1377 Fell Street

“A state agency has selected San Francisco’s Build Inc. to redevelop the Department of Motor Vehicles field office in the Panhandle, a 2.5-acre parcel that could include a mixed-use project with housing and retail, as well as a new DMV regional office.

Under the scenario being hammered out, Build Inc. would enter into a long-term ground lease for the site at 1377 Fell St., currently home to the dilapidated 48-year-old DMV office and an expansive surface parking lot. The developer would construct a new DMV office, which would then be leased back by the state, as well as an apartment and retail project that would fill in one of the largest holes in the fabric of the dense neighborhood by University of San Francisco and bounded by the Western Addition and the Haight.”

Developer drives away with big S.F. DMV site [San Francisco Business Times]

45 thoughts on “Build Inc. Aims To Rebuild DMV And Add Housing/Retail”
  1. This kind of infill development is really great, I can’t wait to see the plans. I used to live a few blocks from here and the DMV office is really an eyesore.

  2. Curious that they call this “by University of San Francisco”. Sure, it’s not that far away, but it’s not right next door or even fewer than five blocks away.
    Good stuff though. I just wish that the entire site could be used for housing/retail, and the DMV relocated somewhere else. Maybe somewhere in the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan PDR areas. The entrance to a park is a bad place for a DMV, IMO.

  3. I remember the brouhaha caused when this office closed its lot to (free) overnight parking years ago (in 2000, I think).

  4. I think anybody who uses the DMV should be able to attend meetings, not just neighbors, who will undoubtedly whine about their own loss of parking.

  5. Sounds like a positive change for the space as a big parking lot is getting outdated there. However, the land lease structure of the deal adds a real pain in the a** twist to it – mostly increasing the risk to the developer, but also ensuring that these will be rental units as very few people are going to buy a leasehold condo in the city when the majority of competing product is fee simple.

  6. The BofA development next door is a Success. It looks great, and has plenty of great retail, coffee shops, and markets, and the parking garages i. e. eyesores are well hidden from public view.

  7. As long as the sales prices reflect the savings to the developer of not paying for the land this will not be a major issue. I would think that this might increase the HOA fees as the land rent would be passed on, or maybe its broken down to each unit directly.

  8. I hope they eliminate that pesky parking lot. Who needs to park at the DMV? The last few times I was there I needed to allot a half hour just to find parking, as the lot and surrounding streets are always full.

  9. Tharpo – I was thinking the same thing. They need, if anything, to increase the parking there. Pretty much everyone arrives at the DMV by car, I think. And parking there is always a giant pain-in-the- ummm…. pants.
    One question: will a brand-spanking-new facility make the DMV employees less grumpy?

  10. I’ll watch this with interest, as I live just a bit more than a literal stone’s throw from the property.
    I think whatever is eventually built needs to include extensive parking. I mean, people are typically at the DMV for car-related business, right? I also hope the expanded parking draws people to the area for shopping, as the corner of oak and divisedero is just starting to get some life back into it.
    I would also hope that they widen broaderick on the block between fell and oak. It can barely handle the traffic as is, with the grocery store there and people constantly coming/going.

  11. Interesting idea about more lanes on broderick, maybe take away the parking on one side btw Fell and Oak.
    And I agree Broderick Place is an example of what this should look like. I love having it a block away.

  12. i would like to see twice as many parking spots as are currently available in the new facility via a multistory parking garage. Everyone goes here for car related issues, yet there is nowhere to park your car.

  13. Do the planning/policy nerds know if this project will be subject to the full suite of planning and permits or will it get to skip many/all because it’s a state-owned and state-initiated redevelopment project?

  14. Wait, because you are doing business regarding driving (leaving aside those people getting non-driver ID cards) you need to bring your car there? That doesn’t make much sense, logically. I’d hate to see what you do when you apply for a building permit!
    Those who are taking an actual driving test, sure. But everyone else can use non-automotive means to get there. In fact, let’s build nice bus shelters and make bus-only lanes nearby to reinforce the point. We’re supposed to be a transit-first city, you know.
    Now, more bike parking would be a good idea, as it’s many times denser than car parking. I have seen the rack almost full when I’ve had to go to the DMV.

  15. @amused_in_soma
    Thanks for making that point, I was thinking the same thing. Very, very few transactions at the DMV require your vehicle to be there.

  16. Why don’t all of you who think every urban problem will be solved by getting rid of cars view the 1905 video of a trip down Market Street.
    The FACT is that personal transportation vehicles have been a part of the fabric of this city for OVER 100 years. I actually think there were more cars on Market over 100 years ago than there are now.
    Remember, everyone cannot ride a bike to the doctor or to work. Many people don’t feel safe on MUNI. MOST of the streetcar lines were torn out decades ago so unless you are ready to have your taxes doubled to build new public transportation infrastructure, we are going to have to allow people to park their vehicles as they have for over 100 years.

  17. Many people don’t feel safe on MUNI.
    I don’t feel safe when some idiot in an SUV runs a red light when I am trying to cross with the light on foot.
    How many people are killed while riding MUNI vs. how many are killed in an automobile? Sorry about your “feelings” but automobiles are by far the larger menace.

  18. NVJ, if you want to see bad drivers almost killing people, watch the video of Market Street in 1905. There is one lady that comes within an inch of loosing her life. It is a fascinating view of this city over 100 years ago.

  19. It’s a great film but don’t be so impressed by how many cars there are. This is a quote from the description of the movie:
    “An interesting feature of the film is the apparent abundance of automobiles. However, a careful tracking of automobile traffic shows that almost all of the autos seen circle around the camera/cable car many times (one ten times). This traffic was apparently staged by the producer to give Market Street the appearance of a prosperous modern boulevard with many automobiles. In fact, in 1905 the automobile was still something of a novelty in San Francisco, with horse-drawn buggies, carts, vans, and wagons being the common private and business vehicles.”

  20. Morgan – You’re implying that the level of personal vehicle ownership was similar 100 years ago and now. That’s hogwash. Before WWII car ownership was not at all common.
    True, not everyone can go about their daily activities on a bike or public transit. But you seem to subscribe to the consensus reality that automobile ownership required for life. If it were our ancestors would have never survived. How did your great-great grandmother get to the doctor ?
    I’m not suggesting that we return to 1850s technology, just making a case that cars are not the giver of all life and prosperity.
    Most alternative transportation advocates are not anti-car (in fact most own cars). However these advocates are getting tired of the business of usual of massive government subsidies to prop up a dead end automotive technology. Imagine what else could be created with the billions used to provide free parking, freeways, and overseas militias to ensure access to oil reserves.

  21. Milkshake- spot on. I am a car owner, and an advocate of CAR LAST, pedestrian- transit- bike first. I LOVE my car and I love driving. But it is complete nonsense every time I go somewhere like the Marina or Richmond and I see entire city blocks containing nothing but curb cuts and hideous garage doors, instead of nice windows with landscaping in front. I believe we should have parking garages. But this mentality of parking parking parking as the first thing that comes to some people’s minds instead of the pedestrian street level experience, environment, and aesthetics of new developments. It’s getting out of hand.

  22. PS I have had a car in this city for 7 years, and I have never had a parking garage (street parking for me). And I’ve managed just fine.

  23. Here is a thought, why don’t realtors follow the example of what is happening in Chicago where they are going to their appointments on bicycles?
    How does it feel to have someone tell you how to conduct your business? In a city with such poor public transportation, I would like you to time how long it would take using MUNI to go from the Marina to Noe Valley. (bikes are faster)
    The point is not that cars should be a “first choice”, but that cars are still going to be a choice for many urban dwellers, even in San Francisco. I walk almost everywhere, but have a garage and own a car. My car is mainly used for travel outside of the city, but it is an option I like to have.
    What I don’t like, is people pretending that cars and other personal transportation vehicles (horses, carriages, etc.) are some new blight that only happened in 1960. I also don’t like people telling me how to live my life. If I can afford a garage space, and a car, I should not have to listen to the CONSTANT lectures from people posting on Socketsite telling ME how I should conduct my business as an architect. If I have a client in Mill Valley (which I do), I am going to drive there, since my next appointment this coming Monday is back in the city in Presidio Heights.
    Not everyone works in the Financial District and lives along Market.
    I post another link to the 1905 movie, because real urban life is chaotic, busy, loud, and fun. If you want a car free village, move to Tuscany.

  24. Morgan,
    Why are people on Socketsite constantly telling everyone else that everyone needs a car. The change since 1960 has been an overwhelming turn towards ONLY those people who want to use a car, that’s the problem. No one is telling you that you can’t buy a car or a parking spot, just don’t pretend that everyone needs one (and thus all units should be built with a parking spot).
    FYI – to go from Noe Valley to the Marina you would take a cab. Quick, easy, and can be done twice a day for about the same cost as owning a car in SF (let alone garaging one).

  25. Three words: City Car Share. And many of us don’t like parking garages enforced on developments when that space could be used to bring more housing to the city, don’t conflate the issues.

  26. Agree that all units do not need parking, and everyone does not need a car. I did not own a car when I lived in London, or in my 4th year term as an architecture student in Rome.
    I would be happy to be car free IF San Francisco had a REAL world class public transportation system. When I go to Chicago, I love being able to not have to rent a car to get around, but could the same be said for tourists coming to our city that also want to see Napa and perhaps the shore near Point Reyes? In many world cities, they not only have the local underground service, but stations with countless rail lines to take you to various suburbs and other distinations in the countryside. There is NO NEED for a car.
    San Francisco must present an alternative to attract people from their cars, not force them. Give me quick rail service to Napa and Pebble Beach and I promise to never use my car to play golf with clients again.

  27. I want a 300 MPH bullet train with my own passenger car and dedicated right of way tracks to a farmer’s market I really enjoy going to in Tahoe. Until then, I am the oil industry’s whore !!

  28. Morgan,
    How is San Francisco forcing anyone to not have a car, Morgan? Anyone can pay for a parking spot, as far as I know. In fact, in many places in the city, San Francisco still forces developers to build a parking spot with every new unit of housing built. What’s up with that?

  29. You are missing the point. I work part time out of my home so that I do not have to drive to our office in Sausilito. I take the Golden Gate Transit bus when I am not calling on clients and just working at the main office. I only drive to work about 1 day a week. Nobody has forced me to drive or own a car, but I desire the car free lifestyle I had in London and even Chicago, and we don’t have that type of transportation network yet.
    I am willing to pay for a complete car free lifestyle, and am willing to be taxed to help create it. ARE YOU? I am in favor of higher bridge tolls, higher parking fees, and the creation of housing that does not include parking. The point is we have to be willing to PAY to create the type of public transportation infrastructure that many seem to think already exists but does not.
    I am willing to bet that Marin would never allow BART and the Marina (where I live) and Cow Hollow would fight an underground line dumping diversity on their doorsteps.
    The fact is that the Bay Area has more in common with the Los Angeles area than it does with Paris, Chicago or NYC. The majority of Bay Areans drive long commutes on Freeways. We are a multi center urban area with the majority of the population living 40 miles south of “the city” and it will require a huge cost to create the services we so very much need. Are you not in favor of extending light rail, Bart, high speed, and rail lines as was asked above? I am.

  30. ^^^Of course I am, Morgan. You never answered the question though – is SF forcing you to not have a car? I don’t see where your anger is coming from.
    BTW – the “majority” of the population of the Bay Area does not live 40 miles south of the city. Not even 30% of the population of the Bay Area lives 40 miles south of here. Also, a higher percentage of Chicagoans commute to work via car than San Franciscans. Just FYI.

  31. I have lived without a car for 15 years and am raising a family here, so it is certainly not impossible. I don’t find it inconvenient at all, I actually find it both cheaper and more convenient than having to move a car twice a week that I rarely used and yes I would love to see taxes raised to pay for more of it.
    I should not have to listen to the CONSTANT lectures from people posting on Socketsite telling ME how I should conduct my business as an architect
    You should be able to post controversial statements and then not have to read the replies? Is that what you really believe? Hey, just post your opinion and then sign off, no one forces to read what anyone else has to say. Who are you to tell me what I can and cannot have an opinion on?
    Grow up.

  32. 15 years! WOW, that is great.
    But if you do not take this in a critical way, do your children feel they are missing out at times?
    Noe Valley Jim, how would you take your family skiing to Tahoe without a car? What about Point Reyes? Disneyland? Living in a state like California that was built around the automobile, one does limit their experiences if you only walk, bike or take the bus, do you not? 15 years is an amazing effort to not use cars for transportation, but what type of work allows you such freedom, and do you not use taxis as well?
    I can imagine not having to deny your family any destination in Europe, Japan, or in the Northeast, but in California, it must be a real effort.

  33. Majority of San Franciscans do not own cars. (I think it is around 40% that are car owners/ regular drivers). If this is the case, we should be seeing new developments with only 1:3 parking ratio. If anything, the figures suggest that new developments are enforcing their pro- automobile- everybody- else- be- damned politics on the rest of the citizens of this great city.

  34. When I need a car for shopping or something, I either borrow a car from a friend and fill up the gas tank or use City Car Share. For a longer period, I sometimes rent.
    Mostly I just find things to do within transit distance: luckily there is lots to do here. One of the primary reasons I live in the Bay Area is because there is a halfway-decent transit system.
    The whole point is to move around less and use less gasoline and leave a lighter footprint on the planet. So things like Tahoe and even Reyes are pretty rare events. I still fly down to see my family in Southern California once a year. I am not trying to wear a hair shirt or anything.
    I am pretty sure that majority of San Franciscans do actually own cars, but there is a significant minority who do not. Vehicle ownership rates have actually gone up over the years, with them well below 50% pre-war.

  35. ^^^Two thirds of households own at least one car. There is roughly one car for every to people in the city. For major cities, we have the second lowest household auto-ownership rate (after NYC). Chicago, surprisingly, has a more than 90% auto-ownership rate.

  36. To answer your other questions, I work in IT. I am currently a middle manager. I took a pay cut to keep working in SF, instead of Silicon Valley. It is possible that at some point my career advancement will require a commute by automobile, but not so far. The Noe Valley -> CalTrain -> Mt. View -> shuttle to work takes a really long time, I doubt I could do it for long.
    I take taxis when I need to, about once a month. My wife is more thrifty than me, she pretty much refuses to take them.

  37. Quote: “Here is a thought, why don’t realtors follow the example of what is happening in Chicago where they are going to their appointments on bicycles?”
    Maybe because:
    Chicago = Most flat city in the US.
    San Francisco = Most hilly city in the US.
    That said, I sold my car in 1997 and have been car free since then (with one fine motorcycle).

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