As the year draws to a close, Curbed SF asked bigwigs in San Francisco’s architectural, design, and x-factor/je ne sais quois industries to give us their thoughts on 2016, architecturally-speaking. Revealed here are their constructions and neighborhoods that were less than appealing this year.
John King (urban design critic, San Francisco Chronicle)
It takes a lot to alienate my affections! No parting of the ways—though Valencia Street’s balancing act between on-the-edge and over-the-top definitely has tipped in the wrong direction.
Eve Batey (owner, Avenues Dry Goods; senior editor, SFist)
As my mother always says, "I love all my children equally." As I do SF's neighborhoods. That said, this year felt like the year that taking surface transportation in many parts of SOMA—personal vehicle, Muni, TNC, or bike—became the worst combination of frustratingly slow and terrifyingly dangerous. As a result, I feel I've spent less time in that neighborhood.
Allison Arieff (editorial director, SPUR)
Too many new enormous-sized houses angling to look like Apple Stores, in both scale and retail design flourishes.
Richie Nakano (chef and restaurateur)
The Mission. It hasn't felt fun in a long time. It feels like an amalgam of everything that makes people feel badly about the direction the city has taken the past few years.
Jon McNeal and Sade Borghei (senior architect and project manager, Snøhetta)
The western half of SOMA is going through difficult times. It varies a bit block to block, but the area near our office at Eighth and Folsom has lost about 40 percent of its restaurant/café tenants in the last year alone. Those are the things that you really need to invigorate and sustain life in a neighborhood.
There’s a host of factors that may have led to the demise of these businesses: rent increases, inadequate foot traffic/public exposure, wide one-way streets, pervasive homelessness, petty crime, offices with in-house catering—unfortunately none of which are easily or quickly solved.
Erin Feher (style and design editor, San Francisco Magazine)
Civic Center, specifically the "civic green" right in front of City Hall—which is especially unfortunate, as I live in this area. To me it's a symbol of the apathy and incompetence of the mayor's office as a whole, not to mention a straight up shame.
The playgrounds along Larkin at McAllister are popular with neighborhood kids, including my own, but the lawn completely surrounding it is a de facto shooting gallery for our city's heroin addicts. People shoot up about 7 feet away from the swings, in plain view of everyone at the playground.
My daughter and I pass right by this playground nearly every day walking home from her school, and every day she asks "Can we go to the blue playground?" My answer now is always no, because it's not worth what we are bound to be witness to and my resulting seething anger. Sorry kid.
Brock Keeling (editor, Curbed SF)
Silicon Valley towns that refuse to add housing stock while reaping tenfold rewards of the tech industry. In a word, appalling. In another word, greedy.
David Baker (architect/founder, David Baker Architects)
I'm breaking up with regular bike lanes: It’s time for San Francisco to get serious about rolling out a connected network of separated cycle tracks.
Kevin K. Ho and Jonathan B. McNarry (realtors, Vanguard Properties)
The Outer Sunset—especially areas close to Judah and 45th Avenue —has been hot, hot, hot for the past few years for buyers priced out of the rest of the City. Global climate change aided and abetted this western migration by reducing the number of foggy days while the lure of some kind of value (either an undeveloped ground floor space behind a garage or the promise of getting a cosmetic fixer for cheap) drew buyers.
But 2016 may have been the turning point for both the fog and any hope of getting a value out here as median and average prices single-family homes in the Outer Sunset now top out at $1.1M compared to just about $1M in 2015 and $850,000 in 2014 while the fog seems to have returned in force. What hasn't changed is that area list prices still have little correlation with final sale prices.