SF Housing

Beachside Skyscraper Proposed For 2700 Sloat Blvd.

By Thomas K. Pendergast

Proposals for a new mixed-use building with housing on the site now occupied by the Sloat Garden Center keep getting bigger, and so does local opposition to the project in and around the Sunset District.

In 2020, the first proposal was for eight stories and 213 residential housing units. A year later, another plan for a new building raised it four more stories, this time offering 400 units of housing.

That’s when an online petition against it began, put together by local residents who opposed its 12-story bulk.

Now, a new plan submitted to the San Francisco Planning Department last month calls for a skyscraper 50 stories tall with 712 units of housing. And if the online petition is any indicator, there has been a corresponding rise in the number of those opposed to it.

Renee Lazear of the group Save Our Neighborhood SF (SON-SF) said the most recent count shows 2,044 signatures, which they eventually plan to submit to the department.

“We’re not against sensible, rational housing,” Lazear said. “This (project) is absurd. It doesn’t fit the flavor or the character of the neighborhood and everyone is pretty much of the consensus that that is the case; it does not fit the neighborhood. The neighborhood doesn’t need it.”

But in the long run, the City might need it to comply with a California mandate to build 82,000 units of new housing by 2031.

The latest proposal would include 344 studio apartments, 184 one-bedrooms, 114 two-bedrooms and 70 three-bedrooms, along with a two-level underground parking garage for 212 cars and street-level commercial spaces on the ground floor.

Artist’s illustration of the developer’s proposed project at 2700 Sloat Blvd., now the location of the Sloat Garden Center. Courtesy graphic.

Because the project developer, CH Planning, will use the California State Density Bonus program, the new building would include 115 “affordable” units of housing. These units will be offered at 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) as calculated by the U.S. 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 in a household.

But critics of the project are not just limited to locals with a petition.

District 4 Supervisor Joel Engardio told the San Francisco Chronicle that while he supports more housing, especially for families, he would favor a six-story building with courtyards and ground-floor retail over this project, which he said is not realistic.

Also skeptical of the project is the SF Planning Department, which is currently reviewing it but has yet to make any final decisions.

“The developer is trying to use a 50% bonus to build a nearly 600-foot-tall building in a 100-foot height district. The math just doesn’t work,” the department’s Chief-of-Staff Dan Sider said in an email.

“We’re still in the very early days of the review process,” he said. “Two weeks ago, we received new plans that reflect a wholly different project than what was last submitted – at the end of 2021. Rather than reviewing a 12-story building, we’re now being asked to review a 50-story building.”

The department suggests that the developer move forward with the project as four separate buildings of no more than 100 feet tall each, which would comply with the height limit.

CH Planning’s manager in charge of the project, Raelynn Hickey, rejects this and argues that the City has no choice but to approve the current proposal.

She agrees that she could build four or six towers up to the 100-foot limit with a resulting 337,000 residential square foot number, the maximum the department currently would allow with their count, yet that’s just for a start.

“Once that maximum residential square foot number is arrived at, you multiply it by the bonus percentage allowed by the State Density Bonus Law (SDBL) and then add that additional bonus square feet to the calculated zoned maximum to arrive at the total maximum residential square feet that can be built on the Sloat site,” Hickey explained in an email. “We are providing enough affordable housing to qualify for a 50% bonus under the (SDBL) which, when applied, increases the size of the permitted residential build-out on the site to 506,000 square feet.

“As long as all of the 506,000 square feet is on one development site … the residential square feet is a single project which, pursuant to the (SDBL), can be shaped into a single building on the Sloat site.”

Hickey claims that the department previously agreed with this method of merging the maximum residential square feet on a project site.

“Planning has decided all by themselves to change their policies and no longer allow the merging of the calculated maximum residential square feet,” she said. “Planning is now insisting we need to build it back using the same number of buildings we used to calculate the maximum residential square feet. Fortunately, what Planning is trying to do is in violation of numerous state housing laws.”

Albert Chow is the president of People of Parkside Sunset (POPS). Although that group has yet to take a position on this latest proposal, he doesn’t like it either.

“The Westerly, which is right next to it, is only five or six stories tall and it has not even sold all its units,” Chow said. “Speaking for myself, I think it is a monstrosity that is completely out of character with the neighborhood. And I fear that if they pass this one, then they’ll just say ‘oh, well if you can pass this 50-story then we can build other ones,’ and we’ll be like Miami Beach.”

Lazear also mentioned the Westerly, which opened a few years ago.

“I have no idea why they think a 50-story, 712-unit is going to do any better, be more successful in selling all those units and or occupying the commercial space,” she said. “It’s going to create a bigger problem in the neighborhood with traffic and parking.”

Hickey explained that although the building will provide 212 parking spaces, it will be reserved for a carshare program so there will be no private parking on the site.

“We are providing a large enough carshare fleet to encourage all prospective residents to either sell their car or not buy one,” she said. “They simply won’t need one. Since the Carshare fleet will be available to the neighborhood, we’re hoping it will convince some people in the immediate area that they also don’t need to own a car.”

Shawna J. McGrew is also involved in the petition drive against the project and traffic was on her mind as well when she compared Sloat Boulevard to a freeway on the weekends.

“Can you imagine putting 700 more people down there?” she said. “Have you seen 19th Avenue? Have you seen Sunset Boulevard? Have you seen the line trying to get into the City from Daly City every morning?”

As for Muni, she thinks the public transportation system will be overburdened.

“It’s going to have a devastating effect on trying to transport people downtown or wherever,” she said. “Muni is not going to be able to take, I don’t think, the more influx of people. This has people riled up.”

3 replies »

  1. The commercial space at the Westerly is still vacant and the facade of the building is falling off. It is an eyesore and yet the City may approve even more ghost buildings.


  2. The current state and idea of this massive building project has got to be stopped at once. NO MORE Stupidness and brainless building project ideas like this for the Outer Sunset/Parkside.

    What the apartments for any parts of the Outer Sunset/Park should look like are the height and style of those few blocks from the Dublin BART station. Nothing more. That is also a good example to learm from.


    Anyway the Outer Sunset/Parkside have always been and still remain either 55% suburb and 45% urban or 45% suburb and 55% urban in it characteristics. Still so even for the next 30 years at least,


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