Christmas Tree Regulations in San Francisco

What to do with that Christmas tree when you are done with it

Natural Christmas trees are regulated in San Francisco in many types of buildings-most notably in residential condo and apartment buildings of over 2 units.  Note that natural trees are only allowed in buildings with approved fire sprinkler systems.  Many multi-unit buildings do not have automatic sprinkler systems.  This excerpt from the San Francisco Apartment Association on-line newsletter. Ginger Bread at night

Make sure to give your tenants notice and be careful!  Make sure to contact the Bureau of Fire Prevention for complete guidelines or the SF Fire Department at 415.558.3300

Safe use of Christmas trees in regulated occupancies from the SF Fire Dept.
As the 2010 holiday season approaches, the San Francisco Fire Department reminds property owners and managers that there are clear regulations that must be observed regarding the use of Christmas trees in public spaces, including high-rise buildings and the public areas of apartment and condo buildings:
  • Natural cut trees are permitted in the following occupancies only when they are protected by an approved automatic sprinkler system: public assemblies, schools, retail stores, high-rise buildings, and common areas of hotels, motels, apartment and condo buildings with more than two units.
Any questions regarding Christmas tree regulations may be directed to the Bureau of Fire Prevention of the San Francisco Fire Department at 415.558.3300.

Vote NO on Prop G on Nov. 4th


no on g

This coming Tuesday, please vote. If you are going to vote on one thing, please vote NO on Proposition G.

You may not have even heard of it. It’s a very poorly written and thought out ordinance that would increase the transfer tax on the sales of property.

I lovingly refer to the transfer tax as a ‘get out of your house’ or ‘get out of San Francisco’ bill. It ranges from .5% to 2.5% of your sales price (sliding scale depending on the amount of your sale) and is one of your expenses of sale. This legislation among other things, would increase the cost of selling your house for your first five years of ownership. The most you would pay (at this point) is 24% of your sale price. That is not a typo. 24%.

For example, you’ve just bought an affected property (not all are) and you get transferred for a job offer within the first year. Let’s assume you paid $750,000 for your property. Your transfer tax would be $180,000. Again, not a typo. $180,000. I hope you’ve put down 30%, because we’ll need that to close your transaction. Without Proposition G, you would pay $5,100 in transfer tax.

This legislation does not affect all properties in San Francisco. Neither did rent control when it was enacted in 1978. My fear is that if this passes, all properties could become affected over the coming years.

Please vote NO on Proposition G. Someday, you’ll be glad you did.

Keep your neighborhood vibrant

I have found that most people, in selecting the location of their homes, pick neighborhoods that they feel they can enjoy and be a part of.  In San Francisco, the majority want to be near conveniences such as shopping, grocery stores and restaurants.  As in the axiom, ‘location, location, location,’ the desirability of an area is directly proportional to the variety and success of the businesses in the community.  With that in mind, I contend that in becoming part of a neighborhood, it is our responsibility to visit and shop in our local businesses.

It’s a pretty easy concept; keep your neighborhood vibrant by shopping there.  A consumer society, our economy depends on all of us spending money; it’s the velocity of money that keeps us all employed, pay house and car payments, groceries, gas, doctor’s visits, etc… What you buy supports the workers in the area where you buy it.  If you need a light bulb and buy it at Home Depot, you won’t help the neighborhood hardware store.  Going out for dinner in the Marina, won’t help your neighbors in West Portal.  Ordering a cable you need for your printer on Amazon doesn’t pay the college kids working at the Radio Shack in your neighborhood.

In walking down West Portal Avenue the other day, I noticed quite a few empty storefronts.  It is disappointing to see a vibrant street with missing teeth.  All of us have shown up at a business that we liked or wanted to try, only to find it had gone out of business.

The current economy has certainly hurt.  Everyone is tightening their belts, but at some point, there isn’t anymore tightening that can be done; some fixed expenses don’t change.  The ease of the internet has been a big contributor to businesses closing as well.  Looking for the cheapest, fastest and easiest way to get something you want or need is compelling.  I am as guilty of that as anyone else.  Yet, by getting the cheapest price outside our community, we are hurting ourselves.

So, here is my challenge.  If you are new to the neighborhood, please visit and shop in your local businesses; they depend on you.  If you have been here awhile, reintroduce yourself; there are new opportunities everyday. Please don’t rely on others to buy in the neighborhood while you shop elsewhere-it is all OUR responsibilities.  If you don’t see something you need, ask the store owner, perhaps they can order it for you.  If you can buy an item somewhere else cheaper, ask them about it; maybe you can get a discount and they can get a sale.

If we want your neighborhood businesses to stay open, we have no choice to but to buy their goods and services-and to spread the word.  It isn’t realistic that you would buy everything in your neighborhood, but you might be able to get more than you think.  Know the saying ‘Charity begins at home’?  Your success depends on you.

Painted Gentlemen progress

 A few weeks ago, driving on Steiner Street, I saw that there was progress where the ‘Painted Gentlemen’ are proposed.  The Painted Gentlemen are the companions to the Painted Ladies famously pictured in San Francisco post cards across from Alamo Square.  The old buildings are gone and ready for development.

Then today when looking through Multiple Listings, I see that the three lots and the large home on the corner are all for sale.  They are entitled, meaning you can buy the lots and take over the plans and build them yourself.

FYI, the right to build, won’t come cheap.  The lots range in price from $1,250,000 to $1,500,000 and the house at 940 Grove is $3,000,000.

Cutting waste in government

Here’s a heartening story.  Three Bay Area agencies are planning on buying a building together to save operating costs and energy.  I sure the like the sound of that.  The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Bay Area Quality Management District and the Association of Bay Area Governments are teaming up to buy a building together.  Now all that has to happen, is the board of each needs to approve the purchase.  Formerly Pacific Postal Credit Union, the building is at 390 Main St. in San Francisco. As near as I can tell on Google street view, here is the building.  Very convenient to the future Transit Terminal.

Target at Masonic and Geary

According to Socketsite, the Target Store planned for the old Mervyn’s space at Geary and Masonic (and even older Sears Building) was unanimously approved by the San Francisco Planning Department. Politics aside, it seems like a great location and there is certainly the space for it.

City Center; rendering from Socketsite

AT&T U-Verse Boxes given go ahead

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has ok’d AT&Ts proposed U-Verse Box installation without the requirement of an Environmental Impact Study.  The boxes are plain ugly and graffiti magnets.    Shame that AT&T was given the green light without much restriction.  Permits are still necessary, so there is likely to be some neighborhood fights left.  I imagine ultimately AT&T will get their way and install all they originally planned.

New BART trains

The Bay Citizen gives a sneak peak of what the new (hopefully soon) BART trains will look like.

From ‘Bay Citizen’ Proposed new BART car

The exterior design is pretty nice looking, albiet MUNI like, but the interior has a bit to be desired.  I’m all for getting rid of the comfortable, but terribly dirty and unsanitary seats.  The problem seems to be in the amount (and comfort) of seating on the proposed trains.  The majority of BART passengers will be on the car for a longish period of time, so making sure there is ample seating should be a priority.

Then of course, there’s this whole budget mess, which is likely to slow down getting the new cars for a while.

AIDSWalk 25th Anniversary

This last Sunday was AIDSWalk San Francisco’s 25th Anniversary, and coincidently, my 25th Anniversary too.  I’ve walked in every walk since it started.  It’s a great cause and very easy to do.

Along the route-CA Academy of Sciences

It was a great day for walking-it was cool but not cold and foggy; great for my meditative walk.  I got an early start, so I did not walk with my 25,000 closest friends!  I started out the day where it all started; at my very first home on Funston Ave. in the Inner Sunset.  I was driving by and found a great parking space; fate.

Along the route-setting up for entertainment

According to promoter statistics, the event raised just over $3 million dollars.  The numerous benefiting Bay Area AIDS Service Organizations will be greatly helped by these contributions.  An interesting statistic: since it’s inception, AWSF has generated $77 Million in donations!



Thanks to my fiercely loyal supporters, I raised over $3,600 to date.  There is still time to donate.  If you haven’t already donated, please visit my AIDSWalk home page here.

Along the route
Along the route-Spreckels Lake