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Updated: 2018-04-20T13:45:12-07:00


Teardown Oakland hills log cabin asks $625K


Parents of future presidents, apply now. The term “log cabin” is almost proverbial in America, less likely to reference an actual domicile so much as a gold-tinged dream about the days of yore. But here’s a real, honest log cabin in the Oakland hills at 7135 Pinehaven Road, part of the Merriwood neighborhood. And it even dates to 1890, according to the ad—not quite the days of the great California frontier, but close. This one goes down in the books as a one bed, one bath, 950 square foot house sitting on a comparably enormous 26,000 square foot lot (actually three lots in an L-shaped parcel, almost all of it hillside), which listed this week for $625,000. And it appears that the hill itself is the main attraction here, as realtor Brandon Yager writes: Unique development opportunity for extended family or communal living group desiring to build multiple houses together. Cabin is a possible fixer but best use would be a teardown and construction of new dream property. Quiet, private, wooded ambiance with variety of usable yard areas. Three easy build down slope lots to be sold together. Yes, it turns out the cabin is actually yet another Bay Area teardown set to potentially break the bank, this time in disguise. Conditions in the 1890 home are such that the listing includes no interior photos of the space; guess there really is no going back to the days of the great frontier after all. 7135 Pinehaven Road [Grubb Co] [...]

The 11 best Bay Area beaches to visit



From sandy shores by the Golden Gate Bridge to tide pools in Bolinas, these spots provide the perfect escape

Yes, it’s still March. But have you seen what the temperatures will look like Thursday? At least 70 degrees, folks. So plan on playing hooky now. We’ve complied a list of the best beaches in the Bay Area. From tide pools and secluded spots to family-friendly and clothing-optional, we've come up with the top 11 Bay Area beaches for soaking up some vitamin D.

While the waters in Northern California are chiller than the beaches in SoCal, ours just look better. So by all means, ditch Dolores Park this week/weekend for some sun-drenched scenery.

Just don't forget to slathering on the SPF. A lot of it.

Novato landlord accused of price-gouging after fires


Rent hike of 80 percent post-inferno nets charges. On Monday, California Attorney General Xavier Becarra charged San Francisco real estate agent and landlord Melissa “Missy” Echeverria with three counts of price gouging for allegedly spiking the rent on her Novato property in October of 2017, just days after Governor Jerry Brown issued an order against exorbitant rents increases in the wake of devastating wildfires. According to the complaint, Echeverria owns 95 Blanca Drive in Novato, a six bed, three bath house that dates to 1971, which Zillow says she bought in 1994 for $380,000. Becarra’s office says Echeverria was renting the place out for $5,000/month but then suddenly hiked the price up to $9,000/month on October 12 of last year. A day later she dropped the price down to $7,000/month, then a few days after that to just $5,800/month. Since all three of those prices are above the threshold for what’s considered price gouging during a state of emergency, the result is three separate misdemeanor charges now. According to the prosecution: California law generally prohibits hiking the price of an item or service by more than 10 percent of what it cost before a state or local emergency was declared. This law applies to those who sell food, emergency supplies, medical supplies, building materials and gasoline. The law also applies to repair or reconstruction services, emergency cleanup services, transportation, freight and storage services, hotel accommodations and rental housing. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images Price gouging comes with a potential penalty of one year in jail and/or a $10,000 fine. Note that Echeverria’s site now lists the home in question as for sale asking more than $1.08 million. “In times of crisis, the overwhelming majority of Californians do what is right,” Becarra said via press release. “[But there are some unscrupulous individuals who engage in price gouging, taking advantage of those who are already suffering,” he added. No one at Echeverria Properties was immediately available for comment. People vs Echeverria [State of California] 95 Blanca Drive [Zillow] Marin County Listings [Echeverria] Californians Warned To Watch For Price Gouging [Curbed SF] [...]

Mayor promises 2,000 new trees citywide



Plantings are supposed to combat carbon emissions, but most people probably happy just to have the greenery,

On Thursday, San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell announced he wants to include funding in the city’s upcoming budget to plant 2,000 new trees citywide by 2020, which the mayor’s office says is part of a larger city initiative to eliminating San Francisco’s carbon emissions.

“We cannot wait for Washington, D.C. to act—we owe it to our future generations to take bold climate action,” Farrell said in a Thursday statement. “We are accelerating our plan for an emissions free future now, before it is too late.”

The plantings are part of a larger initiative to eliminate San Francisco’s carbon output by 2050. Thursday’s announcement also boasts, “The City has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 29 percent below 1990 levels—the equivalent of nearly more than 400,000 cars off the road—while San Francisco’s population increased by 20 percent.”

In all likelihood though, most residents will just be happy to have a little extra greenery around on its own merits.

According to the San Francisco Planning Department’s map of every public tree in San Francisco, the city presently maintains 124,931 arboreal assets, a population boost of 136 trunks year over year.

But the map also reports more than 39,000 vacant planting spots, so there’s room to grow. Note that this only includes trees on public streets and that the parks are a whole other matter.

City board votes to keep racist statue after all


“Rehabilitation is what they do in countries where there is genocide.” The decades-long argument about the “Early Days” statue in Civic Center—a 19th century tableau featuring sanctimonious imagery of a missionary helping a fallen and anachronistically dressed native tribesman—was supposed to be over after multiple city bodies voted to remove it earlier this year. But there are yet more volleys in this war, as the five-person Board of Appeals voted unanimously Wednesday to keep “Early Days” in place after all. San Francisco lawyer Frear Stephen Schmidt lodged the appeal, alleging that the city’s Historic Preservation Commission acted inappropriately when signing off on removal plans in February. Board Vice President Rick Swig argued at the hearing that freedom of expression mandates keeping “Early Days” in place, comparing it to the Holocaust Memorial at Lands End. “Some might say that should be taken down,” Swig said at the hearing. “Some might say it stimulates thought.” (Note that the George Segal Lands End piece protests the Holocaust, whereas critics of “Early Days” argue it celebrates colonization. But Swig did not seem to make this distinction.) “And if you file it under rehabilitation, rehabilitation is what they do in countries where there is genocide, we remove people for ‘rehabilitation,’” Swig added. “That is suppression of thought, that is genocide.” Most board members focused their vote not on whether it’s appropriate for the city to remove a statue but instead on whether the process made sense. “The main question is whether the Historic Preservation Commission acted appropriately,” Board President Frank Fung said. “They have consistently looked at issues related to anything in excess of 50 years old and won’t allow any changes to it. I don’t see how they could support this move.” Board member Darryl Honda scoffed at the commission vote in similar terms, saying, “We don’t remove a window from a house that’s 50 years old but we’re going to take the oldest statue out of City Hall?” “Early Days” is part of the larger Pioneer Monument located behind the Main Library. In the 1990s, the city placed a plaque in front of the figures explaining that they represent a dated 19th century opinion about the settlement of California by Europeans, although overgrowth now makes the plaque difficult to see most of the time. Photo by Tobias Kleinlercher / Wikipedia SF Board of Appeals, 4.18.18 [SF Gov TV] City Votes To Remove Racist Statue [Curbed SF] Holocaust Memorial [SF City Guides] [...]

New bill would allow BART to develop housing


Imagine stepping outside every morning and hearing: “The doors are obstructed, please stand clear of the doors” This week, State Senator Scott Wiener’s headline-grabbing transit-housing bill SB 827 ended up chloroformed by a California Senate committee, but in the meantime some other Bay Area lawmakers have a much more direct and literal approach to the term “transit-oriented housing.” AB 2923, a bill introduced by San Francisco rep David Chiu and Contra Costa County rep Tim Grayson in February and amended again this week, would allow BART to permit housing development on property it owns, provided that’s close enough to a BART station. The bill reads in part: Notwithstanding any other law, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) board of directors shall adopt transit-oriented development (TOD) zoning standards by a majority vote at a duly noticed public meeting that establish minimum local zoning requirements for BART-owned land that is located on contiguous parcels larger than 0.25 acres, within one-half mile of an existing or planned BART station entrance, in areas having representation on the BART board of directors. As the Bay City Beacon points out, BART already owns “more than 200 acres of land near its stations, which can accommodate 20,000 housing units at high density.” That would be very high density by Bay Area standards, but the point is it can be done. The bill specifies a 20 percent affordable housing requirement, as well as mandates that projects stick by labor rules and design guidelines in the relevant cities and counties. If AB 2923 became law as written now, the onus would be on cities to modify their zoning to accommodate projects on BART land. But if two years went by without action on a proposal authority over the zoning would default to the BART board itself, which would presumably just go ahead. Photo by Sheila Fitzgerald It’s admittedly a little weird imagining the BART directors of all people one day making potentially critical decisions about regional housing. But these are strange times. In a letter of support penned in March, urban design think-tank SPUR’s Community Planning Director Kristy Wang anticipated potentially impressive dividends if the bill succeeds: BART can deliver on its goals of producing at least 20,000 new units of housing (7,000 of which would be affordable) plus 4,500,000 square feet of office and commercial space on land it owns. The TOD standards would limit building height restrictions to between five and 12 stories depending on the station location and would require parking maximums. Putting an extra spin on that “BART and you’re there” slogan would presumably just be icing. AB 2923 [State of California] Housing Bill Stalled By Senate [Curbed SF] Can BART Build Housing? [Bay City Beacon] SPUR Letter [...]

Glorious Gable mansion asks $3.85 million


Awe-inspiring landmark Victorian the product of cattle money Woodland’s Gable Mansion is too good to be true, or perhaps just too much to be true. There are times when the six bed, six bath, 11,200 square foot circa 1885 Victorian at 659 First Street in Yolo County is so ostentatious that it tips the scales into hubris, like with the weird pink carpets in the sitting room. But by and large the landmark home’s unabashed use of color, complicated wallpapers, overwrought stained glass, soaring skylights, baroque woodwork, and elaborate ceilings can only provoke observers into an ultimate sense of surrender to its aesthetics. The Gable Mansion’s name comes not by way of its spectacular centerpiece roof gable but rather its original owner, Yolo County cattle rancher Amos Gable, one of 14 children born to Pennsylvania farmers according to the history site Cal Explornia, who built the place alongside his business partner, brother Harvey Gable. The original construction price was $36,000—about $895,000 in today’s currency. The plaque marking the Gable Mansion as a California landmark dubs it “an outstanding example of 19th-century Victorian Italianate architecture, one of the last of its style, size, and proportion in California.” Truth be known, much of what we see of the mansion today is not the work of the Gables but instead of the most recent owners, Starr and Jeff Barrow, who bought the place in 1997 for less than $338,000 (about $530,000 after inflation). The Daily Democrat News writes that the pair put considerable resources into fixing broken down or unfinished parts of the mansion, and the stained glass work is apparently Starr Barrow’s own. Now the Barrow burrow is on the market asking $3.85 million, a price hike of nearly 10,600 percent since the days of the Gable brothers. It’d take a lot of cattle to raise that sum, but presumably someone will manage. 659 First Street, Woodland Gable Mansion [Cal Explornia] California Landmark 864 Gable Mansion Poster Home [Daily Democrat] [...]

Complete jerks ruin Rincon Hill mural


Beale Street scene vandalized beyond repair, because we can’t have nice things The mural on the tunnel wall where Beale Street goes underneath Harrison in Rincon Hill was supposed to be a tiny feel-good moment for the neighborhood, with tech and local color teaming up to create something cool. Instead it’s another reminder that we just can’t have nice things, as vandals have damaged the piece beyond repair. As Hoodline reports, the Beale mural was the product of a startup called SprayPrinter, which uses apps, special spray paint accessories for smartphones, and in some cases robots to reproduce computer images on walls. (Which is pretty cool.) A Rincon Hill resident sold the company on painting a scene at the otherwise bland looking Beale Street underpass, and SprayPrinter completed the piece on March 22. The new mural depicted famous SF waterfront landmarks, including both bridges and the Palace of Fine Arts. So SprayPrinter got to show off its tech and the locals got to brighten up an otherwise unattractive block, a true win-win scenario. A post shared by Manisha (@manisha_th) on Mar 22, 2018 at 5:49pm PDT Then someone tagged the mural. Not to be discouraged, the company attempted to repair the damage, only for the vandals to actually come steal their paint. Then they tagged the mural again using the stolen materials later that night. Now beyond repair, the SprayPrinter mural has been pretty much well ruined. Of course, all of the vandals’ work has also been removed and the walls of the underpass are ordinarily as blank as a slate, so in effect all that was done was to keep the walls completely unadorned. Sure hope that was worth it. SF Public Works reports that it spends $20 million annually on graffiti cleanup, and SFPD offers $250 rewards for tips that lead to the arrest of vandals. On private property, the burden falls on the owner to clean up the mess. Ordinarily, graffiti taggers are less likely to pick on walls that have existing artwork on them. The Mission’s famous Clarion Alley started proliferating artwork specifically because it warded off the vandalism, and blank walls remain the most common targets. But apparently some people are only interested in ruining things for the rest of us. Vandals Target SoMa Mural [Hoodline] SprayPrinter Graffiti Vandalism [Public Works] See Clarion Art History [Curbed SF] [...]

Gigantic chunk of rock on Telegraph Hill slashes price to $998K


Still just a big rock Back in December of 2016, the empty lot at 1235 Sansome Street on Telegraph Hill listed for an intimidating $1.43 million. In fairness, it’s a rather dramatic property with Telegraph Hill views to die for and a primo location right across the street from Levi’s Plaza. But as we couldn’t help but observe at the time, it’s also just a big honking rock. “Development will require some engineering,” the 2016 ad warned potential buyers. Imagine that. Despite the advertised opportunity to potentially build any number of new homes on 7,000 feet of undeveloped Telegraph Hill, the property failed to find a buyer and quietly slipped off the market to continue its stolid geological slumber. This week, 1235 Sansome listed once again, the price tumbling to $998,000 now. So if anyone out there like the look of this rocky redoubt before but just didn’t think it was worth breaking a million, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. Courtesy Alain Pinel Realtors It takes a particularly clever realtor to frame a huge, sharp, pointy chunk of unbuildable stone as any sort of asset, but Edie Halenback managed to slip in an unexpected appeal to history: “Configuration of this property is the result of being a rock quarry in the past where much of the original stone for building City Hall and the Waterfront came from,” she writes in the latest ad. So it’s not just a mountaintop, it’s San Francisco history. Whether any buyer is sufficiently ambitious and optimistic to try to make a future out of this aerial aside remains to be seen. Giant Rock Asks $1.43 Million [Curbed SF] 1235 Sansome Street [Alain Pinel] [...]

Here’s what to expect when the Big One hits the Hayward Fault


US Geological Survey lays out a probably future quake scenario on anniversary of SF’s 1906 shake-up The US Geological Survey [USGS] took advantage of the anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake this week to update its working scenario on what may happen when the Big One hits the Bay Area again, focused not on the San Andreas fault but on its potentially more hazardous Hayward Fault neighbor to the east. Dubbed the “HayWired scenario” (unfortunately), a USGS press release stresses that the study is a possible projection but not a prediction: The HayWired Scenario is a scientifically realistic, highly detailed depiction of what may happen during and after a7.0 earthquake on the Hayward Fault with an epicenter in Oakland, CA. But it is not a prediction, and a real earthquake on the Hayward Fault could occur at any time and with a different pattern of shaking causing damage to be concentrated in different spots. The fact that nobody can predict an earthquake or its outcome is, ironically, the entire point. But the hypothetical posed by the USGS study is meant to be a plausible one based on our best current scientific understanding of the region and past disasters. Here’s some of what we might expect the near future: A major Hayward Fault quake is pending: “Scientists have documented a series of major prehistoric earthquakes on the Hayward Fault. [...] On average, for the past 12 major earthquakes on the fault, the interval between events has been about 150 years plus or minus 60 years. The last major earthquake on the Hayward Fault was a magnitude-6.8 earthquake in 1868—150 years ago.” It bears repeating: Earthquakes do not keep schedules, averages can vary wildly, and nobody can predict when a quake will happen. But one will definitely happen sooner or later. The direct seismic effects of a quake can last years: “Slow offset (afterslip) along the fault will continue for several months. Strong shaking is felt throughout the San Francisco Bay region. [...] Many aftershocks occur in the minutes to years following the mainshock, with the largest ( M 6.4) occurring in Santa Clara County, near San Jose. [...] Eighty percent of shaking damage is caused by the M 7.0 mainshock, and the rest is due to aftershocks over a two year period.” Building codes account for earthquake safety, but they only do so much: “Even if all buildings in the bay region met current building code, 0.4 percent could collapse, 5 percent could be unsafe to occupy, and 19 percent could have restricted use. [...] Property damage and direct business disruption losses are estimated to be more than $82 billion (in 2016 dollars). Most of the losses are attributable to shaking damage, liquefaction, and landslides (in that order).” Even in the best case scenario, casualties are as inevitable as the quake itself: “Estimates of casualties in the San Francisco Bay region include 800 deaths and 18,000 nonfatal injuries from building and structural damage.” And just as in 1906, the threat from fire may outstrip the quake itself: “During and soon after the mainshock, more than 400 gas- and electric-related fires could ignite. These fires could form conflagrations that might be as destructive as the powerful ground shaking of the mainshock. [...] Building space equivalent to more than 52,000 single-family homes could burn as a result of more fires than can be fought by available firefighters and fire trucks. “East Bay residents could lose water service for 6 weeks, some for as long as 6 months.” Although nobody likes to think about these things, the inevitability of such an event within most of our lifetimes makes preparation a necessity. You can read the full details of the report here. And [...]