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Neighbor complaints can’t sink below-market-rate building in the Mission

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San Francisco upzoned 1296 Shotwell using controversial density law

A rendering of the nine-story building to be erected at 1296 Shotwell. Courtesy MEDA

In the annals of San Francisco development fights, 1296 Shotwell holds an unusual place: It’s the 100 percent affordable new building that Mission residents loathed so much they wanted it squashed.

That characterization is technically correct—irked Mission residents showed up again at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting to decry the development, criticizing its size, design, placement, and lack of parking.

Chris Weber of the Inner Mission Neighbors Association (reading a statement prepared by another member) called it “imposed on us as the result of a very poor, bad deal,” referring to the donation by developers of the Shotwell property for off-site affordable housing.

The board’s most recent vote was to decide whether or not a streamlined environmental review was necessary. But lawmakers voted unanimously in favor of the building, just as previous bodies had supported it.

District Nine supervisor Hillary Ronen said, “We need to build taller and denser when it’s affordable housing.”

Also of note, this is also the first building in city history to benefit from the Affordable Housing Bonus Program, which allows developers to create taller (three stories in this case) buildings beyond their normal zoning in exchange for affordable housing.

Anti-density crusaders have long seen red over the program and try to block most of it from becoming law. But the truncated version that passed City Hall last year has finally yielded fruit in here.

Despite its reputation, observers should note that the nine-story, 94-unit project for seniors always had larger Mission contingents speaking for it during its planning and appeals process.