Real Estate: The Beauty Makes the Beast More Attractive

"Ultramodel Paulina Porizkova #1"

Recently in jest, I posted a line on Facebook about how amazed I am that pretty ladies often end up with goofy-looking guys. Let’s be honest. When you see this, don’t you wonder what makes the guy so special?

Take Ric Ocasek and Paulina Porizkova, for example. Anyone in my generation know who they are?

You’re probably wondering what this whole concept of having a beautiful woman on the arm of a goofy-guy has to do with real estate.

Imagine an ugly house. A REALLY ugly house. Then imagine a BEAUTIFUL house. A REALLY BEAUTIFUL house.

Now ask this question: Does the ugly house make the beautiful house look worse or does the beautiful house make the ugly house more tolerable?

A recent article in the New York Times goes into the effect that a down-trodden property has on a whole neighborhood. All it takes is one lousy-looking house to drag down the entire neighborhood’s image. Similarly, a too-beautiful house makes you wonder what the heck the homeowners were thinking when they over-improved a home surrounded by a sea of ugly ducklings.

Hopefully reading this post will motivate you to clean up your yards, trim the trees, pick up the dog poop left behind by yours or someone else’s canine, clear off the neighborhood juvenile’s WASH ME imprint on your car’s windows, etc. Getting involved in your neighborhood association helps too and so does knowing what the local ordinances are that help protect you from being the bad guy when neighbors need to be pushed to clean up their act.

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Letter to the Planning Commission, February 9th, 2011

Dear Planning Commissioners,
The Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association (PHNA) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the proposed Mission Corridor Specific Plan.  The goals of the overall plan are to be applauded.  As the plan is implemented, it is certain to have positive and long lasting impacts on the quality of life for our businesses, residents and visitors.  Our neighborhood appreciates your efforts to ensure the Plan is thoughtfully considered and its importance in shaping the future livability and productivity of our community.
PHNA is limiting our comments to the areas of the plan that will directly impact our neighborhood.  Who better to comment on the impacts of the Plan than those most affected by it, yes?  Our Board requests the Planning Commission consider the following:
1.  PHNA generally supports the “Preferred Regulating Plan” approach to Variable #1, Street Design.  While it would be wonderful to reduce the number of lanes, increase the width of the sidewalks and install a narrow median strip, this alternative would not be consistent with the overall plan for either density nor future mixed use/redevelopment of the corridor.  We, however, would like the actual design to incorporate the extension of the medians across Sunset and Simon Streets and perhaps Rose to eliminate southbound left hand turns into the neighborhood.  This would also eliminate Northbound left hand turns and improve both traffic flow and safety along this stretch of Mission Boulevard.  From the neighborhood’s standpoint, this would significantly reduce the amount of cut through traffic in our neighborhood currently experienced and that expected by the mini-loop project.   The median extensions should be included in the traffic analysis portion of the Environmental Impact Report to be accomplished.  The broader and continuing question about the impacts of the mini-loop on our neighborhood will still require further study at some future time, but the EIR for this plan must also evaluate any changes to use, density, zoning and enhanced public space on traffic.
PHNA would also like to emphasize the installation of improved street lighting along the northerly stretch of Mission Blvd, consistent with downtown design guidelines.  This portion of Mission Boulevard serves at the entrance to our City, and deserves to represent the City well.  At the northerly end of the boulevard, we suggest an entry feature be included in the landscape plan marking one’s arrival in our beautiful city. 
2.  One of the more distinguishing characteristics of this historic, downtown neighborhood, are the views available to residents of the western portion of the hillside.  The building heights along the Mission Boulevard frontage are of concern to the neighbors. PHNA understands that residential density will be necessary to reinvigorate the corridor, and mixed use may require additional height to create the mix of commerce and residential uses that will enliven this part of our neighborhood.  However, this should not be at the expense of one our oldest neighborhoods in the city.  The three story limitation on heights should be maintained from A Street north to the City limits as an overlay for the T-5 zone.  In fact, I suggest that the three story designation be made clearer and the restriction be in feet above grade, rather than as a “story” limitation.  For example, parking could be placed below grade and not impact above grade heights.  The policy decision for the Commission here regards views, not the number of stories for new buildings.
3.  PHNA supports the expansion of the civic space from A Street north to the “Big Mike” property.  We were disappointed the City didn’t acquire the Big Mike property, which was recently on the market as part of advancing this plan and had been voiced both by the Commission and the City Council.  However, the goal remains and we would like to see more civic space in our neighborhood.  We would hope that plans for this space would include active uses to encourage positive activities rather than downtown loitering.  Design is everything!
Again, thank you for the opportunity for our neighborhood to share its views.  We care deeply about the flavor, character and future of our downtown neighborhood and trust that you will consider our comments carefully in your deliberations. 
Greg Jones
President, PHNA