July 9, 2007

The SocketSite Scoop On Sales At Symphony Towers (750 Van Ness)

Symphony Towers Sign (www.SocketSite.com)

While the signs have been hung around town, and the sales office doors are open, according to a plugged-in tipster the much ballyhooed (on account of the price point) Symphony Towers won't start taking reservations until Saturday, July 21st (“promptly at 8:30am" for registered "V.I.P.s"). Also worth noting, the sales team will be offering “3% off the purchase price of the first 50 homes sold!” for V.I.P.s who registered "on or before July 3, 2007."

A bit of the fine print: “3% discount (Discount) is limited to the first fifty (50) homes purchased at Symphony Towers between July 21, 2007, and August 4, 2007. To qualify, buyers must have registered on or before July 3, 2007. Discount applies only if financing through our preferred lenders.... Discount is applicable to only the first home purchased per registered buyer; subsequent homes may be purchased at regular market rate.”

A few additional details, studios are expected to be priced from $350,000 to $500,000; one-bedrooms from $500,000 to $700,000; and two-bedrooms from $750,000 to $900,000. Refrigerators are included (but not the vented washer/dryers), gas ranges except in the studios (don't ask us), and one car deeded parking for most units.

UPDATE: From a plugged-in reader: “the building codes do not allow any gas burning appliances in a room used for sleeping” (re: "gas ranges except in the studios").

Symphony Towers: From The $300,000s [SocketSite]
Symphony Towers (750 Van Ness Avenue) [SocketSite]

First Published: July 9, 2007 4:30 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

What an amazing work of architecture! The rest of the world must be jealous of this new crown "jewel" of the San Francisco civic center. Let's hope many many more projects like this go up all over the city. This just prooves again that San Francisco is on the front edge of modern multi-unit housing design ideas!

Posted by: Anom at July 9, 2007 9:01 AM

"gas ranges except in the studios (don't ask us)"

the building codes do not allow any gas burning appliances in a room used for sleeping.

Posted by: condoshopper at July 9, 2007 9:51 AM

How do things that look like this get through the planning dept but renovating a kitchen that no one else will see can take years?

Posted by: CameronRex at July 9, 2007 10:10 AM

Does anybody know if the studios come with parking?

Posted by: anon2 at July 9, 2007 10:34 AM

Symphony attracted some attention with the sign "Homes from $300,000". There was even a segment on it on Channel 5 or 7 as the only new development in the 300s.
I was hoping and praying they meant liveable 1 bedroom units. Of course that was wishful thinking. With studios starting in the high 300s and 1 bedroom from 500-700s, it's no cheaper than other developments around the city and will probably end up starting around $700+/sqft!
No difference from SomaGrand or The Hayes to me...

Also SomaGrand originally advertised 1 deeded parking for "MOST" units. When I went in last month, they were 30% reserved and all their deeded parking were taken with the remaining 70% restricted to valet only. Makes me suspicious when Symphony also claims "one car deeded parking for most units".

Posted by: sf buyer at July 9, 2007 11:04 AM

I don't see why people are complaining about these developments. I think they are "fine". Most buildings in the city will be average! These two buildings have their charms. For one thing they are in the heart of the city. For another they have good pedestrian entrances and good street retail spaces. They have car share. They are cheap.

You can't have everything in one place. Cheap precludes a lot of other things.

Posted by: Jeffrey W. Baker at July 9, 2007 11:28 AM

PS: When the Symphony Towers development was approved it planned 130 units and 45 parking spaces. It is possible that some of the deeded spaces are at the opera plaza garage, which is huge and empty.

Posted by: Jeffrey W. Baker at July 9, 2007 11:31 AM

"PS: When the Symphony Towers development was approved it planned 130 units and 45 parking spaces. It is possible that some of the deeded spaces are at the opera plaza garage, which is huge and empty."

Yuck, so the parking ratio is close to 30%, just like SomaGrand. I guess the days of 1 deeded parking per unit in SF are long gone (except for Infinity of course).

Isn't the Opera plaza garage across Van Ness and down a block?
I would hate to lug 20 lbs of grocery, a case of pet food, and a gallon of Evian across Van Ness during rush hour. Even worse is to make multiple trips to the Opera building unloading groceries. Yuck...

Posted by: sf buyer at July 9, 2007 11:59 AM

how does it work with getting a "deeded" space in another building? seems like a lot of legal ownership complications.

Posted by: condoshopper at July 9, 2007 12:09 PM

Maybe they need a golf cart to drive across Van Ness to grab groceries from vehicles. Just kidding...

Posted by: Jamie at July 9, 2007 12:13 PM

How about this? Sell your car, then pay for a private limousine service to take you to the grocery store and back. For the amount you spend per month on a car, you could easily have a personal servant a day a week to carry your groceries for you.

Posted by: anon at July 9, 2007 12:29 PM

Or car-share? If there is a car-share in the building (which I am sure there will be), take that car grocery shopping. I'm continually amazed by people who keep a car around just for grocery shopping - that's a multi-thousand dollar a year grocery cart!

Now, if you need a car for work or whatever, that's fine, but many times the first thing that people mention is groceries, and I'm always kind of like, "Huh?"

Posted by: anon at July 9, 2007 12:33 PM

Yes, there is a City Car Share pod in the building. One shared car can easily support 20 people.

Posted by: Jeffrey W. Baker at July 9, 2007 12:43 PM

What about the many people who work in positions or locations where public transportation is not an option? Car sharing and bus riding is not always a solution. Is it so wrong to want parking for 700,000? The previous comment about this structure looking like a Hamptons Inn is close to being correct, except Hamptons Inn would have PARKING. This building looks like a budget hotel/motel.

Posted by: anon3 at July 9, 2007 1:12 PM

"Or car-share? If there is a car-share in the building (which I am sure there will be), take that car grocery shopping. I'm continually amazed by people who keep a car around just for grocery shopping - that's a multi-thousand dollar a year grocery cart!

Now, if you need a car for work or whatever, that's fine, but many times the first thing that people mention is groceries, and I'm always kind of like, "Huh?"

It's not just the groceries that people complain about. It's the fact someone spends 700-800k for a condo and still has to park across a busy blvd a block away from their unit. It doesn't make for very practical living if you own and have you use your car often...

Posted by: anon4 at July 9, 2007 1:32 PM

Yes, it is wrong to want parking for 700,000 because there are only ~340,000 cars registered in the city. A third of San Francisco households do not own cars.

Posted by: Jeffrey W. Baker at July 9, 2007 1:33 PM

I did not mean the population of the city, but the cost $700,000 for a condo with parking. The question is, can you still get a 2bd condo in this city with parking for about $700,000?

Posted by: anon3 at July 9, 2007 1:42 PM

Oh, well I certainly agree with anon3 there. It goes without saying that all properties in the city are grossly overpriced with respect to what you get.

Posted by: Jeffrey W. Baker at July 9, 2007 2:05 PM

Sweet, this argument again - Clearly, since many (or even most) people here need a car, ALL housing should have parking. Do the non-car owners among us not deserve new buildings without parking?

And to the question of price - if these units sell for 700k without parking, then your question is answered - clearly the marekt is willing to bear the price without parking, and expecting parking for 700k is too much to ask. I guess we will see. If you want parking, there are plenty of other places in the city that have parking, some for less than 700k (resale units at Opera Plaza across the street, for example).

Posted by: anon at July 9, 2007 2:22 PM

Well, given that this is overpriced and that you "need" a parking space, why not look at one of the other numerous developments in the city? We all know that are there plenty of units coming on line and more in the pipeline, not just in Rincon Hill or Mission Bay but also some nearby this development (Argenta, Hayes, 10th & Market, etc).

I just think that people on this site will always have something to complain about and it appears that they are often insatiable. Here are some of my favorites:

1 - Not in a lively neighborhood (i.e. there are not 100 bars, restaurants and shops straight out the front door of the building)
2 - Poor looking building (i.e. not a world-class Renzo Piano or Calatrava structure, but I should expect this anyway in my $700psf unit)
3 - No parking (i.e. I need to be able to drive, despite the fact that many others in my area don't have a car or choose not to use it during the week, plus the building is within walking distance to a BART and Muni station, along with being right on a major bus corridor)
4 - Undistinguishable/not traditional San Francisco (i.e. I'd rather them erect yet another classic looking 4 story Victorian or Edwardian than a modern, bold 50 story high rise, despite the fact that there is a shortage of available land and housing)
5 - Only catering to the wealthy (i.e. I want my $200k unit, despite the fact that I am in one of the most desireable cities to live in; I'd rather have them just not build at all rather than more expensive high rises, despite the fact that 20% are set aside for low income housing, that adding a lot of even high end housing will stabilize the market and that with the costs to build, its impossible for developers to make a profit making all units affordable).


I sometimes get the impression that too many San Franciscans just love to complain. Not in my backyard (NIMBY) rings all too true here and I just think too many here would rather see the city turn into a sleepy upscale town (like Santa Barbara) than a world-class, dynamic, everchanging city.

Posted by: SFhighrise at July 9, 2007 3:49 PM

SFHighrise - you forgot one:

Clearly, with the declining population in the Bay Area (a twist of the numbers or flat out lie, whichever you like), these prices are just one more reason why the economy of the Bay Area is going down the tubes (It's not). The only reason that people still live here is because of the opportunities that exist to make a lot of money (my favorite). Most of the jobs in the city are in tourism (another twist, partially true, but completely ignoring that there are plenty of people employed outside the city who want to live here) and the fact that many people make lots of money in other parts of the Bay should no effect (None whatsoever!) on prices here.

Posted by: Brutus at July 9, 2007 4:14 PM

My problem with the parking regulations is that they forbid new developments from providing 1 parking space per unit. It's one thing to lift a requirement that developers *must* provide a certain amount of parking; quite another to *forbid* developers from providing something that buyers may happen to desire. I'll be curious to see how readily the parking-less units will sell.

Posted by: zzzzzzzz at July 9, 2007 4:31 PM

It will be interesting to see how well they sell - I have mixed feelings, but I definitely like that developers aren't forced to build excessive parking anymore.

Posted by: Brutus at July 9, 2007 4:35 PM

Here's another interested blog started today:
http://www.socketsite.com/archives/2007/07/glassworks_going_once_going_twice_at_two_pm_today.html

May be one indicator of the market. This unit is huge 1770SqFt 2 bedroom unit across from ATT park. But it has no onsite parking. Parking is lease at the Beacon across the street. Now it's scheduled to be auctioned off on the steps of City Hall as a short sale for about a million.
Now I'm sure there are other reason why it's about to go into foreclosure, but I can't help but wonder if one reason this "parking-less" unit couldn't sell was because of the lack of a deeded onsite parking space.

Posted by: anon at July 9, 2007 4:43 PM

If the parking wasn't restricted to less than 1:1, no developments would be built for that if they weren't entirely financed by the developer themselves. Banks (who look at entire regions, instead of submarkets) look at a building with less than 1:1 parking as a "substantial risk". The regulation was necessary and will benefit the city - all of you crowing about the need for affordable housing - if no one buys these places, the prices will decrease. 35% of households in the city don't own a car - some of these people might want to buy a place.

Posted by: anon at July 9, 2007 4:45 PM

I definitely think selling a unit without onsite deeded parking is going to be difficult. Regardless of whether the buyer owns a car or not, buying these expensive units has to be looked upon as an investment as much as it would a home. Eventually people will sell and not have a deeded parking space would scare away many prospective home buyers.
If I were a buyer at Symphony (or Somagrand and OneRincon etc), I'd be nervous. On the other hand, it must be comforting for Infinity buyers (and other older developments) knowing they have onsite deeded parking to offer when selling their units...

Posted by: sf buyer at July 9, 2007 5:01 PM

Possibly true - but think, five, ten years from now when MOST of the new buildings will have large numbers of condos without parking. More people without the need for a car might be attracted to the area - which is of course the goal of the restrictions.

Posted by: anon at July 9, 2007 5:25 PM

"More people without the need for a car might be attracted to the area - which is of course the goal of the restrictions."

And, more than likely, the fewer cars there are, the more attractive the area will be to prospective buyers.

"Or car-share? If there is a car-share in the building (which I am sure there will be), take that car grocery shopping. I'm continually amazed by people who keep a car around just for grocery shopping - that's a multi-thousand dollar a year grocery cart!"

Exactly! I used to live in South Beach and sold my car when FlexCar, Zipcar and CityCarShare popped up everywhere. Although I'm sure they soon found I wasn't a very good customer. That's because I found I could do most of my weekly grocery shopping without a car when faced with renting by the hour. Also found I could spend less time in the gym with the exercise I was getting. I own a car now but when I move back it's sold and I'll be renting my deeded space to someone with a perceived or real? need for a car that a bank or financing company likely holds title to.

Posted by: anonN at July 9, 2007 5:58 PM

Sure, while 35% of people on SF don't have a car, hundred of thousands do. And it's not just to drive to the grocery store. I live in Mission Bay and walk to Safeway a couple times a week to shop and it's wonderfully convenient.

BUT I also have relatives and friends all over the Bay Area and find myself driving 3-4 times a week around SF as well as the East and South Bay. Sometimes I need to drive because it's work related, sometimes it's to spend the weekend in Monterey or Tahoe, other times it's to visit the parents. Also young families that make up a large % of these condo buyers need to comfort and security of having a car around in case of emergency.
And finally, I can't imagine buyers spending a million plus dollars for a luxury condo and not have a car (I'm not talking about Symphony buyers). The studio or 1 bedroom buyers maybe, but not the million dollar buyers...

I guess maybe some folks just stay in SF or within their own neighborhood, but just as many need the convenience of their own vehicle.

I think 5-10 years from now, when most of the new condos don't have parking, nice developments like Infinity or Met will sell at a premium since they will have that rare, coveted, deeded parking space...

Posted by: anon100 at July 9, 2007 7:11 PM

Hi friends. Is it possible that those of us who are looking for a unit with parking could get information about the parking situation of a new building like this without people jumping all over us for owning a car? This is an example of how San Francisco can be as judging of someone as close-minded people in small towns are. I don't look down my nose if you fly on airplanes, and please get over people who are looking to buy a unit with parking. Relax. It is just real estate. I own a car, but ride my bike or walk, or take the bus to work. I use my car for Tahoe, Napa etc. ENOUGH with the car owner hatred already!

Posted by: anon3 at July 9, 2007 7:12 PM

"I own a car, but ride my bike or walk, or take the bus to work. I use my car for Tahoe, Napa etc. ENOUGH with the car owner hatred already!"

Exactly. I commute on Muni and BART, walk and bike constantly. But I happen to enjoy the convenience and freedom of a car for the occasions when I need it, and would never consider buying in a development where there wasn't deeded parking. The anti-parking restrictions strike me as a form of legislated virtue, a condescending, judgemental sort of social control. Once again, SF has gone way, way too far.

Posted by: zzzzzz at July 9, 2007 8:06 PM

Ok, anon3 and zzzzzz,

Here's the deal. We won't say anything "anti-car" if you don't constantly tell us anecdotal stories about how you need a car for Tahoe, or buying groceries, or to feel safe. I want a place without parking, I want a neighborhood without excessive parking. If people are constantly saying "That place aren't worth pidoodle, cause it ain't got no car-home" I will say something. Many buyers don't need or want parking, if it means saving 100k. I'm one, and I have several friends in the market as well (and two that own places with no parking)

We'll call a truce - don't constantly talk about how everyone needs a car and any place that doesn't have parking is crazy, and we won't attack you for needing your car. Deal?

Posted by: anon at July 9, 2007 8:21 PM

Uh, I think people were writing about how they needed their cars because YOU and others were claiming they should not have cars. NOW, could we ask about whether a property has parking without being shouted down? The original parking question was whether or not all the units have parking in the project. Is it so horrible to ask if they have parking? I am really becoming sick of this city and the "condescending, judgemental" and bitter comments about anyone who dares to ask if a building has parking. Do we need YOUR permission to enquire about whether or not a property has deeded parking? Are you even in the market?

Posted by: NotBitter at July 9, 2007 8:42 PM

Clearly, Notbitter, you are in fact...bitter.

I concede your point, and now that you have shown me how much of an absolute a$$ that I am, I will do the politically correct thing from now on: Whenever a property is listed, I will ask if there are units for which there is no parking.

Will that be ok with you, your highness? Sorry, your tone seemed a wee bit condescending and judgemental, so I assume you are royalty. No?

Posted by: anon at July 9, 2007 9:38 PM

Wasn't the point of the parking restrictions in large part to lower the cost of housing? As someone else mentioned on here - isn't housing a need, not just an investment? If the short sale goes for less, and these units also sell for less, isn't this plan working?

Posted by: anon at July 9, 2007 9:41 PM

1 - Personally, I think the answer is to have parking spaces available for purchase with units priced accordingly. This way, those that don't want parking can save a little money and those that do can get a spot...or two for that matter. Limit space purchases to 1 a unit until all units have sold and then any left over spaces can be sold or rented out by the HOA to bring in some extra money. Really, this is not something to argue about, just seek a creative solution. (and some developments already charge for the parking on top of the sales price)

2 - You can also have your groceries delivered if that is the 'main' reason someone needs a car. An entire years worth of delivery charges will not come close to the yearly upkeep and gas for a car.

Regards to all!

Posted by: CameronRex at July 9, 2007 10:00 PM

Agree with NotBitter.

When Socketsite post new condo developments, I'm always afraid to ask if there's parking. It's almost like having a car is terrible and evil and someone's just waiting to pound on us for having one.

Why are some people so bitter just because I have to drive? Are 65% of the population wrong for having an automobile? Maybe we should start putting down all those people that has garages in front of their property. I would hate to imagine how those people feel about nice suburbs like San Ramon or Foster City.

Posted by: anon at July 9, 2007 10:04 PM

Oh, gosh, you guys, the primary reason for not allowing parking is to reduce infrastructure costs. No parking means fewer roads to build, and most importantly, fewer schools, because a lack of parking is a deal breaker for parents.

As a government employee, what you strive for, what you salivate over, is someone who gives you immense amounts of property taxes, but uses almost no services. For awhile, it was thought that retirement homes were the ticket (no schools, no roads, and they turned over frequently to keep those prop 13 benefits out of the hands of the property owners) and they got built in cities everywhere. But the pesky old people kept needing paramedics, requiring the city to outlay a larger fraction of what those people were paying, so it was back to the drawing board

How to get HEALTHY people to inhabit cities, pay outrageous property taxes, but get almost nothing in return? Simple, take away their parking and viola, the perfect citizen. They help pay for mass transit, pay even MORE taxes in the form of cab fares, than they would if they drove, and their footprint on the city is less (places without parking can build more units and allow the city to rake in more property taxes).

None of this is done for your benefit. It's being done to allow cities to get more revenue while paying almost nothing more in expenses. You're just the poor suckers who are falling for this scheme.

Posted by: tipster at July 9, 2007 10:32 PM

Good post tipster - except for one point. We may be suckers, but it is a FACT that places without parking cost less plain and simple. The city gets more, we pay less, and the city becomes less of a hostage to cars and their owners - allowing for a better Muni, better streetscape, and a more European feel (instead of the mini-LA that we currently have)

Posted by: anon at July 9, 2007 11:17 PM

"Good post tipster - except for one point. We may be suckers, but it is a FACT that places without parking cost less plain and simple. The city gets more, we pay less, and the city becomes less of a hostage to cars and their owners - allowing for a better Muni, better streetscape, and a more European feel (instead of the mini-LA that we currently have)"

How is it that we pay less?? Do you really think Muni will improve just because a few condo complexes has less parking? Will our property tax decrease? (fat chance of that!).
Sure our streets will be cleaner and there will slightly less traffic, but other than that, our lives really won't change much at all...

Posted by: anon2 at July 10, 2007 12:19 AM

All of this discussion about parking makes me think that investing in units with deeded parking might be a very prudent long term thing to consider. With all of the people who want to control the choices of how other people move around a large urban area, those who need to have a car for work (or health) reasons will have to pay a premium for parking. Infinity looks better all the time, and I think any realtor will tell you that parking is one of the first questions usually asked about a property.

Posted by: anon3 at July 10, 2007 6:24 AM

"How is it that we pay less?? Do you really think Muni will improve just because a few condo complexes has less parking? Will our property tax decrease? (fat chance of that!).
Sure our streets will be cleaner and there will slightly less traffic, but other than that, our lives really won't change much at all..."

Prices to be the places are lower...that's how you pay less. C'mon, it isn't that hard to understand. If places appreciate slower without parking, then again, people wanting to buy pay less. The places without parking aren't meant to be flipping investments - they're meant to be HOMES. I know - sounds weird, but some people actually buy places to live in for a long time.

Posted by: anon at July 10, 2007 7:56 AM

Wow. Quite the fight. It seems like there is a complete disconnect between the two opposing viewpoints. For those constantly talking about San Francisco not coming up with big plans - here is an example of one - the parking restrictions now in place in the Northeast corner of the city are something that was ironed out over DECADES. Thousands of public meetings, etc - on Tipster's comment that this is some sort of "secret plan" by the city to make more money - ok, whatever, it might be, but at every one of these meetings there were hundreds (if not thousands) of residents who asked for the same thing. If it is just the evil plans of the city - then a significant portion of the population just got lucky in the process.

The goal is not to finger wag or tell people what to do - the goal is to maintain the city as diverse and economically vital by altering the way that we build. Vancouver has been praised here several times - and parking restrictions (as well as mechanized parking) are the rule there. I support the parking caps - not because I'm anti-car, but because this city is already choking on congestion. More parking = more cars. More cars = more congestion. More congestion forces people to give up on Muni and use their cars, leading to... it's a spiral we've been in for 50 years. With us now getting some major development for the first time in decades, shouldn't we try something different? (I know that trying anything different in SF is shunned...)

That being said, I think it is a perfectly legitimate question to ask about parking in buildings.

Posted by: Brutus at July 10, 2007 8:13 AM

Some of us, myself and husband included, HAVE to drive for work. We are both in sales, and I have to carry a large amount of product with me. My car is not only my means of transportation, but also a storage device. On any given day, I'll be at 4-5 different hospitals. My job requires that I have a car (they even provide it along with all of the maintenance and insurance). As a result, I require a parking spot, as does my husband. We walk and use public transportation in our recreation time, but for work there is no getting around the fact that we need two separate vehicles.

Where we currently live we have one deaded parking spot and plenty of street parking, but it was the #1 factor in where we chose to live.

We're now looking for a new place to live as we want to start a family and cannot do it in the space we are currently in. With parking being such a requirement, we're having challenges in finding a new place in the city. The solution? We're moving out.

Decisions by the city, such as parking restrictions (and in conjunction with the school situation) leads a lot of families to leave the city. Sometimes I think that is exactly what this city wants.

Posted by: appalled at July 10, 2007 8:21 AM

"With parking being such a requirement, we're having challenges in finding a new place in the city."

Every new development I've looked at in the city offers parking for all 2 BR units and often at far below the real cost of a spot (which should be well over $40,000 not even counting secondary effects like pollution, congestion, etc). Don't be "appalled" because you choose not to pay such a tiny amount of money for a parking space, subsidized in part by people without cars (which is a huge injustice). You're a drug rep with a free car and gas, why not spring for a parking space -- people spend more per month on iPhones.

Posted by: Gdog at July 10, 2007 9:06 AM

appalled,

There is a legitimate question in your post - should the city be trying to keep families like yours? I'm not trying to sound anti-car, so please don't attack me as such, but there are literally hundreds of cities in the area that can provide housing at cheaper prices with storage for two cars. If the city can provide housing for those families that don't need multiple cars, as well as those that don't need a car at all, and do it cheaper because they are ignoring one segment of the population, is that so bad?

Posted by: Brutus at July 10, 2007 9:28 AM

Oh, "Appalled", about the second parking spot you need. In the case of condos you can often get the extra spot. I own a 2 BR condo and have no car so my spot goes into the pool. Others in my situation lease out their spot which is allowed in many developments. As more people get used to the idea of car sharing car ownership will go down. If all else fails you can put the second car in a local monthly parking lot until an extra space comes available in a new development.

Posted by: Gdog at July 10, 2007 9:34 AM

I'm not "appalled" over this topic, that's been my name on mumerous posts in the past--just trying to stay consistent. I'm also not a drug rep for whatever that is worth.

A two bedroom place offers ONE parking spot, and we need TWO. Two bedrooms would be cutting it close for us anyway with two kids and two people with home based jobs. Space is an issue, and I'm willing to pay for it, but considering we'll be paying well over $1mm for a place, tacking on another $40k, if even possible, is kind of ridiculous.

I'm merely making the point that as much as public transportation and walking/bikes are great, it is not ALWAYS an option for people, and cars are sometimes necessary. And sometimes it's necessary to even have (gasp!) multiple cars in one household. It would be nice if there were more housing options to support this.

It would also be *REALLY* nice if there were more 3+ bedroom places in the city to support families, but that's another topic.

Posted by: appalled at July 10, 2007 9:35 AM

Brutus, that is exactly my point. The city seems to make decisions for one group versus another. They are just chosing the group that is different than the one that my husband and I, and most of our friends, are a part of. That is fine, but it should be recognized that they are making choices that are excluding certain groups--i.e. families.

I know there are many other places to live, but we both work in the city, like city living, and would love to raise a family in the city--if it made sense. And right now, with the cost of housing, the lack of inventory in the larger size places (3+ bedrooms), especially in the condo market, poor school systems, etc. it seems that the wise choice is to move--whether it's really what we want or not. So that's what we are looking at, much to our dismay. We know at least 5 other couples who have done exactly the same thing for the same reasons when they chose to start a family. It's just a shame that we can't figure out how to have an urban environment that can accomodate *all* groups, including families, like other cities have done.

Posted by: appalled at July 10, 2007 9:45 AM

I agree appalled, but unfortunately, our city just isn't very big (geographically) - compared to the other cities that I'm assuming that you're referring to. Land is simply very expensive here - and cars take up land just as people do. So, in a city with so little available land, does it make more sense to try and house more people, or house more cars? I don't know what the right balance is...

Posted by: Brutus at July 10, 2007 9:54 AM

The underlying assumption of the parking restrictions is that there's a viable, reliable alternative to cars in the form of public transit. In the case of Muni, that's manifestly not the case. We've been "fixing" Muni for as long as I can remember, but let's face facts: Muni is what it is, and will continue to be so, and as long as that's the case it's naive to assume that restricting parking will result in fewer cars.

Posted by: zzzzzzzzz at July 10, 2007 9:58 AM

Please stop all the whining and the anecdotes about driving to Tahoe, conspiracy theories and laments about being a family that can’t find their three bedroom, two car , white picket fence high rise condo in Rincon

Anyone in this city who wants parking can easily purchase it or find it already bundled. North Beach, Nob Hill etc. are very successful neighborhoods without parking (indeed most of the neighborhoods that we all like would not be possible without restricted parking). Picture North Beach with half as many people and you have 1:1 parking.

Spatially does anyone really think all this new density and housing everyone wants is possible if we accommodate a parking space for every new unit? It has been shown in studies that car ownership is elastic (more so in places like SF I am sure) and that if you already have a sunk cost of a parking spot you are more likely to own a car. More cars means more congestion

The issue is simply debundling the cost of parking from the cost of a unit and lowering the overall development costs by not mandating excessive parking. For the majority they can still buy parking. For a minority they can get a cheaper unit. Whats the issue? Where does the fear come from? Nobody is taking your car

Posted by: zig at July 10, 2007 10:33 AM

zzzzzzzzz how is it naive?

See AT&T Park, the new Westfeld Center or our Financial District

All could have been built much differently. Yet all three, not designed for drivers are huge successes. Could any of these exist as they are if they accommodated cars? Would most people drive to these if they could? Would want that?

Posted by: zig at July 10, 2007 10:40 AM

zzzzzz,

I can't stand the argument - if I don't have a car, I have to take Muni everywhere. That's either a naive statement or a flat out lie. There are car-shares, taxis, and sidewalks here. As Zig mentioned, many of the neighborhoods here are already hard to find parking in, yet they thrive. If I live in Nob Hill and work in the Financial District, my alternative to driving is not riding Muni, it's walking to work, car-sharing for out of town trips, and taking a taxi to places in the city. Bringing up only part of the picture is ridiculous.

And again, I know that some people need cars - those people are free to pay for a parking spot.

Posted by: Brutus at July 10, 2007 12:18 PM

I don't understand why this is even an argument. So, if it doesn't have parking, it doesn't suit your needs. That's fine, move onto another building. Better yet, if there aren't enough central city highrises being built for parking (although I question this argument), buy a place in an older, historical neighborhood, where you can park on the street.

Posted by: SFhighrise at July 10, 2007 12:25 PM

Dear SFHighrise and others. Over time on this site, ANY time someone were to even ASK if a certain project HAD ANY parking, people jumped immediatly all over them for even ASKING the question. Nobody is asking for parking with every unit, we are just asking if the building has deeded parking available. I agree that in a city it is hard to expect everywhere to have parking, but there is no harm in asking. Is there?

Posted by: anom at July 10, 2007 12:46 PM

anom,

No, ask away. It's a valid question, and I don't think you've seen myself, SFHighrise, Zig, or many others jump all over you. Some have, sure - and they are as much in the wrong as the people who come back at them with the "Everyone needs a car" mantra.

Posted by: Brutus at July 10, 2007 1:17 PM

I was just in the office this weekend and only 19 units do NOT have parking! That means 85% of the units have parking!! There are two city car share vehicles in the garage too and leased parking right across the street at Opera Plaza for people who need a second space. Is 85% that bad? I work in the area and personally think there will be quite a few people in the same situation who can walk to work. It seems like great pricing with parking compared to other units in the city under $400k!

Posted by: aaron at July 10, 2007 1:50 PM

I agree that this is great pricing, and with parking included and a Peets right nearby, this is one of the best deals out there at the moment.
Thanks for the info Aaron, it is very helpful and I have passed it on to someone in my office who is very interested now in this project.

Posted by: anonon at July 10, 2007 2:44 PM

I want to be clear that I own a car, don't ride a bike and don't hate people with cars (self love ya'll)

I just see this knee jerk reaction, "they are trying to take away our cars" as a real danger when this pops up on our ballot in Nov

Posted by: Zig at July 10, 2007 4:33 PM

Wouldn't it make more sense to just let the market decide how much parking to provide in new development rather than making this a political problem or clash of ideologies? If more people discover that they can live without a car as many on this site assert is possible, developers will devote more space and resources to residences than parking structures. There will be a market segment with more expensive homes and extra parking spaces for those who want them and a different market for those who do not parking.

Posted by: M at July 10, 2007 5:34 PM

That sounds great, M, except many times banks will not give financing to places without parking provided, until those limits are set by a city and there is no way to get around them. Banks view buildings with low levels of parking as "significant risks" - and since a bank doesn't care how much profit is made on the building - just that their loan be repaid - excessive parking gets built.

And - part of the emphasis of "planning" is to plan for things that the market doesn't necessarily consider. Planning gets us cities like Vancouver and Portland, the market (without planning) gets us cities like Houston. The market will always build what is currently the biggest moneymaker, not necessarily what is in the best interest of the city longterm. The market doesn't factor in things like congestion.

Posted by: Brutus at July 10, 2007 6:11 PM

Yes, it would make more sense to let the market decide. But, this is San Francisco, and things stopped making sense here a long long time ago. I would pay up to $200,000 more for a unit if it had parking, and also feel that the market should set the price for parking.

Posted by: anon3 at July 10, 2007 6:14 PM

anon3,

You can already do so - buildings are not being built WITHOUT parking. Some buildings are just being built with limited parking. Every building now under construction will gladly give you one of the parking spots for 200k, most are only charging 75k.

Posted by: Brutus at July 10, 2007 6:27 PM

And while we're on the subject of the market setting the price for parking - how about market-priced neighborhood parking permits? And market-priced meters? I would love for both of those to happen - I can't stand trying to find a spot for one of my friends to park their cars and seeing cars that just sit on the street 340 days a year - paying only $60 for the spot.

Posted by: Brutus at July 10, 2007 6:30 PM

@Brutus
"That sounds great, M, except many times banks will not give financing to places without parking provided, until those limits are set by a city and there is no way to get around them. Banks view buildings with low levels of parking as "significant risks" - and since a bank doesn't care how much profit is made on the building - just that their loan be repaid - excessive parking gets built."

I think you've said this twice on this thread, but I've never this anywhere else. Can you provide a link to support this claim? Banks forcing developers to build too much parking seems like an odd situation.

And if it were the case, then instead of passing a law prohibiting developers from building too much parking, how about passing a law that prohibits banks from discriminating against developers who want to build less parking? If regulation is really the answer, at least the latter would be less heavy-handed and more market-driven.

I do like your idea of market-priced neighborhood parking permits and meters.

Posted by: anon5 at July 10, 2007 6:54 PM

anon5,

I don't have a readily available link, I'll have to see if I can find one. If you read the book "The High Cost of Free Parking" by Donald Shoup, he explains the bank situation quite well - that's where I got my info, but I've heard it thrown around by developers and at SPUR meetings as well. It's a good book too!

Posted by: Brutus at July 10, 2007 7:06 PM

And if it were the case, then instead of passing a law prohibiting developers from building too much parking, how about passing a law that prohibits banks from discriminating against developers who want to build less parking? If regulation is really the answer, at least the latter would be less heavy-handed and more market-driven.

Enforcement would be much harder. Development is happening in this city - that's easy to enforce. A developer may getting financing from a bank in Asia, which is merely using formulas to determine credit risk. How does a city in the US step in and regulate the activities of a foreign bank?

Posted by: Brutus at July 10, 2007 7:30 PM

"I think you've said this twice on this thread, but I've never this anywhere else. Can you provide a link to support this claim?"

The developers of The Infinity and the permitted "clone" (as far as size) across Main on the P.O. parking lot parcel maintained that their financing was contingent on a 1/1 unit/parking ratio. These were the last major developments permitted before the change in the regs. This probably just demonstrates a lack of sophistication on the part of the lenders but I don't doubt the developers were held to this. I think the fact that multiple developments have been permitted and are being built since the change in regs is evidence that the change has enabled developers to obtain financing where they otherwise probably would not have. These changes have broad benefit so I'm pleased that the powers that be in SF got this one on parking at least partially right -- for now.

Posted by: anonN at July 11, 2007 12:57 PM

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