Balboa Reservoir project appeal filed by CCSF community members

An appeal of the Balboa Reservoir project’s environmental review filed by City College of San Francisco community members will be heard next month, the group announced Tuesday.

The appeal was filed June 19 on behalf of Madeline Mueller, Wynd Kaufmyn, and Alvin Ja and is backed by the Public Land For Public Good coalition, which is seeking to boost the 1,100-unit development’s affordable housing ratio. It calls for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to be conducted for a version of the project that is 100 percent below-market-rate housing.

“You cannot approve a project based on a defective EIR,” said Stuart Flashman, the attorney representing the trio. “You’re buying a pig in a poke.”

The Planning Commission approved the environmental review in May, recommending that the Board of Supervisors rezone the Public Utilities Commission-owned land west of City College’s Ocean Campus and south of Archbishop Riordan High School.

Core issues with the EIR revolve around a lack of transit access and affordability, and the fact that the analysis that doesn’t take coronavirus impacts into account, the appeal said. Developer AvalonBay would pay $10 million in fees for transportation sustainability but opponents remain concerned about traffic congestion.

The San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority has cut most bus service across The City due to the coronavirus pandemic and expects up to 40 bus lines, some of which run by City College, to remain cut until a different source of revenue arrives.

The appeal also takes issue with the assessment and funding of affordable units, which would make up half the planned units. The City is supposed to fund 17 percent of the total units but faces a projected $1.7 billion deficit over the next two years.

Below-market-rate units would be reserved for residents who make up to 120 percent of the area median income, or about $143,000. About 150 units would be reserved for City College faculty.

Some opponents also object to the sale of public land to a developer to make 550 units of market-rate housing for $11.4 million — a fraction of the usual cost for San Francisco property, the Chronicle reported.

Some neighbors support the project, however, saying it will bring affordable units and public benefits to the area. About four of the 17.6 acres would be reserved for public uses, like a childcare facility and play space.

“The City really can be proud of going about this process the right way,” wrote Steve Marzo, an Ingleside resident, in an Examiner op-ed. “At a time when the city needs housing above all and the budget is incredibly strained, we can’t let this opportunity slip away.”

The Board of Supervisors will hear the appeal in August.

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