played host to many a fabulous party. According to Redfin, the house sold for $3 million.

1335 Stanyan - Clarendon Heights

Designed in 1985 by architect Lun Chan, this Inner Sunset home comes with five beds, three baths, and 3,877 square foot. What’s more, it features an indoor pool, perfect for the neighborhood’s chronically foggy weather. It sold in 2013 for an undisclosed amount.

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Posted by Brock Keeling

Midcentury-modern in San Rafael knows how to beat the heat

Exterior of Eichler in blue and grey. Photos via Renee Adelmann / Eichler for Sale

Showcasing a sea-blue trim against a gray facade, this renovated Eichler, located north of the bridge, is a space anyone would want to come home to after work, especially during this week’s heat wave.

Featuring four beds, two baths, and 1,756 square feet, 14 Mount Whitney comes with the many of the famed developer’s signature touches—front atrium, exposed beams, floor-to-ceiling windows, and more.

It even has a pool inside the wraparound backyard.

As for what’s new, this home now boasts a modern open kitchen, refinished hardwood floors, architectural metal designs, and new lighting.

It last sold in 1999 for $532,000. Today it’s asking $1,400,000.

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Posted by Eve Batey

Four things to know today

Welcome to Curbed Cuts, a tri-weekly digest connecting the dots between shelter, structure, parks, transportation, and more.

SF’s ideal car is not very cool

Let’s take a step back—first, many might argue that any sort of car ownership is not cool in San Francisco. And yet, some folks need cars (your correspondent included), and the best of those make a mindful choice when purchasing one for the city’s unique set of issues.

In this week’s “Ask Jack” column (the advice column by former pro-level BMX guy and famed auto journalist Jack Baruth), a correspondent who has been “living in western Massachusetts for the last four years working for the second largest manufacturer of firearms in the U.S.” has been offered “an affordable place to stay and a job as a plumber in San Francisco,” and wants to know what type of car he should buy for his new life as a gunmaker turned cheap apartment-dwelling plumber in SF.

Baruth’s answer is, he admits, not what anyone would expect: a “stick-shift, turbocharged...Chevrolet Cruze.” If you just heard that hacky record-scratch noise ruined by trailers for inferior comedies, you’re not alone. But Baruth says that car is ideal because “the Cruze is really just a Daewoo. And if you go to Asia you will see that Daewoo engineers for urban conditions that are remarkably similar to that of San Francisco.”

Still unconvinced? According to Baruth, “If there’s any place in the country where you can meet a girl without a nice car, it’s the place to which you are headed.” Guess Chevy just got handed their new ad campaign! “The Chevy Cruze: Basically a Daewoo that won’t impede heterosexual male’s amorous aspirations.”

 Photo of artspace at 2150 Folsom Street by Ann S/Yelp

Fashion allegedly displaces art

When a person or an institution is roughly displaced in SF, it’s often tempting to blame its replacement—even if in actuality, a landlord or property manager is the actual decision maker in the situation. But what if the replacing entity is allegedly complicit in the circumstances?

That’s reportedly the case at 2150 Folsom Street, where roughly 20 artists were reportedly evicted to make room for an expansion of clothing company Everlane.

Hoodline reports that the artist Flora Davis says her colleagues were told they were kicked out “to repair a leaky roof and repair interior walls” but that instead, Everlane staffers “have been ‘sneakily moving in’ to vacant spots” in the building.

When Davis first moved into the building about a year and a half ago, she said Everlane had already taken over half of the top floor. Since then, it has acquired more space, she said, including some studios.

“I first moved into an empty studio and then moved into another section after that," Davis said. "Within six months, that area was closed off for Everlane's computers and stuff, and it became part of their space.”

Hoodline report, “The property is zoned for Production, Design and Repair (PDR), which limits its use as office or retail space,” which casts into doubt the legality of Everlane’s move. But perhaps that’s consistent with the company’s philosophy, as on their about page they say that they “constantly challenge the status quo...We know our customers are also rule breakers and questioners, so we hope this philosophy is palpable in the products and choices we make.”

“And by all means, challenge us too,” they write.

Unfortunately, an effort to reach Everlane for comment regarding Hoodline’s report was not answered as of publication time.

 Photo by

A vacant block in SF’s hottest neighborhood

Have you ever wondered why 23rd Street between Treat Avenue and Folsom Street—a full block in one of the Mission District’s busiest areas—feels like a ghost town? Mission Local has your answer, explaining that the five buildings on the block, all of which have been owned by the Gaehwiler family for over a century, are vacant (save for the more than occasional squatter).

This isn’t a new situation, as “two of the most battered properties—3067 and 3069—have triggered 18 complaints and eight Notices of Violation from the Department of Building Inspection, some dating back to 2001,” writes Mission Local.

This history of the buildings is fascinating, filled with blacksmithery and suicide, but the owners have since evicted both commercial and residential tenants for no clear, understandable reason.

“It’s not illegal to have a vacant property,” Mike Gunnell, inspector for the Department of Building Inspection, said. He added that the property owners have been “a bit of a challenge” and have “seemed upset” when confronted with the city’s enforcement of building codes...

When I told Gunnell that Gaehwiler’s had owned 3067 and the adjoining properties for more than a century, he was surprised. “Maybe that’s why nothing happening with those buildings,” he said. “Long-time property owners tend to fight back a bit more.”

He went on to say that the perpetual vacancy of the Gaehwiler’s properties probably had more to do with the imbalance between city-imposed fines and personal wealth. “Property values are so high. Something like a $5,000 fine isn’t going to make much difference compared to the value of the property. It’s just cheaper to pay to register your property every year.”

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Getting trashy

Get ready to pay more for your trash collection, San Francisco! The city’s Refuse Collection and Disposal Rate Board agreed this week that the rate you’re charged for garbage, recycling and compost will be increased by 14 percent as of July.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the increase, which was recommended by SF Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, was unanimously approved approved Monday despite the written opposition of thirteen people. A member of that unlucky opposition, Lou Ann Bassan, wrote in response, “There is no acknowledgment that seniors are on a fixed income, consume less, generate less, recycle and compost more, and are not contributing to black bin waste and landfills with disposable diapers.”

(With all due respect to Bassan and every other senior citizen in San Francisco, it bears mentioning that as of 2009, adult incontinence pads reportedly made up 7 percent of waste being carted to landfills across the U.S., with that number expected to grow along with American’s aging population.)

What, you haven’t heard of the Refuse Collection and Disposal Rate Board? Well, if you lived here back in 1932 you voted for it! It’s all part of the 1932 Refuse Collection and Disposal Initiative Ordinance, which set SF’s garbage rate, collection, and management rules.

As nothing has changed in San Francisco since 1932, we can likely all agree that this system is perfect, incorruptible, and completely without flaws. Anyway, that’s why starting next month, single family homes will go from paying $35 to $40 per month for trash collection, whether they like it or not.

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Posted by Adam Brinklow

Out with the old, in with the new

Contemporary home’s exterior. Photos by Circle Visions, courtesy of Justin Fichelson

A few years ago, 548 Rhode Island Street was a modest 1930s-era Potrero Hill home with a tile roof and baby blue exterior that, in 2015, fetched a tidy $1.77 million. Not bad for an old timer.

But that was the last hurrah for the old 548 Rhode Island. It’s since been replaced with a sleek, gleaming new modern home, a four-bed, three-and-a-half bath, multi-story abode decked out with custom marble and cedarwood deck.

Now up for its first sale, it’s asking an ambitious $4.49 million.

Realtor Justin Fichelson calls it a “rare opportunity of new construction on Potrero Hill’s north slope,” playing up the views offered by its new scale and elevation while promising that the “professionally landscaped environment” in the backyard will furnish sheltering privacy.

Note that the old home’s 2015 sale included the plans for this new design, which we called an “unfinished dream home” at the time. Back then it was wrapped up in a standard San Francisco renovation fight with neighbors over the views. Clearly the remodel eventually won that battle.

Those curious how vision compares to reality can check out the rough renderings submitted to the Planning Department in that dispute 18 months ago. Meanwhile, here’s the end results, in all of its freshly minted glory.

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Posted by Adam Brinklow

Come see sea Shel’s sea sale down by the seashore

Earlier this year, the one-bed, one-bath Sausalito houseboat at 8 Liberty Dock, once home to poet and The Giving Tree author Shel Silverstein, went up for sale asking $390,000, firing the imaginations of would-be owners across the Bay Area.

But only one lucky shopper who came to see Shel’s boat ended up with the deed, closing a deal a few weeks ago for $375,000.

The remarkable old tub began its life as a defense barge in World War II before transforming into the opulent oddball we see today.

Silverstein conferred the piratical nickname the Evil Eye on his abode after moving to Sausalito in the wake of San Francisco’s Summer of Love. (The Haight just wasn’t his scene, according the biography A Boy Named Shel.)

Other Sausalito artists and bohemians owned the boat before and after Silverstein, including the most recent owner, photographer and Sausalito shoreline community pillar Larry Moyer.

But the listing for 8 Liberty Dock didn’t mention this history. Realtor Paul Bergeron tells Curbed SF he was simply never confident enough in the veracity of the Silverstein association.

“I’m just not allowed to provide any information [about that] one way or the other,” says Bergeron. “I have a responsibility that goes above any responsibility I have talking with you or the company you work for. I said the same thing to everyone who called trying to inject as much color and flair as they could.”

In April, Curbed SF conferred with longtime neighbor Elaine West, whose own houseboat, Stone Soup, berths nearby, and with photographer Richard Olsen, who photographed Larry Moyer aboard the Evil Eye just before his death in March 2016. Both were confident that 8 Liberty Dock is the same home.

Wanting some ocular proof of our own, we also compared its present photographs to those in the 2016 book Floating in Sausalito. The home’s distinctive stained glass windows left little doubt as to its identity.

But 8 Liberty Dock’s bohemian rap sheet was never part of the sales pitch, despite reader interest. Still, it ended up with a new skipper when all was said and done, and perhaps has exciting things on its horizon.

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Posted by Adam Brinklow

Towering terminus humanizes neighborhood skyline by giving San Franciscans a rooftop park and event space

While the South Beach and Yerba Buena neighborhoods have grown up (and up, and up) over recent years, the new Transbay Transit Center—would-be crown jewel of the neighborhood and linchpin of a transportation network that will, should all go according to plan, one day stretch all the way to Los Angeles by rail—has been spreading.

At a modest five stories tall, instead of soaring up it’s been growing out, 1,400 feet from one end to the other, like a concrete giant that decided to lie down for a nap between Beale and Second streets.

As such, it’s almost impossible to appreciate the scale of the soon-to-be-finished first phase of the building until you step inside, like we did for a hard-hat tour with senior construction manager Dennis Turchon.

It’s been Turchon’s job to oversee a crew of 700-plus on-site workers putting the pieces together since 2012. Now he’s in the homestretch—the first phase of the station must be finished this year.

“It’s a concrete thing now—literally,” he says of watching plans long in the making become real.

The original Transbay Terminal was a Depression-era artifact—and quite a depression piece it was by the end of its life, rundown and seeing only a fraction of its former volume of commuters.

The new project wants to be all things to all people: not just a bus and train station, but also an architectural display far removed from the hunkered-down concrete design of the old building, a treatise on innovation as the planned terminus for the state’s high-speed rail project, a Union Square-grade retail hub south of Market, and a centerpiece for South Beach as a neighborhood.

Or as the city and the Transbay Joint Powers Authority prefer to think of it, Transbay as a neighborhood. “It’s an entirely new neighborhood,” says facility manager Martha Aragon Velez. “How often does a city get to do something like that?”

If the transit center is going to succeed—not just as a business venture and a way of unifying the pieces of the region’s transit needs, but also as a building that confers definition and identity onto the surrounding blocks—its best asset is the PWP-designed park on the roof.

Not necessarily because of the landscape itself (although it is shaping up to be quite lovely), but simply because, as a wide-open perch high above the streets, the park gives San Franciscans a place from which to confront and relate to the changing skyline.

On one end, the Salesforce Tower protrudes audaciously into the sky. On the other, a few blocks away, the Gothic grandeur of the PacBell Building keeps its peace. Between them, San Francisco’s past and present spreads out in a panorama of architecture and history.

Critics of the new, taller San Francisco sometimes find its scale disconcerting. “Manhattan was always tall, [...] very antithetical to the idea of San Francisco’s connection with nature,” Jasper Rubin, chair of Urban Studies at San Francisco State, said of the skyline in 2015.

Indeed, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and intimidated by the scale of new construction from street level.

But from the roof of the transit center, with the skyline spread out like a buffet on all sides, the new scene appears a little more accessible. It’s helpful being able to look at the city eye-to-eye again.

Here’s a peek at the work still being done, along with everything you need to know about the incoming transportation collaboration over the next six months:

  • The substantial completion date for the first phase is December 22, 2017. “But that doesn’t mean buses will be running that day,” cautions Turchon. Coordinating the comings and goings of all of the transit agencies will take time in itself, and bus service won’t happen until early 2018.
  • Though originally budgeted at $1.9 billion, Turchon tells Curbed SF the final price tag will end up just under $2.26 billion.
  • The entire building will run over 1 million square feet, one-tenth of that consisting of retail space.
  • The Transbay Joint Powers Authority, which serves as developer on the project, formed back in 2001, nine years before demolition began on the old Transbay Terminal.
  • The original Transbay Terminal dated to 1939. The erection of the Bay Bridge combined with gas rationing during the war made the terminal extremely popular in the 1940s, serving 26 million people annually.
  • TJPA calculates that the new Transit Center will service more than 45 million passengers per year, or about 100,000 on an average weekday. All of those people are going to come in via a dozen transit agencies that will connect with the building.
  • Note, however, that 100,000 a day is a long-term goal, as some of the relevant agencies won’t connect to the station right away. In fact, some—those related to the state’s high-speed rail plans—don’t themselves even exist yet.
  • Agencies include AC Transit, BART, Caltrain, Golden Gate Transit, Greyhound, Muni, SamTrans, WestCAT Lynx, Amtrak, Paratransit, and (fingers crossed) High Speed Rail.
  • The 1.3-mile Caltrain extension, bringing peninsula trains downtown instead of to their present Fourth Street terminus, will cost more than the entire first phase of the transit center ($2.6 billion), and has only just begun preliminary study.
  • A planned BART pedestrian tunnel “will connect the east end of the Transit Center’s Lower Concourse with the BART/Muni Embarcadero Station” via a block-long passage under Beale Street.
  • But those rail-related plans are part of a planned second phase of construction, which hasn’t been budgeted or fully planned yet.
  • Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, the firm behind the related Salesforce Tower design, designed the structural element.
  • To avoid making transit spaces feel claustrophobic, the design incorporates as much natural light as possible, including the dramatic centerpiece light column. “[Even] on a dark winter day the light reflecting off the awning will light up the bus deck,” Turchon says, noting that the qualities of the light change distinctly with each season.
  • The design of the lacy awning surrounding the building (crews were preparing to install the final elements during our visit) borrows from geometric formulas of British mathematician Roger Penrose.
  • And it also takes on the character of the surrounding neighborhood. “It looks like it’s changing colors, because it’s reflecting the buildings around it,” Turchon points out.
  • The rooftop park is 5.4 acres, and measures some 1,400 feet from one end to the other.
  • On top of green space, the park will include restaurants, a cafe, a playground, and an amphitheater for rooftop concerts and live performances.
  • Also, roughly 470 trees will be added. Turchon’s favorite: monkey puzzle.
Curved line shows where the foam-based “dirt” hill go.
Curved line shows where the foam-and-dirt hill will eventually crest.
  • Piling mountains of soil on top of a building like this wouldn’t be seismically sound, so inflexible building foam makes up most of the park’s foundation.
  • However, as Turchon pointed out, the trees need a base of real soil around their roots too, to keep water and nutrients from escaping.
  • TJPA anticipates that the entire project will create 27,000 regular new jobs in the city.
  • Transbay jobs related to transit center operations will run up a bill of some $20 million per year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier and Ross. “We expect to have an operating deficit” at first, TJPA executive director Mark Zabaneh told the paper.
  • But Transbay facility manager Martha Aragon Velez says she remains optimistic about filling retail space quick enough to fund building operations. “There’s only a 1 percent vacancy rate on this side of Market,” she told Curbed SF. “That shows a lot of pent-up demand.” Retail analysts Kidder Mathews estimated 1.8 percent retail vacancy citywide at the end of 2016.
  • All told, workers in 41 U.S. states have contributed something to the building, mostly via manufacturing. (The only states left out: South Dakota, Vermont, Maine, Montana, Wyoming, Virginia, Mississippi, Hawaii, and Alaska.)
  • The two 134-foot, 670,000-pound cranes used during the major construction themselves took two days to build from more than 100 pieces each.
  • Digging took up over a third of the construction time, from December 2011 to February 2014. More than 640,000 cubic yards of material came out of the ground.
  • The excavation went so deep that it dug down to the “Old Bay Clay” level of strata, the 130,000-year-old blue-green soil deposits that predate the last Ice Age.
  • Archaeological digs underneath the site revealed a variety of Gold Rush artifacts, including a surprising number of creepy broken dolls.
  • Also unearthed: The 13,000-year-old tooth of a Colombian mammoth, now part of the California Academy of Sciences collection.
  • Almost all of the concrete from the destroyed original terminal ended up recycled.
  • A four-story, human-like statue built from leftovers from the old station was planned, but had to be scrapped as it ended up over budget.
  • The center features a mini eastern span of the Bay Bridge, which can be seen from Howard Street between Second and First.
  • Mixed-use tower 181 Fremont, featuring a $42 million penthouse, will open sometime in 2018.
  • A movement is afoot to change the Transbay Transit Center’s neighborhood from Yerba Buena/South Beach to the East Cut.


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