399 Fremont Flowers
As we wrote last June:

Approved for development in 2006 with a performance period set to expire in June 2008, Fifield started clearing the site for the proposed Californian at 399 Freemont in November of 2007. In August of 2008 the Planning Commission granted a 12 month extension of the performance period to June 2009, and then again in June 2009 to June 15, 2010.

On Thursday the Planning Commission is expected to grant another 12 month extension for the now 452 unit (and 238 parking spot) project which would expire on June 15, 2011. The site will be planted and bloom with wildflowers in the interim.

And while one curious tipster is hopeful that this weekend’s site work is a sign that the Californian is on the rise, as Jamie Whitaker reports, it’s actually the Fifield folks prepping the Fremont lot for the aforementioned wildflower meadow ten months into the interim.
Once again, a rough rendering of what’s expected to eventually rise on the site:
399 Fremont Rendering
399 Fremont: Interim Plans Set To Bloom For The Californian Site [SocketSite]
The Californian on Rincon Hill: 375 Fremont St. [SocketSite]
Are They Clearing The Way For Someone’s Californian On Rincon Hill? [SocketSite]
The Californian on Rincon Hill (375 Fremont): Website And Renderings [SocketSite]
The Californian On Rincon Hill: No Longer Coming Soon (If At All) [SocketSite]
Native California Wildflower Meadow Interim Use at 399 Fremont [rinconhillsf.org]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by noearch

    Great to see some nice super tall buildings for housing. Keep them coming.
    Don’t forget to include plenty of parking: Cars and bikes.

  2. Posted by Kevin

    It’s no supertall, but it is a very gorgeous building. It’ll add some needed contemporary styling to the skyline.

  3. Posted by noearch

    True..maybe no “super-tall” as in 100 stories or more, but sure wish it was.
    Still pretty nice..and super in my book. We need more of these.

  4. Posted by lol

    Funny how the rendering shows 5 people and 3 cars. On a normal day, it will be 5 people and 50 cars parked around this block. Especially since there is 1 parking space for 2 units. Plus 1 unit means probably an average of 2.5 people. Good luck on telling buyers to have only 1 car for 5. Life doesn’t happen that way.
    If they’re thinking buyers will cycle around town from there, they’re wrong. Seen many bicycles around ORH? 1 – Cycling on Harrison or Fremont sucks. It does. Cycling is a dangerous venture around this freeway mess. 2 – Professionals (the target of these towers) do not cycle if they cannot have an impeccable presentation. You pay a million bucks for a condo, you probably have the job that goes with it and you want to look like a million bucks. Not many lawyers or traders on fixed wheel bikes…
    I am sure and I hope many dwellers will walk to the FiDi. But people who have to go somewhere further will probably drive because it’s their social status.

  5. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    lol – It is unfortunate that our societal norms equate driving with affluence. But maybe that’s changing. There are plenty of cyclist, pedestrian, and transit riding millionaires out there and their numbers are growing. We can thank tech for that.
    On the second rendering (tower with birds) : it is a computer generated from a model for sure. What is interesting is that it is rendered with the extreme perspective correction that’s often seen in RE photography these days. No normal human view of a tower this tall would appear as if the top was as wide as the bottom.
    Expect that within five years this sort of computer aided perspective correction becomes tired and dated looking.

  6. Posted by Alai

    “Life doesn’t happen that way.”
    I’m pretty sure life happens that way all the time.
    Point 1: we’re working on it.
    Point 2: Of course professionals don’t ride fixed wheel bikes. Fixed wheel bikes are fashionable for their impracticality. Professionals ride the sort of bike you see thousands of in Copenhagen, with fenders, chain guards, and a comfortable upright posture: all ideal for arriving at your destination without appearing ruffled.
    In any case, I’m sure City CarShare and ZipCar will be more than happy to install as many cars as there is demand for, and should get some choice reserved spots outside the front door.

  7. Posted by Ivan

    I think the 1:2 parking to unit ratio was part of the rincon hill plan. I was always curious how the Infinity and the future 201 Folsom project got approved for the number of parking spaces they were alloted for. Does anyone know?

  8. Posted by lol

    Yeah, it’s changing. Singles and childless couples can live without a car. Then you get kids and every good resolution goes out the window.
    I know some people who decided against a car. Many more that kept a car as a convenience because of these 10% of your life that suck without one. All with no kids.
    But I do not know anyone with kids and without a car.
    As I said: life happens. If you have 1/2 the units with no kids and the other 1/2 with kids, and 1/2 of the ones with no kids decide against a car while the families with kids decide to constrain themselves to gasp, only 1 car per family, the ratio car/unit still falls short.
    I wish things were different, but I stopped fighting that windmill a while ago.
    I agree with fixed wheel bikes and their convenience. The truth is that some fashionistas will never be caught pedaling with gears (or brakes, or free wheel, or helmet).
    I commute by bike down Market and back thru Townsend every morning. This is a bike freeway. Mostly 20-somethings. Some gray hair. 1/3 fixed wheel. Many clunkers. Not many dutch bikes as the few resellers are selling the hype and charging $$$ for what is a basic commodity in the NL.
    And car sharing is great. It sure fulfills a need and goes into the right direction.

  9. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    I think that the Dutch style bikes don’t sell very well because their gearing isn’t adequate for the hills. But that doesn’t explain the popularity of fixies. My guess is either legs of steel or legs that stay in the Mish.

  10. Posted by noearch

    Actually, I was just mentioning bike parking to appease the bike nuts around town who insist that we ALL live just like them.
    We all know that those who buy in this neighborhood pretty much will not be riding a bike to work. Most will walk to work, which is great.
    And no, there are not “plenty” of bike riding millionaires out there. Perhaps a very few, but not plenty.

  11. Posted by Eric in SF

    Noearch – my experience differs. My circle of friends has a lot of 35-45 yr old software engineers who are independently wealthy from 10+ years at Apple, Google, etc. but continue to live their lives mostly unchanged save for owning instead of renting. And almost all of them commute regularly on bicycles, male and female.
    The stereotype that affluence != bicycle commuting is rapidly dying.

  12. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    noearch – those are quite naive statements about the cycling community.
    I won’t attempt to spoil your stereotypes though.

  13. Posted by ellbee

    I know lots of people that live in that ‘hood and walk to a FiDis office three days a week and commute down the Peninsula twice. They still need a place to put the car, even if it isn’t a daily driver.
    Sure, Google, Gap, Genentech, Y!, and a few others have shuttles, but it’s the exception not the norm.
    The attempt to legislate out autos through zoning ignores reality.

  14. Posted by BobN

    And almost all of them commute regularly on bicycles, male and female.
    I can’t help but notice that you didn’t say they don’t own cars. How one gets around is one issue and it effects general parking, whether on the street or in public and private commercial garages in business districts and shopping areas. What one does with a car one uses once a week or once a month or once a year is an entirely different issue and the one that we are just plain messing up.

  15. Posted by [anon.ed]

    OT, a bit. But I’ve been driving on Steiner various times between 6 and 9 p.m. on Tuesdays lately. And I’ve noticed a marked increase in people taking The Wiggle route: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wiggle Like, tons of people.
    I put that anecdote down to the sheer increase in bicycling, citywide. The City has made it a priority, and it’s working.
    Now about those blow through 4-way stop signs + swing into the pedestrian lane maneuvers….

  16. Posted by lol

    The Wiggle is for sissies. Page Street has like 2 blocks up? And the way down is great. 4-way stop signs don’t really require a full stop as long as you respect FIFO. Also watch out for traffic lights at Div and Octavia. They’re easy to forget…

  17. Posted by Willow

    Quick question. If you own a bike are you required to pay a registration fee like other vehicle owners? Bike riders are using the roads and eliminating lots of parking spaces. It’s only fair…

  18. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Willow – cyclists pay more than their fair share for roads upkeep. It is been a long long time since registration fees and gas tax covered roads maintenance. Now most of the funding comes from other tax sources paid by everyone including cyclists.

  19. Posted by lol

    I’d be happy to pay a registration fee. The day that happens, I will be considered a real vehicle that can occupy a full lane. Car drivers stuck behind me won’t be happy, but I will have the sticker to prove I am a full human being with as many rights to access to the roads as a motorized human.
    Oh, and I want freeway access too. I love speed.

  20. Posted by noearch

    Bikes are fine: for some people. I’m not hating on bikes.
    But remember, biking in SF is used by a very tiny percentage of the population, mostly young white males from 25-35 years old. Not all, but most.
    Most of them rent. Nothing wrong with that. Just observations.
    Also @ willow: I don’t know how many register their bikes and pay a fee. We should look into that statistic. But I do agree they don’t contribute much if anything at all to the cost of bike lanes and other bike related traffic issues.
    And yes, there’s the ongoing issue that I see EVERY single day in the Mission, Noe, etc. where the bike people blow thru stop signs, stop lights, almost hit pedestrians legally in the crosswalk. And yes, I see it every day at any hour on any street. Bike people break the law because they feel “entitled” to do it.
    Not cool.Stupid.Dangerous.

  21. Posted by A.T.

    Since we’re so OT . . .
    I’m all for more measures to encourage biking even if it inconveniences drivers. I bike all over town, although I also drive not infrequently as my time is worth too much to ditch the car. My one pet peeve is when I’m driving, looking out for and respecting the cyclists, yet when I signal to turn right, a cyclist will nevertheless zoom up on my right – death wish. I look out for this, but when a cyclist gets creamed while doing this it is no fault of the driver.

  22. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    noearch – keep the unfounded stereotypical speculation coming. Your ignorance is entertaining.
    A.T. – what you describe is the cyclist setting themselves up for a “right hook” collision. It is one of the most frequent causes of bike-car collisions. The League of American Bicyclists training recommends that cyclists take the lane in that situation, queuing up behind cars if necessary. Clearly not all cyclists are riding safe.

  23. Posted by lol

    “most of them rent”
    Not the ones I know.
    As per the stereotyping, it’s also wrong. Go on Market between 7:30AM and 9:00AM. Plenty of girls. Many asians, latinos or blacks. Heck, my wife contradicts both your assumptions.
    And about 4-way signs, this is what happens when you design a car-centric city. Starting from 0 costs nothing to gas-pedal pushers. Momentum does count for bikes.
    You have a minority counter-culture fanatics who will feel “entitled” and endanger others, but mostly because the “mainstream” hasn’t defined anything suitable for them. Make roads and rules adapted (respecting FIFO, slowing down at 4-way stops), then you’ll get cyclists talking others into complying. Right now, I cannot say to an idiot “wait for that car to go first” because I am running that stop sign too, if in a more civil fashion.

  24. Posted by Eric in SF

    Oh c’mon Noearch – you’re really sticking your neck out here. Have you actually stood at any of the Market Street corners from 8th to past Van Ness during rush hour and watched the cyclists? The diversity of humanity riding bikes is quite high. Ages are definitely clustered in the 20-40 range but that’s all I’m willing to generalize based on my observations.

  25. Posted by Willow

    MoD – I already knew the answer to that question. I was sort of being facetious.
    Seriously however, I’m not sure how you can claim that cyclists pay their fair share for roads upkeep. Not saying that they don’t but help me understand the basis for your statement.

  26. Posted by lol

    About age, you cannot always tell. First, you have helmets and glasses that hide some key features. Then, cyclists are likely to be more fit and therefore less prone to a middle-age pouch 😉

  27. Posted by noearch

    Remember lol, I said most not all. It’s actually not stereotyping. Stand at the corner of say Valencia and 24th in the morning. Most cyclists will be young men. As an example, that’s all.
    Yesterday saw a cyclist, a male, FLY THRU a stop sign at 24th and Sanchez. A car was going thru the intersection, slowly, after fully stopping at the stop sign. The cyclist narrowly missed running INTO the car, and merely flipped the guy off and kept riding.
    Happens ALL the time. Not a stereotype. An attitude.

  28. Posted by noearch

    Yup, I have Eric.

  29. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Willow – I meant that cyclists don’t demand too much from the roads system in terms of space required (both travel and parking) as well as wear and tear on the road. The wear and tear effect from bicycles is negligible compared to even the lightest cars. Bike parking requires 10-20X smaller infrastructure compared to car parking. Granted cyclists don’t pay a gas tax though the difference between what cyclists and motorists demand from the road system is far greater than the the gas tax delta.

  30. Posted by lol

    Yeah you got your usual idiot that will pollute the pool for the others. I know that corner well. This is why I always take 23rd.
    2 days ago I did see a cyclist flipping a driver.
    That was on the Embarcadero, south towards AT&T park at 5PM. Cars backed up, bicycles zooming by. One car decided it was faster to take the wide bike lane 1/2 block before the turn to Brannan. A bike was there and she tried to bully him to the side (1 foot does not qualify as a safety distance). The guy looked at her, kept going on the center of the bike lane. I was behind the car and started catching up. At the crossing, he told her politely she had to respect bike lanes. she responded with expletives. She deserved that flip badly.

  31. Posted by noearch

    The San Francisco Bike Plan, to be implemented, will cost at least $18 million, according to SF Bike Plan documents.
    Who’s going to pay for that and where is the money coming from?

  32. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Is $18M all it costs to build out the bike plan ? What a bargain. Build it ! The money should come from the same sources used to construct other roadway improvements.
    Q: How many freeway interchanges can you build for $18 million ?
    A: none.

  33. Posted by lol

    A drop of water compared to 100-year tax-payer subsidized car infrastructure. We have been diverting assets towards cars for too long. The Bay Bridge used to be 1/2 cars and 1/2 trains. Now that vital connection is gone and is not coming back. We have sacrificed so much for cars. Now everyone has them and you can’t move around or park easily with no alternative. Time to re-prioritize…

  34. Posted by tipster

    Your bike courtesy point is valid. I wish people in general had more courtesy.
    A certain degree of thoughtfulness tends to get you farther in life. Those people who don’t get very far in life probably can’t afford a car. So more of the less thoughtful people will be on bikes than the proportion of the general population. The reverse argument does not apply: riding a bike does not make you less thoughtful.
    Same issue as above with right hooks and other stupid or careless moves. Being stupid or careless generally prevents you from making lots of money, no money – no car. So you’ll see more stupid and careless people riding bikes. But riding a bike doesn’t make you stupid or careless.
    Same issue with being young. You don’t get paid as much at an early age and that makes biking a more attractive option. People tend to get out of shape or have some problem that prevents them from riding as they get older, so people tend to self select out of bikes as they age. Younger people tend to do riskier things, though I note the peak demographic for dying on a bike is male age 45-50. I suspect 45-50s don’t realize their hearing has degraded and that causes them problems.
    Thus, it’s the nature of the beast that younger, less successful people will be on bikes in greater numbers than the general population, and the same issues that they have that make them less successful will make them act inappropriately.
    On the other hand, some people bike for fitness and I have found it more convenient, incomes notwithstanding. Groceries need not be carried to parking a block away: they get put on the bike right outside the door of the store and driven right into the kitchen – no lifting at all. Also, I don’t ever look for parking. I can usually ride somewhere within a few miles in the same time I can drive and find parking.
    And all the lights in SF appear to be tied to a central timer. There seems to be a morning rush cycle, an evening rush cycle and a default cycle. If you can find a route that allows you to hit almost all greens, you’ll hit them every day that you travel at the same time. Not everyone figures this out (see description of stupid above) but once you do, you can get pretty good at not needing to blow through stop signs.

  35. Posted by noearch

    There’s always going to be passion on either side of the car/bike issue.
    It’s also strange and rather funny how a certain generation seems to think they “discovered” urban cycling, and that no one did it before. Where was the passion and interest for cycling say in the 70’s or 80’s or even the 90’s? For a lot of people, it’s just trendy, hip and oh so cool to ride a bike to work. Big deal.
    And oh, for the haters, I also use muni, and walk ALL over The City to get places. This is a great walking city.
    As for driving, well…I’ve lived here for 30 years now, and yes, with a car. I see very little difference in say driving down Dolores St. to Market St. now than when I moved here 30 years ago. It’s no more congested now than then.
    what’s the problem?

  36. Posted by lol

    Your thinking applies to the flyovers or the third world. Not to the BA.
    The new reality is that the successful and affluent move to the City. The poor live in suburbia and have to drive or BART. Of course a few lawyers, bankers, architects cling to their suits and cars in SF. Mostly because they have to fit to a professional code of conduct. Suit slavery if you ask me…
    For me, having to drive equates to a loss of freedom. I don’t want to be slowed down by the working poor/day workers going back to the EB or the salesmen wasting their lives driving around for the next dollar (like on Tuesday tours!).
    Oh, did I mention my bike costs more than my car?

  37. Posted by lyqwyd

    If there’s no more traffic and there’s very little difference, yet many more people biking and lots of biking improvements and driving restrictions over the last few years, what’s the problem with continuing them? Your experience has not been altered, yet the experience for cyclists has been vastly improved.

  38. Posted by lol

    I have been on a bike since 1971. And commuting to school/university/work since 1975 almost all those years. Not a fad. Not a trend. A life choice. I am glad the new generations will be more open (and healthier!) than the old.

  39. Posted by noearch

    I can only laugh at lol. good name choice actually.
    What the hell have you been smoking today?
    “The poor live in suburbia”..? really?
    “Lawyers, bankers and architects cling to their suits..”? really? I don’t wear suits, period. And I’m sure not as hell gonna hop on my bike (I do have one) with an armload of drawings and a messenger bag and ride from Noe V to a client over on Pacific Avenue. Are you nuts?
    My last word (for now) on the cyclists in SF:
    Enjoy your bikes. Be safe. Obey ALL traffic laws. Wear a helmet. Don’t talk on your cell phone.
    And for god’s sake, don’t tell us how to live.
    Oh, and don’t wear spandex if you have a big ass.

  40. Posted by lyqwyd

    noearch, all apply to cars as well:
    Enjoy your car. Be safe. Obey ALL traffic laws. Wear a helmet. Don’t talk on your cell phone.
    And for god’s sake, don’t tell us how to live.

  41. Posted by lol

    Yes, the poor live in suburbia, except for the few that are subsidized. Cars are no more a sign of wealth. They’re more a sign of needed mobility. Think boonies dwellers commuting to mow the lawns and wait tables.

  42. Posted by Dan

    I’m old, have a high-paying professional job, am an SF homeowner (and therefore pay more than my share of taxes), and am a bike commuter.

  43. Posted by eegad

    I’m a full-time employed professional, homeowner and a parent and my family owns no car. It’s perfectly doable. And we’re not deprived of any of the joys of modern life. And I live in the northwest part of the City, not in the Mission or downtown. And I’ll bet dimes to dollars that I get out of town hiking, camping, skiing, etc. more than than average Joe car-owner in SF.

  44. Posted by Willow

    “Yes, the poor live in suburbia…”
    I’ll remember that the next time I’m in Atherton.

  45. Posted by lol

    Did I say “all suburbia is poor”? Nope.

  46. Posted by Willow

    Lol: No you did not say that but what you did say is this:
    “The new reality is that the successful and affluent move to the City. The poor live in suburbia and have to drive or BART.”
    The are so many uber wealthy people in the Bay Area (Atherton, Palo Alto, Piedmont, Berkeley / Oakland Hills, Marin etc.) that would never consider moving to the city. Many of those people drive and/or catch BART.

  47. Posted by noearch

    Hey lol: at least own up to what you said, instead of trying to crawl away and re-spin your words.
    Your last few statements are like way out on some distant planet.
    Come back to earth.

  48. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “…at least own up to what you said, instead of trying to crawl away and re-spin your words.”
    Are those words from noearch or an impostor?

  49. Posted by imposter4sure

    imposter of course.

  50. Posted by Alai

    Yeah, it’s changing. Singles and childless couples can live without a car. Then you get kids and every good resolution goes out the window.
    I know some people who decided against a car. Many more that kept a car as a convenience because of these 10% of your life that suck without one. All with no kids.
    But I do not know anyone with kids and without a car.
    As I said: life happens. If you have 1/2 the units with no kids and the other 1/2 with kids, and 1/2 of the ones with no kids decide against a car while the families with kids decide to constrain themselves to gasp, only 1 car per family, the ratio car/unit still falls short.

    First, not every building has to be designed for every type of person, and it’s ok for people to move when their situations change. Do we want more families in SF? Sure! Should we legislate that downtown apartments be required to have three bedrooms, a parking spot, and a daycare? Probably not. Indeed, even if you legislated those family-friendly apartments, the only result would likely be that you’d have 1) fewer and 2) more expensive apartments, still occupied by childless yuppies. Indeed, they would benefit– force an excess of expensive housing, and it becomes somewhat cheaper, while the price of cheap housing rises. In other words, reducing parking is a great way to make housing more affordable without the need for the lottery system, onerous deed and income restrictions and potential for corruption inherent in the official “affordable housing” programs.
    Do even bike commuters, and once-a-month drivers hang on to their cars for the occasional trip? Sure. But this is in large part due to the existence of subsidized parking. If people had to pay the annual $3000+ market rate for parking, or the $50000+ construction cost, they would likely dump that car and switch to carshare/rentals for their needs, pretty quick. It’s only when you wrap the costs of parking into the cost of renting or buying that people figure “well, I have this spot I’ve paid for, may as well use it”.

  51. Posted by Alai

    Ach, bad quoting job there. Only the last two paragraphs are mine.

  52. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Alai – You’re making a good case to unbundle parking from residence. That pretty easy to do with condos though doesn’t quite make sense on SFHs.

  53. Posted by justin

    I am still in shock that so many think this building is good architecture! (see orinal comments before the usual SS parking/car fetish posters took over). I think the design is not ugly, but certainly not good. It sort of has a 70’s retro feel to me.

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