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Developments in Development: Pricey Coffee and Mondrian

June 27, 2016

By Laura Wenus : missionlocal – excerpt

Not the headline we need, but…hopefully not the headline we deserve? According to the Chronicle, “The $20 cup of coffee is here.” Make no mistake, it is one super-special brew. But as the Chron’s Jonathan Kauffman kindly explains, it’s not just about the quality of the bean (or the enormous distance it has traveled):

In many ways, $16 coffee is a food stunt, San Francisco’s version of the KFC Double Down or the Blueberry Pie Oreo. It is made to be discussed, even if half that discussion consists of “WTF NO WAY” tweets.

That’s right. San Francisco’s high-brow priceyness is now so key to its image that simply raising the price of an item can be considered a San Francisco Move. Good thing we still have a McDonald’s left in the Mission.

Okay, enough sniping about coffee. Here are the development things you might have missed this week: The battle over “by right” housing is heating up. That’s Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to skip certain local planning reviews for housing projects that meet baseline zoning and affordability requirements. At least one group of opponents to the plan will show up at City Hall on Monday.

At issue – The governor was hoping to spur Californian cities into building more housing. Affordability advocates hope to protect the process of public involvement in planning. Some also want to protect locally designated historic resources, since Brown’s proposal only considers a building historic if it’s on the state or national register. Another concern is that just because something is in the pipeline faster doesn’t mean it gets built any faster.

But the city’s current review process is pretty complex, sometimes because of recently passed legislation designed specifically to address the housing crisis. Case in point: This proposal for a seven-story, 53-unit building on 16th and Florida was approved by the city’s Planning Commission this week, but only after being delayed for a week for further discussion. Why? Because it was the first project affected by the Interim Controls the Planning Commission passed in January – controls meant to put a new level of scrutiny on development in the Mission to more closely examine projects’ impacts on housing supply and displacement pressures.

Those controls also require the developer to provide the Commission with information about how the project contributes to or mitigates the removal of production, distribution and repair (light industrial like auto shops and furniture manufacturing, for example) space.

Though the Commissioners appeared generally pleased with the developer’s report under the controls, they agreed additional discussion would be beneficial and had some concerns about the design of the project. At the first hearing, the project’s designers said the brightly colored panels are supposed to represent the vibrant culture and murals of the neighborhood, but one Commissioner said the facade reminded her not of the Mission but of the Dutch artist Mondrian, and one public commenter likened it to a stained-glass-tile lampshade.

And as for housing costs…is it possible we’ve topped out? Prices rose everywhere except in the Bay Area, reports the Chronicle’s Kathleen Pender. Condo sales in SoMa were particularly sluggish, which one realtor attributed to a slowdown in the tech sector.

But overall the real estate market is, of course, still quite hot. Here’s a fun (?) example: The Box Factory is back, now with expensive boxes to live in – A $1.3 million condo. Curbed reports the two-bedroom (with office that could be a guest room) is about to go on the market. The building was converted into lofts in 2001. Also, I spy with my bleary eye another visual Mondrian reference! So I guess that’s another kind of box you will encounter in the “box factory.”…(more)

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