After Decades of Failure, 1,000-Plus Homes Coming to the Balboa Reservoir in San Francisco

Four developers tried, and four developers failed, until the San Francisco Board of Supervisors changed the story in August 2020.

August 13, 2020, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

"San Francisco’s west side will get its biggest influx of housing in several decades, after the Board of Supervisors [August 11] approved more than 1,000 new units on the Balboa Reservoir site," reports Trisha Thadani

"The board voted to rezone the 17-acre property off Ocean Avenue. The agreement allows the developers —Bridge Housing, AvalonBay and Mission Housing — to build 1,100 units of housing, 550 of them affordable, on the lot," adds Thadani. 

The property, now used as a parking lot for City College of San Francisco students, has created generations of controversy, as detailed in an article by J.K. Dineen that previewed the vote. Since the 1960s, four development proposals, by Dineen's count, fell to neighborhood opposition. "All of the proposals were blocked by a combination of neighborhood opposition and resistance from City College staff and students looking to preserve the land for future expansion," writes Dineen. 

For additional details about the scope of the project, Thadano adds: "Of the 550 affordable units, 150 will be set aside for City College teachers and staff. The project will also include a community center, 4 acres of open space, a 100-slot child-care center — 50% of those would be set aside for low-income families — and $10 million in fees for transit and infrastructure improvements."

As noted in both articles, controversy followed the project right to the end, as numerous faculty and students of City College joined members of the community to urge the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors to reject the proposal. 

The breakthrough for this latest, ultimately successful iteration of the development proposals for the Balboa Reservoir site came in April, when Mayor London Breed negotiated an agreement with the developers to include the affordable units in the overall development scheme.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020 in San Francisco Chronicle

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