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.
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Proposed new homes on Alamo Square

Finally, a rendering of the proposed ‘Painted Gentlemen’ that are to be built on Alamo Square, in the next block to the Painted Ladies.

Rendering via Socketsite

The white building to the right is 940 Grove; part of which will be torn down to accommodate the new homes.  It’s the non-historic part, so nothing lost there.

Seems the developer is getting the green light from the Planning Department, now it’s up the San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission.

I’m assuming the rendering shows massing only and does not give an indication of detail giving the homes scale and substance.  The proposed homes should really help clean up that block of Steiner.  Kudos to the developers.

Vacant houses in San Francisco

Via SFGate, I was forwarded to an article in the San Francisco Business Times that discussed how San Francisco has the highest number of vacant homes in the Bay Area.  At almost 8.3% vacancy, that seems like a lot-the article suggested one in 12 homes was vacant.  According to the article, California has a vacancy rate of just over 8%.  Surrounding Bay Area Counties range from 4.39-7.2%

Anyone home?

I can think of several reasons.

1. People in metropolitan areas are leaving for the burbs to get into decent schools and out of the nightmare that is the consolidated system.

2. People are leaving for jobs in other areas.

3. Rent control/fear of being a landlord.  I know of many landlords that have long tired of having no control over their buildings-particularly if they get a bad tenant.

4. It’s expensive to live in SF.  At some point, the value of the amenities (Symphony, Restaurants, ‘Walk to coffee’) becomes less important when looking at simplifying your life.

That’s the glass half empty.  Let’s look at the half full version.  Well, I guess that’s really the 91.7% full version.

To read the article and check out the charts From Blanca Torres, San Francisco Business Times

Proposed Pier 36 Renovation

Deteriorated Pier 36 may be getting a new look in the next few years.  I’m a fan of the development along the Embarcadero.  It’s changed so much since the Earthquake in 1989-all for the better.

Pier 36-after

The proposed Brannan Street Wharf at the existing Pier 36 would consist of a lawn, outdoor tables and chairs, a water fountain, drinking fountain, and a small craft float.

Pier 36-before

Here’s the story from Socketsite