SF Housing

New Residential Housing and Commercial Space Under Construction on Judah at 45th Avenue

By Thomas K. Pendergast

Construction has begun on a five-story mixed use building that will include 20 residential units and ground floor commercial space in the Outer Sunset District at the southeast corner of 45th Avenue and Judah Street.

The planned 55-foot-tall building is a Home SF project, which allows for taller buildings than normal zoning usually allows in exchange for 25% of the residential units offered for sale at below the market rate, or “affordable.”

In this case, 15 of the units will be sold at the market rate, while five will be offered below that.

The ground floor will offer 2,970 square feet of retail space over a 3,600 square foot parking garage in the basement, which will be accessed by a ramp and curb cut on 45th Avenue.

The commercial space will be divided into 2,325 feet of retail in the form of two retail storefronts (one is 810 square feet and the other is 1,515 square feet). There will be 950 square feet of common open space and a 195-square-foot residential lobby.

An artist’s rendering shows the planned housing and commercial property that is going up on the corner of Judah Street and 45th Avenue. Courtesy graphic.

Up top, it will have a 1,710-square-foot roof deck.

The residential units offered will consist of 10 one-bedrooms, nine two-bedrooms and one three-bedroom.

According to San Francisco Planning Department documents, the average size of the one-bedroom units will be 450 square feet, the average for the two-bedroom units will be 700 square feet and the three-bedroom unit will be 900 square feet.

The garage will allow for seven motor vehicle parking spaces, one of which will be an Americans with Disability Act (ADA) space. It will also include 20 bicycle parking spaces for the residents and another four will be provided for use with the commercial space.

The units shall be priced to be affordable to a mix of households whose gross annual income, adjusted for household size, ranges from 80% to 130% of the median income for San Francisco.

The Sunset District has long been criticized for not building enough new housing, and a 2018 San Francisco Housing Inventory report from the Planning Department shows the district is well below most others in producing new dwelling units.

According to SFGate, an initial proposal for this lot included just six homes, only two of which would have been offered at below the market rate.

More recently, plans for educator housing and a large project on Irving Street are in the works, but to date, ground has only been broken on one of them.

Nevertheless, there was neighborhood opposition to this project. SFGate reported that the building faced some opposition from neighbors, mostly concerning a perceived lack of parking in the building and a design deemed inconsistent with the neighborhood.

Another concern was about the gas station that it is replacing, with questions raised about the possibility of contaminated soil. Local residents worried about dealing with old underground fuel tanks possibly leaking toxic chemicals into the soil at a place where the water table is fairly close to the surface.

As reported in the February 2020 issue of the Sunset Beacon, local resident Michael Murphy made a case before the appeals board to slow down the project.

“The potential for significant, adverse impacts that the proposed development poses are real,” Murphy told the board. “Construction on this site without removal and remediation of hazardous materials – which may contaminate groundwater – and without removal of existing leaking underground storage tanks poses an imminent threat to public safety. These tanks are located … on the project property, also underneath the sidewalk and the street, Judah Street.

“This is significant because the public infrastructure, including the N-Judah (light rail train) runs directly adjacent to these storage tanks,” he said.

But several members of the pro-development group YIMBY (yes in my back yard) Action network also showed up at the meeting to argue against delaying the project any more than necessary.

“We’re in a massive housing shortage,” Bobak Esfandiari, a YIMBY volunteer, said. “The west side of the City has not done its part. This project is an excellent opportunity to not only get 20 homes, but five of them below market rate, where normally, because of the zoning, because of the lack of density, the inclusionary (housing) program can’t even be triggered unless you can get above 10 units. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”

Ultimately the appeals board allowed the project to proceed.

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