Having been approved and permitted for a remodel and expansion, the 2,700-square-foot Noe Valley home at 655 Alvarado Street was effectively demolished behind the remnants of its original facade, as we first detailed last year and newly pictured below.

And while having been hit with a number of violations following a complaint from a neighbor, San Francisco’s Department of Building Inspection (DBI) has determined that an “Unlawful Demolition” hasn’t actually occurred but simply “Work Exceeding [the] Scope of [the aforementioned] Permit.”

As such, “new” plans for a 5,096-square-foot home to rise upon the site could be approved by San Francisco’s Planning Commission on Thursday, the foundation and retaining walls for which have already been poured.

We’ll note that San Francisco’s Planning Department is recommending that the Commission now require the proposed structure to be redesigned as a two-unit building rather than a single-family home, “to maximize the density allowed with the RH-2 Zoning District.”

But if so conditioned, expect the “two-unit” building to be designed in such a way that it acts as a single-family home or can easily be converted post-inspection.

We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Just My Opinion

    Is this on anyone’s agenda at City Hall?

    First they violate the terms of their building permit and put their neighbor in the awful position of having to report it. Then Planning, as a sanction says, sorry, no more SFH, needs to be two units. Then we all fully expect that the building will not really be a two unit, but a SFH disguised as a two unit building. Am I reading this correctly?

  2. Posted by MDG399

    SF land use rules too strict – so people break the rules to get around them. It’s fun to watch.

    • Posted by Anon123

      Like the speed limits – too strict so people break them, except if you are caught breaking the speed limit you get a hefty fine, you insurance goes up and you could loose your license/privilege to drive in extreme cases.

      • Posted by Mark

        No. More like you get a slap on the wrist or pay off someone and laugh off the whole experience because laws/rules don’t apply to you.

        In the end, who really cares. People are shelling out millions to live in Noe Valley like it’s some kind of mecca or status symbol. It’s just a typical neighborhood with a handful of shops and restaurants. Nothing truly amazing, but for some it means everything.

        • Posted by Just My Opinion

          Nobody thinks its a Mecca. Castro and Noe have very good access to I 280 and 101, and have good weather. That is why it is popular with the tech crowd.

        • Posted by Mark

          Really? No one? I work in tech and listen to millennials gush over living there so yeah, some do think it’s the living end.

          • Posted by Just My Opinion

            OK, “No one” is hyperbole. But honestly, you sound bitter. Why is civic pride bad? They love their neighborhood. I am struggling to figure out the negative.

        • Posted by stevenj

          Noe Valley was ground zero during the dot.com days of the 90’s. I think it’s access to 280 is one of the main reasons the techies like it. When the dot.com bubble burst the neighborhood emptied out. I had never seen so many empty apartments and I’ve lived in the hood since 1973.

          • Posted by no_ vally

            @stevenj–not sure the data would agree that Noe saw its heyday in the 90’s.

            With the admitted bias that I’m a Noe resident with young kids, and just repeating the oft-heard theme of ‘Stroller Valley’, it’s hard to imagine a better place in SF for families with young kids. They’re welcome in every store, every restaurant, and both residents and guests to the neighborhood understand and accept its reputation as kid-friendly. Especially as the city’s petty crime (car windows, stolen packages) and drug problems (discarded needles, higher levels of violence) seem to be getting worse, the number of places within the city where families with young kids might feel safe enough to let them run or scooter ahead down the sidewalk seem to be fading fast. So yes, it’s certainly some combination of easy access to 280/101 plus the weather, but I’d say more than anything Noe is perhaps one of the few places where parents with young kids can still feel relatively safe and in the mainstream, despite SF’s continuously dwindling population of kids and ignominious title as the US city with lowest population of kids and parents will always be willing to pay up for security, community and the feeling they’re doing right by their kids.

            [Editor’s Note: Where the Kids Live in San Francisco.]

          • Posted by Ohlone Californio

            I think the 90s was an end of an era for Noe Valley, actually. The mid 2000s saw the rise of the current era, which is ongoing. This is both in terms of amenities, local culture, and desirability. Look at the restaurant ban, for one.

  3. Posted by ScopeThis

    Exceeds the scope alrighty….assuming you have a magnifying glass to find whats left of the thread of the original scope. Scope this…. a single batten board maybe??

  4. Posted by 101

    “But if so conditioned, expect the “two-unit” building to be designed in such a way that it acts as a single-family home or can easily be converted post-inspection.”

    I like this statement. Reminds me of me neighbor in the Western part of the City. He pulled permits for a basement family room and bath. The City came out and signed off on the project. One day later, they put the kitchen in and you have an In-Law.

  5. Posted by Abe

    Wonderful design. Respects the neighborhood character. And what a great rendering.

  6. Posted by brisket

    Not exactly an inspired design. Did they get fined for exceeding the scope?

  7. Posted by Adam

    “As such, “new” plans for a 5,096-square-foot home to rise upon the site could be approved by San Francisco’s Planning Commission on Thursday, the foundation and retaining walls for which have already been poured.”

    Fait accompli.

  8. Posted by Morgan

    Was there not a building inspector ever present to see that this was a de facto demolition? San Francisco corruption at it’s finest.

    • Posted by Just My Opinion

      Not fair to assume corruption. More likely, it is just lack of enforcement due to poor leadership and staffing. San Francisco has a very long history of over-regulating and non-enforcement.

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