Russian Hill historic cottage controversy continues 

The former site of an 1861 San Francisco cottage is the subject of conflict, yet again.

The Russian Hill historic structure formerly at 1268 Lombard St. was torn down in the spring of 2009, despite the angst of preservationists who said it should have been saved.

At the time, a member of the San Francisco Building Inspection Commission determined the cottage had been willfully neglected, adding credence some neighbors’ claims that the owners purposefully let the structure become unstable — and left it open to transients — so they could obtain an emergency order, easily demolish it, and then build a more lucrative property at the site.

Owners deny that was their plan, but one thing is for sure, they do plan to build anew at the address – a four-story building with four units — and that plan is being appealed at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors by a group called Russian Hill Neighbors. The appeal was scheduled to go before supervisors Tuesday, but the matter was continued until May 3 after a meeting between the neighborhood opposition and contractors, according to Marvin Frankel, who represents the neighborhood group.

Supervisors are to consider whether to uphold the San Francisco Planning Commission’s February approval of the project, or to side with opponents who say the proposed structure is too tall, generally does not fit with the rest of the neighborhood and that the street already is already over-trafficked and too disconnected from public transportation.

Frankel said there are very few people in the vicinity who support the project and many of those same people fully supported other nearby home projects.

“It has been controversial in the past but we took it with clean hands and asked if this was project we could support,” Frankel said. “Just keep it in line with the neighborhood, that’s all we ask.”

Another neighborhood group led by architect and local historian Joe Butler supports the idea of requiring any new building to be a restoration of the original Victorian cottage, which was among The City’s oldest buildings.

Frankel said Monday’s meeting bore no agreement with contractors, and he doesn’t expect one by May 3, which would leave the matter up to supervisors.

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

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Dan Schreiber

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