Weighing strong, divergent opinions on plans to rebuild a central slab of South San Francisco into an immense mixed-use development, officials ultimately pushed forward a vision to construct the project comprised of 800 housing units.
The South San Francisco Planning Commission unanimously agreed to recommend approval of the proposal from L37/KASA to develop nearly 6 acres at 1051 Mission Road, according to video of the meeting Thursday, Oct. 17.
The decision advances the proposal to the South San Francisco City Council, which will determine the fate of the project offering three buildings sharing 800 units, nearly 13,000 square feet of commercial space, 8,300 square feet for child care and 879 parking spaces.
The largest residential building will reach up to eight stories, in a tower that will hold 408 units. Another eight-story residential tower is slated to offer 234 units. And a third residential building will spread 158 affordable units across seven stories. The child care facility will be attached to the largest residential tower and a market hall proposed to accommodate local food vendors will be attached to the second-largest tower. Parking will be accommodated largely in underground lots.
The project is proposed near where Westborough Boulevard turns into Chestnut Avenue just west of downtown on almost 6 acres of land previously owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, a short distance from the city’s BART station.
Following years of deliberation and discussion over the highly-scrutinized project, commission Chair JulieAnn Murphy suggested she was comfortable with the vision for community development.
“I think the site is well conditioned to receive this type of project,” she said.
Murphy’s perspective ran counter to the opinions held by some residents of the adjacent neighborhood in Sunshine Gardens, who suggested the project was too dense and tall for their liking.
“We need housing, but we need it to be in scope with the areas that we put these in,” said resident Michael Allen, who encouraged officials to push for a reduction of the size of portions of the project.
The tallest residential buildings were most concerning to critical residents, who claimed the proposed height contradicted earlier promises from officials to limit the development to five stories.
Resident Cory David urged officials to send the developer back to the drawing board, suggesting the proposed dense development would ruin the quality of life for existing neighbors.
“The very character of this city is being destroyed block by block, and the destruction is spreading,” said David.
While critiques varied, the most commonly raised concerns addressed traffic and parking issues — suggesting the development would make difficult conditions even worse for those already fatigued by ongoing construction.
Recognizing those fears, the developer has promised to establish a traffic and parking management plan which would monitor the surrounding neighborhood and mitigate issues that occur.
While a portion of the community feedback offered during the meeting addressed potential issues invited by the development, many locals who supported additional housing praised the design.
“We need more affordable housing,” said resident Jose Cornejo, who believed the project could help offset the concerns regarding rising rents throughout South San Francisco.
Also recognizing the benefit offered through the affordable housing, as well as the additional child care facility, Vice Chair Alan Wong expressed his support for the project.
“I think the pros outweigh the cons,” he said.
Noting the effort to balance the concerns raised by community members against the regional obligation to build more homes, especially in a community that is home to a thriving biotech job market, a development representative framed the effort to meet competing interests.
“We think this project is the right balance — the right project for the right site,” said Brian Baker, a vice president of development for L37 Partners.
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