San Bruno Avenue Project Reconsidered as Affordable Housing

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The proposed development of 1458 San Bruno Avenue has been paused while an undisclosed group in the Mission is determining whether they want to turn the project into a 100 percent affordable housing complex, according to the property’s chief spokesperson, Chris Goode.

The Goode family has owned the property, located at the southern tip of San Bruno Avenue, abutting Potrero del Sol Park, since 1927. In 2019, the family proposed building a stepped seven-story residential development; the portion closest to the park would be five stories, rising to seven at the furthest point with a maximum height of approximately 73 feet.

If the Mission group takes over the project, the building’s envelope would remain the same, according to Goode. 

“The group doesn’t want to go through the process of shadow studies, so they don’t want to change the envelope of the building,” he said.

The shadow the structure would cast has been a point of contention for many in the community, particularly those affiliated with Potrero del Sol Park. 

In August, Potrero del Sol’s volunteer community garden coordinator Mary Beth Pudup told the View, “This is going to affect the garden. I’m affiliated with the garden and this project will permanently destroy it. Potrero del Sol is one of the oldest community gardens in San Francisco. I do think history is worth preserving and this will irreparably shade the garden.”

In the late-1970s and early-1980s, lowriders, parties, and car shows were popular in the area now occupied by Potrero del Sol Park. The City cracked down on the activities, and the land became a gathering spot for youth.  Neighbors launched a cleanup effort, removing cement. They began calling it “La Raza Park,” San Francisco’s version of People’s Park in Berkeley. An amphitheater was added as a concert venue. The park remains a popular spot for music, including the annual Phono del Sol performance held in June.  

Another portion of the site was used for an urban farm. In 1974, Jack Wickert and Bonnie Sherk rented the property from the Goode family. The couple wanted to create a model farm and environmental school for children. They kept more than 70 farm animals and established an art gallery that was home to festivals, with a punk rock venue where the Dead Kennedys and Faith No More performed. In 1987, after a series of legal disputes, Marilyn Goode evicted The Farm. Its garden, which remained intact, evolved into the Potrero del Sol Community Garden.

Last year, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission (SFRPD) determined that the project’s shading wouldn’t pose a significant adverse impact on either Potrero del Sol Park or the neighboring James Rolph Jr. playground. It also concluded that the project’s benefits outweighed any concerns.

The currently proposed project would result in approximately 30 million square foot hours of shadow, increasing the park’s existing annual shadow load of 2.18 percent to 6.38 percent. New shadows would occur over the park’s central and southern portions, including the community garden’s northeast corner, the skate park, amphitheater, grass, and public restrooms during the morning hours, diminishing easterly throughout the day. The largest new shadow would happen on December 20th/December 21st at 8:19 a.m., gradually lessening through the end of the day. The new shadows would cover an area of approximately 60,957 square feet or 32 percent of the park across its midsection. 

The shadow load is significantly greater than the allowable one percent rise for a park of Potrero Del Sol’s size under the Sunlight Ordinance, approved by voters in 1984.  The law prohibits the City from issuing building permits for structures greater than 40 feet in height that’d cast a shadow on property under Rec and Park’s jurisdiction. The exception is if the Planning Commission, in consultation with the SFRPD Commission, finds the shadow wouldn’t have a significant adverse impact on park use.  

There have been many iterations of the development since it was first proposed. The latest Goode family design involves constructing 225 dwelling units – 133 studios, one one-bedroom, 82 two-bedrooms, and nine three-bedrooms – along with 56 basement-level parking spaces, two of which would be carshare spaces. 

The Mission group would combine many of the studios into larger apartments to allow more families to live in the building, according to Goode. He’d be happy for the group to take over 1458 San Bruno Avenue. Either directly or through brokers, the family has previously been in contact with Bridge Housing, Mission Housing, the Mayor’s Office on Housing, and others to develop affordable housing on the site. All those attempts fell through.

Affordable housing development depends on public sector financing, the availability of which the Mission group is investigating. If they can secure funds they’ll proceed with the project, Goode said. 

“I’ve wanted as much affordable housing as possible and I’m open to them taking over,” Goode said. “I can’t wait forever, but if they need six months, I’m fine with that.”