D7 Supervisor Candidates on ‘San Francisco Overlook Project’
As everyone probably knows by now, District 7 is voting for a new supervisor this November. There are nine candidates.
The Crestmont-Mt. Sutro- Forest Knolls Neighborhood Preservation Coalition spoke with four of them (or their representatives) about their positions on the controversial San Francisco Overlook project.
(This is a project that plans to build 34 apartments on a steep slope at the end of a cul-de-sac below another steep slope where the houses are supported by concrete pilings. That Background is HERE. The public comment period on the recent Draft Environment Impact Report ended in June 2012; an appeal’s been filed through a lawyer HERE.)
I’m republishing the position statements here from the coalition website (www. CrestmontPreservation.org) with permission and minor edits and formatting differences – and added pictures.
BULLETIN from Crestmont-Mt.Sutro-Forest Knolls Neighborhood Preservation Coalition
Positions on SF Overlook Development
Position Statements by Four District 7 Supervisorial Candidates
We have met and spoken with four of the major District 7 Supervisorial candidates, or their representatives, and provided them with extensive materials outlining the reasons why our neighborhoods are united against a project the size of the proposed San Francisco Overlook development. We solicited their comments for distribution to the Crestmont-Mt.Sutro-Forest Knolls community.
The following responses were provided by FX Crowley, Joel Engardio, Mike Garcia and Norman Yee (in alphabetical order):
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the Crestmont-Mt. Sutro-Forest Knolls Neighborhood Preservation Coalition regarding the SF Overlook Development. I share the Coalition’s concern over the current DEIR [Draft Environmental Impact Report]. The developer’s vision for the project appears too dense for the surrounding neighborhood.
The developer must address the issue of compliance with the neighborhood’s Mount Sutro Declaration of Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions. Given the site’s history of frequent landslides, the developer should also provide a “design-level” geotechnical review, especially since that data is required to fully identify the project’s environmental impacts and adequate mitigation measures.
I support the Coalition’s request to consider alternatives to this project. As Supervisor, I will be an advocate for the Crestmont-Mt. Sutro-Forest Knolls neighborhood as I am for my own Lakeshore neighborhood and surrounding community. I will ensure that any proposed building development is properly vetted and neighbors’ concerns are addressed going forward.
I oppose the San Francisco Overlook development. It’s a matter of common sense. When we have homes hanging out over one of the steepest hills in San Francisco, supported by concrete poles, do we really want to begin moving earth for a major development and risk destabilizing the area? Why risk a landslide?
I’m sure the developers will make a good case that everything can be built safely. But there’s also the issue of everyone’s safety when it comes to getting firetrucks and ambulances down that one, little road to serve all the new residents. Then there’s the parking nightmare — and if you don’t want to drive, where’s the nearest bus line? None of this makes sense.
I’m certainly not anti-development. I believe San Francisco needs to grow for the future. I also believe District 7 needs to play its part to provide more housing in places like Park Merced. But the development on Crestmont Drive is not a good fit. Neither are condo towers in Miraloma Park. We have to be smart about development. As your supervisor, I will work for you and not for the special interests that back other candidates. That means I can be an advocate for what’s truly good for the city and the residents of District 7. I am the only candidate that the San Francisco Chronicle endorsed for supervisor in District 7. I hope you read why the Chronicle says I have “the right stuff” to represent you. It’s reprinted on my website: www.engardio.com
In an effort to familiarize myself with all the issues involved having to do with the San Francisco Overlook Development, I met with Dr. Sobol, Dr. Gorman, and other concerned neighbors. They provided me with a great deal of information and expressed their concerns and took me on a tour of the site for the proposed development. I later also talked with Alice Barkley, the attorney for the neighbors, and an old friend whom I know and respect from my years on the Board of Appeals. I then talked to Jessica Berg, of Berg/Davis Public Affairs, the consultants to the developer, Gary Testa. I met with Ms. Berg and Adam Phillips, the project lead, who gave me information from their perspective about the project.
My understanding is that what is left in the process is the acceptance or rejection of the Draft EIR, to be followed by a final EIR, which is appealable to the Board of Supervisors. Also to be completed, is the analysis required under the Slope Protection Act, passed by the Board of Supervisors in 2008. My understanding of the Slope Protection Act is that while safety having to do with structural engineering issues is important, so are issues having to do with neighborhood character. After the slope analysis, another step in the process, or perhaps part of the process required under the Slope Protection Act, is a peer-review overseen by the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection at which point an analysis is made having to do with the engineering feasibility of the proposed project. In addition to all this process, yet to be held, a site permit then has to be attained from the Department of Building Inspection (DBI). That permit is appealable to the Board of Appeals. The point being, there is a considerable amount of process still to be had, and it would be a highly unusual project that goes through this much process without getting whittled down. The real issue for your neighborhood is just how much it gets whittled down.
Because I have 7 years of experience in land use having served on the Board of Appeals I am reluctant to ever express an opinion without seeing all the facts. Allow me, however, to say this – without having put pencil to paper I feel as though the project is economically infeasible. I also, again without having seen all the facts, am leaning heavily toward thinking that a considerable amount of mitigation has to take place.
Please let me be emphatic about this, regardless of where I land on this or any other project that takes place in District 7, which is not to indicate that I favor this development, it is my intent, where there are tensions between the developer and the neighbors to always be willing to have conversations with the developer about mitigation measures that would alleviate the concerns of that neighborhood. In closing, I have a record on the Board of Appeals of opposing projects that do great harm to neighborhood character, particularly if there are concomitant life-safety issues. Thank you very much for the opportunity to respond to your request for a position statement on the SF Overlook Development.
From what I’ve heard, I would support the neighborhood against a development of this size, and favor a smaller development such as the alternative proposed as Plan B* in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
*Alternative B in the DEIR, p. 274, is a Reduced Project Alternative: 16 single-family residential buildings, with 38 parking spaces. =====================================================
We have posted the position statements on our web site, www.CrestmontPreservation.org
REMINDER: Please display the poster in your window and urge your neighbors to also display the poster! If you need a poster, please call Sam Sobol, 415-640-3869 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Working to preserve our neighborhood
Crestmont-Mt.Sutro-Forest Knolls Preservation Coalition
Samuel M. Sobol, M.D.