The former homes that stood on the underdeveloped Glen Park lot fronting Brompton Avenue and Kern Street were removed in the late 1960s, when the city widened Bosworth Street and reserved the now vacant 21 Brompton Avenue parcel for the potential development of a City-owned parking lot.

But when the City’s Parking Authority failed to demonstrate any interest in the aforementioned parking lot proposal, the parcel, which is zoned RH-2, which would allow for a two-family dwelling to be built, was sold to private party in the early 1970s.

And while technically not permitted for use as a parking lot, the vacant parcel has served as one ever since.

Around two years ago, plans to formally convert the parcel into a paid parking lot started to percolate. And last year, the owners of the property sought a letter of determination from San Francisco’s Zoning Administrator to establish the lot as a legal nonconforming use, a request which was denied as the parking lot was never permitted in the first place.

But three months ago, Supervisor Jeff Sheehy introduced legislation which would allow for the parcel to be turned into a legal, and potentially permanent, parking lot, the Planning Commission hearing for which is scheduled for next week.

San Francisco’s Planning Department, however, is recommending that the proposed legislation and legitimization of the parking lot use be denied, or at the very least that it’s written to restrict the number of years a legal parking lot operation would be allowed.

In addition, the Department is encouraging a rezoning of the site to allow for a dense multi-family development to eventually rise. We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Patrick

    In this day and age we are developing parking lots, in Glen Park no less? Supervisor Sheehy, what have you been smoking? I have no objection to parking at this location, but there should be housing above it.

    • Posted by Tony

      That’s the side of his district where he needs to do a little more campaigning. I assume this was done to make the neighborhood happy.

    • Posted by archiwha?

      sup. sheehy is speaking for her constituents which, if they are like any other upper-middle-class homeowners in san francisco, want no possibility of more housing. (and they probably also think that a parking lot somehow decreases traffic)

      • Posted by Tony

        Right, but he’s generally pro-housing in his voting record so this would be a break from the norm that seems like it could be explained by the fact there’s an election coming up. Also, it’s Jeff Sheehy, he’s a guy.

    • Posted by Pioneer

      Supervisor Sheehy lives in the immediate neighborhood. I’m pretty sure he won’t be the supervisor very much longer. He is a very angry man with a frighteningly uneven temper and can’t keep good staff because of it. Good riddance to this Ed Lee appointed Supervisor!

      • Posted by SFcitizen

        Do you think Mr. Mandelmann will be a better Supervisor?

    • Posted by Brisket

      Agreed they should keep parking in the location with housing built above it. This lot gets tons of use by people shopping in Glen Park Village. It would be a shame for the merchants and restaurants if parking were eliminated completely.

      • Posted by scott f

        Development at a reasonable density (say, 20 stories of housing) would bring enough new business to replace any drive-in customers ten times over.

    • Posted by NoeNeighbor

      The parking in that area is very tight and that lot is used by many people in the surrounding area to visit the shops and restaurants in GP. Some people are close enough to walk, but not everyone. Keeping the parking is a good way maintaining the vitality of that commercial district. Adding some housing on top would be a good idea — and those residents actually wouldn’t need parking.

      • Posted by Torger Cobus

        If only there were something like public transit available.

  2. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    What would motivate the parcel owner to develop this site as a parking lot? Surely it would yield more income if developed as residential. Glad planning is pushing back.

    • Posted by SocketSite

      It would allow the parcel’s owner to begin collecting revenue for the parking lot’s use while continuing to effectively land bank the site versus motivating its redevelopment.

      • Posted by scott f

        Prop 13 repeal is sorely needed to stop the giveaway to land speculators like this.

  3. Posted by bachman_erlich_overdrive

    IF WE CALL IT A PARKING LOT THE PEOPLE WILL GO AHEAD AND PARK THERE!!! BETTER THAT WE NOT CALL IT A PARKING LOT AND then people will…. still…. park…. there…..?

    [Editor’s Note: See our comment above.]

    • Posted by bachman_erlich_overdrive

      Right. There would be no change from the current use from a social standpoint. Cars park now, cars would park later. If you prevent the legal re-categorization, people will still park there, and it will still be owned. There’s just a spiteful interest in preventing the parking from being monetized. That’s why the only possible outcome is to zone the parcel as a dance floor. Because there is no parking on the dance floor.

      The property owner doesn’t have an obligation to sell, or to develop the parcel as you (planning dept./public writ large) see fit. Just go all the way and zone it as a dance floor if you don’t like the parking aspect

      • Posted by SocketSite

        Attempting to prevent the monetization of an ongoing unpermitted use while encouraging a legal redevelopment and upzoning (cha-ching!) of the land-banked site? How very spiteful, indeed!

      • Posted by Sassy

        This is my favorite SS comment to date!🕺🏽

      • Posted by bachman_erlich_overdrive

        Let’s assume parking is not recognized as a legal non-conforming use here. What will happen?

        A. Someone calls code enforcement once the decision is handed down and they ding the property owner so he is forced to put up a fence/barricade. So less parking for the neighborhood. Amazing! Great work!

        B. No one calls, no one cares – people keep parking (this is probably the best outcome given the circumstances).

        C. Maybe out of a sense of retribution, the owner puts up a fence voluntarily to keep people out. No parking for the neighborhood. Woo Hoo!

        60K basis for the land, traded in the 1970’s. You know what that means? Some old people own it. What’s the implication? When old people die, the property basis gets re-set. So there is a huge incentive, if the owners like their heirs, NOT to sell the lot. Just die and let it go. They don’t get a big tax bill that way. It’s their business not yours.

        If the planning department wants to layer on higher density, great, but it’s hard to see how preventing parking will motivate a sale, if they haven’t sold after all these years. why bother now? Sounds like the owners didn’t really want people parking there, but didn’t care enough to really stop them.

        Too bad about that public benefit going away – at least the rules will be followed!

        • Posted by SocketSite

          While you’re snark is strong, your logic is weak.

          A. Unlikely. Remember it’s technically a vacant lot with no parking signs and there isn’t an illegal parking operation to enforce per se.

          B. Yep.

          C. Unlikely. A fence would require a capital outlay and maintenance with no additional return. And wasn’t it the city that you were previously accusing of acting out of spite?

          In terms of “if they haven’t sold after all these years…why bother now?” Perhaps the fact that the owners have recently engaged planning, “after all these years,” to explore opportunities for monetizing the parcel might provide a hint.

          And while the owners have expressed “a desire to see the site developed as housing in the future,” according to Planning, “granting a Public Parking Lot to exist not only as of right, but as a permanent land use will only stunt this land from being developed to its highest and best use.”

          • Posted by Mike Schiraldi

            Actually, the property tax was reassessed just last year to $627k (still far too low, IMHO). The lot had been owned 50/50 between two families since the 1970’s, but in December 2016, the Hayes family bought Bernie Kelly out, triggering reassessment.

          • Posted by bachman_erlich_overdrive

            If the planning department takes away a Historic Parking Site (HPS)* site to placate neighbor complaints or their own version of the future, then I think some spite is in order.

            If vehicle storage is unfriendly to new urban thinking, why don’t we give landlords the right to decouple parking from rent-controlled units and then convert the ground level parking space to ADU’s? We know from your other story today that very few ADU’s have been produced. There are a lot of old Hondas living where young people could be instead.

            If this whole “make the parking lot permanent” angle is merely a ploy to force a more generous planning interpretation for future development, then well-played, I say.

            I don’t see the harm in letting the parking continue on a paid basis.

      • Posted by Accounting

        This comment wins the internets today!

  4. Posted by Brisket

    It is so bizarre that this lot exists and has been operating as free parking. There are signs up saying no parking but it continues to be used as such and nobody is ever ticketed or towed. Years ago my then wife was parking there (along with many others) and a guy was in the lot just yelling at everyone that it was a private lot and no one can park there. Then the next day it was back to business as usual. I don’t understand why the owners have never fenced it off (but am thankful they have not).

    • Posted by SocketSite

      Keep in mind that the lot’s current assessed value, after four decades of ownership, remains under $60K. And a fencing of the site would have effectively squashed any future attempt to have the parking lot use deemed a legal nonconforming use.

      • Posted by Mike Schiraldi

        Look up the current property tax bill for parcel 6744/031. It’s assessed at $627k now.

  5. Posted by UnlivableCity

    Wow. This is classic SF PlanInc serving up itsy bitsy distracting stuff as meantime huge problems and questions about much larger scale issues are left dangling. It’s a tiny parcel. Who cares? As for all the Sheehy bashers here, just remember who the alternative really is.

    • Posted by Orland

      I would have thought you’d fall right in line with Chris.

    • Posted by Mike Schiraldi

      A tiny parcel? It’s nearly 6,637 sqft, and at a prime location with no need for a demolition permit and no neighbors.

  6. Posted by Night Fog Horn

    Thanks for the 411 on this lot. I always wondered what was up with it. I guess the moral here is that if you want your empty lot to be upzoned, then propose turning it into surface parking!

  7. Posted by scott f

    Perfect spot for a 200-foot signature residential tower across from BART. Just like the MacArthur Mammoth in Oakland.

    • Posted by Pioneer

      I love this idea! A 200 foot tower would not block anyone’s views in this spot, but I would be thrilled with a 150 foot tower!

  8. Posted by observant neighbor

    David Chiu’s excellent upzoning-of-BART-owned-land bill (AB2923) just passed the state assembly. If it gets the okay in the senate, BART would be able to buy parcels like this and rezone them for high-density housing, yes?

  9. Posted by Patrick

    My bad! I didn’t realize that this [is] to temporarily make this parking lot legit pending its development as multifamily housing!

  10. Posted by Jeremy Anderson
  11. Posted by Carmen

    They charge for parking. A woman with a clipboard searching for my license plate came up to me and told me to move. She said people that pay for a space complain their spots are always gone. This was late 2015. The following day, I saw tow trucks. I never parked there again. From time to time, there’s a guy sitting in a pick up truck parked in the corner doing the same. I used to see the both of them walk in and out of the former lawyer/real estate office in the adjacent building in the mornings.

  12. Posted by SFMichael

    So the city tore down two or three houses in the 1960s after presumably buying them through eminent domain, with the explicit intent of turning the space into a parking lot. Then the Parking Authority didn’t want to deal with it, likely because it was too small for them to bother with, so the city sold it to someone who turned it into the parking lot the city wanted in the first place. And now the Planning Department is [upset] that there is an attempt to make what has been in place for the last 40 or so years legal…. Sigh.

    • Posted by Patrick

      There was a plan for the Crosstown Freeway to go up Glen Canyon, then down Woodside, Laguna Honda, then across Golden Gate Park to the Golden Gate bridge.

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      A lot can change in a half century. In the 1960s transportation planning decisions were made assuming that everybody would drive everywhere. That actually became the reality for the majority of the USA but not so much in dense cities like SF.

  13. Posted by BuildHighAndDense

    Thanks for figuring out what is up with that lot, very odd. What is stranger are the derelict buildings across the narrow street, any idea what is going on with those? I saw at least one for sale a month back. It seems like a big cash opportunity to develop something big near BART, not to mention a school and a pretty good village of shops.

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