Potrero Hill resident, Ron Miguel, has been involved in San Francisco land use since the 1980’s. Ron is a former Planning Commissioner, and for 16 years was president of the neighborhood group Planning Association for the Richmond (PAR), and is an active and engaged member of the Potrero Boosters – his current neighborhood association. The SF Housing Action Coalition sat down with Ron to talk about his involvement with 1601 Mariposa – the proposed 299 homes from Related California seeking approval at the Planning Commission on Thursday, November 12th. For more information about the project, please visit www.1601mariposa.com.
How are the City’s attitudes toward development different today than they were during your time on the Commission?
The pace of development is steadily increasing. The Eastern Neighborhoods rezoning which happened when I was on the Planning Commission changed everything. That, combined with massive growth in jobs and residents (10,000 new residents a year), has threatened to overwhelm the system. The Planning Department has the highest number of employees in its history and still has a problem in keeping up with the pace. San Francisco has always been cautious on change and increasing density – both office and residential, and has put limits on both over the years. In general I think they have worked, but the current boom was never anticipated.
That said, the Planning Department recently reconfirmed the capacity of the Potrero/Showplace neighborhoods to absorb the level of development prescribed by the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, and is making good strides in pushing infrastructure to catch up with development. This is a key issue and the city’s ability to finally demonstrate gains is important.
How did you first learn about the proposed project at 1601 Mariposa St, adjacent the Anchor Steam Brewery?
I went to the initial neighborhood meeting in 2012 along with a number of Potrero Hill residents. The land use at the time was an auto parts distribution and commercial vehicle storage that did not need to be in this location, and didn’t add anything to the neighborhood. McKenzie warehouse – the previous owner of the land – has since relocated to the Bayview and is continuing its strong San Francisco business. An apartment building will be a much better use in this neighborhood. The project developer, Related CA, has kept in constant touch since the initial meeting and engaged in public, group, and private conversations regarding changes to the project with the community, Live Oak School next door, and the Jackson Playground public recreation area across the street. I’m still in conversations with Related CA and like the way the project has evolved.
How have you seen the project change in response to community feedback?
It has been a long road for Related CA on this project. They’ve been working to build consensus on this development for over 3 years. Some of the community is relatively anti-density. The private school is extremely demanding. What’s common in San Francisco is for each faction, including the developer, to push the envelope as far as possible, knowing that a compromise will result. Related has been very flexible responding to community requests and the project has changed accordingly since the original proposal, which is standard for all large San Francisco projects in response to both the Planning Department and neighborhood input. Related, however, has gone farther than the average project in many respects.
Here’s a chart of 1601 Mariposa’s evolution:
If you like how the Related CA’s project team worked to meet the neighbors’ specific needs, and you think this development adds well-designed housing (including 20% affordable rental housing for people making less than $36k annually), add your name to the list of 1601 Mariposa supporters!