As we noted yesterday, the proposed eight units to replace the existing garage and storage rooms of the six-unit building at 4640 Balboa average 255 square feet apiece.

But to be a bit more precise, the plans calls for adding seven studios averaging 240 square feet on the building’s ground floor, with an infill “two-bedroom” on the second floor measuring 366 square feet, which includes the apartment’s galley kitchen/hall.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Herb

    One closest for 7 units!

    • Posted by Mark

      Fear not. That “closet” can be a nursery or extra sleeping space (if you sleep hanging upside down). You have to think outside of the 10×20 box.

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      Friggin’ petty bourgeoisie with their “closet”, for their “clothes”!

      • Posted by Zugamenzio Farnsworth

        they could always hang a rail over the kitchen counter: except directly over the stove.

    • Posted by justme

      I don’t know. Looks like seven closets to me.

  2. Posted by Mark

    Re: Futurist’s comment from yesterday’s article…now we’re slumming. You are correct. After looking at the above floor plans of the proposed veal cages I can’t help wonder the impact the additional units will make on utilities in the building (water, sewer, etc.) and the diminishing quality of life for the other residents. This proposal goes far beyond an in-law unit tucked in the back of a garage….this is more than doubling the number of units in an existing building. Disgusting.

    • Posted by Futurist

      Exactly. I think I was right on when I called out the real reason for doing this: greed and making money OVER issues such as quality of life, AND increased parking on the streets.

      And for those who dare compare this housing to the “norm” of Hong Kong, Singapore, et al: it’s a meaningless comparison. Many of those humans live that way because the government makes them live that way. It’s substandard by OUR standard and our standards are what applies here.

      This is simply building slum housing in the guise of “affordable” housing.

      And it is disgusting.

      • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

        The governments of those cities don’t force anyone aside from convicts to live in a particular place. Quite the opposite. Hong Kong was the site of one of the one of the largest slum clearances in recent times. They’re just small expansive cities that attract a lot of talent from outside. Sound familiar?

      • Posted by Kalo

        What an elitist you are. You would call this slum housing because they are small? What is really ridiculous is when people live in homes that have much more space than someone actually needs to live. Now, those homes are a travesty of human need. Get over yourself.

    • Posted by Charles

      FFS! If you live a crowded apartment with two or three other roommates, this could easily be an upgrade. I have never been able to afford my own place in SF, even an efficiency. This is the only way some people can afford to have their own place and not share a bathroom and have a little extra privacy. Maybe not your dream, but nobody will be forced to rent these. Fair point about the water pressure / hot water, but nothing building department can’t make them resolve. Chill out people and appreciate that this gives young people more options to people who mostly have bad options not the apparently privileged few like yourselves.

      • Posted by Mark

        For the record, I am hardly a member of the privileged few. My husband, a schoolteacher, and I rent a below-market rate home in the Sunset. We cannot afford to buy a home in our area, which are going for over $1M, much less elsewhere in SF, regardless of our 200K joint income. Our rent went up 11% last year, significantly more than our combined pay raises, not to mention the costs of raising two college-bound teens.

        What you don’t understand is that it’s not just young people who are affected by the cost of living in SF. Once they get established, don’t assume they will be getting those 200K/year tech jobs which are fewer and fewer to land. Couples will be sharing these micro units. Families will be moving into them. As many have pointed out earlier, this kind of development is creating a slum. SF will be comprised of the wealthy who were able to buy in when they could/have the money/income to afford to buy now, and slum units like this. I refuse to spend our pension on either a 4K/month rental or mortgage. As great as the Bay Area is, if you can’t afford to live here then find somewhere else. Employers are realizing that. Millennials are realizing that. Renters my age (50) are realizing that. Once you accept the reality of the situation then you will realize that there are plenty of more affordable areas in the country that can suit your needs.

  3. Posted by Elitist Pig

    A number of these units fail the basic barriers of accessibility… not sure how they plan on getting away with that.

    • Posted by Dandywhatsoever

      Isn’t there a rule it can’t be considered a bedroom if it doesn’t have a closet?

      • Posted by Torger Cobus

        The building code recognizes “sleeping rooms.” Doesn’t matter if there is a closet or not. Must have minimum standards for light, ventilation and emergency egress, usually in the form of windows.

        Has to have a closet “to be a bedroom” might be real estate tradition.

        • Posted by Futurist

          NO. The building code and/or SF planning code specifically spells out the requirement for a closet for a room to “qualify” as a bedroom. It’s not a real estate term, however a lot of realtors call a room a bedroom whether it is or not.

  4. Posted by Dave

    San Francisco is increasingly a transient city. More so than previously. Too many are out to make a quick buck – one way or another with this being one of the more egregious ways. Too few, and that number seems to be shrinking, seem to be invested in SF. Make a buck and move on. Who cares if the streets look a shambles with all the parked cars and paved over fronts.

    • Posted by Jake

      wrong Dave: SF is less transient than it was and SF is less transient than the US average, as measured by percentage of population that moves per year, per US Census.

      Remember folks, the average tenancy in a rental in SF is 6 years for non-rent controlled and 9 years for rent controlled. What SF has had for a very long time is ~6-9% annual turnover of folks moving in/out of SF and most of that is just people moving between SF and other Bay Area counties.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      San Francisco has been a transient city since 1849.

      People move here to seek their fortune and some of them leave.

    • Posted by Futurist

      Totally agree with you Dave: greed and making a buck over any sense of morals or contribution to “quality of life” in San Francisco.

      • Posted by Dave

        This is similar in a way to the effort to build a 3/2 SFH on that substandard 1500 sq foot Bernal district lot, or trying to sell the steep Nob Hill site for what would be precariously perched condos, or removing the green space along 7th below Forest Hill and replacing it with as many dwelling units as possible.

    • Posted by Jake

      The very high cost of housing in SF inhibits transience. Relative to the past, few people “move here to seek their fortune” unless they already have a job here that pays well. SF rent is too Uber high. That’s why the current boom is even affecting Funk Town USA.

      Two-thirds of the population growth of SF in the current boom is from foreign born, and most of the rest is due to the recent baby boomlet. SF and SV have scoured the domestic talent pool to suck-in all the transients not too rooted in less greedy United Soils of America.

      As for shambly streets, the streets of the Tar Flats look way less shambly than they did in the old days. As does much of the rest of never at rest SoMa, Showplace, Mission Bay, Dog Patch, Hunters Point, etc. Don’t look a gift VC in the maw while clutching your pearlies.

      • Posted by SFRealist

        I’m sure there was meant to be a coherent argument in there somewhere.

        I’ll stick with “San Francisco has been a transient city since 1849”

        Nothing new today.

        • Posted by Jake

          I’ll make it easy for you: SF is less “transient” than the average for the USA, per the US Census. If you still think that makes SF “transient”, well then present some “coherent argument” instead of just a baseless assertion.

          • Posted by anon2

            Is it possible that there’s a bi-modal distribution going on? With one class of entrenched long term prop-13/rent-control residents and a much more transient professional class?

            I haven’t looked at the census data, but I’ll take it on faith that you’ve represented it correctly. Anecdotally though it sure seems as if there is a lot of churn in SF.

          • Posted by Jake

            The bi-modal distribution is historical: between the SF of the distant past and the SF of the present and recent past.

            San Francisco’s actual population churn rate is slightly below the USA national average. This is all the more remarkable because SF has a higher percentage of population in rental housing than the USA (58% vs 35%, respectively) and renters in both SF and the USA on average have more than twice the churn rate of owner-occupied housing.

            Nevertheless, both renters and owners have lower churn rates in San Francisco than the USA average, and this holds for a 5 year window (2010 to 2015), as well as a 15 year window, and 25 and 35 year windows. 45% of SF homeowners live in the same home as they did at the end of the last millennium, as do 16% of renters. For the USA on average it is 35% and 6%, respectively. ‘We grow old…shall wear the bottoms of our cliched anecdotes rolled.’

            Anyone who wants to acquaint themselves with the housing conditions of the old days of SF’s high rates of transience could do worse than Paul Groth’s book Living Downtown: The History of Residential Hotels in the United States (free UC Press E-Book at namelink).

            There you can read about the cozy SF accommodations (even some floor plans) for seamen not at sea barbarizing North Beach, seasonal farm laborers out of season holdover in SF boarding houses, the day labor work assignment shops that lined Howard St, how the railroads could layoff hundreds of thousands of workers in a matter of months (no union, no problem), the hundreds of immigrant staffed garment sweatshops, and the canneries and other factories that routinely laid off tens of thousands for months at a time, usually in winter because we have always been at war with Christmas.

            The ‘professional classes’ are about the least transient. If someone knows the difference between transient and intransigent, good chance they are the latter. If they can spell the difference, then almost for sure. Ya ever try to get rid of a lawyer, banker, doctor, or sys admin that didn’t want to leave? To them Das Boot is a good German movie.

          • Posted by SFRealist

            Ah, that is actually helpful. (I have no idea what it has to do with Funky Town USA or the Tar Flats, though)

          • Posted by Jake

            Funk Town, aka Funktown (not funky…), is a World Heritage Site in the highlands to the east of the Lake Merritt Wildlife Sanctuary. As the indigenous Mongoose advises, “google it.”

            The Tar Flats are the answer to the question: where was the first industrial waste land of San Francisco….Now the semi-permanent home of the Leaning Tower of Mission St and the erecting Salesfalace.

            Yes, SF is increasingly the preserve of aging gripesters, with enough just-in-time youthful vigor compiled in to keep the java flowing, both the kind from where the sun (TM) don’t shine no more and coldlight infusion poor over.

  5. Posted by Karl (not the fog)

    I’m all for increasing modest housing opportunities for regular folks within existing envelopes but these plans seem extreme even to me.

  6. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    And yesterday commenters trotted out the tired “I guess you’ve never been to Seoul, or Hong Kong, or Tokyo” chestnuts. But you know what? In other western cities, people have developed-world, western city standards for apartments.

    In London recently, a developer proposed an eleven-story building, converted from a former use as offices, with flats smaller than the extant minimum space standard of 37 square meters (approx 399 square feet) but people just didn’t accept it. The developer was widely criticized for putting up “Rabbit hutch homes” and “dog kennel units”.

    And that’s what’s going on here with the above-described project: it’s essentially a regulatory arbitrage scheme. Planning should just say NO.

    • Posted by francis

      we’re not a western city, we’re part of the pacific rim

  7. Posted by Neighborhood Activist

    What sort of entitlement(s), if any, will this project need? It seems to me that this might have a tough time getting through the Planning Commission, and it’s hard to imagine that it wouldn’t need to be heard there. If I were a neighbor, I’d absolutely be filing a DR.

    I agree with those who think this represents a disgusting level of greed.

    You could probably add two or three halfway-decent units to the building by repurposing the garage space, and we could legitimately argue about whether the loss of parking vs. the additional units was a good thing or not. But there is no question in my mind that adding eight new micro units to a six unit building in this way is obscene.

    • Posted by Kraus

      To my mind this doesn’t represent a “disgusting level of greed”. It’s good to fit in more housing for people rather than for cars (i.e. garages). However, the proposer doesn’t seem to understand the minimum requirements regarding the sizes/features of Code-compliant Dwelling Units. This project will be fine if they reduce the number of proposed Studio dwelling units from 7 to 5. Then they would comply with Code and could definitely be approved.

      The new ADU law was specifically created to allow for these types of garage-to-dwelling conversions and a DR requester would definitely not prevail in this case as it is current City policy to allow ADU’s to increase much-needed housing stock. You can certainly file a DR or appeal a Building Permit, but you’ll very likely be wasting both your time and money.

  8. Posted by Kraus

    6 of the proposed 7 “Studios” do not meet the SF Building Code requirements for “Efficiency Dwelling Units” per Chapter 12 “Interior Environment” Sec. 1208.4

    To do so the “Living Room” must be at least 150 NET SF — i.e., exclusive of any fixed elements, e.g. kitchen cabinets, etc.

    Judging from the Drawings, the “Living Rooms” of each of these non-Code-compliant “Studios” are only about 133 sf (10′-10″ x 12′-3″).

    Additionally, a separate Closet needs to be provide for each Efficiency Dwelling Unit. The area that this Closet takes up cannot be including in the minimum required 150 NET SF area.

    Accordingly, these 6 Dwelling Units do not meet minimum SF Building Code requirements — nor do they meet SF Housing Code minimum requirements. This project should not be permitted until revised to comply with the Codes.

    • Posted by Futurist

      Exactly. These are patently illegal dwelling units, with regard to code requirements and morally illegal, IMO.

      These were probably drawn up by some hack draftsman for a few bucks for the owner as the cheapest and quickest solution to make money.

      And they have zero to do with the seismic upgrade requirements.

      • Posted by pablito

        Woah, woah, woah, anyone who has ever gotten a building permit from SF-DBI knows the building code is merely advisory in this town. They have more busts for corruption than Gavin has girlfriends….

        • Posted by Futurist

          No, not when it comes to the “life safety” issues of occupancy. But the codes do spell out very clearly minimum legal requirements for many components of a dwelling unit.

          But yes, we do have some inspectors who don’t play by the rules. They are the crooks in the Building Dept.

  9. Posted by sockettome

    How is this even possible? The zoning is RM-1 which allows “three dwelling units per lot or one dwelling unit per 800 sq.ft. of lot area”

    • Posted by Kraus

      It’s possible thru SF’s new Accessory Dwelling Unit law.

  10. Posted by BobN

    In the photo, there are three garages in three bays. In the drawing of the proposal, there are three units across the front in those three bays. In the floor plans there are four units across. ?

  11. Posted by Glaucon

    If these apartments are supposedly too small to be legal, how come 77 Bluxome is an entire building of 237 sq.ft. apartments? There is a market for these places and who are we to judge that they are too small? It’s great that it offers more ‘affordable’ options to live in San Francisco.

    Regarding lack of on-site parking: more and more people do without a car in SF and use public transport, a bicycle or Lyft. That’s especially true for millennials who are probably the target tenants for these micro-apartments anyways.

    • Posted by Futurist

      Because citizens of a city have a right to determine the quality of life in their city, and determine the type and size of growth.

      Don’t think for a minute that these sub-standard units will be seen as “affordable” housing. The slumlords will attempt to extract as much money as they can.

      • Posted by Mark F.

        Shocking that landlords want market rents. Just shocking!

        Way too small for me, but what’s “immoral” about this? Is someone going to die living in a small room?

    • Posted by Mark

      Unless you work nearby or wanna make the hour-long trek downtown via Muni, most people in this area of town need to drive. Car hailing services will take a back seat when you’re struggling to pay market rate housing and expenses. These units will not be affordable by any stretch of the definition of that word.

      • Posted by Glaucon

        If you work downtown, cost of parking is prohibitive, so I double people would drive. Other forms of transportation for that part of town aren’t great but they are certainly cheaper.

        • Posted by Jake

          yeah, so prohibitive that more than 100,000 cars are parked downtown during the workday.

          FWIW, in this census tract, 52% of workers commute by car (43% alone + 9% carpuddle), 29% take public transit, 10% work from home, 6% walk, 0% bike. The average commute is 36 minutes, while 13% have a commute longer than 60 minutes. Info per nosy US Census via your tax rubles.

          Evidently, for most people thereabouts, the total cost (money+time+whatever) of taking public transit from lands end to place of work is certainly more expensive than non-self-driving auto-mobile. Of course having free parking at home is a part of the to be or not to be a car owner evaluation. And having an easy time find that free parking when you get home is a part of the cost of driving to work.

  12. Posted by Metroliner

    Screw this guy and the horse he rode in on. These aren’t apartments, but more like hotel rooms… and small unimpressive ones at that. Does he plan on actually renting them out to long-term dwellers or is this a ploy for some more “nightly” renters?

  13. Posted by Twig

    Thank Scott Weiner for these mini apts.

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