203 Cotter Street Site

Purchased for $1.295 million in early 2014, the 203 Cotter Street parcel extends nearly 500 feet back through the middle of its Mission Terrace block and has been home to Little City Gardens, the only commercial farm within the city limits of San Francisco, since 2010.

The buyer of the parcel was the Golden Bridges School, which proposes to build a new K-8 school designed by Stanley Saitowitz and Natoma Architects on the front half of the site, with a modern 15,400-square-foot, two-story building outfitted with living roofs and walls.

An open air central corridor would run the length of the building and lead to 16,000 square feet of open space, which would be retained for farming (by Golden Bridges, not Little City) and educational activities, behind the school.

203 Cotter Street Rendering: Aerial

The previous owner of the property had granted Little City Gardens temporary use of the property after the New Mission Terrace Improvement Association issued a letter in support of the farming project until the property was sold or developed.

And with 829 signed communications/petitions in opposition – with stated concerns ranging from the project’s scale and potential for heightening the risk of neighborhood flooding; to the loss of neighborhood open space (and views); and of course traffic, noise and parking – and 778 in support (as of ten days ago), San Francisco’s Planning Commission is slated to decide the fate of the parcel and proposed school project this afternoon.

San Francisco’s Planning Department is recommending the development be approved, noting that the concerns regarding traffic, parking and noise have been evaluated and deemed insignificant; that the plans would be subject to review by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission for compliance with the City’s Stormwater Management Ordinance prior to a building permit being issued; and that while views may be lost or obstructed, views from private property are not protected by the City’s Planning Code nor Residential Desin Guidelines, and that “this is common and [to be] expected in an urban setting.”

27 thoughts on “Neighborhood Farm vs School”
  1. The neighbors should have each chipped in ~$20,000 to purchase the parcel and turn it into a private park. Hundreds of children playing in the backyard cannot be great for property values.

    1. Possibly, regarding children’s play on property values. But why spend $20,000 per adjacent owner when you can use SF bureaucracy of the Planning Department, BOS and the referendum process to accomplish the same thing?

  2. “while views may be lost or obstructed”

    Uhmm, this is a view INTO a closed block: I would think trading a view of a neighbor’s monotonous clapboards 100′ away for a giant hedg..er, “living wall 50′ away isn’t much of a sacrifice.

    OTOH, the loss for the UFW of having a potential toehold in the city…

    1. Sorry, but I’ve got to call you out on that comment. It’s a separate parcel…not at all the same thing. Plus…look at the plan…there will still be a ton of mid block open space…much much more than in most residential blocks.

  3. I can only imagine this is a good thing for the property values of all of the houses surrounding this. What an amazing school this will be for the kids, and the fact that they’re including the urban farm idea is really fantastic IMO. Lucky kids.

  4. In New York they build the highline. In the new San Francisco we would have infilled the bejesus out of that. Its ridiculous. And the rush is on while Ed’s still entombed inside the soggy but golden sands beneath city hall.

    1. the SF equivalent to Highline opportunities would be The Embarcadero or China Basin, or anything along the Caltrain or Muni lines above ground, or maybe an alley conversion, not a lot in a residential neighborhood.

      and a Waldorf school with living walls and roof is not infill. but i guess that’s hard to see when you are constantly looking at the sky and waiting for it to fall.

  5. Oh god. The noise of school kids screaming on the playground 9 to 2pm, 5 days a week, in perpetuity. Glad I’m not a retiree or work-at-home person in one of those houses.

    1. Geez, you would think this is a grumpy group. It’s not like the kids will be playing from 9 to 2pm during the day since they will be in classes; and the school year only last nine months.

      1. Besides, kids don’t play anymore. The only noise pollution will be the quiet clicking of tiny fingers on their iDevices…

      1. This is BS. I’d be pissed if they did this to my neighborhood. I was thinking of buying in mission terrace since close to bart. Not anymore.

        1. Where should the schools be, in your opinion? As far from houses as possible, I guess? Maybe they could find a way to put them all underground.

    2. i used to live across the street from the Live Oaks school and Jackson Playground at the base of Potrero and I worked from home 2-3 days a week then. Children playing (and at times yelling) during the day, the National Anthem and metal bats until 10PM during baseball season. Tennis and Basketball games, Ultimate tournaments.

      Personally i loved the sounds of happy life in a city and opened my windows.

      I may have run to the window a few times to follow a crowd roar or a spontaneous song but my work didn’t suffer. and I moved because I couldn’t get my landlord to name a price when we wanted to buy.

    3. We live across the street from a high school and an elementary school. Occasional band music. Elementary schoolchildren are required 200 minutes of physical activity every two weeks. Do the math. That’s 20 minutes a day. Even if recess is rotated, there are kids outside, what, 40 minutes a day, with maybe some before-school playing for 15 minutes (the amount of time they provide playground supervision). Husband works from home and has never found it annoying. I frankly find it depressing how little playing kids get these days.

      Traffic is tough for 30 minutes twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon (twice, because two schools, so it would be less if just one school). You time it right and you’d never care. One benefit of living close to a (good) school: walking your kids to school and then having them get themselves home when they’re older.

      That said, Saltowitz? This is not a school I would think typical Mission Terracers could afford (correct me if I’m wrong). Would it truly be a neighborhood school? Or SUV’s pulling in from Noe?

  6. You live in one of THE major cities in the entire United Cities and expect it to be like the suburbs? Talk about completely unreasonable & irrational expectations.

  7. Noise was only a small part of the objection. Much of the concern was around traffic, parking and water management. This is a very small street with limited on street parking. The school plans said little about where the 30+ staff and volunteers will park all day, though they agreed to some measures to reduce traffic crush at drop off and pick up (those though all relied upon parents to use Muni, good luck with that!) Also this area has been notorious for flooding and the city has essentially shrugged it’s shoulders and said there is no way to fix it.

    Neighbors have suggested the PUC buy the farm land to both retain storm water and build water storage capacity for storm events. But once the school is built there is no chance to get that land back. The Planning Commission seemed to ignore that larger issue and kicked approval of the the school’s storm water mitigation plan to DBI, which is not known for seeing the forest for the trees (see Millennium Tower). So this is not just a case of NIMBY v. Progress!, but a far more involved issue.

    And this will really only affect a small corner of Mission Terrace, so no need to avoid buying there!

  8. Love the idea, but that simulation art pic showing cars turning around in a roundabout driveway doesn’t seem feasible when compared to the actual picture showing the adjacent houses. What gives?

  9. I live a couple blocks away. Lots of local opposition and pining to keep the “farm” as is. I like the “farm” but it’s not an efficient use of space in this limited city, I think CSAs and farmers markets are a better idea. Alemany farmers market is not too far away.

    Only reason I could see to oppose is the drainage issue, which I have experienced myself unfortunately. When the city does not much to help out what is clearly a problem with its infrastructure it’s no surprise people are against anything that could potentially make the problem worse. But I’d rather see the problem fixed than blocking this development. In fact I could see the school being a valuable asset in the fight to get the city to do something, since they’ll likely experience flooding in front of the school soon after it’s built.

    @reality bites – if you saw it in person the turnaround makes more sense. Can’t trust the distorted Google Street view pictures.

Leave a Reply

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