Eight-Story Complex Planned for Haight and Stanyan

By Thomas K. Pendergast

In an effort to house the homeless, the City is moving forward with plans to build an eight-story, mixed-use building with 160 residential units of affordable housing on the corner of Haight and Stanyan streets.

Some may be familiar with this lot across the street from the Whole Foods Market, as it was previously occupied by a McDonald’s restaurant and, more recently, a parking lot.

An artist’s rendering of the mixed-use building proposed for the southeast corner of Haight and Stanyan streets. This image shows the view from the sidewalk on the west side of Stanyan Street looking northeast. Images courtesy of the SF Planning Department.

City documents say the building will be housing for residents earning from 30% to 100% of the Area Median Income (AMI), defined as the midpoint of a given area’s income distribution calculated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In San Francisco, 100% AMI works out to $97,000 annually for a single person, $110,850 for two people, $124,700 for three and $138,550 for four.

The project will include 40 units of subsidized housing to accommodate families and Transitional Age Youth (TAY) exiting homelessness and will feature commercial spaces on the ground floor to serve them and the neighborhood. These spaces will be operated by nonprofits and will include an early childhood education center, drop-in center for TAYs, community technology training center, senior center and an outlet featuring affordable food options, according to plans filed with the SF Planning Department.

The current plan will include 35 studio apartments, 43 one-bedroom, 42 two-bedroom and 40 three-bedroom units.

No on-site parking for motor vehicles is included; however, an indoor room for bicycle parking is included with about 30 bike racks.

The building will rise up to 83 feet. Construction is expected to take at least 20 months.

This comes at a time when the City is under pressure from the California state government to build 82,000 units by 2031, a daunting task considering that San Francisco averaged 2,550 units a year over the past two decades, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The state’s mandate would require the City to build more than 10,000 units each year.

Adding to the challenge is the requirement that 46,000 of these units must be affordable to low- and moderate-income households.

Cities that do not meet the state’s requirement face cuts in funding for housing and transportation, and could also trigger the state to override local authorities in approving affordable housing projects.

Above: The proposed building as it might look from just inside the eastern edge of Golden Gate Park looking southeast. Haight Street is the roadway on the left side of the graphic.

Below: A view of the property before construction. The street in the foreground is Stanyan, Haight Street is to the left, Waller Street is on the right.

The developers asked for and received permission to construct the building under Senate Bill (SB) 35, which amends the government code to require local government entities to streamline the approval of certain housing projects by skipping the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and removing the need for Conditional Use Authorizations.

These SB-35 projects must meet certain criteria, including that at least 50% of the proposed residential units must be affordable to households earning up to 80% AMI.

“In order to assure that the affordable units remain so dedicated, they must comply with the San Francisco Inclusionary Affordable Housing Program Procedures Manual with regard to monitoring, enforcement and procedures for eligibility, including the lottery,” according to Planning Department documents.

The project’s estimated construction cost is $108 million.

But some neighbors oppose the scale of the building, including the Cole Valley Improvement Association (CVIA).

The building was initially proposed for six floors and 120 units but then later bumped up to eight floors and 160 units, to which the CVIA objected.

In their fall 2022 newsletter they referred to previous community meetings when they stated “the numerous meetings having assumed a six-story building on the site, were frivolously wasted on fake issues like color choices and window treatment. The extra two floors were added at the last minute without community approval.”

In July CVIA wrote a protest letter to the City.

“Without any previous notice to the public or input from the neighborhood, they announced that the building was going up to eight stories,” said the CVIA’s letter. “People were shocked and asked how this new plan came about. The answer was that it came from the mayor’s office.

“Mayor Breed, the building at six stories covering the entire block across from Golden Gate Park was already too large for the location. Many comments suggested that it looked like an office building or a hospital.

“Now, at eight stories, this project height is totally unacceptable. This location is significant for the City of San Francisco. The corner of Stanyan and Haight is a prominent location and should reflect the best that our city officials, designers and developers can envision,” the letter stated.

“Please take this project back to the six story building that was presented to the public during a year of detailed presentations,” the letter concluded.

And the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) sent a response.

“The latest adjustments were made to maximize the potential of the site due to overarching concerns about increased construction costs,” the MOHCD said. “The design is the result of balancing priorities of community character, strong design, needs of the building’s future residents and our City’s need to create as much housing as possible.

“There has been a longstanding process for community engagement and moving forward we are more than happy to work with the CVIA … to make sure the decisions behind these design elements are transparently communicated.”

4 replies »

  1. Fantastic that this is going in over a parking lot and it’s EXCELLENT that there is no parking requirement. We need dense, walkable cities and with its proximity to park, and groceries this is a huge win. Build like 30 more of these. No tears for the CVIA — this is not even really in Cole Valley! If you don’t want buildings going up around you, don’t live in a city.


    • San Francisco is dismally overcrowded. The last thing the City needs is more housing in already crowded polluted filthy neighborhoods. The City should deal with the shameful state of its infrastructure before even thinking about more housing and people living in San Francisco.


  2. Nimbys are so annoying. What differences does it make to you if it’s 8 vs 6 stories? Thanks to these 2 extra floors, additional people can afford to live in a good location. To the neighbors, I fail to see how 2 additional stories would effect you at all.


  3. They will NEVER find parking in the neighbor….nor will anyone else. Who thinks it’s possible to put that many cars into a neighborhood already stressed with no parking available.


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