A 193-unit project is planned at 65 Ocean Ave. in the Excelsior District on the site of two former childcare facilities that have since relocated. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Neighborhood groups push for 100 percent affordable housing at Excelsior site

A proposed 193-unit market-rate housing development in the Excelsior District is facing opposition from community groups calling for more affordability in a neighborhood where residents are increasingly grappling with rent pressures.

On Sunday, an alliance of Excelsior neighborhood organizations plan to march to the project site at 65 Ocean Ave. under the banner Communities United for Health and Justice to express the “collective angst, desperation, and fear felt by the Excelsior community about the displacement and increased risk of homelessness that will be brought about by the proposed luxury housing development,” according to a statement issued by the groups this week.

Jessie Fernandez, program manager of CUHJ, said the groups are not opposed to housing construction at the site, but are calling for any development there to be 100 percent affordable to the local community.

“The project is 75 percent market-rate and 70 percent of those units will be studios and one-bedroom apartments. This development is not family friendly,” said Fernandez. “That’s a big problem in a neighborhood that has the highest rates of seniors, families and intergenerational homes in San Francisco.”

Initially, the project was expected to include 133 units, but it was scaled up after developers Presidio Bay Ventures invoked a local density bonus. The project is scheduled to go before the Planning Commission for approval in October.

According to documents filed with the Planning Department, the project will comprise 55 studio, 81 one-bedroom, 35 two-bedroom and 22 three-bedroom apartments, spread over six stories. It will also bring ground-floor commercial space and a childcare space to the site.

Fernandez said that a major concern for CUHJ is that the development planned for 65 Ocean Ave. will operate similarly to the recently constructed Cheshill Project located several blocks away, at 33 Seneca Ave.

That project rents “1,300 square foot apartments at a monthly rent of $5,550,” CUHJ said in its statement.

In order to afford these units, “a renter must earn $199,800 per year, however the median household income in the Excelsior is $68,550 per year,” according to CUHJ.

Fernandez said that a petition opposing the development has been signed by over 700 people.

“The developers will eventually come before the Planning Commission and we want to make sure that we are making clear the opposition that the neighborhood has for this particular development,” he said.

Fernandez added that the groups are hoping that the developers will come to the table with the community to re-envision the project.

In a statement to the San Francisco Examiner on Thursday, a Presidio Bay spokesperson called CUHJ’s campaign “misinformed” and said that the firm is “extremely proud to propose a project that consists of 48 on-site below market-rate (BMR) units catering to those earning 55 percent, 80 percent and 110 percent of the San Francisco Area Median Income (AMI) – a 240 percent increase in the current stock of BMR units in the entire Excelsior district.”

“65 Ocean is not and was never intended to be a luxury housing project – it is intended to serve students, roommates, families and members of our diverse San Francisco citizenry, 1 in 4 of whom will be sourced from qualified low-income applicants through the Mayor’s Office of Housing Affordable Housing Program,” the spokesperson said.

Presidio Bay Ventures said it has “gone to extraordinary lengths to build consensus with the community,” including making “multiple attempts to clear a persistent and multi-year disinformation campaign” and offering “to set aside dedicated on-site childcare as a condition to our approval.”

“We could have chosen to pay the fee, but instead we have chosen to work with an Outer Mission based childcare operator and will invest over $2.5 million towards the build-out of almost 9,000 square feet of dedicated indoor and outdoor childcare space,” the spokesperson said. “The operator will benefit from long-term below-market rate rents and a turnkey buildout such that our project can continue serving the children and families of the Outer Mission, as it has done so for years prior.”

Two childcare providers, which have since relocated, were previously located at the project site.

David Hooper of the New Mission Terrace Improvement Association said he supports the 65 Ocean Ave. development, although his group is unhappy with its proposed size. A development planned for 915 Cayuga St. will include more than twice the number of required affordable units, and Hooper said that both projects could help address a need in the community.

“This and the adjacent property at 915 Cayuga are severely underutilized at a time when the city needs to build new housing,” said Hooper. “Although out of scale to much of the neighborhood, these new developments will provide over 100 units of affordable housing — and the Excelsior needs all of the investment in the community that it can get.”

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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