698 Joost Avenue after NOV

Having been informed that securing approvals and a valid permit to legally add an off-street parking pad to his home could be challenging and time consuming, a Sunnyside homeowner engaged a landscaper to simply start digging, permits, plans and the City be damned (as we first reported last week).

While a City Building Inspector issued a formal Notice of Violation following our report, requiring the homeowner and crew to halt all work pending the approval of plans and issuance of a valid building permit, after which the City’s cemented No Parking sign, which had blocked the site, was surreptitiously moved, a crew was back on site, working out of an unmarked SUV this weekend.

698 Joost Avenue: 10/31/15

According to the City, having created a potential landslide hazard, it was agreed that the crew would be allowed to complete an emergency shoring of the hillside, effectively finishing a major component of the illicit parking pad with the City’s blessing.

698 Joost Avenue: 10/31/15

Phase two complete.

109 thoughts on “Illicit Parking Pad Project: Phase Two”
  1. Five’ll getcha ten that retaining wall at the back doesnt have proper footings and a few years down the line will start to gradually.. tip… over.

  2. the city should be fined for complicit, and illegal acceptance and expediting the completion of illegal, and non-permitted work. AKA – aiding and abetting.

    1. Wait… what? The CITY should be fined? By who? The owner should be fined, the city is not “aiding and abetting” anything here.

      1. sure they can fine both the city agencies, and the owner… but someone should move the sign back to where it was initially…. that would render the parking spaces just as useless as if there was a no curb-cut…

    2. Are you the same Aaron Goodman who is a project manager at the San Francisco Housing Authority?

      Do you think we should be fining the city for okaying the prevention of a landslide, and not for the squalor maintained by your employer?

      1. I think you should look at this project as an illegal activity and [what] effort should be [taken to return it] back the way it was, and proper permits and efforts done through the proper channels. And “soccermom” should state clearly who she is and her connections to specific issues/organizations, SFBARF?, SFHAC?, Homeowner, Renter, or just a concerned citizen?

        The issues at the mentioned agency above are due mainly to years of underfunding by the government and other issues that occurred prior to me working there. Don’t throw blame unless you have done your homework soccermom….

        1. You mean the Housing Authority that almost went into receivership by the federal government because of serious mismanagement that relegated residents to living in squalor?

          It is disgusting you have the gall to try and blame the commenter as being some sort of paid lobbyist for some organizations, when your employer hopes to benefit by grabbing management contracts on city owned land that you plan to turn into more mismanaged ‘communities’ that you quickly forget about when it comes to maintenance, community services and even essential repairs.

          Stop posting on the Internet and help the residents of Potrero Annex, Potrero Terrace, Alemany, Bayview-Hunters Point among others.

          [Editor’s Note: Speaking of which, The Future Of Potrero Hill’s South Slope; the Timing For The New Hub And Redevelopment Of Hunters View; and the Master Plan For SF’s Largest Public Housing Site Ready For Review.]

          1. I responded to the initial post as a bay area native, a resident, a renter, and a homeowner in SF.

            Soccermom decided to jump on me and blame me for the problems of an agency. Fake name now decides to also jump in the same vein. My response was towards the improper permitting of the homeowner. The rest of your vent, and attack should be directed to this years elections, and those in the decision making roles of City Hall. Not attacking someone for where he may work currently and the efforts he is making to improve the situation in relation to the housing situation in SF. Fake Name and Soccermom still have not come forth honestly with their roles, names, or even jobs if they care to list…

          2. The projects that the editor notes are all being developed by outside entities using Housing Authority funds.

            None of them will be managed by the Housing Authority because as an agency they were essentially shown to be incompetent. You can read the entire report by the BoS in 2013 here.

            I don’t blame Aaron Goodman for the condition of the Housing Authority, but to blame it on underfunding is ridiculous. The Housing Authority lost over 7 million dollars in HUD funding from 2008-2013 because they weren’t able to properly manage their proprieties to federal standards.

            This report wasn’t prepared for the nefarious purposes of Ron Conway, SFBARF, SFHAC, airbnb or whatever boogeymen people want to bring up. It was prepared for the BoS and Supervisor Campos.

            I am not a public individual and I value my privacy. I am not a public servant, I am not a politician, I am a member of no party and receive no funding from anybody. Please stop trying to make everybody out to be a boogeyman.

            The condition of public housing in this city is deplorable. That’s an objective fact and it is disgusting that such a beautiful city with such a progressive history has mismanaged public housing for so long. When people who claim to be progressive talk about the city buying and managing properties in the Mission, the Balboa Reservoir and other sites I recoil because it is plain to see what the Housing Authority has done with other properties it manages. This is chronic mismanagement that likely occurred before Mr. Goodman was an employee, but he shouldn’t try and cover for them while criticizing others.

        2. Wait, you work for a City agency, and you don’t want to be accountable, but you want to hold other City agencies accountable?

          Is it ethical for you to oppose anonymous criticism from public citizens, Aaron Goodman? In your private life, you chose to comment on a message board concerning a City departmental issue, using your own damn name, going on the record for it, wanting to cite the City….and you work for the City! Then you get defensive when called out on it.

          Is that how you all do it in Burlingame?

  3. I really hope the owner finishes the driveway, but isn’t allowed to create a curb cut, and the neighbors park across his driveway so they either can’t use it or get their car(s) trapped in the driveway.

  4. I love this home owner. He has, what is that vernacular term used…


    Gotta love him (or her)

    1. Yes, violating the law for personal gain is the American way. Kudos to him.

      (To be clear: the rules involved here may be stupid, but they’re the rules and should be followed – as a completely separate issue from lobbying for their change.)

      1. And why are the rules stupid? Should there be no rules about paving over yards for parking or for safely excavating slopes?

        1. All the people on here praising the landowner, and you’re criticizing *me*? And the rules are stupid because the byzantine bureaucracy to get something reasonable approved is ridiculous – we’re not talking about a prohibition on abattoirs in a residential zone, we’re talking about installing a garage in a SFH area, just like countless other garages that already exist.

          The whole reason this landowner took actions on his own was because trying to do it “right” was an invitation to a Kafkaesque nightmare. And yet *despite* all of that, I noted it was wrong for the landowner to do so – but go ahead, throw stones at me.

          1. The rules are the rules, if you don’t like the rules you get them changed. If we don’t respect rules / codes / laws, it just becomes a Kafka-esque nightmare of another sort. This idiot deserves everything he gets from neighborhood scorn to leaking sewer pipes. He should be hit with a hefty fine that includes the cost of moving the No Parking sign back to where it was.

          2. You didn’t answer the question and, no, asking you a question isn’t criticizing you (did you just participate in a presidential debate on CNBC?).

          3. @Elitist Pig – uh, that’s exactly what I said – did no one notice the “/s” after my first line?! ‘Cause we’re officially through the looking glass on this one; at the time I wrote I was the only one *not* defending the landowner, and I’m being criticized… including by the same argument that I myself raised, namely, that the rules should be followed, no matter their merits, unless and until they’re changed.

      2. Probably the most rational comment on here, sierrajeff.

        As someone who is very much a rule-of-law type, and indeed a fan of planning codes (I have experienced Houston, and it is a nightmare), I detest this kind of crap.

        But as someone who has experienced the full kafkaesque nightmare of SF Planning (advised to do something by Planning, returning with plans to that effect, being told precisely the opposite by a different planner, being then ordered to do something else by Building, then having plans to implement that order blocked by Planning), I can also sympathize entirely with what this badass is doing here. Indeed he is fulfilling a fantasy of mine.

        So in short, I vacillate moment by moment between contempt and admiration as I look at these pictures.

        1. Well Jack, you might want to make up your mind between contempt and admiration. Otherwise, you could remain locked in confusion. I don’t care how much sierrajeff and others complain about the bureaucratic complexity that currently exists in Planning and Building. I have had good results much of the time and some other times a hassle.

          Bottom line: don’t like the rules: work toward changing them. Don’t become a “badass” just to become a hero.

  5. Funny how committing actual crimes in the city is just dandy. We’re not even supposed to call criminals ‘criminals’ because it may hurt their feelings. But building a parking space? Hang ’em high!

  6. Looks like a good job, from what I can see. Doubt there will be any slide issues. Funny how the world will not come to an end. I mean after all, if the City goes ahead and allows another 120 feet to the 300 foot residential tower planned at So.Van Ness and Mission (after the neighborhood and plan had previously agreed to 300 feet), then what the heck!

  7. Frankly, bypassing the city’s overwrought permitting, this probably saved taxpayers money. They seem to know what they’re doing. The city should just say, “okay, you got this.” And move on.

    1. And so another neighbor bypasses the codes, then another, then another, and next time it’s your neighbor who starts building an illegal rear addition that affects YOUR rear yard, setbacks, light and air.

      So, are you ok with The City just letting it go and “move on”?

      The codes and regulations IN PLACE are designed for the benefit of the city as a whole, not allowing property owners to do whatever they want. Why is that so hard to comprehend?

  8. if a neighbor really was against this, he could just park his car on the curb in front of the construction. THeyre not allowed to tow

  9. I see detached garage similar to this all over the city. This begs the question: why wouldn’t the city approve it in the first place?

    1. The garage being detached isn’t the issue. The issue is the front yard setback which limits how close to the street your structure can be. Most detached garages are built between houses, which is usually allowed, but has more impact on adjacent neighbors ironically.

      1. Where did this “front yard setback” thing come from? It’s obvious that most of the City was built without this restriction. In this case, every house around here has a driveway. Granted, they almost all have garages built into or under the building facade, but most also aren’t on a lot with such a steep rise.

        1. Many subdivisions in SF starting around 1910 or so were designed to have setbacks. For new construction in existing neighborhoods, the required setback is the average of the existing setbacks on either side. You can still get a variance.

          1. I understand that some neighborhoods have them by design. But many lack them by design.

            By averaging the setback, they’re in fact forcing a setback even in a neighborhood where any setback at all is the exception.

          2. Under the averaging, if your adjacent neighbors don’t have a setback, your new construction isn’t required to have one either.

  10. This was the right call by the city, especially in light of today’s rain. Probably the P/T wood will last fine for 5 years, and then be weakened and tipped over. Seems like a reinforced concrete wall with a deep footing is the only ‘permanent’ solution. I would anticipate the current owner having sold the house prior to the failure date.

    FWIW, I have been told that Saturday is the best time to put in a vigilante curb cut. Neither city inspectors nor alternative media outlets work weekends. ‘Unmarked SUV’ is a nice touch. 🙂

  11. I understand the issue with curb cuts in more mixed use areas with a lot of pedestrians. I don’t understand it here. I looked at houses right near here and walked the neighborhood. It is congested and all SFHs with little pedestrian activity. There seems no reason not to encourage off street parking pads.

  12. When the City’s response to years of private tech shuttles making illegal use of public bus stop is to go begging hat in hand for a whole dollar, this is the kind of lawlessness you encourage.

    I don’t care if the City’s permitting process is arcane. The law is the law. Break and that homeowner should be fined so hard he is crying into his oatmeal every morning for the next two years. The moving of the No Parking sign is just the douchebag icing on top of the douchebag cake.

  13. I remember from an earlier photo that the sewer line runs smack dab halfway up that cutout. Now that it’s walled off, where did they connect it? I don’t see any evidence of plumbing work.

      1. And this is why we have these silly, inconvenient planning and permitting rules.

        I agree they can be maddening and non-sensical at times. But the city should never permit one to come out ahead by ignoring the rules [rather] than by following them.

  14. Oh that last picture is awesome. A real CalTrans aspirational operation… 12 guys standing around, couple leaning on shovels, a child laborer and some guy pulling a beer from the cooler?!? Priceless!

  15. As a parent can’t help but chuckle at the similarity to the “Pokey Little Puppy” story.

    Can’t say I ever really got the moral of that story since the delinquent puppy would get rice pudding treats for digging holes and staying out late…but have to love a real world analogy.

    Dig holes and break the rules and get your rice pudding equivalent.

    If there were justice here, the city would simply force the owner to cover up the hole and write a note saying “I will not dig holes again”

  16. Textbook example of evading city building ordinances. Start building, get far enough along that the city requires mitigating construction… eventually finish the job because the neighbors would rather see it completed than some incomplete eyesore… city retroactively issues permit.

    In almost no case, does the city ever require you to un-build something already begun. There needs to be teeth enough in the law to occasionally require people to remove unpermitted construction. Can you name a case when partially built new construction was ordered removed?

  17. The part of this I don’t understand is why it would have been difficult and required a variance for this parking pad to be approved. Most of the houses I saw through my rigorous 2 minutes of Streetview clicking had garages or driveways.

    An on-property pad does much less to crowd the street than a proper garage.
    This is a corner lot without other off-street parking.
    Why, other than the notion that all of our neighborhoods were frozen in amber in 1985, should this guy be denied off-street parking when a majority of the neighborhood has it?

    I don’t really care enough to go parse the Residential Design Guidelines, but if you make up rules that are difficult to comply with, people will ignore them (see AirBnB registrations). Maybe this guy was getting ready to launch the JoostPark app that would allow electric vehicles to recharge at a station at his house. I hadn’t even though of Juiced/Joost angle until now. He could have installed some solar panels to do it and the project would have been mad green, yo. Maybe a PT trellis topped with a shallow soil bed for a green roof.

    He should have given the Planners something to feel sexy about.

    1. Even with the parking pad, this corner lot provides much more public-facing green space (and ‘public’ curb parking) with the wrap-around front yard than the adjacent homes.

      This guy should be getting his parking pad over the counter, not with a public hearing.

  18. Surprised they didn’t make him put the parking sign back while they were at it. With the wall up it barely seems deep enough for a full sized car. Since he didn’t have permits the landscapers just pulled in the PG&E sawhorses from across the street and held the street parking for themselves all week.

    1. Oh boo hoo. They held street parking for a week. The guy already ‘provides’ more street parking on his corner lot than any of the mid-block neighbors do with their garages and narrow street frontages. Why don’t you go buy him a beer?

      If he can park two of his cars off the street and you lose one ‘public space’ hasn’t there been a net gain in local public parking if the owners’ two cars would otherwise have been nearby in public spaces?

        1. Am I okay with construction people doing their job for a temporary period that restricts my access to the same public parking? Yes. I live in a city. It’s a give-and-take thing.

    2. Why would it need to be deep enough for a full sized car when there’s a six foot wide sidewalk he can also block?

      1. Is the ability to block the sidewalk different for his neighbors with driveways and garages?

        This application should be approved over the counter.

        1. Strictly speaking, it’s illegal to park in a driveway in a required setback. A driveway is only for access to a garage. Of course, the city doesn’t enforce this. But in this instance there isn’t a garage, hence it’s not even a driveway. It’s just a yard paved over for parking. So I don’t think it’s too much for the city to ask him to go through the variance process.

          1. My point is that this shouldn’t be a matter for a variance.

            Should he get it approved in advance? Yes. Should the owner do this ‘on his own’? No. But given the circumstances of this lot with the wrap-around front yard and all of the public spaces that are ‘provided’ by his corner lot, he should be able to get a set of drawings (with an engineered retaining wall) approved over the counter in 1 day. This should not be an opportunity for public input.

            Before, 6 curb spaces (3 on Gennessee, 3 on Joost)+ 0 private = 6 total
            After, 5 curb spaces (3 on Gennesse, 2 on Joost) + 2 private = 7 total

            Net increase of one space for the neighborhood.

          2. Uh, that space is not going to fit two cars off-road, unless he puts in a lift or something.

        2. You seem to think (a lot here) that just because some people break the law then it’s ok for others to do the same.

          This should not be approved over the counter but go thru the process that is currently defined in writing in the Planning Code.

          1. Agree with Futurist, soccermom would seemingly be a-ok with breaking the laws, just to get what she wants. There is a process, the owner skipped it, and now should pay and be fined…

  19. Who really cares if a parking sign gets moved 10′?

    He didn’t move it towards the corner where it might obstruct views of an intersection.

    1. I must say, this is the most colorful bit of chutzpah. There is a “No Parking” sign blocking the place where he wants to illegally build a parking pad. So he just moves the “No Parking” sign so he can park in the spot it used to block.

      My response if I were the city? Every time you see his car parked in the illegal parking pad during the “no parking” hours, give the guy a ticket. Fight chutzpah with chutzpah.

    2. I was going to say this, but then stopped because I can’t tell if this guy has considered the view obstruction angle, or was just lucky. Either way, it’s probably bad policy to allow folks to move parking signs according to their logic.

    3. You all act as if ‘No Parking’ are placed with some sort of telemetry and magic. This isn’t a stop sign or a public safety issue. It’s a sign that provides information to people who have or are in the process of parking. Provided it doesn’t confuse people at an intersection, who cares if it gets moved? I had to move a ‘No Parking’ sign when I installed a sidewalk garden.

      As if the meter maids won’t be able to produce revenue once the sign has been moved?

      1. I like soccermom’s comments. She’s the only one with common sense in this thread. Why is this even an article on SocketSite? It doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the headlines

        1. No, she/he is the only one who likes to play games, and mess with the codes, as if they don’t matter.

          Nothing really matters to her/him.

        2. We regularly cover the ins and outs of permitting, planning, parking and construction projects. A quadruple threat is not only worthy of a headline or two, but perhaps three or four as we’ll follow the story through to the end.

  20. For everyone on team persnickety, consider the following hypothetical scenario:

    Suppose 698 Joost were an empty lot and an owner came along with a plan to build a nice single family home with NO off street parking places. Is that something the neighborhood would be excited about?

    Adding off-street parking to this house is more like correcting an abnormal circumstance than asking for an exception to normal planning rules.

    It should be easy (over the counter application approval) for the owner to add off street parking here.

    1. The feeling is not mutual, but that’s not why I’m here.

      The current planning and building codes are in place and are valid. If you want to change them, them work to petition The City to do so.

    2. The consensus here (which I share) seems to be that this guy should be able to have off-street parking. So that is not the issue. The criticism is his disregard for the legal process. I have seen nothing demonstrating he is a victim of kafka-esque red tape.

      This project involves complicated issues of subsidence, which may affect neighboring structures, and also sewer lines, which affect a lot of people. The codes serve a purpose. Also, I certainly can’t say that a cheap concrete parking slab is appropriate here.

      This is a dense city, and things you do to your own property quite often have an impact on the property of others and the public. You have to respect the process. Frankly, I think the city should force him to replace the dirt once he has properly shored up that hill.

      1. You misunderstand the process. Planning has no say with respect to ‘complicated issues of subsidence.’ Planning’s input here has nothing to do with whether there is a properly designed or installed sewer pipe. Planning’s ‘variance’ requirement for the off street parking is a “design.” Of course building codes serve a purpose, but there is no ‘public notice period’ on how to make waste water flow downhill. The public notice period serves as an opportunity for cranky neighbors to get their oar in and stop up the process.

        Should the Building Department review the retaining wall design for safety etc.? Yes, but Planning ought to be stamping this as a given, over the counter with the lack of existing off-street parking for the home.

        1. soccermom, I didn’t say anything about Planning, but your statement at the end illustrates my point. You believe that Planning ought to be stamping this. Fine. But they didn’t (for all I know, this guy has never even made a request). The proper response is not to simply proceed as if you had received the necessary approval when, in fact, you haven’t.

          1. I agree. The owner should not have proceeded in this manner. I have been clear on that point.

            However, conflating building safety issues with planning department hoop-jumping is not correct. Planning approval precedes Building department approval. I think that Planning requiring a variance at a public hearing is excessive. Any professional planning staff member ought to be able to review an application like this over the counter, recognize the variables in play, stamp the plans and send the applicant on to the building department for appropriate reviews.

          2. Does he have permits for the work itself? From what has been presented here, his attempted bypassing of the various rules and regulations goes beyond the Planning approval (which, again, I don’t see that he ever even requested).

          3. You can’t get permits approved by the Building Department for the work without Planning Department approval. They are distinct, sequential processes.

          4. Precisely the reason the planning and building issues are interconnected . . .

            This guy’s disregard for the legal process goes beyond sidestepping the “stamp” from Planning.

          5. Right, when we have an onerous step in one part of the process, it affects all of the other parts.

            And yes, of course, the appropriate response is for someone to be off fighting for streamlined planning. A Lorax for property rights and pragmatism, right. But that will never happen. Planning is a local issue for the courts as you well know. So we’ll continue to live with the wee tyranny of stupid planning rules, some of which will be flaunted by property owners. That and internet outrage about it.

            Voting rights laws in the Jim Crow South were onerous, but we’ll never have an equivalent Martin Luther King for parking pads. Doesn’t mean the planning requirement in this case isn’t baloney.

          6. We are in agreement that outrage and demands for change are appropriate responses if and when Planning (or other city bureaucracies) run amok. Plenty of examples of where that has happened. I have a couple of friends who had their garage delayed for eight years by the byzantine processes (they committed the deadly sin of Ellis’ing four tenants). Finally finished construction last Spring.

            From what I have seen, this guy, however, has never really even tried to follow the rules. Not really a good poster child for cries of outrage (unless there is something to this story that has not been shared).

      2. “Bob”, IANAL and I don’t know how the law handles something like this, but I think this guy deserves a fair hearing in Criminal Court, 850 Bryant. Maybe he can tag team with Mel Murphy.

        Now if anyone has recommendations on my rerouting of 3rd St, let me know. Now that the rain has cleaned off some of the gunk, it’s paint-ready. Still can’t decide if it would be better as two-way with sharrows or a one-way with two lanes dedicated to MUNI bus only. A few 55-gallon drums of red paint and we got ourselves a BRT.

        1. According to my as-yet-unapproved plans, I only need access to the publicly owned right-of-way, no messy private property rights to trample on. And the beauty of enhancing our fair city with an overnight BRT is I don’t even have to move a single street sign. Just paint a long lipstick red MUNI smooch on the old roadway. Does anyone know if Uber has a paint truck among their “contractors” ?

      3. I don’t think there’s a consensus here that “this guy” should be able to build a parking pad in the required setback.

    3. Are you the same soccermom asking for Airbnb short-term hosts to respect the law? Yet you are basically saying here that if a person views the process as too restrictive he should just circumvent it?

      What is it then? Respect the law? Consider them as open for interpretation?

      Make up your mind, girl.

      1. Yesterday when I said:

        “Should he get it approved in advance? Yes. Should the owner do this ‘on his own’? No. But given the circumstances of this lot with the wrap-around front yard and all of the public spaces that are ‘provided’ by his corner lot, he should be able to get a set of drawings (with an engineered retaining wall) approved over the counter in 1 day. This should not be an opportunity for public input.”

        what I meant was:

        “Should he get it approved in advance? Yes. Should the owner do this ‘on his own’? No. But given the circumstances of this lot with the wrap-around front yard and all of the public spaces that are ‘provided’ by his corner lot, he should be able to get a set of drawings (with an engineered retaining wall) approved over the counter in 1 day. This should not be an opportunity for public input.”

        Hope that helps clarify.

        1. Provided it doesn’t confuse people at an intersection, who cares if it gets moved?

          Well the city is responsible for it and should be the only one to move it. Say my schedule prevents me from doing the switcheroo on Tuesday nights. Hey, let me change the sign to say sweeping happens on Thursdays instead! Or better: switch it with the one across the street.

          Oh boo hoo. They held street parking for a week.

          OK, then a guy picks up PG&E sawhorses from across the street and you’re like “no biggie” because he’s acting for the good of the community.

          You clearly have a very flexible moral compass.

        2. Not really. Fact is, the permit approval process does NOT work the way you wish it would, or seem to think it should.

          Any project with a structural engineering component (which involves safety) does not and should not get a quick over the counter permit. And besides, why are you in such a hurry?

          1. Futurist, if you are an architect and you don’t know a structural engineer who can get a 4′ retaining wall approved over the counter, that explains a lot.

            I’m in a hurry because not all of us have Range Rovers and Bertazonnis. Hustle make the world go around.

          2. Of course I’m an architect. But you still don’t give logical reasons why you would prefer people just ignore codes, or sneak around them.

            And no, structural engineers don’t “get 4′ retaining walls approved over the counter”. Just doesn’t happen and shouldn’t . Again, why are you in such a hurry?

      2. She/he would just rather we don’t deal with codes and laws pertaining to life safety, structural stability and urban planning codes and rules of living together in a dense city.

        Too much in a hurry, I guess.

  21. Proof the Planning Dept.and DoB needs a shake up if their red tape outweighed the potential consequences of this stunt.

    The idiocy I’ve heard tossed around by Scott Sanchez and crew would make Planners pariahs in this city, if any credible news outlet exposed what’s been going on.

    Clearly we need a system that allows people to work within the law and… do things.

    Would the neighbors have disapproved of this? Maybe, but they should consider that other houses on that block got their parking before city codes had an iron thumb. Most of the city never needed to go through a hearing either. The block is one way, and shouldn’t be clogged with street parking anyway.

  22. The no parking allowed is only for a maximum of 4 hours per month. The 2nd and 4th Monday of each month until the street cleaner passes.

  23. Soccermom is right. This project should have been approved in the first place.
    Mr. Goodman: This city takes in nine BILLION dollars in tax revenue each year. More than the state of Nevada. There is no lack of funding for any department. What there is poor resource management, waste and most likely, fraud.

    1. No, SF does not take in $9 billion in tax revenue each year. Is your water bill a tax? Are the medical fees charged by SF General taxes? Are the rents SF charges for private use of public facilities, including SFO, taxes? Those alone make up about a third of the budget.

        1. No Mark you are wrong. Either you didn’t read the document or you don’t understand it. Most of SF’s revenue is taxes, but not all of it. This is not a difficult concept. For example, look at your PG&E bill and you will see they itemize the taxes and non-taxes. Most of the cost on your electric bill is itemized as “Generation”. That pays for the power plants and their fuel. It is not a tax. By contrast the tiny “Energy Commission Tax” is a tax.

          Something like a third of the revenue of SF is not taxes. Ya may not know it but the SF budget includes the water supply for something like 2.6 million people. The water bills those folks pay are mostly for water, not for taxes on water.

          Shocking though it may be, the SF gov’t actually generates billions in revenue annually from the delivery of goods and services.

          1. Next to the 8.5B breakdown, there’s this very important note: “Roughly half of the budget is comprised of self-supporting activities at the City’s Enterprise departments”

            Therefore people paying for city services, and not a tax.

            Living part of the year in Nevada, I can tell you the state could use a serious paint job.

      1. Great great great. You’re right that the water expenses totally correspond to water services provided and not taxes. The debate judge just put one star in your column.

        Rephrase the statement to “The city takes in _six_ BILLION dollars” and it’s still fairly damning. Every politician in office decries the awful housing shortage in the city and yet the Housing Authority manages to offer the worst conditions in the city for young kids and families to grow up in.

        Why is housing a crisis that the city will fight on every front except the one it has total control over?

        (But yeah, okay, 6 billion and not 9.)

        1. What is this “total control” of which you write? SFHA doesn’t control the Federal and State governments and their laws, regs, and budgets. Most of the SFHA budget is Federal HUD subsidies. Globing that in with a discussion of the billions of everything else in the SF budget doesn’t illuminate much.

          Public housing in the USA has been primarily a Federal responsibility for structural reasons for generations. Reagan gutted the Federal housing budgets as soon as he took office and the GOP has steadfastly resisted restoring them to the previous levels ever since, even though the needs increased.

          Of course SFHA has a terrible record, but it has gotten better since Lee replaced senior mgmt a couple years ago. It doesn’t mean that some commenter on SS is responsible for their parade of horribles.

          FWIW, I wrote “the water bills those folks pay are mostly for water”, which you turned into ” the water expenses totally correspond to water services provided”. Why exaggerate what I wrote?

          Most politicians in SF and other pseudo-democracies say whatever helps get them past an election. Once elected most do as little as possible to stay in office. Sure they may decry a housing shortage in the boom times, and lack of jobs in the bust times, whatever. If you fall for that, well, no wonder you are not happy about the follow through.

          Public housing is a low priority at all levels of gov’t in the USA. Sadly, “the worst conditions in the city for young kids and families to grow up in” are what public housing has always been, aside from outright homelessness. That’s the American way, not just a San Francisco treat.

          1. I don’t think Public Housing in general has to be as bad as it is. For our narrow San Francisco case, consider the former Presidio housing whose administration was handed off by the Federal Government to private managers. The apartments at Baker Beach and throughout the Presidio are great and reasonably well-run from what I have been told. Why can’t we make our Housing Authority units work in the same manner?

            Just look at the SFHA budgets over the past couple of years.

            Oh wait, they last updated the published budgets in 2011.

            How about the Audit reports.

            Oh wait, they last updated the Audit reports in 2010.

            What about Tenant Accounts Receivable?

            Got those from June 2011, if you are interested.

            At some point, it might be okay to stop blaming these problems on Reagan. Is it expensive to update a web site? Is it expensive to provide these basic administrative documents? It seems like we as a city could do better. I don’t have enough information about the situation to have a complaint about any individuals. In aggregate, there seems to be a lack of accountability and leadership.

          2. Of course public housing in general doesn’t have to be as bad as it is. And SF in particular has had poor management, officially declared “troubled” by HUD a few years ago. I did not blame the mgmt problems of SFHA on Reagan or any one else. That’s on the agency, and a succession of our mayors and BOS. There has been shameful neglect. At least Ed Lee seems to be a competent administrator and has acted to make it better.

            But don’t kid yourself that the voters or taxpayers intend to create public housing that is much better than whatever is the prevailing “worst” private housing in the community. There is no great political movement for that and the GOP has doggedly fought nearly every effort to increase funding since Reagan came to power and cut ~50% of the federal housing budgets in his first year or two in the face of a nasty recession. He set the funding ceilings to crawl space levels and the GOP has kept them around there for 30+ years.

            FWIW, the Presidio Trust pays for itself as demanded by Congress. Baker Beach apts aren’t public housing. They rent for $3000+/month. The Federal gov’t owns and operates mansions too, so what.

            We could “make our Housing Authority units work in the same manner” if we were willing to spend the money, but we aren’t. SFHA subsidizes ~15k housing units including 6-7k they operate directly, all on a $200+ million/year budget. You do the math, and then go convince Paul Ryan to double the Federal housing budget.

            As I wrote yesterday: “Public housing is a low priority at all levels of gov’t in the USA.” Or to riff on the slogan of a recent mayor: Minimal Care Minimal Cash. That’s as American as skid row.

  24. Wasn’t this house several hundred thousand cheaper than equivalent houses with parking? I thought the whole reason it and similar houses throughout SF are discounted that much is because you will expect to go thru several hundred thousand in aggravation dealing with the city or with parking your car in the street. And it seems like he was trying to sidestep that. Dude, you bought the house knowing all this, deal with it. If it was that easy to get parking, others would have bid more on the house.

    If he succeeds in getting parking this easily and that becomes a trend, I presume houses without parking will no longer sell at such steep a discount.

    1. This equity excavation is indeed potentially very profitable. Each and every 100K of equity added amounts to 100 ounces of gold.

      I think we are in the presence of a rather successful gold digger.

    2. ” If it was that easy to […], others would have bid more on the house.”

      I use to think that, then I see enough cases where light remodels (e.g., fresh coat of paint, new floors, etc.) earn such premiums over cost that the above statement is not as unassailable as I once thought.

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