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Rich Simons | 11th Street


Photo illustration Art Olson


Q: I understand that the City is having a problem complying with the Affordable Housing Act. Do you have any thoughts on this that might help them? _ e.w
Of course! Thank you for asking. This is in the category of what we call a “no brainer.” First of all, I invite you to Google the “Affordable Housing Act.” Scroll down to “Definitions.” Note that definitions are provided, sometimes at great length, for 23 terms used in the Act, except the following: “Affordable,” “Housing” and of course “Act.” Remember this was prepared using your tax dollars. Be proud.

In cities like Tokyo and New York, designers have had great success lately fashioning totally habitable “units” (another undefined word) occupying only 200-300 square feet. To visualize how this works, summon to your memory the opening sequence of the movie “American in Paris,” in which Gene Kelly rises, yawns, languidly kicks his bed into a wall, pulls a table out of the opposing wall, a chair comes down from the ceiling and milk, flowers and a cat are waiting on the windowsill. Gershwin pours from some small unseen radio that has amazing acoustic properties. Fortunately, being in Paris he doesn’t need to bathe. He leans out the window and calls out a hearty “Guten tag” to the urchins playing below, probably not a cool idea in post-war France but hey: That’s Hollywood.

Now that you have a grasp of the concept, let’s run some numbers. In a recent article in an (ahem) alternative newspaper, our Beloved Mayor wrote that the large building conglomerate we call the Plaza is currently 45 per cent unoccupied. (And – hey – if you can’t trust your Beloved Mayor, who can you trust?) I have it from another authority that the space above ground in the Plaza comes to 67,000 square feet, which means we have over 30,000 square feet to work with. Partitioning that space into well-designed units of 200 sq.ft. each will yield us 150 units, which is more than twice the 61 units that SANDAG is asking us to provide! So some of these could be luxury suites of, say, 400 sq.ft.

I imagine these units will be quite “affordable,” even for young couples earning minimum wage. Of course they will have to be getting along well together, but we don’t intend to sell or lease to disgruntled, unhappy people, do we?

Besides exquisite views from some of the units, our tenants will have ready access to a number of excellent restaurants and high-end shopping opportunities. If some idiot writes an Affordable Shopping Act, St. Peter’s Thrift Store is just down the block. If we are faced with an Affordable Dining Act, Rendezvous can be renamed “Brother Beano’s Asian Fusion Kitchen.”

So. There. Problem? What Problem?


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