An undeveloped Telegraph Hill lot that’s zoned for development up to 84 feet in height is on the market for only $150,000! But there are a couple of challenges.

Positioned as a “fun way to buy a Prime piece of San Francisco Real Estate,” 202 Union is a 1,470-square-foot parcel that’s located 20 feet above Sansome Street, in the middle of the hillside and along a never developed extension of Union Street, with a 35 degree slope.

And the downhill lots that actually front Sansome Street, which might look familiar, are owned by another party with plans for their development having been drawn. “Fun,” indeed!

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by SF Developer

    With a lack of access, no development potential (yet perpetual property taxes and liability insurance), this site has negative value. Therefore, the owner’s best option is to stop paying the property taxes and let it be taken back by the City of San Francisco.

    • Posted by Hayes Valley Denizen

      Might be able to slap a conservation easement on it for a pretty huge tax write off, hypothetically.

  2. Posted by Metroliner

    Still a better investment than NFTs!

    • Posted by Pean Dreston

      Unfortunately, you can’t launder money through real estate. So for many in the NFT space, this isn’t a better deal!

      • Posted by two beers

        “Unfortunately, you can’t launder money through real estate.”

        Forget the /s tag?

    • Posted by ape

      really? bc i’m about to use the money i made from NFTs to buy real estate

  3. Posted by Brisket

    How cumbersome is the funicular permit form?

  4. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    No thanks. For development “fun”, I’d prefer one of those lots that are literally underwater in the bay in Hunters Point.

    But seriously I’ve already partially developed a much more conventional landlocked parcel and have found it to be challenging for an amateur like myself. So far it has required securing agreements with a half dozen organizations and individuals, with a few more hurtles on the horizon to clear.

  5. Posted by wcsf

    Not that I’d advocate for it or want to see it here, but out of curiosity, could this parcel be used to erect and maintain some kind of billboard? (so long as it didn’t obstruct views/shadowed uphill or downhill neighbors?) If not, is that because this is a residential lot vs commercial? Just curious why some rooftops and building sides get to have them and others do not. I imagine it is mostly some grandfathered clause where they existed prior to more tightened zoning restrictions. But if that were an option, this could be a decent long-term investment w/ that in mind.

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      You’re right about legacy billboards being grandfathered in. I really doubt that the city will permit any new billboards, they’re considered a blight.

      • Posted by intheknow

        New general advertising billboards were prohibited citywide by the voters ages ago (Prop G in 2002). All existing billboards are grandfathered, and any billboard removed is one less billboard in the city.

    • Posted by Never In Doubt

      AFAIK, no new billboards advertising anything not sold in the building they’re attached to are allowed in San Francisco.

  6. Posted by Fishchum

    Oh god, not this parcel again. every time it hits the market I got calls from out of town builders who somehow think they can excavate and build something on this “lot”.

    • Posted by soccermom

      Those phone calls must be really rough for you. #hanginthere

      • Posted by Fishchum

        It’s a time-waster, to be sure.

  7. Posted by BobN

    Can you imagine the squabble we’re going to have over the helipad….

  8. Posted by Joe Leland

    City should by it. Preserve a bit of natural space.

    • Posted by Dave (Seattle dude)

      ITA. Or perhaps the THDA could come up with the money to purchase it.

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      Or perhaps a variant on what wcsf alludes to: Don’t use it for occupation or even a building. Use if for display. A well funded arts nonprofit could buy it and use it to site a piece of public art.

  9. Posted by pat

    i dont think i want to live there, but i would want access.
    I want to build a tree fort there to enjoy my weekends

  10. Posted by Cody

    A number of years ago I watched in person a house tumble down this landslide prone area. Need more be said?

    • Posted by Thomas

      When the hell was that?

      • Posted by sf_historian

        In February 1992 several chunks of the building at 20-30 Alta fell down the hill as the result of a landslide caused by heavy rain. The pieces ran into the side of the seven-story office building at 201 Filbert. The city demolished the remainder of the structure and billed the owner for the work.

  11. Posted by Phil McCracken

    Does anyone know where the earthquake faults run near this lot? Sure looks like a prime target to slide right down after the Next Big One!

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      There are no faults near TH. Any instability on that slope was man-made. In general the base rock beneath SF is very stable. The mud flats are where the big problems occur.

  12. Posted by Jimmy the Kid

    Wasn’t this an old quarry site? Lots of dynamite?

    • Posted by SF Developer

      You are correct. When sailing ships previously arrived in San Francisco (laden with heavy manufactured goods in their holds), they had ballast issues when trying to sail home empty. Therefore, they put rocks at the bottom of the ships for stability. Being next to the waterfront, this hill is from where those rocks came.

  13. Posted by MyOddCommentHandle

    As a joke I’d say burn it down for the insurance money.

    In reality, I think the best value is to donate it to a charity for the tax write off. Just find the highest appraisal that will stick.

  14. Posted by Joe Leland

    Butterfly habitat.

  15. Posted by hill

    This lot was on sale for a lot less recently but i forget how much less. way under $100,000 though.

  16. Posted by Francesco Benvenuti

    I showed this to a developer friend, total pain in the ass, impossible to access that lot basically from anywhere, pass!

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