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‘Save CCSF’ moves to delay 1,100 new homes in favor of parking

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Balboa Reservoir project would create a new residential neighborhood, but eliminate thousands of parking spots at City College

Renderings courtesy of AvalonBay

A coalition of developers wants to build 1,100 new homes clustered around a public park at the Balboa Reservoir site, but the NIMBY group Save CCSF says nixing 2,000 parking spaces at the site will hurt City College of San Francisco. The group has vilified the project as an attempt to turn public resources over to private businesses.

The San Francisco Examiner reports that Save CCSF decided to go to the ballot box to stymy development at Balboa Reservoir:

On Monday, Save CCSF, a coalition of City College professors, community members and public education advocates, filed initial paperwork for a ballot measure that would prohibit new development on the Balboa Reservoir site until a planned Performing Arts Education Center on an adjacent site is “built, completed and opened to the public.”

Advocates for the Save CCSF coalition have spoken out against the “privatization of public land” and called for the Public Utilities Commission, which owns the reservoir, to transfer the land to City College.

Right now Balboa Reservoir is a vast parking lot across the street from City College of San Francisco’s Ocean Campus. According to the Planning Department, the Mayor’s Office of Housing began considering Balboa Reservoir as a potential development site in 2014.

In 2017 the city picked a development group headed by Virginia-based investment firm AvalonBay, which also includes Habitat for Humanity and affordable housing developer BRIDGE Housing, to build up the site.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported in August:

The project envisions a row of two- and three-story townhomes on the western edge of the property, with rear gardens backing up onto the residential enclave of Westwood Park. Taller buildings, up to seven stories, would be located on the eastern end of the property nearer City College.

The project would include 1,260 parking spots, including a 500-space garage to be shared with City College. The 2.2-acre central green space will be called Reservoir Park.

The design that AvalonBay submitted includes 1,100 new homes, including “80 homes at 55% Area Median Income, (rental) 24 homes at 105% AMI (for sale), [and] 83 homes at 120% AMI (rental).”

(Although 120 percent of AMI hardly seems like “affordable” housing to most, the city encourages this level of pricing in hopes of creating new middle-class homes on top of developments for low-income households.)

The project plan does include a significant parking element but would still mean a net loss in parking for the neighborhood, which the Save CCSF site alleges will hurt the community:

The current plans for the Balboa Reservoir will eliminate 2,000 parking spaces which is unacceptable for a commuter school. Adaquate [sic] parking is crucial to its future. A reliable analysis of the damage this will cause to CCSF is needed since this damage may result in a loss in the value that CCSF gives to San Francisco. [...]

This development is not intended for long-time community residents, or for students, staff or faculty of CCSF. Like the existing AvalonBay building at 1200 Ocean, it is intended for Silicon Valley employees, and will deepen the ethnic cleansing of San Francisco.

Although not owned by CCSF, many students use the publicly-owned parking space. Save CCSF characterizes the development as a bid by private companies to acquire public assets, declaring, “Not one inch of public land should go to private interests.”

The CCSF Performance Art Center, which Save CCSF now says construction will interfere with, has been delayed for over a decade. If the proposed ballot initiative collects enough signatures, it will go before the public during the November election.