35 Lloyd Lot

A plugged-in reader’s comment with respect to the proposed development of the lot at 35 Lloyd couldn’t help but catch our eye. Of the 15 letters received by the Planning Department in support of the project, 10 were by way of agents of Vanguard Properties, including the brokerage’s president. Not one of the ten felt compelled, however, to note their affiliation with Vanguard.

As our reader also noted, the buyers and proposed developers of the lot at 35 Lloyd previously developed 943 Church, a project for which Vanguard provided both sell-side and buy-side representation for the developed property.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by curmudgeon

    I’m all for infill development. And I don’t have any huge objections to this project. But Vanguard…yeah, they can be pretty sleazy. Maybe just supremely cynical. I can totally see the neighborhood getting turned off, because you KNOW they came in with the biggest project they could justify, just so the could be “responsive” to neighborhood concerns.
    I’m glad someone made the connection about the letters. I kept reading those form letters that said “I live near the project”, and I was wondering…well if you live so near why don’t you mention your address!

  2. Posted by SFLooking

    One of the letters is from a Caldwell Banker Agent.

  3. Posted by steve

    The building is just so butt-ugly.

  4. Posted by eddy

    Shills! Seriously, the board isn’t going to like being manipulated like this one. They should require disclosures on those letters.

  5. Posted by Gil

    It’s a shame to see the last few of these pocket-lots being concreted/built over with another boring box.
    The lack of open space in SF is a shame and it’s getting worse.
    I know it’s private property but still it’s a shame land prices are so high here and the City is broke as it’d be nice to see the City purchase some of these empty lots and keep them as open space.

  6. Posted by sparky-b

    They should put a bocci ball court there, what could go wrong?

  7. Posted by Joe

    OMG a real estate development company?
    I forget, are they “the man” ? As in working for the..?
    Isnt it a shame cities have to be where people build houses to live ? And that cities that are densely populated have less open space? Isnt it a shame that real estate development company’s try and develop real estate?
    God this is a cruel cruel world we live in

  8. Posted by curmudgeon

    Gil, there is tons of open space in SF, and there is no need to preserve this lot for “open space” value. For god sakes, Duboce Park is a block away, and Buena Vista Park is a couple of blocks away. I am SO TIRED of that “open space” argument raised when neighbors don’t want to see a legitimate lot developed.

  9. Posted by lyqwyd

    according to this:
    http://www.tpl.org/content_documents/citypark_facts/ccpe_TotalAcresPercentofLandArea_08.pdf
    San Francisco is one of the top cities for parks as a percentage of total available land, well above average.

  10. Posted by Mystery Realtor

    There’s also a letter from a Zephyr agent.
    M.R.

  11. Posted by sfrenegade

    “I am SO TIRED of that “open space” argument raised when neighbors don’t want to see a legitimate lot developed.”
    Isn’t this basically the attitude of the entire Bay Area in general? We have tons of open space here to build on, but we also have many many artificial constraints to keep prices high. Similarly, we could put many more people in SF and drop housing prices, but we don’t. Say what you like about the tenets of national socialism, dude, at least it’s an ethos.

  12. Posted by Kathleen

    Build away. I see very little being built that is considerate of the environment, that will add to the community 15 years after the developer has left the parcel. I love love Love new buildings.
    I go gaga for good design. Love modern design. Lot of new dev does not age well.
    I guess its the 80/20 rule in action.
    I don’t want the cityscape to look like joan rivers face, too many bad attemps and no real way to revive the former natural beauty.
    At last Joan is brilliant, these designs are not.

  13. Posted by invented

    For 10 years, I lived steps from Lloyd St. I adore this lane — and I’ve always loved this yard — it was a psychic breath of fresh air and a moment of decompression for an otherwise jammed street. Serene, overgrown, beckoning…
    However, I support developing the yard (agreed looks slightly jammed in and spilling over; there are other options for same square footage without overwhelming) — but my pt is that right @ the end of this tiny street is a beautiful pocket park that provides really, an unusual (in SF) counterpt to this built-out street.
    Just want to remind how Lloyd spills out on this unique and well cared for greenspace and I consider this in my overall reaction.
    I will miss however that amazing lot & the momentary breath of fresh air & visual delight it provided me and my family for many years.

  14. Posted by Mole Man

    There is not all that much open space left, and much of that is critical watershed or high landslide risk or both or constrained in some other way. Between 1920 and 1960 developed area exploded. The USGS has very good records and studies of this phenomenon including an animation of street grid expansion during this period. The biggest challenge is replacing low densities with higher density infill development. That used to happen naturally through market forces, but political constraints have made increasing density with infill development difficult or impossible all over the Bay Area. The idea that new buildings must match the old is ludicrous, especially the requirement for prominent front stairs to keep out the handicapped and elderly.

  15. Posted by curmudgeon

    Moleman, I think what you are meaning to say is “there is not that much open space left in PRIVATELY OWNED VACANT LOTS. (lyqwyd showed that there is TONS of publicly owned open space in the City).
    You are partially correct, particularly if you are talking about residentially zoned laned (there is a lot of industrially zoned open space on the eastern side of town).
    But, regardless, I’m not really sure what your point is.

  16. Posted by EH

    But, regardless, I’m not really sure what your point is.
    I think the point is that they shouldn’t build a nuclear power plant on this lot.

  17. Posted by lolcat_94123

    Only in San Francisco is a vacant lot considered a “visual delight” and a “psychic breath of fresh air.” You should consider moving to Detroit or Jersey, they have plenty of overgrown lots you can gaze into. ;)
    Not trying to be an a$$hole – I do understand your sentiment.

  18. Posted by john

    SF is near the top in the “high density” category. But, I was initially surprised to see NYC is tops in that category. Certainly, not much of this is due to “parklets”! I suspect that 90% is due to the big chunks of park space.
    Nobody beats (low density) Anchorage!

  19. Posted by Justin

    Reading through this discussion, some of the comments remind me more of the attitudes of someone living in Carmel, Mendecino or Santa Barbara, instead of San Francisco, Chicago or NYC.
    There are plenty of charming quiet villages on the coast where one can enjoy the boutique rural enviroment so many seem to crave.

  20. Posted by Julia

    Doesn’t suprise me at all… The Vanguard peeps are the sleeziest in town

  21. Posted by bgelldawg

    Was this always an undeveloped lot?
    Can anyone share the history of who owned it and how it ended up for sale?
    If it was the garden of one of the other houses, as I think someone else suggested, how did the lot get split? That would have been the time for the neighbors to stop the development.

  22. Posted by FL

    The lot has always been the garden for 45 Lloyd. The original owner, Max Wisenhutter, split the lot around 1900 (according to Sanborn Maps). He kept one lot and gave the other to his daughter. The daughter sold both lots in the 60s to Herb Donaldson (http://www.fogcityjournal.com/news_in_brief/herb_donaldson_honored_060623.shtml).
    Herb passed away in December 2008, and his estate sold the house and garden separately to cover estate taxes. They took the first offer they got, which is why it went so cheap. Most neighbors didn’t even know the garden was a separate lot until it sold.

  23. Posted by bgelldawg

    That is so sad for the neighbors.
    Herb Donaldson was quite wealthy, owned many properties, and had no dependents to support. I’m sure if someone had approached him prior to his death he would have provided for the preservation of the garden lot. He was an extremely generous man.
    Thank you for the background information, FL.

  24. Posted by Kennedy

    It’s disgusting that this beautiful respite from urban life is being ruined to build housing!

  25. Posted by sfrenegade

    “beautiful respite from urban life”
    If you really cared about “urban life,” you’d suggest tearing all the SFRs on Lloyd down, building some condos, and adding some greenspace that way. As it is, you’re just being a NIMBY.

  26. Posted by Bloggy

    So please, would someone tell us what happened at the Planning Commission meeting on Sept. 16??

  27. Posted by curmudgeon

    re: Vanguard…can someone summarize what their business model is? I’ve never really had it explained to me. They clearly were involved in a lot of renovations (flips or not) and also small scale new development during the boom. Is that principals investing from their own accounts, or is there a Vanguard organization is the developer.
    But they are also a bread and butter real estate broker, correct, and represent sellers and buyers? Just wondering… Are there other real estate companies in SF like them, or is their business model unique?
    After seeing several Vanguard related issues on this site ([like this one]), it certainly gets my antenna up anytime I see a Vanguard listing.

  28. Posted by Not Bashing

    fwiw – nothing but negative experience with Vanguard here. No ethics, no professionalism and conflicts within their own firm are common. Real estate agents are already a sketchy group, especially in SF. Vanguard takes that to a whole new level.

    As for the lot, we live in a city and vacant lots need to be turned into housing if we ever expect to meet our residential needs. And the owners of lots should be able to choose what they build there. Would a multi-family structure be more efficient use of that space? Sure! But we don’t get to make that decision for the land owner. And we certainly should not get to tell them to “leave it as open space”. As someone else mentioned, Duboce Park is half a block away, even if the city could buy the lot they shouldn’t.

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