4135 California Street Site

Plans to raze the Inner Richmond service station at 4135 California Street, across from the modern condos which were constructed at 300-350 Cornwall, have been submitted to San Francisco’s Planning Department for review.

As proposed, a four-story building will rise up to 40 feet in height across the California Auto Service Center site, with seven three-bedroom condos and a ground-floor garage for seven cars (the entrance to which would be by way of Cornwall Street as well).

And in order to maximize the buildable area of the lot, a variance from having to include a rear yard, as required by San Francisco’s Planning Code, is being sought and resulted in the following response from Planning: “Exceptions from the Code will require exceptional design, detailing and material choices.”

Keep in mind that a key tenet of “as of right” development requires code compliant projects to be built, and the majority of new developments in San Francisco seek a variance or two.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by neighbor dee

    That corner has the best quick carwash in SF on weekends, with the gas cheaper then others in the neighborhood. More condos vs the service station does not bring me joy.

    • Posted by Fishchum

      Try the Shell car wash over on Geary & Cook.

      • Posted by neighbor dee

        Thanks but the Shell is an automated wash vs this is hand wash… huge difference if you have a nice paint job on your car.

  2. Posted by jj

    I used to live near here and it was always closed. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten gas here. I was able to do without gas and it was 2 blocks from me, I’m sure it won’t be missed much. Never saw many customers there.

  3. Posted by cfb

    Four stories. Perfect! …for Walnut Creek.

    • Posted by Mark

      Why is 4 stories perfect for WC? WC has a really vibrant, walkable downtown area near a BART station. If anything 14 stories would be more deserving, not 4.

      Just take a look at pretty much the ENTIRE west side of San Francisco that was built after the streetcar tunnels opened and turned dunes into subdivisions. We’re talking pretty much low-rise, suburban development so 4 stories actually does fit in with the existing landscape. However, can the area use some height? Sure it can.

      • Posted by cfb

        lol, settle down and fix your sarcasm meter. I’m simply saying four stories is a scale more suited to the suburbs.

        Also it’s kind of silly to call the west side of SF “suburban”, seeing as it’s part of SF city proper, full of wall-to-wall development, and is more densely populated than 99% of American neighborhoods. As for four stories fitting in with the existing development from half a century ago…yeah, of course it does, but the whole point is that the SF of today needs to leave the past and build bigger if we want to even try to address the region’s housing needs.

        • Posted by Dave

          Fine and good but I’d like to see SSF down through Millbrae, along El Camino, help address those needs too.

          A very wide – 3/4 lanes ln each direction, boulevard near BART, with SamTrans lines running along it and close to 101 and 280. Pretty much undeveloped. Mostly old two story commercial buildings, even some one story buildings. How about building 7/8 story residential projects along that stretch with retail/commercial in the ground floor?

          Thee is only so much more density SF can absorb and especially when there are still “wide open” areas in the region. Such as this section of El Camino.

          • Posted by Rbkd

            Do we really need another apartment house in this area? California Street in this area is so densely populated, it’s like walking on Market Street during a work day! Let’s have a plan before we keep building. Quality of life, not more tax dollars for politicians to throw away!

          • Posted by Alai

            Nothing says “quality of life” like an old gas station…

            And I walk on this stretch of California St. pretty regularly. Rarely do I pass more than one or two people per block.

          • Posted by scott f

            South San Francisco has upzoned its downtown significantly, is moving its Caltrain station west of the freeway to be more walkable, and is building seven stories of housing two blocks from the new station.

            And while it’s further south than you specified, Redwood City has an 8-story project planned for its walkable downtown near Caltrain.

            Do I wish there were more examples like this and at every BART station? Totally, but if 7-8 stories can get built in those locations, the Inner Richmond should be able to manage it too.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            except the inner richmond has crappy transport and its faster to get from SSF to downtown than it is to get from innner richmond to downtown using public transport

          • Posted by scott f

            53 min from the SSF site to Powell St on transit, 29 min from the Inner Richmond according to Google.

          • Posted by Mark

            Yeah, I really trust Google’s on time transit info as much as I trust NextBus. SSF-Powell on BART takes 21 minutes.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            scott. takes 45 minutes from 6th and cal to get downtown

        • Posted by Mark

          Thanks, but I prefer to keep the meter running.

          It’s not silly at all to call the west side of SF suburban. Any density created by 2-story rowhouses is overshadowed by the fact that each one of them includes a garage. They were built so that people could own cars and drive them which is no different than most suburban developments. Transit is an afterthought (if it’s even a thought at all).

          Low-rise development doesn’t have to be the norm in the burbs, BTW.

  4. Posted by anon

    “Exceptions from the Code will require exceptional design, detailing and material choices.”

    In other words, please make it even more expensive.

  5. Posted by Oh Dear

    The Richmond along California street could handle more height…particularly at corners.

  6. Posted by soccermom

    Sounds good to me. Much rather have more nice new housing in this location than a bedraggled gas station. Perhaps it is too much to hope, but might more residents be enough to make the retail space on the ground floor of 300-350 Cornwall viable? Seems like that should have been rented a long time ago. It was still empty the last time I drove past, I think.

    • Posted by Alai

      I have often wondered about this myself.

      • Posted by Charlie Dube

        They need to quit adding commercial in the Richmond for a while. Still a glut. Would love to see a systematic comparison of rent per SF of district commercial vs residential.

    • Posted by Alai

      I passed it today and there were people in it, carrying some construction materials. Maybe something is finally happening…

  7. Posted by Alai

    I am generally in favor of nixing the yard. The condos across the street have a yard, and it’s a waste. Never see anyone in it, it doesn’t benefit the city, it occupies space which could be used for a couple more housing units, and it breaks up the street wall in a way that isn’t very attractive.

  8. Posted by Eddy

    No yard. Add underground parking and put more residential units or retail on ground floor as a condition of variance.

  9. Posted by moto mayhem

    i use this gas station pretty frequently as am 3 blks away. im not sure why someone said its always empty. thats just not true. there are almost always people using it, as well as the mechanic and smog testing garage is used a lot. lastly, the hand car wash is basically booming with a line every sat and sun. Im not saying we should keep it, but the neighborhood will be losing a business that is providing a service that is widely used.

    I just hope the new condo wont be as hideous as the one across the street that was built 3 years ago, which totally and utterly is out of place (not because of size, but because of design). The best thing about it is my dogs loves urinating in the plants they put out front. One possible advantage of new condos is bringing in more people that will complain about our expanding homeless problem in inner richmond.

    • Posted by Jan K.

      I agree. The station is pretty busy and that’s where I take my car for repairs. Others in this block do as well. I will really miss it. I also agree that the condos across the street are hideous.

  10. Posted by Lou

    I’m a regular user of this gas station, too. The mechanics are always willing to do extra favors or service at no charge if you’re a regular. I will really miss it and the staff employed there.

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