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UCSF’s New Plans for Aldea (Above Forest Knolls)

March 21, 2019

I attended a meeting at UCSF’s Milberry Union last evening, 20 March 2019.

UCSF is rejigging its plans for Parnassus. After spending the last many years focused on its new location at Mission Bay, they want to come back to where it all started: Parnassus. They’re planning a new hospital by 2029, which will comply with new seismic codes. Beyond that, they want to improve the aesthetics of the Parnassus experience – create a sense of entry, strengthen the connection to Golden Gate Park and Mount Sutro, and build more space. They have a community group working on it, with mostly Inner Sunset residents and UCSF staff. (The list is here as a PDF: UCSF_Parnassus_Heights_Roster )

NEW PLANS FOR ALDEA

For those who aren’t aware of it, UCSF’s Aldea Student Housing adjoins Forest Knolls to the north just above Christopher Drive from Clarendon Avenue to where the forest is cut for the pipeline.

Among the plans to expand housing for students and staff, they are considering rebuilding the student housing at Aldea, from 171 units now to 500+ units when the project concludes. Aldea used to be subject to the “space ceiling” (explained in this post: UCSF’s Space Ceiling Saga) but apparently in 2014, the UC Regents decided to exempt it – as with all the other student housing.

To do this, they plan to replace their current, mostly 3-storied buildings, with 5-8 story buildings. They will probably start with the oldest ones, which are nearest to Forest Knolls.

For our neighborhood, it raises several questions:

  1. Parking. As it is, a lot of UCSF people park in Forest Knolls and Midtown Terrace because of inadequate parking at Aldea and Parnassus. If the number of units at Aldea triples, what happens to parking?
  2. Traffic. Aldea gives on to Clarendon at an awkward spot, just before the wide road up from Laguna Honda turns into the narrow one joining Twin Peaks Boulevard. Right now, Aldea doesn’t generate much traffic. But if it’s going to be housing 500 families? This is an area with NO amenities within walking distance – even a gallon of milk is a car-ride away. The connections to MUNI are also dismal. The only thing they have is the UCSF shuttle, down to Parnassus.
  3. Aesthetics. Aldea is adjacent to Forest Knolls on the north.  Right now, the Aldea buildings are low-key, low-rise shingled buildings partially hidden by trees. With plans for major tree removal as part of the “Vegetation Management Plan” for Mount Sutro, these buildings will be much more visible. The most recent structure at Aldea, the community center, is not very reassuring in terms of aesthetic inspiration. (See the boxy structure in the picture below.)
  4. Time Line. I didn’t get a clear sense of the time-line on Aldea. There’s something on the last slide that suggests 2025 as the target date, which means they will move quickly. As a state organization, they don’t need city permission, and are exempt from the usual constraints on building.

THE  PRESENTATION

I’m uploading a bunch of pictures I took of the presentation. They said that they would be putting it on their website, so hopefully you can get better quality pictures there soon. (I might download it here if it’s feasible.)

 

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