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Top of The Pile: 14 Best Ice Cream Shops in San Francisco

Small batch, artisanal ice cream in SF is competing head to head for our taste buds and hearts against our urges to just buy processed, convenient ice cream at the local grocery store. Store bought is convenient, yes. But it doesn’t compare to hand made crafted ice cream in the shops that dot our city like it’s part of the Candyland game.

Recently sf.eater.com tasted their way through 14 top fun ice cream shops in the city. Here’s their scoop, or part of it.

Bi-Rite Creamery at 3692 18th Street: considered by many to be the most popular IC shop in the city. Try the balsamic strawberry or the salted caramel—hand made, small batches, seasonal. You’ll probably have to wait in line, but well worth it.

Cream on 3106 16th Street: ice cream sandwich heaven with their motto that Cookies Rule Everything Around Me. Build the best IC sandwich you’ve ever imagined. Fine, exotic flavors of cookies and ice creams.

Humphrey Slocombe at 2790 Harrison Street: this is the laboratory of out-there ice cream flavors so you can get you ice cream freak on. Be sure to try the Secret Breakfast made from hand-cranked vanilla ice cream, corn flakes and Jim Beam bourbon. Also check out prosciutto, mushrooms, cheese, foie gras and other tantalizing concoctions.

For the full list and an interactive map that’s pretty sweet, go here.

California Housing Way Behind Household Numbers—49th Out of 50 States

California is almost dead last among states in terms of homes built and ready for all the families and individuals that need them. In fact we’re number 49 out of 50 for the number of housing units per capita—only ahead of Utah. From the years 2009 through 2014 the number of households in California grew by 544,000 while the number of housing units grew by 467,000—a major shortfall. Now, the total of new housing being built or being proposed to be built in California is 1 million while the population will have increased by 3.6 million.

What this demand/supply shortfall translates into is that half of Californians are being priced out of housing in their markets. According to a New York Times article on California real estate this means that the state’s poorest residents are profoundly affected, having to cut down on medicine and food to make housing payments. And tech workers who make six-figure salaries also can’t afford the rents in certain markets. Another study showed that these high housing costs are affecting California’s economy to the tune of $140 billion being siphoned off into high housing payments.

It’s projected that the state will need 3.5 million homes over the next 8 years to meet household demand—more than triple the pace that’s currently underway in construction. Many groups are pushing for vacant lots in Los Angeles and San Francisco to be developed to help meet demand and make it affordable.

Here’s a convenient interactive map link showing vacant lots in LA and San Francisco.

Meg Whitman Real Estate Investment Group Buying into SF Waterfront

The southern waterfront of San Francisco is very prized territory for the new wave of major developments cropping up around the city. One of the more valuable prizes is the 21-acre Potrero Power Plant site which was just bought by a surprisingly small, nimble investor group that is led by Associate Capital. The group also includes Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and chairwoman of HP Inc., and her husband, neurosurgeon Griffith Harsh IV – according to an article in bizjournals.com.

The investor group (that beat out 10 other more well known groups) for the property clearly shows a new trend of the super rich getting involved in large real estate investment deals. Chris Foley, a condo marketing and research expert, made this observation of the ultra rich: “Ultra high-net-worth investors, from the tech industry and beyond, are looking for investments that might generate better returns than venture capital or the stock market.”

Super rich clients can put anywhere from $100,000 to $5 million into targeted real estate development with the deals providing cash flow, tax benefits and high returns compared to other investments.

The power plant property is particularly valued as that it can developed into a mixed use complex. According to Foley the power plant is “one of the last premier large-scale development sites in San Francisco.”

An Amusing Attempt to Rebrand the Tenderloin into “Union Square West”

Not sure this is going to stick with San Franciscans (probably not) but one San Francisco real estate is trying to rename the Tenderloin neighborhood of a 16 square block area bound by Mason, Sutter, Jones and Market into “Union Square West.” Of course Union Square West doesn’t exist. It’s a marketing name de guerre in the ongoing battle for selling real estate based on what’s perceived as hot. The Tenderloin name is liked and loved by San Franciscans and the neighborhood has its own gritty-being-gentrified look and feel.

According to furious blogging (done mostly by younger, hipper, protective of SF culture people) going on in the city trying to equate the Tenderloin with Union Square or create some kind of real estate crossover is ridiculous and being hotly ridiculed.

And it’s not new. In the 1980’s a “Union Square West” highrise condo was proposed by a developer trying to drag Union Square into the Tenderloin but residents rose en masse to defeat the building and in 1985 rezoning in the Tenderloin barred future highrise development.

The real estate firm trying to create the new Union Square has presented in its brochures some amusing marketing terms that include a “psychographic” profile. An interesting “psychographic” profile for this 16 block Tenderloin area includes these folks:

• Metro Renters: 65% Educated professionals in their early 30s, largely white, with a median income of $52K
• Trendsetters: 20% Single professionals in their late 30s, largely white, with median income of $51k
• Social Security Set: 15% Late 40s, only high school diploma, diverse group with median income of $16k

Millennium Tower Residents Are Alarmed by Sinking & Tilting

This is real Halloween fright. Your upscale, bespoke-service building that your multi-million-dollar condo is in has sunk sixteen inches, and tilted over seven inches. That’s the situation for the once prestigious, now controversial Millennium Tower in the SoMa area of the city.

The 58-story, 627-feet tall tower was expected to settle into the clay-and-sand substrate it was built in—as the architects and engineers predicted it would settle 5.5 inches maximum by the year 2028. The Millennium opened for occupancy in April, 2009 so that gave 19 years for expected settlement. However here we are in 2016 and it was announced in late spring this year that the tower had already sunk 16 inches, and was also tilting over to the northeast. By the end of 2009 the tower had already sunk 8.3 inches.

Residents of the tower are alarmed and angry. Joanne Fox, a professional artist, bought a condo on the 29th floor in 2011. She says in an interview with nbcnews.com, “They assured me that this was state of the art — brand new, solid as a rock, no problems.” And she went on to say she and her follow owners weren’t told of the sinking until May 2016. According to SF Supervisor Aaron Peskin in the same interview: “What bothers me the most is that the city knew and the developer knew but they didn’t disclose. Clearly the developer knew in February of 2009 that the building was not performing per specification. And yet they sold the units without disclosing to the individual buyers.”

Tower residents are worried as they’re seeing cracked sidewalks, uneven floors and water leaking in the basement—many are bringing legal suits against the tower owners. Plus, the ones who are putting their condos on the market have seen zero sales, and are quickly lowering prices significantly.

Vacant Lots in San Francisco Are The New Gold Rush—It’s The Land

One could assume that real estate value in San Francisco is mostly based on the building itself, on all the design, materials and crafting and location that goes into a residential home or condo. But no. In SF that’s not true. According to experts 80% of the value in any given home property (and all properties) is in the dirt—leaving 20% value in the building itself. Arrian Binnings says, “There was someone in the 1880s who said there’s ‘gold in them thar hills’ and I’ve always said ‘those thar hills *are* gold’ because … it’s extremely valuable dirt we have here.” The land-to-house value ratio in SF is the opposite of what many other cities experience. In Dallas, Texas, the land is worth 10% of the total land/building value.

Currently there are only 18 vacant lots for sale in the city. And they are worth their weight in gold—almost. There’s a plot at 19 Arguello, adjacent to the Presidio entrance, is going for $5.5 million (with plans for a mansion thrown in). Over on 477 Eucalyptus Drive there’s a smallish, crumbling concrete pad on land that’s available for $1.6 million. In the Richmond District a small plot with weeds is going for $1 million.

Binnings says that buying a lot and building on it is a risky venture as the cost of construction can include unforeseen expenses and do-overs.

Falling in Love with Fog All Over Again: A Filmmaker’s Time-Lapse Take

Living in SF is, of course, living in a fog petri dish, a social experiment in how you respond to the coastal climate dynamics we call fog—a word that probably comes from Danish “moist” and Scandinavian “long grass.” Do you love it as it envelopes your entire world in gray, cool, dense mist particles, or does it get to you, turn you a little blue with all that gray, and a constant wishing it will “burn off.”

Fog can be gorgeous from afar, watching it slough in in streamers and waves as real as Ocean Beach breakers. Observing the fog flow over the city from Marin County in the sunset hours can be spectacular, contemplative. Fog has its own Twitter account and Wikipedia page—did you know?

Now there’s a new film from Matt Maniego, noted filmmaker in San Francisco, who took three and half years to shoot fog in San Francisco (and Marin) in all its sped-up, hypnotically pleasing glory. His specialty is time-lapse so this is going to be special. Paradise II is the name of his film and it is a beautifully crafted love missive to the city’s incredibly beautiful passages of fog. The short film (link below) concludes with some gorgeous SF and Golden Gate time-lapse shots with clouds or sunset in motion with no fog as one of the characters.

Click here to view the Youtube hosted short film.

Growth Spurt or Fountainhead: 42,000 New Homes Built SF by 2042

Looking at the crystal ball for new housing under construction or slated for construction in SF from now until 2020 we’re looking at 11,000 units. Many of these condos and multi-family building units are needed now for both affordable low income housing and the higher echelons of homeownership.

Eleven thousand may seem like a good volume of home units, but according to a new report by Paragon Real Estate Group there are an additional 31,000 units that SF officials have already approved and are in the long wait to break ground. The report forecasts that the last brick and last touch up paint for these 31,000 homes will be done sometime in the year 2042. That’s a long cue to be standing in. Twenty six thousand of the planned units to be built into the future are a small number of very large mixed-use buildings situated in places such as Candlestick Point and Treasure Island.

Meanwhile rental building construction is outpacing homeowner building by a factor of 3 to 1 in measurement of actually under construction.

SF’s Sunset District is Noon Hot Neighborhood for Home Sales

Where are the most homes selling in San Francisco? And with prices coming over the asking amount? Probably not where you think. It’s the Sunset District, often befogged and not held high in current literary or journalistic regard like other parts of the city. A report put out by Paragon Real Estate Group in the first week of October cites the Sunset-Parkside neighborhood as the king of the hill in SF home sales. Home appreciation rose 8 percent there compared to the first eight months of 2015, and that 270 homes were sold through September this year—and those homes jumped over asking prices by 20%—an indication of the tough price swordsmanship going on to get a house these days in the city. The median price for the homes is running at $1,239,000.

According to Patrick Carlisle, chief market analyst for Paragon, the Sunset as top selling district is rather unusual: “I’ve never [before] been able to say that the Sunset is the hottest market in The City.”

The Sunset is not associated with trends or chic or cool urban environments and sizzling cultural epicenters. It’s staid and family centric, and smallish grocery stores or hardware stores dot the landscape as retail outposts akin to a small town. The great fog belt that inundates SF with watch-setting regularity loves the Sunset area. But, a single family home with an actual yard is seducing buyers despite the fog blues. Carlisle points out, “Nobody is building [single-family] homes in the city. Houses are becoming a rare commodity. The Sunset offers the greatest section of homes.” Only ten new single family homes were built in SF last year. Buyers also enjoy the fast journey to Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park

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