SWL 322-1 Site

Identified by the Port of San Francisco as “the greatest affordable housing development opportunity among the Port’s seawall lots in the northeastern waterfront,” the Mayor’s Office of Housing has been working on plans for 115 units of affordable housing to rise up to 65-feet in height on Seawall Lot 322-1, the underdeveloped half-block parcel on the east side of Front Street between Broadway and Vallejo which is currently a parking lot for 225 cars.

Intended to be developed as housing for residents making no more than 65 percent of the area median income ($44,150 per year for one person, $50,500 for a family of two), The Northeast Waterfront Advisory Group, which represents the interests of the Telegraph Hill Dwellers, Barbary Coast Neighborhood Association, Friends of Golden Gateway, and SoTel Neighbors among others, is pushing the city to include more housing for middle income residents making between 80 percent and 120 percent of the area median (up to $81,550 per year for one person, $93,250 for a family of two).

The coalition’s push for higher income residents is positioned as a desire to be inclusionary and develop “a neighborhood that’s for everyone,” which likely rings hollow, but the report card for San Francisco’s housing production over the past eight years demonstrates a particularly dismal performance with respect to housing for households earning between 80 and 120 percent of the area median income which supports the coalition’s cause.

On July 21 at 6PM, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and the Port will present their preliminary massing studies and analysis for the site, after which there will be an “interactive,” and likely quite lively, discussion with community members to solicit input as the City prepares to issue their formal Request for Proposals (RFP) from affordable housing developers to develop the Seawall Lot 322-1 site.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Serge

    This is really the best place to put BMR housing? Really?

    • Posted by Paul D

      What’s wrong with it?

      • Posted by Hitman

        Using filet minion to make hamburger meat…. typical SF lack of common sense approach to things.

        • Posted by Frisco

          What is the “hamburger meat” in this analogy?

          • Posted by anon

            Clearly he’s referring to the “poors” who shouldn’t be allowed to traverse said area, lest they offend the sensibilities of the gentry…

        • Posted by Chris Brown

          It is a parking lot. What is “filet mignon” (there is a “g” in there by the way) about a parking lot?

          Also, in case you have not been paying attention to the news lately. The Supreme Court upheld the inclusive housing policies under the federal Fair Housing Act. Municipalities are not allowed to further segregation by only building affordable housing in poor neighborhoods. Upscale neighborhoods cannot be off-limits for affordable housing projects.

      • Posted by anon

        You could sell the land here for market rate development, and then use the massive profits from that to build many more BMR units elsewhere. This is an incredible waste of money that ends up negatively impacting all of the folks hoping for a BMR unit that don’t hit the jackpot on winning the lottery here.


        • Posted by Jon V

          A market rate development at this site would become the target of a ballot initiative funded by the neighborhood groups listed above. A BMR development is the politically safe route to a building at this location. Peskin can’t fight a 100% affordable building, so the best he can do here is gerrymander a few less “below market residents” in his backyard.

          Now lets put a 100% affordable, 150-foot building at 8 Washington…heads would explode.

        • Posted by Insider

          Great idea! A market rate developer would pay $200K per door for this land. If the City keeps paying $260K per door elsewhere in the city, we would only lose $60K per unit. Guess they’d make it up in volume…

    • Posted by mh

      Yes!!! One of the best places. Until and unless we start mixing the income levels in our neighborhoods and schools, the bottom income levels will continue to plummet with dire consequences for us all. Read Robert Putnam’s :”Our Kids.”

      • Posted by anon

        Definitely better to bring the performance of our top down. Do you volunteer your kids for this social experiment?

        • Posted by SFcitizen

          I feel that SF is just one big social experiment or a doctoral thesis.

        • Posted by Orland

          “Social experiment? ” Seriously!

        • Posted by Chris Brown

          An affordable housing project would somehow “bring the performance of our top down?” Or, having children from a lower socio-economic background in schools would somehow affect the performance of the top students? Could you explain how that would even work?

          I attended a very fancy private school which consistently won academic awards. We happened to have a good number of lower income students who attended on scholarship, and there mere presence never seemed to impact how well any of the other students performed.

          I would like to volunteer you for an experiment to discover if you have any common sense.

    • Posted by BTinSF

      No. The best place might be Billionaires Row but this will do. It’s time SF stopped concentrating all the city’s problems in certain areas making them worse. Telegraph Hill deserves its fair share and perhaps when the entire city shares the problems, everyone will understand them better.

      • Posted by Conifer

        What a great suggestion! Socketsite sometimes draws the most inventive minds. Billionaires Row, plus perhaps two or three blocks north, east and south. Pacific Heights is just full of empty lots waiting for the development of housing projects! Why didn’t the city think of this sooner?

      • Posted by Orland

        What kind of mind automatically equates BMR housing and “the city’s problems? “

  2. Posted by Bob Newlin

    What does Peskin say from his throne on Telegraph hill?

  3. Posted by moto mayhem

    in order to spite the obscenely hypocritical and consistently anti-development Telegraph Hill Dwellers, i hope they keep it at <65% median income and I hope the increase the height to 200+ft.

    i personally do not think we should ever be subsidizing people making 100-120% of median income. they are middle class. they can easily easily afford to live in the Bay area with a short BART or ferry ride.

    • Posted by Hitman

      Why does anybody need to be subsidized? Self-reliance is a phrase that entitled people do not understand.

      • Posted by anon

        Great. I work my *** off to subsidize housing for people who are either not very smart or lazy. Yeah, that seems fair!

        I’m seriously thinking about renouncing my US citizenship for a somthing like a St. Kitts domicile. Tax free and I can live whereever I want in the world (no visa requirements to 80 countries). And still keep social security. Win, win, win!

        • Posted by Amewsed

          Will join you.

        • Posted by primeminister

          Not so simple, anon. You need to pay US taxes for ten years or turn over 25% of your wealth.

    • Posted by Truethevote

      How about letting the middle class people who work in the city live in the city. Why create these extremes of class? Why build these dumps in places that would be desirable commutes for tax payers baffles me.

      • Posted by anon

        The concept of letting middle class live at this site is precisely what’s under consideration.

  4. Posted by Bobby Mucho

    I completely understand that these projects are usually budgeted pretty low, but one would hope that the city itself had higher expectations and adherence to design principles. I wish they focused a bit more on materials, appropriately scaled ground floor retail, and creating a more intimate street level experience (via individual entries, benches, lighting).

  5. Posted by Conifer

    It is indeed right and proper that this housing project be sited close to the throne of HRH Aaron I of Telegraph Hill.

  6. Posted by Hitman

    Sell this site for the highest price possible and use the $ to fund a greater number of affordable units in Mountain House.

    • Posted by Brian M

      Because it makes sense to saddle the poors with ruinous commutes in a sweltering hellhole like Mountain House.

  7. Posted by anotherSF

    It’s great to have affordable housing distributed throughout the city.

    • Posted by Orland

      Agreed. Especially so where new neighborhoods are essentially being created as here where non-residential uses have predominated for decades. Just get rid of the damn parking lots in such attractive locations.

      OTOH, I’d be in favor of buying up (at a very handsome price) Delancey Street for replacement by a very exclusive (expensive) new residential area south from the Bay Bridge along the Embarcadero lining what could be one of the more fashionable boulevards with 20 – story cooperatives much like Lakeshore Dr in Chicago.

  8. Posted by Gil

    This will be tied up in the courts for decades.

  9. Posted by JayJay

    Awesome. Affordable housing should be in ALL parts of the city, not just the more affordable locations.

    • Posted by frog

      Affordable housing should be in affordable areas almost by definition. Affordable housing shouldn’t be in expensive areas, for the same reason.

      I see why having people live near their jobs could make the entire bay area a better place. But paying them to live in places that I’m still saving for? What does that accomplish?

      • Posted by BMTE

        No “slums.” That’s the goal. No high density of SRO’s etc. Tough problem with no great answer.

      • Posted by GoBlueInSF

        Housing justice for one. Compliance with the Fair Housing Act for another. The Supreme Court has recently recognized that “putting all the poor people in poor neighborhoods” method of selecting site locations for government subsidized housing does not pass must under the FHA. So yes, the Telegraph Hill namby-pambys need to get some 60% AMI and below rental housing shoved right up their gilded noses.

      • Posted by Chris Brown

        It is illegal under federal law to further segregation by only building affordable housing in “poor” neighborhoods. Also, most job opportunities and better schools are in more expensive neighborhoods, which is why you would want to build affordable housing in them to encourage upward mobility.

        What is so threatening to you about building housing for people that would be considered middle-class in most of the country? No one is building a mansion for them. They are simply providing safe and secure housing in a good area. I do not understand your objection.

  10. Posted by d-b

    The SF Port has agenda item number 3 for its 9/08/15 meeting “Proposals for 3 year lease with two one year options to renew for surface parking lots” for this property SWL 322-1. Go figure.

    • Posted by spruce

      They might as well continue with the parking revenue while waiting for the new use to make its way through city process. Even the Transbay blocks are taking a couple of years to break ground, and those were entitled before the RFPs were issued.

  11. Posted by Oh Dear

    I suggest putting high density highrise SROs, for people making less than 65% of median . Let Peskin get behind that one.

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      should definitely be taller

  12. Posted by jamesjr

    “Affordable housing should be in ALL parts of the city.” Really? Then the city should buy up property on outer Broadway and build housing for those who can’t afford to live there. Ridiculous.

    • Posted by EcceMorons

      Actually, I’d love it if SF bought the house next door to Pelosi’s, and turned it into a halfway house for felons. Or at least a homeless shelter.

      • Posted by Chris Brown

        I don’t think the city is going to spend $40 million to purchase a house. Also, the neighborhood is not zoned for multi-family.

        In this case, you have a PARKING LOT that is already public property. I do not get all the hand-wringing over building affordable housing on it for couples making up to almost $51,000 a year (that would be middle-class in most parts of the country). Are middle-class people somehow threatening to you?

        Where are you getting all this BS about “felons” from? This would be housing for working individuals who are quite normal.

    • Posted by Orland

      Comparing the established neighborhood in Outer Broadway with this location is what is ridiculous. I see no problem in siting BMR housing here as part of the City’s design to build affordable units in addition to market rate.

  13. Posted by SFBayview

    People should have the freedom to live wherever they want and can afford. Why should the city or politicians mandate people to live in certain locations? Better to give people cash directly and avoid all the corruptions and waste in between.

    • Posted by Chris Brown

      Because federal law prohibits furthering housing segregation by only building affordable housing in “poor neighborhoods.” The Supreme Court just upheld this policy.

      WHY is it a big deal to take an underutilized parking lot that is already publicly owned and build housing for people that would be considered middle-class almost anywhere else in the nation? $51,000 a year for a couple is middle-class in most parts of our country. How are these people so threatening to you?

  14. Posted by taco

    Would love to see them dump a fresh set of projects in the backyard of clowns that blocked 8 Washington.

  15. Posted by Bleeper

    I hope the Stewart’s didn’t break the bank funding their no wall ballot measure.
    2013: no wall of rich people’s condos
    2015: no wall of poor people’s condos
    Aaron peskin: ” for a live able city. What a joke.

    • Posted by anon

      Voters are so ignorant, it won’t even matter.

      The signature gatherers and campaign posters against it will just say “Support affordable housing – vote NO”.

      I think I’ll attempt to put a measure on the ballot for a new parcel tax that goes to pay my own personal mortgage for me. I’ll call it “Support affordable housing – vote YES on parcel tax for affordable housing!”

      • Posted by Amewsed

        Ditto. I’ll piggyback on your ballot for to get my new private jet paid.

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      his stance is clearly “no new housing anywhere near my backyard

  16. Posted by louiemondot

    I’m not getting this whole BMR thing. If residents for affordable housing can make “no more than 65 percent of the area median income ($44,150 per year for one person, $50,500 for a family of two)”, how will they be able to actually afford living in the neighborhood. With neighborhood businesses pricing products at the highest margin they can for an expensive neighborhood, these residents will likely not be supporting local businesses and would be traveling far away to buy every day things just to live. So really, why is having BMR housing that great? If I can’t afford to live in Pacific Heights to buy the daily $4 cup of coffee and $10 sandwich, I shouldn’t live there. And I don’t.

    • Posted by Orland

      I dunno, how do Chevvies manage to navigate the same streets as Mercedes?

    • Posted by Chris Brown

      Last time I checked, people who make $51,000 a year still have enough money to shop at Safeway, buy coffee, etc. Do you really think only wealthy people living in Pacific Heights buy coffee or sandwiches? What planet did you fall from? Welcome to Earth where even non-rich people go to Starbucks (do you really think all their thousands of stores only serve wealthy people). Also, last time I checked there is no requirement that one has to buy