Twin Peaks project
by David-Elijah Nahmod
A development project that was approved by the San Francisco Planning Commission is being appealed because it will allow construction on one of the few remaining open green spaces in the city.
Neighbors also fear it will set a precedent and allow construction on several other open spaces in the area.
In a twist, one of the developers of the project is Rodrigo Santos, who is a former president of the city's Building Inspection Commission and a former City College trustee.
The building permit that was approved by the commission in May will allow a five-story over garage, four-unit building to be built at 70 Crestline, near the Twin Peaks bus stop. The building would be up against and sharing the public staircase that neighbors and tourists use to get to and from Twin Peaks, one of the highest points in San Francisco, according to members of the Twin Peaks Eastside Neighborhood Alliance.
Last Saturday, alliance member Frank Pietronigro, a gay artist and environmental activist, led a walking tour of the site to look at the green spaces.
"It was always the intention of the original developers to leave open spaces to complement and enrich the quality of life in the community," Pietronigro told the Bay Area Reporter during the July 13 tour. "The city does need housing, but let's hope the city has the capacity and wherewithal to keep open spaces green. Once they are gone they cannot be brought back."
Pietronigro led an upbeat group of about a dozen neighborhood residents on a circular tour of the street around the disputed site. Again and again, people stopped at various points to admire the impressive views and greenery that graced the open spaces between many of the small apartment buildings. One of the spots included the area's last remaining orchard tree.
"I'm really conscious of overbuilding, and what we are building," said Patricia Camp-Aguilar, a longtime area resident. "What are we replacing? If we remain unconscious of our own environment, then we remain unconscious of what's going on in our country and in the larger environment of the world. It's all interconnected."
Camp-Aguilar pointed out that many of the open spaces provide safety access and exits during fires and earthquakes.
Donald Bateman showed the B.A.R. the plans for the proposed new building. Developers promised to keep the space green by growing ivy along the side of the completed structure.
"Ivy growing up a concrete wall is not a green space," observed Martha Gorzycki.
"It's called mold," said Grant Wilson.
According to the alliance, the commission's approval of the project came despite opposition by neighbors, community activists, and even planning department staff, which urged the commission to deny the application to subdivide and build on the 70 Crestline lot.
Some neighbors have appealed the commission's decision to the Board of Appeals, which was expected to hear the case July 17 (after press time). In his letter to the board, Pietronigro said that the long-term quality of life issues should prompt it to deny the proposal.
"When I open my door each morning I am greeted with some of the last open spaces that Vista San Francisco offers our neighborhood," Pietronigro, a 16-year resident, wrote.
Santos and Urrutia, the developers, did not respond to messages seeking comment.
For more information, contact the Twin Peaks Eastside Neighborhood Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org.