Many of you have been to my home on Fulton Street, which you can see in the right margin of the picture. Many of you have had many questions over the years about the wreck of a building next door. Some of you may remember when the back porch very nearly collapsed on my TIC partner Joe while he was fixing the fence or when I tried to buy the building and failed or you may have just heard me fussing about the constant construction.  Let me just say that I have appreciated all your listening over the years.

I am writing today to say that the drama is almost over.  1611-1613 is finished and on the market as TICs.  The upper unit is 2 bedrooms/2.5 baths and priced at $1,098,000.  The lower unit is 2 levels and 3 bedrooms/3 baths and priced at $1,298,000.  To see more pictures, look here.  The next showing will be July 31 from 6 to 7:30.  It’s very pretty and it may not last long, so if you are curious you would be well advised to stop by, have a glass of wine and take a look!


Now this headline might not ring true to you as you are struggling up one of our many steep inclines (Sanchez between 23rd and 22nd comes to mind) or trying to bike and feeling like you are likely to start rolling backward at any moment, but let’s take a moment to appreciate just how walkable San Francisco really is.

A Seattle company called Walkscore has rated San Francisco the US’s most walkable city. It was written up in the Chronicle a little while ago. To read the article click here. While it surprises me that we beat New York, I think it’s a fantastic boost. I would have to agree that with just a little application of all those backside muscles, it is possible to walk from just about any neighborhood to about three or four others. So don’t be intimidated by the slopes!

And guess what?  They have found that our walkability is impacting our home values.  Turns out, people want to walk and the more walkable something is, the more valuable it is.  I, for one, am not surprised by this tidbit as it’s the first requirement most of my buyers have on their list.

Sometimes it’s possible for really significant changes to slip past normal public planning channels almost unnoticed.  Bruce Willems and Carolyne Connor, two regular readers from the Inner Sunset, have alerted me to an the potential upcoming installation of some really large utility boxes in their neighborhood.  There is more info below, but suffice to say that if you want to keep AT&T from circumventing normal planning processes, it is important to take action before tomorrow (7/29) at 4pm.  The action that will be most effective is to call or email the board of supervisors and the mayor that you want AT&T to have to go through normal environmental review for this project.  Directions are below.  Remember, this will affect how AT&T is treated in other neighborhoods as well, so even if the Inner Sunset is not your ‘hood, I say go get ’em!
Begin forwarded message:



STOP AT&T From Installing Huge Telecommunications Boxes on Our Sidewalks


The Problem

AT&T has gotten permission from the San Francisco Planning Department to install up to 850 metal “Lightspeed” cabinets on public sidewalks around the city, and enlarge some of their existing electrical boxes.


The new cabinets are 4 feet high, 4 feet 2 inches wide, and 26 inches deep.  They would be installed within 150 feet of existing electrical boxes, some of which would be enlarged to be 4 feet 10 inches wide by 5 feet 5 inches high by 26 inches deep. This size has been compared to the bed of a flatbed truck.  These would completely block visibility to the other side of the street.


The boxes will be installed City-wide, but AT&T is implementing it neighborhood by neighborhood so many affected communities are still unaware of AT&T’s plans and the adverse impact it will have on their neighborhoods. Twenty of these new cabinets are planned for Irving Street and Kirkham Street, between 3rd and 18th.


Why Did This Happen So Quickly?

The San Francisco Planning Department gave AT&T an exemption from environmental review, which all such projects generally need to obtain.  The Planning Department based its exemption on the premise that the cabinets would not result in “a significant impact to public views and aesthetics” and by claiming that they are similar to other utility structures on the sidewalk, even though these are twice as large as many existing structures.


The Planning Department also found that there would be no cumulative environmental impact, even though AT&T plans to install up to 850 of these cabinets throughout the city, and in some neighborhoods (like the Inner Sunset) there may be one every block for several blocks.


What You Can Do About It

The Cole Valley Improvement Association has filed an appeal of the Planning Department’s decision to exempt AT&T from an environmental review.  The full Board of Supervisors will hear that appeal on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 4:00 p.m.


1)   Write, call or e-mail all of the members of the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor before July 29th, asking them to require that AT&T go through the normal, environmental review. Send a copy to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors. (See sample letter and contact information below.)


2)   Tell your neighbors, your neighborhood association and your merchant association and ask them to oppose AT&T’s plans by sending emails to the Supervisors and to the Mayor.  Almost all San Francisco neighborhoods will be impacted by AT&T’s proposal.


3)   Attend the Board of Supervisors hearing on Tuesday, July 29th to show your opposition:


Board Chambers, 2nd floor, Room 250

San Francisco City Hall

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

Estimated Time 4 PM



Sample Letter


RE:  San Francisco Planning Department Exemption from Environmental Review

Case Number 2007.1350E


Dear Supervisor (inset name)  /  Dear Mayor Newsom:


I wish to voice my strong opposition to the Planning Department’s decision to grant an exemption from environmental review to AT&T’s new utility boxes.  This matter will be before the Board of Supervisors at its meeting on July 29, 2008 (file number 080906).


  • The large boxes will act as graffiti magnets, are eyesores, attract vandalism, tend to collect trash around and on top of them and detract from our neighborhood’s attempt to create a more attractive and pleasant environment.


  • 850 new utility boxes throughout the City will dramatically affect the look and feel of San Francisco.  They will completely block visibility for pedestrians and cars trying to back out of our driveways.


  • The new boxes that AT&T has already installed have already attracted graffiti, despite AT&T’s claims of graffiti resistant surfaces.  Many of AT&T’s existing boxes are covered with graffiti that AT&T does little to remove.


  • Many neighborhoods, like the Inner Sunset, have spent years under grounding their wires.  This was done in the spirit of community improvement and with good faith that utilities would be under grounded and out of sight. Residents paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to get this work done and dealt with years of torn up streets.  But it was worth it to make their neighborhood more beautiful, more pedestrian friendly and safer.  Now, after having spent money and time to do this, AT&T wants to reverse these efforts.  AT&T should be required to make their plans conform with our efforts, time and money to improve our neighborhoods.


  • These boxes are incompatible with the aesthetics of our classic San Francisco neighborhood.  Many of the homes in our neighborhood date to the early part of the 20th century.  The Inner Sunset, for example, is a gateway to Golden Gate Park, the De Young museum, and the Academy of Sciences.  These proposed boxes would run counter to the look and feel of our neighborhood.


  • These cabinets run completely contrary to efforts by city residents to beautify their neighborhoods and make it safer, by under grounding our electrical wires, planting trees, installing speed bumps, bulb-outs, and instituting other traffic calming measures.  For example, the city recently targeted the Inner Sunset as one of four neighborhoods in San Francisco that could benefit from urban planner’s Jan Gehl efforts to make urban areas more pedestrian friendly.  Yet this is one of the neighborhoods greatly impacted by AT&T’s proposed boxes. Large street obstacles are unsightly and directly contradictory to the City’s efforts to improve our City’s physical environment.


  • There is an alternative – the technology is available for communication boxes to be installed underground like our other utilities.  AT&T is opting for the lower cost option but there are very real costs to the City and to the residents.  Residents and the City end up paying for the graffiti, trash and vandalism attracted by the above ground boxes.


(Be sure to add personal comments and reasons why you oppose the utility boxes, and try to keep letter to one page)


Contact Information for the Board of Supervisors & The Mayor

The mailing address is the same for each Board member:


City Hall

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 244

San Francisco, CA 94102-4689


Supervisor Jake McGoldrick         Supervisor Bevan Dufty

District #1                                 District #8

(415) 554-7410                           (415) 554-6968



Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier    Supervisor Tom Ammiano

District #2                                 District #9

(415) 554-7752                           (415) 554-5144



Supervisor Aaron Peskin             Supervisor Sophie Maxwell

District #3                                 District #10

(415) 554-7450                           (415) 554-7670   



Supervisor Carmen Chu              Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval

District #4                                 District  #11

(415) 554-7460                           (415) 554-6975    



Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi           Mayor Gavin Newsom

District #5                                  City Hall, Room 200

(415) 554-7630                           1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place           San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                  (415) 554-6160


Supervisor Chris Daly

District #6

(415) 554-7970



Supervisor Sean Elsbernd            Clerk, Board of Supervisors

District #7                        

(415) 554-6516


Many of you ask about foreclosure activity and opportunities in our market.  I answer that I rarely see them in San Francisco itself  And as reported this week on per DataQuick: of the 18,516 notices of default recorded in the Bay Area in the 2nd Quarter, only 418 were in SF — that’s about 2.2% of the total. Of all the Bay Area counties, SF also had the lowest year to year gain in defaults: 62.6%.

They estimate that approximately 78% of those receiving notices of default will be foreclosed upon with “22% emerging from the foreclosure process by catching up on their payments, refinancing or selling.”
The entire article is here:

Sfgate now has a search engine for Bay Area foreclosures, updated weekly, which can be searched by county, city or zip code:

If you have questions about a distressed property, or you have a friend who needs to buy or sell, please get in touch and I will be happy to use my experience with short sales and foreclosures to work!

Since I’ve skipped a few weeks, I wanted to present a contrast in market activity in San Francisco between the two week period ended July 9 and the two week period ended July 23. Closed sales for the two week period ended July 9:

                               Over      Under   At

SFD                        31           36           13

Condo                   37           38           31

2-4 Units              6              7              1

Closed sales for the two week period ended July 23:

Over      Under   At

SFD                        50           26           13

Condo                   30           39           17

2-4 U                     5             7             1

Suffice to say that the news would have us believe that the trend is for things to look like the two week period ended July 9,  but then look at all those homes that sold OVER ask.  It can be a bewildering market for in which to buy and sell.  I wrote an article for this month’s Castro Courier where I discuss the best ways to get what you want in the current market.  You can read the article here.

Upcoming Listings

July 28, 2008

Upcoming Listings:   As always, just let me know if you or yours see something you want to get the jump on and we’ll get you in before the crowd…

$4,195,000/ Chinatown/  Brief Description: 62 Units resid.Hotel + retail space. Corner building in Prime Chinatown. Many upgrades including seismic. $384,000 actual income (10.8GRM). Income & expense statement available.

 $2,450,000/ 1824 21st St, San Pablo/ Brief Description: 36 Space MOBILE HOME PARK house on .75 lot downtown. Can build 27+ units & retain or enjoy $240,000 Annual income w/ low expenses as it is. Income and expense statement available.

$2,695,000 / Cole Valley /   BR/BA:  3/3    PKG:   2     Brief Description:   Mid-century single family on an extra-wide view lot (approx 7500 sq ft).  3 bd 3 ba, formal living, large den/family room,  Very well maintained gardens with mature fruit, evergreen, deciduous trees, fucia, magnolias, roses, vegetables and more.

 $2,100,000 /Noe Valley /   4 units:      PKG:  0      Brief Description:  Handsome 3 story Victorianl4 unit commercial building.

 $949,000/ Corona Heights/  BR/BA: 3/1.5 PKG: 1  Brief Description: Top unit in a handsome 2 unit bldg. stylish remodel while retaining its quintessential SF Edwardian w/ charm & Character. City views/

 $769,000/Excelsior/ BR/BA:3/2  PKG:1  Brief Description: Contemporary, light-filled Victorian Single Family Home. Beautifully renovated with an open floor plan, expansive deck with hot tub, landscaped yard, and large attic for storage. Blocks to Glen Park Bart. The Excelsior is the New Potrero Hill A must see!  

$499,000 / Van Ness Corridor / BR/BA: 1/1  PKG: 1  Brief Description: Beautiful Jr. One Bedroom condo, 650 Sq. Ft., downtown views. Shown by appointment to visionary buyers before painting and staging! 

 $490,000 / Crocker Amazon / BR/BA:  2/2    PKG:  deeded 2 car parking   Brief Description:   Great TOP floor unit with vaulted ceilings and recessed lighting. This unit has a deck off the living room and overlooks the hills of McLaren Park/Crocker Amazon. This is a very spacious light-filled condo with in-unit washer/ dryer. Lots of closet space with walk-in in MB.  Great opportunity for first time buyer or investment.  

 Pocket Listing:

$TBD (2M.aprox)/ Duboce Triangle/ Brief Description:  6 flat Victorian building with one parking. 15GRM. consists of four 4 room flats (2 of which are two stories) and two 3 room flats. The building has a lot of street appeal and an unusual new paint job. It will be ready to show in a few weeks. 

$595,000/Napa/Westin Verasa Project/1BR/1BA   1 Bedroom condo hotel unit at the Westin Verasa luxury resort walking distance to Copia and the Oxbow Market.  3rd floor with views.  Comparable units now being offered by sales center at $650k.  Use terms include up to 30 days per year, with the remainder being rented out by the hotel.  


$549,900/ Westin Verasa Napa Unit #1056, BR/BA: 1/1 PKG:   Brief Description:   Beautiful new condo/hotel in downtown Napa.  Income producing property with 29 use days for owners.  Quiet, creek facing ground floor unit.  Pet-friendly!  Opportunity to get in at 2006 prices with a 10k HOA credit and upgrades.  Motivated seller.





My first exposure to Opera (at the age of 5), and my first exposure to “hippies” at a rock concert (at the age of 6), as well as most of my pre-school field trips all took place in Stern Grove. This is a magical, wild ravine nestled between the southern edge of the Parkside and the northern edge of Merced Manor.The Stern Grove Music Festival is now about half way through its 71st Season of admission free concerts. For a listing of what’s coming up, click here or visit

To reserve a picnic table, click here.