Balboa Reservoir Update
May 7, 2020
To: Members of Westwood Park Association:
Re: Balboa Reservoir Development
The Board of Directors of Westwood Park Association (“WPA”) decided that it is appropriate to update members of the WPA on the status of the proposed Balboa Reservoir development. Certain dates have recently been set over our objection, and the approval process will most likely proceed rapidly. This letter will supplement our various reports over the past 5 years as the project proceeded.
In March of 2015 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (“BOS”) decided to review the possibility of a development on the 17 acres of Balboa Reservoir land owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. (“West Lot” and “SF PUC”). At the same time the BOS formed the Balboa Reservoir Community Advisory Committee to be the public forum to collect comments on the project. (“BRCAC”) At all times Westwood Park had one member sitting on the 9 person BRCAC. I have served as that representative since late 2016.
In September of 2016 the BRCAC approved adoption of “Parameters” that should be followed by the developers as a they submitted their proposals. The Parameters were approved by an 8-1 vote, with your WPA representative voting no. The Parameters did not follow the results of a poll that the WPA sent to its members resulting in the no vote.
Eventually the successful developer in the RFP process was a joint venture of Avalon, Bridge Housing, and others. (“Developer”). The Developer proposed a project of 1,100 units, with the height of the buildings exceeding the height limits in the Parameters. In the period from 2016 to 2019 various hearings were held on the project. From the outset we have taken the position that the development should not proceed until the loss of almost approximately 2,000 parking spaces used by City College on the reservoir is addressed. Not only will City College lose the 1,000 spaces on the West Lot, but with the now approved construction by City College on the East Lot that it owns, virtually all parking will be eliminated.
At hearings before the BOS, Planning Commission, and the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority we raised the point on parking. We also objected to fiscal feasibility, the density of the project, violations of the Parameters, and the use of San Ramon for access. These objections were also part of our Scoping Comments to the Planning Commission in connection with the Draft Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (“DSEIR”).
Last month the Planning Commission held a hearing to determine whether to proceed with the consideration of the final EIR. The meeting was virtual due to the Covid-19 situation and orders of the Mayor and Governor. We objected to a consideration of the project at this time since we feel that the true impact of this project on the environment cannot be determined during the pandemic. The Planning Commission stressed the need for housing and ruled that the process would go forward.
Since the Planning Commission is making important decisions on the Project, a meeting has been set for the BRCAC to consider the recently published Development Agreement and other matters. That BRCAC meeting will take place on Monday, May 18, 2020, commencing at 6:00pm. Members of the public can participate and give comments. The meeting will be virtual and you can get instructions on how to participate at the BRCAC website: https://sfplanning.org/project/balboa-reservoir#cac-and-community-meetings
A hearing to consider the certification of the final SEIR is scheduled by the Planning Commission on Thursday, May 28 at 1:00 pm or later. At that time the Planning Commission will also consider adoption of Design Guidelines. We have already commented on the Design Guidelines at last month’s BRCAC meeting, and will comment to the Planning Commission. The hearing will also consider the Development Agreement which was published only a few days ago, and will consider project approval. We intend to submit written comments on project approval again urging that the project not proceed until the replacement of lost parking be addressed. We will also raise other points.
Members of the public can participate in the Planning Commission meeting, and information on how to participate and comment can be found at www.sfplanning.org.
While no firm dates have yet been set, it is anticipated that the SF PUC will take action around June, 2020, to consider the sale of the property to the Developer. Then, it is estimated that the BOS would consider project approval and other items in July, 2020.
Should anyone wish further information on this matter, you can email the Board at the address below.
Please stay safe.
Cc. Board of Directors: Anita Theoharis, Anne Chen, Joe Koman, Ravi Krishnaswamy, Francine Lofrano, Michael O’Driscoll