After three hours of debate over a development adjacent to the Starr King Openspace last night, the Planning Commission decided to block cars from driving through or parking in the treasured green area.
But they failed to mollify neighbors concerned about the development’s additional shadows cast over the Potrero Hill open space.
The debate surrounded a developer’s plan to demolish a ramshackle 96-year-old house at the end of a row of homes that juts into the Starr King Openspace, and replace the home with a three-unit condominium building.
Neighbors had two problems with the plan. First, they worried the new building would cast a much longer shadow over the privately held openspace.
Also, they worried about the new tenants and their visitors driving through and parking in the open space. A 1992 ruling by the San Francisco Superior Court allowed the previous owners of the home to drive through Starr King to access their home, and actually park on the openspace land. The developers hoped to maintain that right-of-way and use it to reach the development’s garage.
After extensive discussion, the Planning Commission decided to require any garage to open on the other side of the house and eliminate the right-of-way through the green space, resolving that problem.
But they set the height-limit at 19.2 feet, which only one small portion of the current building reaches. Project opponent and Potrero Boosters president Tony Kelly said this height limit will allow the developers to build an entire floor at that height, gravely increasing the amount of shadow cast on the field below it.
Kelly said opponents will consider appealing the decision, or perhaps taking it to court, over the shadow concern. He said he’s not sure the planning commissioners realized how much more shadow they’d be allowing with their vote.
“It’s really going to hurt our neighborhood and that open space,” he said of the project.