Corner of Market at Franklin and Page (Image Source:

The corner of Market at Franklin and Page as it looks (for the most part) above, the same corner (1600 Market) as envisioned by Stanley Saitowitz and as is being marketed below.

1600 Market: Proposed Rendering (Image Source:

Note no building permit in hand, but entitled for 23 condos as proposed with nine stories, ground floor retail, and parking for nine cars.

1600 Market Rendering (Image Source:

∙ Listing: 1600 Market (Proposed Development) – $3,195,000 [MLS] [Existing Building]
Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects Inc. []

93 thoughts on “Entitled, Envisioned And For Sale (But Not Permitted): 1600 Market”
  1. This is a really ugly stretch of Market St. I walk by it all too often as it’s on the way to my kids’ school. It would be great to see this, or something, anything, get built. Octavia Blvd. was a great start and it will be interesting to see if it seeds improvements in this area.

  2. 23 units – 9 parking spaces.
    I say build it and more like it. It will make my unit downtown (which includes a deeded parking space) even MORE valuable when it’s time to sell.

  3. Nice design.
    But this is an expensive building type (type-I construction, underground parking, fancy skin), yet it only offers 23 units (including 3 BMR units I presume), and 14 of them have no parking. Because it probably snuck under the hi-rise designation, the ceiling heights are likely only 8-feet high.
    If the BMR fees are already paid and the thing is executed perfectly , could it work ??? I wonder what similar fare at 1234 Howard went for?

  4. I’m not a big Saitowitz fan, but imho this design is perfect for the location, and would be SUCH a huge improvement. Of course I’m skeptical that an expensive structure on such a constrained site is going to be feasible any time soon.

  5. Imagine the northwestern side of Market populated with a collection of flatiron buildings that exploit the acute angle street geometry. Old style flatirons mixed with modern. How cool would that be ?
    Never mind, lets just have a jumble of parking lots, gas stations, and coffee shops.

  6. If this were 2005 I’m sure this lot would have been snapped up. But only 3 units per floor? The site looks bigger than that, unless they’re planning 1500+ sq ft units (which I doubt as the resale value per sq ft is optimized with smaller units). I wonder if this will sell now, and at what price.

  7. I like this building but unfortunately the Muni bus is still a blight. (Just for the record I take Muni all the time- have done so for 20 years and it’s still terrible. I don’t have anything against public transportation- just Muni.)

  8. How long before the car fetishists complained about the lack of free parking? Two posts!
    Must be a new record.
    This part of The City is exceedingly well served by transit, no need for any more parking spaces. They should unbundle them from the housing units and sell them separately.

  9. This would be a huge improvement if built. It would need to be three times as tall to achieve an effect like that of the Flatiron Building. That would also generate a nasty wind tunnel effect there.

  10. Looking at the drawings on the Satiowitz site, you can see that there may be some simple problems with the plans. I am not sure that people want to live in a trapezoid. But that would be easy to fix.

  11. I don’t think its unreasonable to be concerned about the parking.
    This is a micro-neighborhood that has funky transit. Your nearest food shopping options (Market St Safeway, Rainbow) are just a tad too far to walk.
    And Van Ness metro is not only a hike away, its hell at rush hour. The surface transport ( 6-Parnassus & 7-Haight, F-Line) is spotty because of bunching, and mostly pretty full by the time it gets to this intersection. Your North-South option, the 26-Valencia, is on the chopping block.
    Unless you have a lot of time on your hands, or want to get your exercise hauling groceries, you’d be sad without wheels. Maybe they should have nine car share sports.

  12. I sometimes wonder if my partner and I are the only people I know who shops like a European. I hit Ashbury Market every day. I never have to worry about carrying large bags home because I never have to buy that much. When I do need to shop for more than a day or two at a location outside my neighborhood, I, *gasp*, take a taxi home!
    Safeway also has delivery for your bulk items. Great for cat litter and TP.

  13. castrocione, you must be confused about where this is, it is literally one block from the Van Ness Muni station. It is about 1/2 mile from the Civic Center BART.
    Eric, we shop like that. With Church Produce a block away and Drewes Brothers only a bit further, we pick something up fresh every day. We use a taxi, Zip Car or the neighbors car for the big trips to Costco.

  14. I want jobs that Eric in SF and NVJ have. Who has time for that kind of shopping *and* can afford to live in SF? Ashbury Market every freakin’ day?

  15. Muni works great if your time has no value.
    I don’t know if it’s “reasonable” to live without a car here, but a quick look suggests it’s worth a shot, if you insist. I’d hesitate to elevate the parking comments to “car fetishism” though 🙂

  16. 15 minutes every day isn’t really that much time spent shopping. And without that hassle and expense of owning a car, you have a lot of extra money to afford nice food.

  17. One hopes the folks eventually buying here are not choosing between a car and “nice food”. jeesh.
    If so, they are urban fetishists, not that there’s anything wrong with that 🙂

  18. Can a person who wants to park his vehicle in a dank, dark basement parking spot, far away from him and out of sight, only to be dragged out once a week or less, properly be called a “car fetishist”?

  19. Nothing to do with the vehicle. It’s always the ones without cars that exaggerate the “hassles” (and cost, by the way) that come with a car. 15 minutes for shopping, but how much time to walk-to-and-from, etc.
    Owning in San Fran (right NVJ?) and about to browse for food everyday. Nice lifestyle.

  20. Don’t believe me, go to and see what a car costs. $400/mo is a cheap car.
    15 minutes includes the one block walk, believe me it doesn’t take long to walk that far. When I have to drive to shop, I usually spend longer walking from the parking lot to the door of the store.
    And you can do whatever you want with the $5000/yr saved; even a relatively well off person can probably use the extra cash. You can spend it on some really nice food, a yearly vacation around the world, or in my case, to retire a decade early.
    It always amazes me how much car drivers have to overestimate the “convenience” of owning a car. Like the guy who told us his commute from the Berkeley Hills to Downtown SF was 20 minutes. Hey, its your money and your time, if you want to spend it at the DMV and circling the block looking for parking, more power to you!

  21. Beautiful design, and love the cutouts on the Market St. facade.
    That being said, with a rear yard exemption, justified by the shape of the lot, and possibly a PUD (density exmption) which you would get since this is a transit corridor but may not even need since this is Market Octavia, you could easily fit four units per floor.
    Since it is not a high-rise, does it need two stairways?

  22. Looking at the map, it’s 5 blocks to the Safeway at Church and Market. That’s 10 minutes walking briskly. Yeah, for other stuff — like taking kids to the doctor — it’s more convenient to drive but the examples of people saying it’s too far to walk everyday for groceries is just silly. Maybe if you’re a 400lb couch potato and need a forklift to get out the door.

  23. It’s absurd to go car free to “save money” and *then* choose to live in the place featured here, which I assume won’t be cheap.
    But as others have said, it’s worth a shot to go car free for other reasons.
    ===== WARNING CAR FOO — GO BACK!!1! 🙂 =====
    When I tried living car-free in Noe as a single urban hipster (irony intended), it cost 150/month in cab/muni/bart/rental fees, and the time sink was *enormous*. An economy car costs 350/mo more than that (citycarshare says cars cost 500/month). Even if I value my time at zero, folks spend more than that at the apple store.
    A car is a miraculous tool: properly exploited, one needn’t worry about saving money to “retire a decade early”.
    A former acquaintance commuted from SF to a well-known former startup for several years. He’s not obsessing about his car costs now, or worrying about retirement!
    Another one works in the east bay (at a well-known animation company), and as a result does not have to leave his rent-controlled SF apartment (he is probably saving more money that way, and gets to enjoy living in SF which has value).
    Our cars allowed us to start a business in a more affordable/favorable part of the bay area (SF is expensive for what we are doing). We don’t even think about retiring any more (too much 🙂 ), and the idea sounds rather trite.
    There are examples of using a car “poorly”, but
    complaining about a car’s cost is a little like complaining about the cost of feeding a golden goose.
    But someone needs to buy those SFH without garages! Allow me to congratulate you on your upcoming early retirement, NVJ — if I recall, you are nearing 50? Hang in there, and I hope it was worth it! 🙂

  24. I’m not saying cars aren’t useful– but cars allow you to become a dot com millionaire? Really?
    As for commuting to Emeryville, I’m not unsympathetic, but if he lived nearer his job that would free up a place for someone who has to commute into the city now. Win-win. (perhaps this is an argument against rent control, giving people incentives to stay in inefficient situations)

  25. “…complaining about a car’s cost is a little like complaining about the cost of feeding a golden goose.”
    Ha ! That’s right, the automobile is the font of all prosperity. Those who shun it are doomed to live a life of natural fabric enrobed granola flavored tedium. Hey, lets have some more of that kool aid.
    Actually a car is more like a golden pig. Buy one and you’ve got admission to an all-you-can-eat buffet of free parking, bridges, and highways. Who wouldn’t want to own a car when considering all of the subsidies that it provides access to ?
    This is just rational consumer behavior reacting to poor government decisions.

  26. I’m not saying cars aren’t useful– but cars allow you to become a dot com millionaire? Really?
    That’s why its a fetish. People attribute all kinds of magical properties to their automobiles.
    NVJ, you are about to do an early retirement but still rent your own house?
    No, we are buying a 2-unit building, which will hopefully be paid off by the time I retire. This is still a ways off, as I am not as old as rumored 🙂 The stock market will need to cooperate as well, which it has not so far.
    Anyway, back to the property in question. It is very close to Muni, but the walk from Franklin to the financial district through mid-market is not something most people are going to want to do. I have done it probably a hundred times, but it is certainly seedy, especially at night. I doubt that this is going to change anytime soon.
    So it does leave you wondering who is going to live here. The units are going to average about 1000 sq ft each, according to the listing, so this sounds like 2/2’s to me. This will definitely compete with the SoMa Grand crowd, but hopefully this place will not be as luxurious or expensive. This city desperately needs housing in the price range between deluxe and low income, maybe this is it.

  27. All this food talk is making me hungry. Flax is just across the street. Perhaps you can persuade them to open up a deli and eliminate the walk to the Safeway.

  28. Bring on all the glass clad buildings proposed for this depressing area of Market/Tenderloin…anything that may eventually bring some life. If it fits w/i the guidelines for the Mid-Market Plan—bring it on.

  29. “a car makes you a .com millionare” — nice straw man folks! Now I know how fluj feels 🙂
    A car has fantastic utility to go with its cost, which isn’t really that great compared to other merely recreational costs. Muni works fine if your time has no value. These places will be expensive, and NVJ is under 50 — but unless he lives near a black hole singularity, I bet not by much 😉

  30. I have NEVER had a driver’s license but even I’m not so smug about not using a car to shop.
    Going to the market every day like a grandma, carrying your TP under one arm, it’s so glamorous and “European?” Please. It’s just another errand, and it’s more expensive that way. Besides, sometimes you want to get out of the city on weekends. It’s perfectly reasonable, in *California*, to want a place to park at your home.
    The idea of putting a car share pod in the parking garage is a good compromise.

  31. Parking and Cars in SF
    Dear Editor and socketsite bloggers,
    Can we please stop talking about parking and owning a car in SF? It is not a beneficial discussion. If a dwelling has a parking spot, the dwelling should command a higher premium anywhere in the country. Since parking is a premium in SF and other major metropolitan centers, a parking spot adds substantial value to a dwelling.
    Can you get by in SF without a car? Depends on your occupation, your significant other’s occupation, your hobbies, age, health, and other life circumstances. A car is an expensive luxury anywhere in the world. The US is an affluent society, so car ownership is high. Most people would love to give up a car payment, but it depends on many of the above points.
    One of the best advantages about living in the Bay Area is the access to a beautiful coastline, wine country, mountains for hiking, mt biking, skiing, etc., and green, rolling hills for fantastic horseback riding or wizzing by on a bicycle. If you don’t have a car, you cannot get to most of these wonderful places. Depending on how often you enjoy going to these destinations, the math for owning a car may or may not work out.
    Due to the high cost of living in the BA, many families need to have both parents working. How many couples can be employed in SF? Maybe one has a job in SF, but the other may have a job in the North Bay, East Bay or South Bay and it may not be accessible to public transportation. What do you do then?
    The majority of people whom purchase $800,000+ dwellings tend to also own a car, whether you like it or not.
    MUNI is consistently rated as unreliable in all of their surveys. If you miss a few work appointments due to the MUNI, you will be purchasing a car in the next week. SF does not have reliable public transportation. NY, Boston, Washington, D.C., etc have reliable systems. It is just Californians, whom think MUNI and BART are so wonderful (BART is pretty good, but only goes to so many locations), because they compare it to LA and its car culture. I am from the East Coast, and view MUNI like the rest of SF residents, Unreliable, overcrowded, and long waits.
    Nevertheless, this website is about real estate and the many aspects, which affect real estate in the BA. This blog is not for a discussion for whether you should own or not own a car in SF. If you have a parking spot, your unit costs more. End of Story!
    Let’s try and keep these discussions more on topic, instead of these liberal rants.

  32. Like the design. Taller please (really, isn’t that an upzoned area?)
    5 blocks from Safeway is too far for shopping. I’m speechless.
    The suburban NJ SUV crowd who immigrated here are used to Paramus Mall, Costco and succumb to the declining fantasy still fed by big box marketing machines. If you can’t walk to SW from this location — hello Pleasanton. I use my car once a week for out-of-SF rambles. And I have a family, and I know all the small purveyors in and around my ‘hood.
    Say no to the utter stupidity of the car craziness.
    Cadillac re your comment: this isn’t Curbed.

  33. Sorry Marina renter, but parking is a fundamental part of real estate. While these discussions can become tedius, they belong here.
    Just a few points:
    Parking (ie how much and where it is stuffed) has a huge impact on the design of new buildings, and thus how they fit into the urban fabric. In this particular building under consideration, providing more or less parking affects whether you can do ground floor retail. Since we are often discussing new buildings in relatively high density locations, these issues are fundamental.
    Parking also hugely affects the cost of new buildings. Obviously effects the potential sales price as well. Both of these issues fit on this board.
    Finally, any NIMBY will point out (ad nauseum) that there is a relationship between parking provided in a building and parking demand on the street. This, in my view, is a tangential discussion for most projects we review, but if you’re living next door it might be very important.
    I own a car and I use it quite frequently. But I also recognize that one can exist quite easily without one by relying on walking, transit, car sharing and taxis. And I also recognize that in dense neighborhoods it makes sense to encourage this “multi-modal” approach for all kinds of good reasons.

  34. The smugness of the anti-car people is overwhelming. It is great if it works for you to shop every day, but for many people it doesn’t. It is great that you are able to live close to work, but people change jobs or their spouses work elsewhere. It is great if you want to bike to work, but that is not a viable option for the vast majority of people. It is great that you don’t have children, but if those that do will probably want a car.
    Nobody here is asking for “free” parking; parking when included in a building costs money one way or the other. However, many people are very willing to pay that money because they believe that having a car is extremely valuable to them. On what basis do the anti-car nazi’s second guess those decisions? Why are you so determined to shove your priorities down other people’s throats?
    Rather than snidely second guess those determinations, the anti-car people should understand that the vast majority of San Franciscans own cars and do so for perfectly valid reasons. Even if one lives near public transportation, one may need a car on regular basis (even if not to get to work). So rather than insisting that developers build buildings with inadequate parking that few people want, we should focus on creating a housing that actually meets the needs of residents (particularly families).

  35. curmudgeon is correct in that parking and transportation are intertwined with real estate. In fact during the first half of the 20th century, access to transportation (streetcars at the time) actually drove RE development in SF and the east bay. Today freeways drive development towards exurban towns like Tracy and Los Banos.
    marinarenter, funny that you simultaneously want to shut down this line of discussion, yet you throw out a lot of assertions. Sorry, but I can’t let those misleading statements be the last word. Sure, having a car makes weekend getaways easier. That’s because we subsidize car travel so heavily that transit alternatives (bus/train) cannot compete. I would love to be able to bus/train up to the Tahoe ski resorts but the current options (Amtrak + TART) are really inconvenient. That inconvenience would dissolve as soon as motorists start paying the real cost of driving, making other options more viable. Also, you can always use zipcar or a rental for weekend getaways. No parking space required at your home.
    dub dub – you say a car has great utility, but how useful would a car be without free roads and free parking ? I’ll assert that the real transportation value is not cars, but the infrastructure that we use cars on. Fuel tax doesn’t even begin to cover the costs. It’s a free subsidy for car owners.
    This location on Market sits atop the backbone of transportation for the densest city on the west coast. If you can’t build with less than 1:1 parking here then we are doomed to continue the car subsidy. Increased car traffic in this area will increase congestion and eventually commerce grinds to a halt.
    A car based transportation system limits the growth of a city, and that’s just one of the problems that over reliance on automobiles bring. Driving will still continue to be an option in SF though its cost (think parking) will escalate if subsidies are phased out. I’d like to see SF continue to grow and for the quality of life to improve. Inviting more cars on the streets works against both of these goals.
    And just in case it is not absolutely clear, I’m not proposing that driving be banned or anything close to that. Just that the costs of driving be borne by those who directly benefit from automobiles.

  36. “Today freeways drive development towards exurban towns like Tracy and Los Banos.”
    Sort of. As far as exurbs go, the car giveth, and the car also taketh away. When the economy is going great it seems logical to get more space for the family. When things aren’t going so well it seems like gasoline expense is through the roof. Not to mention the other numerous problems overdeveloped crossroads wind up having a lot of times.

  37. It amazes me that a simple suggestion that parking be unbundled from housing in new development, so that those who don’t want to have to pay for it aren’t forced to do so, would generate such a vitriolic response.
    It shows you who the real extremists in this town are.

  38. “dub dub – you say a car has great utility, but how useful would a car be without free roads and free parking ?”
    They would not be as useful.

  39. Guess what, you can have the best of both worlds. In Chicago they have enough rail, bus and subway lines to attract drivers out of their cars, YET, most of the high rise buildings downtown have deeded parking spaces with each unit. Cars have not stopped the density of the center of Chicago, nor have they stopped people from walking or using public transit, instead, they are used as another option when needed.

  40. NoeValleyJim — I think you started it by calling the two folks harmlessly mentioning parking above “car fetishists” (scroll up).
    But didn’t you once say that you too might be forced to buy a car to commute to the peninsula if you wanted to make more money — you doubted you could hitchhike from Noe Valley to caltrain and crawl to work every day with a crown of thorns around your head (I’m paraphrasing :)).
    I’m almost sure it was you, because I remember laughing. If you’ve changed your mind, that’s fine — please let me know when you change it back! 🙂
    Ok, this has been fun — I’m done on this thread, and thanks everyone for their patience 🙂

  41. SF vs. Chicago again — it’s been weeks!
    The Chicago “best of both” can’t work here. Chicago is just on a much grander scale. The roads downtown are much wider than in SF and we simply could not move that much traffic (granted, they move a lot more in Chicago). I suspect it is easier to dig down there as well with no earthquake concerns to put in underground parking. Market Street’s turning half of downtown SF 45 degrees also screws up everything.

  42. Cars CAN be cheap. One can buy a very usable car with 100k or more miles (they last well beyond 200k with care nowadays) that has been well maintained for 4 to 9k. Then, you don’t insure it for collision, but you budget 500 bucks per year for repairs. Do the math. It’s well less than 400 per month.
    You will do fine with this as a non commuting occasional vehicle.

  43. Sorry, I could not resist, though I am not guilty of other recent Chicago vs. SF posts, BUT, I was responding to the claim that providing parking reduces urban density which is FALSE. The best way to get people out of their cars is to provide lots and lots of transit alternatives, and not only during peak hours, but at all hours seven days a week. If there was fast service to the western side of San Francisco I would use it. The idea that it can take over one hour to go from Ocean Beach to Montgomery is disgusting.
    I also could not resist posting pictures of my new favorite tower, the Aqua.

  44. Part of living in a society and paying taxes is being forced to subsidize things you don’t use, yet are determined to be a benefit to the whole.
    Transportation falls into this category. This includes the infrastructure for cars (e.g., roads and parking).
    Another example is schools. I don’t particularly want to subsidize the UC school system, but I do. There are a lot of other examples as well.

  45. To change the subject (slightly),
    Anyone know how many bike parking spots will be in this building? It’s an ideal spot for bike-only owners: the Mission, downtown, and the Wiggle are all close by.

  46. Thank you ‘Wrong’
    “Sorry, I could not resist, though I am not guilty of other recent Chicago vs. SF posts, BUT, I was responding to the claim that providing parking reduces urban density which is FALSE. The best way to get people out of their cars is to provide lots and lots of transit alternatives, and not only during peak hours, but at all hours seven days a week. If there was fast service to the western side of San Francisco I would use it. The idea that it can take over one hour to go from Ocean Beach to Montgomery is disgusting.”
    The majority of people rather commute on a fast train, subway, bus, etc. than sit in traffic. If the Bay Area wants people out of their cars, improve the transportation, but don’t limit the demands of the people to own a car, especially until things improve.
    SF should be focusing on improving transporation, not limiting parking spots. Let competitive market forces due the rest $65 muni pass vs. monthly car costs.
    SF loves to regulate the lives of its people. I definitely feel like a live in the USSR.

  47. Hey dub dub, I was just riffing off your use of the phrase “urban fetishist.” Aren’t you the one that popularized that?
    I might end up buying a car someday, I haven’t signed a secret oath or anything. Though if I do I will probably have to change my nom de plume on socketsite, after all the car-free living advocacy I have done 🙂
    The funniest thing is that I of course used to own a car, as I grew up in a rural region. I found it a huge *inconvenience* to own one after I moved to San Francisco, as I would have to spend all this time moving it twice a week to avoid getting parking tickets. And I still ended up getting parking tickets. And I never drove it. Once I got rid of it, I starting having a lot more spending money and put two and two together.
    The real problem, in my opinion, is that the zoning code requires developers to build a minimum amount of parking. They would rather not, since they can make a lot more money per square foot of construction selling housing than parking. Forcing developers to subsidize parking is one of the reasons housing is so expensive here.
    Here is a pretty good study by the EPA on the topic:
    And a more local flavored one here:
    But you can bet that any attempt to remove this subsidy is met with much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

  48. subsidy? Why not do what is done in other cities, rent or SELL your space. Happens all the time in Chicago. Most condo resales in Chicacgo have the parking spaces listed seperate since many buidings have long waiting lists for owners/tenants who want to rent/purchase an extra space. I think it is silly trying to turn back the clock on progress. If cars were cleaner, quieter, and greener in the future, and they WILL be, would all you car haters still be so disgusted by those who need them to get around a an area with limited public transit choices. Everyone is not willing to peddle a bike up every hill, ride dirty slow busses, or limit their income because they are not willing to drive to where the jobs are.

  49. the anti-car people should understand that the vast majority of San Franciscans own cars and do so for perfectly valid reasons.
    Keep drinking that KoolAid there, NoeNeighbor. There are more than 800,000 people in SF, and not even close to 400,000 cars registered (less than 300,000), so not even a majority (let alone a “vast majority”) of people in SF have a car.

  50. I love the “theory” that everyone throws out that somehow people would use transit if it were only better. Look at the facts, people! Where is transit use higher – Chicago or SF? SF by a freaking landslide (per capita ridership in SF is more than double Chicago), proving once again that density (remember, SF is more than 50% more dense than Chicago) and lack of parking is what causes higher ridership, not some notion that transit is good.
    wrong, you’re only looking at parking at your unit, not the parking at places that you take your car to – the store, your job, etc. All of those parking spaces must be accounted for too. The spot at your unit is worth a lot less if the city allows more parking elsewhere, and worth a lot more if the city allows less parking elsewhere.

  51. Hmmm, anon, my family of four has one car. Do the majority of my family members own a car or not own a car? I think SFers generally own a car but use public transportation as well.

  52. Well, we make up for your family, Trip – at least we used to when we lived in SF proper. Family of four like yours, but 3 cars. I couldn’t imagine living in the Bay Area without a car. In fact, without 3 of them! (Large SUV, fast sports car and an old sedan, which is the “dog” car).

  53. I’m in the city proper and my family of 4 has 3 cars here, plus I have a 4th parked in the penninsula.

  54. Okay, okay. I was just making the point that it is not so simple as counting the population and counting the cars. See, even you car-heavy guys have more people than cars in your households (well, sparky-b is a close call).
    Where do you drive all those vehicles? Our one car only gets about 4000 miles a year, and we aren’t car-luddites about it. But I agree that it would be difficult, at least with kids, not to have at least one car in SF.

  55. Trip – I was simply answering hyperbole with hyperbole. There are many households that make do without a car, just as there are many that have multiple. I simply get tired of the posts that “everyone has a car!” when it simply isn’t true and easy to find documentable proof that it isn’t true.
    About a third of SF households don’t own cars, based on census data. That’s a significant minority of households, IMO.

  56. I can believe that most people don’t own cars in SF. I have a fair number of friends who work at big Valley companies. Those companies have all started running shuttle buses from various SF locations to the Valley. Most of said friends have since sold their cars and are LOVING it, for the reasons described above. I experienced parking-ticket freedom when I got rid of my car. Honestly, after I decided software companies were not where I wanted to work and subsequently took a much lower paying job I would not have been able to stay in the City while owning a car.
    I self-select into the ‘cars are bad’ crowd but I also realize that it’s a losing argument as long as transit in SF is so bad.
    My Manhattan friends all say they *HATE* taking the subway, but it’s reasonably fast and it’s just too difficult to own a car so they grit their teeth and put up with it. Many of them also NEVER leave a 6 square block radius except for weekends out of the city!

  57. I’d be very interested to see the auto-ownership rate by households within “Real SF”, since almost all of the highest rates of auto-ownership are in areas often mocked on this site as being in fake SF (Outer Sunset, the whole southern half of the city, Outer Richmond, etc). My guess is that it would be less than 50%, even including some neighborhoods like the Marina that have relatively high rates (80% in the Marina).

  58. anon, your facts are wrong regarding Chicago ridership. You would have to include METRA as well as CTA and other systems to get better statistics on ridership into the city. I would say the same is true for San Francisco where you need to include BART as well as the awful MUNI. I stand by my claim that just because residential buildings include parking in Chicago has not increased downtown traffic OR reduced public transit ridership in that city.
    In most Chicago high rises that I know of, the cars stay in the garage most weekdays, and actually get used more on weekends. In fact what I see in Chicago is almost car free blocks in residential areas, especially new areas like Lakeshore East where the tall towers are surrounded by pedestrian plazas and parks, and the resident automobiles are tucked underground or on above retail floors out of site.
    The main traffic areas in Chicago are near hotels, shops and cultural attractions where little or no parking is provided, but where lots of taxis and tourists circle round and round.

  59. wrong, the ridership stats are easy to find with a quick internet search.
    Chicago has the advantage of much, much, much lower population density combined with residential alleys (which allow cars and garages to be behind) and roads radiating out from the center. In SF, allowing the number of cars that Chicago does would be disastrous, as a small city on the tip of a peninsula simply can’t fit that many cars (even if they were only used on weekends) into the designated space. The only answers would be to decrease population density or build double decker roads everywhere. Chicago has some advantages that we (and other land-constricted areas with very few entrance and exit points) will never have.

  60. How could San Francisco have a greater density than the downtown residential areas of Chicago? The Streeterville – Lakeshore neighborhoods have residential towers that probably on average are at least 30 stories each and go above 95 stories in 2 cases. Lumping in the city of Chicago’s suburban neighborhoods 20 miles from downtown is about as correct as only taking a density study for San Francisco from the Sunset District.
    If San Francisco wants to stop residents from using cars it should create transit that goes where people need to go. I see the same car usage in the Marina as was described earlier. My neighbors ride the Marina Express Muni during weekdays, but use their cars to go places on weekends. Is it so horrible to use a car for trips to Costco or the Flora Grubb. Am I evil if I like to use a car to go to Napa or Tahoe sometimes?

  61. Justin, you need to learn a bit about how to acheive density. North Beach and Chinatown are significantly denser than the “highrise” areas of Nob Hill, Russian Hill, or what will be Rincon Hill. Paris is only slightly less dense than Manhattan, in spite of Paris having only 6-8 story buildings whereas Manhattan is almost all more than three times that. Tall doesn’t always equal dense. I’m going to go ahead and guess that the neighborhoods you mention are not actually even the most dense in Chicago.

  62. Am I evil if I like to use a car to go to Napa or Tahoe sometimes?
    Of course not. That’s your right. What would be evil would be telling everyone that everyone needs a car, and therefore every development must have parking. That would be evil, yet that’s what the city did from the 1950’s until a few years ago. Now, the city has certain neighborhoods that are required to have fewer parking spots than units (while the vast majority of areas still require a minimum of one per unit, and no maximum) and all we here about is how “anti-car” that policy is. How about some balance?

  63. “What would be evil would be telling everyone that everyone needs a car, and therefore every development must have parking.”
    No one said that. It’s usually the anti-car crowd telling us that we shouldn’t have one (or three, apparently to some of us :-))
    I say let’s just get rid of the parking requirement all together. Let market-forces determine if buildings have parking spaces. What a concept for San Francisco. It’ll never happen.

  64. ^^^The problem with that is that roads have a capacity. My suggestion would be this:
    1. Set height limits on properties (I’d be ok with doing away with this, but whatever)
    2. Set a number of allowable parking spaces for each lot
    3. Eliminate all FAR or density limits. Developers can build whatever they damn well please on the property.
    This would allow the developer to build as many units as they want, but would only place restrictions on the parking. That way, the developer can use the market to guage what to build – Six 3 bed units with parking for 12 cars, 9 two bed units with parking for 12 cars, 12 one bed units with parking for 12 cars, 20 studio units with parking for 12 cars, etc.
    There is a legitimate need to limit parking on certain streets that are already at or near capacity (congestion on streets for Muni, public safety vehicles, etc). There is no legitimate need to limit population density.

  65. I liken it to a network connection. You pay Comcast for a connection capable of a certain amount of bandwidth. You can then use that bandwidth for just yourself, for you and three other computers living with you, or for you and all your neighbors – the deal is that the more people that have to share, the less each person gets from the connection (in speed), but the more people you can please in some way.
    A road network is the same, IMO, and should be treated similarly. Limit the total bandwidth that any one “connection” gets, but split that connection however you want.

  66. anon@11:43 – your proposal is more reasonable than what we have today. It directly addresses what parking restrictions are trying to solve : street congestion. Of course the city could always expand the roadway network but that solution is pretty ugly.
    After reading the comments above it is equally amusing and disturbing that some people still think that any parking restrictions are “anti-car” and that being pro-transit or pro-bike is equivalent with being anti-car. Street parking time limits are aimed at making it easier to find a parking space. Parking space limits in new developments are intended to prevent gridlocked streets.
    When push comes to shove in dense places we need to evaluate our priorities. If there’s a limited channel for transportation, shouldn’t we look toward solutions that help us move the most amount of people quickly and comfortably ? We should be wary of the knee-jerk response to preserve the convenience of just one mode (autos), neglecting all others.
    Muni isn’t a shining example of a good transport system. But there’s no reason why it could not be as excellent as Chicago or NYC, especially for residences in the middle of the city right on Market St. Transforming transportation won’t be painless, but by being proactive that pain can be reduced.

  67. All of this discussion is why anyone in the northern parts of the city would do well to invest in units with deeded parking. If certain groups get their way we become more and more of a residential-tourist city instead of a business center, being able to own and park a car will have a huge premium.
    Since the jobs are not going to be here, residents will have to take shuttle busses or drive to where the jobs are.

  68. “There is a legitimate need to limit parking on certain streets that are already at or near capacity (congestion on streets for Muni, public safety vehicles, etc). ”
    No. You can’t have it both ways.
    Like I said, let market forces run. Congestion is another form of a market force that will limit the desirability of having a car there, thereby reducing the likelihood of someone who needs a car to live there. If there is a 30 minute commute just to get out of the city, you better believe people will be looking to live elsewhere.
    The city could do its job of increasing the desirability for companies to move their jobs here rather than being reflexively anti-business. That alone will reduce the car transportation — AND CONGESTION — in the city.
    Perish the thought — more people living and working in the same place!
    As I said before. It’ll never happen.

  69. “Congestion is another form of a market force that will limit the desirability of having a car there…”
    True, but congestion also spills over to other transport modes : it’s the main reason why muni buses and F-Market streetcars are delayed and clump up. The same “market forces” that would discourage driving also discourage taking the bus because they share a common resource, even though bus riders demand much less street space per person. This creates sort of an asymmetric Tragedy of the Commons because there’s no disincentive to over consume street resources. It’s all provided free courtesy of the taxpayer.
    I totally agree with you about creating a balance of jobs and residences in the city to reduce the demand on commuting. SF’s population used to rise during the workday due to everyone commuting into the city for jobs. So the city needed to build more housing stock (SOMA). Has that commute trend reversed already ? I know that CalTrain carries almost as many riders south in the morning as north these days.

  70. What is so wrong about building the public transportation infrastructure before banning personal transportatin vehicles. I would encourage free MUNI and BART for passengers, and to have that cost come out of my fuel tax, or to use that money to build a rapid transportation system similar to what I enjoyed in London. In Chicago I can take a CTA “L” or subway train to ANY neighborhood in Chicago and can take a METRA train to almost every suburb, we don’t have that type of system in place in the Bay Area.

  71. Milkshake, No, the city still gains about 200,000 people per day in daytime population, so the idea that we’re some sort of commuter town is pure hogwash.
    And agreed on your note to Usually Named. You can’t simply yell “market forces” for something that is used and needed by all, and can be negatively affected by a few. It’s the same reason that utilities are regulated or municipally-operated, because overuse by a few can negatively affect the entire economy and kill the golden goose. Even Houston doesn’t just let “market forces” allow whatever to be built anywhere (with regards to parking). There are specific laws and impact fees for parking everywhere, they just need to be more closely looked at here, because any places we’re already at capacity, and the cost of expansion is either prohibitive or at least makes it highly unlikely.
    wrong, no one said anything about banning personal vehicles. Enough with the hyperbole.

  72. The use of market forces is messy, but it’s better than any other system out there. The attempts to regulate to “rein in” the messiness often ends up causing unintended consequences (like, say, rent control).
    That doesn’t mean I believe we should let companies grow to monopolistic situations, which is your point about utilities. Speaking of utilities, one of the reasons why deregulation didn’t work is because pricing signals didn’t make it to the final consumer (i.e you and me). If prices went up for us as much as it did for PG&E and SC Edison, you better believe we would have cut back on our electrical usage — witness what’s happened with oil. Prices for oil went up, thereby increasing the price of gas — voila, gas conservation and a reduction in demand.
    Imagine that. Market forces actually working.

  73. You’re still missing the point. The “market forces” argument ignores the fact that the primary resource used by cars is NOT gasoline, but public space – ie the road network. Since we give away the network for free, we have to have some way of limiting use of the network, or risk it becoming completely unusable and thus ripping the entire rest of the local economy apart. Market forces can and will still be used in the situation I brought up, just in a different way than you are looking at.
    Let’s think of a movie theater. Say the movie theater seats 500 people, but the theater keeps selling tickets after it gets to 500 and sells all the way to 700. At the start of the movie, there are 200 people without seats. Some of them come out and ask, and are told “Sorry, standing room only.” The people standing obviously are not going to be happy, as well as the people SITTING, because the standing people will block their view. Market forces WILL take over and word will get around that the theater sucks and people will stop going, but that has a very negative long term affect on the theater owner.
    The better solution (and completely market-oriented) would be for the theater to stop selling tickets at 500, and then with time raise prices so that they can get more money from the limited resources available (seats), while still maintaining a desirable situation for those that bought tickets. Limiting something is NOT non-market oriented. Limiting something AND limiting the price is non-market oriented. I said NOTHING about capping the price of parking. Only about capping the amount of parking allowed by LOT in new buildings, in order to maintain the integrity of the road network.

  74. “The “market forces” argument ignores the fact that the primary resource used by cars is NOT gasoline, but public space – ie the road network”
    The road network is not free. It costs money to use — it’s hidden in the taxes you pay for gas. The sticker on your license plate. And so forth.
    Maybe that’s the problem with Californians in general. You may feel it’s free, but it is not. We’re all paying for it. And that’s the crux of all the retarded spending out of Sacramento and San Francisco — IT’S NOT FREE. Money that goes into the general fund doesn’t grow on trees.
    As for your theater owner — the problem is that she or he didn’t price the movie theater tickets high enough. The prices for those tickets were set too low for the supply of 500 if an extra 200 people want to bang down the door and get in.
    And that’s how market forces work. Come on. This is basic Economics 101.

  75. ^^^Exactly my point.
    Roads can only support a limited number of vehicles. Use of those roads should be reserved for that number of vehicles and priced accordingly. (Hence the price of units with parking or the price of parking would rise – this isn’t difficult to understand and is definitely an Economics 101 level subject). You seem to think that limiting the supply of something is inherently anti-market, when it simply is not. Supply is often limited by the resources available, meaning the price of those resources should rise.
    You seem to want an unlimited increase in the supply of road space, when it simply isn’t available, and would rather deteriorate the level of service for everyone rather than raise the price. That seems very anti-market and socialist in nature.

  76. Which is why we need congestion pricing, or some other method to shift the cost of using the infrastructure to those that are actually overusing it.
    “What would be evil would be telling everyone that everyone needs a car, and therefore every development must have parking.”
    No one said that. It’s usually the anti-car crowd telling us that we shouldn’t have one (or three, apparently to some of us :-))

    Actually people say this all the time, you must not been involved in any neighborhood discussions about new construction and parking. In most of the SF neighborhoods, it is still a zoning requirement that at least one parking space be built per unit, correct me if I am wrong here.
    At it was true everywhere until very recently. And still a very common complaint about new construction, see sfspirit’s comment here:

  77. And please, your point about roads not being free. Please. You know full well that I was not implying that roads are free to build and maintain. Nice strawman, though.

  78. There is practically a homeless encampment near this proposed building right across the street, on Market. The alcoholics congregate in front of the little deli that sells them their cheap booze. They drink and pass out on the sidewalk during the day and sleep along the buildings at night. I live farther up Page and walk by this every morning on my way to work. I hope the residents of this proposed building won’t mind stepping over sleeping drunks and hosing vomit off their sidewalks.

  79. LMRiM, Block’s book is excellent, and I wholeheartedly agree with most of what’s in it.
    It’s dealing primarily with freeway-type roads though, rather than city street networks. However, based on the tone of the book, I feel that the recommendation for SF would involve something like I mentioned above that would limit parking and let the market naturally increase the cost of that parking, while allowing the network to remain useful and freeflowing. One thing I left out above is the need for the city to market-price meters and neighborhood parking permits too, at the same time as places caps (by lot) on parking for new construction (or changes to the lot).

  80. So, Is Anon (great name) saying that buildings should be built without parking so that those of us who have parking will see huge increases in the cost of our houses (or condos) since nobody else will have deeded parking? I am all for that type of “market force” creating more money for me.
    This is true SF Nimbyism at work. What’s next? The regulation of how many toilets or sinks new units should have? Why should master baths have two sinks when I live alone and only need one? Why should I have to pay for the second sink?

  81. “your point about roads not being free. ”
    You imply that the incremental variable cost of roads is zero or low cost with your argument. That’s what I was addressing. You’re right — free was an taking your point too far 🙂
    As for congestion pricing — that’s just an added layer with diminishing returns. We need to step back from this whole thing and figure out how to do a more direct funding and attribution to the use of roads. I’d rather have one simple approach than 20 different incremental and conflicting taxes and incentives — which is what we have with our income tax mess, come to think of it.
    My point, NVJ, is to just not have anything in our books dictating how many parking spaces. You shouldn’t be told by anyone whether you should have a car or not. That should be up to each individual.

  82. Nice hyperbole, anontoo. As I’ve said many times, I would like the city to grant numbers of parking spots by lot in the city (it would be fine to have an outside firm do the work to determine what level of parking each street could allow to maintain certain levels of throughput on the road). After that, developers can build however many units that they would like to house people.
    If a lot is approved for 10 parking spots, the developer could build one house with 10 parking spots, or he could build 40 units with a total of 10 parking spaces (selling the parking separate from the units would make the most sense, but I would leave that up to the developer). This way, the developer gets to build as much housing as he wants, without destroying the usefulness of the street.
    Sure, an effect of this would be to increase the price of existing units with parking as well as individual parking spaces. That’s called the market working to allocate a limited resource (space on roads expressed as parking) effectively. In other places, this type of thing wouldn’t work because of excessive entry points to the road network, but it would work here because we only have one entry point to the north and one to the east that both at least assign some value to the entry (toll), as well as limited access from the south. The primary cause of increased congestion on our network will come from further construction of parking within the network, thus we need to plan wisely or risk network failure that spills into other sectors.

  83. You shouldn’t be told by anyone whether you should have a car or not. That should be up to each individual.
    I don’t think anyone has said anything about not allowing people to have cars. We’re talking about limiting the number of new parking spots. That DOES NOT PREVENT you from getting a car.

  84. You imply that the incremental variable cost of roads is zero or low cost with your argument. That’s what I was addressing. You’re right — free was an taking your point too far 🙂
    I was implying that the cost to USE the roads was free (as the cost of building and maintaining hidden to the users – for the most part, gas taxes are sort of obvious to the user, but not really). It’s no different than if the government decided to start using some of our tax money to give out free coffee at Starbucks. Sure, it still costs you something, but since taking the cup each morning costs you nothing at the time you’re more likely to take it (or most people would be).

  85. Wow, this whole brouhaha over parking. I would just offer that neither side of the issue is going to be persuaded to change their minds, so people posting are simply “preaching to the choir” on their respective side of the issue. It would seem that people would have better things to do with their time.
    I would offer a correction to the person who claims that Paris only has 6-8 story buildings: You are wrong. Even in the actual city limits of Paris, there are several high-rise buildings, both residential and commercial. It is true that in the late 1970’s, Paris severely restricted further highrise development; however, there are still hundreds of highrise buildings, though admittedly only one really tall skyscraper (Tour Montparnasse, the second tallest structure behind the Eiffel Tower). However, immediately adjacent to Paris and on the Metro subway system is the La Defense business district, the largest commercial district in Europe, which contains numerous commercial skyscrapers and several residential highrises–it looks similar to any major American city skyline. As for Chicago, it is true that central Chicago is denser than central San Francisco; however, the entire City of Chicago covers a much larger area than SF (which covers a rather small area), and its density thins out once you get outside the central city, which is why Chicago as a whole is not as dense as SF as a whole.

  86. As for Chicago, it is true that central Chicago is denser than central San Francisco; however, the entire City of Chicago covers a much larger area than SF (which covers a rather small area), and its density thins out once you get outside the central city, which is why Chicago as a whole is not as dense as SF as a whole.
    More hogwash. There are three census tracts in SF that are more dense than any in Chicago (100,000 + per sqmi). These tracts cover portions of Chinatown, North Beach, and the Tenderloin. The 20 densest census tracts in SF come out to roughly 65,000 per sqmi, compared to 52,000 per sqmi for Chicago. The 50 densest census tracts in SF come out to 46,000 per sqmi, compared to 39,000 per sqmi for Chicago.
    How in the world are you coming up with the notion that central Chicago is more dense than central SF?
    All data from – there isn’t an easy way to link to the direct data.

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