698 Joost Parking Pad

Having been tagged for hiring a landscaper to simply start digging a new off-street parking pad for his newly acquired Sunnyside home, permits, plans and the City be damned, the owner of 698 Joost is now planning to go underground.

While a permit to complete an emergency shoring of the hillside was issued, as the unpermitted excavation had created a potential landslide hazard and damaged the home’s sewer line, the illicit parking pad remains unfinished, unpermitted and cordoned off.

And rather than attempting to retroactively legalize the pad, the homeowner’s new plan is to leverage the unpermitted construction, further excavate the hill, and build a subterranean two-car garage with a skylight and landscaped roof:

But the addition will require a variance from the City. We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by NorCalGal

    Good luck with that. However, I appreciate the humor (intentional or not) of the lemon tree on top of the garage in the diagram.

    • Posted by seriously

      The lemon tree is actually towards the back of the property so the [proposed] garage might not extend under it. In addition to the construction variance he’s going to need to get the curb cut. Seems like an uphill battle to get the permits for this one.

  2. Posted by soccermom

    Subterranean Carport Blues

    Juan is on the pavement
    Mixing up the cement
    I’m on the ottoman
    Thinkin bout the government
    The man at the Planning Desk
    Papers out big mess
    Says he’s got a bad stress
    He’s lookin’ for a little kiss kiss
    Look out kid
    It’s something you did
    God knows when
    But a variance’ll win
    You better park down the Joostway
    Gettin’ no neighbor friend
    Man in the DBI Focus with ballpoint pen
    Wants eleven thousand neighbor notices
    But you only got ten

  3. Posted by Some Guy

    Smart move, that’s going to add value. Hope they have a good seismic engineer.

    • Posted by Mark

      No, they’ll let the landscaper do the work. It’s one thing to add value to your property. It’s another to do it illegally just because you think you can get away with it and/or feel that you are entitled and laws/permits don’t apply to you.

      • Posted by Some Guy

        You’re being sarcastic? The city planning and building depts, which are now in the loop on this project, are going to issue a permit for a landscaper to excavate two double trailer load of dirt from beneath a house, shoring the house while pouring brand new and fairly massive concrete foundations and interior retaining wall, with no doubt a steel moment frame around the garage entrance? All to current seismic standards, and appropriately tied into / bearing both gravity loads and seismic loads from the house overhead?

        A general contractor will handle this job, with either an in-house or third-party licensed engineer doing the specs and drawings. The landscaper will put in some drip irrigation and plant the lemon tree after the rest of the work is finished.

  4. Posted by Alai

    Makes me wonder– if you were building an apartment house instead, could you get an extra ten feet of height because the ground floor is considered “underground”?

    • Posted by Ellis App

      If its on a hillside there are measurements for using the highest and lowest corners to determine where the actual ‘ground’ floor is considered to be.

      • Posted by Joel

        I’ve often wondered why we allow buildings to receive essentially an extra story on lots where it’s usually more dangerous to build. FAR would be a better method of limiting building size.

  5. Posted by Shmendrick

    brilliant Soccermom, love it!

  6. Posted by Mark

    Hiring a landscaper to do illegal construction which ended up messing up the owner’s sewer line. Permits are required for a reason.

  7. Posted by SFRealist

    Definitely should have positioned this as an Academy of Art garage.

  8. Posted by gentrified is a dirty word for clean

    Part of me hopes that the city decides to install a hydrant right in front of that excavation.

    I’m all for cutting back on red tape and such, but this is the kind of person who makes everything harder for the rest of us.

  9. Posted by gentrified is a dirty word for clean

    Btw, interesting editorial twist (or trolling move) to change ‘scofflaw’ to ‘rebel’ in the headline.

  10. Posted by ldr

    I know the owner of the yellow house just up the hill on Gennessee. Could this unpermitted work have disturbed her foundation?

  11. Posted by Stop Driving

    Is that an Acura NSX parked out front (under the cover)?

  12. Posted by sfhelmut

    If the project were to move forward, then the city would basically transfer a public parking space to a private owner for the curb cut out to the garage. That does not seem right to me, what am I missing?

    • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

      That’s basically it, although not quite. The city does this frequently, although it is more difficult than it used to be. I’m a recipient of this policy. Our garage has a curb cut, so we not only get the private garage parking spot, but also the exclusive use of the street parking spot where the curb cut is. I agree it does not seem right, although, to make a lawyerly argument, this did transform one parking space into two (it’s just that I’m the only one that gets to use both). I’m fairly certain our garage could not have been added under current guidelines. But I’m not complaining about this particular policy . . .

      • Posted by Futurist

        I think you’re REALLY spinning this one out of control. A curb cut comes from the very fact that a DRIVEWAY has been created, giving access to a GARAGE. Pretty simple, so far.

        Of course, as the owner you can park in front of your curb cut, or park in your garage. That’s a given. How does it not seem “right”? I don’t get your logic, especially the “lawyerly” part.

        I often let friends park in front of my curb cut as well. It’s seems perfectly right and normal.

        • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

          The “doesn’t seem right” part is the act of removing a street parking spot available to the public and replacing it with a private parking spot only available to a single household, effectively seizing a public resource and handing it over to a private owner. The “lawyerly” part is an attempt to defend what appears to be a pretty indefensible act. If you still don’t get why some might consider this to be unfair, I can try some other things.

          • Posted by Futurist

            So I own a house, like you do. We pay taxes. We pay for that curb cut, we pay to repair and replace the “public” sidewalks, we pay to maintain our street trees.

            Oh, and gain, WE PAY TAXES. That space in front of my curb cut is mine to use to enter and exit my garage, and park there if I choose to. It’s completely fair.

          • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

            Perhaps this will illustrate the issue.

            Situation prior to a curb cut:
            Any member of the public can park in front of the house on the street;
            There is one street parking spot in front of the home available for public use;
            Owner can also use the parking spot, but not exclusively;
            Members of the public pay taxes;
            Owner pays taxes;
            Owner pays to maintain the sidewalk;
            Owner pays to maintain the street trees.

            After the curb cut:
            NO member of the public can park in front of the house on the street;
            There is NO street parking spot in front of the home available for public use;
            Owner can use the parking spot but now exclusively;
            Members of the public pay taxes;
            Owner pays taxes;
            Owner pays to maintain the sidewalk;
            Owner pays to maintain the street trees.

            So the status quo has changed so that the owner and the public pay exactly the same as before the curb cut, but the public loses something of value and the owner gains something of value. If you still cannot fathom how some might find this change to be unfair, then you are (I suspect) the only one.

            As I said, I personally gain from this policy (and I have no intention of giving away my exclusive street space). But I recognize that some can reasonably find it to be unjust.

          • Posted by Futurist

            No, you haven’t got it all correct.

            I pay more taxes as a property owner than a “member of the public”, such as a renter does. I can invite “members of the public” to park in front of my curb cut while they are visiting me or whenever I choose.

            And no, it’s not unfair. The curb cut comes with all rights and responsibilities and costs born by the property owner.

          • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

            Got it. So even accepting your logic, all the thousands of property owners in SF who have no garage should get their own exclusive curb cut and street parking spot because they pay “more taxes.” And those who pay double your taxes should get two curb cuts? And anyone who pays high taxes should be able to get a curb cut and private street parking spot placed in front of, say, a public park or public building, because paying “more taxes” entitles one to such benefits?

            And on your premise, care to offer any evidence to support your assertion that you pay “more taxes” than members of the public such as lowly renters? A lot of homeowners, especially long-term homeowners, pay very low taxes thanks to prop 13, so this is far from a given. And renters, of course, pay taxes as well, including property taxes encompassed within the rent which get passed on from the landlord to the assessor.

            I suspect your premise is false, but the conclusions you draw from your premise are flawed in any event. And quite Trumpian in the sense of entitlement to boot.

          • Posted by Futurist

            Oh, please. spare me Trumpian insult. Let’s stick to the subject at hand.

            Despite the fact that you own a property and have a curb cut, it seems like you’re really trying to bait me. thanks.

            But no, you don’t just get a curb cut because you pay taxes. Ridiculous. A curb cut would be assumed to go along with a building permit to install a garage in or under and existing house. Those permit fees are not cheap, and they take a long time to get the permit. This is added real cost. And no! anyone who pays taxes does not get to apply for a curb cut. It is associated explicitly with that costly building permit. You should know that.

            Even long term homeowners have the advantages and rights of a curb cut, IF they have a garage on the property. So what? And you said “lowly” renters, not me. Renters are renters, and they do not pay the same taxes as a property owner. It may be “bundled” into their rent, but fact is they pay rent.

            Again, you’re just trying to bait me, and not have a serious conversation. You have your curb cut, so do I. Stop complaining.

          • Posted by The Bernshevik Revolution

            If only Bernie had added the issue of unfair distribution of curb cuts to his platform (death to the curb-greedy 1%ers!) he could have won the California primary and possibly the nomination. Such a miss.

          • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

            So now it is the payment of permit fees that justifies one’s entitlement to a curb cut and private street parking place. Again, your logic (not mine) would allow anyone to pay the permit fees and get a curb cut and private street space. No baiting. Just pointing out that your justifications are empty. Yes, I have a garage and curb cut, but I recognize I’ve gotten something from the public that is not really fair. I could itemize lots of others (from off-shore investments to tax-favored retirement accounts), but I’m not deluding myself into believing I’m simply owed these things because I pay taxes or permit fees or whatever.

            Oh, yeah, and renters don’t pay taxes. Well, they do, but not really. Got it.

          • Posted by Futurist

            Well, good for you Mr. Dobbs.

            So nice that you feel “bad”, cause you got a curb cut from the public. Yea, right. Well, to assuage your deep guilt, might I suggest you give your curb cut away to anyone who wants to park in front of your garage from now on, and don’t worry about being able to get in or out of your garage.

            Feel better now? And just to be clear, no I’m not OWED my curb cut, but I paid for it and will use it legally as my right. And now to end it all, you’re actually trying to tell me my hard 30 year earned 7 figure retirement account is unfair????

            Good grief man, you don’t let up.

          • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

            Excellent – you finally understand. I was beginning to question my ability to get a very simple point across.

            ftr, I don’t feel bad (or even “bad”) about this. Au contraire. I feel very fortunate that the system generally works in my favor while recognizing that is not the case for most.

          • Posted by Alai

            Some people would say that paying the permit fees should be enough to get you the private curb space in front of your historic Victorian with a tree in the front yard.

            That’s ridiculous! You need to pay the permit fees– but you also need to chop down the tree, pave over the garden, and add a roll-up garage door to the historic Victorian. Only then should the city give you the reserved space you want. No half measures!

          • Posted by Futurist

            @Dobbs: your ability to get a point across is still questionable, since you seem to weave in and out of truths and stereotypes.

            But, nonetheless you finally get it.

          • Posted by cleverpunhere

            Futurist pays taxes folks. Please step aside.

          • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

            “Bob”‘s position is easily understandable. Anyone granted a curb cut effectively transfers a public assert (the street space adjacent to the curb cut) to a private party. Whether or not the homeowner parks in front of their curb cut is irrelevant.

            Also irrelevant is who pays what taxes and how. The poorest and wealthiest have equal entitlement to public facilities and services.

            Anyone granted a SFH curb cut permit is receiving a huge favor from the city. Give “Bob” a little Slack. Though both he and Connie received the favor, “Bob” also understands the game being played is sometimes unfair.

            When are curb cuts fair? I’d say it has to do with the relative benefit delivered in exchange for the loss of street parking. If the curb cut accessed parking for ten vehicles then it is 10X more justifiable than a curb cut leading to a single parking spot.

          • Posted by gentrified is a dirty word for clean

            In the beginning God created the streets with sidewalks and curbs. Only much later did greedy capitalists put private lots and homes next to them.

            Is that how it went, Bob? Or could it be that the whole reason the street (and curb) is there in the first place is to create access to those properties?

          • Posted by Jake

            yup, and the curb cut diminishes the public access to the immediate and nearby properties to the benefit of the private property owner. Following MoD’s post above, a curb cut to off-street parking for many cars could benefit the neighbors and net increase public access, but this curb cut for just one car is more of a private taking of a public property and right of use.

          • Posted by nerds_and_fog

            The article says it’s a two car garage.

          • Posted by Jake

            so far it is zero off-street parking spaces. The original gouge looked about sized for one car. We will see what if anything gets built.

          • Posted by nerds_and_fog

            So far it’s two spaces with access that has been restricted, and a formal application for two spaces. This is (potentially) a net benefit for parking in the neighborhood. Hopefully the Planning department will come to appreciate it as such.

          • Posted by Jake

            um, no, so far it is a crime scene with zero legal off-street parking spaces. Whether dedicating one currently public parking space for the private use of the property owner is a net benefit to the neighborhood would depend on how the private property owner uses the formerly shared public space. If they just fill the garage with stuff and still park their car(s) on the street, which is their right, then ….

      • Posted by Alai

        Don’t forget that it also entitles you to park on the sidewalk.

        • Posted by Futurist

          No it doesn’t. You cannot legally park in your driveway from the curb line to the front property line.
          But many people do, and get tickets.

          • Posted by Alai

            Many people do, and don’t get tickets. Sure, it’s not legal, but that doesn’t change anything.

    • Posted by soccermom

      The city generally follows a similarity-of-form approach in planning. Most of the houses on this street have curb cuts and garages. Before the unpermitted work here, this corner house did not have any off-street parking.

      Google Overhead now shows the parking pad and also illustrates that this corner house is effectively “providing” more ‘public’ street spots than any of his nearby neighbors. With two car parking, one public spot would be traded for two private ones. This effectively removes one car from the local street parking demand (two if you count the owner across the curb cut).

      In the first story I believe it was explained that the owner tried to apply for a permit for the work, but learned there was a lengthy planning process (might have been stymied by his neighbors) and proceeded anyway. I think the owner should have been able to get an over-the-counter planning approval for this work, given how the house was inconsistent with its neighbors w/r/t off-street parking.

      I don’t advocate this approach, but I empathize with the owner in a situation where neighbors may have more sway than is merited. All politics are very, very local.

      • Posted by AnonAnon

        “might have been stymied by his neighbors” “neighbors may have more sway than is merited”. The neighbors have not yet weighed in because he did not go through through the permit process initially.

        “This effectively removes one car from the local street parking demand (two if you count the owner across the curb cut)” No, that’s a wash. He was parked on the street before and is now parked in the same spot across the curb cut. It doesn’t remove a car from the local street parking demand because the curb cut is now there.

        I have no problem with this guy installing a parking garage, but go through the process.

        • Posted by soccermom

          It is a reasonable (though not certain) assumption that the homeowner will park cars in his (new) garage that he otherwise is parking on the street, so those two cars will be removed from local parking demand. Net # of spaces available in the neighborhood will increase by one or two, depending on whether one assumes the owner parks in his own curb cut.

          Glad we agree it’s better to go through the formal process. My point is that it shouldn’t be the neighbor’s business if he puts in a curb cut when virtually every other house on the block has a curb cut and, post-project, the hoemowner will still be ‘providing’ more curb space than his neighbors by far.

  13. Posted by Jim B

    soccermom, that is fantabulous and real funny. Lets keep this one rolling.

  14. Posted by Fishchum

    All this talking about curb cuts and parking reminds me of a neighbor I had in the Marina who would park his truck on the street using his curb cut and the small curb space before the next curb cut, effectively giving him his “own” additional parking spot in front of his home. He became furious with me when I parked my motorcycle (legally) in the small curb space between curb cuts and thus forced him to find another street spot for his truck. After he berated me for a good ten minutes that I was taking away “his” parking spot I pointed out my bike had a neighborhood parking permit and I was legally parked. His head nearly exploded and there was nothing he could do.

  15. I admire the way the homeowner has ‘carved out’ a negotiating position with the Planning Dept.

  16. Posted by Chisel One

    Properties with curb cuts should pay an additional annual assessment on property taxes.

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