Most Recent Updates First
There have been several new developments on this project since our last newsletter including the deal finally closing.
On September 10, 2022, the Balboa Reservoir developers held a community update meeting at Unity Plaza, discussing the townhouse designs and possible street names (mostly tree-related names such as Buckeye Lane, Mulberry Lane, Evergreen Lane). Many WPA neighbors attended and reported back to the board on developments.
In November 2022, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to conditionally approve the Balboa Reservoir Development’s tentative map. Around the same time, the building consortium led by Bridge Housing filed plans for 89 townhomes at 11 Frida Kahlo Way. The first phase of 600 market-rate and affordable homes includes 89 townhomes on 3.6 acres on the western side of Balboa Reservoir. The three-story townhomes, a mix of grays and browns, will be clad in stucco, wood and “cementitious siding,” according to new renderings. The Westwood Park Association board filed an appeal about the closeness of the townhomes’ decks to the Plymouth property lines (was supposed to be 15’ and their latest blueprints appear to show a smaller boundary). WPA’s appeal was denied because the proposed decision only addressed the development’s mapping, not design features. We are trying to raise our concerns with Mike Farrah of Supervisor Melgar’s office.
On December 20, 2022, the Balboa Reservoir developers finally closed on the land purchase agreement with the City and title to the approximately 17 acre parcel on the western side of the reservoir has now been transferred to the developers. They are still determining project costs and financing sources, but hope to start infrastructure construction later this year. A groundbreaking is expected by late 2023. But the developers have informed the Westwood Park Association that they still have additional financing to complete this year before commencing construction.
Also in December, City College of San Francisco began construction on a major separate development on their eastern side of the reservoir to build their STEAM complex. The Balboa developers have informed Westwood Park that they continue to have regular monthly meetings with City College team to coordinate on a variety of issues relating to the mutual constructions.When we receive more information concerning any of these issues, we will be in contact with members of the association. If you have thoughts or comments, please email the board at [email protected].
As we reported in WPA’s Winter 2022 newsletter, the original time estimates by the developer of the contemplated Balboa Development have not been met. Time estimates made by the developer to the Balboa Reservoir Community Advisory Committee in June 2021, contemplated public design meetings in January 2022, formation of an Open Space Committee in April 2022, transfer of title to the property to the Developer in early 2022, and street construction in early fall of 2022. This has not come to fruition.
The developer informed us recently that they are still in the process of finalizing their financing plan for the project, and now expect to close the purchase of the property by the end of 2022.
Representatives of Westwood Park requested a revised detailed timeline from the developers but a revised schedule has not been received. The developer does publish a newsletter that attempts to update parties on the status of the development. The most recent developer newsletter can be found at http://www.balboareservoir.com/latest-news
The Q1 2022 developer newsletter does not supply much more information on the revised timeline other than to confirm that infrastructure construction will not begin in 2022 as originally planned. What the developer says in that newsletter is that they have “a lot of work to do before infrastructure construction begins in 2023.” The developer stated that they plan to have a pre-construction meeting with interested parties roughly 6 months before the new start date.
We have also requested detailed information on coordination of the development with the contemplated construction by City College of San Francisco on their portion of the reservoir. The developer informed us that they are meeting monthly with CCSF to coordinate both projects and will continue to meet as they get closer to construction. The developer has also informed us that City College has not yet determined their start date for their first building. When we receive concrete information concerning these issues, we will be in contact with members of the association.
The Westwood Park Association Board reported last year to members on the Developers’ timeline for the contemplated Balboa Development. Last year, the Developers presented a timeline of the development. That timeline contemplated the following: (a) design meetings with the public in January 2022 relating to the contemplated town homes; (b) public Open Space Committee being formed in April 2022; (c) street construction to commence in early Fall of 2022; and (d) transfer of title to the property from the City to the Developers in early 2022.
The Board representatives recently contacted the Developers requesting that they confirm this timeline and give us the dates for the meetings mentioned. The Developers informed us that there is no date yet for the Townhouse design meetings. And, they informed us that formation of the Open Space Committee was not expected until the later part of the year. In addition, we learned that there has not yet been any transfer of title to the property under the Purchase Agreement, and that transfer is not anticipated by the Developer until the later part of 2022. With this information from the Developer, it appears unlikely that they will be able to meet their original estimate of street construction by early Fall.
The developer publishes a newsletter that attempts to update parties on the status of the development. The last newsletter was published on December 20, 2021. If you have not signed up to receive their newsletter, go to: www.balboareservoir.com/latest-news.
Over five years ago, when a development was proposed for the Balboa Reservoir, the Westwood Park Board of Directors sent all homeowner members a survey about the development. Since that time, the Board has had its representatives attend countless meetings of the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission, PUC, SFMTA, and at the same time had a representative on the Balboa Reservoir Community Advisory Committee (“BRCAC”). We have attempted to obtain as many concessions and points consistent with the results of the survey.
As the Board reported in a letter to the members in early July 2021, the BRCAC has now sunsetted. As further reported in that letter, there will be a series of public meetings relating to design, open space, transit, and other matters. The Board plans to continue to monitor the development, and to seek formation of some informal committee consisting of Westwood Park, Sunnyside, and other neighborhood representatives, together with a representative of City College and Riordan. Such an informal committee was requested by your representative at the last BRCAC meeting, but no response has yet been given by either the City or the developer.
If any member has thoughts or comments about the development, please feel free to email the Board.
Over the past five years, the Balboa Reservoir Community Advisory Committee (“BRCAC”) has received comments from neighbors and other parties in interest concerning the proposed development of 1,100 units on the Balboa Reservoir. When the Project was approved by the Board of Supervisors last fall, the Supervisors extended the use of the BRCAC until June 2021. Notwithstanding the urging of many members of the BRCAC to continue the BRCAC as a method of obtaining community input, it was not continued by the Supervisors and will no longer be a source of community input.
At the last two BRCAC meetings the developers indicated that they would lead community engagement in the future. The first of these developer led meetings will take place on July 24, 2021 at Unity Plaza from 10am to noon. Unity Plaza is located at 1002 Ocean Avenue. At this public meeting the public is invited to comment on the design for both market value and affordable housing building on the project. They will also solicit input on design for open space and the proposed Reservoir Park.
Future meetings are scheduled for 2022 concerning design for the townhomes, as well as public reconstruction matters. The Contractor has estimated that in the third quarter of 2022 construction will commence for streets and infrastructure.
In 2023 and 2024 further public meetings will take place concerning construction. In 2025 an open space advisory committee will be formed and Westwood Park will have a representative on that committee, as well as other neighborhoods, City College and Riordan High School. The Contractor has also promised to provide notices on matters to these parties as the construction commences.
The City has also indicated that it will advertise its meetings that will take place to review the construction.
The Westwood Park representative on the BRCAC has urged some continuing committee be formed to provide a forum for the public to interface with the Developers and the City, and that such committee have representatives from adjoining neighborhoods, Riordan, Ocean Avenue merchants, and City College. Other representatives of the BRCAC also urged such a committee. As of the writing of this letter no such committee has been formed. The Board of Directors for Westwood Park will continue to report to the Members of the Association as these matters develop.
Your Board has been active in appearing at a number of public hearings over the last five years on the proposed Balboa Reservoir development. In the past three months we appeared at meetings of the Planning Commission, SF PUC, SFMTA, Balboa Reservoir Community Advisory Committee, City College Trustees’ Meetings, and the Board of Supervisors. We suggested that instead of developing 1100 units a non-profit organization should develop 550 100% affordable units, and City College should use the other portion of the 17 acres. We made many other comments that will be discussed at the Annual Meeting.
The Board of Supervisors met on August 11, 2020 to review an appeal by some residents of the EIR, and to review the project. On the eve of the Board of Supervisors’ meeting President Norman Yee announced 11 amendments to the Development Agreement that met some of our objections. We observed that these amendments were helpful but still pursued other objections. On August 11 the appeal of the EIR (CEQA appeal) was denied and the project was approved by the Board of Supervisors.
There are a number of conditions in the Development Agreement and Purchase Agreement that need to be satisfied before any transfer of the property and commencement of construction. We will answer questions relating to the proposed development at the Annual Meeting.
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 (Mike Ahrens, President) 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.
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 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.