A Look Back on the City’s Biggest Shockers in 2018

From the Salesforce Tower’s appeal in San Francisco’s skyline, to its problematic foundation, the fake toxic cleanup scandal in Hunter’s Point Shipyard development and passing of numerous housing bills– many surprises unfolded in 2018 in the Bay Area.


Below are a handful of people in real estate, urban planning, media, architecture, and transit to offer their thoughts and what surprised them in 2018..

London Breed:

“I don’t know if this is a surprise, but San Francisco elected a strong YIMBY mayor in June with London Breed and then turned around an elected a strong progressive board in November. Voters do seem to like a balance of power; at the same time, it definitely feels like conventional or traditional lines are being blurred. Both Mark Benioff and YIMBYs sided with Prop. C, the homelessness measure, splitting with a huge part of the technology industry. At the same time, it feels like some newer progressive supervisorial candidates are being much more careful and thoughtful about positions that could de facto end up being detrimental to housing production over the long-term. I’m looking forward to a much more collaborative relationship going forward over the next few years between YIMBY, tenant and neighborhood groups in the Bay Area.”

~ Kim-Mai Cutler (partner, Initialized Capital)


Image result for london breed

London Breed photo courtesy of KALW

Salesforce Tower:

“My growing fondness of the Salesforce Tower in the city skyline.”

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

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Photo: hines.com


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Photo: ABC7 News

“I’m surprised that wildfires seem to be such a constant in California life. No one even talk about earthquakes anymore. That used to be our official disaster. Now it’s fires—and I’m significantly more terrified of fire.”

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

Image result for N95 face masks in bay area

Photo: CBS San Francisco

“N95 face masks were the must-have fall accessory in the Bay Area.”

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

Salesforce Transbay Terminal Cracks:

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Photo: Curbed SF

“The crack in the new Transbay Terminal was both shocking and yet not at all surprising. Darkly hilarious, they spent all that time and money to build something that is immediately coming apart at the seams and cannot be used. Though, I suppose, when one of the largest buildings in the city is literally sinking into the earth you can’t expect everything else to go swimmingly.”

~ Mike Isaac (technology reporter, New York Times)

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Photo: dir.md

Homeless Crisis:

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Photo: Brown Political Review

“The idea that a government would deny people those services … when they have nowhere else to go suggests a kind of cruelty that is unsurpassed,” Farha told Business Insider. “It’s an attempt to erase people. Worse than erase — I can only use the word annihilate. It is a denial of someone’s humanity.”

~ Leilani Fraha, United Nations Special Rapporteur

san francisco homelessJonathan Payne, a homeless man, takes down tarps he had used to protect his possessions during a storm in San Francisco. Beck Diefenbach/Reuters

Scooter Mania:

“They have harkened back to the bad old days of tech arrogance … of petulant children who think they can have whatever they want without any government oversight.”

~ Aaron Peskin, a San Francisco supervisor who pushed legislation to create a regulatory permitting program for scooters

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Photo: YouTube


“The answer isn’t to ban them, but to regulate them and have them be responsible.”

~ Rebecca Kaplan, a councilmember in Oakland

San Francisco Battles New Electric Scooter RentalsPhoto by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Housing Shortage:

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Photo: Planetizen

“My go-to laundromats keep turning into condos, SoulCycle gyms, and juice bars, so it was surprising to see Laundré pop up on Mission Street. New businesses risk becoming lightning rods for gentrification discourse, but I like that this one focuses on providing a basic neighborhood service instead of a rarified, ultra-specialized product.”

~ Mike Chino (senior editor, Dwell)

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Photo: The SF Examiner

“2018 was the year that people had to admit this is a housing shortage and that even San Francisco needs to build more homes.”

~ Laura Foote (executive director, YIMBY Action)

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Photo: The Registry

“Frankly nothing surprises me anymore in the era of tech dystopia + Trump. But California did pass a lot of housing bills this year!”

~ Allison Arieff (columnist, New York Times)

Axis Development:

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Axis Development abruptly abandons proposed 117-unit Folsom Street project. Photo courtesy of Mission Local

“Axis Development pulling out of 2675 Mission Street.”

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


“When we got 1270 Mission approved, if everything else had been frozen in time, we would be building right now. But construction costs went up. Time is not your friend when you are a developer.”

~ Developer Eric Tao of AGI


Mid-Market Neighborhood Restaurant Challenges:

Mid-Market Photo by Patricia Chang

“Mid-Market is still a black hole for opening a restaurant. It’s weird that an area that’s so busy just cant sustain more than a handful of restaurants and bars.”

~ Richie Nakano (restaurant consultant)

Image result for Mid-Market San Francisco lack of restaurants

Photo: Eater SF


 “Mid-Market is two blocks from major business districts in both directions and can connect in really quickly. They’re spending millions on 1600 new condos nearby. But there was just too much excitement. All the restaurant leases were too big.”

~ Jay Bordeleau, a San Francisco restaurant-industry veteran with several successes to his name

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Photo: San Francisco Public Press

“The meth/drug thing has crushed us,” he says. “It’s a battle of dollars and mental fatigue; it’s really unpleasant when someone threatens you with a hypodermic needle or spits in your face while stealing a bottle of wine. People steal our groceries and sell them between Seventh and Ninth on Market Street every day.”

~ Chris Foley is the developer and real estate broker who operates the huge business on the ground floor of the Twitter building, the Market



Source: Curbed SF, Business Insider, San Francisco Chronicle, EATER San Francisco, The Guardian


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