Citing an incompatibility with the surrounding neighborhood, an objection to its aesthetics and shadows, additional traffic and parking congestion, a proposed residential parking ratio of 0.75 spaces to each unit, and its impact on birds and plant species, the Planning Department’s preliminary approval for the proposed 555 Fulton project was appealed.
Said appeal will be heard by the Planning Commission this Thursday with a preliminary recommendation to reject the appeal and back the Planning Department’s assessment of the project. Oh, and apparently that part about an onsite hot dog stand was incorrect.
555 Fulton: Full Details And A “Refined” Façade [SocketSite]
Appeal of Preliminary Mitigated Negative Declaration for 555 Fulton []
Planning Commission Agenda: Thursday, May 13, 2010 []

27 thoughts on “555 Fulton: Will “The Birds” Bring Down Another Proposed Project?”
  1. This is an ugly, monontonous, oppresive design that adds nothing of value to this neighborhood. I only wish it can be stopped on appeal.

  2. This is an ugly, monontonous, oppresive design that adds nothing of value to this neighborhood.
    In other words, it matches exactly what is across the street, down the street, and around the corner.
    “incompatible” indeed.
    (No, I don’t like the building, but the criticism of “not fitting in” is ridiculous.)
    It should absolutely have more parking though.

  3. Ugly indeed. I took one look at it and knew it was a Saitowitz special.
    At this rate every neighborhood in the city will be blighted by his “design.”
    He must be stopped before he builds again!

  4. It’s hard to match the monotony and oppression of the local provincial build nothing anywhere near anything set. There really is no shame. For the BIRDS!

  5. Yes, but they guarantee a perpetually constricted housing supply and help prop up my home’s value. Where would we be without NIMBY’s?

  6. I’m glad the editor posted this because it’s a good, not the greatest, but a good example of how the NIMBY game is played in The City. Don’t like a project proposed for your neighborhood? Worried about your view but realize that views aren’t protected by CEQA or by municipal rules? Well, file yourself an appeal and list concerns like air and wildlife impacts!
    And you don’t have to read between the lines like a literary critic, either, it’s all right there. From the original appeal letter, linked above, pg. 8:

    With an [sic] 136 additional residents living on the property in addition to a supermarket being built, the 5 story block wide development changes entirely the character of the neighborhood. Much more people means much more Parking and Pollution problems. Show how was this issue just waved off?

    Residents of 580 and 590 Fulton Street will have their view of sky blocked!

    These residents will be living in colder and darkened conditions. Furthermore, these residents will no longer get any morning Sunlight. How does this comply with the existing building laws?

    It goes on to complain about parking; we are all aware of the desire of incumbent homeowners to not see existing on-street parking opportunities get crowded. And yes, the initiator of the appeal is a resident of 580 Fulton St.

  7. It should absolutely have more parking though.
    To be clear, the proposed residential parking ratio of 0.75:1 is being opposed by The Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association (HVNA) which would prefer a ratio of 0.5:1 as per the Market and Octavia Better Neighborhoods Plan.

  8. That’s interesting that the HVNA prefers a lower parking ratio. I guess parking is already saturated and cannot get more difficult, so they’re concerned about street congestion alone.

  9. The HVNA has been doing god’s work for years trying to enshrine a lower parking ratio. They rightly realize that their neighborhood works as a walking and transit neighborhood, not as a driving and parking neighborhood (and that the parking ration for the existing historic fabric is probably significantly less than .5/1.
    Nonetheless, it has amazed me that they continue to support low parking ratios when things move from neighborhood level planning to actual projects. It take cojones to NOT become a NIMBY. All hail HVNA.

  10. God’s work? Really? Get a grip.
    BTW, want to know how to make sure a project’s finances don’t pencil out?

  11. That bird call is just ridiculous, The only birds in that area are dirty pigeons…and so they are worried about preserving the “look of the neighborhood” what the look of the section 8 housing around the block??

  12. Why are we looking at the all this soviet style housing plans? If this building is not subsized housing, it has that sidwalk look, and the developers expect to make a proit,.the new buyer will need paring to commute to thier paychecks on the pennisula and for nanny’s car for the pick up and drop off of the children to private schools.

  13. Existing housing sells without parking.
    Yet new projects are “unfinanceable” without parking.
    I’ve never quite understood that juxtaposition.
    Obviously, it depends how much provision of parking adds to a building’s cost, and also how much it adds to a building’s value. But even so, new projects should be financially feasible without providing parking for every single unit.

  14. development changes entirely the character of the neighborhood
    Right. From desolate and abandoned to occupied and lively. The developers must be sorry they didn’t go with some Disneyesque Eastlake Theme Park look four years ago. With mansard-roofed towers.

  15. I’ve said it before though it is worth mentioning again. The reason that developers want more parking in a project isn’t because the project won’t pencil out (curmudgeon provides a great counterexample above). The real reason is the high value of a parking spot in a neighborhood with a limited supply causes parking to be a high profit part of the project. Supply and demand, ya know.
    Developers are business people and business people tend to optimize profit.
    We can’t just add parking “as the market demands” because that would result in untenable street congestion and decrease the quality of life in the neighborhood. Every entitled parking spot also comes with a “free” entitlement to the neighborhood street network. That increases congestion, decreases safety, and slows transit. Neighborhood groups rightfully want to keep those factors under control.

  16. Curmudgeon,
    You need to get a life and worry about yourself. Some people have jobs, which you need to commute by car. Public transportation in and around the bay area is awful compared to places like New York, where you don’t want a car. If public transportation was so good, people would willingly leave their cars behind or leave some of their cars behind. Public transportation is not good, so people have to buy a car to commute. What are the odds that both members of the family live and work in the city (slim chances in my experience)? What are the odds that a family or senior residents does not want a car to go away for the weekend, pick up groceries, or make a doctor’s appointment (slim)? Let’s all stop being so anti-car. Improve the public transportation first. People will naturally give up their car payment, car insurance, and gas bills overnight! I still think most people paying $500,000+ for housing will own a car for weekend trips, groceries, etc. Everyone has to be a bit realistic. I am tired of this anti-parking tirade about every project. We do not have public transportation like Europe, so people needs cars in the Bay Area. Build the public transportation first.

  17. Marina, I have a life, thank you. I have a job, too, to which I commute by transit. I am the first to recognize that that doesn’t work for everyone.
    The “Some people” you mention are welcome to rent or buy housing with parking. All I say is that we shouldn’t insist that everyone does, and that we shouldn’t impose suburban land-use standards upon dense inner city neighborhoods like Hayes Valley.

  18. This project is at least as attractive as the rest of the neighborhood–and I live nearby so I walk through the area a lot. While I sympathize with the 580/590 Fulton folks losing their sunlight or whatever, the only way they can be sure that won’t happen in the middle of a city is to move–to a farmhouse surrounded by a couple of hundred acres.
    The appeal is entirely disingenuous and everybody involved surely knows it.

  19. Curmudgeon,
    I totally agree with you then. I think parking should be an optional purchase item for a housing unit. It has been stated here before to untie the parking from a unit or dwelling. I am a huge supporter of smart development (I can’t stand suburban sprawl) and believe we need to build much, much more housing. Increase housing supply will reduce the cost of housing overtime, which will allow more families to stay in SF. We do need to build smart (near public trans.)
    I just get upset with all of the anti-car bashing, because many people (like myself) cannot do my job without a car. Yes, most of my work is done in SF, but I also work in Marin, Napa, and Santa Rosa, so it is impossible for me to do my job without a car, which I need for 2 weeks every month.

  20. @MarinaRenter: Move to the sunset. Plenty of street parking. I should know, I live there now, and I have a car. I know it’s not smart to move to a more dense neighborhood expecting the city to revolve around my needs. So stop complaining and move somewhere accommodating to your lifestyle or don’t live in the city center!

  21. We can’t just add parking “as the market demands” because that would result in untenable street congestion and decrease the quality of life in the neighborhood. Every entitled parking spot also comes with a “free” entitlement to the neighborhood street network. That increases congestion, decreases safety, and slows transit. Neighborhood groups rightfully want to keep those factors under control.
    BS. Bigger cities, smarter cities, more pedestrian-friendly cities than us are requiring off-steet, underground parking so that the streets can be cleared of parked cars. The utopian vision of a transit-only SF is absurd unless we “manhantanize” and we won’t do that.
    Parking spots in Hayes Valley were as high as $350/mo before the economic crisis. With a premium that high, there is no freaking way we can take away a single street parking spot in this neighborhood. No pedestrian street EVER. No bulb-outs EVER. No bus-only lanes EVER.
    There is no “entitlement” to use of the streets. If the City wants to close down some of the alleyways to traffic, they could except that residents need that parking. If they wanted to make Hayes a pedestrian street, they could except that residents need that parking.

  22. Will a .5 vs a .75 ratio make a difference in traffic? Most of the traffic in Hayes Valley is going through the neighborhood, rather than in and out of it.

  23. Dan, will a .5 vs .75 ratio matter? individually no, but in aggregate yes. That’s why HVNA tries to stick to its guns for everything and not make exceptions to the Market/Octavia plan. And, in reality, it’s probably as important where garage exits are. When cars dump onto heavily trafficked main streets, they obviously have a greater traffic congestion impact than when they load on side streets.

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