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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Uber Takes Oakland

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 10:18 AM

Uber's new Oakland HQ (formerly the Sears building) was tagged on May 1. - JULIA CARRIE WONG
  • Julia Carrie Wong
  • Uber's new Oakland HQ (formerly the Sears building) was tagged on May 1.

You may have noticed an atmospheric disturbance last night at 7:12 p.m. Did you feel a tingle in your spine? Glimpse a strange shadow in your peripheral vision? Find yourself seized with the desire to open your windows or burn sage? 

Coyotes howled. Dogs whimpered. Children cried. Cats did nothing, but they are cats. 

At 7:12 p.m. last night the news broke that Uber is moving to Oakland. RIP Oakland

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Twitter's HQ Could Be Yours For $800 Million

Posted By on Thu, Jun 11, 2015 at 10:36 AM

  • Steve Rhodes/Flickr

Twitter’s iconic Art Deco headquarters in Mid-Market could get a new landlord. San Francisco Business Times reports that the company’s 1.1-million-square-foot office complex — which includes the main HQ and adjacent 875 Stevenson St., along with plans to connect the buildings via a skybridge — is being quietly shopped around to deep-pocketed investors.

Shorenstein Properties, the complex’s current owner, bought the real estate for $110 million in 2011. According to the Business Times, investors are being asked to shell out more than $800 per square foot for a whopping total of $800 million, which would be the seventh largest office transaction in SF history.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

David Campos Has a Plan to Make Sure SF Keeps its Soul

Posted By on Wed, Jun 10, 2015 at 1:32 PM

  • Bonnie Natko/Flickr

The cost of doing business in San Francisco, like the cost of everything else, is unforgiving. According to the San Francisco Business Times, a city report released last fall showed an 884 percent increase in business closures and relocations, with much of the turnover affecting nonprofits and so-called “legacy businesses.” Indeed, some of the city’s most vibrant outposts — including Esta Noche and the Lexington Club — have shuttered in the past few years, leaving a vacuum in the city’s cultural life.

Supervisor David Campos has a plan to stanch the bloodletting. Per the Business Times, Campos and three other supes have endorsed a ballot initiative to establish a city fund for historic businesses. This follows the board’s unanimous decision last year to designate up to 300 businesses per year as “cultural assets,” meaning they’ve operated for at least 30 years and play a vital role in their neighborhoods.

The legacy fund will pay $500-per-employee grants to qualifying businesses, while landlords will get $4.50 per square foot (up to a max annual grant of $22,500) if they offer legacy businesses a 10-year lease. Campos told the Business Times that 3,000 businesses may be eligible for the fund and estimated the cost of the program at $3 million per year.

This is welcome news for small business owners facing untenable rent hikes. Earlier this year, Jeffrey’s Toys, which had operated in the city for 45 years, was forced to close up shop after being told its rent could jump to $40,000 per month. And the flight of nonprofits out of the city to Oakland and other cities in the Bay Area as rents rise continues apace. In November, Bloomberg quoted a city report indicating that nearly 2,000 nonprofits (one-quarter of the city’s total) had to decamp or shut down between 2011 and 2013.

It seems just a matter of time before even franchises can’t afford to stay afloat in San Francisco. According to CBS 5, at least three McDonald’s locations have closed recently. It’s a cutthroat situation that mirrors New York’s, where cracks have started to appear in Starbucks’s stranglehold on real estate — some stores are downsizing rather than pay astronomical leases. 

Campos told the Business Times that the legacy fund he’s proposing would be the first of its kind in the country. “We helped Twitter, why not help these businesses that have truly given character to these neighborhoods?” he added.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

San Francisco's Housing Stats Confound Even the Best of Minds

Posted By on Tue, Mar 26, 2013 at 3:00 PM

A nice place to live...
  • A nice place to live...

Earlier today, we ran an article about the GOP harnessing the seemingly limitless hatred of Nancy Pelosi within its membership to turn the occasion of the House minority leader's 73rd birthday into a "RETIRE NANCY" fund-raising bash.

Slate's Matthew Yglesias was puzzled by Republicans' visceral hatred of all things San Francisco, stating the only problem with San Francisco is that that "there's not enough San Francisco."

Cavalcades of people should be moving here, he continues, "But in fact total population growth in the San Francisco and San Jose metro areas has been rather slow, since for people to move there we'd have to build more houses. Zoning and other permitting restrictions have tended to make that quite difficult" -- thus jacking up housing prices.

That makes a lot of sense. But, counter-intuitively, it's not entirely true.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Prop. 13: Willie Brown Offers Advice on Solving Problem He Helped Create

Posted By on Mon, Dec 10, 2012 at 10:59 AM

San Francisco voters are a forgiving lot. Local politicians can make huge messes, solve them years later -- and reap the credit for tackling the problems of their own making. Over the weekend, Willie Brown offered his advice on how to address one of the most burdensome and unfair rules of Proposition 13 -- rules codified by a task force he chaired.

Whenever Brown offers advice on how to solve the problems he helped create it's a pretty good bet he's been visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley.

Land-use -- particularly in this city, where there's so little land -- is a byzantine and beastly subject. Many locals, including, we're told, mayors less astute than Brown, would rather tune it out altogether. But it is the life blood of this city, just as water rights were the all-important issue in Los Angeles. You can't decipher San Francisco politics without addressing land-use any more than you can learn French without mastering grammar.

The thorny issue Brown helped codify was one we wrote a cover story about this year regarding the incongruous theft of a building.

See Also: 
The Building-Size Loopholes in Prop. 13 That Corporations Exploit

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

"Dark Prince" Accomplice Jay Shah Captured

Posted By on Thu, Oct 4, 2012 at 3:02 PM

  • Coburn Palmer
  • Jay Shah

After being convicted of grand theft, money laundering, forgery, conspiracy, and filing forged documents for his part in a $2.2 million condo scam, Jay Shah made a run for it and was on the lam.

Until now.

For two weeks he traveled up and down the California coast, making it as far south as San Diego and into Nevada before returning to Watsonville, where he was captured by police this week.

See also: "Dark Prince" Accomplices Found Guilty in Rincon Hill Scam

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Occupy Moves Its Cause Indoors

Posted By on Tue, Oct 2, 2012 at 4:27 PM

If anything, Occupy made for good art - COURTESY OF ERIC DROOKER AND YBCA
  • Courtesy of Eric Drooker and YBCA
  • If anything, Occupy made for good art

Occupy isn't gone, it has just moved inside -- where it's much cooler these days.

Far from having their spirits crushed after police raided the last remaining Occupy camp last week (which had become less about occupy and more about the homeless), the Occupy movement has strategically continued to fight for the 99 percent.

During the last year, the massive movement has spawned many branches of itself, including Occupy

the Auctions and Evictions Campaign, Occupy the Dream House, and

Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

And Tuesday was a

big day for these groups, as they worked again to halt a slew of pending

foreclosures before "occupying" a local museum.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Floating Cities Could Be on the Horizon

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2012 at 12:43 PM


This weekend, seasteading enthusiasts will be flocking to the city for their annual conference at the Le Meridien Hotel to plan future floating cities. 

The ultimate goal of the seasteading movement is to establish autonomously governed communities on the water -- an ocean city-state, so to speak. The conference is hosted by the Seasteading Institute, and this year participants will discuss ways to implement sustainable energy options and recruiting real estate investors. 

"We are not the first to see freedom on the high seas," writes Randolph Hencken, the Institute's senior director, "but we are the first to temper this idealistic vision with a realistic strategy."  

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How Much Would the White House Cost You in San Francisco?

Posted By on Wed, May 9, 2012 at 2:21 PM

How much for a sublet?
  • How much for a sublet?

In San Francisco, a building hailing from the mid-19th century is a source of wonder. In Europe, they've got public toilets that old.

The White House, which was completed in 1800, would be an oddity out here -- to put it mildly. San Francisco has its share of palatial estates, but none that were burned by the British in 1814.

What would the White House command in the City by the Bay? The real estate website Movoto aimed to answer that question. It figured that the presidential residence would command perhaps $115 million on the open market. But that's back East. What about here?

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Controversial 8 Washington Condo Project Slips Off Greased Skids -- For Now

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 5:59 AM

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A proposal to erect a 12-story tower housing 165 condos ranging in price from several million dollars up to $10 million -- or more -- has, at least for now, come derailed from an intriguingly fast track of pending approvals.

The 8 Washington project, whose developers describe it as a plan to erect some of the priciest condos the city has ever seen, was scheduled to go through a series of rapid-fire, back-to-back meetings. A joint session of the Recreation and Park Commission and Planning Commission originally set for today would have both reviewed the Environmental Impact Report and certified it -- among myriad other steps. Then a specially convened meeting of the Port Commission the very next day would do much the same. And then the State Lands Commission -- Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom presiding -- would approve a complex land swap necessitated by the Embarcadero project's waterfront setting.

That's the kind of bang-bang-bang scheduling it takes more than asking nicely to arrange. "There's only a few people in San Francisco who can put together something like that," intimates Brad Paul, a former deputy mayor of housing and one of the project's most outspoken critics.

But it was undone, at least for the short term, thanks to a classic snafu.  

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  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"