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Glen Park neighbors told to compromise on PayPal mogul’s expansion

Planning Commission steps in on neighborhood feud laced with anxiety about tech money

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Keith Rabois, a Glen Park resident and former vice president at PayPal, says all he did to earn the ire of some of his neighbors was buy a house.

“People are allowed to buy houses,” the noted venture capitalist told BuzzFeed.

Rabois bought a six-bed mid-century home circa 1965 at 43 Everson Street for $2.35 million in late 2015, just down the street from his other Glen Park home.

As we reported in March, Everson wants to create a three-story addition and to remodel the interior to include a basketball court and sauna.

This provoked his neighbor David Cowfer to declare the under-construction remodel a potential nuisance and complain to the city, after rallying some other Glen Park neighbors. The Planning Commission heard the complaint last Thursday.

In comments to the commissioners, Cowfer’s lawyer Ryan Patterson framed the redesign as a Silicon Valley invasion.

“A couple of very wealthy venture capitalists in the neighborhood have bought a house and are emptying it out and turning it into a basketball court,” Patterson said. “This used to be a six bedroom home and it’s already been effectively demolished.”

A rendering of the proposed rear edition, as seen from a neighbor’s yard.
Courtesy SF Planning

By “a couple of venture capitalists,” Patterson refers to Rabois’ venture capitalist coworker Ben Ling, who also lives on Everson.

Most people who buy houses on Everson Street are well off—Cowfer noted in his comments to commissioners that nearby homes “are priced anywhere between $2 million and $4 million.”

But fears about tech and VC money altering a residential neighborhood have laced the remodel scuffle all along. Patterson even called it a “Zuckerberg-style neighborhood takeover.”

Speaking up for the project on Thursday, architect Andy Rogers said, “I find it unfortunate that personal information about our client, his work, his finances, were used to make a case against him.

“This will in fact be Keith’s residence,” Rogers added. “He’s a quiet, single person, he works long hours, he is not a partier, but he does enjoy basketball with friends.”

Rogers claimed that his designs protect neighbors from the noise and lights of the court, including through elements like soundproof walls.

The west side of the house today.
And after the the remodel.

Planning staff testified that they didn’t see any reason to change Rogers’ and Rabois’ designs. But commissioners decided that Cowfer’s suggestion to move the basketball court further into the Everson Street hillside had merit.

A second hearing is set for May 18, with both sides directed to come up with a compromise.