City Prefers More Height for More Affordable Housing at Cole Hardware Site

The San Francisco Planning Department is pushing back on a proposal to build housing at 3310 Mission Street, the former Cole Hardware store site that was destroyed in a devastating June 2016 fire, by telling the developer that while the current plan is acceptable, it’d be even better to add some additional height to make room for affordable housing.

As currently proposed, 3310 Mission is slated to be a four-story, 45-foot-tall building with a new Cole Hardware store on the ground floor and eight units of market-rate housing above — a plan which D9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen said she supports.

However, as the ever-vigilant Socketsite first reported, the City Planning Department’s Preliminary Project Assessment says the 3310 Mission could also include affordable housing if the developer took advantage of the increased density allowed under HomeSF, a new San Francisco law that allows developers to add additional height to new buildings to make room for additional affordable- and family-oriented housing units.

In the case of 3310 Mission, that could meaning including 16 to 20 affordable housing units by adding two more two stories to the project.

The Planning Department’s Preliminary Project Assessment for 3310 Mission says:

“It is the Department’s priority to give precedence to the development of all new net housing, and to encourage the direct building of more affordable housing and the maximization of permitted density, while maintaining quality of life and adherence to Planning Code standards.

Policy 13.1 of the City’s Housing Element, for example, calls for the Department to “Support ‘smart’ regional growth that locates new housing close to jobs and transit.” The Project is located in one of the most transit-rich corridors in San Francisco, adjacent to the recently completed 14-Mission Rapid Project (the “Mission Red Lane”) and within a 15-minute walk to the 24th Street BART station. Therefore, the Department would strongly encourage the Project Sponsor to maximize the parcel’s density and to provide the required amount of affordable housing.

The current proposal to build 8 units would reach the density limit established within the parcel’s NC-3 zoning district, but is well under the density that would be allowed if the Project Sponsor employs the HOME-SF bonus. The HOME-SF bonus would lift the density restriction in the parcel and grants two additional stories, which would allow the Project to have at least 16 and potentially 20 or more units. HOME-SF requires that 30% of the units be reserved for low- and moderate-income households, which means that maximizing density under the program could yield 3 to 8 market rate units above what is currently proposed.”

IMAGE: Rendering of proposed building at 3310 Mission Street. Photos via SocketSite; composite illustration created by Bernalwood.

Median Home Price Hits $1.46 Million in Summer 2017 Bernal Heights Real Estate Report

Michael Minson and Danielle Lazier are Bernal neighbors who work by day as local realtors. Their business gives them unique insight into the utterly bonkers San Francisco housing market, and because they’re Bernalese, Neighbor Michael and Neighbor Danielle also pay close attention to the housing market here in Bernal Heights.

Neighbors Michael and Danielle’s executive summary for the first half of 2017 is that home prices in Bernal Heights continue to appreciate at a nosebleed-inducing pace, despite their February prediction that prices may have plateaued.

Bernal’s very limited housing supply, coupled with continuing strong demand, has had a predictable effect on prices. During the first six months of this year, with a total of 94 homes trading hands, the median home price in Bernal Heights has grown by 7%, to $1.46 million. OMFG.

Now let’s hand it over to Neighbors Michael and Danielle, for their full report:

At the beginning of this year, the Bernal home price trend was slowing down, with consistently decreasing year-over-year appreciation since 2013.

Here are median sale prices for homes in Bernal Heights, along with the year-over-year % change for the past 4 years and current half year:

The four-year trend toward decelerating appreciation, coupled with uncertainties after last year’s presidential election, led us to believe home prices had hit a plateau. But that’s not how things worked out. Instead, the trend reversed and started a slight uptick for the first half of this year.

As has happened consistently for the past 5 years, Bernal Heights hit another record high median sale price for single family homes during the first half of the year, clocking in at an astounding $1.458M. That’s a 7% increase over the median price of 2016 when it was $1.363M

74% of houses sold so far in 2017 have been between $1M-$2M.

We’ve had two new entrants to the $3M club – bringing Bernal’s lifetime total to 5. As reported in Bernalwood., 88 Montcalm set a new Bernal Heights record price of $3.85M. This monster house, with 4 bedrooms, 5.5 baths and parking for two cars sold after only 5 days on the market.

We remain bullish that Bernal Heights home prices will continue to increase, but we expect the second half of 2017 to grow somewhat more slowly than the first half. July saw a seasonally slow start, as many buyers and agents took off to enjoy summer vacations. We anticipate an influx of homes to hit the market in September, October, and November, which typically defines the Fall selling season.

Demand in Bernal remains exceptionally high, as homes here are perceived to be a better value for the money than our more expensive neighbors in Potrero Hill, Noe Valley, Glen Park and the Mission. Meanwhile, inventory is fairly fixed as very few new homes are built in Bernal these days. We expect to continue to see multiple offers over asking for well-priced, well-presented properties for the rest of the year.

At some point, we anticipate affordability will cause price growth to stall, but as long as local wages and employment levels continue to show positive gains, Bernal Heights is well positioned as a relatively affordable, well-located, charming neighborhood with great weather to boot. The secret is out.

With Bernalwood’s permission, Neighbors Michael and Danielle have also used our Bernal Heights microhoods map to take a granular look at prices in different areas of Bernal. The result is reflected in this chart of median home prices per square-foot in different parts of Bernal:

IMAGES: Top, aerial view of Bernal Heights by Telstar Logistics. Below, 2017 market graphics by Michael Minson and Danielle Lazier

Bernal Family Back Home Again After Cole Hardware Fire

In 2016, the Vasquez family was living in an apartment on 29th Street, just around the corner from Mission Street. On June 18, 2016, they were displaced by the massive Cole Hardware fire that devastated several adjacent buildings on the block.

This month, the Vasquez family returned home to their restored apartment. Marty Higgins, the owner of the building at 37 29th Street and CEO of the Harvest dispensary on the ground floor, explains how it happened:

The Vazquez family moved back into a newly renovated apartment on July 1st.

They had to leave after the fire. They were placed in temporary housing that was offered, and then moved into a semi-perm residency until we finished renovations on their apartment.

The family has two kids, and they lost everything. It was heartbreaking to tour their unit, so our ownership group gave them a gift certificate after the fire to help with the little things. Then the Harvest dispensary raised over $2k to help them get settled into their newly renovated apartment.

We’re excited to see the area slowly start to return to normal. We hope the new developments will help this area return to the vibrancy it had before the fire. For now, we’re happy to help the turnaround of the area.

As previously reported, a new building has already been proposed for the former Cole Hardware site at at 3310-3312 Mission Street. As planned, the building would include 8 new homes above a new Cole Hardware store on the ground floor.

PHOTO: The Vasquez family, back home again. Courtesy of Marty Higgins

Cyclists Say Homeless Encampment on “Hairball” Bike Path Is Unsafe

Cyclists from several neighborhoods in southeast San Francisco have recently expressed concern about the expansion of homeless encampments along the narrow bike lane through the Chavez/101 “Hairball” interchange. The bike path is the only safe route for cyclists who need to traverse 101, but today it’s nearly impassable.

Neighbor Angela from Prospect Ave. in Bernal Heights uses the bike path daily, and yesterday she sent this email to several local officials, including D9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen,  D10 Supervisor Malia Cohen,  Department of Public Works chief Mohammed Neru, and SFMTA chief Ed Reiskin.  Bernalwood was cc’d on the email as well.

Neighbor Angela writes:

Dear Supervisors and SF Public Works and CalTrans:

The bike path along Cesar Chavez St, under the 101 freeway (both eastbound and westbound) is nearly unpassable for bikes due to the tents, tarps, junk, garbage and animals that have taken it over.

This is a dangerous situation for the bicyclists, people and pets that are there.

There is no viable alternate route for bicyclists from the Mission/Bernal Heights/Glen Park/Noe Valley to CalTrain and eastern parts of the City. Riding on the street with cars under the overpass is also extremely dangerous.

I live in Bernal Heights and ride my bike every day to get to CalTrain to go to Palo Alto. This is what my morning commute is like:

What you don’t see is the big puff of crack smoke the first woman on the left exhaled just as I rode by.

I have registered requests for enforcement and complaints with different City services, but I find the cases get closed with no action taken.

While I do understand the complexities of the situation, leaving the bike path in this state is untenable. Please find a way to join forces to address this issue as soon as possible.

On behalf of all the bicyclists who just want to ride safely, thank you.

UPDATE 1:45 pm, 30 June: More than 24 hours after her note was sent, Neighbor Angela says she has yet to receive a response from any of the City officials addressed in it.

PHOTO: Screenshot from Neighbor Angela’s video of the bike route through the Hairball

Ronen Says She Supports Market-Rate Housing Plan With Cole Hardware Store

Clarifying her earlier remarks about a development plan for the now-empty lot where  Bernal’s Cole Hardware store stood before a devastating 2016 fire, D9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen tells Bernalwood she supports a developer’s proposal to build eight market-rate apartments on the site if the plan will bring a Cole Hardware store back to Mission Street.

Last week, Bernalwood confirmed Cole Hardware was working with the property owner to open a new store on the ground floor of the proposed building at 3310-3312 Mission. However, earlier this week the San Francisco Examiner reported that Ronen wanted to use the site for 100 percent affordable housing. “My hope for that entire block is that we create affordable housing to replace the affordable housing that was lost,” Ronen told the Examiner.

Though the new building would be too small to trigger San Francisco’s inclusionary affordable housing requirements, controversy over the type of housing to be built at 3310-3312 Mission would throw the future of the project into doubt and likely delay the reopening of a Cole Hardware store indefinitely.

In a follow-up conversation with Bernalwood, Ronen clarified her remarks to the Examiner. Ronen said she originally hoped to secure the property at 3310-3312 Mission for use as 100 percent subsidized-affordable housing, but after the lot was sold to a private developer, that option was off the table.

Now, Ronen says, she has been in contact with the owner of the property at 3310-3312 Mission, and she is enthusiastic about the plan to build market-rate housing there because it will also secure a long-term future for Cole Hardware.

“Yes, I do support this project,” Ronen said.

“My top priorities are affordable housing and legacy businesses,” she said. “I’m supportive of this project because the developer wants to bring back Cole Hardware with a 20-year lease. As long as the market-rate project brings back that legacy business, I support it.”

When asked if she would continue to support the project if it faced opposition during San Francisco’s famously complex planning and permitting process, Supervisor Ronen said, “The only way I would have a say in any say in this is if it came up for review under under a [California Environmental Quality Act] appeal, and I can’t see a CEQA issue that would make any sense for this project.”

This Sunday, June 18 will mark the one-year anniversary of the fire that destroyed the original Cole Hardware building. More than 50 people were displaced by the blaze, which destroyed or damaged several buildings at the southwest corner of of 29th and Mission Streets. San Francisco Fire Department investigators concluded the fire likely began in a trash bin stored outside an apartment above the former Cole Hardware store.

IMAGE: Rendering of proposed market-rate housing at 3310-3312 Mission Street. Photos via SocketSite; composite illustration created by Bernalwood

Ronen Signals Opposition to Cole Hardware Rebuilding Plan

Last week, Bernal Heights neighbors rejoiced at the news that plans were in the works to build eight new apartments atop a revived Cole Hardware store on the now-vacant lot at 3310-3312 Mission Street where a devastating fire destroyed the original Cole Hardware one year ago, on June 18, 2016.

Today, however, the fate of the project has been thrown into doubt, as the proposal is likely to become mired in the planning and permitting morass that has done much to perpetuate San Francisco’s ongoing housing shortage and affordability crisis.

Under the original proposal reported by SocketSite last week, plans have been submitted to create eight market-rate homes in a new five-story building at 3310-3312 Mission Street. The ground floor of the building would include 6000 square-feet of commercial space. Reporting by Bernalwood revealed that Cole Hardware owner Rick Karp is collaborating with the owner of the property, with an eye toward re-opening the much-loved, much-lamented Cole Hardware store in the new building.

Yesterday, however, D9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen signaled that she is likely to oppose the current proposal for 3310-3312 Mission.  San Francisco Examiner reporter Michael Barba writes:

Architect Earle Weiss has filed plans with The City to build eight condos over two stories of commercial space. Before the fire, there were seven residential units above Cole Hardware.

“We are in conversation with the property owner,” Karp said. “The retail space we’re designing with him with the intent of Cole Hardware opening.”

Ronen said she would like for Cole Hardware to reopen, but also hoped the site would be used for 100 percent affordable housing.

“It’s a sensitive site for that part of Bernal Heights,” Ronen said. “Given that rent control, low-income tenants were displaced, my hope for that entire block is that we create affordable housing to replace the affordable housing that was lost and that we create space to bring the businesses back.”

With just eight units planned for 3310-3312 Mission, the building is not large enough to trigger inclusionary affordable housing requirements under San Francisco’s current planning rules. Likewise, there is no requirement to use the building for 100% subsidized-affordable housing.

Regardless, Supervisor Ronen’s comments suggest that the approval and permitting process for the building is likely to be long and acrimonious if Ronen and her allies oppose the otherwise code-compliant project at each of the many steps along the way.

Cole Hardware wants to come back to Mission Street, but at the moment there’s no reason to believe that is going to happen anytime soon.

PHOTO: The burned out lot at 3310-3312 Mission, where Cole Hardware once stood. Photo via SocketSite.

Gasp! $3.8 Million Home Sale Sets New Bernal Price Record

Fact: If you own a single-family home in San Francisco, you live in luxury housing.

Or, at the very least, a home that is a luxury.

Your house may not be fancy. It may not much to look at. You may not have marble countertops, or recessed LED ceiling lighting, or glamorous views, or an elevator. Yet thanks to San Francisco’s booming economy and limited housing supply, the median price for single-family homes  in (relatively) “more affordable” Bernal Heights now hovers around $1.4 million, which means that even fixer-uppers sell for princely sums.

Still, some luxury homes are more luxurious than others. Earlier this month a new home-sale price record was set for Bernal Heights, as 88 Montcalm was sold for (gulp) $3. 8 million.

At that OMG price, you do get all the amenities — including an elevator.  According to the property listing:

The magnificent light-filled brand new home has sweeping vus of the City to the GG Bridge in 1 direction & water of the Bay ringed by the East Bay hills in another. This extraordinary home has 4 bds & 5.5 baths w/ 3 levels of living, elevator to all levels & panoramic roof deck. The master bdrm has 2 baths & each bdrm has en-suite ba. The entry level has a spacious 2+car garage, media room or exceptionally large bdrm w/ marble bath & walk in closet. This level has easy access to the level, landscaped backyard. On the top level is the finest entertainment level w/ drop dead vus. The marble & Miele kitchen looks out to the Bay, glamorous living room w/ window wall & wrap around terrace.

PHOTO: 88 Montcalm, via Zephyr Real Estate