Tuesday: Community Meeting About 9-Story, 96-Unit Housing Development on Shotwell

Rendering of 1296 Shotwell, as seen from Cesar Chavez. Source: MEDA, April 2016

On Tuesday,  August 23 at 6 pm, the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) will hold a community meeting at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center to reveal their latest designs for 96 units of subsidized-affordable senior citizen housing at 1296 Shotwell, just north of Cesar Chavez. There’s also a focus group scheduled for Monday, August 29.  Here are the two upcoming events:

  • Community Meeting: Tuesday, August 23, 6pm to 7:30 at BHNC, 515 Cortland
  • Focus Group: Monday, August 29, 6pm to 7:30pm, Precita Eyes Mural Center, 348 Precita Avenue

Right now, 1296 Shotwell is a one story warehouse-style space used for automotive repair. As proposed, the site would become a 9-story building to provide 100% subsidized-affordable housing for senior citizens.


1296 Shotwell, typical floorplans. Source: MEDA, April 2016

The proposed building would not include any parking, and it would rise 85′ from street level, or 20 feet higher than permitted under current zoning.

Source: San Francisco Planning Department

Source: San Francisco Planning Department

1296 Shotwell sits right next door to 1515 South Van Ness, the proposed six-story development approved in a unanimous 6-0 vote by the San Francisco Planning Commission earlier this month. As approved, 1515 South Van Ness will provide 157 units of mixed-income housing, with 25% set aside as subsidized-affordable.

During a contentious community meeting about 1296 Shotwell held last April, some Bernal neighbors objected to the proposed height of the building, which would rise five or six stories above most other nearby buildings. Others objected to the proposed design, which included an 85′ perforated concrete slab on the building’s south side, facing Bernal Hill.

Rendering of 1296 Shotwell, as seen from Coso/Stoneman in North Bernal. Source: MEDA

Rendering of 1296 Shotwell, seen from Coso/Stoneman in North Bernal. Source: MEDA, April 2016

MEDA has suggested the Bernal-facing slab could be covered by a mural, but in the bilingual workshop sessions held during March’s community meeting, neighbors were unenthusiastic about the mural concept, pointing out that south-facing murals tend to disintegrate  quickly because of the harsh sun. One neighbor said the mural proposal was “basically the definition of putting lipstick on a pig.”

MEDA tells Bernalwood a revised design for the project will be on display at the meeting on Tuesday. However, despite repeated requests, MEDA declined to provide renderings of the updated proposal in advance of Tuesday’s meeting.

Personally, I would like to see 1296 Shotwell built at the proposed height, with the proposed number of housing units. I live a block from 1296 Shotwell, about 400 feet away, and the building will be in the direct line of sight from my house.  The new building will definitely obscure part of my glamorous skyline view, but I don’t care that much about losing some of my glamorous skyline view, because San Francisco desperately needs more, higher-density housing of all kinds to make housing more affordable to more San Franciscans. But that’s just me, and I’m on record as a YIMFY — Yes In My Front Yard.

That said, 1296 Shotwell would likely benefit from an improved design for the south facade, so that the 9000+ neighbors who live on Bernal’s north slope will feel better about gazing upon it for decades to come. We’ll find out what MEDA has in mind at the Big Reveal, 6 pm on Tuesday night at BHNC.

16 thoughts on “Tuesday: Community Meeting About 9-Story, 96-Unit Housing Development on Shotwell

  1. I’m guessing we won’t be gazing on it for decades to come, but rather gazing at the front of whatever new building that will inevitably replace John’s garage.

    I don’t know why MEDA can’t just abide by the damn zoning code, but I’m not gonna raise a fuss. Seniors need housing, and that spot is as good as any.

    Fingers crossed there’s a grocery store planned for the 1515 development that’ll serve north Bernal and the south Mission, and those seniors who don’t want to walk as far as the new Gross Out replacing DeLano’s.

  2. Why do we still pretend to have height restrictions when it seems every proposed project insists on exceeding height limits for the district?
    Yes, we need housing, but we need a lot of things, particularly maintaining integrity within planning zones. It’s too bad that our city doesn’t seem able to abide by planning regulations.

    That’s a good point about planning for necessary services. I don’t see much of that near the SOMA towers

    • Because it’s affordable and senior housing. Very few of the lower income seniors in these developments own cars.

  3. Let’s learn to love/embrace ugly, out of scale, and slipped down our throats as “affordable” and “senior”… right, got it.

  4. Height seems fine. Hopefully it won’t have a hideous Precita Eyes Aztec mural. Sorry I can’t come to the meeting tonight.

  5. Height is appropriate for a city building. We do live in a city, do we not?

    I’m a home health social worker in San Francisco. I cannot tell you how many seniors in this city are literally trapped in their homes because they are apartments at the top of a Victorian or Edwardian
    without an elevator. These folks literally cannot see a doctor for chronic health conditions, and some die because of it.

    In light of this, I really don’t care if you don’t like them for being “ugly”or “out of scale”. Housing seniors matters more.

    • Yes, but…

      Ugly is a choice made by the designer & sponsor, it has nothing to do with what’s in the container. True, ugly is in the eye of the beholder, but consensus makes it matter. It’s Dwell magazine disease. “Bold angles”, “unconventional”, “cutting edge” is the new standard. Getting away from anything familiar, no matter how unpleasant the results, gets recognition, and that’s what matters to architects today. Besides, if it weren’t so ugly, height would be less of an issue.

      • No, design-by-consensus will always produce the worst possible outcome. This building’s design is fine, and if not for its size—in a few years no one would notice it.

      • Well, yeah, I agree, but that’s not what I said. I believe most people will find this building ugly, and that’s consensus. Subjective? I agree with that too. But it seems as though architects & sponsors favor such ugliness, and that’s unfortunate. Public spaces don’t have to be depressing. Check out recent branch library projects – Glen Park & Bernal in particular – very pleasing, & very successful. Of course the history of the Eiffel Tower, well, that contradicts my position….

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