On the left, a photo of existing structure, currently the restaurant Sugoi. On the right, a copy of the plans for the new building dated April 2, 2012 on file with the Planning Department.

Tensions ran high at a meeting last week when members of the Liberty Hill Neighborhood Association and the developer of a 12-unit building slated for construction at the corner of Valencia and Hill streets disagreed over plans for the project.

Eileen Hassi, the owner of Ritual Coffee on Valencia Street, organized the public meeting to get more information about the construction plans before Sept. 6, when the Planning Commission will decide the project’s fate.

Hassi told Mission Local that she and the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association needed facts before they could decide whether or not to support the project as proposed.

“As a merchant, I am concerned with what do people want,” she said.

Disagreements over the plans ranged from the building’s height to available parking and aesthetics. Conflicting information on whether the units would be for sale or for rent also angered some in the audience.

The project’s sponsor, Mark Rutherford, and architect Stephen Antonaros said that the five-story building will have 12 one- and two-bedroom residential units and one commercial unit, zoned as a restaurant. The plans include no parking for cars, but 32 bicycle parking spaces.

While Rutherford and Antonaros came prepared to give an informal presentation, the meeting soon became a back and forth of questions and concerns from the attendees.

Members of the Liberty Hill Neighborhood Association, who have filed a formal objection against the project that will be addressed by the Planning Commission, voiced their arguments that the 55-foot-tall building is not in scale with the neighborhood and does not provide enough parking.

Antonaros told the crowd that the bike parking will take care of the parking concerns.

“As many here know, Valencia is pretty bike-centric,” he said. “Serving the burgeoning bike population is more progressive.”

This did little to convince the neighbors. “You can’t force people to bike,” someone shouted.

“The market will force them,” replied Antonaros.

“Oh, your mighty market,” said someone as guffaws erupted.

Sara Shortt, a neighbor who does not belong to the Liberty Hill Neighborhood Association, agreed with Antonaros in part.

“I’m a biker,” Shortt said. “Many people in this neighborhood, including myself, are really supportive of less parking.”

A representative from the Marsh Theater said that a tall building next to the theater would impact ventilation and light. In addition, the potential noise from months of construction could impact theater-goers.

“We have talked to the Marsh. They have a leaky building,” said Antonaros, referring to the Marsh building’s permeability to sound. “Our building will be very soundproof.”

As the presentation went on, the audience became confused by conflicting information about whether the units would be for sale or rent.

“The project is slated for rental,” Antonaros said at the beginning of the meeting. But a half hour later, when Shortt asked about the potential for the units to become condos, she was told they would be for sale.

“These are condos,” said Antonaros. Faces around the room scrunched. “These are for-sale units for now; we misspoke before.” He added that while the developer would have preferred rental units, city fees and the long, drawn-out development process had made it necessary to sell them.

When one woman asked how much the units would sell for, Rutherford chimed in, “This is proprietary information.”

Some attendees indicated less opposition to the project.

Laurie Voss, the technical co-founder of awe.sm, a startup located on 22nd and Mission streets, attended to voice support for exactly what the Liberty Hill Neighborhood Association opposes.

“Because housing rents are up and housing is scarce, a tall and dense building is exactly what my employees need,” Voss said. “I am very much in favor of a dense building.”

Another attendee, Michael Tauber, an architect who has lived at the corner of Valencia and 20th for the past 19 years, didn’t understand the fuss.

“How can you argue with a developer who is meeting the requirements of zoning? This district permits 55 feet.”

One neighbor kept it simple. “My concern is trivial but I will voice it — the building is ugly,” he said.

As Hassi left the meeting, she was still undecided about whether to support the development. As for the meeting, “It was what I expected,” she said. “I am really glad that there were constituents from different groups.”

To voice support or opposition for the project, contact Richard Sucre at the San Francisco Planning Department before Aug. 28. The Planning Commission meeting starts at noon on Sept. 6 and is open to the public.

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  1. Not many buildings in New York have garages. I live in the Mission have a car and a garage and hardly drive. Don’t have to much. But I feel some of these new buildings should go the other direction. There are so many people who dont drive as much and those like myself who grew up here in the 70s,. We all had cars. My son is now 21 and doesn’t even drive. There are so many good options now. I say build it. I’d even go a bit more modern. Enough already with the faux victorians and wduardians.

    1. And like I keep saying soon SF will be or is already a “New York City” for the rich and the rest of us poor and middle class families will have to live in the burrows called Richmond and Antioch.

  2. The Mission already has plenty of “affordable” housing projects, SROs and decrepit rentals. This building is a good addition to the area.

  3. I can really appreciate that constituents from all sides of the table were represented:
    Those who dont want it built because its too tall
    Those who dont want it built because its ugly
    Those who dont want it built because it doesnt have enough parking
    Those who just dont want anything built anywhere ever
    Those who want anything that could potentially disrupt their light and air

    We really are a diverse group of people here in small town SF

    1. Exactly, the city is changing…deal with it.

      Who cares what Ritual thinks. The new tenants will be waiting in line for their coffee.

      Buildings need to get taller all around SF.

      I am a long time resident who is sick of long term residents being idiots about the soul of “their” neighborhood.

      1. Why do you think it is inappropriate for people to care about their neighborhood?

        You seem to want lots of tall buildings, others don’t. Why are you intolerant of those who don’t agree with you?

  4. It is totally unrealistic to assume that no one who rents or owns in this building will need parking. The parking situation in the Mission is already difficult enough for residents (I can attest to this as a long time Mission resident). Especially since the people who will be able to afford to buy here, might very well be peninsula commuters (which I was). I thought there was a stipulation in SF that any new units built must provide parking? Is that no longer the case?

  5. This must be that balanced reporting I keep hearing about; some anonymous “neighbor” yells “it’s ugly” and gets as much air time as the people who are risking everything to build housing and provide jobs. The real villain in all this is the City. Our local government takes 8 years and millions of dollars to come up with the Code that allows this height and density, and then encourages people to go after each other’s throats when someone actually starts to build to it. All in the name of Planning Department staff overtime.

    1. Sure, San Francisco could just be like Houston, Texas, get rid of City Planning and build anything anywhere.

      “People who are risking everything to build housing” is a truly imaginative way to describe property developers who are going to get very rich indeed building stuff like this 1050 Valencia thing.

      1. Psst, here’s a clue: there actually IS a middle ground between Houston and San Francisco. I know people in this city don’t seem to think so, but that’s just because they’re horribly out of touch.

        1. That middle ground involves working with existing residents to approve projects that relate favorably to the existing build and cultural environments.

          Boosters have successfully marginalized existing residents who take an interest in the orderly development of our neighborhoods as NIMBYs in order to give the developer everything he wants under plans that developers rigged to maximize their profit at our expense.

          Equitable balance between developer profit motive and community needs is deemed radical at this point in time.

  6. We are being evicted after 18 years for a relative of the owner. There will be two more parking spaces opening up shortly.

  7. how about this — put 3 city carshare spaces in the building. cars in your building for when you need them, bikes and transit otherwise. and really, I doubt very much that someone with a car is going to buy a place on Valencia without parking. Its too much money to not have pkg if you want that.

    1. This is a reasonable compromise, although the three car share spaces would about equal the space necessary for 32 bike parking spots.

    2. Its too much money to not have pkg if you want that.

      That’s fantastic! If it’s too much money, then no one will buy it and the price will go down, and it’ll be more affordable.

        1. Can anyone tell me where I can get my name on a waiting list. I just got evicted from the small house I lived in on Liberty St for 18 years. I foolishly took the landlords buyout who will no doubt rent the unit for much more than I paid.

    3. Once you put in parking, it’s a curb cut, garage entrance, which detracts from the walkability of the sidewalk, which is something that should be prized on a street like Valencia. And it means more parking and less housing. Affordable or expensive, any units of housing add supply and lower prices overall.

      Given the apparent parking issues in the area, units without parking would be unattractive to a segment of the market, and lower the prices for the units, a good thing, but there are nonetheless people who want to live in that area who could care less about having a car and have the money to afford to live there.

      1. The entrance/driveway could be on the Hill Street side of the building, seeing as that is a much longer side, it would make sense.

  8. I’m not sure I understand the premise of filing an objection to the planning commission. Objection to what? The building is within zoning limits and its not like any one person or group ‘owns’ street parking.
    If we really want to see what unaffordable looks like just cut off one story and add parking to this project.

    Good luck Mr. Rutherford – I hope your project is approved and you don’t have to pass on too many of the expenses to the buyers after going through the SF Planning circus.

    1. The premise is quite simple. This building does not comply with the City’s design guidelines and will have a negative impact on the neighborhood.

      Both the Planning Commission and the Historic Preservation Committee have stated that the building is out of scale with the neighborhood and have asked the developer to work with the neighbors to develop something more appropriate. Unfortunately, he has refused to work with the neighbors and has maintained essentially the same design (in terms of scale and bulk) throughout the process.

        1. I am not sure what your point is. The guidelines have been approved by the Board of Supervisors and are intended to be used in evaluating proposals. The whole point of the DR procedure is to allow the Planning Commission to evaluate the project using these guidelines (as the Planning Department only looks at code and zoning).

  9. I’d say it’d be fine if they just shaved off a floor and added parking. Think about it: if you add parking, that’s a bunch of cars NOT circling around the block, looking for a spot to park. They’ll just put it in their garage. As far as selling them as condos goes….good! Sell some condos. The city needs more home ownership, IMO.

    1. Actually, having a single parking space enables multiple car ownership for a lot of my garage-equipped neighbors. They put the use-every-day car in the garage, and the used-on-the-weekends car on the street. I see them swapping cars between the garage and the street, essentially reserving a street space with the spare vehicle. Adding parking places just encourages car ownership. Not having parking places encourages car-free neighbors. I would rather have more car-free neighbors because I own one car and no private parking space.

      1. How neighborly of you to oppose the parking aspect of the project simply because it affects you personally… even though you contribute to the car traffic in the neighborhood. This is the problem with policy by committee is that many people vote for their own self interest, rather than the greater good.

      2. @ Henry: I can’t see how having one parking space encourages people to have two cars. If you had a garage for one car, would you go out and get another car? Or would you just keep your current car and be happy that you didn’t have to deal with street parking any longer?

    2. 12 parking spaces would require an area bigger than the size of the lot. If you required parking, the ground floor would have to be all parking, and they’d have to eliminate the restaurant, and probably a couple of apartments as well. There are already lots of buildings like that all over the city, with their endless lines of garage doors. And the apartments would be more expensive to boot!

      Now maybe that’s your idea of the ideal Valencia St., but it’s not mine.

  10. Yet another tall, ugly building full of condos for the rich on Valencia. As a longtime resident, I am dismayed more and more every day to watch the soul of this neighborhood drain away.

  11. This project is opposed by the neighbors because it does not meet City guidelines. While it is technically in compliance with zoning laws, it is inconsistent with residential design guidelines and the City’s eastern neighborhood plan.
    Both of the policies say that new construction on residential streets (and this building is largely on Hill Street) should be of the same scale as existing buildings and should respect the historic character of the area. This is a large ugly building that will tower over both Hill Street and Valencia.
    The lack of parking is also an issue. The well-off who can afford parking spaces will be less affected. But long-term residents and more working class people will be affected by the increased number of cars. I just unrealistic to think that many of the people who live in this building will be car-less.

    1. This building is actually largely on Valencia Street, a very wide road and key transit corridor in the Mission. Here’s the Mission Area plan policy on the issue, calling for greater variety scale and character on Valencia:

      “POLICY 3.1.4

      Heights should also reflect the importance of key streets in the city’s overall urban pattern, such as Mission and Valencia streets, while respecting the lower scale development that typifies much of the established residential areas throughout the Plan Area.

      Generally, the prevailing height of buildings is set to relate to street widths throughout the Plan Area. Height should also be used to emphasize key transit corridors and important activity centers. A primary intent of the height districts is to provide greater variety in scale and character while maximizing efficient building forms and enabling gracious ground floors.

      The scale of development and the relationship between street width and building height offer an important orientation cue for users by indicating a street’s relative
      importance in the hierarchy of streets, as well as its degree of formality. Taller buildings with more formal architecture should line streets that play an important role in the city’s urban pattern.”

      1. Jeffrey: 36 feet of the lot is on Valencia Street and 85 feet is on Hill Street. So you are just wrong when you say it is largely on Valencia Street.

        So according to the policy you quote the development should respect “the lower scale development that typifies much of the established residential areas throughout the Plan Area”

        In any case, on this stretch of Valencia Street most of the buildings (particularly the numerous historical ones) are must 2 and 3 stories tall.

        There are many other City policies that clearly support this building being of a much smaller scale. If you had your facts right to begin with, you might have looked at those.

        1. First – on your point regarding that “stretch” of Valencia – the Mission Area plan doesn’t distinguish between different blocks of Valencia. The map in the plan clearly marks Valencia between 14th and CC as being in the Valencia-Mission Corridor. This is very different from the area marked as South Mission (minus 24th St), which is primarily residential in nature – this is the type of area referred to in the quote you cited to me, not the corner of Valencia and Hill. Further, 1050 Valencia is designated as being in the Inner Mission Commercial Corridor. Again, the plan makes it clear that scale can be much more varied in these areas than the South Mission-type areas.

          Second, and expanding on some of the designations described above, Valencia is a major commercial thoroughfare and has been for quite some time. It’s pedantic and unrealistic to suggest that just because a building is on the corner of one commercial street and one less commercial street that the building defaults to the less commercial status. The fact that Valencia and all neighboring blocks are included in the Valencia-Mission Corridor supports this – If you move to an area zoned for something, you’ve got to be prepared for development to suit.

          I’d be interested in seeing citations of other city policies that clearly require this building being much smaller. I’m not aware of any, particularly since the Mission Area plan and zoning support the proposed building.

          1. Jeffrey: Valencia Street is actually a mixed commercial and residential corridor. And, as you fail to acknowledge, the building is largely on Hill Street. There is nothing “pedantic” about suggesting that a building that is on residential street should not comply with the residential guidelines for that street.

            The policy that I quote quite clearly states the residential character should be respected. There is nothing in the policy to support your assertion that it somehow not applicable to this area of the Mission. And you have provide no support for that assertion.

            Further the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan specifically states — with respect to the Valencia Corridor — that along small streets “low to medium density residential, in scale with these smaller spaces” should be encouraged. Hill Street is the quintessential small street in this area.

            @Randolph: I am stating facts, not “trolling”. You are just being a jerk who adds nothing to this discussion.

      2. @Jeffrey: BTW, how can you state that Valencia St. is a major transits corridor? There is not a single transit route that runs along Valencia St. The line that used to exist and which was used by a number of people I know who live on Hill St. was eliminated in the name of transit effectiveness. Basically, people living on Hill St. have to either walk 10-15 minutes to BART or rely on the Mission MUNI lines — some of the most unreliable and unsafe lines in the City.

    2. When the vast ‘Eastern Neighborhoods Plan’ was shoved through San Francisco Planning and City Hall just a few years ago, the little ‘Liberty Hill Historic District’ which was on the Westernmost border of this gargantuan thing, had been founded in 1985, and for decades was one of the only Historic Districts in San Francisco, was reassured by a 10 page chapter in the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan called ‘Historic Resources’ that said, quite mendaciously it would now appear, that the important Historic Resources in the the Eastern Neighborhoods would be zealously protected. Most of the full length of Hill Street is fully intact street of little 2 storey Victorians that would be dwarfed and shadowed by this row of ugly 6 storey boxes. Also look up and down Valencia Street itself directly next to this 1050 Valencia site that has a wealth of intact and architecturally superb Victorian & Edwardian buildings including the entire block between 20th & 21st Streets that is qctually a part of ‘Liberty Hill Historic District’ much to the chagrin of developer types who’d clearly like to knock the whole lot down and sanctify the destruction by citing “the terrible need for housing in San Francisco,” etc.. The incongruity is obvious even to a child. There really are plenty of building sites in San Francisco that won’t impact beautiful old Victorians, so the so-called “desperate need” for the monstrosity proposed at the corner of Hill & Valencia is very disingenuous.

      1. Planning made the same promises to us for the crap condo planned for 490 South Van Ness, that we on Adair Alley had nothing to worry about because alley controls would make sure that the building on that parcel was set back and that we would continue to have sunlight.

        Planning did not mention that the first 60′ of alley frontage were exempt from the alley controls, so we’ll probably see a 27.5′ residential alley dominated by a 68′ sheer frontage on the first 60′ or the 90′ lot.

        Eastern Neighborhoods is a developers wet dream and once Planning got their height, density and bulk increases, they rapidly lost attention to any other aspects of a comprehensive community plan, transit, open space, mixed use and so on and so on.

  12. If you build it they will come.

    Private property developed within code requirements should not be subjected to this circus.

    Start the project.

    1. Then why is there a seven story project on South Van Ness in the pipeline which is clears taller than anything in the area.

      Why is there a five story on Shotwell next to a humble Victorian?

      What about the lofts all over Harrison which dwarf smaller homes?

      Build it.

      1. Because Shotwell and Harrison hadn’t designated as Historic Districts yet.

        And why now would they even bother to, since the City of San Francisco doesn’t seem to give a damn about it’s beautiful old Victorians or stuff like ‘Historic Preservation’ ? The HPC has devolved into an exercise in hypocrisy and political expedience.

      2. Because developers are the maw end of the Wall Street monster that crapped all over the economy and they buy the political process to get rezonings that make them even richer.

      3. There are plenty of historical buildings around the city which have newer larger buildings next door.

        Fight the good fight but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. People need places to live.

      4. I don’t think the historic designation prevents others from developing their private property.

        Even homes built in the 1885 era were by developers seeking a profit. None of us would have homes otherwise.

        Times change. I remember that most of the Mission was a quite place but this is no longer the case because things change. When I used to complain about changes I realized I could stay or move.

        Sounds like you have a decision to make. The project will happen and the hearing process is just to allow you time to vent. You just don’t realize it yet.

  13. The building is fine and meets all the zoning requirements. We need more housing. You are never going to please every random person who comes to a public meeting.

    1. As I mention below, the building does not meet City guidelines. Further, it is not “random” people opposing this. Almost everyone on Hill St. and most of the merchants on that block of Valencia St. oppose this.

      1. Oh, yeah, ‘everyone’ opposes it, just ignore the fact the article doesn’t actually support that assertion.

        1. RM: you need to work on your reading comprehension. “Almost” everyone on “Hill Street” opposes it. That is a fact. The supporters cited in the article do not live on Hill Street and may not even live nearby.

          1. “Almost everyone” is a classic use of weasel words that’s used to imply consensus when none exists. Maybe you should learn how to use factual data in your arguments instead of trying to manipulate people’s opinions via such meaningless phrases.

          2. There is a clear consensus among the the people most directly affected by this project. The signatures and letters have been submitted to the Planning Department.

            Maybe rather than making snide remarks, you should read what people are actually saying.

    2. “We need more housing.”

      We need more affordable housing, and especially affordable family housing. These condos aren’t suited for families, and they aren’t affordable. Building more luxury lofts only raises the price of living here for everyone.

      1. “Building more luxury lofts only raises the price of living here for everyone.”

        How do you figure? 15 more high-end condos means 15 fewer wealthy renters/buyers bidding up the price of existing housing in the rest of the mission.

        It seems to me that given how desirable it is to live in SF, and the amount of money many new residents have, the only way to prevent rents from exploding in existing housing is to to allow lots of new, dense construction-asap.

        If this gets blocked, there is nothing stopping the person who would have bought a condo from buying a renovating one of the family-owned homes along, say, Hampshire or Florida, further diminishing the supply of cheaper housing.

        1. There is no economic evidence on the table to support this assertion that new housing production results in a cascade effect.

          1. I live in a historical building and a 12 unit shoebox was built next door killing my views and light.

            What’s the difference?

    3. “Every random person who comes to a public meeting” ?! Is that how you describe a pioneer ‘San Francisco Municipal Historic District’ of 27 years standing with scores of homeowners who bought houses there and restored them at great personal sacrifice for that precise reason ? And how about all the people next to this site who’ve lived there for even longer than that and made this extraordinary effort almost 30 years ago to save the live-ability & quality of life in this neighborhood for the future ??

        1. Sounds like you are making an accusation without any basis. Why is it wrong for people to care about their neighborhood?

          1. It’s wrong for people to assert that they speak for the neighborhood and assert that they know what ‘almost everyone wants’.

            You still seem incapable of understanding the difference between facts and opinions.

          2. Here’s a hint : calling people ‘jerks’ because they don’t buy into your unsupported assertions or share your same views is an ‘opinion’.

        2. Sorry Mort, your comments are just rude and don’t add anything to the conversation. If you have any actual facts you would like to add, that would be great. But so far, you have just been a jerk.

          1. How about I add to the conversation the fact that you’re just another troll who probably doesn’t even live in our neighborhood?

  14. Well, providing no parking will keep the price down on the units, probably by $100k if they are for sale.

  15. As much as I’d like to believe their theory, it’s unrealistic to not provide at least some parking in a new 12 unit building.

    1. There’s no easy answer to this that will satisfy all parties. Ideally, the new residents of this development will not add significantly to car usage in the area. If you provide them parking, that guarantees more vehicle presence in the vicinity, and there will probably be fewer units available. If you don’t provide it, you can’t stop residents from owning cars – they will just be forced to find other parking alternatives.

    2. You are absolutely right. There WILL be homeowners in this building who have motor vehicles to park, and not creating new parking WITH this building will just create further hardship for those of us who already park in this neighborhood (and for whom bicycling isn’t a physical option). If the architect were honest, he’d say that they just didn’t have the budget or ability to add vehicle parking, so they just didn’t. Saying they are trying to be progressive is just double-speak.

  16. This will be a great addition to valencia street, bring the urban density that continues to make the area thrive.

    I love the focus on bike parking.

      1. “Come for the biking and restaurants, stay for the urine, feces and gang violence”

        – official Mission Tourism Council slogan

  17. The building is ugly and needs a roof top garden to reclaim some run off water. Though it it’s not a certainty some owners *might* rent out the unit they buy.

    1. It’s unlikely that most of the owners would rent out their newly-purchased units because their loans might stipulate that it must be owner-occupied for at least the first year of ownership. Also, given that the average rent of a 2-bedroom apartment in the neighborhood is at least $3,200/mo, it’s unlikely that this could be considered “affordable housing.” But most of all, Stephen Antonaros sounds like a tool: he tried to pull a fast-one by originally claiming the units would be rentals, and he’s full of it when he says that having bike parking only is “more progressive”…that just means he and Rutherford don’t have to cough up the cash or planning creativity to put car parking spots into their plans! Meanwhile, it is unrealistic to expect that everyone who buys into this building will be car-free, so what this REALLY means is more parking congestion in a neighborhood where parking is already scarce and rapidly shrinking in availability due to the stupid “parklets” that remove perfectly-good parking spots in favor of ugly concrete-and-steel seating that winds up just being more seating for a business or a bed for an intoxicated person with poor personal hygiene.

      Yes, I feel strongly about this, why do you ask?

      Seriously, though, it’s frustrating when builders lie through their teeth about how their new housing will really benefit the neighborhood. At the end of the day, they are only interested in benefiting their own pocket books! As someone who lives in this neighborhood and walks around it on a daily basis, I don’t support another ugly, overly-tall, over-priced condo building that blocks out everyone else’s natural light and further burdens the parking situation.

        1. Well about half the people in the Mission use cars for the daily commute according to City stats.

      1. I have a hard time believing that all occupants of these units will be car-free, which means more and more people driving in circles around the neighborhood looking for parking.

      2. The developer would get more money for the units if they had parking spaces. There is no satisfying people… it’s evil if it has parking because then it contributes to traffic and gridlock, and it’s evil if it doesn’t have parking because people will drive anyway. I was going to say that the only way you’d make everybody happy is to have it be a free neighborhood garden tended by nuns, but some people would probably protest the nuns.

  18. I would be far more supportive of this- esp. the 32 bicycle parking space decision- were it not for the fact that only a few people will be able to live there. This is not affordable housing. We need that.

    1. There are plenty of folks who can afford this sort of housing — if there weren’t, the developers wouldn’t build it.

      What we need is a LOT more housing, that is the best way to keep prices low.

      1. Thank you. Supply and demand, folks. Chances are that if you’re paying $750K+ for a unit, you’re not necessarily riding your bike to work. Even if you could, that’s their decision, not yours.

        1. I live in a $770K condo in Mission Bay and I am car-free. There are plenty of folks in my bldg who doesn’t have a car and don’t have parking spaces.

      1. So everything should be priced so everyone can afford it ?

        Why am I working my ass off to have nice things then ?