893 Ashbury Street

Purchased for $1.385 million in early 2011 when listed as an “architecturally unique” property with the potential for an “(e)asy garage addition,” the buyers of the Ashbury Heights home at 893 Ashbury Street subsequently discovered that the structure was too close to the sidewalk for a garage to easily be added.

As a potential historic resource, or architecturally unique as touted, the house cannot be raised enough to allow a garage to be built under the existing home. And in order to add a garage, the home’s main living room would need to be eliminated and converted into non-living space.

893 Ashbury Living Room

As such, the buyers drafted plans to level the original brick wall in front of the home and install a new six-foot metal fence, behind which an unenclosed parking pad for 893 Ashbury would be added.

But San Francisco’s Planning Code actually disallows motor vehicles from being parked in the required setback for a home.  And technically, per Section 142, all off-street parking is required to be screened from view by solid building walls.  Which means that a pair of variances would be required to legally move forward with the parking pad plan as proposed.

In addition, San Francisco’s Zoning Administrator reviewed the proposed project “and indicated that it would be difficult for him to support the loss of an on-street public parking space in order to provide a single, private off-street parking space (on this non-metered/non-striped portion of Ashbury between the subject property and the curb cut to the south, we believe that six, not five, on-street parking spaces exist and that one would be lost to the new curb cut being proposed).”

On the last day of December, the formal request for the two required variances was denied.  And this week, the homeowners’ appeal of the City’s decision was unanimously rejected.

No word on whether or not the “landscaping” team for that Joost joint has already been called, but you might want to keep an eye on that wall.

24 thoughts on “A Blast from the past, Parking Pads and Possible Foreshadowing”
  1. Lesson of the Day: Do not buy architecturally “unique” or “historic-resource” homes, no matter what the charm. And watch out for neighborhoods that might be “potential historic districts.” Your hands will be tied.

  2. I don’t think there is a lot of buyer’s remorse here. They bought at a great time – place has probably appreciated $700,000 since then. And it is very nice to boot.

    And this decision makes sense. Hard to justify bending the rules to remove a public parking spot on a public street so the owner can have one private parking spot on the sidewalk effectively. I have no opinion on the “architecturally unique” designation.

  3. that area up there doesn’t even have neighborhood zone stickers! it’s a great place for visitors to leave their cars for the weekend. parking is relatively easy there.

    1. Ashbury at that location does have neighborhood zone stickers – which means this house has best of both worlds – it can park in zoned parking or on the side streets without zoned parking. Though as someone who lives there, I still suggest at least 30 minutes planned to circle the neighborhood on a Sunday night to find parking.

  4. Well, this is ridiculous, in light of all the people parking their cars on the concrete in front of their Sunset homes. Wonder if one could use the neighbor’s curb cut to access one’s concrete front yard. (But the variances were denied so the wondering is moot).

    1. Exactly my first thought – how is it OK to park on the sidewalk in the Sunset & Richmond – often barely leaving room for pedestrians (or wheelchair!) to pass, but it’s *not* OK to build screened parking past the sidewalk?

  5. What BS. While the Planning Commission is approving huge skyscraper developments on the East side, without really thinking about the increased traffic and water usage in this city, this owner can’t even raise this house to build an enclosed garage? Mind you, the main house could then be preserved essentially to be jokingly of historic value. Wow…. I wonder what would happen if a squatter happened to accidentally of course burn down the house??? (not recommending such an idea of course)

    1. Your comment made me imagine the historic portion of the house preserved and raised up above 5 stories and 10,000 sq ft of multi-unit condos over underground parking.

      You know, as long as the historic portion is saved on top.

      I’m not saying that would be good or bad necessarily, just fun to think about.

  6. What slope is allowed for a driveway? There are plenty of steep driveways in the Richmond (e.g., north side of Balboa b/w 11th and 12th) that plunge into a garage space in a shorter distance-to-sidewalk than is pictured here.

  7. Its a pretty wide sidewalk. They could just park right in front of the wall parallel, like the scooter next door. It would take at least two decades before the costs of tickets equaled the costs of adding a garage.

    1. Another solution: Parking is not that bad in that area. Just park on the street. In the rare event that it is bad (e.g. Sunday evenings), talk to the neighbor and see if you can block their drive. We let our neighbor block our driveway when needed (about once every two months) – no big deal. Much, much cheaper than a garage or a lot of tickets.

      1. Yeah I was kidding. I lived at 849 Ashbury 15 years ago and the street parking isn’t as bad as some areas of the city, although it seems to have gotten worse everywhere.

        1. But your proposal wasn’t really that unreasonable. I think a “parking on the sidewalk ticket” is $110. Give it about a 25% chance you’d get busted at all, and you can figure it’s about $27 to do so — might beat driving around at midnight hunting for a parking spot that is many blocks away. A decent Plan B to finding a street spot.

  8. I could park a very nice motorcycle behind that brick wall and use the money saved by not pursuing a garage addition in a virtual life time supply of unlimited Clipper Cards/Chariot Monthly Passes/Town Cars on speed dial/Yellow Cab/Zip Cars.

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