Friday, May 5, 2017

Notes From the Corbett Heights Meeting

Corbett Heights Neighbors Meeting Notes -April 27, 2017

We had quite a good-sized group last Thursday. More than 45 people.

First - I must thank the folks who helped distribute the fliers: Ted Teipel, Kathy Flanders, Barbara Presta, Janice Low, Kazumi Matsuyama, Grace Gellerman, Cindy Valdes, Rick Johnson, Kevin Dunn and Nancy Peoples. Thank you all!

Treasurer's Report: As of last week we had 95 paid household members. We have $3897 in our bank account. Thanks to Leslie, our treasurer, for keeping track.

Shannon Ferguson, Tim Frye & Michael Corbett attended the meeting to provide public outreach about our Corbett Heights Historic Context Statement (History Project). Shannon and Tim are from the Planning Department's Historic Preservation section, and Michael Corbett is the consultant we hired and the author of the document. As you know, the project is now approaching 5 years since we started. But at over 250 pages of text, maps and old photos, we're sure you'll agree it was worth it.

After a few small additions such as page numbering and photo attributions, the Planning Department will complete its review process, during which time the document will be posted on the Department's website in order to solicit any input by CHN members.

After it completes its review and considers any comments made by our membership, the Planning Staff will recommend that it be approved. The final step is a hearing before the Historic Preservation Commission which we anticipate will adopt the document.

Tim Clinton & Paul Dawson of Dawson-Clinton: 271, 301-303 Upper Terrace.

The Dawson & Clinton team attended our meeting a year ago in April. Not much has changed during the last several months:

  • the total square footage for the 10 units is roughly 50,000 square feet.

  • the building at 301-303 Upper Terrace will be remodeled and kept as rent-controlled.

  • the 8 market-rate units will average 5327 square feet each.

  • the 2 rent-controlled units will average 3257 square feet each.

  • the lap pools, thankfully, have been scrapped.

Several of us who are keeping a keen eye on this project have countless fears about it. Will their insurance cover any damage caused by land movement? (As you have most likely seen, a huge chunk of the hill came crashing down on a car parked on Roosevelt a few months ago. And the entire hill across 17th Street from the project is currently undergoing a huge reinforcement due to the entire rock face sliding down onto 17th Street a year ago.)

Another fear is that since at least half of the projects in our area that have received their entitlements have ended up being "flipped" or sold after receiving these entitlements will this project follow that same pattern. The new owner would be able to make numerous changes to the project without going through the whole review process over again. Since Dawson & Clinton is a small firm, and since they have been working on a very similar project on Kansas Street in Potrero Hill, we feel there is a great likelihood that they also will opt to flip the project. It's difficult to imagine how such a small firm could handle two simultaneous, huge projects.

They estimate constuction time to be 2.5 years from start to completion, but we feel this is ridiculously optimistic. But even at 2.5 years, imagine the dust (silica dust is toxic to humans), noise, traffic and parking disruption and general elimination of peaceful livability in the area.

In addition, by basically tripling the size of the average home size, they are also setting a precedent for out of scale, less affordable housing that is out of context with our neighborhood.


Ozzie Rohm of Noe Neighborhood Council attended to explain and seek our support for amendments we are recommending to the Planning Department regarding its new Urban Design Guidelines. Most neighborhoods are affected by Residential Design Guidelines that have been worked out between neighborhood leaders and the Planning Department over many years. The new guidelines were initially created as a sort of umbrella guideline, but after review, representatives from neighborhood organizations across the city discovered several issues that would or could ultimately be damaging to existing guidelines.

There were 3 small but critical issues that we are hoping the Planning Department will acknowledge. The members present voted unanimously to add Corbett Heights Neighbors to the list of associations that supports these changes. Please let me know if you're interested in knowing more about this.

Corona Heights Large Residence Special Use District: In May of 2015, Supervisor Scott Wiener sponsored the Interim Zoning Controls (IZC) for Corbett and Corona Heights. The intent of this legislation was to limit the size of new or "remodeled" homes in our area, after dozens of our wonderful small, older homes were being converted into enormous, characterless behemoths. It also sought to preserve rear-yard open space. The legislation required that any developer wanting to exceed the dimensions described needed to apply for a Conditional Use permit (CU). Attaining a CU is a much more difficult and cumbersome process than the previously required Variance.

The problem we had was that every single project went the CU route, and ignored the intent of the legislation. And the Planning Department and the Commission saw nothing in the legislation that forced them to abide by this intent.

Now that the IZC has expired, a new Special Use District is being established in our neighborhood that will take over where the IZC left off. It will also retroactively affect any project from when the time when the IZC were first approved.

In addition, 3 key elements are included that will require the Department and the Commission to heed the legislation's goal. It requires that any proposed project increase the housing supply (rather than creating one single-family dwelling); maintain affordability (tripling the size of the average home in an area does not preserve affordability); is compatible with existing development.

Supervisor Sheehy has sponsored this legislation. This is an enormous bonus to our neighborhood. Please thank the supervisor for doing this! In addition to the existing boundaries of the IZC, States Street, in its entirety has been added.


Corbett Slope: It's been years, but work has finally begun!! Thanks to then Supervisor Wiener, funding was set aside to create a wonderful neighborhood park. The fence is down, and work to create a level, disabled-accessible platform in in process. It will have planter boxes of both wood and concrete. An entirely new irrigation system will be installed.

After this phase is complete we will begin discussion on the stairway that will connect Corbett to Market. Slowly but surely!

Corbett/Ord Triangle Park: Many thanks to Olga and Brad, and some neighbors on Douglass Street who have been responsible for keeping the park clean of trash, needles and other undesirables. They are there the 3rd Saturday of each month, from 10AM until around 1PM. Please stop by to lend a hand!

75 Mars: The owner is anticipating a move-in before the end of the month. The garden will start happening after the house is completed.

3198 Market: This is the property east and adjacent to the Miller-Joost house, and immediately below Al's Park. The owners of this land-locked parcel (they purchased it over 3 years ago) completed the whole permitting process over a year ago. They were building it for their son who was to be attending SF State. After everything he decided to go to school on the east coast instead. But now, the plan is back to the original. They should begin work on that as soon as the construction crew is assembled.

Hattie Street Fire: Last October there was a devasting fire on the NE corner of Hattie and Market. 3 homes were affected, 2 of which were determined to be a danger and were demolished. The 3rd (yellow) one from the corner was damaged. The upper unit in the yellow house is almost complete, and the lower one should be finished cometime in June. Both demolished homes will be rebuilt by the owners.

86 Ord: After "remodeling" this home a couple of years ago it was listed and sold for $4.5 million. Last month it was put on the market again for $3.875 million, and sold 2 weeks later for $4.85 million. This is why we need the new Special Use District legislation!

1965 Market/FedEx: The project sponsors are proposing two separate buildings: the Market Street facing structure would sit above a remodeled FedEx building. It would be set back about 35' from Market Street and bring the total height to 75'. The rear building, where the parking lot is now, would stand 85' above the street. More to come shortly.

2201 Market: (Catarra RE/Industrialists/Glidden Paint)(Built in 1956) The project will be 63.5' high and have 100% lot coverage. Permitted. Unsure as to the ground-breaking date.

Home Restaurant (2100 Market): In the works. The project will contain 7 stories, 62 units, a roof terrace, 2 ground floor retail spaces and a restaurant. There will also be a storefront along 14th Street.

Lucky 13 (2140 Market Street): This is another, unfortunately bland, unexciting addition to Upper Market. Unsure as to the start date.

Super Duper currently expanding into the former Check Cashing corner.

Volvo Centrum (3512 16th Street): The owner is proposing remodeling and preserving the existing garage - which is considered a historic resource. She hopes to have a large restaurant and their architectural offices on the ground floor. They also plan on adding 2 set-back floors above, providing 8 units of housing. More to come...

Interested in helping out your community?

  • We are fortunate to have several green spaces in the neighborhood. If you would be interested in helping out on any or becoming a steward please let me know.

  • Land Use: if you have knowledge in land use, or are interested in learning - either about some of the projects listed above or just in general, let me know as well.

  • Participate in some capacity in the running of Corbett Heights Neighbors.

  • Helping organize a neighborhood block party or other social event.

  • Helping distribute fliers prior to our quarterly meetings.

Membership: If you haven't paid for a while or would like to join, annual membership is $15 per year per household. Besides being used for flier printing and snacks for garden workdays, the money is used to purchase plants, any garden equipment and irrigation supplies we may need to take care of our various mini-parks. The easiest way to join is to go to our website:, and click on the "Subscribe" button. That way, PayPal will automatically remind you next year. Or, you can send a check made out to CHN to 197 Corbett, 94114.

Thanks for your interest in the neighborhood!

- Gary