Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Privacy? Circumspection? Privacy? Privacy? Fuggedaboutit.
And so with nary a care, Leah Garchik spills the beans about Gavin's new digs, with enough information (price, street) that any stalker worth his/her salt could track down the address in (oh ... say ...) about ten seconds.

I dunno. If I were someone who attracts stalkers like Gavin does, I'd be a bit annoyed at Ms Leah leaking the info just because she could.

Maybe it's just me.

(And, yes, even though I'm not a stalker, the challenge of the day -- after finishing the ***Sudoku and both crosswords -- was to track down Gavin's new address. And it didn't take that long. ...)

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Monday, February 02, 2009
An Extraordinary Home. Single Family located at 601 Dolores Street, Mission Dolores, San Francisco, California
An Extraordinary Home. Single Family located at 601 Dolores Street, Mission Dolores, San Francisco

1910. Former church. Now SFH. Check out the photo gallery. What parties I could have! I'd have room for all my books and more! Seismic retrofit. No longer on the City's Unreinforced Masonry Building list.

Formerly the Golden Gate Lutheran Church, this stunning Gothic Revival style building is now one of the most extraordinary and largest single family homes in San Francisco. This one-of-a-kind property features an enormous living area that includes the original sanctuary with soaring, coffered and hand-painted ceilings, arched windows framing Dolores Park as well as most of the original stained glass windows, custom mahogany wood finishes, four wood-burning fireplaces, a new chef's kitchen and a spacious dining room. The Master suite level features a marble Roman tub room, dressing room and incredible 360 degree views from the tower meditation room and deck. The home includes an expansive ground floor level that could be used as exhibition space, recording studio, gym and/or home office. There is also a garage that accommodates 4-6 cars.

Room for my books!

Be still my heart.

This is why every once in a blue moon I buy a Lotto ticket.

Oh, my. ...

$9,950,000 but I betcha they'd take $9m if I were paying cash.

Update: Looking at what he paid for it less than two years ago, back when it was a church. Yes, granted he did the transformation to SFH, reinforced the masonry and added all sorts of stuff, still ...

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008
House of the Week: Built for Art
House of the Week: Built for Art

Have art? Have I got a place for you.

Holmby Hills. (Think crusty Bing Crosby neighborhood. Aaron Spelling, Tori's über rich dad, bought the Crosby estate and scraped it to build a home for his oversized ego. 46K sq ft. 123 rooms. That kind of neighborhood.)

3BED 5BA (and a powder room!)

11K sq ft


Check out pic 6/7. Designer designed an ugly bedroom, eh?

[WSJ via Curbed SF]

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008
San Francisco Real Estate ... the sales effort
Found a 9x14" (or whatever) envelope in today's mail from Pacific Union/GMAC Real Estate, from our buddies Steve (Steven Mavromihalis) and John (John Fitzgerald). Cover letter is signed (really) with first names only.

Steve and John are shopping the sixth floor of the C. Alfred Meussdorffer-designed 1800 Gough. (1800 Gough units are full-floor.)

Steve and John sent us an eight-page full-color brochure with drop-caps and lovely copywriting, describing the Fujitso Plasma HDTV, the Yamaha MusicCast audio system, the ceiling mounted speakers, the kitchen, the bedrooms, the "welcome and dramatic sense of arrival ... opens to a secure elevator vestibule finished in exquisite black lacquer wood and featuring a unique silver leaf ceiling," "The residence becomes simply magical as dusk falls and the golden dome of City Hall becomes the centerpiece, glowing amongst the backdrop of San Francisco."

For those reading from afar, this is code-speak that 1800 Gough is on the southern slope of Pacific Heights, facing the City and not the Bay (or the Golden Gate Bridge, or Alcatraz, or ... well, you get the idea.)

Nowhere in the brochure is the price mentioned because, well, because prices have been known to change and who knows how big a print-run Steve and John had for the brochure.

"Dramatic City skyline views, peering towards Russian Hill and beyond to the Transamerica Tower and the Oakland Hills.

The range is a six burner Thermador (meaning "gas," I assume. I'd never buy this place without gas cooking in place).

I looked at all the pics. Found one I thought Ms. Paula would rilly like. Checked out the price.


Um. No.

And, alas, the pic I thought Ms. Paula would really like isn't on the Web site. The pic was of the walk-in closet for the master bedroom (which has TWO bathrooms so you don't have to squabble over who gets the sink first when you're brushing your teeth before beddie-bye).

The walk-in closet shoe shelving built-ins appear to carry six-plus pairs per shelf. Twelve shelves showing in the pics. WE'RE TALKING ROOM FOR SEVENTY-TWO-PLUS PAIRS OF SHOES.

Oh. My. [fanning self]

(How did our name get on Steve and John's list of potential buyers?)

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Thursday, May 08, 2008
You can't go home again. ...
14 April 2006, two days before my dad died, escrow closed on the home where I'd spent the majority of my life, where I'd lived over twice as long as I'd lived in my childhood home.

We were without question out of the bucolic ville and into the City.

We'd drive by when we were in the area. The tall poles with orange netting showing the outlines of the house-to-be went up, then tipped and tilted after the winter storms. The renters who moved in shortly after escrow closed moved out around the time the orange netting went up. Bellecourt was vacant, tree fall littering the circular drive. The house that his nibs and his father had helped build was in limbo, just waiting for permits to go through before ... before what? We were hoping maybe it would be just a remodel, yes, a major remodel but maybe one where the bones of the place were still visible if you squinted just right. Maybe?

Months. A year went by. Maybe the buyers had run out of money. Maybe they'd changed their minds.

I drove past the old place last week to find cyclone fencing around the entire acre property. A construction truck parked out front. Port-a-potty for the crew. Came home and told his nibs that the house was still standing though.

His nibs just got a note from old friend that his wife drove by and the house has been demolished, scraped, gone-gone-gone in preparation for the new construction.


Even if we win the lottery, we can't go home again.


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Monday, September 17, 2007
HUGE Potential as writers' retreat
Asha's back. Her blog pics today are of Tonopah, Nevada.

Tonopah. Check it out! It's not just an alliterative town name found in an old Lowell George song.

And I've been from Tucson to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonopah
Driven every kind of rig that's ever been made
Driven the backroads so I wouldn't get weighed
And if you give me weed, whites and wine
And you show me a sign
And I'll be willin' to be movin' *

(* as sung not only by Little Feat but also by Ronstadt and others)

Asha noted that the Grand Old Lady of Tonopah, the Mizpah Hotel, is For Sale! [PDF]

Sounds perfect for a writers' retreat, doesn't it? Out in the middle of nowhere, halfway between Las Vegas and Reno. Two bars. (for those convivial evenings) Two restaurants. (soze you don't have to go far to find eats). No gaming license. (fewer distractions for you)

Gutted and rebuilt in 1976.

56 rooms, including 6 parlor suites, all with private baths and thermostatically controlled heating and air conditioning. Fine Brussels carpeting was laid throughout, new stained glass windows were hand-crafted for the first floor and the finest of wall paper was hung on all of the walls. The exterior was given a face lift and park benches and iron lighting fixtures installed along the sidewalk. The old bowling alley and other buildings were also incorporated into the expansion.

On the National Registry of Historic Places. Resident ghosts! Wyatt Earp tended bar here! Dempsey worked as a bouncer!

Take a look at Asha's Tonopah photos and travelogue.

ONLY $1.5m for the Mizpah Hotel! Perfect writers' retreat, I think.

What'd'ya think?

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Saturday, August 04, 2007
HOA $3212.19/month
If price is no nevermind and killer views are a must: 2500 Steiner St #11 is on the market.

Asking price: $6.75m

Association dues: $3212.19/month

"Views, Views, Views! 3 bedrooms plus library, 3 baths, plus maids room and bath."

4K sq ft, mas o menos, although the listing doesn't tell you that.

The Chron had a nice little feature about the building last June. Susie Tompkins Buell lives upstairs, in the penthouse.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007
Google Maps street view
A lot's been said about the "street view" recently made available with Google Maps. Invasion of privacy? How did they get inside the gated community to do their driveby? How can they just take pictures of people and put them up on the Web without asking permission? and yadda and so forth.

What hasn't been talked about (much) are the new uses the street view is being used for.

Example primo: blog post today from SocketSite: San Francisco real estate tips, trends and the local scoop: "Plug In" to SocketSite™

SocketSite covered a "for sale" listing for an unreinforced masonry three bedroom one-and-a-half bath single family home at 645 Hyde listed at $965K.

The comments came thick and furious. (Two of them, in fact, were mine.) Comments about the neighborhood (the Tenderloin) and the local drug wars and other crime. Comments about the noise. Comments about the "courtyard" and why-are-there-no-pictures-of-the-inside? Comments about the cost to reinforce an UMB (and you would want to, wouldn't you, in this bucolic village?)

Someone popped in with a "Google street view also shows a massive smokestack rising from behind the building, it is missing in the MLS pictures." Which it is, not due to eliding the stack from the photos but due to clever photo cropping.

Conversation continued re what the smokestack was ("Station S. Located at 1 Meacham Place. Equipped with three boilers: one in operation producing 65,000 lb/hr of steam and two that are installed and permitted but not currently in use. All boilers are fueled 100 percent by natural gas; No. 2 diesel is available as a backup fuel." ... Meacham Place is the alley immediately to the rear of the building that's for sale)

I wouldn't have thought (although from now on I probably will) to use Google street view to check out the surrounds of any listing I'm halfway curious about.

Any other interesting uses for Google street view? Probably so.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007
Update: 2007 San Francisco Idea House
A green bird told me that Sunset Magazine has postponed the opening of the San Francisco Idea House to an unspecified time

No word at the Sunset Magazine site as to when the house will open.

"Check back often," they say.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007
2007 San Francisco Idea House
2007 San Francisco Idea House brought to you by Sunset Magazine and Meridian Builders & Developers, Inc. The house is green green green and LEED-certified.

Open August 17th-August 21st, 2007;
Friday, Saturday and Sunday 9am-5pm
Last ticket sold at 4:30 PM
Tickets only sold at the house on Open House days
No Credit Cards, cash and check only
General - $20
Seniors (60) - $15 (Friday only)
Children 6-12 - $10
5/under - free

For those planning to go who do not plan to drive, check with and ask how to take public transit from your starting point to 25th and Alabama.

... not that Sunset or any of the blurbs will tell you that that is where you want to end up. Nooooo. Sunset only tells you where the shuttle parking area is and how to drive to the shuttle parking area.

Excuse me? Where exactly is this house you're showing off? Somewhere in the Mission District? Near enough to the shuttle-based parking? But where?

Does Sunset have any easy-to-find e-addr on the Sunset site for me to send a suggestion that they add some information about public transit in a town where many people would rather not drive their cars to the Sunset San Francisco Idea House and may, in fact, not even own a private vehicle?

[Web design pet peeve #31: Web sites that don't have easy-to-find contact information.]

My trip will start at the SW corner of Broadway & Montgomery where I catch the #12/Chavez & Mission and ride to Folsom St & 25th, where I'll get off and walk five blocks east to Alabama. Total travel time: 39 minutes. No transfers. Easy peasy.

When we get closer to the day, I'll check out specifics like when the #12 is supposed to arrive at the SW corner of Broadway & Montgomery on the day I decide to go. (Ah, yes. Hope springs eternal.)

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Monday, July 09, 2007
Now that is just unimaginable.
Regarding my real estate lust for 1417 15th St and my lack of $3.25m to spare, Christine commented: Monthly payments of $21,600. Now that is just unimaginable.

The monthly payments include mortgage (after a $650K down payment), insurance AND taxes. What a bargain.

But say you don't have $650K for a down payment and you want a really nice place, good location (even though it's near impossible to walk to any place that serves dinner and parking is extra).

You could lease the commander's house at the Presidio: 7 bedrooms, 4.5 baths. Nice large public rooms with space for HUGE parties for all your friends. A large basement. Restored. 4100 sq ft. "Only" $15K/month.


For your $15K/month you get a space to set your worldly goods. You have no equity. You earn no equity out of your monthly payment. You get no property tax write-off. You get no nothing, except for a lovely place to stay.

In fact, the Presidio leases its prime buildings like this at whatever the traffic will bear, so $15K/month is just the base rate. If two people want the place, they can bid up the lease price even higher.

Ah, the American Way.

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Monday, July 02, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
21 Napier Lane. Eight DOM
Bumped into one of our local Realtors last night at the annual Best of the Bay Area fundraiser/party/see-and-be-seen.

We'd last seen Jeffrey at an open house down the way on Sunday. We'd poked through the place. Three units. Top unit is vacant and has been rehabbed. We introduced ourselves to a new tenant/neighbor who moved in less than a month ago into the middle unit. Tenant/neighbor works at Linden Labs and can walk to work. His unit is in a more original state than the vacant upper unit. We didn't see the bottom unit.

Last night Jeffrey told us the place we'd been through was in escrow.

Eight days on the market before getting a signed offer.

Downturn anyone?

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Monday, June 25, 2007
Will not rent (really!) to people from Belgium
From Craigslist via Curbed SF

Room for a Woman in a No Guests Place

... and please if you decide to rent this furnished bedroom from this piano teacher, don't come to me a month down the road, crying and twisting your hanky.

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S.F. condo rules snarl FBI agent's plans
S.F. condo rules snarl FBI agent's plans
by Adam Martin, The Examiner

The buyer is suing everyone involved, it seems. Who do you think is at fault here?
  • The brother of the deceased owner, who sold the place at market price when it was a restricted Below Market unit? [maybe he didn't know]

  • The buyer (an attorney) for not checking the title report that showed the restriction? [maybe she lets her "people" deal with the details when it's not a court case]

  • The real estate folks on both the seller and buyer side who didn't check into whether the unit was a Below Market unit? [anything to do with the commission being based on sale price?]

  • The appraiser who didn't check whether there were Below Market restrictions and appraised it at market price?

  • The butcher?

  • The baker?

  • The candlestick maker?
The comments tail is a doozie.

[via Curbed SF]

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For sale: 366 Lovell, Mill Valley
Have $4.395m to spare? Check out 366 Lovell

I especially like the open doors onto the deck, and the view.

Ah, well.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007
Dashiell Hammett's old studio apartment is up for sale
Dashiell Hammett's old studio apartment is up for sale.

(That would be me that refers to as their "plugged-in reader.")

307 sq ft. *only* $249K

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Friday, June 01, 2007
Mount Madonna School Dream House Raffle
Tomorrow's the big day: the drawing for the Mount Madonna School Dream House Raffle.

If all 32K tickets had been sold (or even if 26,500 tickets had been sold), the Grand Prize winner would have had to make the choice of either a home (appraised value $1.8m) in Santa Cruz, CA, or $1.5m cash.

TPTB just got back to me to say that the school sold over 19K tickets (at $150 a pop) and so, didn't meet the minimum for the house prize. Instead the lesser cash prizes will be awarded tomorrow, starting at 2 p.m., and at 4 p.m. the Grand Prize winner will be awarded half the net proceeds. My correspondent estimated that, after expenses and lesser prizes, the Grand Prize winner will walk away with approximately $1 million (before taxes).

Which means, of course, that the school gets the other half -- $1 million -- to help pay off the debt owed on their new campus and to use for expanding the "educational opportunities for students."

Sure beats a bake sale.

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Friday, April 27, 2007
2901 Broadway, SF
The folks selling 2901 Broadway (Broadway at Baker) have finally come up with a price. (They originally said the place was priceless and anyone wanting to buy it would have to come up with an offer that reflected what it was worth.)

Price? $55m

SFNewsletter has an entertaining take (Comparison Shopping) on the price. Puts the price in perspective, doesn't it?

Reminds me of those descriptions of a trillion dollars and how many times a trillion dollar bills laid end to end would wrap around the Earth. (four thousand times)

Some history on 2901 Broadway.

Real estate porn from the listing agents.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007
TICs and Andy Sirkin, Attorney
I'm not a huge TIC fan. I can't imagine ever buying a TIC unit. Sure, I know. TICs are usually a chunk of change cheaper than a similar condominium, but the legal squirreliness involved with TIC agreements and the funding behind them just shiver me timbers.

And yet. ... There are those who buy TICs and there are those with questions about TICs who need the straight scoop about what they're getting into.

Anyone with questions about TICs (apartment units sold to buyers who own the entire building as Tenants In Common) should not ask the agent who was showing two TICs that we went through today.

Potential buyers who didn't even know the difference between a condominium and a TIC were peppering her with questions. That agent was glossing over the drawbacks of TICs, giving misleading information about the ease of converting to condominiums, and other forked-tongue exercises. She claimed that the City limited the number of TICs that could convert to condominiums each year because the City wanted to keep rental units available and not have the City fill up with condominiums.


Well. No, I can't even say, "kinda." There is no law against renting out a condominium. A TIC doesn't have to be owner-occupied. Neither does a condominium. I don't know where the agent was getting her information, but she was blowing smoke on this and on other TIC/condo conversion matters too.

The rules about TICs and TIC conversions go far beyond what the agent was telling the naifs who were taking her word as gospel. There's a history behind the rules and regulations governing TICs and condo conversions in this fair ville and it's nothing like the gloss-over she was giving her potential buyers.

Read up on the issues swirling around TICs and then if you have questions (and you should), head over to Andy Sirkin, Attorney's site. Sirkin is the guy who wrote the book (and the agreements) and is the go-to guy for TICs.

Don't rely on the word-of-mouth not-legally-binding schmooze from a real estate agent trying to sell a TIC. Get your information straight from Sirkin, no frills, no trussssssssst me, no BS.

... and before you make an offer on that TIC you have an eye on, find yourself a real estate agent other than the one selling the property to represent you in the transaction. Both real estate agents are paid by the seller, but the one representing you will have more of your interests at heart than the one representing the seller.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007
No condos there, nope. No church, nope. Nothing.
Nothing but a tired, old, rundown crenellated building ... until decided the old Armory would be a perfect site for their offices and for filming kinky movies. paid $14.5 million for the 200K sq ft landmark built in 1914.

The neighborhood's aghast, but really has no say in the matter: is sprucing up thirty years of neglect but has no plans to alter the building and doesn't have to go before planning or the landmarks commission. The up-in-arms folks have no one to blame but those who shot down every development proposal for the Armory that came down the pike since the National Guard vacated the building in 1975.

The purchase (and the ensuing uproar) even made the Wall Street Journal! The Journal's article is password-protected, but the Chicago Daily Herald was nice enough to pick up the article, allowing us to read it.

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Monday, January 15, 2007
Corner of Lombard and Hyde
Don wasn't quite sure where he'd been the other day, when he wished he'd had his camera with him.

I suspect he was at the corner of Lombard and Hyde. [photos follow]

Yesterday we spent our Sunday afternoon doing the usual: looking at

(1) quaint studio cottage on Kearny, just south of Filbert, 'neath Coit Tower. Cobbled together from four earthquake cottages. Sold furnished. $779K. No parking, of course. No views.

(2) 401 Union St #101. A nice 1BR/1BA condo at Union and Kearny. Parking. $595K, which comes to a price per sq ft of $792.28. Agent said he already had two prospective offers and another agent was bringing by a client. Good deal, he said, in a nice neighborhood, when I asked him what he really thought of the price.

(3) $6.5m house for sale up on Russian Hill (owner, she of Legally Blonde, has moved to LA). For $6.5m I'd expect a more dazzling view than just interrupted snippets of the Golden Gate Bridge. Nice roof deck. Sound system throughout. Lovely wood floors. Delightful custom artwork on the walls of the young child's room. (Owl and the Pussycat, Dish and Spoon, piggies, &c.) Far more bookcases that I usually see in a house, but ... $6.5m? I don't care if it is huge and historic, a Pueblo Revival house designed by Charles F. Whittlesey, one of the houses on Russian Hill built for Norman Banks Livermore. THERE IS NO ZILLION DOLLAR VIEW. This place is not worth $6.5m without a view.

Wandered further until it was time to head home before heading out to dinner.

These photos were taken yesterday (Sunday) from the corner of Lombard (that crookedest street) and Hyde (where the Hyde Street Cable Car runs down to the Bay). Sunny day. I happened to have my camera with me.

Click on photos for larger images.

Looking east toward Telegraph Hill. You can see the red cranes behind Yerba Buena Island and the new Bay Bridge eastern span under construction. Cone-shaped Mount Diablo in the far distance.

Looking north toward Alcatraz.

If the day had been slower, if there hadn't been cars barreling up Hyde from the Bay and cars inching onto Lombard from three directions, if I hadn't had my doubts whether people would notice me standing in their way, I would've done what some other hardy souls did, I would've stood in the middle of Hyde to take the picture of Alcatraz, but, instead, you get this picture with a bit of tree on both sides.

Lovely day, though.

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: views from the Hill

Bertold Brecht:   
Everything changes. You can make
A fresh start with your final breath.
But what has happened has happened. And the water
You once poured into the wine cannot be
Drained off again.

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