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As we reported in May:

With San Francisco’s Planning Commission having cleared the way for Millennium Partners’ proposed 706 Mission Street condo tower and Mexican Museum to rise up to 510 feet, 40 feet fewer than originally proposed, a group of homeowners from the adjacent Four Seasons Residences are preparing a ballot measure in an attempt to either block or significantly shorten the proposed building.

According to the San Francisco Business Times, the ballot measure being drafted by “The Friends of Yerba Buena” would attempt to strengthen the existing Proposition K which limits the casting of net new shadows on city parks but currently allows city commissions leeway in deciding whether or not a new building’s shadows should be allowed.

The proposed 706 Mission Street tower would cast a bit of new morning shadow upon San Francisco’s Union Square, but the City’s Recreation and Park Commission agreed to exempt the tower from the restrictions of Proposition K, ruling that the impact of the new shadows would not be adverse to the use of the park.

Taking exception to accusations that they’re simply trying to protect their views, the group of homeowners claim not to be opposed to the new tower, simply to its impact on Union Square, and would apparently support the tower if it only rose to 351 feet in height.

The Four Seasons is 430 feet tall.

Unless Millennium Partners meets The Friends’ demands by early next week, The Friends say they will move forward with their “let the sun shine on our parks” ballot measure “which would prohibit buildings over 40 feet tall that cast shadows on parks, unless approved by voters on a citywide ballot,” a measure which would impact dozens of other developments in San Francisco.

According to the Business Times, former Supervisor Aaron Peskin will lead the ballot referendum for The Friends. And in related news, the list price for the The Penultimate Four Seasons Pad (765 Market Street #27A) has just been reduced $500,000, now asking $7,900,000.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Sam

    Haha, just so good. They’ve gone too far, even San Francisco wouldn’t approve this ballot measure.

  2. Posted by Bob

    I’m actually a little relieved at their sense of entitlement – its so out of whack with reality that I dont think a ballot proposition would be successful.

  3. Posted by SocketSite

    They’ve gone too far, even San Francisco wouldn’t approve this ballot measure.
    Of course phrasing and biases are in play, but “the group recently bankrolled a David Binder poll showing that 55 percent of San Francisco voters approve a strengthened park shadow ban, and 60 percent would back an ordinance requiring a citywide vote for any project over 40 feet that would cast a shadow on a city park.”

  4. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Any pretense of Peskin being a Progressive should be entirely shot by now. He is entirely a tool of wealthy homeowners.

  5. Posted by OMN

    I don’t believe that people in this city (especially the ones who are moving in recently) are stupid enough to approve of such a ballot initiative.

  6. Posted by Alex

    This is really disappointing. The extent that people will go to just to protect their views is insane. All I can say is build the tower!

  7. Posted by BTinSF

    Just call it what it is: RACIST for attempting to prevent the long effort to create a Mexican Museum in SF. Make it a poor Hispanic vs rich white people vote, then let’s see how it goes.
    I just hope someone is smart enough and has the money (the developer?) to do this.

  8. Posted by egg_cream_of_OCD

    There was a time when the city came together and put the kibosh on the “Manhattanization” of San Francisco. Its that time again. The Mexican Museum will happen regardless, and its a twisted insult to all Native peoples to try to hold the museum hostage for another butt-ugly box.

  9. Posted by Bob

    1980 called, and they would like their tired political rhetoric back. It’s no longer “progressive” to advocate for sprawl and manhattan is one of the most vibrant and economically powerful cities in the country.
    So don’t waste all of our time with the half baked dogma ok?

  10. Posted by Dan

    egg-cream: how do you know the Mexican Museum will happen without this building? The museum already was unable to raise the funds to build the museum themselves, hence the plan to partner with the condo developers. Are you planning to help them raise the money?

  11. Posted by Oceangoer

    Thanks egg-cream. I am so tired of the cry to build build build, up up up … and no I am not a rich Pacific Heights person, just someone who loves San Francisco and wants it to retain a semlance of itself.

  12. Posted by Joel

    @Dan – Maybe he’s having a bake sale?
    It’s a shame that our city is embracing ballot box planning so readily. I do think all the new tech workers are an important bloc that will need to be mobilized if it looks like a close race.

  13. Posted by Snark17

    Ugh, rich NIMBYs are the worst NIMBYs of them all. I think this would fail but you never know.

  14. Posted by ironic

    Let’s sum up all these comments & commenters:
    1) Peskin, the founder of the SF faux-gressive revolution from hell is now a NIMBY.
    LIE
    2) The anti-Manhattanization sensibility is one birthed of rich people — even though the towers in question are being built by ultra-rich people who have the money to buy commenters on this website.
    RIGHT?
    3) [And this one is the most painful of all] That being against this scary, out of control slapping-up of hideous towers that will ruin the quality of life in our city forever…makes anyone pro-Pesky.
    WRONG.
    Stop the Manhattanization of our wonderful, unique city

  15. Posted by lyqwyd

    I have to believe this measure, along with the waterfront measure will fail.
    I’m kind of happy to see them both happening at the same time. If they both fail then there’s hope for SF, if they pass, then I’ll start seriously thinking about packing up and finding a sane place. These ridiculous lies about “wall on the waterfront” and “Manhattanization” are getting really annoying. This is pure, unadulterated NIMBY selfishness, taking advantage of the pathetically stupid.
    There are lots of great things about this city, but I’m really getting tired of the ridiculous selfishness and stupidity. I guess we’ll see where the majority really lies. I hope it’s with sanity and these measures are soundly defeated.

  16. Posted by Sam

    Ha Manhattanization. That argument has been played out, the modern day progressive liberal SF yuppie is pro-biking, pro-transit, pro-density. I should know, I am one, and most people I talk to in the bars of Bernal Heights and the Mission are generally ones too.
    It just simply won’t work anymore. I forgot there was a time when everyone cowered when that term was spoken. Probably because I wasn’t around.

  17. Posted by OMN

    +1 Sam.
    Most people moving to SF now are as you say. Some people I talk to are still in favor of maintaining _certain_ neighborhoods as they are (Haight, Mission, Marina mostly), but they are in favor of building up and with more density all over Downtown, the Financial District, SOMA, etc.
    And the momentum towards this sort of thinking is only going to build.

  18. Posted by GIB

    Hilarious that a NIMBY would believe that developers pay people to comment on a website which basically exists to promote development. Do you think that the CIA is also following you around, or are there limits to your paranoia.
    Peskin is the grandfather of SF Nimbys. He is the one who brought us the hysterical preservation society – and as this article states, “According to the Business Times, former Supervisor Aaron Peskin will lead the ballot referendum ”
    So tell me ironic, how it is that all of SF should be voting to preserve the living room views for a fraction of a fraction of the citys population?

  19. Posted by Sean

    If this becomes a legitimate ballot initiative, I will campaign against it. For the first time in my life, I have such [contempt] toward these people that I would actually stand in the streets to ensure that their money doesn’t slow progress down.

  20. Posted by JWS

    @OMN – That is where I am at completely. We do not need towers in Hayes, North Beach, Castro, Mission, Marina, etc. Those neighborhoods are the ones that give the “San Francisco” feel everybody is talking about, which is a tangible thing and I think a fair argument…we will never be Hong Kong. But we need them somewhere, because cost of living is ridiculous.
    Any attempt to stop development in SOMA, Mission Bay, Financial, Embarcadero, and Mid-Market (and I would argue along Geary as well, but not much has been proposed there) is pure selfishness at this point. This city needs housing so outrageously badly, and these are not the classic San Francisco areas that give the city so much charm. We absolutely, 100% need to compromise, and this seems more than fair.
    Do you know how you can “save” San Francisco? By addressing the actual needs of the city, which most seem to agree are rampant homelessness and mental health, a poor transportation system, and a lack of affordable housing. And for the last option, it’s basic economics…supply and demand. We need the supply so that the wealthy stop squeezing out working class communities in the Mission and the Western Addition. Every new tower built contributes hundreds and hundreds of units that will soak up that demand.
    Instead, the upper-middle class and upper class of SF virtually ignore those actual problems, and focus instead on park shadows, reducing parking spots, saving tennis clubs, and landmarking graffiti filled concrete slabs. This is entirely self serving and is NOT saving or helping the city.
    I do empathize if you moved into a loft in the 80s or 90s or whatever in SOMA because you enjoyed the lower density. However, park shadow rule or no park shadow rule, there is no stopping the densification that is happening there, so maybe it is time to consider a move. If you already live in the Richmond or Glen Park or whatever, then stop it…your personal sensibilities about skyscrapers should have absolutely no bearing on a neighborhood far away from you that has hundreds, if not thousands, of new residents who DO want them.
    There is a gray area here…can we just embrace it and develop where it makes sense, while keeping the ambiance of the historic neighborhoods intact?

  21. Posted by Legacy Dude

    Out of curiosity, I wonder how many of the anti-tower NIMBYs actually live in this area? I’d wager none. Do any of you work down here (or even have jobs)?

  22. Posted by Rillion

    Glad to see their ballot proposal is so broad. If it were more narrowly tailored to effect just this building then only the people involved in this project would be willing to significantly fund a campaign against the measure. By targeting all buildings over 40 feet that might cast ANY shadow on a public open space they vastly increase the number of parties that have a financial incentive to stop this measure.
    As for developers paying people to post comments here, if any are willing to do so let me know and I can send you my paypal information. Might as well get some money for doing what comes naturally.

  23. Posted by anon

    Always amusing to hear the the tower nuts (developers, RE agents, union members?) speak their mind.
    Haven’t you guys never been to Paris? How do you reconcile the fact that one of the best cities on the planet but doesn’t really have any buildings above 6-7 stories? The same can be said for Rome.

  24. Posted by Brian

    Utterly ridiculous!! This [pisses me off]…get a life, what no one else is allowed to build and have a view? It’s a city…build the tower!

  25. Posted by anon

    Paris is multiples as dense as SF with approximately 4xs the population. They have the building style to accomplish that.
    Are you advocating that we rezone the entire city to promote multi family multi story buildings? Do you understand that will NEVER happen for obvious reasons?
    What is possible then? To take empty lots, empty buildings, underused parcels – next to highrises, in a highrise district and put more highrises in?
    Does that make more sense and seem more possible that tearing down existing occupied housing and rebuilding denser?

  26. Posted by DP

    @ anon — you’ve clearly never been to Paris or Rome. Both Cities have high-rise business districts, just like our fair city.
    Nobody’s touching our low-rise neighborhoods. What we’re talking about here is a tower in the center of a high-rise neighborhood.

  27. Posted by Ebro

    @Anon #1: Your comment about Paris is incorrect. Paris has lots of 10+ story buildings — not in every neighborhood, but in certain high-density neighborhoods. See this photo for proof; look in the background.
    And like Anon #2 said, Paris uses an ocean of 5- or 6-story buildings to achieve a high overall density.
    I am a SF native who feels that ultra-high rents are killing this city. We need more units. DO NOT SIGN THIS PUNK PETITION.

  28. Posted by Anowned

    The tower is northeast of the park anyway. The shadows it casts on the park will be negligible. What a joke this is.

  29. Posted by Brad

    What a sad state of affairs. I’m sick to death of people who think they’re the only people who have the right to live in a neighborhood.

  30. Posted by james jr

    What is wrong with SF? We need more housing. The only way is to go up. These self-absorbed, entitled, obviously wealthy luddites need to wake up and accept SF must be a growing city. This fighting every project on trumped up “environmental” concerns is so transparent.

  31. Posted by Joel V

    @JWS “We do not need towers in Hayes, North Beach, Castro, Mission, Marina, etc.”
    I actually think many of those areas could use some higher density mixed-use development, especially those along Market Street. Building denser doesn’t equal One Rincon Hill. Just look at some of the older cities in Europe; it’s all about design.

  32. Posted by Steve

    So the folks in the Four Seasons who oppose the new tower’s height live in a building that is 430′ and demand the new building be 351′ or shorter. I wonder if the Four Seasons was given an exemption from the height limit. The shadow on Union Square is only a few minutes in the early morning during winter. What hypocrites. I will oppose this ballot.

  33. Posted by Sam

    Yes, frankly I’ve always thought the Mission needs to grow up.
    At some point Ill make the jump to Oakland, where a non-insignificant percentage of my friends already are. SF can be an aging city of people who wanted to keep the look of their city. While the feel of it drained away across the bay.

  34. Posted by Sam

    Actually, Im not sure why Im in denial here. When I visit my friends in NYC, literally no one lives in Manhattan, we find the borough boring. Im sure in the late 80s, early 90s, the people in the lower east side were making similar statements that everyone interesting was going to be pushed to Brooklyn.
    It just feels so artificial in SF, theres plenty of room to grow upwards. At least NYC is trying to build housing.

  35. Posted by kddid

    @Steve
    yeah, and I wonder if the 4 Season’s building would have passed a ballot vote on shadows? talk about pulling up the ladder after you’ve climbed to the top!
    While I agree that downtown is the place to build higher, I will strongly oppose this ballot measure for a completely other reason: it is RIDICULOUS to make individual planning decisions at the ballot box. We have a policy and a myriad of agencies to evaluate and implement that policy. It’s bad enough that we have stealth ballot measures to address single projects (e.g. 8 Washington), but it is INSANE to mandate that individual projects go to the ballot. The ballot is crowded enough as it is, and the level of analysis needed to decide these issues is way beyond the average voter. It also then reduces flexibility to change project based on other factors beyond shadows!
    STOP THE BALLOT MADNESS!

  36. Posted by philipthemholes

    The term ‘manhattanization’ was first used in 1970 in reference to the financial district (more specifically, 1 California).
    I have a hard time understanding why anyone who has lived in this city for a number of years would have any problem with the development that is happening in SoMa. Who is going to miss the old warehouses and winos? How is this city supposed to ever grow if it never grows up? You realize San Jose is now more populated than SF, right?
    How is encouraging suburban sprawl better than ‘manhattanization?’ Who is really that concerned with protecting the southern views of an overrated hotel/condo? If I lived in the 4 Seasons, my primary concern would be cleaning the streets near my building and ridding said streets of psychotic homless people, you know actually doing something to benefit my community.

  37. Posted by EH

    Huh, I always thought M’zation was a reaction to Fox Plaza, and/or 1000/1050 North Point.

  38. Posted by Rillion

    Sam – When I visit NYC I stay in Manhattan with my in-laws. I can assure you that people do literally live in Manhattan.

  39. Posted by Rillion

    Oh and to paraphrase Yogi Berra, ‘No one lives in Manhattan anymore, it’s too crowded.’

  40. Posted by Sam

    I meant my friends don’t live in Manhattan, they live in Brooklyn. Sorry for the confusion.

  41. Posted by j_blu

    @Sam yes! The assertions that this tower would change the nature of our fair city are over the top. If this was a development far from high-capacity, fixed-rail transit I see what the negative reaction would be; however, regarding development ON THE SAME BLOCK as a BART and Muni Metro station in what is already a highrise district will not change the nature of anything, anywhere. The painted ladies will still glow at sunset and the cable cars will still clang through North Beach, while a thousand people might be able to call SF home who might not otherwise. As someone who is being priced out of this city despite dual incomes and no children, all housing is good news to me.

  42. Posted by Anowned

    Why does whether one’s friends live in Brooklyn or Manhattan have meaning, here? I have plenty of friends in both boroughs. Who cares? Check your Oakland is like Brooklyn, SF is like Manhattan, sentiment in the “easy thing to write but complete b.s.” line. Thanks.

  43. Posted by frshmn

    Yeah Brooklyn’s population is about 2.5 Million, significantly larger than Manhattan’s 1.5 Million, and only a river apart with number of crossings connecting the two together (and a single MTA fare). Oakland is much smaller, further away and less interconnected to SF to have a similar relationship. It’s a relatively easily commute, but they will never meld the same symbiotic relationship for mostly geographic reasons.

  44. Posted by Joel

    @frshmn – “relatively easy commute”… until BART goes on strike.
    The effect that limited crossings have on the two areas can’t be stressed enough. The ideas of adding a southern crossing or another transit tube have been tossed around in the past, but all we’ve gotten so far is a $5 billion replacement bridge – no scratch that: half a bridge, and a seemingly crappy one at that. Once SF’s artificial supply constraints on housing intensify, expect to see an explosion of development in Oakland. Then, maybe people might start paying more attention to that large body of water that separates our two cities.

  45. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    Bob at July 17, 2013 8:23 PM, Sam at July 17, 2013 11:30 PM, OMN at July 18, 2013 12:34 AM, and all the relevant others, it just seems like the other day I was reading comments like this one:

    Playing the “Manhattan” card on socketsite is the equivalent of playing the “Nazi” card in any political discussion. Absurd hyperbole.

    I for one am glad that the Pro-Manhattanization forces in S.F. have/are deciding to come out of the closet and have an honest debate.
    Let’s all agree to call a spade a spade.

  46. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    I am a lefty environmentalist and I am generally pro-development, especially pro middle class housing of all kinds. I understand that people have to live somewhere and that forcing them to live in Tracy is bad for them, bad for the environment and bad for San Francisco. No one pays me to promote my views, the very idea is kind of absurd.
    I don’t work in construction or real estate in any fashion, I am a techie: one of the first dot-commers. I have been interested in public policy, particularly transportation policy, my whole adult life. My views on transportation and land use used to be considered unusual, but now I think most people who work in Tech share my views. We are transforming San Francisco right under your noses.
    Real cities change and grow and adapt to the times. If San Francisco doesn’t want to turn into Venice or Detroit, it has to find a way to adapt to new jobs and new ways of doing things. I think that means more density. One of the great things about San Francisco is the tradition of a spirited public debate: I welcome this debate, but I sincerely hope that the Peskinites lose this round. Lots of my friends, especially politically active friends, disagree with me on this. It’s okay, we can still be friends.

  47. Posted by lyqwyd

    @NVJ
    well said!

  48. Posted by anonanon

    Interesting to see how much of the discussion about the need for housing in San Francisco is in conjunction with projects that target only the upper crust of the one-percenters. First you have 8 Washington, where the developer wants to build the most luxurious condos in San Francisco. Then you have this project. I talked to a Millennium sales guy last year who told me that while the Millennium Tower is a nice enough building, it will be totally dwarfed by this one in terms on amenities and luxury. “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

  49. Posted by lyqwyd

    Actually there are many middle class developments in SF, but any tower in the core is pretty much guaranteed to be luxury. In large part because of how difficult and expensive it is to get through the planning process.
    But there are many mid rise projects happening right now that are targeted at the middle class, mostly in the mission and mid-market area.
    Now it’s true these are probably targeted more at the upper middle class, but due to SF politics it’s almost impossible to build true market rate housing targeted at the core of the middle class. Although there are a number of affordable housing units being built, those are targeted more at the poor.

  50. Posted by shza

    Interesting to see how much of the discussion about the need for housing in San Francisco is in conjunction with projects that target only the upper crust of the one-percenters.
    Sure, but were it not for these big luxury tower projects, a substantial portion of the target class would be purchasing elsewhere in SF, and so on and so forth. It’s not one-to-one, but building new upper class luxury housing ultimately does have an effect on the availability and price of not-so-nice housing.

  51. Posted by anonanon

    “but building new upper class luxury housing ultimately does have an effect on the availability and price of not-so-nice housing.”
    Ah, the “trickle-down” theory of housing.

  52. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    anonanon, that’s a good point, and I think it’s being deliberately glossed over by the people on the “let’s build more and more towers!” side of the argument. There is a shortage of housing for people who work here, but I’m sorry, I fail to see a shortage of luxury condos for the plutocrat class.
    Relatedly, this made me laugh out loud:

    I am a SF native who feels that ultra-high rents are killing this city. We need more units. DO NOT SIGN THIS PUNK PETITION.

    Posted by: Ebro at July 18, 2013 9:45 AM

    Uh, this person either hasn’t thought about it much, or is suffering from a serious case of false consciousness.
    If this tower were to open tomorrow, with for-sale luxury condos, how exactly is that going to do anything to the “ultra-high rents” that people who already live and work here are paying? I’m not talking Econ 101-level theory here, but in practical terms.
    Do the proponents really believe that the people who will buy these luxury units are going to be mostly people who are moving out of rental units and that those now-vacant rental units are going to come flooding back onto the rental market in such numbers as to lower the overall rental price level? Please.

  53. Posted by Guest666

    I think you are missing the point of Ebro’s post. The “petition” is deliberately designed to limit the ability to build ANY building over 40 feet that casts shadows on ANY park in the city. This would have a profound effect on the ability to construct mid and high rise towers anywhere in the vicinity of a park. I know that some would find that to be a good thing, but it’s pretty much guaranteed that it won’t increase the number of units, rental or otherwise, in SF.

  54. Posted by anon

    Do the proponents really believe that the people who will buy these luxury units are going to be mostly people who are moving out of rental units and that those now-vacant rental units are going to come flooding back onto the rental market in such numbers as to lower the overall rental price level? Please.
    This proposal would halt almost all development over 40′ in the city (except for places very, very far from a park, which is just great, since most people would probably like to live near a park…), not just this single project. If you don’t think that that would have a massive impact, well…then nothing will. We might as well build no new housing in SF.

  55. Posted by Can't think of cool name

    Hopefully, there aren’t any Warriors arena boosters living in the Four Seasons. I think their no higher than 40′ anywhere by a park ballot measure will call into question the 17 story condo proposed on SWL330, which is positioned in the extreme corner of the property bordered by the Embarcadero, Beale and Brannan.
    I think the afternoon sunlight in the late spring, summer and early fall will cause the condo to cast a shadow on the brand new Brannan Street Park. Oops…

  56. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Do the proponents really believe that the people who will buy these luxury units are going to be mostly people who are moving out of rental units and that those now-vacant rental units are going to come flooding back onto the rental market in such numbers as to lower the overall rental price level?
    Yes, that is exactly how it works. How do *you* think markets work? There are only two ways to lower the price of housing in San Francisco: increase the supply or decrease the demand. Building housing increases the supply. How else are we going to get more housing? Do you think the Housing Fairies are going to make new housing for us or something?
    I am a fan of building more low income housing using public money, but there is no way that there is enough public capital to come close to meeting the demand. We have to find a way to tap the private capital markets and that means market rate housing.
    I do think that if we tweaked the planning code and gave the right kind of incentives to builders of more modest housing we could get more 800 square feet, 2 bedroom, 2 bath family housing. But the “I got mine screw you” crowd typified by the THD and Peskin would fight even harder to stop this kind of development, because their true incentive is to protect property values. If you pay close attention to how it really works, all these higher density units in the planning phase get turned into larger and more expensive units as part of the negotiation with the neighborhood groups. They always bring up the parking canard, as if everyone deserves a subsidized parking spot right on the public street. This kind of thinking drives down availability and drives up the cost for everyone in the market.
    The other way of course to drive down costs is to drive people out. We can make San Francisco so undesirable to live in that people start to leave and then housing costs would go down. There are people like futurist who are nostalgic for the 70s and it is possibly true that this is what they really desire. A dirtier, more crime ridden city, covered with freeways with fewer good jobs would make housing less expensive. I don’t want to see San Francisco go in that direction.
    What is your proposal for reducing the cost of housing in San Francisco Brahma? If you oppose the construction of new units, what do you think is going to happen to the cost of what is currently available on the market? You can’t just be opposed to everything, you have to come up with solutions.

  57. Posted by anonanon

    NVJ,
    I have no problem with the general concept of building luxury condos in San Francisco, but the idea that building units for people who can afford $2000/sqft is the solution for the housing crunch for the middle class is simply ridiculous. Surely, self-proclaimed lefties should be able to come up with something better than Reagan’s trickle-down economics applied to housing.
    And I’m not against this project, but rather amused at the degree to which some people will defend it and 8 Washington as crucial to improving the housing situation in SF. The Millennium guy I talked to a year ago told me that the Four Seasons and St. Regis people would do anything in their power to derail the project. He was right and I suspect the reason has less to do with shadows than the impact on property values of a brand new tower that is more premium than the existing ones. But that’s really the battle of the one-percenters.

  58. Posted by anon

    It makes no sense to say “How will this particular project help?” – a single project ($2000 per sq ft units or a building full of subsidized housing for formerly homeless) makes no real dent. But the fact that nearly every project runs into hurdles like this does have a major impact on the market as a whole. That’s the point. Allow the market to function more than it currently can and “trickle down” housing does work to some degree.
    We’d still likely have to do more, and I have no issue with that, but the flat out rejection of basic housing economics does no one any good.

  59. Posted by lyqwyd

    “But the fact that nearly every project runs into hurdles like this does have a major impact on the market as a whole.”
    Exactly!
    And furthermore, the fact that there are these types of petitions and initiatives minimizes the amount of middle class housing since no developer of middle class housing can afford to fight a ballot initiative.

  60. Posted by anonanon

    “It makes no sense to say “How will this particular project help?””
    As long as you have some kind of review process for projects, isn’t it exactly one of the questions that you would ask? You could argue against the the idea of having any form of approval process at all, but as long there is one, shouldn’t it involve questions about the pros and cons of a project?

  61. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    This shadows ordinance would make building new housing more difficult for everyone, not just luxury condo developers. It is already too hard to build here, the last thing we need is more hoops for developers to jump through.
    Where do you get the idea that this tower will cost $2000/square foot? Is that an actual estimate or did you just make something up for rhetorical purposes? Excepting the penthouse, The Millenium doesn’t generally cost that now, where do you get the idea that a new tower will cost that much?

  62. Posted by anon

    You could argue against the the idea of having any form of approval process at all, but as long there is one, shouldn’t it involve questions about the pros and cons of a project?
    The review process should not be a place where things that are supposedly allowed by right can be challenged. Review should simply be to review that the building meets all requirements.

  63. Posted by anonanon

    “Where do you get the idea that this tower will cost $2000/square foot?”
    Clearly, it’s a little premature to say exactly how much this tower will cost and it will certainly vary from unit to unit. All I know is that the Millennium guy I talked to a year ago enthused about how much nicer it’s supposed to be compared to the Millennium Tower. Speaking of which, I see two 2 bd units there listed on Redfin with asking prices of $1645/sqft and $2111/sqft respectively.

  64. Posted by anonanon

    “Review should simply be to review that the building meets all requirements.”
    Maybe theoretically, but not likely to happen in practice except maybe in Houston.

  65. Posted by anon

    ^By right development happens in most cities, with a review simply to ensure that it meets all standards. San Jose is an example of a large city closer than Houston where most development requires only a permit that verifies that plans meet requirements.

  66. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    I see two 2 bd units there listed on Redfin with asking prices of $1645/sqft and $2111/sqft respectively
    How curious, that is not what I am seeing at all. Are you sure that you are looking at the correct property? I see four properties:
    1) A 2/2 at $1,312 per sq ft
    2) A 2/2 at $1,645 per sq ft
    3) A 1/1 at $1,209 per sq ft
    4) A huge higher unit (49c) 2/3.5 at $2,111
    It is so strange that you failed to notice those other two units anonanon. Do you see them? They are listed at being at 301 Mission Street, just like the two you found.

  67. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    In San Diego, they built enough Condos that the price came down, it is now around $600/sq ft in the more modest places and around $1k/sq ft in the deluxe units. Miami is an even more extreme example where enough high rise development was built to satisfy all the demand. You can buy something in a high rise there for $250/sq ft and in a very nice place for $400-500/sq ft. The super high end stuff on Miami Beach is $2k/sq ft though.
    I think that Miami is proof that if you build enough to satisfy demand, you can get the prices to go down.

  68. Posted by anonanon

    NVJ,
    I see three properties on Redfin, not four. I see the two 2 bd places that I mentioned and a 1 bd that I didn’t mention since I’m not interested in 1 bd places and studios.
    I’m not opposed to building more luxury condo towers in general, I just find it interesting that much of the discussion of how they will benefit the broad public has been in conjunction with projects that are obviously targeting the uber-rich and with self-proclaimed leftists that are firm believers in Ronald Reagan’s trickle-down economics leading the charge of the “Let’s build it NOW!” crowd.

  69. Posted by anonanon

    “San Jose is an example of a large city closer than Houston where most development requires only a permit that verifies that plans meet requirements.”
    Yep, if I remember correctly, San Jose and Houston are number one and two on the list of the looked-up-to, world-class cities San Francisco residents are most eager to emulate.

  70. Posted by anon

    ^You can choose Portland, Seattle, New York, or Chicago if those suit your tastes better. All four use more of a by right development approach than SF does, with most projects not requiring special permits as long as variances are not required. I only picked San Jose because it’s literally in the same metro area, and you seemed to think that this practice is only something that those crazy Texans do.

  71. Posted by anonanon

    anon,
    I’m not necessarily defending the intricacies of the SF approval policies. All that I’m saying is that if the process involves more than purely technical requirements, questions about the pros and cons of the project would be perfectly legitimate.

  72. Posted by anon

    I suppose that I don’t see why those would be legitimate, if the building meets zoning and other requirements. Those questions should be answered when creating the neighborhood plan or zoning, etc, not during approval for individual buildings.
    If we’re going to evaluate each building’s pros and cons anyway, why waste the money on multi-year planning initiatives for neighborhoods (Market-Octavia, western SOMA, etc).

  73. Posted by shza

    anonanon, this whole “liberal trickle-down” canard is beyond annoying. Surely you must understand why, surface-appeal aside, it’s a terrible analogy. People do not tend to hoard houses or park them in offshore accounts.
    Unless you believe that 100% of the buyers of new luxury condos are either (a) people who did not live in SF previously (everyone’s favorite Chinese billionaires) or (b) SF residents who are just buying the condos as second/third/fourth homes and not selling another place (except maybe to a Chinese billionaire), then obviously some portion of the people buying the places will be SF-resident “move-up” buyers, who are adding to the market the places they’re moving up from.
    No one has claimed that it’s a completely closed and efficent market such that one new luxury condo will ultimately free up the cheapest home in SF through a series of moves, but clearly having enough extra stuff at the top will result in more availability below. There are distinct markets but it’s not as if they do not have shared and permeable borders.

  74. Posted by anonanon

    “People do not tend to hoard houses or park them in offshore accounts.”
    shza,
    People who are sufficiently wealthy do indeed hoard houses and I’m sure that if you look at the $2000/sqft crowd, you will find quite a few people who own multiple homes.
    Like I’ve said, I have nothing against the general idea of building ultra-luxury condos for the extremely rich, I’m just skeptical to the idea that it will have any significant beneficial impact on affordability for middle-class families. If you are genuinely interested in improving affordability in San Francisco, is building a tower for the $2000/sqft crowd the first idea that would enter your mind?

  75. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    anonanon who is leading the charge to build more condos in San Francisco? Are you trying to claim that I am a leader in the development movement? Because there aren’t too many other “self-proclaimed leftists” clamoring for more construction. Most “Progressives” in San Francisco are in fact opposed to progress of any kind, particularly the building of market rate housing development. I know dozens of these people: I went to UC Berkeley and still keep in touch with most of my friends who stayed in the Bay Area.
    I am flattered that you think that I am some kind of thought leader in the development and city planning circles, but the truth is that I am too busy raising a family and working at a start-up to be a leader in much of anything else. Maybe after the company I work at now has its IPO, but not before then.

  76. Posted by anonanon

    NVJ,
    All I’m saying is that you are one of the more outspoken pro-development voices on this website.

  77. Posted by lol

    anonanon,
    The issue is that there’s a market for $2000/sf condos, therefore they will be built. One benefit it can have is satisfy a demand that will NOT bid on a place that a less well-off family would want. Supply is supply, even if can be inefficient in the small picture.

  78. Posted by anonanon

    lol,
    I agree that more supply is a good thing in general, and I totally understand the trickle-down theory. I think the debate is more about how much good does the trickle-down stuff actually accomplish in practice when it comes to middle-class families.

  79. Posted by lol

    I don’t believe too much in trickle-down in tax policy, because if you vote rules for the top tranche to keep more after tax, chances are there’s a rule somewhere that will ensure there’s nothing trickling-down. The Bush tax cuts created debt and a 2-class system. No trickling down, sorry.
    For condos, I think that if developers want to go for the luxury market, it’s their money. Just remember that there were a ton of relatively cheap condos (almost new for 400-500/sf) for sale in 2010-2011 caused by a mass oversupply. Now, THAT was as close as it got to affordable housing.

  80. Posted by sf dude

    There is still a surplus of high end condos on the market that did not sell when the market froze up back in 2008. Those condos ended up becoming expansive rental units. Rents have gone up like crazy the past few years. Why is there still a need to build more high end condos. Sure, the shadow casting ballot may sound cheesy or silly, but thats the only legal alternative as the developer has bought out all other revenues to get their project approved. How much does it really cost to build a two story Mexican museum? The developer is the same developer that built the Jewish museum and the 4 season towers. So they knew all the loop holes and learned to become more greedy. People pay top dollar for high end condo for the views. When you get screwed by the very same person who sells you the condo, of course you will be mad too. That is exactly what the developer is doing. Why does the develope get a free pass at surpassing the building height limit so that they can make even more profit in their pocket?

  81. Posted by Chris

    The ballot measure threat is just so much posturing, and the Four Seasons homeowners must know, it would never pass.
    Also, any sensible person understands you have no legal or moral right to a view–period. You purchase a high-rise condo fully aware that your view could be reduced or even eliminated at any time (unless perhaps you can find that magical tower that abuts a national park). And, I am saying this as someone who lives in a high rise condo in the City.
    Finally, Aaron Peskin is political poison. If the Four Seasons homeowners had any clue they wouldn’t want him anywhere near their ballot measure campaign. Many SF residents would vote against any ballot measure, should one ever make it on the ballot, simply because they cannot stand Aaron Peskin. I know I will vote against any measure associated with Aaron Peskin, and I know most of my neighbors and all of my friends living in SF would do the same.

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