While the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed 27-story, 495-unit infill tower to rise on Nordstrom’s underdeveloped parking lot parcel at 469 Stevenson Street was certified by San Francisco’s Planning Commission in July of last year, the certification was subsequently appealed and overturned by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.

As we calmly outlined after the Board’s decision, despite a media circus of “San Francisco Supervisors Kill Housing” headlines and stories at the time, the bulk of the already completed Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project could be reused and/or amended to address the specific concerns that were raised by the Board, “the impact of which we’d put at six months to a year.”

It’s now eleven months later and…the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed 469 Stevenson Street tower has been amended to address the Board’s specific concerns (gentrification and displacement, historic resource impacts, and potential geotechnical impacts), with a public hearing scheduled for next month and after which the EIR is likely to be certified anew and the development approved, despite having been “killed.”

All that being said, as we noted when the EIR was originally certified last year, neither building nor demolition permits for the project have yet to be requested, permits which are typically paralleled processed for projects which are positioning to break ground and which continues to speak to the actual intentions and planning of the entitling team (Build Inc.).  We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

34 thoughts on “It’s Alive! Proposed Mid-Market Parking Lot Tower Take Two”
  1. (ed – your “As we calmly…” link is to a Nob Hill development piece.)

    Nothing like fighting the gentrification and displacement of a parking lot…

    1. While in response to a comment on a Nob Hill development, as we didn’t jump on the “housing killers” bandwagon at the time, the link we provided is actually to our outline of the situation for the 469 Stevenson development.

      And while framed as “fighting the gentrification and displacement of a parking lot,” keep in mind that the actual concern is the impact of the development on the gentrification of the surrounding neighborhood and resultant displacement of lower-income residents, not the parking lot itself.

      1. That concern might be valid if not for the fact that all the academic research shows that building new housing lowers average rents in a neighborhood. This “concern” isn’t much different than concern that the elections were stolen or that vaccines are just a method of mind control. Apparently, science is only valid when it tells you what you want to hear.

        1. That’s incorrect. What most academic studies actually show is that new development typically reduces the average rent for like properties in a neighborhood (while accelerating the relative rise in rents/floor for lower-cost properties in the years that follow or ignoring that aspect altogether).

          1. Hey! That’s actually my area of work. And you are in fact incorrect in your assertion. I watch publications in this area pretty closely. The vastest majority of scholarship shows an overall negative change in rents after the introduction of new housing. You are right that most articles on this deal primarily with average rents, but the ones that attempt to quantify the effect by price generally find downward pressure across the board with gently diminishing effects with the increase in “delta” between the price of the new housing and the price of the existing housing.

            In fact, the determining factor in terms of how that downward pressure is distributed appears to be more related to the price of the newly built housing rather than the price of the given existing housing. Meaning the strength of the effect increases for similar existing units. Intuitively and from the point of view of basic economics this also makes more sense. The new units exert the most downward pressure on the most similar existing units because those are the alternatives that the renters will consider.

            I’m sure that you can find some studies that show an increase in floor rents, but I doubt that you’ll be able to show even significant numbers of studies that support your “floor raising” claim. May I ask exactly what you are basing this assertion on?

          2. SocketSite is correct of course, and also buttressed by what we experience here in SF. More luxury housing means more displacement of the vulnerable populations that live here. We need cities like Sunnyvale to chip in for more luxury housing for their workers. We need more affordable housing in SF.

          3. Hi Curious, for those of us not in this area of work, what publications would you suggest?

          4. Maybe the poorest, most vulnerable people in the state (the country, arguably) shouldn’t be housed in the most expensive city, let alone downtown in that city.

          5. BobN, in this country we don’t dictate where people are allowed to live. (In fact, the last time we did that might be a sensitive subject for many current SF residents.)

            The TL has been a poor neighborhood for decades, and services exist within walking distance for those who live there and need them.

          6. BobN – Maybe we shouldn’t have transformed housing from shelter into a financialized, speculative asset.

          7. You’re right, Kyle, we don’t dictate. We just leave them with no viable choices. Look around the world at places that are doing it right. You won’t find Tenderloins in those cities and you won’t find what they do — that also happens to work — cheek by jowl with their downtown.

            I don’t know why opposition to the mess we have is almost always construed as opposition to actually doing something good.

          8. Agree with SF Native. It’s worth noting that CuriousR doesn’t indicate which academic discipline his “area of work” is in.

            I can’t claim to be an expert in this area but I have ready many papers on gentrification and displacement of current residents and a lot of the groundbreaking work being done in those areas is in City & Regional Planning, not economics. “Build build build” and “CuriousR” are likely thinking of research in economics that just happens to confirm their ideological priors.

            What most people who haven’t read widely in econ might not realize is that many economists think that gentrification and displacement of current residents is a good thing, even if they mostly avoid coming out and writing it. They use jargon phrases like “allocative efficiency” and other related terms which mean “the market has made X available to the buyer who has the willingness and ability to pay the most for it.” Many economists think that showing markets working, and how it’s operation conforms “intuitively and from the point of view of basic economics” is more important than the human suffering (think S.F.’s worsening homeless crisis) those market forces cause.

          9. SF Native – Sunnyvale is actually doing pretty good at producing housing. Thousands of units have come online over the last 5 years and there are more units under construction in downtown. San Jose and Santa Clara are producing plenty of housing too. If you want a scapegoat of a city that is not pulling their weight, there are plenty of other cities that aren’t doing enough.

      2. And one year later after a bogus appeal of the Env, what was achieved in terms of fighting gentrification? Checks went out I’m sure to the right “non profits”.

        In general, the tone of this article gives the impression that the recent outrage at San Franciscos complete and utter failure to provide housing at every income level and every stage of the process is unjustified.

        Building is now going to stop again for years as the cycle is resetting so the problem will continue to explode and yet the lack of ability to react and build when needed is beyond ridiculous now. It’s Almost the length of the cycle itself when a view gets blocked or the right people don’t get their checks.

        The FBI should move a few agents from DBI to city hall.

        1. “San Franciscos complete and utter failure to provide housing at every income level”

          There are thousands of vacant “market rate” units along the Market St corridor, SOMA, Mission Bay, and elsewhere on the central eastside. There has been no failure to provide housing for high-income cohorts, nor has there been a failure to provide a huge supply of units for speculation, flipping, second homes, short-term rentals, foreign capital flight, and other financial gamesmanship. This huge supply is becoming a festering glut that, along with the historic levels of vacant commercial space, threatens to pummel SF real estate.

          The city has undergone a blistering wave of construction over the last two decades; some parts of the city look nothing like they did before that wave started. Those of who you claim there are too many restrictions and “nuttin’ gets done in dis crazy town” might consider a visit to the optometrist.

          1. “There are thousands of vacant “market rate” units along the Market St corridor, SOMA, Mission Bay, and elsewhere on the central eastside.”

            Please provide a citation for this. If it’s the same source Dean Preston used, the American Community Survey/American Housing Survey, please be aware that literally any unit without a person living in it is considered vacant, including units under construction but mostly completed and units that have been vacated in preparation for sale.

          2. There are over 7,500 units currently for rent on craigslist, filtered for duplicates. Let;s overcompensate and assume 80% of the remaining listings are spam or additional duplicates, filter for those, and you have around 1500 units. Now consider that many buildings with one or a few listings have many more empty units. Now consider that many places don’t even list on CL Now consider the number of units for sale. Then, just grab a pen and pad and walk the full length of Market (let alone Mission), and tell me what you see. And let’s wildly overcompensate again and assume 20% are in some stage of construction There are still thousands of vacant units, however you want to classify them.

          3. The problem with your methodology is the same as the problem with Dean Preston’s: it counts units being actively marketed for rent as “vacant”.

            In fact, Dean’s got a leg up on you because at least his source dataset breaks down vacancies by duration and nature, where your “methodology” is guaranteed to over count duplicates and units that are currently occupied but advertised for rent in advance of vacancy.

          4. How is a unit wallowing on the market for months, if not years, because the LL or owner for whatever reason refuses to lower the price not functionally vacant?

          5. “The development process isn’t flawed. Look at all da big shiney buildings that weren’t here in the early 2000s.” Talk about strawmen

            If you had the cash in your checking account to fund an entire development and pope francis as the project sponsor, you wouldn’t collect rent on a ground-up multi-family building in under five years.

          6. “Some parts of the city look nothing like they before” is your basic concern. Enjoying your inherited single family home are you? All we are is dust in the wind.

          7. Thank you for misconstruing my statement, but “Some parts of the city look nothing like they did before” is not my “basic concern,” but rather prima facie evidence that a historic level of construction has occurred over the last two decades. No level of building is ever enough to satisfy the banker/builder/landlord/used building sales agent crew, so any government or community oversight is seen as a threat, and countered with disingenuous appeals to equity and affordability..

          8. My dude, you haven’t made an argument. Saying “CrAiGsLiST pRoVeS iT!!!1!1!!” is not an argument and is not backed by actual, scientific data.

        2. I am under the impression that checks aren’t cutting it here. John Elberling is angling at sinking any commercial development and rather have the City pick up the land to donate to TODCO so they can continue their fiefdom building.

  2. The San Francisco city flag has a Phoenix. Representing that everything in our built environment gets redone. We are persistent.
    But time for a proposition on the ballot to add some symbolic snails in the talons? 🙂

  3. This has 73 on-site below market rate and 45 off-site below market rate homes.

    But some people are always going to say its not enough.

  4. The board’s previous rejection was a violation of state housing law and they admitted that in writing. The HCD literally cited it as an example of the BoS of the city intentionally ignoring state law. There’s no defense for what the BoS did that doesn’t require doing insane mental gymnastics.

  5. Two beers, so you don’t want housing to be built because there is already too much? It’s nothing to do with not wanting the city to change? Right? So there is no housing crisis for young working professionals and families (my generation), no need for projects like 469 Stevenson? The state has got it all wrong? They just need to look on Zillow right? It’s “prima facie” guys, wake up!…….. Dust in the wind.

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