A housing project is proposed for 3314 Cesar Chavez St. – the space currently houses a warehouse. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

A planned market-rate housing development coming to Cesar Chavez Street faced concerns from neighbors that the 65-foot building would block sunlight and impede privacy.

“It’s the tallest thing around,” said Kim Basset, a neighbor who lives across from the development at 3314 Cesar Chavez St. near South Van Ness Avenue.

Not true, said Drake Gardner, the project sponsor. Gardner pointed to an ongoing nine-story affordable housing development across the street from his project at 1296 Shotwell St., for which developers are currently seeking a legislative work-around to increase its height beyond its cap to 85 feet. Most of Cesar Chavez Street between Guerrero and Shotwell streets is zoned for 65 feet, and another development down the street will rise to that height.

Still, Basset’s wife, Zan Sterling, voiced her own concerns.

“You have just blocked our entire house,” said Sterling. “All of your windows are looking into our master bedroom. We would never be able to have any privacy at all.”

Sterling also raised height-related concerns about the proposed building’s shadow. “We have installed solar on our roof and are planning on going completely electric. It doesn’t seem like this would cause problems, but the other development apparently will, and that’s further away,” said Sterling.

Gardner said he did not know the range of the building’s shadow, and that a “shadow map” was not required “because there is no public space that it could fall on.”

The developer promised Sterling that a computer mock up of the shadow “would be easy to do” but that there was little he could do to reduce the size of the project.

But despite pledged opposition from neighborhood activists last year, the market-rate housing project faced little controversy at a community meeting held at the site of the development on Wednesday.

Proposed development at 3314 Cesar Chavez St.
Proposed development at 3314 Cesar Chavez St.

Only a handful of Mission residents attended the meeting seeking to gauge community approval of the 58-unit housing project at 3314 Cesar Chavez St., which will soon go before the Planning Commission for approval and is slated to break ground in January 2018.

Wedged between the Del Carlo Court affordable housing project and a gas station, the space is currently home to a warehouse that doubles as the headquarters of a construction company.  

Originally pitched as a 52-unit development, Gardner, an architect with the project sponsor Zone Design, said that placing a garage with 31 parking spaces underground allowed him to add six more residential units.

The building will also have two commercial spaces on its ground floor – “No bars, no discos, no massage parlors,” Gardner said jokingly – that could be used for a cafe or restaurant.

The 58 residential units will be a mix of one- and two-bedroom units, averaging 530 square-feet and 800 square-feet respectively.

Another neighbor raised the issue of affordable housing in the development.

“I’m concerned about the number of affordable units,” said neighbor Terry Milne – that concern that was echoed by Sterling.

“There need to be more affordable units,” she said.

The project comes with only 14.5 percent, or nine units, of on-site affordable housing. Because the development’s plans were already in the pipeline when the Proposition C ballot measure was passed in June, Gardner said that his project was “grandfathered-in” and exempt from the initiative’s 25 percent affordable housing requirement.

“These days, the supervisors are talking about 20-25 percent, which is a whole lot more. We’ll see if we have a downtown hearing – we will see whose grandfather shows up,” said Milne, but did not press the issue further, and focused on the building’s aesthetics instead, taking particular aim at its foliage.

“Are you fixating on palm trees? This is south of the city, it’s not the Embarcadero. We don’t need more palm trees here,” he said.

“Do you like jacarandas? The flower?” asked Gardner, and was met with nods of approval. The architect said that he will consider the neighbor’s concerns before the project moves in front of the Planning Commission.

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