picture of a building 1050 valencia
1050 Valencia Street would be a 12 unit, 55-foot-tall building at the corner of Valencia and Hill streets.

After fighting the neighbors of a proposed condominium complex on Valencia Street for more than three years, the project’s developer cleared a major hurdle on Thursday night.

The San Francisco Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve Shizuo Holdings Trust’s plan to erect a 12-unit, 55-foot-tall building with 1,740 square feet of retail on the ground floor at 1050 Valencia St. The Liberty Hill Neighborhood Association has led the opposition to the development, as many of its members live in two-story Victorian houses on Hill Street, which is part of the Liberty Hill Historic District.

Even though the project has characteristics the city considers desirable, including two on-site affordable housing units and no off-street parking, it will likely be caught up in appeals. Thursday night’s decision may sound like a victory, but the project’s sponsor wasn’t celebrating.

“This is a big loss for [the Liberty Hill Neighborhood Association], but it is appealable at so many levels,” said Stephen Antonaros, the architect for the developer. The group has already told him it plans to appeal the project to the Board of Supervisors, he said.

Indeed, Peter Heinecke, the association’s vice president, told Mission Local that the group reserves its right to file an appeal.

“I am hopeful that we will be able to make a compromise,” he said. “If we are not able to cooperate, then we might consider an appeal.”

The association is mainly concerned with the building’s aesthetics.

“The community message has been the same: this building is too tall, too dense and incompatible with the neighborhood,” said Risa Teitelbaum, a member of the association.

About 20 people spoke in opposition to the project at Thursday’s meeting, including Hill Street property owners, some Valencia Street business owners and former Board of Appeals member Rafael Mandelmann.

However, the group lost support from a key business. Eileen Hassi, the owner of Ritual Roasters, which is on the same block, took back her signature on the opposition’s petition after attending an informational meeting with the neighborhood group a few weeks ago.

“After last night’s meeting, I can’t associate myself or my business with the views of the LHNA,” she wrote on the petition’s website. “They create a hostile environment and made it nearly impossible for neighbors to get information about the project or share views that are different from those of the LHNA.”

A handful of people spoke in favor of the project, including Tim Colen, the executive director of the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, who argued that the development couldn’t be a better fit for Valencia Street.

The project would dedicate two units as below market rate to meet the city’s affordable housing requirement, it would be right at the height limit of 55 feet, and it would not include onsite parking, meeting the city’s transit-first policy, which discourages driving.

“They’ve done everything the city says it wants,” Colen said. “It’s up to you to stand up for it.”

The commissioners agreed, though not without reservations. Commissioner Michael Antonini expressed skepticism that the lack of parking would work.

“It’s what staff wants, but some of the neighbors know realistically that they are going to be competing for parking,” he said.

As part of the approval, the Commission suggested that the developer work with its next-door neighbor, the Marsh Theater, whose members are worried that they will lose natural light and ventilation because the proposed development’s five stories are three stories taller than their building.

The project could well end up at another hearing, because the commissioners asked the developer to make the rear yard less intrusive. The developer feared this would open another avenue for an appeal.

He didn’t get any sympathy from the commissioners.

“There are going to be appeals no matter what,” Commissioner Hayashi Sugaya said. “If it takes a variance to get a better project, then I would encourage you to take that on.”

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Rigoberto Hernandez

Rigoberto Hernandez is a journalism student at San Francisco State University. He has interned at The Oregonian and The Orange County Register, but prefers to report on the Mission District. In his spare time he can be found riding his bike around the city, going to Giants games and admiring the Stable building.

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  1. Has anyone else noticed that the more condos go up in the Mission, the more boring and homogeneous the Mission becomes? I used to be a fan of “infill housing,” you know, build it in the city instead of paving over open space and orchards with more sprawl. But after living with these yuppie airheads for more than a decade I’m hoping they rediscover their suburban roots and go migrate to some pop-up Levittown somewhere. Maybe they could call it “Googleville.”

    1. Many of the newcomers get on a bus day after day and are gone for 10 or more hours. To me it seems crazy (and boring). But they are the ones who can own homes, eat at the new restaurants, and support the local businesses. Most of them seem pretty happy too.

  2. I’m not surprised by this decision at all. Valencia has been a lost cause for a while now. Eyesore development such as these condo units go hand in hand with the massive migration of techies and wealth in the neighborhood.
    The issue I see is that the economic expectation level for all Mission District residents rises with such unwarranted growth. At this point in time, I am hoping that residents join together in order to preserve what remains of Mission, 24th, and whatever is left of our vibrant street culture.

  3. Anything that limits development (zoning, rent control, whatever) will make those apartments that are not subject to those limits (stuff that’s already built, apartments that turn over) more valuable. I feel that is fairly straightforward. Thus, people who already live here get housing that is below market, and people who are new pay more than they otherwise would. Whether that is fair depends on your point of view. We can’t be kicking families out of their apartments, but on the other hand if you look up and down Valencia most buildings above the stores are dumps. New development that doesn’t displace anybody seems to be a reasonable medium.

  4. Interesting that the article says “Neighbors divided”. Divided implies equal or near equal division of opinion, the truth is it is overwhelmingly opposed by the neighbors.
    One of the ‘tricks’ the developer used was in promoting low cost rental units which are clearly in short supply and they knew would garnish support. The MissionStreet Merchants came out in favor of it for this very reason. The following week when The Valencia Merchants and Liberty Hill Neighbors met with the developer it became clear for the first time that these would not be market and below market rental units but condos and not cheap ones either.
    The truth is that this development is estimated not to promote public transportation and bicycle use but will add an estimated 32 addition cars. Cars that will circle the neighborhood looking for parking adding to congestion, double park creating hazards to cyclists as well as parking on sidewalks creating hazards and obstacles to elderly, handicapped and pedestrians in general.
    For the past 3-1/2 years, the architect and developer have used lies, distortion and misdirection to ultimately build what they wanted in the first place and avoiding the compromises that The Planning Department had requested. The whole thing was a sham on the neighborhood and will be a blight on this historic district.

  5. I was just about to say “I wish it looked a little better,” but the building right next to it ain’t all that great either. so I guess it fits right in!

    1. The usual “nothing is ever allowed to change in SF” nonsense plus some people on Hill St. worried their million dollar houses might go down a few 100k, it seemed like.

      1. Mort: As usual you add nothing to the conversation. If you had actually listened to the neighbor’s complaints you would realize that no one has ever mentioned property values. But, I understand that it is easier for you to be sarcastic and nasty than to actually try to understand other people’s legitimate concerns.
        BTW, the neighbors understand that there will be change and that there will be development on that lot; it is the nature of that development that is at issue.

        1. You say ‘legitimate concerns’, I say ‘the usual NIMBY bs’. I see you still are having problems understanding the difference between facts and opinions – your life must be very difficult for you.

          I also am beginning to find your obsession with me at least a little disturbing.

      2. The idea that home owners were against this as it would lower property values is a fallacy, if anything the new condos will increase property values while raising what affordable rents, if any, that exist in the area. Affordable rentals in the area are in critically short supply. The working poor and other low income people have already been driven out and this will only do more harm to those least able to afford decent living space.

  6. Why should the neighbors make housing decisions on a case by case basis, rather than the city making zoning regulations, and then have developers be able to build if the proposed building meets those regulations. Anyone who’s tried to get a project through the planning /building department can tell you why housing is so expensive in San Francisco. Do these people think there’s no cost to making a project wait 3 years in order to get built? Going through this process is a Kafkaesque nightmare.

    1. The City has both zoning regulations and design guidelines. While the building complies with zoning regulations, it is inconsistent with many of the guidelines set forth in the Eastern Neighborhoods plan.
      The three year time frame is a bit deceptive as the developer’s slow response to the Planning Department is responsible for much of those delays.

      1. ‘Mad’ Mike, now that’s truth in advertising. ‘Hiplencia’ has manged to get rid of all the Latinos and most the poor. Calling poor people drug dealers is ironic since it’s primarily the Yuppies with the money to buy all the drugs.

    1. If they complied with the law with respect to the Section 8 they had to build, you should be complaining about the law.

      1. Right, because no body does anything good for anybody unless the law forces them to. I’ll remember that Mortimer when you’re about to get run over by a MUNI bus.