Crestmont Neighbors Unite Against Massive Development
Crestmont Drive is a hidden and virtually unknown street high up on the slope of Mt. Sutro behind UCSF. After the intersection with Devonshire Way, it is a no-exit cul-de-sac which winds around the hillside, with blind curves, narrowing as it descends for 2/10 of a mile. It is the longest no-exit street in San Francisco. In the evening, cars park on both sides of the narrow street, reducing it to a one lane street. The neighborhood consists of single family residences and duplexes. Children play in the street because there are no yards, and residents, young and old, walk in the street.
…the developer refuses to even consider scaling down the project. The developer contends it just can’t make enough money building less than 34 units and that the neighborhood should be grateful that it is not developing over 60 units.”
Now, there is a plan to extend this street even further around another sharp turn to accommodate a massive 34-unit condominium project, which will include a large ten-unit building, and which will double the density of the neighborhood, adding to the street’s already overburdened parking situation. The developer of this proposed project is San Francisco Overlook Development, LLC. On March 7, 2013 the proposed project goes to the Planning Commission for approval.
There is strong opposition to the project by the residents of Crestmont Drive and the residents of nearby Forest Knolls. The general feeling among these residents is that this project is totally irresponsible, and disregards both the safety and the character of the neighborhood. Making Crestmont Drive even longer, when it is already the longest no-exit road in the city, and doubling or tripling the traffic on a street that is narrow and winding and has seen more than its share of accidents, is just wrong. Only last month, a small fire truck attempting to quickly respond to an emergency struck and damaged a legally-parked car because of the narrow street. The consensus of neighborhood opinion is that the proposed project will create a disaster waiting to happen.
In violation of sound planning principles, this developer is proposing to load up the end of the dead-end Crestmont Drive cul-de-sac with a massive development. The new development would be located far from public transportation, requiring residents to use cars. The residents will be unable to use public transportation because the nearest bus stop is a steep quarter mile away. Every few years, the City has given notice of its intent to eliminate this bus route but has not yet managed to do so.
The Crestmont Drive neighborhood overwhelmingly believes that access is currently difficult and unsafe, and wonders how the developer and the city could even think of making Crestmont Drive much longer. Neighbors in the adjacent Forest Knolls area, of which Crestmont Drive is a continuation, are also upset about this project because of the increase in traffic that it will bring to their streets. Warren Drive, Christopher, Oak Park, and Devonshire Way are the major access routes to the proposed development and will be significantly affected. The neighborhood is not only worried about the increased traffic flow this development will bring, but is also concerned that it will be just the opening round of an even more massive development to come. The proposed Overlook Development condos occupy just one third of a larger hillside tract on the north and west slope of Mt. Sutro. If this project gets a green light, the path will be clear to extend the road even further. Nearby hillside lots behind the apartments and homes on Warren Drive will be open to additional high density housing, putting even more strain on an already burdened neighborhood.
Despite overwhelming opposition to the massiveness of the development, the developer refuses to even consider scaling down the project. The developer contends it just can’t make enough money building less than 34 units and that the neighborhood should be grateful that it is not developing over 60 units. The developer has proposed installing speed bumps, signage, a possible butterfly garden, and other cosmetic changes in an attempt to appease the neighbors.
The Crestmont neighbors, along with the support of a neighborhood coalition, forced the developer to prepare a formal Environmental Impact Report. The EIR states that the project will not have any significant impact on the neighborhood and that it will in fact improve the neighborhood. It further states that concerns regarding additional density, emergency access, traffic, fire, and parking, and building on one of the city’s steepest hillsides, which has already been the scene of previous landslides and mudslides, are not significant factors which would require scaling down the massiveness of the project.
Building the proposed project is considered by an overwhelming majority of the Crestmont Drive and surrounding area residents as an act which will destroy the neighborhood and endanger the safety and quality of life of its residents. They believe the proposed project is just the beginning in this process of neighborhood destruction. Both the Crestmont neighbors and the neighbors in the adjoining neighborhoods urge you to attend the meeting at the Planning Commission on March 7, 2013 and express your views.
Additional information can be found at www.crestmontpreservation.org
Though there are no dates set for Public Hearings before the Planning Department, due to the delays caused by the Regatta, hearings are expected in February or March.
Information recently obtained from the Planning Department indicates that the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on the SF Overlook project at the end of Crestmont Drive is expected to be published in December.
Once it has been published, we will have a 45 day period to write letters and e-mail our objections, critiques, concerns and objections and to petition the Planning Commission. We will mobilize all our resources at that time to make our neighborhood’s voice heard.
There will also be a critical public hearing before the Planning Commission thirty days after publication of the DEIR. Place, time and exact date to be announced. The 2nd draft of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) pertaining to the SF Overlook 34-unit condominium project at the end of Crestmont Drive has been published, neighbors have 30 days from publicationto express our concerns and objections regarding this oversized development which will add far too much traffic, parking congestion and density to our neighborhood. We will notify all of our Mt.Sutro Woods and Forest Knolls neighbors when the time comes to deluge the Planning Department with letters. It will also be important that we attend and speak at the public hearing which will be held by the Planning Commission.
Crestmont neighbors have mounted a successful campaign before, beating back this same development under a different name and with a different development firm once before. They believe they can stop this project in its present form. “If something must be built on this treacherous hillside, we are fighting for a much scaled-back development of far fewer single family homes which would address the critical issues of safety, congestion and density at the end of this fragile cul-de-sac, and be more in character with the surrounding neighborhood,” the website crestmontpreservation.org says. "As a visible reflection of our resolve, neighbors have adapted the now familiar red and yellow “STOP SF OVERLOOK DEVELOPMENT” poster sends a powerful message of neighborhood sentiment and cohesiveness."
Many windows in the Crestmont neighborhood are displaying the poster. If you would like a poster, please call 415-640-3869 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the website: crestmontpreservation.org.