Forest Hill neighbors oppose 150-unit senior housing proposal

A neighborhood group from San Francisco’s monied Forest Hill area voted Tuesday to oppose something Mayor Ed Lee has called for in abundance to solve the rental crisis:

Affordable housing.

The Forest Hill Association Board of Directors voted to oppose 150 units of proposed affordable housing at 250 Laguna Honda Blvd. The housing would be for low-income seniors, as well as the formerly homeless.

In the resolution, neighbors wrote “the objection is made on the grounds” that the five-story development is “out of character” with Forest Hill’s single family home zoning, due to its bulk and “intensive use.”

Neighbors also wrote they were concerned Forest Hill Kids, a preschool housed on the site, would have to close to make way for the development.

“If we destroy the things that make this a livable city, there’s no point in living here,” said Joe Bravo, a personal injury attorney who spoke against the project to neighbors.

“If it’s 150 units, we’re against it,” he said, though he declined to say how many units he would find acceptable.

The affordable housing project is proposed by Christian Church Homes, a nonprofit developer, and is among the first wave of intended recipients of Proposition A money, a $310 million housing bond to create affordable housing that voters approved in November 2015. It is largely linked to the mayor’s call to create and rehabilitate 30,000 homes across San Francisco.

About 30 units of the 150-unit building would be housing for the formerly homeless, according to the developer. Currently the Forest Hill Christian Church is located at the site.

The approved resolution has no binding effect, but may sway the Board of Supervisors, which has yet to approve height zoning changes. The area is currently zoned only for attached single family homes.

Supervisor Norman Yee, whose district includes Forest Hill, said the resolution “sends a strong message that (neighbors) would like to be part of the solution, and that they are seeking alternatives and more robust engagement from the developer.”

At the historic Forest Hill Clubhouse on Tuesday night, objections to the project’s’ height and size dominated conversation.

CCH Vice President of Real Estate Development Kathleen Mertz told neighbors she came only to listen, and hadn’t planned a “rebuttal” argument to those opposing the project.

Parents at the meeting voiced safety concerns. The new development would house “severely mentally ill” and “severely drug addicted” people, voiced one neighbor, who identified herself as a mother.

“What resources will you deploy 24 hours a day to make sure my 11-year-old is safe?” she asked.

The woman declined to be identified, and said she is fearful her future employment in the technology industry would be harmed if employers saw she opposed an affordable housing project.

The CCH website writes that the new homeless residents will be provided numerous services, including outreach and engagement, educational activities and more.

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