A rendering of the approved building at 1050 Valencia. Courtesy of project architect Stephen Antonaros.

Neighbors unhappy with a planned condo-and-restaurant development at 1050 Valencia Street won a preliminary victory this week when a city appeals board voted Wednesday to reduce the size of the project and impose several conditions aimed at making it more compatible with the neighborhood.

After a nearly four-hour hearing the San Francisco Board of Appeals ruled unanimously in favor of two appellants who had objected to the project’s design and its short-and-long term impact on the Marsh Theater, which is directly next door.

Board members ruled that the building should be four stories rather than five. They also approved a number of conditions to be codified in the project’s building permit in relation to the Marsh Theater.

Cynthia Goldstein, executive director of the Board of Appeals, said that the decision is not yet final. A lengthy resolution drafted this week returns before the board on Jan. 15.

“The Board expressed its intent on how it wants this case decided,” Goldstein said. “There are still opportunities for the board to make changes.”

“The Board listened and got it,” said Stephen Williams, attorney for appellant Alicia Gamez, on Thursday. “They did the right thing.”

The other appellant was Stephanie Weisman, founder and artistic director of The Marsh Theater, a 12,000-square-foot theater next door to the project site. Thirty-five Marsh supporters spoke out at the hearing, expressing their concerns that the development would permanently disrupt the theater’s operations.

To prevent legal wranglings, if and when the project is built, condo buyers will be required to sign a disclosure agreement acknowledging they realize they are moving next door to a live performance venue.

The developer must also construct a soundproof wall between the project’s southern wall and the Marsh Theater to mitigate noise flow, the board ruled.

This week’s hearing was “our last-ditch effort” to prevent construction of the development as approved by the city, Williams said. He added that the project had been approved by the Planning Department and the Planning Commission in 2012, and most recently, the Board of Supervisors on Nov. 5.

Developer Mark Rutherford told Mission Local in November that the development would include two below-market rate units under the city’s affordable housing laws. Now that the project has been scaled back, it’s unclear whether the new plan will have affordable units as all buildings with more than 10 units must include.

“It’s not clear to us at this time how many units will be in the project now,” said Cynthia Goldstein, executive director of the Board of Appeals.

“We’re very pleased with the results,” said Liberty Hill Neighborhood Association member Peter Heinecke on Thursday morning.

In an email to fellow association members sent late Wednesday night, Heinecke described it as a “remarkable victory,” and in a phone interview today said, “the Liberty Hill Association is very pleased the Board listened to us and the Marsh and produced what we think is a very good result.”

Rutherford, in an email Thursday, said he “won’t know anything until the January 15 hearing,” and did not comment further on the decision.

Goldstein said that any party to the appeal has the right to request another hearing during a 10-day period after the Board’s findings undergo a second vote.

In the meantime, the appellants are celebrating.

“I have a feeling we’re not quite done with the process, I don’t think we’re at the end,” Weisman said on Thursday afternoon. “But it was a vote for the arts and the neighborhoods.”

Greta Mart

Greta Mart is a Bay Area-based newspaper reporter and freelance writer, and currently a student at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. From 2005 to 2012 she was a staff reporter at two community...

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127 Comments

    1. Good one, TB.

      Maybe between this outcome and the landslide loss of 8 Washington, the developers will be a little more sensitive to San Francisco values. Steamroller opportunism doesn’t go over so well here.

      1. That’s a good one, Russo, because from my house I can see four cranes all connected with building new condo towers.

        Maybe 8Wash was sent to distract NIMBY’s like you from the real development going on over your dead body?

    2. So true, TB. As I’ve said before, why don’t we just ignore poor John and discuss among ourselves? If we let his bait lie, the poor lonely troll will have to just talk to himself, or respond to our posts without getting a reaction. Not to be sadistic. It only sounds that way because baiting is all he lives for.

  1. A smaller number of units will likely cost much more individually, AND the developer will not be required to include affordable housing units. You have to wonder: was this the desired outcome all along?

    1. Kind of my suspicion too. These developers are a bit more ahead of the game than people give them credit for.

    2. So the NIMBYs who won this decision have effectively prevented affordable housing from being built with this project.

      Why are we mad at technology workers again?

      1. Yes, and that was the exact same result with the “victory” over 8 Washington. 11 million in BMR housing went out of the window, which is about 30-40 affordable homes.

        But why does that matter as long as we can inconvenience a few billionaires and placate a few other billionaires who were worried about their view?

        1. Once again, ol’ JJ misses the point. You can’t take over a neighborhood just because you have the money.

          On my list of top ten groups to feel sorry for, billionaire speculators come in at about #892,001. Oh, boo hoo, boo hoo for the super-rich.

          1. I don;t know who JJ is but if you know anything about the 8Wash fight, it was essentially a fight between two rival groups of billionaires.

            But anyhow, as long as you think you are sticking it to the man, who cares about the families who would have gotten those BMR’s?

      2. Housing prices are complex and are based on a lot of factors. It’s pretty obvious to say both Nimby’s and tech workers contribute to it, but to lay the blame solely at the feet of any one party would be stupid.

        1. The one factor that correlates almost perfectly to high rents and housing costs is strict land use regulation. This correlation endures across the planet and not just the country.

          Lots of others factors in the mix, of course, but the one major determinant of high housing costs is a government that micro-manages land.

          1. Sure, JJ. Chevron and Monsanto would make better land stewards than elected representatives of the people. Hate democracy much?

          2. Russo, I wasn’t suggesting that land use be handed over to corporations. In fact i think it is a legitimate government activity.

            The point was more that if you overdo regulation, RE invariably becomes very, very expensive.

          3. Housing prices are complex and are based on a lot of factors. It’s naive of John to focus on just one, but it’s obvious he has an ideological reason for doing so.

          4. No, I said there were many factors but then identified the factor with the most perfect correlation to housing costs globally.

  2. Funny, as a homeowner or as the builder, I would of been the one asking for sound-proofing between the buildings. This may of been a concession they had in the their back pockets all along — smart.

    So, basically, they lost a floor. Whatever.

    1. Yeah, I suspect that they asked for a floor more than they actually wanted, so that they could be seen to be “conceding”.

      Not having to shell for the two BMR’s was just a bonus.

      It wouldn’t shock me if the folks who buy those condos make a point of making a lot of noise, just out of spite.

        1. I didn’t say what I would do. I was just expressing what I believe might be a natural sentiment among the buyers of those homes.

          1. Some folks have argued that delaying a Google bus is also petty vindictiveness.

            Or plain good ol’ fashioned envy, of course.

          2. I do believe I detect more class-baiting here, Johnny boy.

            I do believe I’ve warned you about the renewed spanking you’d receive if you ever did that again within my view, remember?

          3. It’s the other way about. It’s these anti-google folks who are engaged in class warfare. The google workers just want to get to work.

          4. If you’ve read the most recent article on MissionLocal regarding the tech buses, you’d see that even Google employees recognize the problems they cause and would be happy to have more equitable alternatives.

            The only one beating the class warfare drum here is you.

          5. If Google employees are being delayed and harassed by even just a small minority of local residents, then i can understand them being concerned.

            But I doubt they enjoy being blamed for something that very clearly isn’t their fault.

  3. Well, there goes two units of BMR housing.

    I don’t get why we spend nearly a decade coming up with things like the Eastern Neighborhoods plan that are meant to guide development policy in the near future, and then allow compliant developments to be messed up by NIMBY neighbors.

    1. There were never going to be two BMR units on site. The Board of Appeals asked the developer to commit to having two units on-site and he said “There are no guarantees”.
      As of the eastern neighborhoods plan, it is not just a zoning ordinance it is also a set of design guidelines intended to ensure the development is appropriate. The Board applied those guidelines in requiring that the building height be reduced.
      It is unfortunate that you have not bothered to inform yourself about this project. Relying on trite insults like NIMBY suggests that you don’t really have an argument.

      1. BMR units never have to be on-site. A fee can be paid into the city;s affordable housing fund in lieu of building BMR units.

        There are some problems with building BMR’s on-site. Partly because the HOA fees and others costs cannot be subsidized. And partly because people who just blew 1.5 million on a condo probably don’t want to live next-door to someone who paid one third of that.

        It’s all moot anyway as there will now be no BMR’s of any type here.

      2. Valenchia, you must’ve misread – there *were* going to be 2 onsite BMR units at the originally approved height of 5 floors. Now that it’s been reduced from 12 units to 9, there’s no longer an obligation for the project to provide BMR units.

        Given the choice between a 5-story building with 2 subsidized units and a 4-story building with none, we picked the latter.

        I think it’s legitimate for the Marsh to be concerned about the future tenants raising hell about the noise, but reducing the size of the project has little to do with that.

  4. This is ridiculous. We have a housing shortage, for god’s sake. So this building will now have one less floor, each condo will cost more, and there will be no BMR units. Congratulations NIMBY’s, you solved gentrification.

    Oh wait—you’re just looking to capitalize on your own property values.

    1. The left would like you to believe that they are one unified force against evil and greed. The reality is that they are a fragmented and very tenuous alliance against hell, they have no idea.

      This is a textbook example. The Marsh didn’t want anything next door. NIMBY’s want nothing anywhere. The transit crowd wanted this building because it pioneers the idea of a new building without parking. And the housing guys wanted those 2 units of BMR’s.

      Result? The developers sit back and let the squabbling hordes fight with each other, and end up with substantially what they wanted but without the need to provide any BMR’s.

      As ThatGuy suggests, I suspect the developers played their opponents like a fiddle.

      1. Actually both the neighbors and the Marsh were fine with development here. They just wanted it to be appropriate for the area.
        If the developer had wanted to avoid BMR he could have proposed a smaller building to begin with. Or he could have had fewer larger units.
        People can have different views on this project. But your cheap cynicism and contempt for your neighbors does not help the dialogue.

    2. Nimby’s don’t care about gentrification. They usually own their own property so gentrification actually helps them by raising their property values, like you mentioned.

      1. Wow, Fyodor, it has to happen eventually.

        You actually said something that makes sense and that I can agree with.

        Sure you don’t want to change your mind now 😉

        1. lol, yeah, I do kinda feel dirty to have a half bit troll like you agree with me, but I’m an independent thinker (unlike your) and I don’t always agree with people on the same ideological side as myself. I’m in favor of new housing as long as it’s not destroying a piece of historical architecture.

          But, just so you know, liberals have traditionally been opposed to NIMBY’s in this city. Conservatives are the ones you can generally find expousing NIMBY causes.

          1. Actually, it’s the conservatives/moderates who are the ones wanting to build more, build high, max out the lot coverage.
            Progressives are more likely to be more conservative in their views on development.

          2. This may be true, but in general NIMBY’s tend to be property and business owners, who tend to have more conservative views than renters. Anti-gentrification forces and renters tend to agitate mainly when development causes low income residents to be displaced, which is not the case here. Note that is a neighborhood association and an established business that are raising the complaints here.

          3. Rent control makes NIMBY’s out of renters as well. They are hardly likely to welcome a new project that demolishes their right to a subsidized rent.

          4. No, NIMBY’ism in this context means opposing new development and not opposing evictions.

            In any event, there isn’t much that can be done against a fully legal eviction like an Ellis, an OMI or a condo conversion.

          5. You initially tried to draw a distinction between renters and owners in terms of how NIMBY both groups are.

            I’ve seen plenty of tenants be very NIMBY. The reasons may be less clear but the reality isn’t. Tenants tend to be more left wing and more in favor of stricter land use regs.

            I’d be willing to bet that, on the 8Wash issue, homeowners approved it overall but tenants disapproved it. And that was not going to be a RC building nor would it have led to any evictions.

            finally, tenants who do get evicted for new development get much higher relo payoffs than is the norm.

          6. By law, new developments do not have rent control. Therefore, the only time rent control is relevant to a discussion of new developments is when a rent controlled building is being torn down to make way for a new development, which isn’t the issue here.

            Homeownesr tend to have a much larger say in neighborhood organizations than renters, so I would bet against you if you think that the neighborhood association was pursuing this case in conflict with the desires of their homeowner members.

          7. Post-1979 construction is exempt from RC. However, it is still reasonable to assume that property owners are more opposed to RC,in general, than tenants.

            And there is no guarantee that the law may be changed in the future to allow RC on newer buildings. That fear still inhibits some projects.

            But for the most part I base my view on simply watching the actors. The SFTU almost always opposes new build of market rate homes, for instance.

            The reason may be simply that these new pricey homes are changing the demographic of the city, making it more likely that one day RC may be repealed.

            The activists and non-profits need a large underclass of tenants to justify themselves.

          8. So you’re entire rationale for bringing up rent control is based on conjecture of how people MAY feel about things that have not yet happened.

            Got it.

  5. Good job Marsh! You managed to kill 2 BMR units. Maybe people working in theatre could have lived in them. You want us to think you are part of the solution to maintaining Sf’s cultural diversity but here you are part of the problem.

    1. The Marsh knows that the poor Hispanic families who would otherwise have no doubt moved into those BMR units would never have attended a Marsh performance anyway, so why should the Marsh care?

        1. There was no race baiting there. It is fairly well know that the poorest people in the mission are Hispanics and therefore they are the most likely to be eligible for BMR housing.

          Unless of course you think that any mention of race is “race baiting”.

          1. Race-baiting is when you accuse people of not caring about about someone based on their race, which you did, you slimy, hate-filled piece of sh*t.

            Your race-baiting, class-baiting and hateful attitude have no place in a civil discussion.

          2. No, I simply pointed out that the lost 2 BMR units would probably have been given to Hispanics AND that the Marsh has issued no statement of regret about the lost BMR’s.

          3. Of course you’re denying it now, because it’s abhorrent, scumbag behavior. But as much as you might squirm away from admitting it, you engaged in race-baiting again.

            Quite a habit of vile behavior from you.

          4. John: You accused the people at the March of being racist. There is no getting around that. I amazed that you would stoop so low.

          5. Wrong. What i said was that BMR units in the Mission are most likely to go to Hispanics AND that, thanks to the Marsh, we have just lost 2 BMR units.

            The one time I went to the Marsh the audience was 100% white.

          6. I am one of the few here who calls our race card playing. Others here routinely do it and it can be instructive to play that back into them.

            I’m not the one going around worrying about “diversity”.

          7. You are the one person here who I see consistently engaging in race-baiting. You’re a disgusting piece of human trash to not only engage in this, but to attempt to defend the practice.

          8. And you are the one person here who continually personally attacks others here based solely on them holding different political opinions to you.

            Are you really going to post another 100 personal attacks again today? I can’t stop you but it won’t stop me telling the truth either. So if you want to get yourself into a lather every day, knock yourself out.

          9. Once again you are attempting to distract from your own vile race-baiting by trying to change the subject.

            I haven’t seen any anti-white sentiment being expressed here.

          10. Then let’s both commit to not mentioning race at all, because it really isn’t relevant?

            Indeed, race doesn’t exist at all in any biological sense, and is far too prone to those who love to stereotype.

          11. I would welcome a more specific commitment from you to stop baselessly accusing those you disagree with of having racist motivations; and for my part, I would happily agree to never start doing the same.

          12. If I introduce race as an issue here, it is only in response to others doing the same thing.

            for instance, I have heard some here (not necessarily you) basing part of their objection to the google buses on the fact that the riders are mostly white. Why is that relevant?

            Likewise, it gets stated that evictions are worse if and when they affect Hispanics more. Again why?

            And the frequent claims about how important “diversity” is is little more than the idea that there is an optimal quota of races in any location.

            So yes, if others here cans top playing race cards, then I certainly can, and indeed would, since that is the only reason I seek to counter such arguments by showing that racism can operate against whites just as easily.

          13. Once again, you are just attempting to justify your own bad behavior. If you cannot win a fair debate without constantly resorting to race-baiting and class-baiting, you should have the intelligence to back down gracefully. I don’t see anybody here engaging in race-baiting other than you, despite your claims to the contrary.

          14. No, I’ve seen you do it quite a lot.

            I haven’t seen anyone else do it myself, but I’m pretty new to commenting here. I’m not saying it’s never happened, just that it’s obvious that you are engaging in it more than most.

          15. Since you are new here, you might want to give it some more time before making overly-broad generalizations.

            References to “people of color”, and new arrivals being “white”, have certainly permeated these pages before.

          16. None of this excuses your vile race-baiting.

            Furthermore, if you’re accusing others of race-baiting as well, it would behoove you to provide proof. After all, we have proof that YOU engage in race-baiting on a routine basis. I have not yet seen any proof that others do the same.

          17. Like I said, I am happy for race to never be mentioned here. It’s an emotive topic and so people often over-react. But I see no relevance to the issues discussed here.

          18. So you have no proof.
            Got it.

            This just makes your race-baiting even more vile. If you’re happy to stop it (as you claim), please proceed to comment without resorting to this deplorable practice ever again. But your attempt to justify it based on irrelevant accusations you can’t even back up just makes your past actions appear even more disgusting.

          19. I’m not going to read thru hundreds of old posts. Race gets mentioned here and if you stick around more than a few days, you will come to see that.

            I don’t need to change anything as i only mention race when others do, and that includes code words for race like “diversity” and “minorities”.

          20. You injected race into this discussion by speculating about possible “Hispanic” residents of proposed BMR housing units.

            Par for the course.

            It is sad to see one person try to dominate these comment pages, especially someone as unintelligent, thoughtless and disingenuous as you.

            Yes, that is a “personal” argument, but one that your copious comments support.

          21. landline, as you well know, certain people have lamented how evictions have allegedly hit hispanic tenants disproportionately.

            Once others introduce race into the equation, then we have to address that, if only to refute it.

            Race card playing is ugly, but not uncommon, sadly.

          22. If race never gets introduced into these discussions again, then this little spat will have been worthwhile.

            If you had been here for more than a few days, you will know it has come up before in relation to housing discussions, and it’s therefore not unusual at all for someone to play a card here.

            I am the biggest opponent of identity politics here, so a ban on mentioning race here, along with other convenient classifications and stereotypes, has my full support.

          23. You are the most hardcore practitioner of identity politics on this website, and now you have proven yourself to be its greatest defender. Talk is cheap. Your actions speak more loudly than your words.

          24. As someone who has been here only a few days, and has spent more time talking then listening, you are the last person to credibly claim that anyone here is the most this or the least last.

            Here’s an idea. Try quietly observing this place for a few weeks before you start spouting.

          25. In my short time here I have observed that you have very little credibility with anyone on this website. Your reoccurring habit of race-baiting, class-baiting and overall nasty attitude have left little question as to why. If you’d prefer me not to call you a race-baiter, you can simply stop race-baiting and I’ll stop calling you out on it.

            I guarantee it.

          26. Just giving some friendly advice to the new kid on the block.

            Take it or leave it – it’s all the same to me.

          27. As a newbie, you lack the context and history to credibly make any assumption or generalization like that.

            But whatever, it must be obvious to you that I am going to take any notice of you, so feel free to waste your time if you wish. My truth is not subject to negotiation not bullying. In fact, it makes me more resolute.

          28. You engaged in race-baiting quite obviously in this thread. To say you are race-baiter is not an assumption or an opinion. It is a fact.

            That is the difference between you and me. I believe in facts and can provide the facts I need to back up my claims. You are an ideologue to whom facts don’t matter and there is no depth too low that you wouldn’t gleefully sink to it in your attempts to claim victory over another.

            My original point stands:
            Your race-baiting, class-baiting and hateful attitude have no place in a civil discussion.

          29. The” Marina quip” was a joke and furthermore it wasn’t race-baiting as I wasn’t accusing you of being racist.

            Please don’t tell me your sense of humor is as bad as your reasoning skills.

          30. No, the difference between you and i is that you get angry at someone because they hold a different political outlook, and I do not.

      1. JJ doesn’t like Latinos, the homeless, working people, Muni riders, long-term San Franciscans,… who am I leaving out?

      2. If you look at who is occupying affordable housing units it’s an eclectic mix of residents – Latinos, African Americans, Asian, Eastern Europeans, and Whites. Not always one majority but to single out Hispanics is just race baiting.
        You are just an elitist POS.

        1. You missed my point. If the larest group of poor people in the Mission are hispanic, then they will represent the largest group who enjoy any welfare that is given out based on economic deprivation.

  6. I’m happy for the Marsh too – they invested 25 years of their life on Valencia Street. It’s businesses like theirs that made this neighborhood the very place these new developers now want to come to. I hope the new neighbors will appreciate how fortunate they are to be right next door to this neighborhood treasure and will enjoy their wonderful shows.

    1. The condo buyers will have to sign something saying they know there is a live entertainment joint next door.

      But that is to protect the developers so they cannot later be accused as concealing that they have picky neighbors.

      The buyers will not be signing anything saying that they have to be quiet.

          1. You must think you know who I am in real life with that JJ shtick.

            But you’ll probably step away from that now that I’ve called you out on it.

            Karma is a bitch and it would not shock me if the Marsh got the neighbors from hell.

  7. What these anti-“gentrification” and/or NIMBY folks don’t realize is that they’re being played. This is a CLASSIC example.

  8. John, I think you should stop commenting on these posts. You’re so over-the-top ridiculous that it wouldn’t surprise me at all that you’re a plant, just like the fake Google employee at Monday’s protest.

    All you’re doing is encouraging a destructive us vs. them rhetoric. You are convincing no one of anything. Just go away.

      1. Thanks, but I never said Fyodor was clueless.

        Only that he appears to spend a lot of time stalking me, which I assume is because he lacks factual refutations.

  9. I really doubt that neighbors planned out such a convoluted strategy as has been described here.

    Folks just want to see things built that comply with not only zoning, but also the Residential Design Guidelines.

  10. If the market price for the new condos is $2 million, then $1.9 million is “Below Market Rate” – hardly the sort of thing the tamale lady is going to purchase.

    So lets not pretend the 2 BMR units were going to accomplish jack. “BMR” does NOT mean affordable – at all.

    It’s great that the city didn’t allow an oversized building on this site, because once they allow one, others inevitably follow.

    Tall buildings belong downtown, not in the outer neighborhoods.

    1. Are you serious? For somebody who’s all over every thread about gentrification and housing, you have no idea what comprises a BMR unit? It isn’t selling a $2m condo for $1.9m.

      It’s a major arm of the city’s affordable housing apparatus. Units are set aside, set at a price that the city determines to be affordable by measuring against the median area income. For reference, in San Francisco the AMI for a single person between 80 and 120 percent of AMI is $57,700 and $86,500. For two people in SF it’s $65,000 and $98,900.

      You want to blame tech and money exclusively, but extremely misguided activism has a significant hand to play in our current mess.

    2. Hey nutrisystem, read a book. You clearly don’t know much about the subject you’re ranting about.

      Here’s an example of some BMR listings from the city:
      http://sf-moh.org/index.aspx?page=299.

      A quick glance shows that 2BR’s going for about 250k-300k, not 1.9MM. That turns into $650/month per bedroom – pretty reasonable in this market.

  11. In the holiday spirit of the Holy Any Rand, let’s all make up and go with John to the annual Castro Theater sing-along of “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged.”

      1. I have a solution to this trilemma that we fare facing: All MR condos or two condos at BMR. My proposed solution: turn it back into the Kentucky Fried Chicken it once gloriously was. Black, white, yellow, brown, red we all bought our chicken there.

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