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Through the cracks journalism

The latest catch.

Does S.F. tech firms shedding office space indicate a bubble?

April 25, 2015

By Cory Weinberg : bizjournals – excerpt

As a new skyline emerges in San Francisco, companies are putting their offices up for sublease

About 50,000 square feet of space in at 1455 Market St. just hit the market – a big block leased by the public advertising tech company Rocket Fuel. The brokerage Savills Studley said in a report that Rocket Fuel (NASDAQ:FUEL) is the kind of company subleasing space after “not expanding as quickly as anticipated or shedding a bit of payroll.” After the company’s revenue growth faltered, it said it wouldn’t hire as aggressively.
Rocket Fuel isn’t alone in shopping around its offices. The sublease market in San Francisco has suddenly ticked up, and sublease space now makes up the largest percentage of vacant space since the depths of the recession, according to new data by the brokerage Cushman & Wakefield. San Francisco and Silicon Valley lead the nation in sublease space as a percentage of vacancies – about 13 percent for each.
It’s a leading indicator important enough to raise eyebrows if it means that companies got too ambitious with their real estate needs and are shedding space – puncturing a hole in a potential office market bubble.
But market watchers aren’t jumping to that conclusion yet… (more)

Lies about market-rate housing

April 22, 2015

Originally posted on Grassroots Actions:

By Marc Salomon

Common sense talking points by developer boosters and lobbyists at SPUR, the Housing Action Coalition and the SF Bay Area Renters’ Association on why we need more market-rate luxury housing simply cannot withstand scrutiny.
Developers would never risk capital to build into a market that is saturated so that the price at sale is lower than the price at construction time, so market-rate housing does not lower the price.
Developers admit that building condo towers won’t make housing prices fall. One of San Francisco’s biggest new developments, 5M, proposes to add more than 900 units in South of Market at Fifth and Mission streets. The developer said that predictions are that prices will continue to increase 2 to 3 percent per year from now until the buildings are finished between 2019 and 2026.
According to the Planning Department, new market-rate housing does not pay its freight

View original 315 more words

Is growth always good? Has California reached its limit?

April 20, 2015

By Tim Redmond : 48hillsonline – excerpt

APRIL 6, 2015 – The New York Times is the only publication I’ve seen that is raising the critical question about the drought, the one nobody wants to talk about – and it was Kevin Starr, of all people, who put it in stark terms:

“Mother Nature didn’t intend for 40 million people to live here.”

In California, growth is God. The state has prospered by adding more and more industry, more and more people, more and more water-intensive suburban development, more and more water-intensive agriculture – more of everything. And we are predicting and basing our planning on the same assumptions: There will be 280,000 more people in San Francisco by 2040, 1.1 million more in the Bay Area. Tech companies will continue to expand here, creating vast numbers of jobs.

Of course, for people who currently own land, that’s a wonderful thing – the more people you cram into a small space, the more every square inch is worth and the richer the landlords get. But the Times asks a serious question:

Can California (and San Francisco, and the Bay Area) keep growing if there’s no water?

The Guv, who was once among the people who questioned the need for constant growth, is no longer there – but he understands the problem:

“For over 10,000 years, people lived in California, but the number of those people were never more than 300,000 or 400,000,” Mr. Brown said. “Now we are embarked upon an experiment that no one has ever tried: 38 million people, with 32 million vehicles, living at the level of comfort that we all strive to attain. This will require adjustment. This will require learning.”

It might require more than that. It might require us to question what the actual carrying capacity of the state is, and whether we should continue to worship at the altar of constant growth... (more)

A lot of people will soon be asking that question.

No Free Food at Art Openings in San Francisco. The San Francisco Department of Health wants to charge you for sharing food.

April 15, 2015

First they take your car, then your home, and now the right to feed people?
What next? Where does this end? We need changes at City Hall!

Not only have the city authorities given SFMTA the freedom to charge fines and fees at will, it now appears the San Francisco Department of Health has been given similar rights to make up new laws and charge fines and fees for things that we took for granted, like sharing food. Perhaps it is time to take a hard look at the authorities that the City has given to all their departments to charge the public at will. Perhaps that is a subject we should have with those running for elections and those in power now. Journalists, are you listening?


T H I S   J U S T   I N
SF Dept. of Public Health Regulations – Impact on Open Studios

Beverage Restriction for Open Studios (and all other Public events?

Private Event  =   A gathering that restricts entry by things like guest list checks at door or tickets required to get in.
Public Event  =  A gathering that does not have entry restrictions.

We have managed to establish with SFDPH that Open Studios are not just a public event, but a hybrid:  part public, part private.

Their regulations and fees apply to the public part.  This means:

1.  You may give food and beverages to your private clients and friends, i.e. people you know, but

2.  You may not give any food or beverages to the public, i.e. people you don’t know, without a permit, NOTHING, not even a store-bought, non-perishable, unopened, single-serve-packaged food or beverage item, like bottled water, or Hershey’s kiss, or fruit, NOTHING.

Therefore, without a permit, during OS:
— NO tables with snacks or drinks that anyone can walk up to and help themselves.
— Be aware who you hand a beverage or snack to– should only be to people you knew prior to this OS to avoid fines/penalties.

FYI, Health Inspectors have inspected our concessions every OS for a number of years.

Your Own Permit : OS is not an art fair that has a commercial sponsor.  Basically it’s a collective effort with each artist sponsoring his/her own OS.  In the public part of OS, you can be your own food sponsor and vendor (aka concessionaire or TFF) if you apply for a permit and pay fees in the 10’x10′ booth category.  You would also have to set up certain things in your studio per SFDPH regulations.  If interested, go to:

For Spring OS 2015
— it’s now the “late” application period.  Final deadline to apply for a permit to give food or beverages to the public is Friday, April 17.
— assuming there’s no problem with the applications I submitted last week, there will be a food truck (BBQ ) near Bldg.116, and vendors at 101 (tacos, coffee/smoothies, and a split shift of gyros 1 day and American the other).

If you and other artists decide to petition for an exception to the regs., the recourse is through the SF Health Commission:
Or maybe there will be a new idea that comes forward as artists wrap their brains around the impact of the SFDPH regulations.

Will the Giants rush to a new Wall on the Waterfront?

April 15, 2015

By and sfexaminer – exccerpt

In June, on the heels of voters’ rejection of luxury waterfront condos at 8 Washington St., San Francisco overwhelmingly approved Proposition B, which gave voters the right to approve increases in building heights on public waterfront land.

Five months later, 70 percent of voters approved a doubling of heights at Pier 70 — proving that neighborhood engagement, coupled with a well-conceived, publicly vetted plan, could achieve broad electoral support from San Franciscans suspicious of waterfront development.

Unfortunately, the Giants’ property development team may be ignoring the lessons of Pier 70. The Giants have been noticeably silent about their development plans for Seawall Lot 337, the publicly owned waterfront land south of AT&T Park now used for parking.

Press inquiries about the Mission Rock development project have been rebuffed, and there has been little outreach to nearby neighborhoods that have worked closely with the Port of San Francisco, The City and private developers on waterfront issues in past years.

When we finally got a chance to meet with the Giants last week, it became clear that the neighborhoods most affected, for better or worse, by the Mission Rock development will not have any real chance to weigh in on the project before the Giants decide whether to submit a proposed high-rise waterfront development for voter approval on this November’s ballot.

As a result, the Potrero Boosters Neighborhood Association and other neighborhood groups led the way to a citywide consensus vote that supported an increase to the building heights on the waterfront at Pier 70. So we have to ask: Why are the Giants considering a rush to the ballot in less than seven months instead of taking the time over the next year to work with the community to get this right?… (more)

J.R. Eppler is president and Tony Kelly is development committee chair of the Potrero Boosters Neighborhood Association.

Company Town Mayors, A Changing Valley

April 13, 2015

KQED – excerpt – (video clip)

Company Town Mayors
In this edition of KQED NEWSROOM, the mayors of Mountain View, Cupertino, Sunnyvale and East Palo Alto appear together to discuss how the tech boom is transforming these Silicon Valley cities. Host Scott Shafer talks with John McAlister, Rod Sinks, Jim Griffith and Lisa Yarbrough-Gauthier about the big issues facing their cities, from housing to transportation.

• John McAlister – Mountain View mayor
• Rod Sinks – Cupertino mayor
• Jim Griffith – Sunnyvale mayor
• Lisa Yarbrough-Gauthier – East Palo Alto mayor



April 13, 2015

Consuelo Mack : Wealthtrack – excerpt – (video clip)

Few investors have the prescience of this week’s Financial Thought Leader guest. Long before the 2008/2009 financial crisis he identified the powerful and destructive rise of what he called the “Shadow Banking System”, the unregulated institutions funding the housing and credit bubble.  He also coined the phrase “Minsky Moment”, after the economist Hyman Minsky’s theory that financial stability ultimately leads to financial instability, as people and institutions take on more risk. That is exactly what happened.

This week’s WEALTHTRACK guest is legendary bond trader, Federal Reserve watcher and economist, Paul McCulley who spent many years in the top ranks of bond giant PIMCO. What financial forces does he see gathering now?… (more)


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