September 6, 2012
The Seven Issues And Three Sides To 1050 Valencia's Five Stories
As plugged-in people know, the Liberty Hill Neighborhood Association (LHNA) filed for Discretionary Review (DR) in an attempt to block the proposed five-story building as rendered above from rising at 1050 Valencia Street.
A summary of the LHNA's seven issues with the project which will be reviewed and ruled on by San Francisco's Planning Commission this afternoon:
Issue #1: Design – The [LHNA] characterizes the project as “bulky” and “cookie‐cutter” in design, and does not enhance the visual environment.
Issue #2: Neighborhood Character ‐The [LHNA] is concerned over the proposed project’s impact upon the residential character of Hill Street and the mixed residential and commercial character of Valencia Street. The proposed project has 85‐ft of frontage along Hill Street and 39‐ft of frontage along Valencia Street.
Issue #3: Height, Scale and Form – The [LHNA] notes that the five‐story scale and form of the proposed project is not compatible with the two‐ and three‐story buildings on Hill and Valencia Streets.
Issue #4: Relationship to Liberty‐Hill Historic District & Nearby Historic Resources – The [LHNA] notes that the design of the proposed project does not enhance the visual and architectural character or relate to the nearby Liberty‐Hill Historic District and other historic resources identified in the South Mission Historic Resource Survey.
Issue #5: Noise – The [LHNA] expressed concern over the proposed project’s noise generated from the rear yard deck, which is provided at the same level as the dwelling units on the second floor, and new construction. In particular, the DR Requestor noted the impact upon its immediate neighbor, the Marsh Theater.
Issue #6: Dwelling Unit Mix – The [LHNA] is concerned over the number of dwelling units within the proposed project. As noted by the DR Requestor, the surrounding neighborhood is characterized as containing single family residences, duplexes, and a few small apartment buildings. The DR Requestor states that the proposed project would have at least double the units of any building on the street.
Further, the [LHNA] notes that the size of these new one- and two-bedroom dwelling units would be smaller than the single‐family residences along Hill Street; thus, these new units would not be family friendly due to their size.
Issue #7: Parking – The [LHNA] is concerned that the proposed project does not provide any off-street parking spaces. Further, the DR Requestor notes the dramatic reduction in public transit options within the neighborhood; thus, exacerbating an existing parking issue by introducing new dwelling units with no off‐street parking spaces.
A summary of the Project Sponsor’s responses to the LHNA’s seven issues:
Issue #1: Design – The Project Sponsor notes that this is a subjective opinion offered by the [LHNA]. The proposed project is in compliance with the Valencia St NCT Zoning District and 55‐X Height/Bulk District. The Project Sponsor notes that the proposed project has been substantially reduced in size, scale, and program from the original proposal examined in 2010. In detail, the proposed project has been downsized from 16,000 gsf to 10,711 gsf, and from sixteen (DU) dwelling units to twelve (12) dwelling units. These alterations were completed in response to the neighbors’ concerns about the height, bulk and density. Further, the project is code‐conforming and was redesigned to remove the need for a variance from the San Francisco Planning Code.
Issue #2: Neighborhood Character ‐The Project Sponsor notes that the project has been refined, so that the residential entry appears along Hill Street and the commercial entry appears along Valencia Street, as is consistent with the surrounding neighborhood. Further, the Project Sponsor notes that corner lots within the surrounding neighborhood are typically occupied by larger, commercial buildings, which do not provide the rear yard setbacks like the proposed project.
Issue #3: Height, Scale and Form – The Project Sponsor notes that the overall height is consistent with other examples within the neighborhood, since there are at least ten four‐ to five‐story buildings within a two‐block radius of the project site. In comparison to the original proposal, the Project Sponsor noted that the overall height has been reduced by the elimination of the roof deck, rooftop stair, elevator towers and rooftop penthouse. Along Hill Street, the five‐story portion of the proposed project only extends 65‐ft, so as to provide an appropriate and code‐complying rear yard setback.
Issue #4: Relationship to Liberty‐Hill Historic District & Nearby Historic Resources – The Project Sponsor stated that the Historic Preservation Commission reviewed the proposed project as part of the Eastern Neighborhoods Area Plan Interim Permit Review Procedures for Historic Resources on May 19th, 2010 and June 15, 2010, and concluded that the environmental analysis conducted was adequate. To relate to adjacent buildings, the proposed project employs bay windows and concrete fiber lapping, which relate to the Victorian‐era bay windows and wood siding, which is common in the Liberty‐Hill Historic District.
Issue #5: Noise – The Project Sponsor noted that the project was refined to eliminate the roof deck and provide open space on the second floor and on a series of private decks on the upper floors. Further, residents would be governed by “good neighbor” policies as well as applicable laws, including the San Francisco Noise Ordinance.
Issue #6: Dwelling Unit Mix – The Project Sponsor notes that the proposed project meets the Planning Code requirements for dwelling unit mix. The Project Sponsor noted that in comparison to the original proposal the average dwelling unit is approximately 15 percent larger, and eight (8) studio apartments were eliminated from the proposed project.
Issue #7: Parking – The Project Sponsor notes that the proposed project is in alignment with Planning Code priorities and includes ample, secure bike parking for the new residents and retail employees, and is located on a bicycle transit corridor.
And the perspective of San Francisco’s Planning Department which recommends the Commission dismiss the Discretionary Review and approve the project as proposed:
Issue #1: Design – The Department is in general support of the proposed project. The Project Sponsor has responded to numerous comments from the community and the Planning Department, and has willingly adapted their design to meet the variety of comments. The Project Sponsor has also greatly reduced the mass and scale relative to the original proposal.
Issue #2: Neighborhood Character – The Department finds that the proposed project appropriately addresses the neighborhood context by providing the residential entry along Hill Street and the commercial entry along Valencia Street. As a mixed‐use building on a corner lot, the proposed project addresses both the mixed‐use context along Valencia Street with the new ground‐floor retail and landscape elements, as well as the finer grain residential context along Hill Street.
Issue #3: Height, Scale and Form – The Department is in support of the overall height, scale and form of the proposed project, since it is in alignment with the underlying zoning district and height/bulk limits.
Further, the proposed project provides an appropriate setback at the rear as well as code‐complying open space for the new residential units. Generally, corner buildings should be given more prominence in terms of height and scale.
Issue #4: Relationship to Liberty‐Hill Historic District & Nearby Historic Resources – Historic resource review does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Discretionary Review process, rather historic resource review of a project is evaluated under the California Quality Environmental Act (CEQA). An Environmental Evaluation Application was submitted for the project, and the Department published a Mitigated Negative Declaration for the proposed project. This document concluded that the existing building is not a historic resource, either individually or as part of a district.
Further, the proposed project would not have an impact upon the nearby Liberty‐Hill Historic District, since “the proposed project would not alter the extant “suburban” characteristics of either the district as a whole or the project block of Hill Street in particular, in that the project would leave intact the entirety of development both within the Liberty‐Hill Historic District and on the project block of Hill Street.”
Issue #5: Noise – Potential construction, traffic, operational and cumulative noise impacts were evaluated as part of the Environmental Evaluation Application and the published Mitigated Negative Declaration, and were found to be within acceptable levels. The proposed project is required to comply with the San Francisco Noise Ordinance, which is outlined in Article 20 of the San Francisco Police Code. With regard to construction noise, construction work is prohibited between 8:00pm and 7:00am, and certain impact tools (jackhammers, hoerammers, impact wrenches, etc.) are required to have intake and exhaust mufflers to the satisfaction of the Department of Public Works. Additional information is provided in the attached environmental document.
Issue #6: Dwelling Unit Mix – The Department finds that the proposed project meets the density requirements, as outlined in Planning Code Section 207.6. The project provides eight (8) two-bedroom dwelling units and four (4) one-bedroom dwelling units, and exceeds the requirement that no less than 40 percent of the total number of dwelling units shall contain at least two bedrooms.
Issue #7: Parking – Off-street parking for new dwelling units or commercial spaces is not required in the Valencia St NCT Zoning District. To promote public transit, the Valencia St NCT provides parking maximums rather than parking minimums. The proposed project provides one (1) off‐street freight loading parking space, and is in compliance with the requirements of Planning Code Sections 151.1 and 152. In addition, the proposed project is within a transit‐rich area, as evidenced by its proximity to the Muni J‐Line (approximately three blocks away), the BART station at 24th and Mission (approximately four blocks away), and the bus routes (14‐Mission and 49‐Van Ness/Mission) along Mission Street (one block away).
Further, Valencia Street is a well‐recognized bicycle‐friendly transit corridor. The project is in compliance with the Eastern Neighborhoods planning process which encourages the elimination of parking along transit corridors, thus furthering the City’s transit first policy.
Once again, while originally slated to be rentals, according to our source they're now likely to be marketed and sold as condos, ten of which will be market rate. And the LHNA's rendering of what they'd rather see be allowed to rise:
First Published: September 6, 2012 11:00 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
ALL of the points raised by the Liberty Hill NA are completely off base and stupid; even more so when they actually trot out that insanely ugly brick monstrosity they proposed.
I trust and hope the original project passes with flying colors.
Posted by: futurist at September 6, 2012 12:23 PM
The LHNA seems to have a cognitive dissonance between issue #4 (Relationship to Liberty‐Hill Historic District & Nearby Historic Resources ) and their preferred modernist alternative.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at September 6, 2012 12:41 PM
There are obviously some issues in these grievances that were already addressed and/or didn't have their place there.
I wonder if there was a way to have Nimbys share the costs associated with the study of their grievances. Many projects are being delayed, go through extra rounds of reviews, commissions, studies, etc... all at the cost of the developer.
Going through reviews I think is a healthy process, but the cost should be shared in the case of unjustified complaints.
Not that we would want to bully citizen into "shutting the Eff up" as Bob says. We need rules, protections, and we need everyone to have legitimate access to decisions that can impact them.
But if anyone tries to willingly obstruct the process without due reasons other than gaming the system (for instance delaying so much the developer gives up), there should be provisions for compensating the developer. That would cause Nimbys to consult professionals first to really research if they have solid grounds for complaints.
Posted by: lol at September 6, 2012 12:45 PM
"certain impact tools (jackhammers, hoerammers, impact wrenches, etc.) are required to have intake and exhaust mufflers to the satisfaction of the Department of Public Works."
Can anyone tell me more about this? Do intake and exhaust mufflers really reduce the sound of jackhammers? Are they used in San Francisco? How would I get this enforced (who would I complain to) if there was loud construction in my neighborhood?
Posted by: bgelldawg at September 6, 2012 2:13 PM
Both designs are FUGLY.
Can we ever get some decent architecture in this city?
SFMOMA expansion: Fail
Transbay Tower: Fail
2712 Broadway: Fail
And one of SF Gates "ugliest mansions", 2845 Broadway
For a city that prides itself on being smart, progressive, innovative and all the rest, we get some really lousy buildings.
Posted by: Joshua at September 6, 2012 3:53 PM
@Joshua, it's frivolous arguments like those stated above that make even good/interesting/provocative architecture hard to realize here in the City. The minority is given too much heft in these cases, and common sense is thrown out the door. Discouraging to say the least. Meanwhile, rental rates continue to inflate as does the need for new housing.
Posted by: Joel V at September 6, 2012 4:08 PM
Better architecture cities seem to be run by benevolent dictators (see Chicago, New York, et al.).
Posted by: Joshua at September 6, 2012 4:26 PM
Seriously @ joshua: You consider the SFMOMA expansion a "fail"? Really?
1. It's not built yet. Do you really understand the complexity of adding on to the existing museum and the amazing solution (s) the architects have developed?
2. Then share with us your insight as to why it is a fail.
3. Ok, so what building or buildings do you even consider as to successful in SF?
Posted by: futurist at September 6, 2012 9:48 PM
If opposing persons can propose architectural alternates in situations like these, the results could be interesting. And by results, I mean only the flavorful and comment-rich stories on this site.
Posted by: Stucco_Sux at September 6, 2012 10:11 PM
Find a great art museum building that isn't situated on a great site. Walker, Getty, MCA, Art Institute, Met, Guggenheim, etc, etc.
That's our first problem. "We" decided to shoe-horn the new building into an entirely inappropriate space, bounded by the W and the St. Regis. SMOMA needs to build a tunnel so that the W can park their cars. Really?
With the Fisher Collection, SFMOMA *could* become one of the greats. But it won't. The proposed structure is entirely too vertical, not allowing flowing gallery space to properly show exhibits. Worse still, the ground floor(s) will be built to attract more sidewalk traffic, not intended to show the main exhibitions. Look at MCA -- a smaller, newish building -- they have two huge entry-floor galleries that have done great exhibits of Koons, Bradford and others. At SFMOMA, similar exhibits are disjointed simply b/c the footprint is wrong.
Before it's even built, it's a fail. And sorry if you are not well enough informed about it -- get off the internet and go see what is actually planned.
And if you respond, please, please, please don't drone on about how you're a licensed architect. There are plenty of bad ones out there...look at the museum buildings mentioned above and tell me how, possibly, the SFMOMA proposed building is in the same league.
Posted by: Joshua at September 6, 2012 11:46 PM
project approved 8-0 last night with some tedious revisions suggested by the Commission, they liked the original square bay version (with bays that didnt comply with the Planning Code (too close together or something) and they want the project sponsor to consider re-submitting their original request for a rear yard variance to fill in the building at the rear and step the building down at the top, something the architect proposed from day one and everyone shot down....
Posted by: jose at September 7, 2012 8:49 AM
Got it joshua: you are negative from the start. No worries.
The new SFMOMA addition will be a great project.
Btw: thanks for the plug.
Posted by: futurist at September 7, 2012 11:08 AM
Posted by: SocketSite at September 7, 2012 11:15 AM