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Bus yard housing plan revived

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A decades-old proposal to transform an aging Muni bus yard near Fisherman’s Wharf into a housing development has resurfaced, and the latest plans call for a four-story building with 220 rental units.

For decades, the cash-strapped San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, has talked about selling off Kirkland Yard, a 60-year-old bus facility located on Beach Street between Powell and Stockton streets.

As part of an interagency deal, the Mayor's Office of Housing would help procure the land and, with the backing of a private developer, the SFMTA would receive $35 million during the next 20 years.

The proposed development, part of the mayor’s Hope SF plan, would offer 20 percent of the 220 units at below market costs, according to Doug Shoemaker, director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing.

With the site situated next to an array of Muni lines, the project would be an example of a transit-oriented development, and it would provide much-needed affordable housing for residents in the northern part of The City, Shoemaker said.

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In 2004, the SFMTA formed a citizens advisory committee to investigate the possibility of selling the outdated Kirkland Yard, but that proposal, like many others in the past, failed because the agency could not find an appropriate replacement for the bus yard.

Former Supervisor Aaron Peskin, whose district included Kirkland Yard, said he’s heard talk of selling the property for decades.

“Before they go waste any more staff time, they should be 1,000 percent sure that they don’t need Kirkland anymore,” Peskin said. “It’s actually kind of an embarrassment how much the agency has spent on consultants to realize they still need the facility.”

SFMTA Director Cameron Beach acknowledged those concerns during the board’s Policy and Governance Committee hearing Tuesday.

“I think the MTA certainly realizes the upside of this proposal, but a motor-coach maintenance facility is not an ideal neighbor,” Beach said. “The question remains: Where would we go?”

The SFMTA said it can replace Kirkwood Yard with a proposed facility at Islais Creek, in The City’s southeast. The new location would force Muni buses to drive across town to serve lines operating in northeast San Francisco.

The agency is moving forward with the Islais Creek facility, which is slated to be finished in 2012, regardless of what happens to Kirkland Yard. Despite the prospect of gaining $35 million — which could conceivably go toward addressing operating shortfalls — SFMTA chief Nathaniel Ford said the agency would have to carefully consider the benefits and detractions of selling Kirkland Yard.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

From bus depot to housing complex


220
Housing units proposed under deal

44 Units available at below market rate

200
Proposed parking spaces

$35 million Funding SFMTA would receive during 20-year period from sale of property

$70 million Estimated cost of construction

Source: SFMTA



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