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SF hotel renovations, gay neighborhoods, pothole reports, and more

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Four things to know today

Inside SF’s historic Palace Hotel.
Photo by James Carnes

Welcome to Curbed Cuts, a tri-weekly digest connecting the dots between shelter, structure, parks, transportation, and more.

And you say, staycation

With Airbnb’s settlement of its lawsuit with San Francisco, it’s great to know one can now stay in the home of a SF-law-compliant host. But there’s also nothing like a boutique or full-on corporate hotel stay. Today the San Francisco Chronicle runs down a list of recently-renovated SF hotels—very useful, as some of our gorgeous and historic lodgings can also be a little too historic, if you get my drift.

One thing the San Francisco Chronicle doesn’t mention is the newly-renovated (to the tune of $60 million) Hotel Nikko’s fantastic rooftop dog run. We checked it out last year (just the dog area, we didn’t get a stay, though their renovated rooms look pretty sweet).

Checking out @hotelnikkosf's new rooftop dog deck at their #nationaldogday party!

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For an extra $50 a night (which is probably $10-20 less than a reputable pet sitter), dogs under 40 pounds are allowed to stay at the Nikko. That’s a little more than places like the Intercontinental, which only charges a one-time $50 pet deposit. Then there’s the Sir Francis Drake, which doesn’t charge any pet fees at all, and has no height, weight limits, says they’re “no limit on number of pets allowed,” and hosts a nightly wine reception.

Muni sans humans?

While driverless cars are all well and good (that is, when they aren’t embroiled in ugly lawsuits) driverless buses seem just as exciting, writes the woman who was angrily screamed at yesterday by a 1-California driver because we waited for a pedestrian to cross Hyde Street before making a right turn. Burlingame-based electric bus maker Proterra is on the case, and is currently testing autonomous buses in partnership with the University of Nevada, Reno’s Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center, Wired reports.

It’s all part of the school’s three-phase plan to get a fully autonomous bus on the road by early 2019. The buses will follow a 3-mile route along Reno’s busy Virginia Street as of June 1. Per Wired:

To start, a human driver will do all the work as the bus collects the data needed to navigate this first stretch. In stage two, researchers will use that info to build self-driving systems. By the third phase, they hope to commercialize and license the tech, and conquer even the craziest city streets.

According to the East Bay Times, Reno’s not the only town racing toward operator obsolescence. Art Guzzetti, vice president for policy at the American Public Transportation Association, says that Las Vegas is also “testing driverless technology on short routes” and Oakland, Phoenix, Tampa and Jacksonville are also developing autonomous plans. “It’s a trend at the very early stages” Guzzetti says, but 2019 isn’t that far away, Art, so get ready.

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Pothole pun

Asking San Franciscans to decide which neighborhood has the worst potholes is like getting a group of glasses-wearers together to talk about their vision: it rapidly becomes a competition to have it the worst. The Richmond District does have it pretty bad, though, especially on their number streets (many of which seem to be made of gravel and chewing gum). According to the Richmond District Blog, District One Supervisor Sandra Fewer has declared June “Fewer Potholes Month,” which, we get wanting to go for the pun but do is it wise for a politician to associate their name so closely with something everyone hates?

More than a dubious catchphrase, Fewer says that the effort is because the Department of Public Works has agreed to give the District an exclusive repair crew for the entire month. People who note potholes (not sidewalk issues, not repaving requests—you’re an adult, you know what a pothole is) in the Richmond are urged to report them here by the deadline of May 21. After that, the DPW will “review the pothole report and make the repair” throughout the month of June, which should make for far “fewer” (ha ha) bumps and jostles in July.

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The “gayborhood” phenomenon

Though Fortune attributes the maxim that when LGBTQ folks move into a neighborhood, housing values go up to a 2001 study, any realtor can tell you the same thing. Whatever the case, the 2001 study by Richard Florida and Gary Gates indicated that a higher concentration of folks who identify as queer were found in “vibrant centers of technological progress and innovation. Their theory was that places that were open-minded would also be economically vibrant.”

A 2015 study by Trulia took that analysis further, determining that “home prices increased on average 23% in zip codes with high concentrations of male same-sex couples and 18% for neighborhoods with high concentration female same-sex couples.” So, arguably, San Francisco’s gay friendliness—and, really, does it get any friendlier than a mayor who flouted state and local laws to start marrying same-sex couples back in 2004—is one of the reasons we have both innovation and the healthy property values we have today.

It was a bumpy ride to get here, though, with California’s marriage equality endangered by Proposition 8, the 2008 voter-approved ban on marriage for the state’s gay and lesbian citizens. That ban was overturned on June 28, 2013, allowing unions for all that same day. And today we bid farewell to one of San Francisco’s strongest opponents to marriage equality, then-Archbishop George H. Niederauer.

According to the Associated Press, it was Niederauer who “persuaded leaders of the Mormon church to donate $20 million” to support the passage of Proposition 8, and balked at the suggestion that denying basic rights to American citizens was an act of hate, saying “We need to stop hurling names like ‘bigot’ and ‘pervert’ at each other. And we need to stop it now.” He was born June 14, 1936 in Los Angeles, was appointed Archbishop of San Francisco in 2005, and died Tuesday of lung cancer in a San Rafael senior care facility.