The San Francisco Bay Guardian has suggested that Supervisor Bevan Dufty swung to the right with his votes not to override the Mayor’s veto on legislation that would have required conditional use (CU) permits and hearings when housing units are being eliminated and his refusal to support an appeal of the 299 Valencia Street CU. In the halls after the vote several people who spoke in favor of the 299 Valencia appeal speculated Dufty was angling for higher office and couldn’t appear anti-developer.
One of the primary considerations in the decision seems to be the developer’s claim that without the seven additional parking spaces the project could not move forward, though no one has produced documentation to prove that.
Supervisor Dufty called Streetsblog San Francisco to elaborate on his rationale for the 299 Valencia vote.
Let us know what you think:
I respected the position of the opponents of the CU. I think that if I thought I was voting for something that was going to set a precedent that every project coming in could automatically go to .75, I think it would’ve been a problem.
I looked at this [Planning Code151.(f)] criteria and said, ok, this has been what was established. By that criteria, it had met its obligation: not to be disruptive. Then [Supervisor] Chris [Daly] made the point: let’s look at the totality of the project.
So if you look at what that corner represents right now, and the fact that they’re going to activate the project with over 4,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial, and without those seven spots, I questioned whether they were going to put the parking underground. And instead you’re going to have limited commercial on the ground-floor level, which will probably not succeed in activating it and will not be the best type of building you can have.
Over the course of looking at it, seven parking spots was not compelling to me. I do think that we should have TOD and I plan to sit down with them to better understand it. I’m in a situation where I’m active in Upper Market development and I know it’s very difficult to attract funding right now.
I called one of the most progressive planning commissioners and said I’m surprised that this is such a big deal, and the commissioner said to me that we’re already putting parking on a diet, but it doesn’t need to be a crash diet.
I know a lot of activists who worked on this project saw it as their beachhead, but I didn’t think it would set that precedent.