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65 Ocean Avenue Development Proposal Sparks Call for Affordable Units

Communities United for Justice members hold a banner at meeting about 65 Ocean Ave. MARYNOEL STROPE/INGLESIDE-EXCELSIOR LIGHT

Community members packed into the Ingleside Police Station’s community room on a rainy February night to comment on a proposed 133-unit market-rate housing development at 65 Ocean Ave.

The development plan includes 40 percent two-bedroom units, 40 percent studios and one-bedrooms and 20 percent three-bedrooms to be completed by fall 2018, according to the developer Presidio Bay Ventures.

Renderings of the design showed a 40-foot boxy building with a grassy interior courtyard, ground-level retail and recessed sidewalks.

A handout provided by the developer indicated they were working with District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai to make the project’s units accessible to middle income workers like nurses and firefighters, who earn an average of $100,000 yearly.

“It’s all about the neighborhood for us,” Presidio Bay Ventures Managing Director K. Cyrus Sanandaji said.

While many attendees’ concerns focused on parking, traffic and the structure’s glass facade, the most passionate discussion centered on affordability and a call for 100 percent affordable units.

“How will Presidio Bay Ventures be meeting the needs of immigrant families?” asked Rosie Balberan, a resident and youth organizer with Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth.  “How will you ensure they survive?”

Communities United for Health and Justice unfurled an orange banner reading “United with our communities” and distributed stickers and flyers showing how most local workers could not afford the proposed development’s estimated market rate rent of $3,000 per month.

The developers countered that the rents would be “closer to the $2,000 or $2,100 mark.” Apartments start at $2,975 at the nearby Avalon Ocean Avenue apartment complex.

San Francisco requires new construction must include 25 percent affordable units, offered at below market rate. Many attendees urged for more two and three-bedrooms to accommodate local families.

District 11 has the highest concentration of children and most diverse population in the city, but has no 100 percent affordable housing developments.

Design

There will be one parking stall for each unit.

“We hear the neighborhood loud and clear on parking issues,” Sanandaji said.

Along with parking and traffic issues, concerns were voiced over the plan for egress and ingress onto narrow Cayuga Avenue, while others said 133 additional toilets would exacerbate the area’s sewage and flooding problems.

“Parking is so dense because people can’t afford to live here,” said Coleman Advocates Program Director José-Luis Tekun Mejia. “It’s often one family living in one room that used to be a living room. We urge you to really take note of that. It may be legal, but it’s a moral crime — any proposal that will not push for all-affordable housing.”

One neighbor said she could never imagine [the building] being “plopped into the middle of Noe Valley” and others called the building “ugly” and a “giant box” that did not fit in with the area’s colorful Arts and Crafts and Spanish hacienda-style single family homes and nearby Balboa High School.

The developers said they were unable to find a dominant architectural style in the district.

One resident questioned putting in more retail space when there are already so many empty storefronts on Mission Street, and asked if the ground-level space could be used for affordable housing instead. Others suggested an increase in height limits to accommodate more BMR units.

Next Steps

65 Ocean is adjacent to a proposed 103-unit housing development, where Safai hopes to establish 50 permanently rent-controlled units, with the others a mix of below-market-rate.

“We want to make sure all stakeholders, regardless of income, have a say,” said Safai’s legislative aide, Sugahey Sandoval, who attended the meeting. Safai was attending a public transit meeting that night, but Sandoval assured the crowd he was invested in the community’s response.

Many said they heard about the meeting last-minute, and didn’t feel the planning process was inclusive.

“This is just the beginning,” Sanandaji said.

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