One world replaces another on 7th Street

SF Mini Storage is about to close down on 7th Street at Hooper. That’s near California College of the Arts, across 7th from the Caltrain tracks and the 280 freeway. The sign in theIMG_5298detail photo on the right says tenants have to get their stuff out by April 30, 2015.

I’m not necessarily complaining.

The replacement plan isn’t for another condo development. It’s for a contribution to the practical bones of the city. JK Dineen reported in January that parts of the site are designed by a nonprofit, SFMade, to become San Francisco’s “first new manufacturing building in more than two decades.” The developer is Urban Green DevCo. CurbedSF has more links. There’s already a HundredHooper.com page with renderings and some nice historical maps.

If you want details, look up any of three addresses at the Assessor’s Office to get info for the same lot: the SF Mini Storage address of 1000 – 7th, and also 100 Hooper St. and 150 Hooper St. On the two Hooper addressesIMG_5302detail, permit applications are shown for “a four story office and retail commercial building” and a “Mercantile/Retail/PDR building“.

This is a new neighborhood going in. It makes sense. The flats along 7th west of the freeway and tracks, north of Potrero Hill, have been some of the most underused space in San Francisco for a long time.

A big residential complex is already half built nearby on the corner of 7th and 16th. With the new Mission Bay complex now well rooted to the east, the “Hundred Hooper” site is now surrounded by dense center-city kinds of uses. So, yeah, the publicity site is stretching things a little to say “local services, eateries and recreation abound” — the listed businesses are mainly at distances of a block or two or more — but the general idea being conveyed is fair. There will be “local services, eateries and recreation” pretty close, pretty soon.

And, OK, SF Mini Storage is not a huge aesthetic loss. The lockers are in boring rows of converted storage containers.

But on the storage company’s site there’s a hint that a small world is closing down: a note saying client Erich Von Neff, renter for “30+ years,” has moved out — it’s not clear if recently or not.

As that clue indicates, this exciting new thing isn’t replacing a void. It’s replacing something, even if that something may not be the “higest and best use”. All the people who bought a little extra sense of being anchored by keeping a few important things safe in a storage locker — they’ll have to put their anchors somewhere else. Also, the few remaining campers who still park their RVs along that part of 7th are going to get harassed with code-enforcement tickets and tows until they give up or give out.

I’m not arguing against building. Building there makes sense. Just remember it’s not replacing nothing.

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Are spikes the problem?

IMG_5280_scaledA South Park neighborhood character who insisted his real name was Elvis Presley died in this alcove in 2012. He was run over by an emerging car, whose driver was cleared of wrongdoing. Another man died the same way in December 2014.

Some transit and bike activists have taken the moral of the story to be that car drivers escape blame easily when they run people over. That may be true in general, but with respect to this doorway I agree with Streetsblog commenter “gneiss”, who wrote, “This is a design flaw not an ‘accident’.”

My old blog has some details about the design flaw that I posted after Elvis died. Also about Elvis himself, who was a skilled street mechanic before his addictions got all the way in the way.

In the meantime, the subject of “unfriendly architecture” has come up strongly in public debate about heartlessness in public spaces, mostly by way of some especially ugly-looking spikes placed by London property owners outside an apartment building and a Tesco’s. A little farther down in this blog is a link to a Storify about that with examples of anti-sitting/anti-sleeping design in San Francisco and elsewhere.

So the reason I mention spikes is, the picture above shows a recent addition to the rain-sheltered garage entry alcove where two men have been run over: they’ve added pebbling to the pavement to discourage sleeping.

And this is why it seems worth asking: are spikes the problem?

Changes

This site has been quiet for a while because I’ve been working flat-out as editor of California Planning and Development Report, a subscription newsletter on California land use issues. I’ll be going to contributor status at CP&DR shortly, which should leave time for other projects. Also possibly for more posts over here. For the moment I’m posting more actively on Twitter at @mbridegam and on Facebook.