By Thomas K. Pendergast
The latest effort to increase the City’s housing supply is a proposal to replace the old Firestone Tires Complete Auto Care store at the corner of Geary Boulevard and Wood Street with more than three dozen new apartments.
San Francisco Planning Department documents say that, after demolition of the Firestone Tires store, a new six-story, 65-foot-tall mixed-use building with 42 dwelling units, approximately 850 square feet of ground floor commercial space, 23 below-grade off-street parking spaces and 44 bicycle spaces will eventually be constructed at 2800 Geary Blvd.
The building will include 24 one-bedroom units ranging in size from 510 square feet to 745 square feet, 13 two-bedroom units from 925 square feet to 1,225 square feet and five three-bedroom units that are each 1,170 square feet. It will also include 3,975 square feet of common open space via a ground-floor courtyard and roof deck, and approximately 1,200 square feet of private open space through balconies and terraces.
The project is slated to come before the Planning Commission on June 17, for approval.
The Commission must grant a Home-SF authorization, as a “Tier-Three” project, which allows for two additional stories of building height in return for more affordable units of housing.
The Home-SF program was the brainchild of former District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang in 2017. At the time, Tang said the program would encourage more “family-friendly” housing instead of the studios and one-bedroom apartments that developers favor as more profitable.
Under the program, developers who meet Home-SF housing requirements can add up to two additional floors to their projects. If they make it 100% affordable, they can add up to three floors.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), “affordable housing” means housing that costs no more than 30% of an individual’s income. For HUD, this includes housing costs – rent, plus utilities for renters and mortgage payments plus insurance, property taxes and utilities for owners.
In San Francisco, however, “affordable housing” is attached to a formula called Area Median Income (AMI). Figures for 2021-2022 released by the City in May show individual earners making $51,300 annually and two-income households making $58,600 total is defined by HUD as making 55% of the annual AMI. Individuals earning $74,600, and $85,250 for two-income households, are defined by HUD as making 80% of the annual AMI. The federal agency further defines $102,600 for an individual earner, and $117,200 for two-income households as making 110% of the annual AMI.
The Home-SF program uses a three-tiered system. Since this project is in Tier 3, that means it would allow for two extra stories if the project is 30% affordable. This breaks down to 10% of the units being offered at 55% of the annual AMI for rentals, or 80% of the AMI for sales; 10% of the units being offered at 80% of the AMI for rentals, or 105% of the AMI for sales; and 10% of the units being offered at 110% of the AMI for rentals, or 130% for sales.
If this project is given the green light at the upcoming Commission meeting, it will take a few years to complete.
The project sponsor, architect Jonathan Pearlman, was until recently a member of the Planning Commission himself. He said he and the developers have been working closely with the Planning Department and the neighbors on the project.
If the Commission approves the plan, it will then need to go through and complete the permitting phase. After the permits are secured, the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) will have to look them over. The process could take up to another nine months. DBI is currently backlogged with projects.
Construction itself is expected to last somewhere between 18 to 20 months, Pearlman said in an emailed response. His best estimate for completion is sometime in the second half of 2024.
A Planning Department document says the department has received one letter signed by six nearby residents expressing opposition to the location of the off-street parking vehicular access on Wood Street. The group’s stated preference is for the access to be located on Geary Boulevard, which would require a zoning exception.