“San Francisco Overlook” Project for Sale

We’ve been following the much-disputed San Francisco Overlook project for some years now.

 

Crestmont map

This is the planned development at the end of narrow, twisting, Crestmont Drive and was earlier called the Crestmont Hills project.

San Francisco’s Planning Commission approved it in 2013, and we reported on that HERE. Soon afterward, the developers reached an agreement with the Mt Sutro Woods Home Owners’  Association to reduce the number of units from 34 to 29, and reduce the heights of the buildings. An April 2015 report on the real estate website, SocketSite.com, reported that the project was able to proceed.

But it didn’t proceed. Instead, it was put up for sale.

sf-overlook-crestmont-location
SF Overlook Project on a very steep slope – Google Maps image

FOR SALE AT $14 MILLION

  • In May 2015 SocketSite reported that the site was for sale, with the plans for the units (but without building permits).
  • In January 2016 they reported that the asking price, initially $20 million, had been cut to $15 million.
  • And in November 2016, they said the price had been cut to $14 million.

Hmm. According to a November 2016 mailing I received from realtor John Kirkpatrick, homes in the Forest Knolls neighborhood sold for an average of $1.195 million. Forest Knolls homes have 2 or 3 bedrooms and 1 or 2 bathrooms, but the back half of the garage typically offers customizable space. You can put in another 2 rooms and bathroom down there if you want. They’re standalone homes with no shared walls and most of them have a yard. That’s the competition to this project.

Let’s say these 29 luxury homes are priced at about $1.5 million, because they’ll have the latest fit and finish. Other benefits, like a 2-car garage and views are not unique to the development.

That would be a gross take of $43.5 mn, roughly 3 times the asking cost of the land and plans. Is it worth it? I don’t know.

ACCESS IS STILL AN ISSUE

Though there’s an agreement with the Mt Sutro Woods HOA, the project’s  only access runs through the very narrow Crestmont Drive, which has houses on one side and a steep hillside on the other. Though on the map it looks like you could easily link it up to 5th Avenue, the intervening land doesn’t belong to the developer and is also very steep.

The way in to these 29 would-be homes is through the Forest Knolls neighborhood. Fears of destabilizing the mountainside where many homes are supported by concrete piers, fears of added traffic on an already narrow street, fears of potential emergency situations with very poor access, all could fuel more opposition.

The steep hillside above the planned development
The steep hillside above the planned development

Update and Thanks from Crestmont Preservation

The steep hillside above the planned development
The steep hillside above the planned development

A few weeks ago, I’d noted that the Planning Commission approved the San Francisco Overlook project.

Here’s a more detailed note from Dr Sam Sobol of Crestmont Preservation. In summary: The Mount Sutro Woods Owners Association (which is the relevant association for that area of the neighborhood) decided not to file an appeal.

They may take separate action, but for now, the broader neighborhood is not involved. As Dr Sobol says: “If the time comes when we again need to mobilize the larger neighborhood to take action, we will let you know. In the meantime, we want to express our profound gratitude for the support so many of you have shown over the years…

Crestmont-Mt.Sutro-Forest Knolls Neighborhood Preservation Coalition

A note of appreciation and look toward the future
The Planning Commission 7-0 Decision

Bulletin 4-12-13

A month has passed by since the Planning Commission hearing on the San Francisco Overlook project took place. I regret that I was not able to attend as I was on a long planned overseas trip when the meeting, rescheduled from February 14 to March 7, took place.

[Article from the San Francisco Chronicle, March 11, 2013

Mt. Sutro residents fight development ]

I have now had the opportunity to review the entire video of the proceedings and wish to thank all the neighbors on Crestmont Drive, Forest Knolls and the downhill apartments who turned out to support our neighborhood, and especially the two dozen who spoke against the development. Your reasoned, intelligent, articulate and impassioned arguments covered all of the relevant issues, highlighting why this project is so wrong for our community.

[Webmaster: The Video can be viewed HERE.]

Unhappily, the Planning Commissioners seem committed in this era to the growth of housing in the City, particularly in the Western districts, no matter how disruptive or inappropriate to the location or oversized the project. It was evident that the decision had been made and that no amount of community resistance or outrage would reverse that decision, as confirmed by the 7-0 vote to approve the project.

Unwilling to give up without further action, I subsequently explored the option of mounting an appeal to the Board of Supervisors, arguing in part that the project shouldn’t be built without a pedestrian stairway downhill to 5th Ave, both for better access to public transit and for safety as an escape route in case of fire, landslide or other uphill emergency blocking Crestmont. This issue was raised by Commissioner Hillis during the Hearing, and he even brought up the question of eminent domain to force an easement by the downhill property owner which would allow for such a stair walkway.

However, conversations with two of Supervisor Norman Yee’s legislative aides, one of whom explored the issue with the City Attorney’s office, convinced us that such an appeal would be quixotic and have no chance of achieving the 8-3 necessary vote in the Board of Supervisors. Moreover, the unanimous vote of the Planning Commission made any hope of securing sufficient votes among the Supervisors to materially change any element of the project, on any grounds, virtually nonexistent.

We, therefore, did not mount the necessary petition drive to appeal to the Board of Supervisors, which would have required signatures of 20% of all homeowners within 300 ft. of the project’s borders. Nor did the adjacent homeowners’ association, the Mount Sutro Woods Owners Association (MSWOA), submit such an appeal within the 30 day limit.

Does this mean that the project will inexorably move forward in its present form? Not necessarily! There remain other issues which may have to be resolved by mediation or the courts, involving SF Overlook’s failure to abide by certain of the MSWOA’s restrictions and covenants. These issues are, however, within the provenance of the immediate homeowners’ association (of which the developer is a member) and do not directly involve the larger Crestmont Drive and Forest Knolls neighborhood.

If the time comes when we again need to mobilize the larger neighborhood to take action, we will let you know. In the meantime, we want to express our profound gratitude for the support so many of you have shown over the years in our attempt to deter or downsize this development, and in particular those who have helped on so many occasions to distribute flyers and posters, and especially those who spoke out so eloquently for our neighborhood’s values, safety and integrity at the March 7th hearing.

Samuel Sobol, M.D.

SF Planning Commission Approves San Francisco Overlook Project

The steep hillside above the planned development
The steep hillside above the planned development

So the SF Planning Commission, following the hearing on March 7, 2013, approved the San Francisco Overlook project.

(See earlier posts – like this one  or this one – for more details.)

I’ll keep this website posted with more details as they come out.

‘San Francisco Overlook’ Owner Calls a Meeting

The steep hillside above the planned development
The steep hillside above the planned development

Mr Gary Testa, owner of the San Francisco Overlook project (earlier the Crestmont Hills development) is inviting neighbors and stakeholders to a meeting on February 13, at Midtown Terrace Community Room on Clarendon to discuss the proposed development. Since our Forest Knolls communities are directly impacted, I think it’s important for us to know about this, and attend if possible. (I’ve written about it earlier, HERE.)

Here’s his letter.

January 30, 2013
Dear Neighbors,
I am pleased to invite you to join me for an update on my proposed project, San Francisco Overlook, and for a brainstorming session regarding new ideas to make improvements to the neighborhood as a whole. I hope by now that most of you are aware of the project I’ve proposed for my lot at the end of Crestmont Drive. If you are unfamiliar with the details and would like to learn more, I invite you visit my project website at http://www.sfoverlook.com.

Over the last two years I’ve hosted a number of presentations and meetings discuss my proposal, solicit feedback and hear suggestions of ways to make my project better. Some requests are simply not possible to accommodate, such as building only 1/3 of the proposed homes (the proposed project already proposes a density significantly below what is permitted by code) or providing access from a street other than Crestmont (via land which I do not own), but I’m happy to say that my project is responsive to many key concerns such as hillside stability and fire suppression. In addition, I have specifically incorporated the request for more parking as part of my proposal. My proposal currently includes two parking spaces per unit, a 33 increase over the typical maximum ratio of 1.5 spaces per unit.

Your recommendations and suggestions have helped to improve my project and I appreciate your participation. However, I am aware that I still face opposition from some in the neighborhood and have been advised that the MSWOA board has hired an attorney to explore taking legal action against my project. Regardless of your opinion of the project, the fact is that a protracted legal battle will require significant financial assessments of all property owners within our owners’ association. [Webmaster: This refers to the Mount Sutro Woods Owners Association.] In light of the substantial potential costs to all members, I feel it is best to broaden this discussion to include all stakeholders.

My position is simple – I believe my money would be better spent for the benefit of the community rather than used to enrich attorneys. I also don’t believe that every homeowner should be required to pay for a legal action which he or she may not support or from which they may gain no real benefit. I’ve already invested a considerable sum in my project to date, and I’m prepared to spend whatever amount is necessary to defend my project and property rights should legal action be forced upon me, but I would of course prefer to avoid what I consider a waste of money and instead work with my neighbors to redirect such resources towards meaningful improvements to benefit the entire neighborhood. For example, pedestrian-scale street lighting could enhance property values and help keep cars from being burglarized and/or improvements to the existing common areas could enhance beauty and create usable areas to walk dogs and for children to play. These are only a few initial ideas; there may very well be other ore important priorities that we haven’t yet considered which is why I’m once again seeking your input with this invitation.

In the spirit of collaboration I recently reached out to the MSWOA board and began discussions about whether a community partnership of the kind I’m describing is possible. I’d like to now broaden this discussion and invite all my neighbors to participate in a brainstorming session about other general or specific contributions we could make. If you are a homeowner whose home is inhabited by renters and you feel it is appropriate to include your tenants in this discussion, please feel free to pass on this invitation to them.

Please join me:

Wednesday, February 13th at 7:00 PM
Midtown Terrace Community Room
280 Olympia Way (at Clarendon Ave.)

I hope to see you there, but if you cannot attend I still would like to get your thoughts and input. Please email me at info@sfoverlook.com or please feel free to call my outreach director, Jessica Berg, at 415-385-4876.

Sincerely  — Gary Testa

Crestmont Preservation: Comments from Mt Sutro Woods

The steep hillside above the planned development

Readers who have been following along with the Crestmont Project story would be interested to know that the Mt Sutro Woods Owners Association has filed a response to the Draft Environmental Impact Report.

[Click HERE for the back story; and HERE for the most recent developments. The name of the project was changed to San Francisco Overlook, but as far as we know, not much else was altered from the original plan. A developer wishes to build 34 housing units at the end of a long cul-de-sac on a steep slope accessible only by driving through Forest Knolls neighborhood.]

The report was filed by the law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP. The bulletin below summarizes the issues and has a link to the full letter on the Crestmont Preservation website.

BULLETIN fromCrestmont-Mt.Sutro-Forest Knolls Neighborhood Preservation Coalition

Draft EIR

Letter to Planning Department
Response to Draft EIR Update, 6-26-12

(The comment period to the Draft EIR ended June 19, 2012.)

Letter from McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP on behalf of Mt. Sutro Woods Owners Association (MSWOA):
“…we believe the DEIR is severely flawed in many respects and fails to meet minimum legal requirements as an informal document under CEQA. The DEIR needs to be supplemented with additional information, analysis and mitigation.”

The letter addresses the following issues:

  • Geology & Soils
  • Construction Impacts
  • Parking
  • Circulation
  • Alternatives
  • Parking & CC&Rs
  • Violation of Arbitration Decision

The letter is posted on our web site  www.crestmontpreservation.org

Direct link to letter (PDF file 2MB): Click HERE

______________________________________________

STOP SF OVERLOOK t-shirts can be ordered HERE (on Zazzle).
We have also posted a link on http://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 info@crestmontpreservation.org.

Sam Sobol

Crestmont Battle: Draft Environment Impact Report is Out

For neighbors who have been following the Crestmont (now renamed San Francisco Overlook) battle: The Draft Enviromental Impact Report has been published. It’s time to let the city know what you think.

[Click HERE for the background on this battle, and HERE for the update.]

I received this email from Dr. Sam Sobol, who is co-ordinating the opposition.

BULLETIN from Crestmont-Mt.Sutro-Forest Knolls Neighborhood Preservation Coalition

SF OVERLOOK Development – Draft EIR Published!

Planning Commission Public Hearing, Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Draft EIR for the San Francisco Overlook Project was published May 2, 2012, and is available for review online, http://sfmea.sfplanning.org/2004.0093E_DEIR.pdf

Paper copies (510 pages) and CDs are available at the Planning Information Center (PIC) counter at the Planning Department, 1660 Mission St., San Francisco. We will post a link to the Draft EIR on our web site.

The public comment period, during which the Planning Department must respond to any objections, extends for 45 days and we urge all of our neighbors to review this document and provide feedback and objections to the Planning Department and the Planning Commissioners, as well as our Supervisor Sean Elsbernd (see addresses below). Letters and/or e-mails should be addressed to Mr. Bill Wycko and cc’d to each of the Planning Commission members and Mr. Elsbernd. The more letters the Planning Department receives, the more impact our concerns will have. You are not limited to a single letter, and each letter can address a separate issue of concern.

The Planning Commission Public Hearing will take place Thursday, June 7, 2012, Room 400, City Hall. Prepare now to join your neighbors to add your voice to our objections to this massive project which threatens to overwhelm our neighborhood. Commission meetings begin at 12:00 PM, but we will be notified of a more precise time in advance.

ADDRESSES

Planning Department: Bill Wycko, Environmental Review Officer, San Francisco Planning Department, 1650 Mission St., Suite 400, SF 94103. bill.wycko@sfgov.org

Commissioners: Address same as above.

Rodney Fong, Commission President, planning@rodneyfong.com

Cindy Wu, Commission Vice-President, cwu.planning@gmail.com

Michael Antonini, wordweaver21@aol.com

Gwyneth Borden, plangsf@gmail.com

Ron Miguel, rm@well.com

Kathrin Moore, mooreurban@speakeasy.net

Hisashi Sugaya, hs.commish@yahoo.com

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 244, SF 94102, Sean.Elsbernd@sfgov.org

STOP SF OVERLOOK t-shirts can be ordered here: http://www.zazzle.com/preservecrestmont

We have also posted a link on http://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 415-640-3869 or email info@crestmontpreservation.org.

Sam Sobol

Alert: Crestmont Development – San Francisco Overlook

The steep hillside above the planned development

[EDITED TO ADD (April 6, 2012):  The EIR has been delayed. Please follow the Crestmont website for updates as they happen – and I’ll try to update this also.]

I received the note below from Dr Sam Sobol, who is spearheading the move to prevent this proposed development from spoiling our neighborhood. As many of you know, this has been an ongoing issue for Forest Knolls. All the access to the new building/s would be through our neighborhood. For those who have not been following it, here’s the history:

What it’s all about: Click HERE

Recent developments:  Click HERE

BULLETIN from Crestmont-Mt.Sutro-Forest Knolls Neighborhood Preservation Coalition
SF OVERLOOK Development – Publication of Draft EIR

 

IMPORTANT UPCOMING DATES!

Update, 3-6-12

The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on the SF Overlook project at the end of Crestmont Drive will be published Wednesday, March 21, 2012.

[Edited to Add: Delayed, not sure when]

The review and comment period will end on Monday, May 7. We will mobilize all our resources at that time to make our neighborhood’s voice heard.

There will be a public hearing before the Planning Commission on Thursday, April 26. Please pencil in this date on your calendar and plan to attend this important hearing. We will need to appear in force and make sure our message is heard!

STOP SF OVERLOOK t-shirts can be ordered here: http://www.zazzle.com/preservecrestmont
We have also posted a link on http://crestmontpreservation.org. We hope to see many neighbors at the hearing wearing these t-shirts and sweatshirts.

REMINDER:
Please display the poster in your window and urge your neighbors to also display the poster! If you need a poster, please call 415-640-3869 or email info@crestmontpreservation.org.

Sam Sobol

Here’s what the poster looks like: