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Vegan air-saving, chain retail schadenfreude, plant party, and more

Four things to know today

An image from an earlier Plant Sale
An image from an earlier Plant Sale
Photo courtesy of SF Appeal

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

Rare plant party

Members of the San Francisco Botanical Garden are already on site at the Garden’s Member Preview of their 50th (!) annual spring plant sale, but we’re told there will still be “thousands of drought-tolerant, native, rare, and unusual plants” for sale this Saturday, when the rest of us schlubs are allowed in.

Yes, the Garden has sales every Saturday, but this is the big one: Shoppers are promised “succulents, edibles, ferns, natives, alpines, rhododendrons, perennials, houseplants, shrubs, trees” that all come from the Garden’s nursery. There are also gardening talks, kids’ potting activities, and free tool sharpening during the event. Admission at the event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the SF County Fair Building (the structure between the Garden and Lincoln Way at Ninth Avenue), is free.

Closure letter on the door of Kit and Ace’s 371 Hayes St location.
Photo: Wesley Y./Yelp

Cashmere casualty

The name Kit and Ace might ring bells for even the un-clothes conscious development watcher (is that redundant?), as the Canadian “Technical cashmere” purveyor was also the source of a 2015 chain retail kerfuffle over its Hayes Valley location. It was then that members of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association argued to the SF Board of Appeals that “the owners of the luxury clothing store gamed the system, claiming they weren’t a chain store despite very public plans for a multimillion-dollar worldwide expansion that would make the company ‘a global force’ in the retail industry,” as the SF Chronicle reported at the time.

When the company applied for their permit to open their SF space in 2014, they only had seven stores, but by the time they were ready to open at 371 Hayes, they had 22. Once a company has 11 outlets, they fall under SF’s regulations regarding chain stores, but they were approved to open as “the company met the letter, if not the spirit, of the neighborhood’s formula retail ban when it received its building permits.”

But now the HVNA is surely having the last laugh, as Kit and Ace has closed that gard-fought store, reports Hoodline. In fact, they’ve closed all their U.S., Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and UK stores, leaving only the Canada stores in business.

“We have a commitment to be local and Hayes Valley was one of our first planned locations,” Kit and Ace’s CEO told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2015. It looks, however, like they won’t be local anymore.

Photo: Waymo

Never look for parking again

A Stanford study says that by 2030 parking lots will be a thing of the past, as American consumer car ownership will drop 80 percent by then, and “huge swaths of real estate that is being used for parking will be freed up,” reports the SF Business Times.

Stanford professor Tony Seba and research partner James Arbib (also a “tech investor and philanthropist,” says Business Insider) argue that within the next 13 years, the majority of Americans will “switch to autonomous, electric ride-shares” instead of own their own cars. And if those vehicular worker bees are shuttling us all around, they won’t need the parking places Americans stash their cars in now as “ride-shares may never need to park. When they would drop off passengers, they would keep going to pick up new passengers, which would open up vast tracts of land for new uses, like wider sidewalks and more housing, parks, and zones where cars are banned.”

And 2030 is apparently the year it all happens, as a separate study from Boston Consulting Group said that that’s the year that as much as 25 percent of U.S. driving could be done by self-driving electric cars. They, too, for see a parking-lotless future, as people decide against owning their own cars for reasons of economy: “the change in driving habits could boost discretionary income by twice as much for the average city-dweller," they say.

More cash and more more housing sounds good, but one of the things neither study seems to take seriously is the cultural currency motivations many have in buying a car. We’re not just talking about the tech bro with the compensatory Ferraris in his Billionaires Row garage, but the average aspirational person who goes into debt for the perceived status they believe they’ll get by driving a luxury brand like a BMW or a Lexus. Sure, these are nice cars with fancy features, but spend any time hanging out at a Mercedes dealership (recommended, as they have good coffee and better-than-average pastries) and you’ll realize that many of the people coming in to buy aren’t looking for high-performance, they’re looking for that logo. Aspiration is an incredibly powerful motivator, and its hard to imagine, say, rap songs about a now-successful musician’s crew hailing a bunch of those cute little self-driving Waymos.

The BAAQMD’s vegan agenda

You likely know the Bay Area Air Quality Management District for their Spare the Air Program—yes, those announcements that ruin your bonfire plans in the summer and quash your winter fireplace fun with their unhealthy air quality warnings. And now, reports CBS 5, the agency is launching a campaign called “Spare the Air–Cool the Climate” (that’s the video for it, above) and is asking all residents to adopt a low-carbon lifestyle by eating low carbon foods.

The lowest carbon diet, CBS says, is a vegan one, as it “would cut down on the high carbon-producing meat industry.” While a look at PETA’s “accidentally vegan” list might give lie to this assertion (can the laborious manufacture of Fruit by the Foot really be a low-carbon endeavor?), it’s also a big ask in the Paleo era. Maybe the agency’s other goals are more in reach, as they ask that we strive to drive electric cars, convert homes to zero net energy, and buy low carbon goods and services. Hey, if those guys were right about 2030 it sounds like we have one of those in the bag already.