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S.F. Developer Uses Local Density Bonus For Approval Of Excelsior Project

A large project using the new San Francisco density bonus received approval from the Planning Commission late last month, and may break ground by June.

A rendering of Presidio Bay Ventures' 65 Ocean Ave. project

That bonus, a program called HOME-SF, will enable San Francisco-based Presidio Bay Ventures to add 193 units through a four- to six-story building in San Francisco's District 11, an area that has seen only 216 new units built in the last decade, according to Presidio Bay Ventures Managing Director Cyrus Sanandaji.

"In order to sustain our economy, we need to house folks who work in it, and we need to build more," Sanandaji said. "HOME-SF afforded us the opportunity to do that."

The law, originally passed in 2017, allows two additional stories and more density to projects in exchange for 30% on-site affordable units. But the first go-round lacked nuance,  something Sanandaji saw firsthand in the developer's proposed Laurel Heights project at 2670 Geary Blvd. There, Presidio Bay Ventures realized two additional stories wouldn't have fit the site or neighborhood and delayed plans. 

As a result, Sanandaji and Presidio Bay worked with former Supervisor Katy Tang (District 4) and Supervisor Ahsha Safaí (District 11) on amended legislation that allows for tiers, which passed last July. To increase "family-friendly" housing stock, the program also calls for qualifying projects to have 40% of units be two-bedroom or larger.

At its recently approved 65 Ocean Ave. project, Presidio Bay Ventures will follow Tier 2, which allows for only one extra story of height and additional density for 25% on-site affordable units. Presidio Bay expects the community, a mix of studios through three-bedrooms, to receive interest from families and students of nearby City College of San Francisco.

A rendering of 65 Ocean Ave., which is next to a Midas auto repair shop

"The Excelsior and Outer Mission have a very strong demand for housing and there's a huge burden on the inventory that exists from City College," Sanandaji said. "City College does not provide anywhere near enough housing for the folks enrolled."

Technically in the Balboa Park neighborhood but on the edge of Excelsior, 65 Ocean Ave., formerly a preschool, will include a 9K SF preschool facility on the ground floor. The project architect is RGArchitecture, and the developer is still choosing between two general contractors, according to Sanandaji.

Presidio Bay Ventures' plans for 65 Ocean drew opposition from several neighborhood groups in the weeks leading up the vote, including from the People Organizing to Demand Environmental & Economic Rights. Their appeal of the planning department's environmental review was rejected at the same Oct. 24 hearing where the project received approval.

Ten projects have applied for the HOME-SF program, according to the San Francisco Planning Department. Presidio Bay Ventures' is the second to receive approval. The first, developer L.F. George's 2601 Van Ness, received approval last October.

The third could be a 20-unit proposal for 3945 Judah St., which is scheduled to go before the Planning Commission on Nov. 7 with plans to use the bonus.