Neighbors still challenging proposed San Francisco housing development

A 6,300-square-foot space slated for development near Twin Peaks is again meeting resistance from neighbors, who worry the small project is a sign of bigger things to come.

The four-unit development, which would include a garage, was approved last November despite opposition from the neighborhood and Planning Department staff. Residents have since filed an appeal to stop construction.

“We're worried this will set a precedent for something similar to happen on the 13 other small spaces,” said Donald Bateman, co-chairman of the Twin Peaks Eastern Neighborhood Association, who lives near the proposed development. “It shouldn't be done, it was never intended.”

Bateman said the lot in question was purposely left undeveloped when the entire Vista Francisco neighborhood was built in the 1960s. There are 14 open spaces in the development, which spans Crestline, Parkridge and Gardenside drives. Planning Department staff, which reviewed the project before it went to the Planning Commission late last year, agreed that the lot was better left as is.

“Aesthetically we have no problem with the structure,” planning staff told the commission during the November meeting. “The issue is with the location and that it's infill in designated open space.”

During the same commission meeting, structural engineer Rodrigo Santos said the development would not set a precedent but rather would serve the community.

“It's a beautiful building that has been well-thought out,” he said. “This could not set a precedent because it is the only wedge you can build a building in that will meet residential, architectural guidelines.”

Documents stating the open space was meant to remain undeveloped in perpetuity have not been found by the Planning Department or neighborhood group.

A similar project was proposed in the late 1990s but was later withdrawn.

Plans also call for the developer to upgrade a staircase on the property, including adding lighting, that provides access to the Twin Peaks open space. The stairs are in the public right of way but must be maintained by the property owner, according to the Department of Public Works.

Planning commissioners largely agreed with developers, saying the project would benefit The City.

The commission approved the project 5-1, with Commissioner Hisashi Sugaya dissenting. Neighbors filed an appeal in May after a permit was issued for the project, and it's expected to go before the Board of Appeals on July 17.

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