New Threat to Valley Street Earthquake Shacks!
Posted on September 21, 2017.
Please see November 2, 2017 update below.
Real estate speculator John Shrader is at it again.
Shrader bought the home at 369 Valley Street in 2014. The front part of this home is two Earthquake Shacks, one of the few survivors of its kind. It is a living example of the resolve of San Franciscans to persevere under extreme adversity. It is officially listed as an Historic Resource by the Planning Department.
Shrader wanted to demolish both of these Earthquake Shacks in order to build a 5,000 square foot monster house. Fortunately, the Planning Department, under serious community pressure, told Shrader in 2015 that he did not have the right to demolish the Earthquake Shacks.
Next, Shrader asked for permission to move the shacks to the rear of the property, behind a planned monster house, where they would be out-of-sight and out-of-mind. It is questionable whether or not the shacks would have even survived this move. The Planning Department once again turned Shrader down.
Shrader's next proposal was to demolish one of the Earthquake Shacks, move the other shack to the front of the property, and put it up on a "one story pedestal." And, of course, build a monster house on the rest of the property. The Planning Department turned him down again.
Now, Shrader has a new proposal. He wants to put the two Earthquake Shacks up on some kind of pedestal, and turn them into a 1st floor "office" over a to-be-constructed "laundry, mechanical and storage basement" of unclear height. Would the Earthquake Shacks even survive this reconstruction by a real estate speculator who has repeatedly demonstrated his utter disregard for their value to the history and people of San Francisco?
Of course, Shrader's real plan is to stuff a new, 4,000 square foot monster house in the rear of the property, behind the Earthquake Shacks. Shrader has applied for a variance in order to build in the normally-required rear-yard open space. The proposed monster house would reframe and overpower the view of the Earthquake Shacks from Valley Street, rising above them in the rear like, well, a monster. It would also reframe and overpower the rear yards of neighbors on Valley Street and 29th Street.
Shrader laughingly claims in his variance request that his proposed project is "minimal in scale." He waxes poetic about the need for "a real single family residence, which is much needed in this City." As if what San Francisco and Noe Valley need is another 4,000 square foot monster house for some incredibly rich "family."
The truth is that Shrader is just another real estate speculator trying to make a few million by trampling on San Francisco's history and neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, the Planning Department is signaling that they might be willing to sign off on Shrader's new plan. Shrader has been tenacious in his attempts to find his way around the department, in order to make his pot of gold. The Planning Department, although they have held firm in the face of Shrader's protracted campaign, in the end might just decide to retire from the battle, and leave the fight to the rest of us.
We will keep you informed of future developments.
NOVEMBER 2, 2017 UPDATE
John Shrader of Nova Designs and Builds, the real estate speculator who owns the two Earthquake Shacks and the home at 369 Valley Street in Noe Valley, applied for a building permit on Thursday, October 26.
Shrader applied for this building permit even though the Planning Department has not yet completed its environmental review regarding the impact of Shrader's proposed project on the two Earthquake Shacks on the property. The normal process would be to wait for completion of the environmental review before applying for a building permit. Clearly, Shrader is attempting to play hardball with the Planning Department.
Shrader wants to put the two Earthquake Shacks up on some kind of pedestal, and turn them into a 1st floor "office" over a to-be-constructed "laundry, mechanical and storage basement" of unclear height, and get a variance to stuff a new, 4,000 square-foot monster house behind the Earthquake Shacks in the normally required rear-yard open space on the property.
As the neighbors of this property have pointed out, "We are concerned that Mr. Shrader's demonstrated contemptuous attitude toward the importance of this Historic Resource might lead to an 'accident' during construction that would imperil the integrity of the Earthquake Shacks."
In early October, all of the neighbors surrounding 369 Valley Street sent a letter to the Planning Department opposing Shrader's latest plans. The letter, which follows, sums up the situation very well. Please stay tuned for future developments.
We, the immediate neighbors of the two Earthquake Shacks and the proposed building project at 369 Valley Street, are strenuously opposed to the variance requested by Mr. John Shrader and the building plans that Mr. Shrader’s company, Nova Designs and Builds, has submitted along with this variance request.
The requested variance and the plans would substantially and negatively impact the privacy and sunlight of the neighbors on all sides of this property.
We support the preservation of the two Earthquake Shacks on this property. They are an important Historic Resource and a living example of the resolve of San Franciscans to persevere under extreme adversity. They are a part of our neighborhood and of San Francisco history.
Mr. Shrader, however, is attempting to pit the privacy and sunlight of the neighbors against the preservation of the Earthquake Shacks. This is not acceptable. Both the Earthquake Shacks and the livability of the neighborhood can be preserved with an appropriate building plan.
We believe that if it is Mr. Shrader’s intention to demolish the structure to the rear of the Earthquake Shacks, then there should be no new building in the required rear yard area of this lot. We feel strongly that the rear yard building code for RH-2 zones should be enforced to protect privacy and sunlight of adjacent neighbors that have not exceeded code requirements.
Further, we believe that Mr. Shrader should not be allowed to increase the height of the home on this property above its current height. Any attempt to build higher in the rear would overpower the setting and view of the Earthquake Shacks. We agree with the findings of the Planning Department’s Historic Resource Evaluation Response of May 29, 2015, that:
“…the distinctive characteristics of Earthquake Shacks, including their unique size, scale, and dimensions, are still identifiable in the subject property… 369 Valley retains a strong sense of feeling as it still retains the aesthetic of a very small-scale cottage that has been fabricated from two Earthquake Shacks. The dramatic shift in scale in relationship to the surrounding neighborhood is what sets apart the subject property from the neighbors and it is this aesthetic that hints at its unique history… Although the rear addition does not contribute to the significance of 369 Valley Street, it does not detract from the character as it is relegated to the rear of the subject property and is largely invisible from the public right-of-way.”
We also do not believe that Nova Designs and Builds should be allowed to attempt to raise the Earthquake Shacks up on some kind of pedestal. We are concerned that Mr. Shrader’s demonstrated contemptuous attitude toward the importance of this Historic Resource might lead to an “accident” during construction that would imperil the integrity of the Earthquake Shacks.
Mr. Shrader knew full well when he bought this property that he was buying an Historic Resource that needed to be preserved. Any improvements made to the property should respect the historic resource and should be built without variance to code that negatively impacts the property’s immediate neighbors. Mr. Shrader’s misguided and miscalculated business decisions should not be used as an excuse to so negatively impact the neighborhood and the people of San Francisco.
We respectfully ask the Planning Department to disallow the current owner’s requested variance and proposed building plan.
A real estate speculator bought the home at 369 Valley Street in 2014. The front part of this home is two Earthquake Shacks, one of the few survivors of its kind. It is a living example of the resolve of San Franciscans to persevere under extreme adversity. It is officially listed as an Historic Resource by the Planning Department.
The speculator who now owns the home wants to demolish the Earthquake Shacks in order to build a 5000+ square-foot, single-family monster house. Neighbors and many others are uniting in opposition to the demolition of the Earthquake Shack.
Messages from some of our supporters:
Noe Valley Voice articles:
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I oppose the demolition of the Earthquake Shacks at 369 Valley Street.
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John Schrader, the real estate speculator who bought the home at 369 Valley Street, posted a rambling, disingenuous message on Nextdoor on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. Click here to read more.