CFAH


The proposed construction of a six-story, 58-foot-tall building with 75 condos, 47 parking spaces and a thousand square feet of retail space on the northwest corner of Potrero and Mariposa has been held up by an appeal for over a year. As we first reported this past March:

Speaking of CEQA and the appeals process in action, the Preliminary Mitigated Negative Declaration which would have allowed the development of 480 Potrero Avenue to move forward was appealed late last year by the San Francisco Verdi Club, MUNA neighborhood association, and Potrero Hill neighbors.

The objections of the appellants include concerns that the project will “have an adverse effect on a scenic vista,” will “substantially degrade the existing visual character or quality of the site and its surroundings,” and will “induce substantial population growth…and be out of character with the neighborhood.”

Once again, as the existing visual character and scenic vista currently appears:
480 Potrero Site (www.SocketSite.com)
With the Planning Department having reaffirmed its position of support for the 480 Potrero project and the Planning Commission having since agreed, this week San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors will hear the appeal, twelve months since it was filed.
Supervisor Showdown: Wiener Versus Kim, CEQA, And The NIMBYs [SocketSite]
CEQA In Action, Or Inaction, On Potrero Avenue [SocketSite]
Potrero Development Redesigned And Ready For Commission Vote [SocketSite]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by jlasf

    As economic conditions continue to improve and San Francisco welcomes a new generation of people wishing to live here, it’s necessary to preserve our vacant, vandalized, trash-strewn lots.
    The deteriorating chain-link fence and graffiti-covered walls
    clearly show that this is a prominent example of turn of the
    century urban decay. Graffiti artists have become some of the most
    revered artists of our time and the walls here are museum-quality
    examples of this genre that might, one day, be considered in the same league as Da Vinci’s “Last Supper.” It’s this kind of urban blight – along with encampments of homeless – that create the vibrant social milieu that is the San Francisco in our time. To create a clean, modern residence that would benefit the neighborhood would be a shocking abrogation of the architectural responsibility that the planners owe to the future residents of this area.

  2. Posted by $AN FRANCI$CO

    Why does it have to be so tall and cookie cutter ubiquitous stucco & baby-poop beige? Otherwise, go for it.

  3. Posted by anon

    Looks fine, get it started already. An extra couple stories would be nice, but six is better than zero.

  4. Posted by hmmm

    $AN FRANCI$CO wrote:
    “Why does it have to be so tall…?”
    Tall? You’ve got to be kidding me. Since when is five stories “tall”?
    I remember a protest poster in a fourth story window on Valencia a few years ago aghast at the 5-story “high-rise” being built across the street.
    It would be funny if only it were intentional farce. Instead, it’s just unintentional farce, which makes it sad.

  5. Posted by mas

    So many people continue to NOT get how this game is played. You think the residents want to see that big empty waste of a space as part of their neighborhood curb appeal? Of course not. So why are they objecting to it? Is the goal to stop construction? Of course not. Their goal is to make this thing less UGLY and more parking friendly. The same reasons for most of the objections for other buildings out there.
    But they can’t say they don’t like it because it’s a cookie cutter monstrosity painted in the color of poop, so they make stuff up. It’s how this game is played. You have to read between the lines people.

  6. Posted by Joel

    The residents would be opposed to the project, regardless of its architecture. Some people just want to see the entire city placed in a time capsule.

  7. Posted by anon

    I’m confused at why they can’t say that it’s ugly?

  8. Posted by Spencer

    too short for the location. not enough parking

  9. Posted by mas

    @Joel – This is where you’re wrong because you don’t know how the game is played. Just like Ted Cruz doesn’t really give a rat about the middle class, economy, or healthcare; but he’s up there talking as if he got struck by the vision. You have to know the difference between what people say and what they actually mean.
    @anon – Saying a building is ugly rarely if ever works because the appeal process is all about public interest violation. Unless you know of a way to argue that an ugly building somehow violates public interest and not have it sound ridiculous, it’s unwise to go there.

  10. Posted by anon

    ^And saying that the current “scenic vista” or “visual character” of the crappy vacant lot isn’t ridiculous. Well ok then.
    Both seem absurd and likely to be (rightly) dismissed by planning. I don’t see the point.

  11. Posted by Mark

    The objections had me rolling in laughter. Although not a stellar piece of architecture, the proposed building is by far the best-looking thing in that area. “Induce substantial population growth?” From 75 units? Oh yeah, I see a new zipcode being carved out for it now.

  12. Posted by Serge

    Did architects give up? This is as dull and boring as most of the mid-century (and 70s) dreck that we have around the city.

  13. Posted by mas

    @Anon – “The scenic vista” refers to the view of Twins Peaks and Sutro Tower that would be blocked if the six story building is built. It DOES NOT refers to the actual empty dump. This is what the appeal said: “The corner of Utah and Mariposa streets provides a unique and stunning vista of Twin Peaks, Saint Ignatius Church
    and is enjoyed by residents and visitors as they walk or drive to their destinations.”
    “The visual character” refers to the surrounding neighborhood, again, it does NOT refers to the empty dump.
    This is what it actually said:
    “The character of the surroundings would be degraded. Across the street are three Victorian homes
    built in the
    early part of the 19
    th
    century. They have been maintained and cared for by the
    ir resident owners. On the south
    side is the Mariposa Gardens. This low income housing unit was designed to fit into the neighborhood and to provide greening for the occupants to enjoy. It is not a densely populated development and helps to set the aesthetic character of the neighborhood. A six story box development would not be in the aesthetic character of the neighborhood and block.”
    Yes people, do realize that things can be taken out of context.

  14. Posted by anon

    ^the crappy lot is a part of the “scenic vista”, whether you want to admit it or not. Ditto with the “visual character”, unless everyone simply decides to close their eyes only for the vacant and trash-strewn lot.
    You admit that this is a game, I just don’t think that anyone sees it for anything more than a game, so why not just call a spade a spade? They might actually get planning to listen if they just say that the building is ugly.

  15. Posted by mas

    @Anon, you’re grasping at straws now. In order to fight this, the appeal has to be about public interest, not building aesthetics. If they do what you suggest this appeal would never see the light of day.

  16. Posted by anon

    Something is clearly wrong with the appeals process if an appeal can be heard on something so ludicrous as the “scenic vista” over a trash strewn lot, but not something like “the proposed building looks like crap.”
    Both should not be appeal-worthy, IMO – if the building meets all planning guidelines it should be immune from appeals.

  17. Posted by mas

    But the scenic vista does not refer to the trash strewn lot. Why don’t you get that?
    A building that meets all planning codes can still be rejected if it intrudes public interest. That’s the guidelines.

  18. Posted by mas

    But I think at least we can all agree that this monstrosity is not going to win any beauty contest. If this thing is dumped on your neighborhood, how’d you react?

  19. Posted by anon

    But the scenic vista does not refer to the trash strewn lot. Why don’t you get that?
    Because it’s impossible to view much of the “scenic vista” without viewing the trash strewn lot. It’s part of the vista.
    If this thing is dumped on your neighborhood, how’d you react?
    I’d be fine with it if it meets all planning codes for height/bulk/etc. It’s not that ugly to me honestly. Just looks like a normal 2013 building. It’s fine to have lots of those.

  20. Posted by lyqwyd

    Yes, the only thing wrong with this building is that it doesn’t yet exist. I work a couple blocks from here, and I assure you there’s nothing pretty about the location.
    Views are not protected in SF, so if the real claim is that some people want to protect their views, the appeal should be immediately thrown out.
    It’s indefensible that this project has been blocked for a year for such ridiculous claims. The structure will be a vast improvement over what’s their. The owners of the properties that will lose their views should have known it would happen at some time as that lot has been vacant for a very long time. It’s obvious that some day it will be developed.

  21. Posted by Jeff

    I live two blocks from this blighted corner and want this building built! ANYTHING would be better than the current blight at this corner. It’s pathetic.
    What people living nearby really object to is the possibility of their precious free street parking being used by residents and guests of this new building.
    Objections to the design are a smokescreen: all people care about is protecting their personal use of a public resource. “Substantial population growth” is a euphemism for “where will I park?”

  22. Posted by contrarian

    Sorry Mas, you reasoned approach and actual reading comprehension has offended the keepers of higher, denser, newer, and of course increased commissions. they are the ones who never see the forest but for the trees.
    SF is sadder for them

  23. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    I would love to see something like this in my neighborhood. Especially if it replaced an empty lot. Maybe the people who oppose it can get the parking lot declared a historic resource.

  24. Posted by Bang Ding Ow

    “Objections to the design are a smokescreen: all people care about is protecting their personal use of a public resource. “Substantial population growth” is a euphemism for “where will I park?””
    Which is a perfectly valid concern until SF gets a useful, reliable, convenient and safe mass transit system. Do we really need to get into this again?

  25. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    ^^^ Oh the old “Bring us NYC levels of transit and we will stop objecting to parking impacts” canard. Do we really need to get into that again?
    We barely have the political will to put BRT on Geary. At the very least the city should be allowed to continue to grow because density is more supportive of transit. Freeze density to near-surburban levels and quality transit will never be feasible.

  26. Posted by anon

    Which is a perfectly valid concern until SF gets a useful, reliable, convenient and safe mass transit system. Do we really need to get into this again?
    Yes, because there are never any concerns about parking in Manhattan or Paris. lol

  27. Posted by james jr

    I agree. Taller would be better. Our only remedy to increase population in the city and, ultimately, more families living here, is to go up.
    The current rendering is a bit boring, but almost anything is better than the blight there now.

  28. Posted by 49yo hipster

    Nothing to do with a smokescreen for their concers. Bunch of NIMBY’s not wanting more density and changes, and coming up with any retarted objection they can muster. Almost as bad as that asshole in noe valley (owns a big fat modern house) objecting to another modern structure next to him.
    These bullshit appeals should work like frivolous lawsuits. If your case is so ridiculous, allow the other party to collect on damages from wasted time and defense costs.

  29. Posted by Bang Ding Ow

    To be clear, I wasn’t validating the NIMBY action against this building. I think it’s downright retarded to complain about the loss of a ‘scenic vista’ in what is surely one of the ugliest locations in SF. All I’m saying is that people complaining about parking IS valid, and had it been the crux of these complaints it would have been easier to negotiate something (adding more spaces to the development would be an easy compromise). Most SF residents own cars because they need cars, not because they are ‘car fetishists’ or whatever else they get accused of.

  30. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Availability of street parking should not be an issue. Deploying SFPark here will ensure that there’s adequate availability. And no-one should rely on street parking for long term car storage.

  31. Posted by anon

    @Bang Ding Ow – if the concern is about loss of street parking, then as MoD suggests, the compromise should be bringing more of the street parking up to market rate. Adding more parking spaces within the development should only be allowed if we’re removing spots somewhere else – the roads are already crammed enough.
    Market price the existing spots, don’t create more to degrade the experience for everyone.

  32. Posted by lyqwyd

    @Bang Ding Ow
    The problem with your theory is that those demanding parking are demanding it at somebody else’s expense, either the developer, or the city.
    Not to mention that we’ve had decades of parking minimums, time to bring a little balance.
    Market rate for street parking. You want to use public goods, pay the fair amount, don’t expect those that don’t need it to subsidize you.
    Strictly enforced parking maximums (just like they have been strictly enforced minimums) for several decades until we can get equality. Although I would settle simply for free marking parking (AKA no maximums or minimums).
    Own up to the fact that you want other people to pay for your ability to easily park your car.

  33. Posted by Bang Ding Ow

    Equality? What is that? What amount of parking is “equal”? Equal to the number of cars? Equal to the number of licensed drivers? What?
    I’m all for moving parking spaces off the street. Emphatically yes, that’s what they’re doing with great success all over Europe. On-street parking leads to traffic congestion, off-street parking does not. Why on earth would anybody want to limit off-street parking? There absolutely should be parking minimums enforced in residential developments, especially when they represent an increase in population density.
    I understand that it’s a socialist fantasy to limit (or rather, to punish) car ownership, but car ownership is not the cause of congestion, driving is. So limit (or punish, if you will) driving by making parking scarce and expensive downtown and in shopping/dining districts. I’m fine with that. Don’t do it in residential districts, especially along major thoroughfares like Potrero Ave. All you’re doing is forcing people to circle the block and create more congestion.

  34. Posted by Bang Ding Ow

    Oh, and one more thing, lyqwyd. When you put words in my mouth you’re not only stupid, you’re also wrong. My condo has two deeded garage spaces so I’m paying for my own parking, thank you very much.

  35. Posted by anon

    So the socialist thing to do is to be against the government forcing a minimum amount of something to be produced, in order to create an over-supply?
    Ok then…

  36. Posted by lyqwyd

    The market has been skewed towards over production of parking through government required parking minimums, thus creating a large entitled group of people who think it’s their right to cheap or free parking. I’m for bringing the market back into balance, so I’m happy to see limits on parking, but as I said above, I’d be fine with immediately going to free market parking.
    If
    1) your car never left the parking spot and
    2) the parking spots weren’t based on decades of subsidies towards private cars then you might have a case about owning spots.
    I’m pretty confident 1) isn’t true, and there’s no doubt that 2) isn’t true, so your owning spots is irrelevant.
    Parking spots are subsidized by the city and private interests, you benefit from these subsidies, and want the subsidies continued. What a socialist!

  37. Posted by Skirunman

    BDO is spot on. Requiring off street parking minimums makes complete sense in residential development in SF. Restricting off-street parking development makes no sense and should be governed by the market. The 1 parking for each unit is still a good number for most developments except in high density developments on transit corridors.
    As a developer I would generally prefer to build less parking, but I know firsthand that it will likely have an adverse effect on the neighborhood with too many people trying to park on the street and circling constantly. Just as we have minimums for room size/height, window size, egress, etc. it makes sense to have parking minimums as this all contributes to housing stock that provides the best overall quality for the city’s residents.

  38. Posted by anon

    Nice immediate contradiction Skirunman:
    1. Requiring off street parking minimums makes complete sense in residential development in SF.
    2. Restricting off-street parking development makes no sense and should be governed by the market.
    Consecutive sentences! lol

  39. Posted by Spencer

    increased off street parking will certainly decrease congestion. too many slow drivers circling for parking out there. having an offstreet parking is not going to make people drive more. probably less as people dont constantly move cars.

  40. Posted by Skirunman

    @anon, not sure I see the contradiction. There is a minimum that must be built, be it 1-1, .5-1 or whatever. The minimums are code for protecting basic public interests. However, if I’m building units targeted are car collectors and want to build 4 parking spots for each unit then there should be no issue as minimum code has been met.
    I don’t see how this is really any different than codes that say ceiling heights must be 7’6″ in livable spaces or whatever. However, if I want to build 16′ soaring ceilings I am not restricted. May not always make the best financial sense, but this is the developer/markets issue, not the publics.
    I know we have a lot of anti-car folks here on SS, but try to set that aside for a moment.

  41. Posted by lyqwyd

    @Skirunman
    you can’t say you want minimums, and also want the free market, those are contradictory statements. The free market requires no limits, neither maximums nor minimums.
    “There is a minimum that must be built… for protecting basic public interests”
    That is an opinion, not a fact. A similar but opposite opinion that would be:
    “There is a maximum that must be built… for protecting basic public interests”

  42. Posted by lyqwyd

    “increased off street parking will certainly decrease congestion.”
    There’s loads of off street parking in Los Angeles and Texas, they must be congestion free!
    The reality is that increased parking leads to increased congestion as it leads to increased number of drivers. The vast majority of congestion is directly correlated the number of drivers. Circling for parking is a trivial factor in congestion.
    And of course circling only happens when you are offering below market rate parking. If you charge the right amount, you can ensure that there is a parking spot available 95% (or more) of the time, as the SF Park program has shown.

  43. Posted by Skirunman

    “you can’t say you want minimums, and also want the free market, those are contradictory statements.”
    Not really as we don’t live in a 100% free market. Minimums make sense in this case, maximums don’t. Codes generally focus on minimums.
    Almost all building codes are based on educated opinions, not “facts”. in my educated opinion minimum parking requirements make sense today. In the future this may change when more viable transportation systems exist, but not today.

  44. Posted by contrarian

    Wow the density now/higher please/move out if you don’t like it crowd is out in force.
    mas and BDO really rattled their preconceived notions of the ideal SF
    Some thing wrong here I think!

  45. Posted by Bang Ding Ow

    So lyqwyd, I assume that every inch of sidewalk out there is a “subsidy” of your pedestrianism? You’re so off the deep end with this BS it’s not even funny anymore. No wait, it’s still a little bit funny but not as much as it used to be.
    Enforcing maximum limits on parking intends to increase congestion and parking scarcity to the point where people will get frustrated and sell their car. That’s it, it’s looking for a tertiary effect. That’s not good public policy, it’s just sabotage. “We can’t make Muni tolerable so let’s spend our energy on making the alternative intolerable.” And you’re buying right into it.

  46. Posted by lyqwyd

    “in my educated opinion minimum parking requirements make sense today.”
    How is that an educated opinion?

  47. Posted by formerly%whatever

    contrarian, I think you meant “Sum Ting Wong here I think!” in your reply to Bang Ding Ow.
    I think parking maximums are Wi Tu Lo.
    Ho Lee Fuk, what’s going on here?

  48. Posted by lyqwyd

    “So lyqwyd, I assume that every inch of sidewalk out there is a “subsidy” of your pedestrianism?”
    You can assume whatever you want, but sidewalks are maintained by the property owner, so you would be wrong.
    “Enforcing maximum limits on parking intends to increase congestion…”
    wrong again.
    “We can’t make Muni tolerable so let’s spend our energy on making the alternative intolerable.”
    Why do you have quotes? nobody has said such a thing. I don’t think people that don’t drive should be forced to subsidize those of us who do.
    Be honest and own up to the fact that you want other people to pay for your choice to own a car.

  49. Posted by Bang Ding Ow

    You know, lyqwyd, there’s nothing I can write that could so effectively prove your cluelessness as your own posts do. So I’m quite happy to leave it right here.

  50. Posted by anon

    ^Oh snap, you got him. Who needs facts?

  51. Posted by lyqwyd

    Victory is sweet!

  52. Posted by Bang Ding Ow

    He absolutely didn’t “get” me, but what’s the point of arguing with this guy? You can all see for yourselves what delusional drivel he posts, I don’t need to continue to point that out. Nobody’s going to change lyqwyd’s troubled mind anyway, I might as well be trying to explain to an illiterate radical Muslim why education of women is good for the economy.

  53. Posted by anon

    ^I was talking about your delusional posts, Bang Ding Ow, and your ignorance of facts. The “I’ll leave it right here” note was icing on the cake!

  54. Posted by mas

    So, did the BOS approved, rejected, or postphoned?

  55. Posted by Bang Ding Ow

    I think it’s both hilarious and sad that anon thinks he or lyqwyd have brought any “facts” to this debate.

  56. Posted by anon

    I think it’s quite sad that Bang Ding Ow doesn’t see how supporting the state forcing developers to build a minimum amount of parking as clearly not a part of the free market. lol. Should we force grocers to bake a minimum amount of bread each day?

  57. Posted by mas

    I think more context is needed here, below is what MUNA (one of the party appealing this construction) said in their document. As you can see, they’re not objecting to the building, they just want some modification.
    “The neighborhood is excited to see a planned improvement to the lot that, frankly, is not an asset to the community.”
    http://sfmuna.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/480-Potrero1.pdf

  58. Posted by Bang Ding Ow

    What’s this? Has anon gone all Tea Party dingbat on us all of a sudden? Let’s all abandon common sense in the name of the “free market”. So tell me, why do we need fire or seismic safety standards in the building code? Let the free market decide. If buyers want their house to stand after a 6.0 quake, they will pay extra for that and the developer can choose to cater to that “luxury” segment or not. Same with the water supply, right? You want your house to have just running water or CLEAN running water? The free market will sort it out. And (this one is too easy) let’s have some more 40-story condo buildings on Russian Hill. We know the market would love that.
    Newsflash: The city is responsible for transportation infrastructure, including its availability. That means traffic. Having ample off-street parking available to residents in the neighborhoods where they live improves traffic flow. Removing on-street parking also improves traffic and even makes room for bike lanes or wider sidewalks. Artificially restricting the amount of off-street parking spaces (as you and your wingman lyqwyd favor) makes traffic worse because instead of people driving from A to B they now circle around B for 5, 10, 20 minutes to look for parking adding to the congestion. That’s not only common sense, it’s also math. If you want the “market” to regulate traffic, you need to put a toll booth on every street block. Or at every entry point to the city (as in central London – and we know that solved their traffic problems… oh wait).
    Some people have this utterly misguided idea that if we can make traffic even worse than it is today then we’ll hit a point where everybody’s fed up and will sell their car. As if there’s some sort of magical tipping point. That has never happened in the entire history of urban civilization and there’s no theory that supports it, but it’s a religious faith held by some environmentalists and socialists. It’s a little hard to tell if anon and lyqwyd are such religious faithfuls or just plain old message board trolls. Probably the latter, given that “free market” nonsense. Either way, as I’m slightly embarrassed to have demonstrated, arguing with them is a pointless exercise. I hope at least someone else has found it mildly entertaining.
    Bang Ding Out.

  59. Posted by anon

    ^No one thinks the things that you said. Not sure why you’re changing the subject.

  60. Posted by anon

    Newsflash: The city is responsible for transportation infrastructure, including its availability.
    Exactly, hence the need to limit parking so as to not overwhelm the streets with cars. We’ve been through this numerous times before – parking availability determines the number of cars in an area by influencing the people who decide to live in the neighborhood. Those without a need for cars buy/rent places without parking. Those with a need for cars buy/rent places with parking.
    People are smart. They can make decisions for themselves without needing big brother determining how many parking spaces they must “need” and we must force developers to build.

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