February 28, 2014
Decision To Downsize Mission District Development Reversed
San Francisco’s Board of Appeals has reversed their December decision which had required the previously approved five-story project at 1050 Valencia Street to remove a full floor and three units in order to move forward with development
As we first reported last month which led to the reversal this week:
With San Francisco's Board of Supervisors having narrowly upheld the Planning Department's approval for the five-story development at 1050 Valencia Street to rise, a subsequent appeal of the project's building permits resulted in 5-0 vote by San Francisco's Board of Appeals to issue the permits, but under a couple of conditions, including that the developer only build four stories rather than five as approved.
The problem for the Board of Appeals, they might have overstepped their legal bounds.
Following their public meeting, the Board of Appeals will move behind closed doors this evening to meet with legal counsel in anticipation of having to defend against litigation. The likely action would be based on the California Housing Accountability Act which prevents local agencies from reducing the density of code-complying residential projects.
Apparently counsel was convincing and the developer's argument sound as the Board voted 4-0 to reverse their previous decision and allow 1050 Valencia to rise a full five floors, the height for which the parcel is zoned. That being said, attached to the Board's ruling was a mandate that the project be redesigned with the fifth floor setback from the street.
First Published: February 28, 2014 7:15 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
Meanwhile, the owner is out thousands of dollars in carrying costs due to the delay plus legal fees. And San Francisco goes a bit longer without additional units. The neighbors that started this ruckus should be ashamed of themselves.
Posted by: Faceword at February 28, 2014 8:01 AM
They should set a [precedent] and sue the neighbors who held up this process without any merit.
Posted by: d at February 28, 2014 8:03 AM
But what would the claim be? Malicious exercise of the procedural rights permitted under the law? Good luck with that one.
Posted by: anon at February 28, 2014 8:10 AM
Not only would they lose the lawsuit, under California's "Anti-SLAPP" (SLAPP = strategic lawsuit against public participation) statute, they'd have to pay the other side's attorneys' fees.
Posted by: Chris at February 28, 2014 8:21 AM
Fifth floor setback? That will ruin the glossy grain silo look.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at February 28, 2014 9:11 AM
I think the significant result here is that this may mark a turning point -- with the mayor fully behind new housing and all the policy to encourage housing, it may be that the various review boards will start swinging behind full development and nimby's will generally fail -- if that becomes the standard, the incentive to block projects will drop.
Posted by: BigV at February 28, 2014 9:40 AM
@BigV - that was my thought exactly.
Posted by: DanRH at February 28, 2014 9:54 AM
fifth floor setback would be a good name for a band
Posted by: suburbanoid at February 28, 2014 10:06 AM
+1 to BigV
I think this is actually a very important ruling.
Posted by: OMN at February 28, 2014 10:15 AM
Yes, I agree, I think this will establish a precedent.
Posted by: woolie at February 28, 2014 11:28 AM
BOA are such [Removed by Editor] to pull this stunt. Let's hope they are humbled, as almost all mission projects go through the ringer when it comes to gaining approvals.
Posted by: poor.ass.millionaire at February 28, 2014 1:31 PM
It is embarrassing how the final vote came about. It is a brain fart of one of the commissioners, which was completely incoherent. The project has been through Planning Commission, City Council, historic review and was reduced by to activists who's self interest in greater than the City's. Without the top floor, we would have lost 2 BMRs. How do these people sleep at night. With decisions such as removing the top floor, the City should be sued.
BTW, the Board set back the top floor in the front AND the back, which is the location of the elevator. We are surrounded by self servicing residents and irresponsible politicians.
The board no longer makes decisions based on rules and regulations. As long as developers are screwed they feel good about themselves. Simply shameful.
Posted by: Little S. at February 28, 2014 6:43 PM
It is a really ugly building so anything to reduce its glaring impact is welcome.
Posted by: JB10 at February 28, 2014 8:11 PM
I hope it's a turning point, BigV, but I doubt it.
Posted by: SFRealist at February 28, 2014 8:58 PM
It is too bad that the BOA reversed course; the developer had no legal argument. The BOA could have easily maintained their original decision. The driving force seemed to be desire to ensure that the building still would be required to have affordable housing.
Hopefully this won't dissuade the BOA in the future from actually enforcing City policies. While the developers here don't like it, all of the zoning rules in the City were approved in the context of design guidelines. So if you don't like the design guidelines being enforced then the zoning should be re-looked at too.
And, rather than whining about NIMBYs, you should consider actually meeting with the community. If the developer here had ever bothered to do that, this would have been built years ago.
Or you can just continue to be self-righteous jerks.
Posted by: NoeNeighbor at March 3, 2014 4:03 PM
What are you talking about NN? The area is zoned for five stories, it is not like the developer broke any City policies. Or is there something else going on here that we don't know about?
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at March 3, 2014 9:49 PM