240 Chenery Site

As proposed, the fire damaged home at the rear of the extra deep Glen Park parcel at 240 Chenery Street will be repaired and expanded.

And on the front portion of the 5,000 square foot lot, a modern four-story home designed by MAK Studio will rise up to 36 feet in height, with three floors of living space over a four-car garage to be shared between the two structures on the lot.

240 Chenery Rendering

While the project will require a rear yard variance in order to maintain the existing home, a neighbor’s previously requested Discretionary Review (DR) challenging the project has been withdrawn following a reduction in the proposed mass of the new home’s facade.

240 Chenery Rendering

And the 240 Chenery Street project, for which the building permits have been requested, could be approved next week.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Thatguynotthatotherguy

    Google Maps appears to get this location wrong. It’s actually a bit further southeast from where they show the pin.

    Also, the render oddly seems to reduce the front setback of the next-door neighbor to nothing. Intentional? And it removes the tree (but keeps a ghost of it in the mirror reflection!).

    [Editor’s Note: While Google will still map the wrong location for 240 Chenery, we’ve since forcibly moved the pin in our map above.]

    • Posted by Serge

      Google Maps is doing something funky when trying to locate 240 Chenery. It wants to place it on Randall St for some reason.

  2. Posted by scott f

    Great. A massive luxury home instead of 3-5 apartments for regular people. This is Palo Alto-fication in action. Glen Park’s outdated SFH-only zoning really needs to change.

    • Posted by Futurist

      No, it doesn’t need to change. It is appropriate for this neighborhood which has always been predominately SFH. The new proposed house is not a massive, luxury home. It appears to me to be about the same scale as adjacent properties. This is a good, solid infill on a very large lot with a fire-burned house at the rear.

      Perhaps you are looking at the wrong house.

      • Posted by errors of the past

        It’s a great historical tragedy that more of San Francisco wasn’t built out as nice single family homes.

      • Posted by scott f

        3 entire floors all to yourself an eight minute walk from rail transit in 2016 San Francisco. Who’s going to be able to afford that? Mark Zuckerberg?

        There was a time when we could have neighborhoods of all single family homes in San Francisco and have them be middle-class. That time is over.

        I don’t object to the height and bulk, although it is clearly larger than both houses next door. It’s just if we’re fine with this height and bulk, why not at *least* make this a triplex? And then we ask why we have a housing crisis.

        Recent zoning plans in The City have moved to purely height and bulk based zoning, not regulating the number of units. But Glen Park hasn’t been updated, so this is what we get. Housing for people with F.U. money only. Considering the closeness to BART and the J line, that’s a shame.

        • Posted by Futurist

          What? “all to yourself” ?

          We don’t have a “housing crisis” just because this building is not 3 units. Even if it were 3 units, it would most likely be larger, somewhat taller, and essentially each of the 3 units would probably cost in the area of $1m if not more. Which is “normal” for this neighborhood and location.

          The fact that pretty good transit is a block away does make this property even more valuable. That’s the reality of the market.

          And what’s with this F.U. money comment? I don’t get the hate or the disdain.

          • Posted by scott f

            No hate, just disdain for the 1950s-style suburban zoning that lets such a valuable lot be so underused. Each one of the 3 units would certainly cost less than this whole house, and it would provide homes for three families instead of one.

            The crisis is that we have a terrible shortage of housing that’s driving prices to insane levels and has led to 30% of the Bay Area’s residents seriously considering leaving, according to a recent poll. If we want to fix that, we have to build up and get rid of the outdated suburban-style zoning in places like this. Specifically, RH-2 in this case.

          • Posted by David

            I’m with scottf on this. If we don’t upzone SFH neighborhoods – especially those near transit – we’re underutilizing the land and thereby furthering the housing crisis. The fact that so many of our lots are RH-1 is a big part of the problem IMO.

          • Posted by Dave

            It’s true there is a housing crisis and 30% of Bay Area residents say they are considering leaving.

            That said, not everyone wants to live in an uber high density neighborhood. Some people that leave do so because of the quality of housing in other metro areas vs here. Anecdotal, I know people who relocated because they did not want to settle for a condo which is all they can afford here.

            Other metros have large RH1 zoned areas. Portland, Seattle, Denver.

            In our lifetimes the RH1 zoning in SF will not be changed. Nor should it at all in certain areas.

            If things were starting from scratch the abysmal RH1 zoned Sunset would be a place where higher density done right (not talking about turning the tacky 2 story row homes there into tacky 4 story row homes) could work.

            Short of RH1 zoning being changed, the city has basically allowed an up zoning through its change to the in-law unit rules.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            Of the 30% who are considering leaving, let’s look at the data on why. Is it just due to the high cost of housing (as per the dogma embraced by the Cult of Build More Housing) or is it because we insist on squeezing more and more people into a limited space, and at the same we fail to address how those people will get around? 22% of respondents cited housing costs as the main reason but that was closely followed by 17% saying traffic. In this case, the cure becomes the disease.

            The Cult of Build More Housing has provided zero evidence that building more luxury housing in San Francisco has any mitigating effect whatsoever on rising real estate prices. This is because they view supply and demand from the simple perspective of a high school textbook. History has shown that the only thing that ever brings down SF RE values is a cyclical economic contraction.

            Although, since Vancouver BC recently instituted the 15% tax on foreign buyers, sales are down 25%, and the average sales price dropped 17% which was the biggest MoM decline in 39 years. So if you REALLY want to make housing in SF more affordable, that seems like a quick and easy part of the solution.

          • Posted by Jake

            Large population migrations are normal for the Bay Area, being a crossroads of transient rootless folk since the 49ers. Half the population growth of the past 50 years is from net inflow of foreign born. For the City of SF, two-thirds of the population growth from 2010 to 2015 was net foreign migration and almost all the rest was ‘natural increase’ (births – deaths); must be all those anchor babies.

            As I have mentioned before on SS, in an average year ~4% of the population of SF moves out of the Bay Area. And in boom times they are replaced by ~5%. Like it or not SF and the Bay Area generally is a major destination for people from around the world, on average people with better educations than the current residents, BTW.

            According to a Trump spokesweasel this is yuge enough to go national and will continue until there is a taco truck on every corner in Amerika, though in SF that might as likely be a dim sum or ramen truck. Maybe Uber can app that.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            I am foreign born myself, I have no problem with immigration. The problem is when people without US citizenship, the ones who have no skin in the game, drive up prices for people whose lives are actually invested in America.

          • Posted by Jake

            What “game” are you talking about? Could it be the ‘game’ of being a taxpayer without a vote, as are ~100k SF resident non-citizens?

          • Posted by Futurist

            @scott f: Those 3 homes you envisions would be expensive, they would not be “affordable” meaning entry level. They would likely be 3 condos priced at least at $1m and probably more.

            So how does that solve your housing problem? it doesn’t.

            I’m glad this is a new modern SFH. That’s the character of the neighborhood.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            Futurist gets it. When the vast majority of people talk about making housing “affordable” they are talking about affordable to the middle class or maybe at least the upper middle class. When the Cult of Build More Housing cheers for thousands of new units, all they will really accomplish is to maybe save the wealthy a little money on their purchase (the buyer for the median SF home needs to be in about the top 2-3% nationwide) while at the same time creating more mayhem for the people already living here.

          • Posted by Dave

            @Sabbie has a good point. This lot, whether built as 4 units (the new structure 3 condos) or built as 2 SFH per the proposal will not be affordable to the median SF household. Creating mayhem for the median household in the sense I guess that the commutes get longer to the places where the median household can afford something.

            That said, its sad to see these odd lots in the Glen Park area built out and the few remaining slivers of green disappear. I drove down Congo to see this place and on Congo, what had been a nice verdant open space not all that long ago, is two homes crammed right to the sidewalk. Affordable to only a few.

            This home is a nice modern design, but for the money it will cost? The street is strewn with cars, overhung with power poles and lines and built up home upon home. If I had the 3 or 4 million it will cost I’d take a pass on this one.

            The middle class is priced out and the upper income folks who can afford an SFR in SF are forced to settle for a visually un-appealing street such as this.

          • Posted by Futurist

            @ Dave: It was essentially my point in the early discussion, but Sabbie caught on to what I was saying:

            Housing built in already very established neighborhoods, where land costs are very high, will never be what’s called “affordable housing”. It’s simply not the location or associated costs that will support this type of housing. There’s nothing wrong with building a SFH in a SFH neighborhood and pricing it at $3-4 m. There are plenty of buyers out there who will pay for this home.

            Affordable housing can only be built on cheaper land, farther from the “trendy and desirable” neighborhoods, and it must be high density, small units. Then it may be affordable to some middle class, but not all.

            Only subsidized public housing, meaning Section 8, is and will remain the only true affordable housing in SF.

          • Posted by Dave

            @Futurist That is a valid point regarding SFH (and condo) prices in SF and other parts of the Bay Area. Its why many are considering leaving. Only the top 5% will be able to afford this home and it comes at a more general public cost.

            My problem with this and what was done to a backyard on Mt. Davidson is not the building of SFHs, but the building of such in a way that requires a variance (more footprint allowed than by code/backyard size) and in so doing removes the precious little open space left in a few neighborhoods.

            After visiting this site today I came back via Baden and two more tightly built homes (as in too large for the lot) are going up. Obviously they received variances too.

            Keep Glen Park zoned RH,1 but disallow any variances to the existing zoning.

          • Posted by scott f

            @Sabbie: So the top two complaints are housing affordability and traffic. Great! Building much more housing in the city, where walking, biking and transit are competitive modes of transport, and close to the region’s biggest job center, will solve both. What worsens traffic is people driving in from Santa Cruz, Tracy and Stockton because we failed to build housing for them in the urban core.

            You can’t cite history to say what will or won’t happen if we grow the housing stock quickly enough to keep up with demand, because since WWII, that has literally never happened.

            What we do know is that the city has experienced rapid job growth over the past couple decades while housing stock has grown much more slowly. And we also know that other cities that are also experiencing rapid growth in highly paid jobs, but have built housing faster as well (Seattle, DC) don’t have the same extent of problems that we do. 11% of San Francisco households can afford the median market rate rent. In Seattle, the figure is 50%.

            It’s just wrong to think that the demand for housing is infinite. Take the number of jobs created. Subtract the number of homes created. That’s our deficit — and thanks in part to exclusionary zoning like Glen Park’s, it continues to grow.

            I *wish* those of us fighting for an affordable SF were a cult — we’d undoubtedly be better funded. Sadly no, we’re just normal people trying to make a difference.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            Scott, I have already argued this point many times so I won’t go into details, but the idea that job growth is keeping home prices at these insane levels when 37% of purchases are made all cash is laughable. I don’t know of many jobs that allow you to save up $1.3M in cash while paying the highest rents in the nation.

            Tell me just roughly how many “transit friendly” units you think we need to build until SF becomes “affordable”, please show your math.

          • Posted by anona

            So the argument is that we have to build so many that we should instead build none?

          • Posted by Futurist

            SF will never be “affordable” to some, but affordable to many who can actually afford to live here. Building more and more and more will not make it “affordable”. It will only create an overly-dense, crowded city, affecting daily quality of life.

            Is Manhattan getting more affordable? is London, Paris, etc? No.

            If you can’t afford it here, it doesn’t mean The City has to just throw out more housing for the masses. It just means you need to find where you can afford and stop whining.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            I never said that. First of all, we need to make sure that the transportation infrastructure is upgraded along with new construction, to accommodate the new residents and mitigate the reduced quality of life. This will require actual study vs. utopian visions that the type of people who can afford $2M condos will ditch their cars and ride their fixie everywhere. Second of all, we need to define what “affordable” housing means and how do we get there? Perhaps we would discover that a 15% tax on foreign buyers would slow the price appreciation as much as thousands of new units would? We need to be data driven but nobody is even studying this stuff. The reason is that the City DOES NOT REALLY WANT to make housing affordable. They want a two tiered system of ever increasing home values for the wealthy and the city coffers, and nanny state taxpayer funded affordable housing for the progressive voting bloc, while the middle class can pound sand.

          • Posted by anona

            We just have a fundamental disagreement on “quality of life”. SF is not even approaching crowded in my opinion, so any increased density drastically improves my quality of life, by allowing for more shops, restaurants, people like me (in many ways, but certainly new residents seem to be less NIMBY and more in favor of a true big city experience), an expanded tax base, etc.

          • Posted by anona

            And Sabbie, I completely agree with your last point, which is why I’d like to see removal of all or most height limits, and drastically increased density allowances in all neighborhoods. The upzone a tiny bit here, maybe a slight amount there approach feeds right into the city’s (and Futurist’s) desires to keep the city only for the super rich and the nanny state beneficiaries.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            “I’d like to see removal of all or most height limits, and drastically increased density allowances” Sounds to me like you want a lot more housing built. But, you have zero evidence that this would lead to more affordable housing. This is due to your myopic misunderstanding of the true nature of current demand for SF real estate.

          • Posted by Futurist

            But no, I don’t want to keep The City only for the rich. I want to keep the city with a quality of life and way of living, the walkability, the small scale that is the envy of many around the world. I don’t hear you complaining about Manhattan or London or Paris as WANTING to remain only for the rich.

            Strange how some of you want SF to become the destination for all, the poor, the underclass, the homeless, the druggies, the welfare recipients.

            And oh, yes, those people will create demand for more shops, restaurants, hipster ice cream stores and $200 back packs like we see on Valencia. And yes, anona, we have a fundamental disagreement on what is the “quality of life”. The upzoning, the influx of everyone and anyone will drastically change that quality we have here now.

            And it will, IMO, not be a positive change.

          • Posted by Dave

            The reality is that SF will remain one of the most unaffordable cities for the middle class in the US. Yes, build more housing as per code (I oppose this lot getting a variance despite the quite nice design) but that will not bring down the price of SF housing. If one happens to be a middle class person who wins the BMR lottery then the additional housing will benefit you. But that group is a small segment of the population.

            What should be addressed is the jobs situation. SF does not need more office space as most of those workers won’t make enough to live here and thus be forced to commute adding to the degrading quality of life in SF and the Bay Area.

            Put new office complexs closer to affordable housing (by BA standards) – Oakland, San Ramon/Livermore (tri-Valley) and southern Santa Clara county. One can still get a home in Brentwood for 400K.

            No massive developments in SF (such as the Hub and the Central SOMA up zoning) unless concrete real infrastructure improvements are made at the same time. The TTC uber development should not have been allowed given what has happened with the once grandiose plans. Or, it should have been rolled out over 20/30 years as the transportation improvements were rolled out.

            Quality of life is not synonymous with higher density. SF has reached its natural limit on density given a host of factors.

            Quality of life is a 3/2 home on 2 acres with river frontage just 20 minutes from a job center. Or a condo on the 20th floor in that job center. Affordable to the median income family in that metro area. Having that choice. There are places like, but SF is not one of them. Building higher density, up zoning long established RH-1 districts will not turn SF into that quality of life metro area I described. It will only further degrade SF’s physical appeal/beauty.

          • Posted by anona

            “Sounds to me like you want a lot more housing built. But, you have zero evidence that this would lead to more affordable housing. This is due to your myopic misunderstanding of the true nature of current demand for SF real estate.”

            If more people live here, by definition more people can now “afford” to live here. I have no reason to believe that housing will be built and unoccupied.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            You’ve got your definitions mixed up. There is a huge difference between spending 60% of your income on rent because you just scored a high paying developer job, and being able to purchase a home in the million dollar range. The new housing may become occupied but it will do nothing to bring down the cost of buying a property for the average person.

          • Posted by anona

            I never said that it did. I said that if we build housing units and people live in them, clearly we’ve built housing that’s affordable to them. I’m not and never have argued that building more housing will bring down prices, nor should we view that as a necessary goal of building more housing.

            We live in one of the most productive regions in the history of the world. As such, we should be looking to increase housing and bring more people in (even or especially if they’re already wealthy) for the good of the world.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            Getting millions of people to play with your app by giving it away for free and then selling their eyeballs to advertisers might not be the most productive thing in the history of world, in fact there’s a good chance that one day we may look back on it as a silly bubble.

          • Posted by anona

            SF and the Bay Area as a whole has always had one of the highest incomes in the world, going back to the gold rush days, so it isn’t something recent or specific to apps. This is and will likely always be one of the high productivity clusters of the US, and we shouldn’t be placing artificial restrictions on that productivity for aesthetic reasons that not everyone even agrees with.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            Not aesthetic. In the Bay Area Council survey, 58% agreed that traffic is at “crisis levels”, it was the #2 biggest problem after cost of housing. It’s not a concern for you, ok, but it is for most.

          • Posted by anona

            If traffic’s the big concern (I agree that it is outside of SF, where the vast majority of that 58% likely lives), then limit parking but allow unlimited space for humans. Tax driving or gas. Toll roads. Etc. But this notion of halting economic growth because we’re unwilling to rethink how, where, when, and at what cost people can drive around is lunacy. It’s like deciding to starve to death because you only have forks but really want to eat with a spoon.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            The economic growth continues with or without the extra condos that you want built here. You still haven’t provided a good justification for building more condos except “the good of the world” which isn’t even going to fly down on Haight Street. The only benefit would be to take a little pressure off of rents, and that can be accomplished by building more high rise apartments in already upzoned central areas.

          • Posted by anona

            So you’re disputing that more building results in more housing than less building? I’m very confused.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            I’m saying that for the average person in SF right now, building more housing is a negative on balance. It creates more congestion while doing practically nothing to alleviate price pressure. There is no advantage to the typical SF resident in rapid building of luxury condos. I’d say the exception is very central high rise apartments, which do relieve some pressure on rents while adding the least cars.

          • Posted by anona

            Current residents have no need for new residences, since they already have one. I agree on that one, so if we’re only talking about direct benefits to existing residents we should absolutely close up the drawbridge now. Who cares about those not here, amiright? They should have moved here before you and me.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            That’s democracy for you. The SCOTUS has ruled that zoning is a valid restriction on property rights, and many places all over the country have used it to keep growth from getting out of control. By the same logic, why have immigration quotas, why not just open the US border to anyone who wants to come in? Because there’s a balance to be found, a question of how much is too much. And for many Bay Area residents we have already reached “too much” until major improvements are made to the infrastructure.

          • Posted by anona

            And that’s fine, I’m disputing whether strangling the economy is legal or not. Hopefully enough of the slow growthers will die off eventually and we’ll get back to trying to grow the local economy instead of simply getting rich off of rent seeking.

          • Posted by anona

            ^oops – I’m *not* disputing

        • Posted by DM

          SF does regulate the number of units in that it makes it all but impossible to merge adjoining units in multi-unit residential buildings.

    • Posted by cleverpunhere

      Well, you are getting two homes where just one fire-damaged one currently exists.

  3. But, it’s nice that the neighbors get their houses painted, complementary lawn ornament and old car removal service and new sidewalks, so that’s something.

  4. Posted by Dave

    The good – for a modern design this is not too bad. Thankfully we are not treated to another flat roofline. Indeed, the angled roof picks up on the home to the left and not the boxy structure to the right. The use of wood is great with stucco kept to a minimum. As long as they seal the wood with a solid protective coating. The wood finish is somewhat neutral and that compliments the colors of the surrounding structures.

    The bad. Loss of a tree – though they are at least putting in shrubs across the front. It’d be nice to add a planter box along the top of the wood facing above the garage. It almost looks like there is room for a deck there – at least there is a setback of sorts. Still, a smallish street tree is in order.

    The really bad. Building over every bit of open space. The original deep set home was just fine but greed on someone’s part lead to a split of the lot. Though it will require a variance. Which it will get as that is the drill in SF.

    On Mt. Davidson there was a long backyard that fronted along a sidewalk. Nicely kept up. When the owner passed away their heirs spent years getting the variance to subdivide the backyard into 3 lots. 3 homes built with a huge variance as their footprints are huge. The neighborhood was willing to compromise and support two home but no – build on every inch of open space visible from the street. Its sad to see the paving over of what little open/green space remains in this paved over city.

    • Posted by cleverpunhere

      Interesting view. I agree that the house looks great. I also think it adds very nicely to the mix of homes in the neighborhood, which already has tremendous variety in size, style, and era.

      I find homes set far from the street are not good for the feel of the neighborhood. From the street, they feel like dead space, which just a fence along the sidewalk. They also tend to decrease interactions between neighbors, because people drive in their long driveway and park there, instead of coming and going from the front door near the street.

      • Posted by Patrick

        I love homes set far back from the street when they are occupied by little old ladies who lovingly tend beautiful front gardens.

        • Posted by DM

          Homes set back from the street? Look at the Sunset where all the front yards are paved over for parking.

    • Posted by Adam

      I would propose, that because the tree everyone seems to be so concerned about is planted in front of the neighbor’s property, that it is not going to be removed, but was merely edited out for the purposes of clearly showing the new home in this rendering?

      • Posted by Elitist Pig

        I think they are talking about the smaller tree on the lot.

        • Posted by Futurist

          Yes, they are. The ficus in front of the property to the north is existing and I’m sure will stay. BTW, the rendering is a bit inaccurate in that the existing sidewalks are not as narrow as the rendering shows.

      • Posted by AnonAnon

        Yeah, the tree removal in the rendering is about as accurate as the removal of the unsightly stair railing on the house next door.

        Very nicely done, clean lines. And that gray stain tend to hold up pretty well in this weather. I grew up in a beach area where tons of houses had that look and it ages much better than the natural wood look.

    • Posted by Serge

      Good points. I especially agree with you on the aesthetics of this. It’s a very attractive contemporary design without being a soulless copy-and-paste design.

    • Posted by former GP'er

      All the houses along that street are right on the sidewalk. It says there’s a set back – and a whole second home in the back. I don’t know what people are talking about. Has anyone seen the plans? How do you know the set up? Some people on the thread complain it’s not multi-unit, while other complain it takes up too much space (while actually facilitating 2 homes).

      • Posted by BobN

        That appears to be an accident of history. If some previous owner had put the house on the front of the lot, no second house. (Which is an indication of how weird the rules are.)

  5. Posted by jwb

    Looks like they are going to underground the utility service too! What a wonderful development!

  6. Posted by LDFH

    Looks like a great improvement in a sweet neighborhood The addition of housing, even if expensive, is always good

  7. Posted by sethgreen

    at least they hired a talented architect. Design looks great. Most of the buildings going up in SF these days are downright depressing. Is this where mediocre architects are relegated or do we just point the finger at cheap developers?

  8. Posted by Hello SF

    Looks great. Nice addition to the neighborhood.

    For the MIDDLE CLASS who don’t currently own, should be taking over all the multi-unit buildings. This will improve schools, streets etc. & the local politics which are BS. We don’t need more density & a lower quality of life. We need the middle class back.

    • Posted by Dave

      Yes, we need a vibrant middle class but getting them back? Far easier said than done. How exactly does the middle class take over multi-unit buildings here? Nice thought but not practical.

      • Posted by Hello SF

        It’s quit practical: The MIDDLE CLASS needs to group together & buy multi-unit buildings as TIC’s. I’d like to see TIC become more popular, and these older buildings owned & preserved, not for renters.
        San Franciscan renters seem to be the most entitled in the world. SF policy is to subsidize housing for people who don’t need it (long term wealthy folks who rent & hoard spaces), and doesn’t subsidize those who do (students, interns, young people).

        • That would require groups of people, likely strangers, to collaborate on a project (at least as regards the common areas of the building) and have a shared vision for the final result. And risk large sums of money in the process and also ensure their co-owners hold up their end of the deal and can actually pay, in full and on time. It’d be a goldmine for lawyers, that’s for sure, but there are reasons this sort of Utopian collaboration thing never happens in real life.

    • Posted by Futurist

      The utter lack of logic and clarity of your entire statement baffles me. What exactly are you saying?

  9. Posted by John Smith

    Is this project still happening? It seems to be just sitting there in disrepair and there is some sort of lien on the gate.. just a curious neighbor.

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