EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 Baghdad by the Bay - Part 3

Affordable Housing In San Francisco

Hunter's Point Open SpaceThere has been a lot of talk lately about building affordable housing in San Francisco. I’m not exactly sure what the right answer is [although my suggestion is below], but so far I’m not sure it’s going in the right direction.

Out in the Sunset District there is the Sloat Garden Center. It’s currently the largest of it’s locations and now the owners are going to sell it. I can understand that since they can get a good deal of money for that, but the problem is that it has been labeled as the perfect spot for affordable housing to go in and by affordable housing they’re talking about a ten to possibly twelve story building in an area that is zoned as NC-2 which is mixed commercial/residential with a height of no more than three stories.

Here’s where it gets interesting. I can’t prove they want to build a ten to twelve story complex, but there is a height limit code of A100 which I can’t get a definition for and everyone seems to believe that means 100 feet. I can see that, but there comes another problem with what is defined as a story. Typically in the past a story was defined as twenty feet, but now through the process of downsizing a story is being redefined as ten feet. This is another part where that could mean that 100 feet could represent a five story complex or a ten story complex. The twelve story came from someone who has been pointing out the requirement of 20% low income housing to all building in San Francisco, but misses the point that that doesn’t allow them to add on.

My overall thought is that while yes, there are few buildings that somehow got past the strict coding over the years and are more than three stories they are the exception rather than the rule. To build a 100 foot building out by the beach would be ridiculous in my opinion because it just would not fit with the character of the other buildings around it. They might as well relocate Coit Tower to the Sunset District if that height is fine for a spot in San Francisco that after it was just a bit of sand had been dubbed, the suburbs of San Francisco.

Candlestick ParkSo what is the answer? OK, just bear with me for a moment because this is going to sound a bit NIMBY, but it’ll make sense…Hunter’s Point.

Yes, I’m suggesting if they want to build affordable housing that they look into Hunter’s Point. They’re already planning on building a shopping center, or at least they’re seriously talking about putting one where Candlestick Park used to be so it makes sense. It especially makes sense when you look at the picture in this article. There’s is tons of open land in the Hunter’s Point area [and Bayview as well] where you can even see the former foundations of buildings.

Hunter’s Point was always considered a bit of a scary place in San Francisco, but with the influx of people to San Francisco there are a lot more people that are buying homes and new condos that are being built in the area and it’s starting to come up…albeit slowly, but it IS happening. I am more frequently having to drive in that area and I’m pretty surprised at the changes I’m seeing. San Francisco isn’t seeing how much of a clean slate and lack of opposition or at least much less opposition that they would get from a currently populated part of San Francisco.

There is no reason for our politicians to destroy the character of San Francisco’s existing neighborhoods when there is a good amount of open space in the city where they could develop a whole new neighborhood from the ground up.

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A New Way To Support My Site

PatreonHi all,

I don’t like doing this, but I have been doing this for close to 10 years now and while my original idea was just to have fun writing about San Francisco it’s become a little difficult to have time to write when I have to focus so much on my freelance work. I wish there was a way to make my freelance work coincide with my writing, but that’s not the case at the moment.

So I’ve discovered a new site that offers a different option. Patreon will allow you to become a patron of my work. It’s kind of like micro-investing in that the creator [me] sets up goals they would like to meet and you as a patron can make a small or large monthly donation to help that come to fruition. There will also be rewards at the various levels of donation that you’ll see when you click on the link.

I won’t say anything more about it other than let you know my link is http://patreon.com/baghdad and if you like you can patronize my work…no wait, maybe that isn’t the correct wording. I’ll start working harder to bring more stories from my perspective to you since there’s a lot of things happening in San Francisco now.

In the end I will enjoy your patronage which in turn will

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A Requiem For Sidecar

Sidecar R.I.P.Today when people talk about ridesharing they don’t even use that word. They say, Uber or Lyft. Those are the big two everyone knows about, but there was a third company. This company started ridesharing where people who had a car could give other people a ride and make money in the process. That company was Sidecar.

Unfortunately, like many technology based companies, Sidecar will be ending its run tomorrow, December 31st, 2015. This saddens me in many ways because it was the first company I drove for and the people there really used to reach out to the drivers. Some of us, like myself were made Captains because of our interest in the company. We were able to give feedback, help train new drivers and host meet ups to answer questions other drivers had. This was something that Uber and Lyft didn’t do. There was very little wall between the drivers and the people who worked at Sidecar. Chances were if you drove for Sidecar you had met someone who worked there.

Sidecar was an innovative company in that it let the riders choose the drivers which for someone like me was great. I was a favorite among many of the riders and for a long time I rarely had much downtime. Then the fare wars started and Uber and Lyft started to drop prices to ridiculous levels. It used to be that if Uber fares were above 1.4x in surge it was cheaper to take a cab. Now if the fare exceeds 2.0x in surge it’s cheaper to take a cab.

The riders started to flock to Uber and Lyft and Sidecar unfortunately didn’t have the market penetration or money to advertise like the others and the riders fell off. They then moved over to incorporating deliveries which was great for drivers for a while, but then other delivery companies came in and the fare wars began again.

Ultimately, drivers needed to make a realistic amount of money to make it worth it to drive for any company and the drivers started to go where the money was. Drivers for Sidecar could set their own prices which in the end caused Sidecar to be more pricey than Uber or Lyft. This left Sidecar with only a handful of die-hard users that remained. I had made many friends and a few even had my phone number and would text me when they needed a ride, but because they were more expensive, even though the riders had more options, price beat out the service provided.

Now that will be gone and I’m sad because I probably won’t see a lot of those people anymore. I won’t have the fun chats or know ahead of time that the person I’m picking up won’t be so drunk that they’re going to pass out in my car or worse. I feel a loss that what could have been a great company from San Francisco has come to an end. Hopefully something will come out of this, but I suspect that 2016 will have many changes to the rideshare industry and gig economy so expect to see some changes here in the near future.

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I Told You So…

A bus passes through a flooded roadway Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in Mill Valley, Calif. A storm expected to be one of the windiest and rainiest in five years swept across the San Francisco Bay Area on Thursday, knocking out power to tens to thousands and delaying travel by air, train and ferry. Pacific Gas & Electric is reporting outages are widespread across the Bay Area due to weather, but officials weren't immediately available to give a specific number of outages.(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

OK, I don’t normally like to crow like this, but I had received lots of emails from people calling me out on the El Niño predictions I had made a couple of years ago. It’s here, it’s queer, and it won’t go away.

What did you just say? Yes, El Niño is odd weather that lots of people don’t quite understand. Today was a pretty good example. Rain was coming off and on all day and there were heavy downpours that I could look out my window and see temporary rivers of water flowing down the street. Then shortly after it started it would stop. Sometimes there was so much water that even after it stopped there were still rivers flowing down the street. I went out driving at one point when it wasn’t raining only to be hit with a sudden downpour, yet the sun was out making the rain look like diamonds falling from the sky.

So why is El Niño different than our regular weather? Well it’s got to do with the ocean heating up which causes more evaporation which when the warm moist air hits the cooler land causes greater condensation and rainfall. The problem is that this occurs in patches. Somethings their big patches that make you feel like a fire hose has been turned on the city and other times they’re just short bursts from small clouds for 3-5 minutes.

Overall, it’s a lot of water. Today, San Francisco only got about an inch of rain, but it came so fast that it seemed like it was a lot more. Up North there was 2-6″ of rain which makes me feel like I’m glad I don’t live in Redding. For San Franciscans, it’s good that there’s more rain falling up North because that’s where our water comes from and the reservoirs have been pretty dry for the past few years. This won’t be an instant fix, but it will definitely help over time.

Looking back to the last El Niño we had in 1997 there are a few suggestions I’d like to offer. I was driving on 101 South a couple of days ago and there was a sudden burst of rain. So much that the roads didn’t know how to handle it and there was minor flooding. No big deal says all the tough guys, but a half inch of rain on the ground leads to hydroplaning and your car or the car next to you can spin out quickly and cause an accident. Within the city we have hills and underneath the streets are storm drains. I didn’t see any today, but remember when the storm drains filled so much that the manhole covers were popping up spewing water out. Even though you’re driving up hill there can be a couple of inches of water running down the streets because of the concentration from the storm drains so you’ll have to watch out for that as well.

If it starts to get bad, just pull over to the side for a minute or two and the rain will stop. Think of San Francisco turning into Hawaii without all that extra heat. We’ll be living a lot like we’re in the tropics for the next few months, but a little on the chilly side for now. My best memory of the ending of the last El Niño was New Year’s Eve of 2000. I was grilling out in front of my house because it was 80° out. We’ll get warmer and the weather will get stranger over the next year. Let’s all hope that this will bring enough rain to California to make a significant end to the drought. Last time it gave us too much water and this one is supposed to be bigger than before.

Keep your fingers crossed and stay dry.

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Carol Doda Has Left The Building

Carol DodaIt was a bit of a sad day when I read that Carol Doda had died. She was one of those people who left her mark on San Francisco in a big way on June 19th, 1964 when she was the first topless go-go dancer in San Francisco. She was 26 years old and probably had no idea how much she would become a fixture in San Francisco for many years to come.

I have to say I’m pretty glad that San Francisco is remembering her at her best. Shen she stopped dancing in the 80’s she opened a lingerie shop in a little back alleyway on Union Street. My girlfriend and I happened to be over there and saw the sign and decided to drop in for the hell of it. There she was, Carol Doda, fully clothed sitting right inside the front door. Geez, the stories she probably could have told then.

She was looking a little rough though. I had only seen some of the pin up photos of her when I was a kid and that’s what I always thought she looked liked, but I could see the lines on her face that told a story all by themselves and I could still see that young girl who was in all the pin ups I had seen. My Dad had one tucked away in his dresser that I’d sneak a look at before I was even ten [BOOBIES!]. I wasn’t even two when she first went on stage topless.

It really sucks when we get old. My Mom always used to read the obituaries and complain that people who died used pictures in their obituaries from when they were young. I don’t know why she didn’t understand it’s a drag getting old for lots of people. In Carol Doda’s case, I’m glad they’re focusing on the young Carol in the photo memories of her. That’s the way she should be remembered and I’m sure the way she would have wanted to be remembered.

Carol wasn’t born in San Francisco, but she made it her home and left a mark on the City. I’m glad San Francisco did it right.

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Beep’s Burgers

Beep's BurgersIt’s not everyday that I visit an old place in San Francisco for the first time, but sometimes those old places change and not for the better and from what you’ve read it just doesn’t seem worth it. On the other hand sometimes those old places change again and it’s worth a shot. For me, it was finally time to try Beep’s Burgers.

I’ve driven past the place thousands of times driving down Ocean Avenue by City College. Beep’s used to look very run down and to me the idea of a drive in selling Asian food and oh yeah, we also can make a burger just didn’t seem very appealing. Things have changed once again and they have new owners and new paint. I have to say it was a welcome change.

Beep’s has come back in it’s original form as a drive in that specializes in burgers and hot dogs, but also has fish and chips, garlic fries, cheese poppers and a few other additions to their menu [note the prices have increased a little since this listing] that make it a bit more inviting than it once was.

Beep's BurgersThe burgers are made using Niman Ranch beef that normally I don’t like it when restaurants have to name their meat, but in this case it actually is better tasting. The bun is kind of brioche, kind of not bun which I actually liked. When you order you’re just getting the burger on a bun with lettuce and tomato. You have to specify everything else, but this isn’t a fast food place even though the wait for your food isn’t very long.

We tried the ¼ lb. cheeseburger and it had that greasy in a good kind of way taste. They got the right amount of fat in their burger. Normally a ¼ lb burger doesn’t make me feel very full afterwards, but this hit the spot when we added the onion rings as a side. Overall it’s a little more expensive than most fast food places, but is more in line with Super Duper and Five Guys price wise. The feel is that of a divey drive in, but not in a bad way. You’ll never feel underdressed here. While it’ll cost you a couple of bucks more than McDonald’s that across the street you’ll definitely enjoy it more.

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AC in SF?

IMG_6619Pardon me for putting on my Grandpa voice, but back in my day the idea of air conditioning in San Francisco was something nobody ever considered. Yes, most of the houses didn’t have insulation or double/triple pane windows so they were always a bit drafty. We did have hot weather, but as soon as it was gone everyone forgot we had hot weather and started talking about how foggy it was.

Things have change though. People did these things called upgrades to their house and when we get warm weather the houses can get hot. The San Francisco mindset is that you don’t need air conditioning here and for the amount of day we get really hot weather I tend to agree, but there are some simple ways to remedy the heat when the problem comes up [like now].

If you look at the picture I’ve included I found this on YouTube and in its various forms has been called a Redneck air conditioner, Ghetto air conditioner or homemade swamp cooler. If you have a fan then the rest of the parts should cost you about $5. All you need for the simple form I have here is a 5 gallon paint bucket with a lid. You cut a hole in the top  where the fan is and drill out 3 holes in the sides [I choose 2 ?” holes because that was the diameter of the PVC scrap tubing I got was.  Inside you can fill it up with ice from the local store or freeze gallon milk jugs with water and put them inside. My house even with the window’s open gets up to almost 90° in hot weather and this brought the room down to just below 70° in about 15 minutes.

I’ve also attached a video that shows the full instructions if you want to pimp out this home-made AC for few more bucks.  If you want to beat the occasional heat that we get this is a much cheaper and easier way of doing it and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to do it. It’s not really a swamp cooler as that entails pulling or pushing air over circulating water. San Francisco also has a few higher humidity days that makes the evaporative cooling principles not work so well. If you have a couple of jugs of water to swap out this will keep you going 24/7 for those few days of hot weather we have.

As a last note if you’ve read this far I’ve got a collection of things to write about now that I’ve taken a much needed rest so keep checking back!

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