Condo project meets backlash

A five-story condo building with a ground-floor store could be built at a high-profile Market Street corner lot that has been vacant since 1981.

But a chorus of opposition from surrounding neighborhood groups and bicycle and pedestrian advocates could derail plans to construct the 18-unit building at the intersection of Market, Noe and 16th streets.

The project is proposed on a city block that was left out of recent rezoning efforts that radically changed building rules in neighborhoods that surround the upper Market Street area.

The area has been dubbed an “orphan block” by neighborhood activists, who have lobbied the Planning Department to subject it to the same building rules that affect surrounding property owners.

While developers of surrounding lots are limited to providing a maximum of one parking spot for every two housing units, for example, city building rules allow the developer of the 18-unit project to include
18 parking spaces.

Also, surrounding property owners must include a higher ratio of two-bedroom units within their projects and pay more city fees in exchange for construction permits.

City planners don’t plan to make changes to the block’s zoning rules, however. That could require more than a year of work, including an exhaustive environmental review required under California law.

“I can’t simply impose new regulations arbitrarily,” Planning Director John Rahaim said.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to meet today to rule on appeals that were filed against the building plans.

Much of the spat over the 2299 Market St. project relates to plans to build 18 underground parking spots.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Walk San Francisco, Livable City and four neighborhood groups argued that the plans would create car-related hazards for pedestrians and cyclists in the
already-congested area.

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