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Best of San Francisco 2010: Villain and Bum Fight

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It's time to make up a bunch of awards and hang them out to the most deserving people, places and things in the real estate, architecture, and neighborhood universes of San Francisco.

[Via Flickr/Thomas Hawk]

Best Villain

Academy of Art University: The Academy of Art University is often mistaken for a real estate empire with countless code violations and not an art school. Back in November of 2009 the Planning Commission threw a fit over "the way the institution gobbled up buildings and converted them to educational use, with apparent full knowledge that doing all that was against planning code." That's when the shitshow started. In early January of this year the city was on the fence about taking the Academy to court for the violations. When the Academy got word, they said they cared about San Francisco and its community, "but there's a lot of red tape." But perhaps the Academy bought too much too soon and couldn't handle the land use responsibilities. They said said sorry, but the Board of Supervisors didn't want to hear it. "Nobody else gets away with dragging their feet for the better part of the decade," said former supes president Aaron Peskin. Thankfully they've apparently "cleared up about 90% of the more than one hundred life/safety-threatening violations" they received this year (and only this year), but that didn't stop them from continuing to ignore the many complaints from the Planning Commission.

Best Bum Fight

Clearwire vs. Handful of Bernal Heights NIMBYs: Clearwire wanted to install a broadband antenna that would help our city get up to speed with fast handheld internet access. Then a group of Bernal Heights folk made a stink about the possibilities of the antenna accidentally zapping residents with concentrated radio waves in the event of an earthquake. Everyone felt bad for Clearwire, until it was brought to light that Clearwire hadn't met the maintenance requirements laid out in the 2009 T-mobile conditional use permit. The board of supes voted unanimously to repel the conditional use permit. The real losers? Residents who can't get cell reception.

Runner-up: Nathan Miller vs neighbors: Miller wanted to install a 35-foot windmill in the front yard of his 29-foot high home in Miraloma Park so that he could harness wind energy. But his neighbors weren't too keen on the idea. The NIYFYs said the design was inappropriate and could potentially fall over and hurt someone. They also objected because it "will make noise, create movement with odd shadows and be an eyesore to look at." The San Francisco Planning Department received letters of disapproval of many neighbors. And then the board of the Miraloma Park Improvement Club voted unanimously to file an appeal for rejection of Mr. Miller's permit application. Miller is still fighting his battle.