Tag Archives: San Francisco

San Francisco “Poop Patrollers” Make $185,000

We wish we could say this was a satire piece, but a new story in the San Francisco Chronicle reveals just how lucrative collecting shit actually is

It’s but the latest in a string of shocking revelations to hit headlines throughout the summer exposing how deep San Francisco’s crisis of vast amounts of vagrant-generated feces covering its public streets actually runs (no pun intended). 

We detailed last week how city authorities have finally decided to do something after thousands of feces complaints (during only one week in July, over 16,000 were recorded), the cancellation of a major medical convention and an outraged new Mayor, London Breed, who was absolutely shocked after walking through her city: they established a professional “poop patrol”.

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As described when the city initially unveiled the plan, the patrol will consist of a team of five staffers and a supervisor donning protective gear and patrolling the alleys around Polk Street and other “brown zones” in search of everything from hepatitis-laden Hershey squirts to worm-infested-logs. At the Poop Patrol’s disposal will be a special vehicle equipped with a steam cleaner and disinfectant.

The teams will begin their shifts in the afternoon, spotting and cleaning piles of feces before the city receives complaints in order “to be proactive” in the words of the Public Works director Mohammed Nuru, co-creator of the poop patrol initiative. 

While at first glance it doesn’t sound like the type of job people will be knocking down human resources doors to apply for, the SF Chronicle has revealed just how much each member of this apparently elite “poop patrol” team will cost the city: $184,678 in salary and benefits.

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The surprisingly high figure is buried in the middle of the SF Chronicle’s story on Mayor London Breed’s morning walks along downtown streets with her staff, unannounced beforehand to her police force and department heads so she can view firsthand what common citizens endure on a daily basis. 

After quoting Mayor Breed, who acknowledges, “We’re spending a lot of money to address this problem,” the following San Francisco Public Works budget items are presented:

  • A $72.5 million-a-year street cleaning budget
  • $12 million a year on what essentially have become housekeeping services for homeless encampments
  • $2.8 million for a Hot Spots crew to wash down the camps and remove any bio-hazards
  • $2.3 million for street steam cleaners
  • $3.1 million for the Pit Stop portable toilets
  • $364,000 for a four-member needle team
  • An additional $700,000 set aside for a 10-member, needle cleanup squad, complete with it’s own minivan

And crucially, there’s now “the new $830,977-a-year Poop Patrol to actively hunt down and clean up human waste.”

The SF Chronicle casually notes in parenthesis, “By the way, the poop patrolers earn $71,760 a year, which swells to $184,678 with mandated benefits.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/San_Francisco_s__poop_patrol.jpg?itok=t01wpbhi

Though we’re sure the city’s giant $11.5 billion budget can handle the burgeoning clean-up costs, likely to blow up even further, we’re not sure how property owners paying hefty land and sales taxes which have soared over the past years will react. 

And with limited spots open on the new poop patrol team, and at a salary and benefits package approaching $200K, we can imagine people might give second thought to the prospect of shoveling shit on a professional basis

Perhaps the only question that remains is, what kind of resumé does one have to have to rise to the top of pile? 

Source: ZeroHedge

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Seasoned Silicon Valley Techies Struggle On Six-Figure Salaries

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Several Silicon Valley employees, including a software engineer for Twitter who made a $160,000 salary, were mocked online after complaining about their living standards in an article for The Guardian.

In the article, entitled “Scraping by on six figures? Tech workers feel poor in Silicon Valley’s wealth bubble,” the employee complained that his six-figure salary was “pretty bad” for the area.

“I didn’t become a software engineer just to make ends meet,” proclaimed the employee“Families are priced out of the market.”

“The biggest cost is his $3,000 rent – which he said is ‘ultra cheap’ for the area – for a two-bedroom house in San Francisco, where he lives with his wife and two children,” reported The Guardian sympathetically. “He’d like a slightly bigger place, but finds himself competing with groups of twenty somethings happy to share accommodation while paying up to $2,000 for a single room.”

“Prohibitive costs have displaced teachers, city workers, firefighters and other members of the middle class, not to mention low-income residents,” they continued. “Now techies, many of whom are among the highest 1% of earners, are complaining they, too, are being priced out.”

The Guardian also covered other Silicon Valley employees in the piece who were earning “between $100,000 and $700,000 a year” but still allegedly had trouble “making ends meet.”

“One Apple employee was recently living in a Santa Cruz garage, using a compost bucket as a toilet. Another tech worker, enrolled in a coding boot camp, described how he lived with 12 other engineers in a two-bedroom apartment rented via Airbnb,” The Guardian reported.

“It was $1,100 for a fucking bunk bed and five people in the same room. One guy was living in a closet, paying $1,400 for a ‘private room,’” one man complained, while a female employee added, “We make over $1m between us, but we can’t afford a house… This is part of where the American dream is not working out here.”

Other established San Francisco residents mocked tech employees for their complaints.

“Scraping by in the Bay Area on a six-figure salary sure must be difficult!joked San Francisco Chronicle reporter Lizzie Johnson.

Source: By Charlie Nash | Breitbart

Rare Video Footage from 1906 Shows Amazing Bustle of San Francisco’s Market Street

A Trip Down Market Street‘ was shot on April 14, 1906, just four days before the San Francisco earthquake and fire, to which the negative was nearly lost. It was produced by moving picture photographers the Miles brothers (Harry, Herbert, Earle and Joe). Harry J. Miles hand-cranked the Bell & Howell camera which was placed on the front of a streetcar during filming on Market Street from 8th, in front of the Miles Studios, to the Ferry building.

A few days later the Miles brothers were en route to New York when they heard news of the earthquake. They sent the negative to NY, and returned to San Francisco to discover that their studios were destroyed.

Filmed during the era of silent film, Sound Designer and Engineer Mike Upchurch added sound to enhance the incredible video and immerse viewers into the hustle and bustle of San Francisco’s Market Street at the turn of the 20th century. Upchurch adds:

Automobile sounds are all either Ford Model T, or Model A, which came out later, but which have similarly designed engines, and sound quite close to the various cars shown in the film. The horns are slightly inaccurate as mostly bulb horns were used at the time, but were substituted by the far more recognizable electric “oogaa” horns, which came out a couple years later. The streetcar sounds are actual San Francisco streetcars. Doppler effect was used to align the sounds.

Market Street – San Francisco 1906 – After the Earthquake – DashCam View – Silent

Source: Twisted Sifter

Blackstone Deal Hammers San Francisco Commercial Real Estate

Signs of a bust pile up.

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Private-Equity firm Blackstone Group is planning to acquire Market Center in San Francisco, a 720,000 square-foot complex that consists of a 21-story tower and a 40-story tower.

The seller, Manulife Financial in Canada, had bought the property in September 2010, near the bottom of the last bust. In its press release at the time, it said that it “identified San Francisco as one of several potential growth areas for our real estate business and we are optimistic about the possibilities.” It raved that the buildings, dating from 1965 and 1975, had been “extensively renovated and modernized with state-of-the-art systems in the last few years….” It paid $265 million, or $344 per square foot.

After a six-year boom in commercial real-estate in San Francisco, and with near-impeccable timing, Manulife put the property on the market in February with an asking price of $750 per square foot – a hoped-for gain of 118%!

Now the excellent Bay Area real estate publication, The Registry, reported that Blackstone Real Estate Partners had agreed to buy it for $489.6 million, or $680 per square foot, “according to sources familiar with the transaction.” The property has been placed under contract, but the deal hasn’t closed yet.

If the deal closes, Manulife would still have a 6-year gain of nearly 100%. But here is a sign, one more in a series, that the phenomenal commercial real estate bubble is deflating: the selling price is 9.3% below asking price!

The property is 92% leased, according to The Registry. Alas, among the largest tenants is Uber, which recently acquired the Sears building in Oakland and is expected to move into its new 330,000 sq-ft digs in a couple of years, which may leave Market Center scrambling for tenants at perhaps the worst possible time.

It’s already getting tough

Sublease space in San Francisco in the first quarter “has soared to its highest mark since 2010,” according to commercial real estate services firm Savills Studley. Sublease space is the red flag. Companies lease excess office space because they expect to grow and hire and thus eventually fill this space. They warehouse this space for future use because they think there’s an office shortage despite the dizzying construction boom underway. This space sits empty, looming in the shadow inventory. When pressure builds to cut expenses, it hits the market overnight, coming apparently out of nowhere. With other companies doing the same, it creates a glut, and lease rates begin to swoon.

Manulife might have seen the slowdown coming

Tech layoffs in the four-county Bay Area doubled for the first four months this year, compared to the same period last year, according to a report by Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner, cited by The Mercury News, “in yet another sign of a slowdown in the booming Bay Area economy.”

Announced layoffs in the counties of San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Alameda jumped to 3,135, from 1,515 in the same period in 2015, and from 1,330 in 2014 — based on the mandatory filings under California’s WARN Act. But…

The number of layoffs in the tech sector is undoubtedly larger, because WARN notices do not include cuts by many smaller companies and startups. In addition, notices of layoffs of fewer than 50 people at larger companies aren’t required by the act.

The filings also don’t take attrition into account – when jobs disappear without layoffs. “There is a lot of that,” Vitner explained. “When businesses begin to clamp down on costs, one of the first things they do is say, ‘Let’s put in a hiring freeze.’ I feel pretty certain that if you had a pickup in layoffs, then hiring slowed ahead of that.”

And hiring has slowed down. According to Vitner’s analysis of state employment data, Bay Area tech firms added only 800 jobs a month in the first quarter – half of the 1,600 a month they’d added in 2015 and less than half of the 1,700 a month in 2014.

“Employment in the tech sector has clearly decelerated over the past three months,” he said. “As job growth slows and the cost of living remains as high as it is, that’s going to put many people in a difficult position.”

It’s going to put commercial real estate into a difficult position as well. During the boom years, the key rationalization for the insane prices and rents has been the rapid growth of tech jobs. Now, the slowdown in hiring and the growth in layoffs come just when the construction boom is coming into full bloom, and as sublease space gets dumped on the market.

Here’s what a real estate investor — at the time co-founder of a company they later sold — told me about real estate during the dotcom bust. All tenants should write this in nail polish on their smartphone screens:

It was funny in 2000 because the rent market was still moving up. We rejected our extension option, hired a broker, and started looking around. As months went on, we kept finding more and more, better and better space while our existing landlord refused to renegotiate a lower renewal. We went from a “B” building to an “A” building at half the rent with hundreds of thousands of dollars of free furniture.

The point is that tenants are normally the last to find out that rents are dropping.

“All it takes is a couple of big tech companies folding and the floodgates open, causing the sublease market to blow up, rents to drop, and new construction to grind to a halt,” Savills Studley mused in its Q1 report on San Francisco. Read…  “Market is on Edge”: US Commercial Real Estate Bubble Pops, San Francisco Braces for Brutal Dive

by Wolf Richter | Wolf Street

House Prices In ‘Gayborhoods’ Have Soared 20% In Three Years

Commercial Street in Provincetown on Cape Cod.

Gay Americans can take pride in these house prices.

Over the last three years, home prices in neighborhoods popular with cohabiting, married or partnered gay men have grown by an average of 23%, according to research by the real-estate website Trulia. Similarly, prices have risen in neighborhoods that are popular with cohabiting, married or partnered gay women — by an average of 18%. “In honor of Gay Pride this year [the last weekend in June in many U.S. cities], we wanted to revisit these neighborhoods and find out what’s changed,” says Trulia housing economist Ralph McLaughlin.

Among the areas characterized as male “gayborhoods,” prices rocketed 65% to $260 per square foot in the 92262 ZIP Code of Palm Springs, Calif., between 2012 and 2015 and rose 47% to $768 in the 94131 ZIP Code, which comprises the Noe Valley, Glen Park and Diamond Heights neighborhoods of San Francisco. One theory: “If you are not raising children, you have two male incomes and have more money to devote to improve their home environment,” says Gary Gates, a demographer and research director of the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the University of California.

Among neighborhoods popular with lesbians, prices rose 64% to $389 per square foot in the Redwood Heights/Skyline area of Oakland, Calif.

Many of these neighborhoods are in metro areas that have also experienced sharp price gains. But housing in almost all of the so-called gayborhoods was more expensive than in nearby sections, Trulia found. Homes in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco cost $948 per square foot, which is 34% more expensive than the San Francisco metro area as a whole, while West Hollywood, Calif., and Provincetown, Mass., are 123% and 119% more expensive, respectively. Guerneville, Calif., was the only area less expensive than its wider metro-area comparable, but only by 2%.

Where gay men’s neighborhoods are getting more expensive
ZIP Code and city Median price per sq. foot, June 2012 Median price per sq. foot, June 2015 % change in price per sq. foot, June 2012–June 2015
92262: Palm Springs, Calif. $158 $260 65%
94131: Noe Valley/Glen Park/Diamond Heights, San Francisco $522 $768 47%
92264: Palm Springs, Calif. $174 $240 38%
48069: Pleasant Ridge, suburban Detroit $137 $188 37%
94114: Castro, San Francisco $699 $948 36%
90069: West Hollywood, Los Angeles $611 $802 31%
75219: Oak Lawn, Dallas $185 $225 22%
33305: Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. $249 $292 17%
19971: Rehoboth Beach, Del. $193 $203 5%
02657: Provincetown, Cape Cod, Mass. $604 $616 2%
Average for all gay men’s neighborhoods $188 $238 23%
Note: Only ZIP Codes with at least 1,000 persons are included in the analysis. Average growth rate is weighted by number of gay households, so the listed percentage increase is different than the simple percentage change between average price per foot in 2012 and 2015. Data in this report are different from our report in June 2012 because of new MSA definitions and observed time period of listings (month vs. previous year in the June 2012 report)

Using the 2010 Census, McLaughlin calculated the share of households with same-sex couples in every ZIP Code. Focusing on the top 10 among these ZIP Codes, he then calculated the median price per foot of homes for sale in each ZIP Code on Trulia as of June 1, 2015, and compared it with June 1, 2012. He excluded neighborhoods with populations of less than 1,000. Gayborhoods are defined in the census as those with the highest proportion of same-sex cohabiting couples. (The census doesn’t measure sexual orientation.)

Why the discrepancy in price growth between the two? “The top gay-men neighborhoods are places where prices were already high relative to their metros and were not hit as hard during the housing crash as other less expensive neighborhoods,” McLaughlin says. Gay female couples are more than twice as likely to have children as are gay male couples, he adds, “so it could be that gay women seek up-and-coming neighborhoods with good schools to raise their children.”

Many of the neighborhoods on the list of gayborhoods are also places where people are less likely to have children, Gates says. “This survey is picking up neighborhoods where proportionally, fewer households have children in them,” Gates says. “This survey could be picking up a very practical economic reality.” Wellfleet and Provincetown, both on Cape Cod in Massachusetts; Rehoboth Beach, Del.; and Palm Springs are also popular among retirement communities, he says. “The Castro in San Francisco, while popular with both gay men and lesbians, is not high for child-friendly amenities for families,” he says.

Where gay women’s neighborhoods are getting more expensive
ZIP Code and city Median price per sq. foot, June 2012 Median price per sq. foot, June 2015 % change in price per sq. foot, June 2012–June 2015
94619: Redwood Heights/Skyline, Oakland, Calif. $237 $389 64%
30002: Avondale Estates, suburban Atlanta $114 $173 52%
02130: Jamaica Plain, Boston $303 $414 37%
94114: Castro, San Francisco $699 $948 36%
95446: Guerneville, north of San Francisco $270 $335 24%
01060: Northampton, Mass. $197 $216 10%
19971: Rehoboth Beach, Del. $193 $203 5%
01062: Northampton, Mass. $190 $196 3%
02657: Provincetown, Cape Cod, Mass. $604 $616 2%
02667: Wellfleet, Cape Cod, Mass. $326 $323 -1%
Average for all gay women’s neighborhoods $133 $157 18%
Note: Only ZIP Codes with at least 1,000 persons are included in the analysis. Average growth rate is weighted by number of gay households, so the listed percentage increase is different than the simple percentage change between average price per foot in 2012 and 2015. Data in this report are different from our report in June 2012 because of new MSA definitions and observed time period of listings (month vs. previous year in the June 2012 report)

There are other possible limitations to house-price rises within a gayborhood. A neighborhood may need to be “socially liberal” for an increase in same-sex households to increase house prices, a 2011 study by researchers at Konkuk University in Seoul and Tulane University in New Orleans found. They looked at Columbus, Ohio, and, adjusting for factors such as housing, crime and school quality, analyzed house prices with how residents voted in a 2004 ballot initiative on the Defense of Marriage Act. They found a “positive and significant” impact on prices, but only in more liberal locales.

Diversity is good for the economic development of cities and housing prices, according to Richard Florida, an urban theorist and author of “The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community, and Everyday Life,” a book that was republished last year a decade after it was first released.

Florida found that high-tech hot spots followed the locational patterns of gay people. Other measures he created, such as the Bohemian Index, which measured the prevalence of artists, writers and performers, had similar results. “Artistic and gay populations,” he wrote, “cluster in communities that value open-mindedness and self-expression.”

By Quentin Fottrell. Read more in Market Watch

Ramshackle San Francisco home sells for $1.2 million

This San Francisco fixer-upper proves the old real estate adage, “Location, location, location.”

by Daniel Goldstein  Click here to see more images of the home.

The tale of this otherwise humble two-story home selling for more than $1.2 million has gone viral and has much of the real-estate chattering class talking.

“This is not a joke,” wrote SFist’s Jay Barmann. “[T]his is the world we live in.” He called the 1907 four-bedroom, two-bath Craftsman home “ramshackle.” A “total disaster,” chimed in Tracy Elsen, a real-estate blogger in San Francisco.

Indeed, it might not look like much from the outside or on the inside, but where it is — 1644 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA, 94122 — is where it is.

The 1,832-square-foot house, listed on Redfin.com as a “contractor’s special” in a “deteriorative state” that “needs everything,” just sold, on March 24, for a whopping $1.21 million in cash (or $660 a square foot) after being listed in February for $799,000 (a premium of $411,000). At that per-square-foot price, this house, on San Francisco’s often-chilly western fringe, was more expensive than the going rates in Boston, Washington and New York.

The home, even though it has been gutted, has an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean and sits a short walk across San Francisco’s Great Highway to the beach, and it is just five blocks from San Francisco’s famed Golden Gate Park. Oh, and it’s got off-street parking, not a small thing in the City by the Bay.

The house sold for $340,000 in August of 1997 and was sold for $935,000 in June of 2008, when it looked a lot better.

A minimalist museum and a literary landmark

Since then, the house has taken a pounding. Many of the Craftsman-era fixtures common to Bay Area homes, including stained glass and Tiffany-style lamps, have been ripped out, as have most of the fixtures and carpeting and, evidently, the outdoor hot tub that was listed in 2008 but not mentioned in the 2015 listing. A second-story deck in the front of the house with a view of the ocean remains, but it is badly weathered, as is the forest-green paint, in sharp contrast with the careful upkeep evident in 2008.

But some of what made this home a gem in 2008 remains intact, including its picture windows, its decked garden, the fireplaces with wood mantels, the built-in cabinets common to Craftsman homes, the wainscoting and a gas O’Keefe & Merritt stove that dates back to the late 1940s or early 1950s (collector’s items that are prized by many homeowners in the Bay Area).

And given the fact that San Francisco’s median home price recently hit $1 million, and that it rose 10% between February 2014 and February 2015 and is expected to gain another 4.3% through February 2016, the price for this house, on this lot, might just prove to be a bargain.

Affordable Housing Plan Slaps Fee on California Property Owners

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by Phil Hall

The speaker of California’s State Assembly is seeking to raise new funds for affordable housing development by adding a new $75 fee to the costs of recording real estate documents.

Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat, stated that the new fee would be a permanent addition to the state’s line-up of fees and taxes and would apply to all real estate documents except those related to home sales. Atkins conspicuously avoided citing the $75 figure in a press statement issued by her office, only briefly identifying it as a “small fee” while insisting that she had broad support for the plan.

“The permanent funding source, which earned overwhelming support from California’s business community, will generate hundreds of millions annually for affordable housing and leverage billions of dollars more in federal, local, and bank investment,” Atkins said. “This plan will reap benefits for education, healthcare and public safety as well. The outcomes sought in other sectors improve when housing instability is addressed.”

Atkins added that her plan should add between $300 million to $720 million a year for the state’s affordable housing endeavors. But Atkins isn’t completely focused on collecting revenue: She is simultaneously proposing that developers offering low-income housing should receive $370 million in tax credits, up from the current level of $70 million.

This is the third time that a $75 real estate transaction fee has been proposed in the state legislature. Earlier efforts were put forward in 2012 and 2013, but failed to gained traction. Previously, opponents to the proposal argued that transactions involving multiple documents would be burdened with excess costs because the fee applies on a per-document basis and not a per-transaction basis.

One of the main opponents of Atkins’ proposal, Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the speaker was playing word games by insisting this was merely a fee and that she was penalizing property owners to finance a problem that they did not create.

“It’s clearly a tax, not a fee,” said Coupal. “There is not a nexus between the fee payer and the public need being addressed. It’s not like charging a polluter a fee for the pollution they caused. It’s a revenue that is totally divorced from the so-called need for affordable housing.”