Ahhh….neighbors. You love ’em. You hate ’em. You can’t live in San Francisco without ’em, and you certainly can’t easily remodel a home to today’s standards without opposition from them. Check out what just hit our inbox:
If, for some reason, you can’t see the letter, which we uploaded as an image, we’ll go ahead and tell ya what it says:

Dear Mr. [deleted]:
We are neighbors on Telegraph Hill who will oppose any changes to the building envelope at [deleted] owned by [deleted] in this historic district of Telegraph Hill. While the Hill has suffered through renovations in the past, projects such as yours have occurred with extreme environmental changes. Water drainage issues on Telegraph Hill regarding a nearby project created unfavorable slope instability–buildings have been lost and a large boulder ended up on Sansome Street. Additionally, neighbors on [deleted] and surrounds are tired of construction noise and delays in completion caused by projects such as yours. A recent project took 10 years and is still incomplete.

Telegraph Hill is a historic district whose character depends upon building ownership which understands the value of building enhancement not as building expansion, but building enhancement as careful care in keeping up properties in their historic dimension. We find your application to be sadly ignorant of the need to abide by the common elements vital to the neighborhood and its character.

Your proposal to enhance the property needs to be cognizant of the historic preservation without additional elevation or facade changes in all directions. Projects like yours have been attempted in the past and have turned out badly.

While we many of us may be away during your pre-application meeting time, please understand that our opposition is unconditional.

Your neighbors and friends on Telegraph Hill
[Thirteen names deleted]

Just another bump in the road for a developer out there trying to bring a home that has sat vacant since WWII (yes, that long) into our housing stock…before it falls off the hill or gets consumed by the pests and rodents feasting on its rotting self. But Hey! It’s “historic”.

[Update: We’re told none of the authors of this letter took the time to actually visit the property at the open house outreach, and none have contacted the developer, or the architect (aside from this letter) to begin a dialogue of constructive or courteous negotiations.]

You gotta love San Francisco and all the righteousness it preserves…

Telegraph Hill Landslide forces 120 from homes… [SFGate]
San Francisco Neighborhoods prone to liquefaction…[theFrontSteps]


  1. This letter should be blown up, gilded and framed above DBI lobby for all to see exactly why Planning has become such a mess.

  2. Ah the lovely discretionary review process of the San Francisco Planning Code. Where amateurs can stonewall professionals and stymy private property rights of the individual. Wonder why things are as fuct up as they are with the building process in SF, look no further. CEQA reform is the start to ending this tyranny – please support the Supervisors who are backing this (as well as Gov. Brown).

  3. Might be worth checking if those 13 are actually aware of being included in the letter. Our neighbor, before moving ibo his newly bought home, had his lawyers craft a letter similarly opposing the neighbors renovation across the street. The letter was “signed” concerned neighbors – with addresses and last names of what the lawyers thought were owners of impacted views.. We were also unknowlingly included and weren’t aware until the renovators marched cross the street to ask us, visibly upset. Then it dawned on them what had happened. Long story short, this opposing neighbor moved in under a sadly unwelcome situation and kept at the legal fight until months and tens of thousands of dollars in fees by the renovators until the day in court, where they didnt even show up. Ten years later things are only beginning to warm up between all of us. Wish these people luck!

  4. So the neighbors would rather see what I assume is a dilapidated eyesore rather than a new building which the planning department will ensure is architecturally fitting and within size and height limits? I would love to know the address of the current building to see what it looks like.

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