September 25, 2012

Supported By Neighbors But Opposed By Planning In Pacific Heights

2833-2835%20Fillmore%20Street.jpg

The 6,249 square foot brick home at 2300 Vallejo Street was built in 1899. In 1956, a 1,384 square foot two-story duplex was built in 2300 Vallejo’s backyard. And in 1996, a substandard lot variance was granted and the two-story building at 2833-2835 Fillmore Street came to rest on its own 788 square foot lot.

In 2009, the owner of the two properties proposed to merge the two lots back together, demolish the duplex on Fillmore, and build a 555 square foot one-story residence as an addition to 2300 Vallejo with a garage and a 951 square foot deck spanning the building’s roof for use by both buildings.

Having abandoned the plans for the proposed merger and addition, the owner of the two Pacific Heights properties is now proposing to simply demolish the existing two-unit building on Fillmore and build a smaller two-unit building with a shared roof deck extending over the property line between 2833 Fillmore and 2300 Vallejo in its place.

2833-2835%20Fillmore%20Street%20Rendering.jpg

The proposed project isn't opposed by any neighbors, in fact, many have written letters of support. The project is, however, being opposed by San Francisco’s Planning Department.

2833-2835%20Fillmore%20Street%20Rendering%20Rear.jpg

The Department's basis for recommending San Francisco’s Planning Commission deny the proposed demolition and rebuilding of 2833 Fillmore Street this week:

1. The proposal would not preserve existing housing or conserve neighborhood character. The project proposes to demolish two, two-bedroom, rent controlled units and replace them with two new studio units, one of which will not have adequate exposure.
2. The project will not result in a net gain of dwelling units.
3. The project will result in a net loss of bedrooms.
4. The project will not create family-sized dwelling units.
5. The proposal will demolish two “naturally affordable” units that are also subject to rent control.
6. The subject property is at its maximum density for this zoning district; this project cannot be considered infill housing on an under-utilized lot.

With respect to what constitutes a "naturally affordable" two-unit building in San Francisco, the current threshold is $1.9 million. The Fillmore Street duplex last appraised for $1.35 million in 2009. We’ll note the owner of the two properties is proposing to permanently designate the two new studios as below market rate (BMR) housing stock if his plan is approved.

First Published: September 25, 2012 1:00 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

The BMR designation seems like a empty offering as it is more than likely these units would never be sold as such. I would deny this idea simply on the basis that it probably isn't the ideal solution to this lot and just feels like a massive compromise on use. Seems they really tried to make the planning department happy here but no one is falling for it. I wonder what it is they really want to do here. Seems a SFH with parking is the right answer as was originally proposed.

Meanwhile the multi-unit bldg across the street has undergone a transformation of sorts after being sold a few years ago. Anyone know the story on that one. There is a giant 311 notice on the west wall facing Fillmore so they may be trying to build on that parking pad?

Posted by: eddy at September 25, 2012 4:42 PM

I do hope they put in those trees and planters though.

Posted by: eddy at September 25, 2012 4:56 PM

"If there is no opposition it must be opposed." --The Hacks at SF PLanning

Posted by: Stucco_Sux at September 25, 2012 7:08 PM

Planning has a mandate and they are following it. A closer read of the report shows that they are moving the lot line and creating more parking for the Vallejo property. I'm sure something will eventually happen here. Does the department ever not follow the recommendation?

Posted by: eddy at September 25, 2012 7:34 PM

This is sort of a unique situation. Basically, there's an apartment building in what was the yard of a potentially historical property, something that would never be allowed today. I suppose the idea is a compromise between outdoor space and maintaining housing units. It looks like the lot line adjustment is to allow accessible parking for all the properties. I'm not sure what the best use is here. You can't really merge the units to create a SFR. The design of the new building is nice and when was the last time you saw neighbors in Pac Heights wanting something to be built?

2298 is a strange one. I think it's going to be corporate rentals. There's a looong back story here, but my only issue is the turquoise paint. I walk up Fillmore usually daily, and I've been stopped at least a dozen times by people registering their unhappiness with the color. I mean, it's someone's property; they can paint it whatever color they want... and if they want their property to look like a motel in Pismo Beach circa 1962, so be it.

Posted by: Denis at September 25, 2012 8:26 PM

BMR designation is not exclusive to units for sale. They can be rentals too, with varying levels of income limits.

Posted by: formerly%whatever at September 25, 2012 10:07 PM

I'm fairly certain the blue is gone on 2298. Love to here the back story. I believe there was a protected tenant on the top floor shack but don't really know what happened there. The views were stunning. And the undeveloped parking lot seemed an interesting opportunity.

Posted by: eddy at September 26, 2012 9:40 AM

The turquoise is still there... trust me.

Yes, there was a protected tenant, but it wasn't the guy in the attic. I believe it was an older couple in one of the main units who used it when they came to town. What I heard, is the current owner was able to do a buy out, but it was like mid-six figures for all the tenants. Anyway, the building still seems to be 4 units and are furnished rentals.

What I would have done, is excavate a bit, stick two units in the bottom that are comparable size to the existing units so that you don't trigger a DUM. I think the attic unit could've been eliminated b/c it had substandard ceiling height... The top three units could've been merged, and I would've sold it off as an SFR which would have double the value of a multi-unit building. The views are beyond amazing.

Posted by: Denis at September 26, 2012 11:35 AM

Does anyone have any statistics (or anecdotes) about the likelihood of successfully getting approval of a proposed project in front of the planning commission when the proposition is opposed by the planning department?

I know it must vary case-by-case, but it seems like if the planning department opposes the idea, you're pretty cooked, right?

Thanks for any informed opinions.

Posted by: soccermom at September 26, 2012 2:28 PM

Not sure what ever happened here but the smaller unit is under full wraps and obviously going through some sort of major project.

Posted by: eddy at January 21, 2014 12:32 PM

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