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Glen Park residents fume over tech billionaire’s plan for three-story addition with basketball court

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Some neighbors aren’t keen on Keith Rabois’s hoop dreams

A one-story Midcentury house in Glen Park.
43 Everson, as it used to appear.
Photo via Google Street Views

The midcentury house at 43 Everson Street in Glen Park was a modest looking but spacious six-bed, three and a half bath home on a hill from 1965.

In November 2015, Keith Rabois, a billionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalist who made his bones as part of the PayPal mafia (“the richest men in Silicon Valley,” as a 2014 Tech Insider story calls the group of former PayPal employees and investors), purchased the place for $2.35 million.

As well-to-do San Francisco homeowners often do, Rabois, who resides in another Glen Park house nearby, had plans for a remodel. Lockers, sauna, and recreation room are all part of the new project.

Here are the specs from his Planning Department application:

The project consists of a new basketball court with lounge, lockers, 1-1/2 bathrooms, and sauna at the existing first floor; a new guest room and bathroom, living room and powder room at the existing second floor; a remodeled entry, living area, dining area, kitchen, and half bath at the existing third floor; and a new master suite with recreation room on a new proposed penthouse level.

The rear of the home. The new design keeps the same height, but extends the bulk of the house much further into the lot.

Rabois bought the home through an anonymous LLC, but used his personal email address on the paperwork, leaving little question about the identity of the owner.

But not everyone is thrilled about the newfangled construction.

David Cowfer, a biotech researcher who has lived next door to 43 Everson since 2005, doesn’t like the look of Rabois’ plans—or the sound of them, either. So much so that he created a protest site, No Court @ 43 Everson.

In part he writes: “This will always be a bright eyesore at night and when the roll up door is opened it will be a LOUD & BRIGHT eyesore.”

Cowfer and five other neighbors on Everson and nearby Beacon Street requested a discretionary review of Rabois’s plans in February (holding the remodel up until the Planning Commission hears their complaints), calling it a “private compound” inappropriate for the neighborhood.

“It’s basically a big box,” Cowfer tells Curbed SF. “They’re pushing the limits in the back and front. This street is mostly relaxed midcentury homes. This would be in your face.”

The new facade in Rabois’ proposed remodel.
Courtesy SF Planning

Cowfer and his neighbors are also worried about that basketball court—specifically, the 40-foot wide glass garage door that will conceal it.

“It’s going to be loud,” says Cowfer. “I mean, who loves basketball this much? If you spend millions on a private gym, it’s going to be basketball every day.”

Neighbors want the addition’s second and third stories set back in step design and the basketball court “tucked deep inside the hill” in the home’s interior.

Rabois, however, tells a different story. The tech entrepreneur says he’s unaware of any widespread ire against him or his impending project in the neighborhood.

“I am not aware of any opposition other than one neighbor who is not impacted by the house renovation in any actual way,” explains Rabois. “I have lived in Glen Park for four and a half years and love the neighborhood.”

As for the structure itself, it will be a proper residence yet the basketball court won’t be the primary design element.

“The house will include three bedrooms, and is designed as a residence,” says Rabois. “There is no basketball court per se but a media room (multi purpose) that will include one basketball net only.”

As for whether or not the construction’s lights would shine too bright, he says, “All lighting will be completely standard.”

Fights over the size of a neighbor’s remodel are probably as old as San Francisco, but in this case the scale of Rabois’ profile in the tech industry seems to loom as large as his plans. The disgruntled neighbors consistently refer to him as a “tech billionaire.”

Rabois is a native of New Jersey but has lived in the Bay Area for 30 years, graduating from Stanford. He bought his first home on Everson in 2011.

The city has issued half a dozen permits for the site since last April. The Planning Commission will review the complaints early next month.

[Update: A visit to the site and another comment from Cowfer confirm that Rabois has already begun construction at the site.

“They excavated a whole 2.5-3 stories of earth over the past year,” Cowfer tells Curbed SF. There is indeed a sizable hole at the lot.]