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.