Proposed San Bruno Avenue Project Criticized for Lack of Parking, Shadows

in / by

Most of the roughtly 100 participants at last month’s virtual meeting about a proposed development at 1458 San Bruno Avenue vehemently opposed the project. “For the people in the neighborhood, it seems like an alien spaceship is landing and completely gentrifying the neighborhood,” said one attendee, who didn’t disclose his name.

The Goode family has owned the property, located at the southern tip of San Bruno Avenue, abutting Potrero del Sol Park, since 1927.  They want to build a stepped seven-story residential development; the portion closest to the park would be five stories, rising to seven at the furthest point. The design hasn’t significantly changed since the proposal was last floated at a community meeting in 2019. The main difference is the number of units.  Two years ago, plans reflected 205 homes: 122 studios, 83 two-bedrooms. The new scheme includes 232 units, with two additional one-bedroom units and one three-bedroom unit.  The unit mix remains 60 percent one bedroom or smaller, 40 percent two bedroom or larger. However, Chris Goode, the family’s chief spokesperson, said the development could drop to 204 units to add space to allow for the maximum amount of parking, 51 spaces. 

“We don’t know which way to go here,” he said. “Email us to let us know.” 

Parking emerged as the primary concern amongst meeting participants.

“I live a few blocks away and in regards to parking, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. there are literally no parking spots,” said the same unidentified man. “To have 200 more units, which is 400 to 500 more people in the neighborhood, is ridiculous. There will be nothing left for the people who live here and all the poor people who can’t afford a garage.”

“I don’t take parking lightly, Goode said. “We can maximize parking with somewhat different kinds of tenants. But if you support the project with parking, we can make that turn. We want to get this housing built.”

“I felt like I was at ‘Let’s Make a Deal’,” Mary Beth Pudup, Potrero del Sol’s volunteer community garden coordinator. “It’s hard to know where Chris stands because before he told us we have to get cars out of the City.” 

Goode is eager to get the housing built. “I absolutely plan on building this project or alternatively selling it to an appropriate developer,” he wrote in an email to the View.

Under current zoning restrictions 1458 San Bruno Avenue can only be used for housing. Goode said he’s willing to sell the property for less than what he could garner by developing it, but no affordable housing developer has expressed interest in purchasing the site. 

“Either directly or through brokers, we have been in contact with Bridge Housing, Mission Housing, the City of San Francisco, the Mayor’s Office on Housing, and others,” Goode said. “I am sure there were others, but that is a partial list off the top of my head.”

Affordable housing development depends on public sector financing, according to James Abrams, a land use attorney working with the Goode family. The City wasn’t interested when the Goodes offered the site for a homeless navigation center.

“In terms of the City purchasing this property to expand the park, or purchasing the property to provide affordable housing, those are all things we’re open to,” Abram said. “We’ve made good faith efforts and they haven’t been fruitful.”

“This is a persistent theme; that the owners are victims of other people’s incompetence,” Pudup said. “That’s the narrative.”

Meeting participants also expressed concern about a new building casting shadows on Potrero del Sol Park. 

“Sol, sun, it’s very important to us and why we had this park built,” said Roberto Hernandez, a Mission District resident. “We don’t want any shadows at all. Absolutely none.” 

 “Sol is Spanish for sun and it’s in the name of the park,” said Potrero Hill resident Noelle Catarineu. “Shadowing is a major issue. The reason people go to the park is to be out in the sun. That park is different than Dolores Park or Golden Gate Park; it’s a local community park. If this project was proposed next to those other parks, this development would not be approved.”

Goode’s team conducted several shadow studies. The San Francisco Planning Department will independently perform another. Existing shadow studies indicate that, by and large, shading from the building will fully recede by noon or earlier depending on the time of the year.  

“Some people want absolutely no shadows in the park, but the benchmark we used is basically what’s in the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan Environmental Impact Report, which is to have shadows less than what a 40-foot building would cast,” Goode said. “Cumulatively, these shadows are much less than a 40-foot building.”

A small portion of the park would be shadowed at any time. The community garden wouldn’t be shaded in the winter, with early morning shadows in the summer.  

“It’s not only that one day will have four hours of shade, it’s also the many weeks leading up to,” Pudup said. “It has a cumulative impact. Four hours of shadow over a four-month period; we’re talking about some serious impact.”

One of the few participants who supported the development, Ed, who didn’t disclose his last name, said, “I appreciate the project and think this is really exciting. I appreciate the sun studies. There will be some shadowing, but it does seem rather minimal and in the morning.”

Mostly, however, the participants’ sentiment was summed up by photographer and filmmaker, Lou Dematteis: “This is a good project but in the wrong place.”