Architect Jeff Gibson shows residents sketches of plans for 986 South Van Ness. Photo by Charlotte Silver.

To the neighbors of the old Barney’s Auto Repair shop at 986 South Van Ness, a new housing development on their block spells one thing: less parking.

At Thursday night’s pre-application meeting to discuss a potential 11-unit housing proposal, about 15 nearby residents showed up to share what they’d like — and wouldn’t like — to see in the new building.

Most of their ire was directed at the Planning Department’s efforts to discourage cars in the city by constricting space for parking.

According to Architect Jeff Gibson, 986 South Van Ness is in a Residential Transit Oriented (RTO) zone, which means it is near a goodly amount of public transportation. In RTO zones, the planning department requires the installation of three parking spaces for every four housing units. If parking is made more difficult, the thinking goes, fewer people will purchase cars.

“But it’s not working,” said Maryann Hartman, who has lived on the street since 1985.

Calculating out loud, Kathy Gillis postulated that with 11 units the street could see an influx of 22 more cars.

The planning department’s “intention is not being heeded. They’re taking away parking, and more cars are coming,” Gillis said.

“We’re gonna be competing with them for spaces,” added Fred Leffert, who has lived in the neighborhood for seven years.

One of the 11 units will be designated below market rate, and it is not known if the units will be sold or rented. The project sponsor, Lucas Eastwood, says that, in the past, he has sold the units he develops.

The city requires developers hold pre-application meetings like last night’s, which involves sending invitations to all residents within a 300-foot radius of the would-be project.

“The intent is basically to establish a dialogue early in the process,” said Julian Banales, a planner with the city.

General plans for the proposal were taped on the wall of the repair shop, but Gibson stressed they were just sketches. “This will evolve in time. I look forward to hearing your input.”

But what people saw was a sketch of an austere, modern building invading their block.

“This whole street used to be Victorian; there’s no reason you can’t soften the facade,” Hartman told Gibson.

No promises were made at the approximately 30-minute meeting.

Eastwood, the project sponsor of 986 South Van Ness, said this stage is an important part of building in the city.

“Moreso than ever, because there’s a lot of pressure on residents and and a lot of pressure on developers to do the right thing by the residents. Getting people’s buy-in and feedback from the start is important.”

He should know: One of Eastwood’s other proposals, at 792 Capp Street — a plan to demolish a single-family home and replace it with four units — has triggered resistance.

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5 Comments

  1. Typical San Francisco ass backwards logic. SF Govt. is now catering to the little tech boys, who are mainly in their 20s and single. They probably don’t need a car at this point. Once they gain some social skills and get a wife or husband and maybe have a kid, they’re going to get a car. While I understand the environmental reasons for not owning a car, basically if you have a family, esp. with child or children, you are going to get a car, regardless of socioeconomic status. SF loses again, with their buildbuildbuild gorilla-like stupid mantra, with almost no attention paid to infrastructure. If you want to know why life in SF gets shittier and shittier, it’s due to sellout politicians aligning with real estate developers, while your quality of life plummets. Vote accordingly.

    1. There is an interesting generational shift happening in terms of car ownership. Young people are not only not buying cars in the numbers that their parents did, but they are also not getting drivers licences. Only about 60% of today’s 18-year-olds have a driver’s license, compared with 80% in the 1980s, according to a study from the University of Michigan. And this shift has been going on for more than a decade. People born since the 90s simply aren’t as obsessed with cars as their predecessors.

      As for when they “grow up” and have kids most people typically leave the city when they have kids and for those that don’t, well I’m sure you have seen the ever expanding proliferation of Xtracylce and Madsen bikes on the road lugging multiple kids around.

  2. I have zero sympathy for people who park their cars on the street for at most a $119 per year neighborhood sticker, then want to block the building of housing for others (with or without parking), all because they worry about competing with newcomers for free car storage. Or they complain about increased car traffic, and blame ride hails, not their own driving selves. Go buy or rent yourselves a parking spot, or shut up and use any number of other means of getting where you want to go. The sooner we get rid of all free street parking, the better. And the comment about making the new building have a facade that looks Victorian? I’m surprised that person even notices the buildings adorning his publically paid for parking spot.

  3. I am raising a family with two kids aged 9 and 12 and I don’t own a car. You don’t need a car to prosper in San Francisco, in fact it is a hinderance. My old car used to get parking tickets and broken windows all the time.

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