Supervisor Dufty Argues 299 Valencia Vote Sets No Precedent

Bevan_Dufty_photo.jpgSupervisor Bevan Dufty

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.

  • Katherine Roberts

    One comment: “criteria” is plural.

  • I read a lot of “I agree we need to talk the talk, but walking the walk is not a priority.”

    “we’re already putting parking on a diet, but it doesn’t need to be a crash diet.”

    Demonstrate that! I’m on the street every day and I see what those extra cars mean. If we acknowledge there’s no room for new parking like this in a document like the M/O Plan then why are we reaching for justification to build it anyway? Walk down our streets and tell me that the crashes you’re worried about are diets.

    I’m really concerned that the conditions stipulated for granting these CUs are so general they qualify any project for one.

  • marc

    There is a limit to how far you can push the NCD model to “activate” ground floor uses. Not to argue for dead walls of concrete or dedicating ground floor frontage to visible car storage, but even during boom times, vacant storefronts abound along the Valencia corridor and in most NCDs. Saturation is at hand for this model.

    MUNI is trying to dig itself out of a hole. Supervisor Dufty participated in the TEP Policy Advisory Group and what one hand giveth, the other taketh away by throwing soil on MUNI as it tries to dig dig dig.

    What this says is not that every project coming down the pipeline is going to qualify for .75:1, rather that every project that needs a CU for anything will now have .75:1 parking thrown in for their trouble.

    Apparently to Supervisor Dufty, it is all about the neighborhood when it is his neighborhood and the neighbors are all white homeowners on a hill, but when it comes to poor folks of color in a transit rich corner of the Mission, its no longer all about the neighborhood, deference to the district supervisor be damned.

    Check out how differently Planning zones communities of color and poor communities compared to mostly white affluent communities. Potrero, SE Mission and Hayes Valley get gilded preservation treatment while the Mission, SoMa and Market/Van Ness get upzoned under false transit oriented pretenses and take the hits which subsidize gilding the preserved neighborhoods.

    And in all of these so-called comprehensive plans, there is scant comprehensive transit and transportation planning. So the department’s priority on entitling more investment housing, subsidizing developers trumps any holistic analysis of the context into which these projects are being plopped by a department that loves to play Sim City for real.

    -marc

  • Many of us wear shirts that say ‘One Less Car.’ We believe in the accumulative force of a number of small changes. Of course ‘Seven More Cars’ matters to us, to MUNI, to everyone who has to deal with the extra VMT in a transit-rich neighborhood.

  • In Berkeley, they tell us that they can’t build condos without one space per unit.

    They build rentals with .25 spaces per unit, and we have been asking for car-free rentals with no spaces at all.

    But they say developers cannot sell a condo unit unless they have a parking space to go with it.

    As much as I am against providing more parking and encouraging more driving, I don’t want a standard so strict that it chokes off condo development in locations where condo owners will walk on most of their trips.

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