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Trends we want to see in 2019

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Industry experts and local notables reveal ideas that would make SF better

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As the year claws its way to the end—at last—it’s time to look forward to 2019. What will happen. What could be. Next, please. And while much of the same will remain (political upheaval, perilous climate change, a chronically frayed Mid-Market), change is most certainly afoot.

We asked a group of industry experts and local notables to reveal what trends they would like to see unfurl in 2019. From cheaper construction and more housing to a variety of art atop the Salesforce Tower, here’s what we’d like to see click next year.


Brock Keeling (editor, Curbed SF):

“My list is endless, but here are a few golden nuggets: Denser and taller residential growth in western SF neighborhoods; aggressive residential growth for all Silicon Valley hamlets, starting with Cupertino and Sunnyvale; a return to comfortable restaurants (e.g., tablecloths, no communal seating); maximalist options beyond splatter prints at design and furniture stores; and Barbara Stauffacher Solomon’s supergraphics regularly appearing atop Salesforce Tower.”

Allison Arieff (columnist, New York Times):

“The abolishment of single-family zoning. Minneapolis did it; San Francisco can, too. Would also love to see an embrace of infrastructure, both physical (a second tube!) and social (libraries, public space...more places where you can go without having to buy something).”

Jon de la Cruz (interior architecture and design, DLC-ID):

“More color—gardens, interior walls, upholstery, people. A return to tablecloths in restaurants. Restorations over remodels. More lamp light and less overhead recessed LEDs. More one-way streets in SF.”

Mike Isaac (technology reporter, New York Times):

“More trees! I’m a big fan of the Friends of the Urban Forest planting trees in my neighborhood, and I’d love to see more greenery around the city—especially, say, downtown, which is a concrete jungle. Also perhaps we could do with more sidewalk seating zoned from the city. I do love it when a cafe or restaurant applies to get parking taken out from in front of their storefronts and replaces it with benches and greenery. It cuts down on incentives to drive cars—which is a good thing—and beautifies the outdoor space.”

Laura Foote (executive director, YIMBY Action):

“Fourplexes and missing middle housing. There’s growing political opposition to ‘monster homes’ these days, which hopefully can open the conversation toward encouraging fourplexes or little courtyard apartment buildings instead. This kind of gentle infill should be exactly what anti-mansion activists are looking for!”

Mike Chino (senior editor, Dwell):

“I think San Francisco still has a long way to go with cycling infrastructure—I’d love to see separated bike lanes in North Beach and along the entire Valencia Corridor. Biking down Valencia used to be a breeze, but now one must dodge double-parked vehicles, erratic Uber and Lyft drivers, and swinging car doors from both sides of the lane.”

Beth Spotswood (digital editor, Alta Magazine; columnist, San Francisco Chronicle):

Sunken living rooms and recessed lighting in affordable single-family homes.”

Kevin K. Ho and Jonathan B. McNarry (realtors, Vanguard Properties):

“Given that climate change is really here to stay, it’s high time we get smarter home heating, cooling and—now—air filtration systems in homes as we’re going to be forced to stay indoors more and more. Green building technologies and materials are oftentimes the exception rather than the rule but should become the rule rather than the exception.”

Joe Eskenazi (managing editor and columnist, Mission Local) and Julian Mark (reporter, Mission Local):

“All of the 100-percent affordable projects in the pipeline—eight total here in the Mission—to actually break ground. So far, only two have.”

Anne Fougeron (architect and founder, Fougeron Architecture):

“Cheaper construction! Impossible to build anything with these crazy prices. And windows that line up (see here).”

Richie Nakano (restaurant consultant):

“Playfulness. The Eye of Sauron atop Salesforce Tower was funny. More weird, dumb stuff like that. Sometimes I think this city takes itself too seriously.”

Brian Wiedenmeier (executive director, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition):

“1) Even more people biking, walking, and taking transit in SF, 2) fewer people driving and riding in Lyft and Uber cars, 3) radical changes in SF’s streets to facilitate No. 1 and No. 2.”