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San Francisco’s ideal car, trash rates increase, fashion displaces artists, and more

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Four things to know today

Photo by Markus Spiering

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

SF’s ideal car is not very cool

Let’s take a step back—first, many might argue that any sort of car ownership is not cool in San Francisco. And yet, some folks need cars (your correspondent included), and the best of those make a mindful choice when purchasing one for the city’s unique set of issues.

In this week’s “Ask Jack” column (the advice column by former pro-level BMX guy and famed auto journalist Jack Baruth), a correspondent who has been “living in western Massachusetts for the last four years working for the second largest manufacturer of firearms in the U.S.” has been offered “an affordable place to stay and a job as a plumber in San Francisco,” and wants to know what type of car he should buy for his new life as a gunmaker turned cheap apartment-dwelling plumber in SF.

Baruth’s answer is, he admits, not what anyone would expect: a “stick-shift, turbocharged...Chevrolet Cruze.” If you just heard that hacky record-scratch noise ruined by trailers for inferior comedies, you’re not alone. But Baruth says that car is ideal because “the Cruze is really just a Daewoo. And if you go to Asia you will see that Daewoo engineers for urban conditions that are remarkably similar to that of San Francisco.”

Still unconvinced? According to Baruth, “If there’s any place in the country where you can meet a girl without a nice car, it’s the place to which you are headed.” Guess Chevy just got handed their new ad campaign! “The Chevy Cruze: Basically a Daewoo that won’t impede heterosexual male’s amorous aspirations.”

Photo of artspace at 2150 Folsom Street by Ann S/Yelp

Fashion allegedly displaces art

When a person or an institution is roughly displaced in SF, it’s often tempting to blame its replacement—even if in actuality, a landlord or property manager is the actual decision maker in the situation. But what if the replacing entity is allegedly complicit in the circumstances?

That’s reportedly the case at 2150 Folsom Street, where roughly 20 artists were reportedly evicted to make room for an expansion of clothing company Everlane.

Hoodline reports that the artist Flora Davis says her colleagues were told they were kicked out “to repair a leaky roof and repair interior walls” but that instead, Everlane staffers “have been ‘sneakily moving in’ to vacant spots” in the building.

When Davis first moved into the building about a year and a half ago, she said Everlane had already taken over half of the top floor. Since then, it has acquired more space, she said, including some studios.

“I first moved into an empty studio and then moved into another section after that," Davis said. "Within six months, that area was closed off for Everlane's computers and stuff, and it became part of their space.”

Hoodline report, “The property is zoned for Production, Design and Repair (PDR), which limits its use as office or retail space,” which casts into doubt the legality of Everlane’s move. But perhaps that’s consistent with the company’s philosophy, as on their about page they say that they “constantly challenge the status quo...We know our customers are also rule breakers and questioners, so we hope this philosophy is palpable in the products and choices we make.”

“And by all means, challenge us too,” they write.

Unfortunately, an effort to reach Everlane for comment regarding Hoodline’s report was not answered as of publication time.

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A vacant block in SF’s hottest neighborhood

Have you ever wondered why 23rd Street between Treat Avenue and Folsom Street—a full block in one of the Mission District’s busiest areas—feels like a ghost town? Mission Local has your answer, explaining that the five buildings on the block, all of which have been owned by the Gaehwiler family for over a century, are vacant (save for the more than occasional squatter).

This isn’t a new situation, as “two of the most battered properties—3067 and 3069—have triggered 18 complaints and eight Notices of Violation from the Department of Building Inspection, some dating back to 2001,” writes Mission Local.

This history of the buildings is fascinating, filled with blacksmithery and suicide, but the owners have since evicted both commercial and residential tenants for no clear, understandable reason.

“It’s not illegal to have a vacant property,” Mike Gunnell, inspector for the Department of Building Inspection, said. He added that the property owners have been “a bit of a challenge” and have “seemed upset” when confronted with the city’s enforcement of building codes...

When I told Gunnell that Gaehwiler’s had owned 3067 and the adjoining properties for more than a century, he was surprised. “Maybe that’s why nothing happening with those buildings,” he said. “Long-time property owners tend to fight back a bit more.”

He went on to say that the perpetual vacancy of the Gaehwiler’s properties probably had more to do with the imbalance between city-imposed fines and personal wealth. “Property values are so high. Something like a $5,000 fine isn’t going to make much difference compared to the value of the property. It’s just cheaper to pay to register your property every year.”

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Getting trashy

Get ready to pay more for your trash collection, San Francisco! The city’s Refuse Collection and Disposal Rate Board agreed this week that the rate you’re charged for garbage, recycling and compost will be increased by 14 percent as of July.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the increase, which was recommended by SF Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, was unanimously approved approved Monday despite the written opposition of thirteen people. A member of that unlucky opposition, Lou Ann Bassan, wrote in response, “There is no acknowledgment that seniors are on a fixed income, consume less, generate less, recycle and compost more, and are not contributing to black bin waste and landfills with disposable diapers.”

(With all due respect to Bassan and every other senior citizen in San Francisco, it bears mentioning that as of 2009, adult incontinence pads reportedly made up 7 percent of waste being carted to landfills across the U.S., with that number expected to grow along with American’s aging population.)

What, you haven’t heard of the Refuse Collection and Disposal Rate Board? Well, if you lived here back in 1932 you voted for it! It’s all part of the 1932 Refuse Collection and Disposal Initiative Ordinance, which set SF’s garbage rate, collection, and management rules.

As nothing has changed in San Francisco since 1932, we can likely all agree that this system is perfect, incorruptible, and completely without flaws. Anyway, that’s why starting next month, single family homes will go from paying $35 to $40 per month for trash collection, whether they like it or not.