Twin Peaks Auto Care Station

The land upon which the Twin Peaks Auto Care Station sits at 598 Portola Drive was acquired by the City of San Francisco in the 1800’s as part of its Laguna Honda site purchase.  The Twin Peaks station is the only privately-operated gas station on City-owned property in San Francisco.

Developed in 1972, prior to which horse stables occupied the site, the last long-term lease for the Twin Peaks station expired on June 30, 2014. The station has been operating on a month-to-month lease ever since.

While it seems as though every available gas station site in the city is being redeveloped, the City’s Real Estate Division has been in negotiations with the operator of the Twin Peaks Station to ink a new long-term lease since 2013.  And if approved by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors this afternoon, as is likely and sponsored by Supervisor Yee, a new five-year lease for the site with an option to extend for a second five years will granted with an escalating base rent of $100,913 per year.

Rather than approving of the lease and continued use as proposed, however, the City’s Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office is recommending that the City Administrator and Director of Real Estate work together “to identify the highest and best use of the site” and consider a rezoning (it’s currently zoned “Public”) to allow for its redevelopment.

There are currently seven (7) gas stations within two miles of the Twin Peaks station.

40 thoughts on “Will This Be The Last Gas Station Left Standing In San Francisco?”
  1. More housing on one of the few open spaces? Please.

    Keep the gas station and the view of the hill behind it.

    SF has among the most unattractive neighborhoods of any big US city (think Sunset and most of the Mission) and that is because everything is built wall to wall. No open space, no greenspace. Oh yeah, if you want green space go to GG park. Sorry, that does not cut it.

    The owner of the station where CVS now stands was not forced out. He owned the land, was near retirement and was thinking of selling for the few years before.He made the best deal he could for his family including his near-adult children.

    1. The Sunset is unattractive… so the solution is to preserve gas stations??

      That intersection, in particular, is pretty unattractive, I’d agree. Because it’s a concrete and asphalt wasteland. Not just the wide road, but the diagonal intesection which makes it larger, the slip lanes, and then you have a parking lot on one side and the gas station on the other. Most of the Mission is a lot nicer.

    2. A gas station is not an “open space”. It’s a building and parking lot.

      If you prefer detached structures, why are you living in one of like ten places in the US that doesn’t have those everywhere? Seems odd. There are literally thousands and thousands of cities that have exactly what you’re looking for, yet you’re aching to make SF more suburban. Very, very odd.

    3. I agree with Dave. When you think of the most desired cities in the world–NY, Paris, London, Vienna, SF–what do they have in common? Lots of widely dispersed, detached housing to reduce density in the city center. Right?

      1. well, once we transform SF into San Ramon, maybe THEN Oakland will take its rightful role as the premiere city of the West Coast.

        1. 1st they would have to take that from LA. And now Oakland is behind LA, SF, SD, SJ and Sacramento as california premier city. plus its also behind seattle and portland. So oakland would need to pass at least 7 other cities to become the premier city on the west coast

  2. is there some regulation in sf that says you can’t have a gas station under a building? Would seem like a better use of most stations in sf if they could be positioned under taller development.

  3. When I lived in SF (I left 7 months ago) I usually gassed up down the peninsula (away from SFO of course) where gas was considerably cheaper.

      1. Is this statement made out of ignorance? Maybe SF should put price controls on hamburgers and pizza too. Good lord!

  4. The CVS should have had housing on top, the other site across from the gas station should have been 3-4 stories taller, and the little strip of shops down towards twin peaks needs to be densified…

    You rebuild low income areas of SF, you should densify all other areas as well.

    Those areas are a hop-skip and jump from the Twin Peaks Tunnel muni station, no excuse for not densifying. The WOTPCC will now need to step up to the plate and begin to discuss density in West Portal, and these areas if they want to be viable community builders to provide essential housing in their neighborhoods….

    There is a local gazette in that area, this story should be published in that news gazette….

    1. There was one actually… like 6 months ago.

      You’re delusional if you think the council will be the ones to initiate such a discussion. Especially when you have nuts like Mr. Wooding calling the shots and making false characterizations to further his own agenda (there are, in fact, two gas stations nearby at West Portal.) The rules need to be imposed by the city and it cannot back down in the face of opposition. Until then, two story limits will be the rule of the land.

      1. God, that paper is terrible! Everything is a conspiracy!

        “Would 30 condominiums built on an old gas station site overlooking the Youth Guidance Center be worth more than a 65-year-old gas station? The City’s answer would be “Yes” while the neighborhood’s answer would be a resounding “No.””

        Angry old white people.

        1. Of course in your mind, cars are evil and surely are not a means to living efficiently. I can tell much from your post. You are single, no kids and never leave SF. You also have no desire to leave SF . I could go on and on and on.

  5. Editor: “Developed in 1972, prior to which horse stables occupied the site…” No, there has been a gas station on the site since at least 1959. If you enlarge the photo of Youth Guidance Center at this Midtown Terrace history link you can see it.

    That said, it should be more than a gas station now.

    1. From the City:

      “According to Mr. John Updike, Director of Real Estate, the proposed lease site at 598 Portola Drive was originally acquired by the City and County of San Francisco (the City) as part of the Laguna Honda site in the late 1800s. An approximately 15-acre corner of the Laguna Honda site along Woodside Avenue and Portola Drive was jurisdictionally transferred to the Juvenile Probation Department in 1947 for development of the Youth Guidance Center, with the proposed lease site retained by the Department of Public Health. At that time, horse stables were located on the proposed lease site.

      In June 1972, the City received bids to lease the 15,000-square-foot site at 598 Portola Drive. In August 1972, the Board of Supervisors approved a 15-year lease of the site between the City and Mobil Oil for [its first] use as a gasoline station…”

    2. “For the most part they will be dwellings with two and three bedrooms, priced at $13,000 to $16,000—perhaps with a few up to $20,000”

      Bless you for that (and hard to believe a whole neighborhood was being built in the center of SF as late as the mid-50’s)

    1. It seems like there are a lot of problems building residences above former gas station sites in the city, because of contamination. How hard, then, would it be to build above active gas station sites? Maybe the regulations in the UK are less strict.

  6. We are rapidly losing gas stations in SF–could the supervisors please tackle the problem by imposing a moratorium on the construction of additional gas stations?

    1. That is absurd. The moratorium on new gas stations should cover just the Twin Peaks area so they can study the effects of not building new gas stations.

  7. IMO it will be near impossible to get any up-zoning in the Twin peaks/Mt Davidson/West Portal/Sloat Blvd areas.

    That said, the WOTPCC is unrealistic on this IMO.

    West Portal has some one story buildings and a quite a few two story buildings. Logically going to 3 stories on the 4 block strip with housing above and transportation when you walk out the door is a no-brainer.

    I recently spoke with a shop owner there who owns their building. I said it’d be nice if they could add two floors of residences. The owner agreed but said the neighbors behind the store would never allow it. It would take a long and expensive process with no guarantee of success. They will leave that to new owners if they ever sell.

    CVS on Portola should have had two floors of rentals on top. As it was, CVS had to fight hard to get the store built because of heavy neighborhood opposition. I am guessing they didn’t even posit building two or three stories instead of one given the added opposition and possibly years of delay.

    Really, that strip could be up-built. There are 3 and 4 story buildings there now. Plus several one story structures that would be perfect for adding two residential floors.

    Lakeside Village has a block of older single story quaint (colonial style) buildings. perfect for adding a couple floors too, but they are adjacent to nice, large detached homes and I suspect there would be huge opposition.

    Same goes for Ocean Avenue. Many one story commercial buildings but the problem is some of them are next to Westwood Park and again I’d imagine there would be a lot of opposition if someone tried to build these out to 3 stories.

    I live West of Twin Peaks and love the open, less dense character of the area. And the area is still very dense for all practical purposes. But I also think it is crazy the way the WOTPCC opposes any up-zoning for housing along existing commercial strips with many one story buildings fronting on those strips.

  8. I’m 100% for more housing and more density wherever we can get it, but that corner is pretty crappy. No good pedestrian access, tons of wind and fog, busy traffic all the time… if we have to put gas stations somewhere I’d say that’s probably as good a spot as any.

    1. Just becomes self-perpetuating then. You could’ve said the same about some Market St corners, which are now radically different from what they were. Any development should include improving pedestrian access, as well.

      1. But this is at the top of a steep hill… with fog and constant wind; three variables that won’t change no matter what gets built there. This is nothing like Market St.

  9. There can be no explanation why the preservation of places to buy fuel for the hundreds of thousands of cars owned and NEEDED by average san Franciscan taxpayers is not a high priority at the Planning Department. It should also be a priority among environmentalists: It will not help the environment if people have to drive to the suburbs and back to refuel the cars they feel they need.

    1. Are you seriously suggesting that we’re anywhere close to that scenario? I rarely even have to wait in line to buy gas at an SF station, where it seems to be the norm at many suburban stations. I’d say that we could still lose another 50% of the ones that we have before getting to the market-appropriate level. Remember that planning forbid gas stations from being converted to other uses for more than 50 years, leading to a severe over supply.

    2. If motorists aren’t willing to pay enough for gas to pay for the land the station occupies why should the city ban competing uses of the land? If enough gas stations get redeveloped prices will rise until the remaining ones are more profitable than the potential alternative land uses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *