The vacant property at 730 Stanyan St. in the Haight currently houses a safe sleeping site for the homeless. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>

The vacant property at 730 Stanyan St. in the Haight currently houses a safe sleeping site for the homeless. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Affordable housing project on former McDonald’s site delayed as city adds units

The start of construction on an affordable housing project on the site of a former Haight-Ashbury McDonald’s will be delayed by as much as a year due to a redesign and state financing issues, according to city officials.

The project at 730 Stanyan St., previously proposed as a six-story building with 120 units, will now be designed as an eight-story building with about 150 units, the Examiner has learned. The change came about in part because The City came into additional funding through savings on other projects and federal recovery funds that allowed the project scale to increase, according to the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development.

Construction would begin in summer 2023, amounting to about a one-year delay for affordable housing on the site, which currently houses a safe sleeping site for homeless residents.

San Francisco bought the property in 2017 after years of complaints about criminal activity around the McDonald’s that used to be there, and dedicated community input began soon after.

“This change was made in an effort to maximize the number of permanently affordable homes on the site under [Senate Bill] 35 in conjunction with the State Density Bonus, and in response to the community advocating for more units,” said Max Barnes, MOHCD spokesperson. SB 35 speeds up housing approvals and California’s density bonus allows projects with on-site affordable housing to include more units than zoning would otherwise allow.

Most of the units will be reserved for those making between 30 percent to 100 percent Area Median Income, or $26,900 to $89,650 for a household of one. A quarter of the units will house formerly homeless people, with a focus on families and 18-to-24-year olds transitioning out of homelessness.

A 2018 vision statement by the Coalition for a Complete Community called for housing for seniors, but developers have said fair housing laws meant a different building would be needed for that population. Instead, they will be the subject of “affirmative marketing,” or targeted outreach, but the group is still seeking a commitment to senior housing.

The project, co-developed by Chinatown Community Development Center and Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, was previously expected to cost around $80 million, according to CCDC project manager Bo Han.

Delays in the construction timeline, however, have been caused in part by the availability of state financing — which could change with California’s unexpected $75 billion surplus.

“It’s hard to predict at this point because they may post a different opportunity,” Han said. “We check literally weekly. There’s a lot of moving parts.”

Developers have held numerous community meetings outlining the former design, but now will go back to the drawing board and take at least a couple months to redo the plans. Then community outreach will begin again, Han said.

“I’m happy to hear more housing will be possible, but honestly surprised that the money wasn’t already available,” said Christin Evans of the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council. Evans cited Proposition C as a possible source of funds for homeless housing. “I guess I’m disappointed that MOHCD had the nonprofit developer waste time and resources when the funding was there all along for a larger project.”

Supervisor Dean Preston, who represents the area, criticized the timing of the change and said The City needed to consult with the community, which has already provided extensive input, particularly on interim uses for the site.

“If MOHCD is holding up badly needed affordable housing — even if it’s for a better project longterm — we need to have some transparency about that,” Preston said. “The Haight was saddled with an empty lot for years. It’s The City’s responsibility to promptly build the promised affordable housing as soon as possible, or if there will be a delay to improve the project, activate a temporary use on the site that neighbors support.”

The change in plans also means the interim use of the site, which is currently serving as a city-sanctioned safe camping site for homeless residents, is now in doubt. The Homeless Youth Alliance, which runs the site, has agreed to vacate the camp by the end of June, allowing full access for construction needs like soil samples.

HYA did not hear about the design changes from The City but it is not pushing for a camp extension, which has occurred a few times previously due to uncertainty around emergency federal funds. Executive Director Mary Howe, however, is pushing to keep the shower and bathroom facilities on site for others to use and is open to operating another community-oriented camp there.

“The decision has already been made and it’s been traumatic for the folks who live here,” said Eliza Wheeler, HYA’s policy director. “Each time it gets extended and the close date looms, it builds a lot of anxiety. People really achieved some stability here and connected to services and have gotten support and have made incredible leaps and bounds.”

More than 80 people have stayed at the site since last June and just three have not yet made final plans as others have slowly moved out, Wheeler said. The City will have offered every guest a chance to stay at a shelter-in-place hotel, another city-sanctioned encampment, or congregate shelter.

MOHCD will “engage community stakeholders” to determine an interim use, Barnes said.

imojadad@sfexaminer.com

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