Last month, the San Francisco Planning Commission approved unanimously a series of documents associated with a proposed residential development at 1601 Mariposa Street, including the project’s environmental impact report, California Environmental Quality Act findings and a Large Project Authorization. Commission endorsement came with conditions, including following interim design controls developed by the Potrero Boosters, securing an in-kind agreement with the City on improvements to Jackson Park, and demolishing and removing hazards at the construction site only when nearby Live Oak School isn’t in session.
Developer Related California hopes to finalize remaining City permit approvals by the end of January, and begin construction next fall. It’ll take about two years to build.
The project, located at the corner of 18th and Arkansas streets, consists of 299 apartments, 249 parking spaces on two garage levels and significantly more open space than originally planned. It’s situated on 3.35 acres adjacent to Live Oak School, an independent campus serving kindergarten to eighth grade students.
Community negotiations over the development prompted Related California to invest $2 million in Jackson Park improvements. These funds would be in addition to about $2 million in impact fees Related California is required to pay, the revenues from which could also be directed to Jackson Park if an in-kind agreement is established and approved by the Eastern Neighborhood Citizen’s Advisory Committee.
“Friends of Jackson Park is especially thrilled that the Planning Commission’s conditions for approval included the need to try to direct Related’s impact fees toward improvements at Jackson Park,” Friends of Jackson Park member Jude Deckenbach said. “This is in addition to the $2 million donation by Related California toward park renovations, which is an example of how developers can work with the City and neighborhood community groups to effect positive change for both current and future residents. We hope and expect that the other developers of projects in the vicinity of Jackson Park will also donate to the Jackson Park renovations.”
Grow Potrero Responsibly leader and Mississippi Street resident Alison Heath encouraged Hill residents to voice their opinions on how the $2 million should be spent. Deckenbach said community meetings focusing on Jackson Park improvements will likely be held at the beginning of next year.
Heath said the approved project is a big improvement from Related’s original proposal. But she believes that the City needs to consider the impact of all of the projects being built or planned on the Hill’s infrastructure and public services, something she didn’t feel Planning commissioners addressed. “That was a huge disappointment,” said Heath. “We’re watching this really, really closely. With each new project it’s going to become more and more of an issue.”
The Planning Department appears to be receptive to the interim design guidelines for large projects put forth by the Boosters, which Department staff will consider as they make design modifications to 1601 Mariposa. Any changes will probably be minor, according to Heath.
If adopted by the Board of Supervisors, the interim design guidelines would enable the Planning Commission to approve a conditional use permit for a Large Project Authorization only if the proposed building is physically and visually harmonious with “existing buildings, streets, open spaces, natural features and view corridors.” The guidelines would require developers to account for the scale and materials used in other neighborhood structures, and construct facades with texture, detail and depth. The guidelines would also require developers to build roofs and facades that vary in height, and consider how the facades and roofs appear from more than one vantage point. And developers would have to consult with residents and gain their support for their projects. The Boosters and Grow Potrero Responsibly are hoping that District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen will support the design guidelines, and that the City will adopt them sometime next year.
Arkansas Street resident Holly Friedman was disappointed by the Planning Commission’s approvals. “The authorization by the Planning Commission of 1601 Mariposa is disappointing from the standpoint that the commission has not addressed essential issues facing residents today,” Friedman said. “Currently, Potrero Hill suffers from a deficiency of public transportation and congestion of traffic during rush hour. These two conditions will only get worse as the commission approves more housing developments. The developer made minimal modifications to their original design. The project could have been further improved if the developer was open to working with the community.”