A subdivision of the 7,500-square-foot, triangular-shaped lot at 40 Bernal Heights Boulevard was approved by the City two months ago, setting the stage for four new single-family homes – the building permits for which have already been requested – to rise across the site.
As designed, the new two-story over garage homes would total 12,058 square feet of gross space, or roughly 3,000 square feet apiece, including garages and decks. The finished living space for the homes would average around 2,100 square feet each.
And within ten days of being approved, an appeal of the subdivision was filed.
From the objecting group of Bernal Heights Neighbors in their appeal to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors:
“This lot is one of the last open space hillsides on East Slope of Bernal, and offers commanding views to pedestrians, bike riders, car passengers, and commuters on the 67 Bernal Heights bus.
Our primary objection to this development, however, is that it is too large and too dense for the space, and for the neighborhood. The four houses proposed for this space are hugely out of proportion with surrounding houses, even those built at the height of the 1960s square-box trend. Properties within a 300′ radius of the proposed development average 1313 square feet of livable space on lots averaging 2064 square feet. The developers of this lot, however, flip this ratio, proposing to build four luxury houses averaging 2139 square feet of livable space (with garages and roof decks that can take that square footage close to or over 3000 square feet), on lots averaging only 1903 square feet…
We have requested that the developers reduce the footprint of this development to three houses at 2,000 square feet, and the East Slope Design Review Board has also made a similar suggestion, to no avail. More than 120 neighbors have signed a letter opposing the development in its current configuration. See letter, Attachment C. We believe the tentative subdivision approval was made in derogation of the City’s General Plan, its Residential Design Guidelines, the Bernal Heights East Slope Building Guidelines, and the Bernal Heights Special Use District, all of which put a high premium on retaining neighborhood character. This massive, dense development will materially alter the character of our neighborhood. We ask you to stop it in its current configuration, and send it back to the Planning Department for further consideration.”
From another neighbor:
“I am writing to express my concern about the proposed housing at 40 Bernal Heights Blvd. I respectfully ask you to study this proposal with great care and ensure the project would not create more reasons to tear down existing neighborhood houses and replace them with larger, profitable ones.
Bernal Heights, like other traditionally working’ class and mixed class neighborhoods in San Francisco, are quickly becoming “neighborhoods of teardowns” – as new housing goes up that are disproportionately out of scale, creating get-rich-quick in.centives to demolish smaller houses.
Please demonstrate responsible stewardship in protecting the neighborhoods of San Francisco.”
And from San Francisco’s Planning Department in response:
“We urge the Board of Supervisors to reject this appeal; to consider these issues at this time could thwart the well-established, thoughtful and public review process that occurs at the time the Planning and Building permit review takes place, which also include rights of appeal. Both Planning staff and the Commission (if Discretionary Review is requested) can contribute to the discourse on massing; and provide specific direction relative to the applicable design guidelines. Further, we would suggest…that a project where the lot is subdivided into three parcels, instead of four may result in three larger houses than the four houses currently under review.”
With Supervisor Campos working to mediate between the neighbors and owners of 40 Bernal Heights Boulevard, the Board of Supervisors hearing at which the subdivision is either to be upheld or overturned has been continued for the second time and is now scheduled for December 1.