437 Hoffman circa 2016

Purchased for $1.229 million in 2006, the “Recently RENOVATED” Noe Valley home with “Breathtaking WATER VIEWS” at 437 Hoffman returned to the market listed for $1.495 million in 2009 and sold for $1.160 million in 2010.

Plans to raise and expand the home were initiated in early 2014 and the property quietly traded hands for $1.850 million later that year.

And as proposed, the 2,300-square-foot home will be raised 6 feet to make room for a 3,300-square-foot addition, including a 1,500-square-foot second unit and a new two-car garage.

The public hearing for the project, which would remain ten feet under the zoned height for its parcel and technically isn’t tantamount to a demolition but was close enough to be filed that way, has been scheduled for June 2.

And once again, a historic look at 437 Hoffman circa 1905, before all those damn density hounds had their way with the neighborhood:

437 Hoffman circa 1905

94 thoughts on “Raising the Roof and Density in Noe Valley”
  1. Would love to hear from [Futurist] or other Noe NIMBYs why this would be an unimaginable horror, a tear to the pristine urban Noe fabric. Would love to hear from anyone in Noe who, hypothetically, would oppose a 6-story building on 24th street, since it’s a significant corridor near transit. Because “everything must stay the same, and I get to say what the definition of “same” is!”

      1. Of course I don’t MOD. You certainly understand that. I have neighbors who fight vertical and horizontal additions and I sometimes act as a consultant to help them understand the codes. Many of these smaller and 100 year old homes are built UNDER the allowable height limit per the zoning maps. typically it’s going to be 42′ or 45′ as measured from the centerline of the property width at the curb.

        This proposed addition is well within the allowable limits and I always support additions like this. It makes perfect sense and fits completely within the neighborhood architectural context.

        This type of renovation/addition serves well for the newer owners moving into Noe who want a substantially more modern home within a more classic façade. Excellent project.

        1. How about 6 story buildings on 24th? Or along Sanchez? A wall of 6 story buildings along both those strike me as sensible, maybe with some breaks. I suspect [Futurist] would wet his pants in fury.

  2. I live in Noe and I would welcome this type of development throughout the neighborhood. Development like this offers us the best chance of being able to stay in the neighborhood after we outgrow our 2 bedroom TIC and need a SFH.

    Would also welcome additional development on 24th St. In case you can’t tell I’m a huge YIMBY.

      1. also live in noe and cannot see what could be the controversy with this plan. within existing building codes, check; not a demolition but still not trying to avoid a hearing it could have, check; adds a unit of housing, check; adds parking by converting one street parking spot into 2 off street spots, check.

        what’s to protest, the loss of one inappropriate tree? easy enough to correct with a different species planted further up the sidewalk.

        personally i’d likely use the extra allowable ten feet but i don’t own this house so it’s really none of my business – as it is within code.

        as for heights on 24th, bring them… and along church and dolores as the streets are wide enough to support the additions without much impact on light and they are transit rich. 4 easy; 6 may be pushing it but in a city of 2 stories why the fixation on 6?

        sanchez, certainly could go taller but i’m not sure i’d want 6. it feels like a narrower street and the lots seem less then 100 foot deep in many places. though i find the current restrictions and set back rules overly restrictive and think 4+ should be no problem.

        full disclosure, we own a duplex “key lot” house abutting 5 houses/lots to our west that are on dolores. they range from 3-5 stories. their depths into their lots are, save one, no longer conforming, but i can still grow tomatoes on my eastern fence and my own roof has a solar score of 93. their rear yards are mostly shade, tiny, and mostly unused save for stairs to laundries and trash bins. the only neighbors using these rear spaces have larger roof and jigsawed stair decks that get some southern light.

  3. I really hope that group Protect Noe’s Charm doesn’t come walking into this one. Yes, this is a new addition / new work but it increases density, keeps original facade/etc, and *is 10 feet below zoned height!!*

    Only bummer is that tree will likely go bye-bye, but I’m betting that existing tree already creates havoc with the wires and a new one could be replanted easy enough.

  4. Ha! I’d never heard of “Protect Noe’s Charm”. I had to google it. They have a pic of the Castro side of the hill on their website. (Liberty and 21st Street between Castro and Noe). Clueless.

    1. Yes, that group Protect Noe’s Charm is made up of a bunch of narrow minded, long time home owners in Noe who want zero change to the “charm” of NV. I find them completely uneducated as to the current and allowable planning and building codes; but ignorantly assuming that a little “charming” cottage (as an example) shall never be altered or increased.

      They are ludicrous and stuck in the past.

      1. We didn’t have our eye on this one but now that you brought it up, we’ll definitely take a closer look!

        And the old “Charm” and fuddy duddies that we AREN’T will be shadenfreuding when one of you gets “boxed-in” by one of these mega developments. But of course, people who make money off of these supersized homes never think that someday they could be victims of their own success:-)

        1. And you illustrated what’s wrong with Protect Noe’s Charm: they don’t understand and want to accept the current zoning laws that allow for ALL properties to have the option of building up and out, including their own. I know specifically of some members of the group who have built their own 3rd floor additions and then protested with a DR against an adjacent property doing the same thing.

          They conveniently forget the value in real dollars they have added to their own property. But others who you say “make money off their supersized homes” seems to be your business. Double standards and hypocrisy continues.

          1. Futurist, since you’re not knowledgeable of the planning department’s procedures and processes, allow me to indulge.

            For one, despite what you and other folks who make their living off of supersized developments claim, the planning department relies on TWO facets for evaluating proposed projects: the planning code and the Residential Design Guidelines (RDG). The mandate to use RDG has a legal basis as in the following:

            Section 311(c)(1) of the Planning Code provides that Residential Design Guidelines shall be used to review plans for all new construction and alterations.

            So while these supersized houses are code compliant for height and depth, they are NOT RDG compliant. The reason that RDG came into place sometime in the 80’s was exactly because the planning code by itself was not adequate to deal with out of scale and out of character developments.

            So it’s not the Protect Noe’s Charm members who don’t understand city planning. It’s the people who make money off of these supersized developments at the cost of encroaching on our light, air, and privacy who know nothing about city planning.

          2. Trouble is, the Protect Noe’s Charm followers are just busy-bodies that:

            1. Do not like change of any kind.
            2. Think we still live in the 19th and 20th century.
            3. Are heavily obsessed with others making money (of any amount) on a residential property.
            4. Do not understand the RDG’s have a wide variation of definitions for “acceptable”.
            5. Quite often once they have their remodel, they go against other neighbors who wish to have theirs.
            6. The constantly use the words “supersized” and “monster” homes without merit. They simply don’t like anything bigger than theirs OR what has been there for 100 years.
            7. They forget that their own property also encroaches on others “air, light and privacy”.
            8. They maintain a myopic vision of what it means to live in a dense, zero lot light urban place.

            The group is simply not knowledgeable and educated about responsible residential urban growth.

  5. Interesting photo from 1905. Those trees to the left don’t look like typical SF tress. They are not eucalyptus or pine. They almost look like redwood tress.

    1. They’re not sequoias. My best guess is douglas fir. That species’ natural range extends to SF, but just barely. So it might be some other pine species.

    1. I notice how you called them “private” garages. what else are they? And I suspect you have a problem with someone putting in a garage? This proposed 2 car garage works because it keeps 2 cars off the already crowded street at nite for parking.

      So, what’s the problem?

      1. Well, there is a growing contingent that views street parking spaces and access to the public ROW (aka curb cuts) as valuable resources that belong to public at large (and not private owners). They would argue for a market pricing system for all street spaces. I don’t fall into that camp, but it is certainly food for thought as we grow denser.

        1. I don’t fall into that camp either and I have not heard ONE discussion from a homeowner, contractor, architect or city official that takes the view that curb cuts belong to the public. Pure bs, IMO.

          In fact, in truth, curb cuts don’t “belong” to a property owner but merely provide them an easement granted to access their garage. Just as the property owner does NOT own the sidewalk concrete in front of their property, but uses it (like everyone else) to move around. Furthermore, the homeowner is still responsible for paying for the maintenance and upkeep of those concrete squares. (which I find greedy and ridiculous by The City). Sidewalks just like streets should be maintained by The City.

    2. that “private garage” nets one fewer car taking a street spot. my single garage door supports 3 parking spaces for 2 units.

      what i wonder is how much longer the city will allow older buildings to claim double wide driveways, or ten garages side by side on their soft story bases. seems like a easier thing to correct and net more street spaces if you are so inclined. i also wonder how long until parking permits are the norm as free street parking isn’t really free.

      1. I agree with you on your first paragraph.

        But on your second one: “older” buildings have to do what with their double wide driveways? I don’t think the codes are generally used to punish existing properties. As for 10 garages side by side on a soft story base: The soft story base can be corrected and strengthened with steel moment frames, but you can’t just eliminate 10 openings and then expect to still park 10 cars in the same space: car circulation would take up over 1/2 the spaces. That’s why new buildings with say 10-15 spaces have a single entry point into the garage with a circulation aisle and spaces allocated along that.

        1. Normally I’m with you, but I have quite a few Noe neighbors in de facto SFHs with double-wide curb cuts whose garages are full of non-car crap. I see no reason why the curb cut couldn’t be reduced to 12-15′.

          Honestly, I wouldn’t mind so much if they weren’t the same low property tax having NIMBYs who oppose everything. The garages look like flea markets. And they street park! The nerve!

          Also, it annoys me that the planning department won’t accept anything with a garage door wider than 10′. (I know I’m in old man yells at cloud territory on that one.)

          1. Trouble is you’re treading close to the abyss of North Korean type of control. Seriously, is it any or your or our business what they have in their garage, and whether they use it for a car or not?

            And so, low property taxes make them a Nimby? what if one of the bedrooms contains only books and no bed? The travesty. And what if the kitchen uses only red meat in the meals and no greens? Should we impose a beef tariff?

            And what’s your issue with the 10′ wide garage door?

      2. Futurist would know better, but I think it is already highly discouraged to put in wide driveways, and that 40’s/50’s soft story approach of multiple garage doors is completely off the table. The City is trying to maximize remaining street parking, and doesn’t want curb cuts taking out more street parking that they have to. My pet peeve is putting in parking that is used by one car (yes, I know that they usually are theoretically for more, but often not in practice), meanwhile blowing out a couple on the street. It’s a net effective parking loss, although it is a gain of plus one for the homeowner.

        1. ah…modernedwardian was asking if older buildings could maintain existing parking arrangements. As futurist says, it’s pretty unheard of for the City to take away parking rights, even if it wouldn’t currently be allowed in new development. I could see “encouraging” a change to a more parking efficient setup when a major soft story reinforcement project is undertaken, but I’m not aware of the City actually doing that. The soft story work that I’ve seen simply reinforces what’s there. But I would think you could actually get more seismic strengthening by creating a limited entrance garage space rather than keeping individual garage doors. But that would be case by case, and definitely the exception.

          1. It seems to me that a fair compromise would be to require annual fees, per linear foot, for eliminating parking in front of your building. If you have a dozen doors, it’ll be pretty expensive, and you could consider if you want to forgo some of them. It’ll also encourage people like my neighbor, who doesn’t drive and doesn’t use his garage, to return the curb cut to the common pool and allow people to park there.

            It would also be nice if SFHs without garages could pay the fee and get a reserved space without having to add an actual garage– it would be a big win for historic preservation and for nice front yards.

          2. No, you would not get “more seismic strengthening” just by limiting the number of garage entrances. The positive seismic aspects really come from the steel or concrete moment frames, their configurations and other structural components. Yes, you COULD create more shear walls for structural integrity by eliminating openings, but you would then seriously reduce the number of parking spaces currently accessed directly off the street. A building owner would not want that, causing their building to lose parking spaces and theoretically revenue.

            Also to Alai: If a “current” owner does not drive and does not use his garage that does not mean a future owner of that building will also do the same. Returning an existing curb cut to the so called common pool would take away “value” and inherent rights of that particular property for future owners. That would not be acceptable. And besides “nice” front yards are no guarantee: look at the hundreds if not thousands of houses in the Sunset where the front yard is paved over. Many people don’t like greenery of any kind. (which is pretty awful).

          3. Sure, and if the future owners want to use it, they would be able to pay the fee and get it painted red again. It’s pretty absurd to keep a space empty for decades (which it actually has been) just because someone may, hypothetically, want to use it in the future.

            And of course nothing is guaranteed regarding front yards, but if street parking is valuable (and it is), then we have the bizarre status quo of the city granting a valuable asset to anyone who decides to pave over their front yard. As public policies go, that’s pretty bad.

  6. Elevating a house to insert a parking garage also harms the pedestrian realm.

    Another thought: this structural change will certainly trigger the requirement for a full seismic retrofit, which means gutting the interior (at least that’s my understanding). Anticipate all sorts of comments on this when it comes back on market some day.

    1. Oh please. Harming the “pedestrian realm”? Really? Explain your theory.

      And no, just because the remodeling will require full seismic upgrade does not mean the gutting the interior. I added shear walls and moment frames to my own 1904 Victorian with only minimal interruption to the interior finishes. It’s not a big deal.

      1. The idea is that a street lined with eye level porches, bay windows, and front entries is more pleasant than one lined with garage doors. That makes sense, a continuous line of garage doors is about as appealing as a wall.

  7. I can’t believe they’re going to let them swap the position of the door and that little window on the facade. It’s a travesty!!!!!!!!

  8. I tried to post this comment before:
    1. Lifting houses and inserting ground level garages does substract from the pedestrian realm.
    2. Maybe nobody’s business but the property owners, but a structural change like this probably means a full seismic upgrade is required, which probably means the whole interior will be gutted to the studs and turned into a white box.

  9. I find it interesting that the people smear members of Protect Noe’s Charm by attributing irrelevant and false qualities to our members. What’s next? That we’re Satan worshipers and Donald Trump supporters!

    Regardless, we’re glad to be of help to our fellow neighbors who want to stand up for their right to light, air, and privacy.

    1. Except that “Protect Noe’s Charm”, even by the very name of the group is already defined as the epitome of a classic NIMBY. And, of course you constantly talk about your “rights”, but in the next breath, you will make sure that your addition and renovation give you exactly what you want and ends up pitting you against your neighbor, and sometimes friends against friends.

      Even over the last 30 years that I have lived in the heart of Noe and have seen many renovations, additions and new homes built in all parts of the neighborhood, the fact is this: The character, the scale, the walkability, the friendliness, the appeal (call it charm if you want) has not been degraded at all.

      1. I’m sure that during the first 25 years of the 30 years that you claim to have lived in Noe Valley you didn’t see the same enormous scale of construction that we’re witnessing today. And calling us NIMBY doesn’t phase us. Historically, the conservative right wingers have used this term to deride the progressive movements. We proudly stand with progressives that came before us and are not phased by any name calling.

        1. With all due respect, I don’t believe that calling someone or a group “Nimby” is really name calling. It’s a term that is widely used to define people who don’t want any change in their back yard. I am even called it sometimes.

          But yes, we did buy our house on August 22, 1986 here in Noe Valley, a true fixer and have loved the neighborhood ever since. And yes, I have seen lots of changes, remodels and additions over the years. Some of those I have been the architect on. Full disclosure as always.

          But IMO, the construction going on today, as it has for the last 30 years is no more “enormous” than it has been in recent years. I think the essential issue is that members of your group, or other similar groups, typically project great fear mongering of what is to come, or what will come by physical changes to the neighborhood.

          You may really believe you are trying to “protect the charm” of Noe Valley, but you are far from progressive.

    2. CharmsRus – You should apologize to Satanists for clumping them with Trump supporters.

  10. In the Board of Appeals meeting of Feb 24th, 2016, David Winslow who is a senior planner with the SF planning department stated our common concerns, which are Massing, open space, and scale.

    Great many major cities in North America use Floor Area Ratio (FAR) to control the scale and massing of houses in a neighborhood. The city of San Francisco does NOT use FAR limits for residential buildings and instead, uses the RDG to control expansions. Be it FAR limits or RDG, the idea is to manage the scale.

    As early as 5 years ago, 5 to 6 thousand square foot homes in Noe Valley were rare. You don’t believe me? Just take a look at the city’s own records to see for yourself. Great majority of homes in Noe Valley are within 1200 to 1600 square feet. It’s not fear mongering or hyperbole to state the obvious, which is a house that is 4 to 5 times larger than its neighboring houses will most certainly “box-in” its neighbors.

    1. And you can continue to go on and on about the past: that many NV homes are 1200-1600 sf. What’s your point?

      Is it that you wish to inject your personal feelings that those small homes are relevant to the newer generations wishing to buy into Noe? Perhaps that you still prefer the past vs a vibrant future? Fact is, it’s not your business if a home is 4-5 times larger than the neighbor.

      There are MANY examples on a typical Noe St. where a larger home was built back in 1950 that was substantially LARGER than the little cottage sitting next to it. Did anyone scream howls of complaint back then? Is that larger house still a “monster” house by your definition?

      I can continue with other examples, but by many opinions, the primary goal of Protect Noe’s Charm (by the very name of your group) is to stay stuck in the past and resist change in the future.

      1. If you want a Blackhawk-style house, don’t try to cram it into a Noe Valley lot. Stop apologizing for the ongoing, gauche pillaging of urban San Francisco neighborhoods.

      1. Exactly, but Protect Noe’s Charm is short on facts and very long on hyperbole, actual lies, and bluster.

        Just read their one section at their website on “Monster “Homes”; every single statement is a scare tactic and not based on truth, it’s based on fear projection.

      2. Unlike what you think, this is not a rarity in Noe Valley. According to the city records, the property that started this thread, 437 Hoffman itself will grow to 5000+ square feet if the Planning Commission approves the plans.

        1. yes, obviously, and it is pretty rare. in order to get that type of footage you need a certain size downslope lot in the first place. and those are not typical

          1. The square footage of the houses being built in our neighborhood is part of the public records and if you take the time to obtain them, you will see that despite your assumption and hypothesis regarding the slope, the rarity is not the norm.

  11. Oh look! More lies from the people who generated a petition full of lies about this project for their neighbors to sign. Quoting a building cost that applied to a previous owner of the building is a new one.


  12. As a Noe resident, I love what the developer is doing with this project! If I had to make any complaint, it would be that the building should be twice as tall, and should be a 4-plex instead of a duplex, but unfortunately that isn’t allowed by The Code. Given what’s allowable on this lot, I think the developer has come up with a fantastic plan!

  13. I didn’t notice this before. The side yard setback on the left is going away. That poor neighbor will be hearing a lot more noise through the walls.

  14. According to the assessor’s report, 437 Hoffman currently stands at 2181 square feet. According to the plans submitted, it will be enlarged to 5616 square feet. The plans are now in public domain as part of the DR packet filed filed earlier. Here’s the link to the entire DR packet that includes the plans.

    [Editor’s Note: Or as we more accurately reported above, “the 2,300-square-foot home will be raised 6 feet to make room for a 3,300-square-foot addition, including a 1,500-square-foot second unit and a new two-car garage.”]

    1. true or false, CharmsRus: 437 Hoffman sits on a downslope lot.

      true or false, CharmsRus: downslope lots such as 437 Hoffman’s, which support lot averaging that allows for larger square footage, are relatively rare in Noe Valley

    2. So I may be confused, but I am looking at the plans submitted in the DR packet, and it looks like the project is expanding a SFH– not adding a second unit. Am I missing something?

      [Editor’s Note: See the reply below.]

  15. Elly, the DR packet has the old plans for 437 Hoffman, which was a project for a single family home of 5616 square feet. The Project Sponsor (Kelly Condon who’s also commented on this thread) changed her mind, called it a “demolition”, and carved out 2 condos with the same total square footage (5616) instead of a single family house.

    To answer Ohlone California’s True or False question, the answer is false my dear! Yard averaging has NOTHING to do with the lot being upslope or downslope. You may want to educate yourself better on the subject of yard averaging by reading Zoning Administrator Bulletin No. 5.

    1. Oh, good. I saw that the property used to be two units a few years back before they were merged into a SFH. Glad to see it is going back to two units.

    2. not what I said. of course the lot averaging has nothing to do with the lot being upslope or downslope.

      It is the coverage, which is the average, plus the downslope, that yields larger sq ft.

      Surely you realize this. In fact, I am sure that you are demonstrating for all to see the very sort of nit-picking language stance that is typical of the NIMBY set.

      My point stands. Most lots in Noe Valley cannot yield 5000+ sq ft structures. Therefore, they are rare, which you said they were not. you are incorrect.

  16. The thing that’s futile about the entire crap that Protect Noe’s Charm attempts to push is this.

    Noe Valley is very desirable. Even the smaller homes and land they are on is very valuable, and there will continue to be developed and remodeled larger homes, as the new owners are allowed by the codes.

    All that PNC really is able to do is thru their bully tactics and lies is, perhaps, tweak some of the rear dimensions, setbacks and other moderate changes to these new projects. But they do NOT stop them, nor prevent future buyers and even existing home owners from pursuing their dreams.

  17. Futurist says: “Perhaps that you still prefer the past vs a vibrant future?” Is that because everything about the future is always better?

    Ask most San Franciscans who were established here 10+ years ago if the “future” that has unfolded has been all upside. Oh, and take money (RE profits) out of their consideration…

    Same question for you – if there was zero money in this game (NV RE values, design jobs), would it all be equally vibrant, past be damned?

    1. It’s simple. It’s not about the money. it’s not about the size of remodels or new homes. It’s about refusing to accept change.

      And much of PNC is deeply embedded in a philosophy of jealousy and envy of other neighbor’s choices.

  18. Futurist doesn’t see the absurdity of houses that are 3 to 4 times larger than their surrounding houses because as he disclosed, he’s in the business of building them. Now, there are plenty of architects in this city who are mindful of the design, scale and aesthetics of their creations and we have a few of them as our members but if your livelihood depends on “square footage”, obviously, you would argue for more.

    Futurist continues bringing up the “city code” as the sole measure of compliance for these massive developments. I find it hard to believe that an architect would be so dismissive of the Residential Design Guidelines, which as the planning code mandates, should be equally enforced.

    So much venom against Protect Noe’s Charm but little to respond to the points we’ve raised from the city planning perspective.

    1. there’s nothing absurd about the juxtaposition of this home versus its neighbors. from street this home, lifted 6 feet, will fit in with the other homes in the area. indeed the houses across the street are much taller than 6 feet higher, the immediate neighbor to the north is taller, and two lots north is quite taller.

      You are complaining about interior size not visible from street.

      You are couching what you believe are ethical, and moral arguments, in language chosen to disrupt down at DBI. Shame on you.

    2. Yup, this building may end up being 3-4 times larger in sqft than nearby houses because, for all it’s charms, Noe still has many dumpy little SFH houses, with the design, scale, and aesthetics of their Great Depression and older origins. From a city planning perspective, the more of these projects that add a housing unit and upgrade/update an existing unit, the better.

      The real shame is that this area is only zoned for 1-2 unit buildings, which would preclude anyone building another one like the 5,300 sqft massive 6-unit development on the corner of this block, built in 1913. Must pre-date SF charm worthy of protection. Should tear it down, for y’alls protection.

      As for what amount to “massive developments” in SF, try SoMa, Mission Bay, Pier 70, BVHP, Parkmerced, ….

  19. The Residential Design Guidelines, which are part of the Planning Code, don’t just address what’s visible from the street. They also try to protect the midblock open space shared by the neighbors.

    1. “midblock open space,” you say?

      I won’t parse your language. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that that is how it precisely how it reads. I could have objected to your verbiage and referred you back to code, rotely, as others are doing in this thread. But i won’t do that.

      So take your own language and explain how a stacked vertical structure, downslope from the setting sun, that is in keeping with lot averaging + coverage poses a problem for others?

      1. And yes, you point out very well how this particular project (and other similar projects) is simply NOT a problem by your definitions.

        The problem for the cult followers of Protect Noe’s Charm is that the neighbors and even those not necessarily near the project object to someone’s personal choices, income, wealth and how they choose to spend it. PNC is deeply rooted in the mantra of “I’ve got mine, but why should they get theirs?”

        Deeply disingenuous.

      2. Ohlone, you are just too wedded to this upslope/downslope scheme! In San Francisco, the residents DO appreciate the mid-block open space. You might have not heard of this but allow me to explain what mid-block open space is: That is the space in the rear yard abutting your back neighbor’s rear yard. Hence the term mid-block open space.

        And that brings us to end of tonight’s lesson:-)

  20. How is pointing out that the Planning Code (and,yes, again, the Residential Design Guidelines are indeed part of the Planning Code) is not limited to what one can see from the street “deeply disingenuous”?

    1. I’m pointing out what I believe to be the underlying creed of PNC: It’s not as much about larger homes, change and preserving “neighborhood character” as it is about “I’ve got mine, why should they get theirs?”

      I have worked on specific single family residential projects as the architect of record where the very neighbors protesting my particular project, only recently completed THEIR large addition and remodeling. That’s called “deeply disingenuous” in my book.

  21. Having taken a look at the plans and, in particular the proposed southern elevation, I have no idea how this project didn’t get shot down by the residential design team even before the 311 went out. I speak from my own experience of trying to get a small expansion at the back through, which didn’t even have one-twentieth of the impact (3′ horizontal by 1 1/2 floors v 18′ horizontal by 53′ vertical). That may speak more to the arbitrariness of the planning department more than anything else. If you hire the right fixer, you can get anything through, it seems.

    1. no, this doesn’t have a lot of impact due to the lot. what sort of lot did your project have?

      1. Ohlone, it doesn’t have to do with the lot. It has to do with the relationship between the proposed building and existing buildings around it. The planning code says in one place that you can build out to 45% of the lot depth in an RH-2 and 75% in RH-1. This project proposes to go out to the full 45%. I was nowhere near the 75% for my RH-1 lot, but I was going out 3 feet beyond the neighbor. If you read the Residential Design Guidelines, you can drawings of examples of what’s allowed. If you have setbacks on the upper floors, you can go out farther on the lower floors, for example. This project proposes to go up 54′ straight up right at the 45% line, but 18 feet out farther than the one neighbor.

        1. It does have to do with the lot at the rear, actually. Yes, and you’ve answered your own question as to the 45% aspect. they went to it, the point at which it is allowed. I think you should look into what the code has to say about downslope lots. it might be informative for you. anyway, you’re basically agreeing with me whether or not you know that. I do sympathize with people who have had a hard time with DBI. I feel like it can be arbitrary too. But I really don’t see that in this case.

          1. You totally misunderstand. There are two constraints. One is the 45%. The other is the admittedly more amorphous one in the RDG. Just because they met the first doesn’t mean they met the second.

          2. I do understand, actually. You’re not making specific points. I am, and you are not refuting them.

          3. Congrats, Ohlone, you’ve managed to make Futurist seem openminded, reasonable and well-informed by contrast. Someday maybe you’ll find time to read the RDG and come to appreciate some of the principles incorporated therein, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them. But first you have to become aware of what they are.

          4. Once again, neither yourself nor CharmsRus are citing anything specific. You are citing a large code, vaguely, and expecting others to take your interpretation of same as a point. That’s not a valid argument. Feel free to cite the specific wording that would preclude this, or know that the tactic you’re employing in this debate is moot.

          5. Namelink has the SF Planning bulletin 5, governing Buildable Area for residential lots. It’s worth reading carefully if one is contemplating a home expansion in the city.

          6. alberto, ohlone,

            You are both correct in what you are saying, but are talking past each other. The RDG is an amorphous document that is used by the RDT (T for team) to guide the approvals. They can and often do go above and beyond the Planning Code in what the restrict. You have to get that approval and can’t just build to the code. But, it does have to do with the lot and the zoning. What RDT like to approve is a house that leaves at least 45% rear yard. They don’t generally force homeowner to build less than the 45%, however if the adjacent houses aren’t deep they always push the RH-1 lots to build as if they are RH-2.
            So in Alberto’s case he got push back even though he was code complying, while here RDT is not pushing back to match the other houses since they are at 45%

  22. Alberto Rossi, if you read the DR packet that was put together in anticipation of the DR scheduled for April 7th, you will see that the DR applicants state that there were NO evidence of any Residential Design review and no feedback from any planner on the records to the developers/project sponsor. How convenient!

    As for Ohlone and Futurist, they’re entitled to their extremely biased opinion. Again, I find it thoroughly amusing that neither one can argue against the fact that there is such a thing as RDG that is supposed to regulate mass and scale of construction in the City.

    1. of course there is such a thing as RDG. what that has to do with your objections is a point you continue to fail to make. whether you don’t know what you’re talking about, or do know what you’re talking about and merely being intentionally vague as you know it is a simple obstruction tactic, I don’t know. you’re essentially only saying, “there is a code.” of course there is. what does that have to do with your objection?

    2. My opinions are based on my professional experience on actual projects, and pure facts. Yes, the RDG exists, in theory, to help regulate mass, scale, size, materials and other architectural elements for residential design here in SF.

      But what the RDG also does is create “extremely” variable and amorphous language and direction in the overly wordy documents to help satisfy a small percentage of homeowners who fear The City is not listening to them. The RDG often pits neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend when a new project begins the development process. The RDG is often ambiguous and often in direct conflict with the SF Planning code.

      And yet when the code clearly and explicitly defines dimensional setbacks, side yards, rear yards and other real finite shapes and spaces, the RDG comes along and adds confusion to those real code regulations. I find the RDG pretty much useless, and I have talked to Planners who would agree with me.

      However, I am not dismayed because the PNC group is relegated to a small group of busybodies who do not like change of any kind. The represent a very small group of actual Noe Valley property owners and do not reflect the majority of us living in this nice neighborhood. Well designed and larger homes continue to be built in the area. Witness two new homes on Castro between 28th and Valley St. now completed. Both modern, well constructed replaced two very substandard properties that were essentially 1 story tall, most of it below the grade at curbside. Witness the handsome shingle style 3 story home at the corner of Duncan and Castro, which was built on an empty lot. Essentially it’s the same height, shape and massing as the 60’s apartment building adjacent to it.

      This is what the neighborhood can support and these homes are examples that are welcome and represent what future residents want in Noe Valley.

  23. Futurist, unlike what you imply over and over again, we don’t have a bias for Victorian charm. There are charmingl modern buildings in Noe Valley with façades that are harmonious with their surround without an imposing, in your face mass to deprive the neighbors of light and privacy.

    Witness 41 Clipper Street that was built in 2014 with exemplary attention to details and a total square footage of 3600. That is one hell of a modern charm! Witness 1470 Noe Street with an architecture that is complementary to its surround. At 2300 square feet, 3 bedrooms, and 2.5 baths, it’s hardly a “substandard property”.

    Incidentally, the proposed project at 437 Hoffman that started this conversation can hardly exemplify the cool modernity being hailed here. The property is flanked by two homes with NO gable roof. It’s in a mixed character block and as such, it could have easily done away with that gable roof that sticks out like a sore thumb. In doing so, it could have been more mindful of the topography of the block and the roofline progression. But no! Instead, it’s a Victorian jacked up and stretched to make room for 5600 square feet with no architectural integrity to make it either modern or Victorian. And that’s what this “NOT so small group” of busy bodies is opposed to.

  24. As PNC was told in their MANY emails back & forth with the case planner on this project – the RDT is not required to review every single project that comes through the planning department. They only review projects that have unique conditions that might require restrictions beyond standard setbacks & height limits. This was not one of those projects.

    This building design is 10′-11″ under the height limit & designed to jog far away away from the shallower depth neighbor to one side. Much farther than required by code. This lot & the lots behind it are all 25′ deeper than the standard lot. We’ve been called rapists & monsters & density hounds by people who own multiple properties themselves.

    Surely there are injustices in the world that deserve outrage. This is not one of them.

  25. Kelly, I assure you that none of the name callings can be attributed to PNC. Our experience with the planning department has been that they do call in the residential design team when there’s a large project at stake. So why there was no RDT review on this project is another mystery all to itself.

  26. CharmRUs – do you know who is the author of the petition used to collect 110 signatures against this project using numerous false statements. There were false statements in the petition before the first hearing was cancelled.

    After we moved our hearing date so that we could add a unit to the existing far beyond affordable single family home & after the DR filers were made aware in writing that we did so that we might add a unit – 25 more signatures were collected using the now even more false language.

    This petition full of lies with the names & addresses of the people who bought every word (including very disingenuously – the DR filers who knew it was false info) has been submitted by the DR filers to planning & to the planning commission for the June 2nd hearing.

  27. And I want to make my point more clearly. There are injustices in your own community that deserve outrage. Are you protecting your culture? Your city? with the umbrage you take against projects like this or any other addition to a house that wasn’t even affordable to start with.

    I would love to see the intensity of outrage generated against this one project put productively into anything that could change what is actually hurting the city you love. Spend the time you could have spent researching before you signed some petition to make yourselves feel better – researching how much construction REALLY costs in SF. How much workers are REALLY paid in SF. Why our ‘local hire’ practice has NO teeth because all our union workers have long since moved outside of the city many of them were born in.

    So – what does construction cost. In money. How hard is it really for the developers to comply with the percentages they say cut their bottom lines in the Affordable Housing Bonus Program. Because if labor was really that expensive – your neighbors might be more than 80% white in Noe Valley.

    There are literally hundreds of emails back & forth with the planning department & to our planning commissioners about this ONE residential addition – that at this point CREATES housing. Where’s the housing you create with your petitions & misplaced angry emails to a planning department who would rather spend their time addressing our housing crisis than spending a ridiculous amount of time addressing your bourjois one.

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