The proposed 400-foot tower to rise at 399 Fremont has been redesigned, and while the project sponsors are now seeking another extension to start building, according to a plugged-in source, financing has been arranged, they are in the process of pursuing construction permits, and they expect to break ground on the site by the end of this year.


Additional renderings and details for the now 452-unit tower and podium to rise:

399 Fremont Rendering: West

Parking under the podium will now total 238 spaces for autos (including 36 tandem spaces served by valet) with two (2) spaces for car shares and space for 150 bikes.

399 Fremont Rendering: Aerial

And of course, the design prior to the redesign:

399 Fremont Rendering

UPDATE: And to answer a reader’s question, yes, those are trees atop the new tower:

399 Fremont Rendering: Roof

102 thoughts on “399 Fremont Scoop: Redesigned And Pursuing Construction Permits”
  1. 238 Parking spaces for 452 apartments, what!!!
    design improvement, SF is now moving up to the 90’s in NY, Chicago and Asia….maybe current design levels will be achieved after 2020

  2. Yeah, half the number of parking stalls as there are units is ridiculous. I would never rent/buy any place with no parking.

  3. Looks quite nice, obviously a vast improvement over the old design. Could those be trees on the roof?

  4. If I had a ton of cash I would invest long in individual SF parking spaces. No rent control, no maintenance, and getting scarcer by the minute.
    Anyway, this looks great – build it! Traffic here could be a nightmare for a while though – three projects going on at the same intersection!

  5. 1/2 mile from the FiDi, 1/4 mile from the Embarcadero. Theoretically this is a great walking location.
    The issue I think is grocery stores. How do you handle groceries around ORH and 399 Fremont?
    Can’t they impose a grocery store in this building? It would serve ORH 1&2 as well as all future developments.
    This area deserves a shopping center with restaurants and coffee shops. I wonder why they didn’t think of creating an Embarcadero Center redux there. It would be just perfect.

  6. Beautiful building! But the City’s approach to parking really has me scratching my head. If they keep building these high rises, most of which are built on former parking lots, where is everyone supposed to park? Sure, public transportation. But let’s be honest, not a great option for commuters from Peninsula.

  7. Caltrain and BART work just fine from the peninsula, I have several coworkers who take Caltrain daily and we aren’t even downtown.

  8. So many concerns about parking. I’m pretty sure the market will sort it out – ie, if you want parking to come with your condo and none is available here, you won’t buy. Seems too obvious, no?

  9. MUCH better! 333 Fremont, 333 Harrison, One Rincon II, this project, and possibly 45 Lansing – It’s going to be a busy few years up there on Rincon Hill.

  10. you can’t call for more density and more parking. everyone on this forum wants SF to be more like Chicago and NY. Those cities don’t have much parking.

  11. If you live in a location like this it makes a huge amount of sense to go carless and use city car share, rentals, and taxis when you need an auto….as you really should be car free most of the time.
    A functioning taxi system would make downtown living so much more convenient in SF.
    A small grocery/everyday convenience store would seem to make sense given the density of units in the area. I’m sure something will pop up. But for more major shopping not that far from Whole Foods or Safeway.

  12. If you’ll never rent/buy any place with no parking, then look elsewhere. What’s important is there are lot of buyers who do not care. The developer probably have a better idea of the actual market demand is.
    They can also bring in car sharing service. Some estimate one shared car can replace 10-20 privately own cars. This is a huge win in terms of the real estate saved.

  13. I don’ think that there is much conversation to be had around parking spaces… being that the apparent direction is to limit parking, in order to reduce interest in car ownership and shift the stress onto public transit, pedestrianism and biking—all great concepts in theory. Unfortunately, as of right now, the trains are unreliable, and often way over capacity at peak hours, and the buses are shit. If there isn’t a strong push to reinforce public transit, limiting parking spaces in new developments will no doubt become a massive issue in the city.

  14. This building is gorgeous. Can’t wait for it to hit the skyline. Lots of folks don’t have cars and use ZIP car. All the new buildings will have a fleet of ZIP cars in their garages for the residents.

  15. @Rob,
    It is not theoretical. I have a number of colleagues living in SOMA. All of them seemingly choose to walk to work. And all of them love it. One live in One Rincon opposite to this project.

  16. yes it’s walkable. What you find in a 10-block radius is pretty good. There’s just not much happening in the 1-to-5 block radius in terms of shopping. Which means you need a car if you have more than 10Lbs of groceries to haul.
    People will pay a million bucks for a 2 bedroom, but they also want the lifestyle that comes with it. Taking a bus or a cab with your plastic bags is not part of that lifestyle I think.

  17. 3 Ionizing Tower Fans in 2 blocks. I see a pattern there.
    Oakland will be paying for the particulate filters.

  18. Wow always about parking. Hey, if you don’t like it, don’t buy here! I’m sure there are 225 people in the world who could care less about the hassle that comes with a car- maintenance, vandalism, dings of your paint and windows from the highway, bumper scars from parallel parking.
    This is the market at work, people, I am tired of subsidizing auto use. The Transbay Terminal and high speed rail will be about 4 blocks away. I do agree that public transit in SF is incredibly efficient and slow, but, again, market forces will work themselves out and transit will become more efficient with the added tax revenue from all these new towers in order to improve MUNI for those who don’t have a car. Badda bing badda boom.

  19. what’s the unit mix of this project?
    The unit mix as Approved/Proposed:
    Studios: 76/66
    One-bedrooms: 183/206
    Two-bedroom: 167/171
    Three-bedrooms: 0/5
    Townhomes: 6/4
    Total: 432/452
    A total of 432 parking spaces were originally proposed and approved versus the 238 space design now being pursued.

  20. sf,
    the issue I have with these new developments is that you need local shopping. These towers add 1000s of people who need to eat in a place totally void of any kind of decent grocery store close by.
    The Beacon for instance does include a Safeway. This is a win-win: Safeway has a good client base and Beacon dwellers can do grocery shopping in their loafers.
    They should plan for something similar for RH. This area is growing fast.

  21. “The issue I think is grocery stores. How do you handle groceries around ORH and 399 Fremont?”
    Safeway delivery service?

  22. ^^^ lol. I can imagine the mess from double-parking of the Safeway truckS to the ID check at the lobby and the back and forth of delivery boys in the elevators.
    Close to 1000 people and the best option for groceries is home delivery? FAIL.

  23. Yes there needs to be a good grocery store. I think it would be cool to repurpose one of the abandoned warehouses in the area into a fresh locally grown produce and seafood market.

  24. These buildings will bring in the demand which will provide an incentive for somone to build a supermarket. It will be a very profitable area, no present competition and lots of potential customers. It’s like downtown LA. They just got their firt full serivce supermarket in decades. Its the most profitable location in LA for Ralph’s and because of its profitability more markets are moving in and then everyone will have even better accessibility. The same thing could, and likely will, happen around these buildings.

  25. Yes, it is impossible to find room for a delivery truck. That’s why they must build 70,000 square feet of additional parking.
    Maybe there’s no grocery store within 5 blocks today, but if once these things are built and the customers are there (with significant money and no car) don’t you think someone might see an opportunity, maybe?
    If you can’t carry your groceries, learn from the people who do it often: old ladies. Get a granny cart. For $30 you can get one that carries 150 pounds.
    Ultimately there’s only so much space on the roads. The city can build more roads (no), limit the number of new apartments built (yay, living here will be even more expensive!) or simply limit the amount of parking built. That last option sounds fine to me. People will work around it.

  26. My grandmother used to walk 6-7 blocks to the supermarket to fetch groceries. She rolled them home in one of those wire folding basket shopping carts with two wheels. I’m sure she hauled in excess of twenty pounds of stuff in that thing.
    In case it isn’t clear Grandma was an elderly lady without anywhere near the strength of a lumberjack. Yet she had no problems with that basic errand. Surely the incoming inhabitants of this area can do the same. If that wire basket shopping cart is too frumpy then just put a bird on it.
    And of course if there’s demand then most likely someone’s gonna open a grocery even closer. No surprise that there hasn’t been a grocery there yet since the neighborhood isn’t very populated. With 2RH and this new building the population will triple.

  27. Alai,
    Good luck with your 150Lbs granny carts. As I said, people who shell out 1M do not want to have the lifestyle of poor urban dweller.
    And I totally agree that if you bring them (warm bodies), they will come (supermarkets).
    What surprises me is that it was not considered in ORH or 399 Fremont. They would be a pretty viable tenant and a good source of HOA revenue, especially if they include paid parking like at The Beacon.

  28. “People will pay a million bucks for a 2 bedroom, but they also want the lifestyle that comes with it. Taking a bus or a cab with your plastic bags is not part of that lifestyle I think.”
    It’s all a matter of perspective and opinion. You don’t think people in NYC or other large cities deal w/the same issue w/out a car?
    There’s a Whole Foods at 4th and Harrison (i.e. 3.5 blocks away). I live at Spear and Folsom and yes, the neighborhood needs more retail as more capacity comes on line but it’s not a desert nor is it unlivable without a car.

  29. “Maybe there’s no grocery store within 5 blocks today”
    But there is! Whole Foods is on 4th and Harrison, about 0.5 mile away. If someone needs basic stuff, Gabby’s market is on Harrison and Main, only 0.1 mile away.
    Seriously, people just make comments and have no idea what they are talking about.

  30. sfjhawk,
    True, it’s only 1/2 mile away. That underpass on Harrison w/on-off ramp sucks though. Only one usable sidewalk.

  31. @lol,
    True. For a neighborhood that is in most cases super-walkable, Harrison isn’t the best to stroll down. Depending on the circumstances, I’ve walked, biked, taken muni (roundabout/safer ways for bike and muni), and yes, taken the car to get to WF. It’s all doable.

  32. @Wai Yip Tung Right. I totally think its practical. I was referring to theory vs practice. I have no doubts in the direction at all. We just need an equally brilliant public transit option.

  33. There is also the Rincon Market nearby I was told. It is not exactly a desert. But the area could certainly use more retails. Is there any thing planned, given there are so much development going on?

  34. @lol,
    Of course! This isn’t the sfgate/WSJ comment board.
    Honestly, I was hoping that they would’ve put a mini-market in the retail space at the Infinity (ended up being a dentist office blah). Rincon and Gabby’s are ok, but something more robust would be nice.

  35. @Ann,
    I don’t think ‘pressured,’ is the accurate term as opposed to encouraging alternative transportation choices over driving has been part of the broader vision/plan for development in soma from the get go. It’s the same mode of thought that also had former Mayor Newsom thinking about enforcing tolls progressive tolls to enter the city (and have drivers pay more the further downtown they needed to drive).
    Keep me in check SS’ers, but I think all new condo developments (post Infinity) will have mandated valet parking (vs. unfettered in/out parking) in the neighborhood as part of that effort to discourage individual car traffic.

  36. Why do I suspect most of the car phobia is caused by people who have cars themselves? Parking is difficult on their street in Noe Valley so they blcok underground garages below towers downtown?
    What all of this tells me is that any unit with deeded parking is a great long term investment.
    The flaw in the whole blocking of parking is that many tower dwellers are not daily users of autos. Also, only in Northern California do you see so much finger wagging such as telling million dollar condo buyers that they MUST walk to groceries. (“You know, the market is only 5 blocks from your tower, why didn’t you walk!?”) Tell that to my 72 year old retired executive father! I can think of no city in America where more people spend more time trying to control other people’s lives.

  37. So valet for 238 (about half) spaces?
    No. As reported above, “Parking under the podium will now total 238 spaces for autos (including 36 tandem spaces served by valet)” and versus the 432 spaces which were approved by the City back in 2006.

  38. “I can think of no city in America where more people spend more time trying to control other people’s lives.”
    I’m not quite sure how to read this: i.e., as in is it: 1) the City of SF implementing policy driven by urban planning that encourages minimal use of cars; 2) condo developers who don’t build enough parking; or, 3) just people in general (like the commenters on this board) that are attempts at controlling other people’s lives?
    Overall, it’s a little ludicrous to think that any of those contexts apply here. No one’s ‘controlling,’ anyone’s lives by forcing them to purchase a condo here.

  39. My comment was directed not about the “City of San Frnacisco”, but to some of comments above regarding restricting off street garage parking in the city. It seems that every large project that is presented here causes an eruption of howls about the horrors of automobiles.
    But it really hits the fan when I read a comment like this posted earlier;
    “If you can’t carry your groceries, learn from the people who do it often: old ladies. Get a granny cart. For $30 you can get one that carries 150 pounds.”
    As I mentioned earlier, the finger waggers need to wait till they are in their 70’s with possible poor health before they mandate how the rest of us should live.

  40. ^^^ agreed. If you want a city that drives less, increase density in the core, add all services someone needs to have a proper lifestyle, and get enough jobs and shopping. This City seems to be doing that rather well, but with a few hiccups.

  41. I love it how it’s the developer asking to build fewer parking spots and somehow people here are still finding a way to blame the city for fewer parking spots. Too funny. Can’t let the market decide how many parking spots are needed – that’d be socialism!

  42. One Less Parking Lot. I love it.
    San Francisco is the only county in California that has a “transit first” policy. If driving is the most important thing in your life, you might want to consider living in one of the other 51 counties in The State.

  43. You know, this whole dialogue that goes on incessantly here in The City regarding cars, hating cars, few parking spaces in new buildings, hard to find a parking spot in your neighborhood, congestion, blah blah blah:
    Get’s pretty tiresome. It’s trendy, cool, and hip to talk down about cars in SF: it means you CARE about the planet, you live a “green” live and somehow you’re just a little holier than the next person. It’s the classic San Francisco smugness app. Too many people download it, mindlessly.
    I’m sure a lot of us here drive a car, like myself, and use transit (when I choose) and also walk a lot. The City gives us those choices.
    But when I drive, I never experience “congestion” even driving across town from Noe to Fort Mason. I find a parking spot wherever I go; may take some time but I always find one. It’s not like we’re congested like the inner core of London or Paris.
    There will be people who need and want to drive a car, and park it in their building. They should be allowed to. The developers should be allowed to provide off street parking.
    I like choices.

  44. And this, just like all developments, are providing that choice, so it seems that you are the one doing the incessant complaining.

  45. @EnoughAlready,
    me thinks you doth protest too much! 😉
    No one’s ‘mandating,’ anything here. OK, maybe some finger wagging, but it’s all in good spirit, as in it’s not as hard as you think it is.
    As someone who has two parents in their 70’s (but still live in the midwest) I can empathize w/your position and have though about potential scenarios in which they stay w/me for an extended period. It’s not exactly a safe environment (esp during rush hours near the temporary Transbay terminal) for anyone on the streets: pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers. Speaking only for myself, I would put very minimal expectation on my parents to run even basic errands by themselves (which they still drive to in a completely different environment in the midwest: less busy roads, miles not blocks from the store, etc.). Yet, inline w/some of the earlier comments, we see plenty of older people in the city manage it just fine.
    From a broader perspective, one could also argue the point that less cars on the streets = safer streets for everyone, including our aging parents/citizens.

  46. Choice are great. I want people who make choices that impact other people to pay the full cost of that choice, including the negative externality they impose on others due to their choice.
    Right now, automobile drivers are massively subsidized to the detriment of everyone else. Actually even to their own detriment but they don’t really fully realize it. And there are so few alternatives that most either don’t even consider it, or give it up due to the great expense. The market has found it impossible to build walkable human scale neighborhoods, which is why places like Noe and The Castro are being bid up so much. Even areas around Palo Alto and Mt. View downtown are starting to get run up in price.
    Rincon Hill is an outstanding effort to build one from scratch, in one of the few municipalities that has the political will to do so. I am sure that grocery stores and the like will follow, as there is an outstanding opportunity here.
    Have you seen that cities are outpacing suburbs in growth in the United States?
    Many U.S. cities are growing faster than their suburbs for the first time in decades, reflecting shifting attitudes about urban living as well as the effect of a housing bust that has put a damper on moving.
    It will be another decade or so until we know if this is a permanent change or just an artifact of the housing bust, but I am pretty sure it is the former.

  47. NoeValleyJim…I saw that headline too….but I think the headline overstates reality. The article was comparing 2000-2010 growth to a estimates of the last year (2010-2011), finding things had turned around. Given the overall lack of residential development during the recession, it is not unusual that long term trends of suburbanization would slow or even reverse…but the truly telling statistics will be 2010-2020. I don’t find this factoid all that useful or relevant.

  48. @ NVJ: What is the “massively subsidized” comment all about? To the detriment of everyone? Care to share more info?
    Yes, suburbs have their own issues dealing with the car and mass transit. But not everyone can nor wants to live in a large city with public transit and no need for a car.
    Also, I’m not sure that Noe and The Castro, for example, are pricey just do to the walk-ability factor.

  49. It is hilarious how those who complain about the city limiting their choices are the same people wanting to impose their choice in every neighborhood.
    Just as there are people who prefer to live in a low crime area, some prefer to live in areas too dense to support a drive-everywhere lifestyle.

  50. @futurist,
    With all due respect, our realities are a bit different. After 15 years in SF: w/stops in Portero Hill, North Beach, Marina, and now 4 years in soma, and as someone like yourself, drives and uses transit (and bikes and walks), I would never characterize my experience as “never experiencing congestion,” nor as finding parking as always easy (w/the exception of Portero Hill which is most like NV when it came to parking at least when I was there in ’98). While it’s one anecdote, NV to Ft. Mason is a relatively softer example (street parking to open parking lot) then say, Mission street parking to North Beach/Marina street parking example. Having lived one block off the Embarcadero (and near the Bay Bridge and 280 off ramps) for the past 4 years (and more recently, one block from the temporary Transbay Terminal), I have definitely noticed the uptick and have seen many days of congestion (esp during the summer/tourist season). I’m sure most of my neighbors can validate this.
    True, SF is not Manhattan, London, or Paris in this context, but we at least have to appreciate the fact that someone’s thinking about how we scale the city as we add additional housing capacity. It’s hard to imagine SF’s population increasing to well over 1M with everyone assuming that driving will be their main mode of transport. It’s not scalable.
    I love choices as well and own a car but do find myself driving less and less when I know that there are days when I can bike to the Marina to visit friends in less time than it would take me to drive and park.

  51. Yup, our realities are different. My experience then is different from some others: Having lived in SF for over 30 years and Noe V for over 26, I really don’t notice a change in traffic and driving around. Seems about the same to me when I moved here. But sure, if I’m meeting some friends for dinner on a Friday nite in the Valencia corridor, I would not hesitate to walk there. Makes sense. But if I’m going to dinner in the upper Fillmore, I would drive. Public transit across town is horrible and at times dangerous. Ever ride the 22 Fillmore late at nite? Disgusting.
    For sure Muni is slower and less reliable today.
    But also to both MOD and sfjhawk, I certainly never said nor implied what you both said: “drive everywhere lifestyle” Who said that? and “driving main mode of transport”. Who said that?

  52. Oy, the nitpicking. You know what I meant. So replace “drive everywhere lifestyle” with “car dependent lifestyle” then.

  53. @futurist,
    You’re right: “main mode of transport,” doesn’t apply to you, nor to the scenario of someone simply wanting choices. My bad if you read it this way.
    Overall, if someone falls into that category of wanting choices when it comes to transportation (drive, muni, walk, bike), my points are pretty simple: 1) no one’s mandating/controlling anyone on this issue/you most definitely do have that freedom/power! (if you can afford all those choices, have at it); 2) practically speaking, it’s becoming less so to use a car as a main mode of transport in the city; and, 3) if from the Big Picture pov, having safer streets and more manageable traffic (no congestion) for everyone as the population/housing capacity increases means encouraging less cars (either by policy or developers recognizing that parking spaces aren’t that profitable in new developments), then it’s a good thing IMHO.

  54. Lots of big talk for a city that has lack luster transit. When SF can decide to grow up and become a real transit city and back up all “its finger wagging” that is when I will get rid of my car. MUNI & Bart are horribly designed systems! Who’s bright idea was it to push all lines onto a single set of tracks down Market. That is just pure genius there. In the best of conditions during rush hour the congestion is staggering… if you have a single problem with one train or an issue with a station or tracks the entire system comes crashing down. So whenever SF decides to back up it’s talk of transit with an actual reliable well thought out system that can get you around town in reasonable times that is when car haters can resume.

  55. Again, why are we having this conversation?
    This is the DEVELOPER asking to build fewer parking spots, because clearly he/she’s done the math to figure out that HALF of his expected buyers will NOT want a parking spot, at least at the cost that he/she would be able to build it. That’s the MARKET asking for more than 200 (!!!!) fewer spots than the plot is currently approved for.
    That’s absolutely astonishing to me, and tells me that many folks really are ditching their cars (regardless of the sorry state of Muni, etc).

  56. + 1 anon
    Meanwhile, look for Davester driving around town w/the Dodgers and a Marathon in town this weekend. 🙂

  57. “This is the DEVELOPER asking to build fewer parking spots”
    Not necessarily so. In some areas Planning only ALLOWS 0.5 parking spaces to units. O sor some other fraction) Many deveopers would prefer to have more parking, including underground parking, but it is not allowed by Planning and Transit First.

  58. ^Peruse planning’s website. 432 spaces are currently approved for this site. The developer is asking to reduce this to 238.
    This is not within a 0.5 zone anyway.
    [Editor’s Note: Or as we wrote above, “Parking under the podium will now total 238 spaces for autos (including 36 tandem spaces served by valet)…versus the 432 spaces which were approved by the City back in 2006.”]

  59. Davester dares to point out the elephant in the room, which is this city has crappy public transit!! The developer is asking for fewer spaces, but the conversation turned into finger wagging regarding those who still may select to buy a unit with deeded parking. As Davester mentions, if you are going cross town from somewhere like Noe to the Marina, public transit is not an option if your time and safety are valuable.

  60. as a city which promotes diversity so fiercely , i find it ironic that the planning commission will approve three projects (and four 300′ plus towers) by the same architectural firm within 800′ of each other:
    rincon towers, fremont and folsom, and this project. in the rendering posted, please note the reflection of their own building across the street- awesome self promotion.
    with as many quality designers there are in this world, why would you ever take such a high percentage of the proposed projects/towers in the trans bay area and them give to one firm? doesn’t our skyline deserve diversity too?
    the design doesn’t suck, but it’s pretty much a one liner, and as mentioned below passe’. the mid-rise piece is more interesting, and the project doesn’t seem be that friendly to the street.
    get over the parking issue. walk, ride a bike, don’t buy there. i commend the city’s stance on maximum parking numbers. if the market supports it- so be it.
    demand better people

  61. I think a grocery store a la Trader Joe’s would be a smashing success in Rincon Hill. The old Embarcadero Postal Center recently bought by the MTC probably has the best potential on a quiet stretch of Beale Street and already consisting of trailer truck bay openings and a heavy duty elevator or two big enough to lift an army tank. I do look forward to seeing the retail spaces of 399 Fremont facing Harrison and Rincon Hill Park.

  62. Telling people to “get over” an issues is really just dismissing their point of view. This adds nothing meaningful to the dialogue.
    As for the same firm designing several towers downtown, I’m pretty sure the Planning Commission does not discriminate against who designs the project and who does not. It appears this particular design firm is just being successful at securing clients who hire them. Nothing wrong with that.
    Would you say the same thing if the same 3 projects were all designed by, say, Cesar Pelli, or Piano Rogers, or SOM?

  63. I am always kind of surprised when people complain about the lack of safety on Muni. Do they think that they are safer in a private automobile? If by safety, they mean the chance of getting injured or killed, you are safer on Muni, hand down. You have less than 1/4 the chance of getting killed per mile on a bus than in a car and your chance of injury is even less than that.
    Of course, you chance of sitting next to a smelly person is greater on the bus. Is that the kind of safety you mean?
    futurist, unfortunately I do not have time right now to go over the topic of automobile subsidies in depth. I was kind of hoping that MoD would do it for me, but he did not.
    There are direct subsidies, like the highways, which are no longer covered by fuel taxes, indirect subsidies, like all the “free” and reduced price parking that The City provides on roadways, direct externalities, like the fact that pedestrians and others are killed by cars and by car pollution and indirect externalities, like the fact that we run a persistent trade deficit due to our demand for imported fuel.
    Various people have come up with different numbers, but the overall subsidy is at least thousands of dollars a citizen a year.
    The Automobile Subsidy is a good excerpt from Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream .
    Suburban Nation is a good book by two of the founders of the Smart Growth movement, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Jeff Speck. As an architect you are probably familiar with Plater-Zyberk, on of the founders of Arquitectonica. It is worth checking out.

  64. Tell ya what NVJ; You ride the bus next to some smelly nutbag late at night on the 22.
    I’ll stick with my car.
    We both have choices. I like mine. Thank you very much.

  65. NoeValleyJim provides a good introduction to the hard asset subsidies that our governments grant automobile users and those are just some examples, there are many avenues that subsidize cars.
    In addition to those tangible subsidies there’s been ongoing taking of less tangible assets from non-motoring to motoring traffic. Street laws for example often transfer convenience from walkers to motorists. Consider walking from Lulu near 4th and Folsum to Hotel Utah at 4th and Bryant. Even though both locations are on the same side of 4th you’re forced to cross 4th and then back due to the crosswalk configuration at Harrison. Not only does it take longer but the extra crossing at 4th exposes more danger and is unpleasant to boot. This problem could be easily and cheaply fixed with a signalled crosswalks on both sides of 4th at Harrison but that would inconvenience motorists too much.
    That’s just one case of this type of intangible, there are hundreds of missing crosswalks and forced detours all over the bay area. And there are plenty of other ways that walkers, transit riders, and cyclists are neglected by our “business as usual” transportation policies.

  66. I’ll get out of my car a lot more often when San Francisco’s Transit Sucks becomes truly Transit First.

  67. Well, if you were anywhere near the Embarcadero (ball park to Fisherman’s Wharf) or 3rd Street (ball park to Market) today, you definitely got your wish granted: those people were in their cars for awhile and probably a bit longer than they wanted (if the amount of honking is an indicator).

  68. I actually cycle almost everywhere these days, often with a kid on the back. I prefer it to Muni or driving for most trips.
    Muni is pretty mediocre but SF still has the best transit system of anywhere in the West.
    I am fine with free choice. I am not fine with being forced to subsidize a choice that causes extra risks to me as well as poisoning the air I breathe and the planet we all need to survive. Global warming is become more and more of a problem just as the scientists warned us a decade ago.

  69. Huge improvement! This thing is beautiful and I can’t wait to see it get built along with ORH2. ORH1 needs the company!

  70. Whoaaaaaaaaa NVJ.!!
    So I can deduce from your last comment that you sometimes drive a vehicle on our public streets and roads. Correct?
    But you don’t want to pay your share in “subsidizing” those choices? Come on. Maybe lighten up a bit. We’re all in this together. Cycling is a tiny, tiny, tiny portion of personal transit here and in some cities almost non-existent. Cycling won’t solve all of the climate change problems.
    And also, those public streets and roads that we all pay for, including me, are the same public ways that you bicycle on. And as a pedestrian, I am sometimes at risk by the rogue cyclists in this city.
    Remember the elderly gentlemen killed in the crosswalk by a cyclist flying thru at Castro/Market just recently?
    Let’s make sure this is a fair and balanced discussion, ok?

  71. Transportation has always and should always be subsidized. If anything, we need more subsidies and not less.
    Complaining that “cars” are subsidized is beside the point. They are currently the dominant form of transportation, so they drive on subsidized roads and bridges. If we all used buses, then buses would drive on subsidized roads and bridges.
    Because low cost transportation has such positive economic externalities, it should be subsidized.
    The more interesting point here is the tension between monopolizing land (location) versus transportation. People move to the burps because the wealthiest buy up land in the city center.
    As long as we continue to restrict zoning and prevent density, then people will continue to buy land on the outskirts and rely on transportation. In this sense, cheap transportation creates freedom — freedom from the incumbent landowner, that you don’t need to pay them an unreasonably high proportion of your labor merely to have a space in which to live and to do business.
    We need to seriously look at this tension, and if we are to reduce subsidies for transportation, then we need to massively upzone the cities to allow people of average means to own property and have production space in a denser environment.

  72. BRAVO Robert!
    What you wrote is exactly the REAL problem.
    “The more interesting point here is the tension between monopolizing land (location) versus transportation. People move to the burbs because the wealthiest buy up land in the city center”
    “As long as we continue to restrict zoning and prevent density, then people will continue to buy land on the outskirts and rely on transportation”
    Brilliant and spot on! And this is why parts of the Bay Area has the density of Phoenix, despite some pockets in San Francisco and Oakland.

  73. Yes, in general transportation should be subsidized if for no other reason the efficiencies of bulk funding vs. nickel and diming travelers. But that doesn’t mean that all modes should receive the same level of support. Subsidies should reflect the net public good of the transportation mode.
    The automobile mode consumes an enormous amount of space per passenger compared to most others and that is one of the factors that obstructs the increase of density in cities that Robert mentions. How many times have you heard people complain here that a project needs more off-street parking? That consumes space that could be used for business or living.
    If we want more affordable city living then we need to shift subsidies away from space hogging transportation modes and into more efficient modes.

  74. ^^^ Did you mean “what are the more efficient modes?” ? Well that would be just about anything else. Except for commuting by private zeppelin.

  75. Here’s a thought MOD.
    We all need to step outside our little bubble of an island called San Francisco and forget our completely self-entitled view of the world sometimes. It’s incredibly San Franciscan to be anti-car. It’s hip, it’s cool, it’s smug.
    It can also be very myopic. Cars, for all their evil sides, and yes pollution is an important topic, I get that. But cars offer the occupant/user complete freedom to get to and from a place at any time and at their choosing, in the comfort, safety and yes luxury of this personal transit mode. It would be awesome if all cars suddenly went electric and produced no carbon. We’re not there yet, but it’s possible.
    Step outside San Francisco the outer reaches, the countryside, the foothills, the forest towns near Tahoe, the desert towns: all those areas function because of the private vehicle. Go to farm towns, go to the midwest; same thing.
    So called “affordable” city living will never happen. It’s a product of the market; the supply and demand of housing, the land cost. San Francisco and other great cities will always be expensive; thanks to desirability and demand. Not everyone can and will be able to afford it here. Let’s hope the demand for living here and the creative types who want to live here never dries up. Then we’ll see how cheap Sf gets and how empty it becomes.
    And one more thing: the private vehicle has absolutely nothing to do with the “affordability” of city living.

  76. I have a feeling that the smug anti car crowd would even hate a 100% fleet of pollution free green electric vehicles as well. They would see the green cars as taking up space on THEIR roads, parking next to THEIR sidewalks and otherwise destroying THEIR 1890’s rural fantasy San Francisco they are trying to re-create.
    But as PORTLANDIA shows, the dream of the 1890’s is alive with hipsters in Los Angeles and Portland as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPKe9OfWs-M

  77. Yea, good way of putting it NissanLeaf.
    The smug anti-car crowd of San Francisco truly would prefer that ALL of us adopt their way of thinking: either walk, ride a bicycle or take public transit: there are no other choices.
    I’m glad we have choices and always will, I believe.

  78. If you guys would spend less time beating up on your straw man and have a discussion with the real people here you might have a more constructive dialogue. No one on this thread has suggested banning cars.
    Housing in San Francisco is expensive because land is scarce. Most of the land in San Francisco is set aside for auto use, which keeps it from being used for housing. So I disagree with you futurist: I believe that our transportation choices have a huge impact on housing costs.
    We also need to consider how we can move people at higher densities. Cars won’t cut it – you simply cannot move the number of people that live in a truly dense city like Hong Kong or Manhattan just in private automobiles, there just isn’t enough space.
    Car really don’t offer the astounding freedom you claim either futurist. Yesterday I bicycled to and from the Giants game and it took me about half an hour each way from Upper Noe. It would have taken much longer in a car and I would have spent most of it stuck in traffic due to the Marathon and game. It is a strange kind of “freedom” to be free to sit in a traffic jam.
    Bicycles are dangerous as well as you pointed out, but the dangers to pedestrians are somewhere on the order of 10 to 100 times as much for automobiles. Cyclists in San Francisco absolutely should be more considerate of pedestrians but the real risk to other road users in both San Francisco and nationwide comes overwhelming from autos.

  79. So I believe we have reached consensus:
    1) massively upzone to allow higher densities so that urban living is much more affordable.
    2) invest in more mass transit
    3) continue to subsidize roads and other transportation infrastructure
    4) Raise gasoline taxes to better cover the costs of car specific externalities (e.g. automobile pollution) but leave transportation specific subsidies (roads/bridges) intact.
    Germany is a great example of a nation that loves the automobile, yet invests heavily in public transit.
    They are also much more liberal about upzoning, and are able to bring so many new units to market that house prices have been in secular decline there for a long time.
    You can rent a 1 bedroom apartment in Frankfurt city center — with excellent build quality — for less than 700 euro per month.
    So it is not true that living in the city center must be as expensive as it currently is. That is primarily due to zoning laws and various property subsidies — these are more responsible for our current automobile congestion than insufficient gasoline taxes, but both are needed.

  80. Nice summary Robert. A couple of political third rails in your proposal though: upzoning and raising of gas taxes (last fed increase was in the 1990s. I think road costs have risen a little since then !) SF has actually been a relatively good regional citizen when it comes to upzoning. I’m thinking SOMA and Mission Bay. The rest of the greater Bay Area needs to do more.
    Personally I’d like to see the subsidies adjusted to reflect the fact that we’ve endured over a half century of automobile-first transportation planning. We have excellent roads and copious parking but our transit infrastructure is a shambles and in most places serves only as a last resort for those who don’t have the ability or finances to drive. Transit needs to be restored to being an attractive option compared to driving. You won’t get there by giving crumbs to transit while spending billions annually to increase freeway capacity.
    I predict a difficult transition becoming more difficult the longer we procrastinate.

  81. While I’m all for increasing the quality and intensity of public transit (and getting rid of the bullying capacity of the unions, allowing for over-paid and sometimes lazy transit drivers), I don’t see public transit EVER being an attractive option compared to driving.
    Remember, my car gets me anywhere, anytime, exactly in the place I wish to be, whether it’s in The City, or on a road trip to Tahoe.
    I also would hardly call our roads “excellent”.

  82. Futurist,
    When I was working in the South Bay, driving was the clear choice. Now that I work in downtown, taking transit is the clear choice. For me, it is much superior. I can read, I can grab a coffee and relax and the muni takes me to work. All for $62 per month in total transportation cost.
    I understand, however, that this is due to living in a dense environment with public transit options. Rather than trying to impose costs on those living elsewhere, I would prefer to increase their options by increasing housing supply in urban areas and increasing funding of transit. I am not a big fan of punishing people who choose to buy property on the outskirts because they have been priced out of buying in the core due to zoning restrictions.

  83. “I don’t see public transit EVER being an attractive option compared to driving.”
    You should try living in London or Tokyo sometime. Too dense to allow everyone to drive combined with a comprehensive transit system while still supporting a high standard of living. There’s no technical reason why the Bay Area cannot do the same. And though overreaching labor unions degrade transit that’s not the core problem. Not by a long shot.

  84. Oh, the limits of online discussions!!
    @MOD: I’ve lived in London, loved it and yes, used The Tube all over the place and we walked. But we ALSO sometimes rented a car to see the countryside.
    Don’t you guys get it? About choices?
    City: transit and walking. Forget about biking for me, too damn dangerous.
    Suburban/country: car, sometimes Bart.
    I guess I keep reading into your comments too much absolutism, without flexibility. I am a very flexible architect.
    No pun intended.

  85. Don’t you get it? No-one’s trying to limit choices, quite the opposite. Buildings like 399 Fremont expand the limited choices for people who want a place to live but don’t want to pay for bundled parking.

  86. “I guess I keep reading into your comments too much absolutism, without flexibility. I am a very flexible architect.”
    You’re guessing right, futurist. It’s all good but most comments here aren’t absolutist: you do have a choice; no one’s mandating/controlling anyone on the drive/don’t drive issue; we’re just discussing the pro’s and can’s of what’s practical for a growing city like SF (congestion, safety, parking, etc.).
    I’m guessing that this development could help address this need for choice by following suit of other developments like the Infinity (where I’m a resident) that provide zipcars in the garage for residents’ use.

  87. Does anyone know if construction has started on this project? There is activity at the site but I can’t tell if it is for 399 Fremont or staging for 333 Fremont.

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