February 18, 2014

Plans For A Pair Of Passive Houses In SF, And The Active Opposition

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As proposed, the existing two-story house at 2123 Castro Street which was built in 1912 will be demolished in order to make way for a contemporary, three-story home to rise with designs for it to be a certified Net-Zero Energy (NZE) building.

Despite a building size of over 3,670 square feet including the garage, the proposed Noe Valley home will not have a furnace nor air-conditioning and will be "passive" in design, a super-insulated structure with an air-tight building shell which will primarily derive its heat from the sun and people inside, the first new passive house in San Francisco.

A second three-story home of equally efficient and ambitious design is proposed to rise on the adjacent 2127 Castro Street parcel, upon which the 500-square-foot garage for the existing home at 2123 Castro Street currently sits.

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Opposing the project, a nearby neighbor and 44 signers of a petition who are concerned that the development will replace affordable housing with high-cost housing and that the scale and design of the buildings are out of context with the neighborhood:

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Keep in mind that the existing "affordable home" at 2123 Castro Street has recently been appraised for $1,525,000 and neither of the neighbors in the adjacent single-story homes to the north and south of the proposed project are opposed to the plans.

San Francisco's Planning Commission is slated to issue a decision with respect to the proposed plans for 2123 Castro Street this week with the Planning Department's recommendation that they be approved.

The proposed sister building at 2127 Castro Street is following under cover of a separate permit.

First Published: February 18, 2014 3:30 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

A city where a man with a petition can cry wolf forever.

Posted by: woolie at February 18, 2014 3:50 PM

"Affordable" in NV is a relative term.

Posted by: Mark at February 18, 2014 4:03 PM

If it's the same group led by the same couple on Diamond Street who opposed ours and every other project in the neighborhood, then the project sponsor needs to call this out during their hearing.

Their petition against our project on Valley Street was bogus.

Posted by: Michael at February 18, 2014 4:03 PM

These will pass. These will get built. There may be some minor revisions, but this will happen.

The Nimby's who cannot deal with change can just keep whining.

Posted by: Futurist at February 18, 2014 4:04 PM


Per the petitioners:

"We don't like it, we hate it, it's ugly, we want to see the same 120 year old piece of shit stay there forever, what if it casts a shadow....."

It really boils down to: Hi - we are your new neighbors and we hate you and we are jealous as all shit so we are going to block your project....and make you miserable - cause we're miserable too....

Posted by: mdg at February 18, 2014 4:22 PM

That driveway for 2123 is going to result in another curb cut, resulting in one or two fewer on-street parking spaces.

Not that I care one way or the other, just noticed it and thought I'd point it out.

Posted by: joh at February 18, 2014 4:30 PM

I think you win hearts and minds in the planning department with a 'passive' building design like this. The staff may part ways with the commissioners on this one, but if anyone cares about green energy building, it ought to be (probably is in SF) the planning department.


Posted by: soccermom at February 18, 2014 5:09 PM

The irony is that the neighbors would complain even more if they'd gone for "affordable" units by maximizing density.

Posted by: Joel at February 18, 2014 5:26 PM

Neighbors = three year project

Posted by: KD at February 18, 2014 6:20 PM

Are there clear definitions of what constitutes "affordable" housing? This term is thrown about all the time and I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean. Are there defined prices? Or is this a catch-all to mean "don't build homes for those f@ckers with more money than me!"

Developers are generally not idiots - they tend to invest in building properties that will sell. So these homes are likely "affordable" by someone who wants to - or already does - live in SF.

Posted by: sfresident at February 18, 2014 10:02 PM

Reason #128 that I would never try to build or alter the exterior of a SFH in the city. I have a life to live.

Posted by: g at February 19, 2014 8:01 AM

"A 2+ story home is out of character for the neighborhood! Whaa! Whaa! Just like the 2+ story homes across the street and at either end of the block... and throughout Noe Valley! Whaa! Whaa!"

Posted by: Sierrajeff at February 19, 2014 8:18 AM

The 2 buildings on the corner of 28th look to be about the same size as the proposed buildings.

The nimby's are quite a piece of work the way they just pull things out of their arses!

Posted by: inclinejj at February 19, 2014 8:46 AM

Not seeing legally or even morally how these 2 homes can not be replaced.
If you look at the block via Google Maps you will see that every other home on that block rises 2 stories except the 2 in question , PLUS , the design will remove the already existing wall that extends across the front of both properties.

The truth is that all this does is remove some on street parking which in San Francisco you would think of as a good thing !

Posted by: Joseph A at February 19, 2014 8:53 AM

I'm really glad to see more passive house / NZE projects going in. When looking for a new place to rent, I was always surprised by how poorly insulated much of the housing stock is here.

Posted by: noodle at February 19, 2014 9:15 AM

This complaint makes as much sense as Donald Trump complaining about his neighbor's high rise is too tall.

Posted by: davantage at February 19, 2014 3:24 PM

This is a Mandatory DR. No one filed a DR.

Posted by: noe mom at February 20, 2014 9:46 AM

FYI: this project was given unanimous approval at the planning commission hearing.

Posted by: Elizabeth at February 25, 2014 12:19 PM

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