Housing battle looms in San Francisco’s Sunset District

Developers say 400-unit condo building near Ocean Beach won’t be an easy sell to neighbors

2700 Sloat Boulevard from 45th/46th and Sloat (Korb + Associates Architects)
2700 Sloat Boulevard from 45th/46th and Sloat (Korb + Associates Architects)

More large-scale housing developments may be coming to San Francisco’s Sunset District – whether neighbors want it or not.

The developer of a proposed condo building near Ocean Beach recently submitted preliminary plans to build 400 units in a 12-story tower, expanding its original proposal for 213 units on eight floors, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. While local buildings are zoned to top out at 100 feet, the project would take advantage of a city law that allows developers to add two extra floors in exchange for making 30 percent of the units affordable.

Residents voiced their displeasure during a recent neighborhood Zoom meeting on the subject. Project spokeswoman Evette Davis told the Chronicle that 2700 Sloat Holdings LLC, which bought the 30,000-square-foot site that currently houses the Sloat Garden Center in 2020 for $8.5 million, was expecting the pushback.

“It’s a project that is unlike any other in the neighborhood,” she said. “It’s much taller than the single-family homes nearby. We know there will be changes. We are beginning a conversation with neighbors about what is possible.”

She said the two extra stories, and the ocean views from the top-priced top floors, are what will make having 120 below-market units financially feasible.

The proposal comes at a turning point for the low-density neighborhood, which has come under fire for shirking its housing responsibilities. At a hearing allocating city funding for a contested all-affordable housing project in the neighborhood about 20 blocks further east, Supervisor Matt Haney said his downtown district has produced 4,000 affordable units in the same decade that the Sunset has created less than 20.

“It’s completely unsustainable for us to only build affordable housing in one corner of the city,” he said.

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Supervisor Gordon Mar, who represents the Sunset, voted to fund the affordable housing project but has also stayed mum on a lawsuit filed by a neighborhood group that says the nonprofit developer didn’t engage with the community enough about its concerns and is seeking to halt the development.

Mar told the Chronicle that while the neighborhood may have deserved its NIMBY reputation in the past, six of the eight multifamily Sunset District proposals that have come up during his tenure went through the approval project with little objection.

“There is a lot of rhetoric about NIMBYism in the Sunset and some of that has been valid historically,” he said. “But today there is support for new development if the developer goes through a good process and engages meaningfully with the neighbors.”

The Sloat development would be next door to the recently completed Westerly, a 56-unit, five-story project that Mar called “groundbreaking” when it was approved. He noted that the 12-story tower being proposed at 2700 Sloat would be “twice as tall and five times as dense.”

One block east of the garden center, the United Irish Cultural Center is seeking approval to build a six-story, 125,000-square-foot community center that would include a pool, gym, restaurant and a museum dedicated to the history of Irish immigrants on the West Coast.

Liam Reidy, who heads up the center, told the Chronicle it was too early in the planning process to take a stance on the Sloat project. He wished them good luck.

“That’s the wave of the future,” he said. “Maybe years down the road our cultural center will benefit from the increase in residents and foot traffic.”

[SFC] – Emily Landes

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