736 Hyde Street Site

As we first reported when the plans for a five-story building to rise up to 50 feet in height on the little Lower Nob Hill/Tendernob parking lot parcel at 736 Hyde Street – which is zoned for development up to 80 feet – were presented to Planning late last year:

While the site could support up to eleven (11) units per San Francisco’s Planning Code, as drafted Kerman Morris Architects for the owners of the site, the plans for the site include nine (9) one-bedroom units averaging 636 square feet apiece and without any parking, aside for a storage room for nine (9) bikes.

And as such, the infill project as proposed will not need to include any Below Market Rate (BMR) units nor pay any inclusionary housing fees.

But the development as proposed would need a couple of variances from San Francisco’s Planning Code for rear yard, exposure and potential open space constraints.

And from Planning’s preliminary review of the proposed development, which was just sent to the project team: “At the density proposed, the Department would not be able to support the Variances. If the project does not increase the number of units, the project should be revised to be code compliant.”

The Department has also encouraged the team “to increase the proposed height so as to facilitate additional units to maximize density.”

We’ll let you know who blinks first.

12 thoughts on “Development Chicken in Lower Nob Hill”
  1. Seems kind of strange. The building proposed is too big to meet standards for open space and rear yard exposure, so Planning wants it even bigger? I’m not sure if that makes sense in this situation.

    636sf apartments with no parking already seem pretty dense/urbanist/pedestrian-oriented to me.

    1. A lot of planning code creates self contradicting situations, and the way they resolve these situations often doesn’t make sense.

    2. I read it as if the Planning Department were to consider variances they would want to maximize units before agreeing to grant the variances. I think the variances apply to both the proposed project and to the larger one planning favors.

  2. BMR’s are required for 10+ unit buildings.
    9 units = 9 market rate, 0 BMR
    11 units = 10 market rate, 1 BMR
    you will never see a new 10-13 unit building.

  3. Sounds like the City wants the developer to increase the density to include more units in order for it to include BMR.

  4. The Planning Department is going get egg on their faces if the developer comes back with ‘fine, well do seven units without any variances.’

    I’m not sure they could, but it would be an embarrassing result.

    1. I think that a conforming project would have to be smaller than 7 units. Probably more like 4. I haven’t reviewed the open space/unit requirements lately, but I think there is some minimum sf per unit. If they need variances for those, even if they qualify for 11 units in one part of the code, they still need Planning’s blessing.

      Hope it doesn’t turn out that the owner builds 4 instead of 9. Seems like a lot of downside for Planning to force this challenge.

  5. It’s within the developers right to come back with a 4 unit building that is completely compliant.

    The real issue here is the cost analysis the developer is evaluating, make it bigger and amortize the loss of a BMR unit or two, or go smaller.

    These are the negative externalities that the current BMR law requires. You will never see a 10-13 unit building because of this.

    But here’s the real question, it sounds like the Planning Department wants higher density. But does San Francisco really want higher density and more affordable housing? I think the answer is no, otherwise there would be more of both.

    Why not a 100 story building on this site and make half BMR? Because rich land owners do not want their view blocked.

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