Central Freeway Parcel O

With the construction of Avalon’s Hayes Valley development nearing completion and renting from $3,200 for a studio, and up to $6,700 for a two-bedroom, on the former Central Freeway Parcel P along Oak, between Octavia and Laguna, Mercy Housing has filed plans to build 112 units of low-income housing for families on the adjacent sister Parcel O which borders Fell to the north.

Mercy’s proposed development of the former Hayes Valley Farm site includes two buildings of residential and community space rising up to 50 feet in height, with 2,000 square feet of retail on the corner of Fell and Laguna, an interior courtyard and vegetable garden, and no parking for autos but a room for storing residents’ bikes.

The former Central Freeway Parcel O is currently serving as a staging site for the construction of Avalon’s adjacent development.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by San Francisco

    I wonder how much will these units go for, how much they cost to build, and how much do the taxpayers get to contribute to all of this?

  2. Posted by sassyboyfrisco

    Yea, yea, yea…so they keep saying…just like Parcels R, S, T, U, V, etc.,…just build housing already!!!

  3. Posted by Hayes

    112 Units of subsidized family housing with no parking. Makes perfect sense, why would parents with small children need a car.

    • Posted by moses

      This is one of the few times I’ll agree that no parking makes no sense. These aren’t millenials or techies. They like/want/need cars.

      • Posted by Bobby Mucho

        Except they live in the middle of the city, near 10 bus lines, two different trains, and are surrounded by shops, markets, large + small grocers, laundromats, pharmacies, civic offices, and less than a mile from a hospital—all in a relatively flat neighborhood… If there is one neighborhood that should aim for less cars/on-site parking, its Hayes Valley.

        • Posted by Not Bashing

          I think we can place at least some limits on subsidized housing. Not having a car in return for rock bottom rents seems more than reasonable to me…

        • Posted by Dr. House

          What? Large grocery? In Hayes Valley? Where?

          [Editor’s Note: Hayes Valley Block Razed For Housing And Grocery To Rise.]

        • Posted by Dr. House

          And also, are their 5-year-olds supposed to take MUNI by themselves to school? There’s no guarantee in SF (public or private schools) that your kids will get to attend a nearby school. It might be ANYWHERE in the city.

          • Posted by Not Bashing

            You’re right, that could be a problem. But here’s the thing: more and more middle class people I know can’t afford to have a car in the city. In effect, by providing a parking space with subsidizing housing we are actually giving people something that a higher tier of earner can’t afford. With that kind of deal, what incentive is there for them to improve their situation and stand on their own two feet? Assuming of course that subsidized house g is meant to be temporary and not a multi generational warehousing plan.

    • Posted by Moto mayhem

      I hope the don’t clog up fell and oak looking for parking. It’s already a complete disaster and utter failure for freeway acess . No parking doesn’t mean they won’t have cars. Because they are low income, the ratio of car ownership will be less, but I guarantee this will ad at least 45 new cars circling for parking to the most congested 101 freeway access in the city

      • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

        Agreed. If I were the king of Planning, I would make them include 2 garage spots for every 3 units (or, bare minimum, 1 for every 2). This is just foisting all the external costs of added parking needs onto the public.

      • Posted by Alai

        The only reason you have cars circling is that the city does a terrible job of managing parking. If the city managed parking well, whether by meters, permits or time limits, it wouldn’t be a problem at all.

        It’s funny that people here are so pro market rate housing, but so anti market rate parking.

        • Posted by Dr. House

          All parking built is market rate. It is certainly thwarting the market to regulate that a builder can’t build the reasonable number of spaces which would fetch the best price. 1 per bedroom is what the market wants. In my building we have that, 220 units or so (1,2,3BR), and every space but about 2 is regularly used. Some of us rent them to neighbors who need more.

          Parking regulations like the current ones are just as insane as mandating no more than 1 kitchen per 4 apartments. “Cooking at home is wasteful and bad for you, you should just buy raw veggies and rinse them in the bathroom sink.”

    • Posted by Alai

      If we have any intention of making it affordable for families to live in San Francisco, we’re going to have to make it possible for them to live without cars.

      As it is, we are supposed to provide private parking spaces (for families to store their cars), public parking spaces (for them to be able to use those cars), and infrastructure (so the traffic doesn’t come to a standstill). Then, of course, we expect them to pay for their own cars on top of that. And this is supposed to be affordable?

      In practice, we supply subsidized parking, but restrict the amount of housing so that the traffic doesn’t get too bad. Then we wring our hands over spiraling housing costs.

      Yeah, living here without a car may never be the easiest thing in the world. But neither is living with a car, 50 minutes away, in a car-only location. Build parking-less housing for those who want it, manage parking by managing parking and not by restricting housing, and you may just be able to provide housing for those who need it at an affordable price.

  4. Posted by invented

    Rebuild and dens-ify the sea of Western Addition low income projects as mixed-income and make this parcel market rate.

    • Posted by Bobby Mucho

      I think that the slow redevelopment of 1970s/80s Western Addition low income housing is inevitable. One at a time, someone will make moves on building more adequate, higher density housing in that area (hopefully with some amenities/retail/commercial).

      • Posted by bruiteur

        It could start with a drive to re-establish Mcallister Street. It’s the only significant commercial corridor in the city that was mostly deleted from the urban landscape during redevelopment (excepting the Geary mess/hodge podge). Imagine another strong east-west retail area between Hayes and Japantown. Cutting into the retail wasteland between Hayes and Geary would be of benefit to everyone.

        • Posted by BobN

          The existing commercial strip — Fillmore — is already struggling. It does not need competition.

          • Posted by Bobby Mucho

            I assume that most of that is due to poor planning and a potentially inept merchants association? Competition is healthy for everyone—even if it means a few people falling by the wayside.

          • Posted by BobN

            It’s mostly due to the concentration of low-income households in the neighborhood and abandonment of the neighborhood by the middle-class (not that they had much choice in the matter).

    • Posted by Not Bashing

      Agreed, there is a lot of wasted space in the western addition. We could easily rebuild, add tons of units and some office/retail AND move the people who already live there right back in. Of course, that makes far too much sense and would be opposed in favor of 100% subsidized housing.

      • Posted by S

        There is a history of redevelopment in the neighborhood and those actions are not exactly remembered fondly. Might take another generation or two for this to happen.

      • Posted by invented

        There’s an amazing 5-block long greenway from Grove to Eddy which could be a north/south corridor for re-invention. It’s an altogether underwhelming and forgotten space today, but offers a fine starting point for future redev. While were re-imagining alleys in Hayes Valley a few blocks over– why not include the Buchanan greenway too as part of a larger Plan?

      • Posted by Dinah Sanders

        Yeeeah. That’s what they told the residents of the Fillmore before they broke it. It does not turn out like that, here in SF or in other cities.

        Read up on the history of urban redevelopment’s “destroy existing single-family homes & small apartment buildings to build huge structures” past deeds and failures before advocating for this. It displaces old communities and small businesses, disrupts local ties, and usually results in local residents being unable to return to the area.

        • Posted by Not Bashing

          I’m aware of the history, so I hear you. We can learn from those mistakes, though. Instead of continuing to use these properties in an incredibly inefficient way – 1-2 stories, low density, etc. Even if the city only built to roughly the height of the surrounding Victorians I’d guess that would result in 4x the housing we currently have here, more if we got rid of all the surface level parking.

  5. Posted by Moto mayhem

    Western addition is literally the only black neighborhood in central SF. Unfortunately There is really no political will to support us in this town. I’m not suggesting a stupid plan like campos is proposing on 24th, but SF has the lowest % of black people of any major city and racism is alive and strong here for us. Any major renovation to western addition should consider those facts. I am pro development and in favor of making it better, but the interest of this true minority in SF needs to be considered.

    • Posted by cfb

      “SF has the lowest % of black people of any major city”

      This is actually not true. You might want to look at some census stats.

      • Posted by moto mayhem

        enlighten me.

        • Posted by Jake

          San Jose has a lower percentage than SF, but SF is among the lowest for a major US city. SF and SJ have the highest percentage of asians of any major US city. Oakland ranks as the most ethnically/racially diverse/balanced major city in the US. Priceonomics has graphs of the relevant census data. There is also a 1 dot for every person racial/ethnic map of the US (namelink) which helps visualize the distributions.
          http://priceonomics.com/the-most-and-least-diverse-cities-in-america/
          http://priceonomics.com/how-diverse-is-your-city/

        • Posted by cfb

          You could easily enlighten yourself by looking at stats on the census website, but I’ll help a little. San Jose, Honolulu, and Salt Lake City for example have smaller black percentages and smaller total black populations than SF. Portland has fewer in raw numbers, and only a slightly higher percentage…and when you go past those relatively arbitrary city limits and count the metropolitan areas as well, SF jumps a little higher in the rankings, because then it also includes the black populations in Oakland, Richmond, etc.

          Don’t get me wrong, just like the rest of the west, there’s a relative lack of black people in the bay area (and the numbers have been dropping steadily since the 1970s/1980s) when judging by eastern/southern/Midwestern standards….hell, the Bay Area had barely any black people at all before they moved here in large numbers to work in the shipyards during world war II. But the SF Bay Area (and Sacramento too) is actually the blackest region of the west coast of America, going by percentages (LA obviously has more black people in raw numbers though). And really, SF is one of the blackest parts of the Bay Area when looking at total numbers and the amount of neighborhoods with large black populations.

          • Posted by Zig

            Declining quite a bit though

            Oakland is decline as well

            There had never been blacks in San Jose

      • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

        I would bet that San Jose has a lower percentage of black residents. Same for Honolulu. But hyperbole aside, the basic point is true, which is that SF has a small and dwindling black population, and arguments that this stems (at least in part) from racist planning policies are fairly well founded. This is a very, very difficult issue to address from both a legal and policy standpoint.

        • Posted by Zig

          Doubt it has anything to do with racism anymore. SF doesn’t have a population of white guys like my brother with a muscle car driving around the Excelsior either. It’s just there are other types of whites who replaced him.

          • Posted by Zig

            And if you want to know where a lot of the blacks not in public housing went it is to the same place he is Solono country. And he drives to work in SF every day.

            Maybe we need a task force to investigate the loss of working class whites? Where is our Amos Brown?

    • Posted by Bobby Mucho

      Would that not be the most forefront consideration of any redevelopment, or rezoning there?

      I know things can go bad with people get lazy, or ideas are shortsighted, but I think that creating a more dense, culturally rich neighborhood that actually celebrates said culture, and what diversity remains, would be great for the black community (especially the younger families) as well as those interested in celebrating it with them.

      Commerce is at the foundation of all of that (sadly). And with a stronger mixed use plan, the community, and others could benefit directly, by having that foundation as a way to share, and express themselves more connectively/publicly.

    • Posted by Amewsed

      Are you talking about the projects by UCSF Mount Zion Campus? Those should be razed. I don’t even like being in the area. It makes the whole section of Divisadero underwhelming.

    • Posted by Zig

      All the white working class people have left SF too. It just so happens there is not wave after wave of life style and professional blacks to replace them like whites.

    • Posted by Not Bashing

      Having spent a lot of time in the rural south I have seen what the nastiest racism looks like. SF is about as far to the other side of that scale as a U.S. city can get. Which is not to say that it was always so, but in 2015 this is not a race problem so much as an issue of money.

      FWIW – I agree that we should not displace the population that we do have, rather we should create mixed use, mixed income housing on these sites. Also, isn’t hunters point/bay view a predominately black neighborhood? Not that it changes my view (or your point)…

      • Posted by moto mayhem

        i grew up in the south and have experienced about as much racism in SF as in the South. Its just better concealed by more educated people. the same biases are still there, and i feel more OK with a poor white uneducated person being racist than well educated whites and asians. at least they have an excuse. if you think there is little racism in SF, its because you are not black.

        • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

          I wouldn’t count on being black as putting you in a better position to detect racism. I used to live in the South too and overheard a lot of hateful bigoted stuff that those cowards would never utter around a black person. In comparison I hear none of it in the SF Bay Area,

          • Posted by Jake

            some of it was posted on ss just this past week and then taken down within an hour or so.

            Bigots don’t have to go full hate speech if they know how to dog whistle subliminal messages. Can’t explain it much better than Lee Atwater did in a famous 1981 interview (“n*” for the n-word which he said on the tape).

            Questioner: But the fact is, isn’t it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?

            Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, “N*, n*, n*.” By 1968 you can’t say “n*” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N*, n*.”

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            you cant be serious. I guess being a white guy puts you in a better position to detect racism?

            Funny, i hear it all the time in SF. maybe you are only able to detect the overt loud stuff that is usually sputtered by the uneducated poor (which there are more of in the south). I lived outside nashville, and personally find the racism to be about par in SF vs. Nashville. different, of course, but definitely as prevalent from my viewpoint.

            this is my last post on this subject because clearly off topic, and these are better conversations to have F2F where people wont say flippant hurtful stuff without looking into your eyes. Im all about equality, free market and letting people build their own future, but one place where white people have no authority is talking about the prevalance of racism. you cant feel it the same way.

          • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

            Yeah, you’re right. I was thinking only of personal discussions, not anonymous internet rabble rousers. There wasn’t much of an internet back when I lived down South. SFGate in particular seems to be the roaming grounds for anonymous racist rants, including the veiled language that you refer to. Who knows whether those folks even live in the Bay Area though.

          • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

            Moto – I didn’t mean to imply that racism affects me more than you. Just meant to say that bigots won’t talk so freely around the people that they’re denigrating, meaning that you might be exposed to that candid blather. BTW, I lived in the deep south where racism is worse than in TN.

  6. Posted by BobN

    Those lots rendered empty by the demolition of the Central Freeway are, after Mission Bay/Third Street, the most absurdly squandered opportunity in SF’s sad history of squandered opportunities. Now we find ourselves with no lots left, aging and ugly public housing and semi-public housing and, because of the silly heights of that 50yo housing, a bunch of new stuff also the same pathetic height of 3- and 4-stories. And all of it within a very short walk from Civic Center, BART, and the backbone of MUNI.

  7. Posted by Dinah Sanders

    I live a block away and I can tell you there is a TON of new development in Hayes Valley. It’s wisely being done at heights which permit a transition from the tower zone (e.g. Market & Van Ness area) to 1-3 story heights as we see in the Lower Haight and Western Addition.

    Building to be part of the existing neighborhood is smart. It encourages residents of the new buildings to participate in the existing community and, importantly, to shop and dine and stroll there, which gives a boost to the very-local economy. Giant towers do not stitch into small neighborhoods automatically—think in particular about the failures in SF where there’s no retail on the ground floor and thus no street life.

    3-6 story buildings are not “pathetic” they’re human-scaled and lend themselves to a successful urban environment. Massive towers belong among other towers, not in a sweet little transition neighborhood with many single-family homes and small apartments.

    • Posted by actionless action

      I’ll drink to that.

    • Posted by BobN

      Dropping from towers to 3-6 stories is not “transition”. You could count on one hand the number of six-story buildings built in this neighborhood. And three stories IS pathetic, assuming you don’t want to pave over the entire state of California with housing over the next few decades. SOMEPLACE has to absorb the households and empty land is the most logical place to start.

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