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.

Crestmont Project Meeting Today – 13 Feb 2013

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

You would probably have received this  flyer in your mailbox, but at the request of the Crestmont Coalition, I’m posting it here as well.

There’s a meeting this evening about the San Francisco Overlook project, called by the project owner. Here’s what the Crestmont Preservation Coalition says.

(If you’d like to download the flyer for printing, it’s here as a PDF: Crestmont project Neighborhood Meeting,2-13-13 )

Crestmont Meeting 13 feb 2013
Crestmont Coalition Flyer

Crestmont Preservation Coalition Bulletin

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

This is a critical time for the San Francisco Overlook issue. (Backstory HERE and most recent information HERE.)

Here’s a bulletin from the Crestmont-Mt.Sutro-Forest Knolls Preservation Coalition:



Crestmont-Mt.Sutro-Forest Knolls Neighborhood Preservation Coalition     

SF Overlook Development     

Too large!!!   Not safe!!!   Help Stop or Downscale!!!

Working to Stop or Downscale S.F. Overlook Development

Update February 8, 2013


The Planning Commission Hearing is scheduled for Thursday, March 7 and it’s time to mobilize! Any further development on this hillside, at the end of the City’s longest cul-de-sac, is fraught with risk and is wrong for our neighborhood. But if construction proves to be inevitable, instead of the proposed 34 unit development, our goal is to get this project downscaled to a smaller number of single family homes as proposed in Alternative B in the EIR (p. 274).

Please mark your calendars and plan to attend two important neighborhood meetings as well as the critical Planning Commission hearing.

  • Wednesday, February 13 at 7 PM – S.F. Overlook Developer Forum. Location: Midtown Terrace Community Room, 280 Olympia Way (at Clarendon Ave.)  Hear the developer’s proposals and express your concerns.
  • Tuesday, February 19, 7-9 PM – All Forest Knolls and Crestmont neighbors are invited to a get-together to discuss issues and strategy for the Planning Commission Hearing. Hosted by Reed Minuth and Megin Scully, 485 Crestmont Drive. RSVP Jeffrey Eade, eadej@me.com, 415-606-4414.
  • Thursday, March 7, 12 Noon – Planning Commission Hearing, Room 400, City Hall.  Everyone opposed to this project is urged to attend the hearing! Those who wish to speak will have 3 minutes to present their arguments against this massive 34 unit development which threatens our neighborhood.  ATTENDANCE IS IMPORTANT!  Additional information and flyer posted on http://crestmontpreservation.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 email info@crestmontpreservation.org.

Sam Sobol
Working to preserve our neighborhood


‘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