Friday, November 14, 2014

Oddities of San Francisco: POPOS and Air Rights

One of the oddest and awkward acronyms in my opinion for a secretive area is a POPOS: Privately Owned Public Open Spaces. I honestly giggled at this, as did the other people on the tours. These secret areas are mandatory for newly created or renovated buildings in San Francisco; however, the owners of the buildings dislike having to pay for this secretive public space and try to restrict people from knowing about these areas. The owners have these areas highly secured with cameras monitoring the entire place as if there was high crime. As I walked around the POPOS, it was very peaceful and plentiful in plantations. No more than 2 or 3 people were even there, not to mention that it was even difficult to actually FIND the path to get there. I visited at least 4 different POPOS, some were on the roof and some were down in the streets. There was one on the roof of Wells Fargo, the only way to reach the roof was through the elevator, which seemed impossible since there are intimidating security guards near the elevator and there is a key hole near the elevator button with the letter “R” for “Roof” as a way to sway people from hitting the button. I think I would do the same thing as the building owners since I am forced to provide this secretive public area and use my money for this unintended part of the building, I would have no one come to this POPOS and try to keep it as unused as possible.

            When our tour guide, Rick Evans, explained how there was “Air Rights” for building on each block, I was astounded by how that even came to be in San Francisco. Wherever a building is built, the air above it is also owned by that building. On some blocks, there are limits on the number of stories there can be on a building, the ones I saw only had a 30 story limit. The law was, a building can only gain more “Air Rights” from neighboring buildings. This clearly explained why some neighboring buildings were extremely short compared to the buildings next door. I saw a bank that only had two stories, while the building next to it had over 50 stories; the “Air Rights” were sold to that building, thus making it extremely high. When the rights are taken from a building, the building next door may seem like it was cut like a piece of cake oddly enough. An example of this was the Hobart Building, one big chunk of the building was flat, with no windows, just a flat wall with paint; making the building seem out of place or odd.
Hobart Building, Wikipedia.


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