Oakland Tops Apple, The City In Joke Survey

Real Estate in the Nation’s “Most Exciting City” | On The Block | an SFGate.com blog

You may or may not have seen the news that according to Movoto, the top 10 most exciting cities include SF and Oakland, but it’s Oakland that takes grand prize. Movoto defends the list, explaining the 10 criteria surveyed in defining “exciting”:

  • Park acreage per person
  • Percent of population between 20 and 34 years old
  • Fast food restaurants per square mile (the fewer the better)
  • Bars per square mile
  • Big box stores per square mile (the fewer the better)
  • Population diversity
  • Movie theaters per square mile
  • Museums per square mile
  • Theater companies per square mile
  • Music venues per square mile

The calculations were made based on the  individual city proper and its size, excluding suburbs or nearby cities (not covering an entire metro). The result? Some surprises, maybe, for New Yorkers or San Franciscans, since neither made number one. Instead, Oakland did.

So, apparently, the qualities that make for an “exciting” city are those that appeal to rich yuppies – movies, museums, theaters, bars (probably single-malt scotch venues) and percentage of young folks. Things normal people make use of – big box stores, fast food restaurants – are detrimental to excitement, apparently.

Still, even by these amazingly warped criteria, San Francisco is outranked by Oakland?

Yeah, sure. Pull the other one.

Isn’t This Theft or Something?

How to Turn a Free Parking Space Into a Subsidized Hotel | Streetsblog San Francisco

Image: AirBnB

Want to cash in on prime San Francisco real estate that the city gives away for free? Some enterprising van owner shows how it’s done on AirBnB, where a listing offers a rentable camper parked on the public right of way for the budget-conscious traveler.

That’s right — someone has figured out how to make a killing by charging $92 a night ($480 for a whole week) for the use of this vehicle, while paying absolutely no form of rent, mortgage, property tax, or other cost associated with controlling real estate. It’s just a subsidized mobile hotel.

What I really dislike about the tone of this piece (and the comments) is the barely concealed loathing for anybody who finds a way around the impenetrable morass of City rules, regs, and taxes that the rest of us are forced to pay. A loophole! Gotta close that thing, quick!

God forbid that somebody in San Francisco should figure out a way of avoiding massive tribute payments to the almighty state.

I Have No Idea Why People Live In California

South San Francisco’s Least Expensive Home – South San Francisco, CA Patch

The least expensive home currently listed in South San Francisco is a modest house.  Located at 132 B Street house, it has one bedroom, one bathroom and 600 square feet of living space. It is currently listed at $279,000 or $465 per square foot.

$279K would buy you something like this in, say, Texas:

3505 Lynnbrook Dr Austin, TX, 78748 | $279,000 | MLS® – 9722840

In the California Bay Area, it won’t buy you anything more than what appears to be a tumbledown shack barely large enough to function as a dog house.

Yes, It Is Possible to Defeat Urban Blight

Don’t like Market Street? Wait a few minutes – San Francisco Business Times

Central Market Street is not changing by the day, it’s changing by the hour.

After a week out of town traveling with my family, I cycled down Market Street Monday morning. Of course I expected some of the progress I saw: AvalonBay had added a couple of floors at 55 Ninth St., Crescent Heights had snapped on more of the glass skin at 1401 Market and poured a few more floors on the tower as well. But other developments were more startling.

At Trinity Plaza, Angelo Sangiacomo is making good on his two-decade old promise to demolish the old vintage 1960 Del Webb’s Townehouse motel and replace it with housing. Swinerton Builders has started pulling down the western edge of the motel. It will be a trip to be able to stand at United Nations Plaza and see clear across a vast vacant parcel to Mission Street.

Central Market has been a horrible morass of drugs, alcoholics, bums, petty criminals, and dope addicts for most of the time I’ve been in San Francisco – and I arrived here in 1983. I’ve seen half a dozen efforts to change that, all of which were doomed to failure because they didn’t address the real problem: The people who lived in the area and the businesses that catered to them.

Once The City made the decision to change the businesses and stop tolerating the destructive types who kept the area a swamp, huge changes began to happen almost overnight. By offering significant tax breaks to bring in major companies whose workers were high income and high culture, and who would be interested in living close to their workplaces, the die was cast and change for the better became inevitable.

Yes, the homeless – which San Francisco goes to such great efforts to attract from all over the country – will be shoved off to some other neighborhood they can destroy. But a great area of urban blight is being erased right before our eyes, and I consider that a good thing.

Just Perfect for the New, Young Family

Apartment mania: Sleek live-work lofts in East Bay vs. SF | On The Block | an SFGate.com blog

Next, take a look at this penthouse unit in San Francisco’s landmark ClockTower  building with one bedroom plus an office space and two bathrooms. It also found a tenant quickly. At 1,925 feet it went for $6,500.

$6500 per month for one bedroom and one bath.

Such prices aren’t rare in The City, either. We’ve become Disneyland for rich dot.com kids. In some ways, that makes for an interesting city. In other ways, though, it may contain the seeds of its own destruction.

Using Cheap Bubble Money to Buy Valuable U.S. Properties

SF deal collapse won’t stop Chinese money flood into real estate – San Francisco Business Times

At the macro level, China holds more than $1 trillion of U.S. debt, but the dollar has been weak since the recession, so investing in assets is much more attractive. In the last few years, the Chinese government has made it easier for investors to borrow money from the government to invest in foreign countries. In the U.S., the motivation is clear — the better our economy, the more the dollar and thus, the value of China’s holdings go up.

“A lot of people see (investing in the U.S.) as a hedge opportunity because everyone believes the U.S. dollar will rebound at some point,” Qiu said.

Aside from that, because of the recession, real estate values in America took a big hit and while prices have risen in the last few years, many investors see plenty of upside for U.S. properties. Assets like office towers in places like San Francisco and New York are expensive for the U.S. market — but cheap compared with similar buildings in Tokyo or Shanghai.

I’ve seen these waves of foreign investment sweep across California time and time again, from the British to the Canadians to the Japanese and now the Chinese. The outflows are usually the result of huge real estate bubbles in the home countries, wherein one can borrow against over-priced real estate there and invest the proceeds in (relatively) underpriced real estate here in the U.S.

These financial fads usually crash and burn right along with their own domestic real estate bubbles.

Mission Bay – From Trash to Cash

S.F. Giants: Cordish’s Mission Rock project fits into team’s mission – Baltimore Business Journal

As the real estate director for the San Francisco Giants, Fran Weld is spearheading the redevelopment of Mission Rock, the 16-acre expanse of pavement that Giants fans know as Lot A — a place to park and possibly tailgate before ballgames.

Over the next few years, Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. will partner with the Giants to turn the Port of San Francisco-owned parcel into a mixed-use development with a eight acres of parkland and 3.5 million square feet of retail, housing, and office space.

Brewery Anchor Steam recently announced that it would be taking over Pier 48, a 200,000-square-foot warehouse space that sits at the eastern edge of the property. Anchor Steam will use the facility for brewing and will also open a museum, restaurant and tasting room.

I’ve been biking through this area since it was nothing more than a vast railyard wastland. The changes here in the past six or seven years have been nothing short of startling.

This may well end up as being the most valuable real estate in San Francisco over the next two decades or so. It really is an amazing transformation, and there is apparently a lot yet to come.

$300 Million for Abandoned AT&T SOMA Building


Boston Properties buys 680 Folsom St. in San Francisco – San Francisco Business Times

Real estate investment trust Boston Properties is swooping into San Francisco’s South of Market with the acquisition of 680 Folsom St., a vacant former AT&T building that TMG Partners and Rockwood Capital are redeveloping as the future headquarters of Macys.com and Riverbed Technology Inc.

The parties involved would not comment on the price, but the property sold for a price expected to be above $300 million in cash and Boston Properties stock.

The sale includes 680 Folsom St., 50 Hawthorne St., and the corner site of 690 Folsom St.

TMG Partners will continue as development manager for 680 Folsom St. and 50 Hawthorne St. and will be responsible for managing ongoing construction at both locations.

For the dot.commies, any SOMA address is worth its weight in gold.

A Stupid Notion Falls Flat

Kleiner-backed startup suspends sales of home value insurance – San Francisco Business Times

An Inman News report by Ken Harney provides more detail on the suspension, including comments from agents who sold policies.

Harney notes that only $50 million of coverage was sold. Insurance agents pitching the product said there was resistance from clients not wanting to bet on long-term deflation in the nation’s housing market. And no surprise that some asked where was the product in 2006? Cost of coverage was also steep.

A $75 monthly premium covered $300,000 in home value, with substantial deductibles in the first two years, Harney reports. Plus, the losses had to be reflected in the S&P/Case Shiller index of home prices, not your specific home’s sale.

As recently as June 20, Home Value Insurance Co. CEO Scott Ryles was touting the insurance to journalists attending the National Association of Real Estate Editors annual meeting in Denver.

Ugh. This insurance didn’t actually, you know, insure your own home against a drop in value?

No wonder it belly-flopped.

Map Me


Craigslist begins embedding maps in real estate listings | Internet & Media – CNET News

The battle began in June when Craigslist sent PadMapper a cease-and-desist letter that claimed the app violated its terms of use, which prohibit “copying, aggregation, display, distribution, performance, or derivative use of Craigslist or any content posted on Craigslist.”

For a short while PadMapper took Craigslist data off its site. But in July, PadMapper said it would resume using the data after it discovered a workaround that creator Eric DeMenthon described as “somewhat dickish” but “legally kosher.”

The solution was provided by 3taps, which created an API that harvests data from Craigslist postings by “indirect means,” meaning they aren’t subject to the Internet bulletin board’s terms of use.

Craigslist responded with a lawsuit filed in San Francisco’s federal court, accusing the two companies of “unlawfully and unabashedly mass-harvesting and redistributing postings entrusted by Craigslist users to their local Craigslist sites.”

CNET has contacted Craigslist for comment and will update this report when we learn more.

An interesting bit of inside-baseball technogeek real estate infighting.

Is is important? Only to the extent that Craigslist has become a massive marketing resource for real estate in general.