Mission Housing pipeline adds new Balboa Reservoir affordable homes

A rendering from the presentation shown at two June 2017 community workshops, where three developer teams presented their proposals. Source: SF Planning website

San Francisco selects team to develop hundreds of units on huge site near City College; fourth development awarded to Mission Housing since 2015

The San Francisco Planning Department today announced the team of developers charged with bringing hundreds of new homes to the Balboa Reservoir, a 17.7-acre site next to City College of San Francisco.

Mission Housing Development Corporation, along with AvalonBay Communities, BRIDGE Housing Corporation, Habitat for Humanity of Greater San Francisco, and Pacific Union Development Company won the competitive process that began in March, 2017, when teams first submitted their qualifications.

Using city land to create housing

The site is currently owned by the City and County of San Francisco via the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC).

The Balboa Reservoir Development is part of the “Public Land for Housing program,” a collaboration among San Francisco officials to address the City’s housing needs by maximizing the use of City-owned land.

Mission Housing Development Corporation | Balboa Reservoir meeting

June 10, 2017 dozens of community stakeholders pour over proposals to develop housing at the Balboa Reservoir site. Photo by Tony Bear!

The San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) and the Planning Department coordinated the RFP process on behalf of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

After the proposals were submitted last May, each was publicly presented and discussed. The SFPUC accepted the recommendation of the panel which reviewed the proposals — and the public input — submitted.

“The winning proposal does an exceptional job of addressing both San Francisco’s extreme housing need and the community’s vision for the Balboa Reservoir,” said Harlan L. Kelly, Jr., SFPUC General Manager.

According to Ken Rich, SF OEWD Director of Development, the winning team “…brings tremendous experience building quality affordable and mixed-use housing, working thoughtfully with local communities, and successfully tackling large and complex projects.”

Partnerships facilitating affordable housing solutions

Two of the developers chosen have already teamed-up on other San Francisco affordable housing. Mission Housing and BRIDGE Housing expect to break ground on 160 new, 100 percent affordable family units at 1950 Mission Street in a few months.

Several entities on the team have built, or are building, in the Balboa Park area. Mission Housing and partner Related California are making progress on constructing new, 100 percent affordable homes across from the Balboa Park BART station.

Mission Housing will develop and own one or more buildings on the Balboa Reservoir site. Habitat for Humanity will develop affordable for-sale housing.

The co-lead developers of Balboa Reservoir are two of the region’s most prolific developers of apartment communities. AvalonBay and BRIDGE Housing will rely on Mission Housing to take the lead with engaging the community during the next several months. This engagement will refine the proposal for the site.

“Much of what we’re learning during our Balboa Park Upper Yard engagement process was vital in helping us win this new award,” said Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing. “Our main task over the next several months will be to ensure the people of San Francisco, especially those living in the immediate neighborhood, have a say in how this valuable land will be utilized.”

“Balboa Reservoir will be one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in San Francisco. Our plan encourages a diversity of households and families with a wide range of incomes.”

“We’re proud to see our efforts at bringing new affordable housing to San Francisco pay off,” said Moss. “In our immediate future, Mission Housing will provide quality, 100 percent affordable housing for thousands more people.”

“Our commitment to Balboa Park is for the long term.”

The winning game plan

Mission Housing Development Corporation | Reservoir Park

A 2.2-acre green space, “Reservoir Park” will have direct links to surrounding neighborhoods. Rendering: SF Planning

So far, the winning vision re-purposes the 1,000-space parking lot into a new neighborhood with a 2.2-acre green space at its center. Currently dubbed “Reservoir Park” the green space will have direct links to all the surrounding neighborhoods, to create a welcoming public realm. In total, more than four acres of parks and open spaces are proposed.

The heart of the Balboa Reservoir site is dedicated to walking and biking, with numerous walking routes into and through the site. Pathways will connect to surrounding Ocean Avenue and Westwood Park neighborhoods, and to the City College campus.

Numerous buildings of varied heights will contain townhouses, apartments, and commercial spaces. The developers hope to incorporate as many as 1,100 homes in the plan. A shared 500-slot parking garage — part of more than 12-hundred below grade parking spots included in the proposal — will serve both the City College community and Balboa Reservoir residents.

Other parameters for the development, as stipulated by the Planning Department include:
• an affordable housing target of 50% of units catering to low, moderate, and middle-income households
• collaboration with City College on teacher housing
• inclusion of at least one childcare center

Putting people first

Mission Housing will coordinate the delivery of social services for residents of all income levels throughout the new development, and the entire Balboa Reservoir neighborhood.

“Our extensive experience in cultivating services partnerships will ensure that we can deliver childcare and other benefits that will make this development a great asset to the entire neighborhood,” said Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services for Mission Housing. “We will be in the unique position of programming all the human elements: social services, the recreation at the parks, and the community-serving nonprofits.”

“The input we get from our outreach will help us design and mold a perfect mix to enhance the quality-of-life for every one of our community stakeholders.”

Engineered for deep sustainability

The Balboa Reservoir team also includes Van Meter Williams Pollack and Pyatok as the master plan architects, ensuring the neighborhood “fit” of the development, and directing a community-based design approach. The master plan architects will oversee other architecture firms that will design individual buildings on the parcel, ensuring an appropriate diversity of styles and ideas in a harmonious master plan.

All aspects of the development’s design will be guided by the principles of the EcoDistrict model, to enhance livability, and to reduce the environmental footprint of Balboa Reservoir for generations to come.

READ MORE: Proposal submitted

READ MORE: Presentation to community groups

Leaders highlight Excelsior development, urge grand bargain on affordable housing bills

Mission Housing Development Corporation Executive Director Sam Moss (left) watches as San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safaí makes comments at a rally encouraging California lawmakers to pass comprehensive legislation that prioritizes affordable housing statewide. Looking on are California Assemblymember Phil Ting (center), Senator Scott Wiener and Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services for Mission Housing. Photo by Tony Bear!

Work to turn Balboa Park parking lot into 100 units of affordable housing could begin sooner if state legislature reaches agreement on affordable housing bills

California Assemblymember Phil Ting and Senator Scott Wiener today joined San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safaí and more than 30 community members, workers and Excelsior District residents to support a proposal to turn the two-acre Balboa Park Upper Yard parking lot next to the Balboa Park BART station into 100 units of much-needed affordable housing.

Speakers also called upon Governor Jerry Brown and state legislators to approve a comprehensive package of affordable housing bills as soon as Sacramento leaders return from their summer recess on August 21, which they said will help projects such as the Balboa Park Upper Yard.

“State proposals to increase both short- and long-term affordable housing funding, and prioritize affordable housing for expedited permitting could help accelerate groundbreaking at the parking lot by up to six months,” said Mission Housing Development Corporation Executive Director Sam Moss. Mission Housing is building Balboa Park Upper Yard with co-developer Related California. “When this process begins, soon we can be housing people instead of cars, and making San Francisco neighborhoods better.”

The Balboa Park Upper Yard development is located in the districts of all three elected officials who spoke at this morning’s rally. The development will provide homes to low-income families struggling to survive on-going San Francisco housing crisis. Also included in the apartments: a child care facility, community-serving commercial spaces, and a public park. There will also be improvements to the Balboa Park BART station plaza.

“Housing costs are fueling inequality by uprooting families and reducing access to high-wage jobs of the future. Across California, families overpay for housing or commute great distances from housing they can afford,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). “When the Legislature reconvenes later this month, we are energized to reach a grand bargain on affordable housing. Our success will decide whether projects like the Upper Yard are routine or a novel anomaly.”

“California’s housing crisis is deep and threatens our economy, environment, and quality of life,” said Senator Scott Wiener, who has authored a bill to streamline housing approvals. “We need to make it easier to create housing at all income levels, and we must create sustained funding for affordable housing. The State needs to step up and be part of the solution.”

“The building of 100 units of affordable housing in District 11 is a harbinger of my and the City’s commitment to securing housing for working families,” said Supervisor Ahsha Safai. “The fast-tracking of permits for new, affordable family housing, undoubtedly, will help the city keep the families it so desperately needs.”

Supervisor Safaí has only recently completed his first six months in office, but he has already delivered significant affordable housing investments for the residents of District 11 neighborhoods such as the Excelsior, Outer Mission, and Ocean View/Merced Heights/Ingleside. Earlier this year, Sup. Safaí led efforts at the Board of Supervisors to craft, and win unanimous approval for, what has become the strongest inclusionary housing ordinance in the country, complete with housing requirements for working class and middle income families.

Assemblymember David Chiu, who represents the district that begins just blocks east of the Balboa Park Upper Yard, sent the following statement: “California is in the midst of an intense housing crisis. The legislature must act on housing to ensure Balboa Park Upper Yard and projects like it across the state can get built quickly and begin to house Californians.”

“When the legislature passes a comprehensive Affordable Housing Bill Package, Mission Housing will able to expand the type of high quality services the residents and community of Balboa Park deserve,” said Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services for Mission Housing.

Many of those who came out this morning stand to benefit from more projects such as the Balboa Park Upper Yard, especially if state officials deliver on their pledge to pass a comprehensive package of affordable housing bills. Supporters at today’s rally included neighborhood residents eagerly awaiting to apply for a home, housing advocates pushing for more housing across all income levels throughout California, and union construction workers hoping to work on a development that they could one day live in.

READ ALSO: Dozens give input on Balboa Park Upper Yard development

Dozens give input on Balboa Park Upper Yard development

Mission Housing directors Marcía Contreras (3rd from right) and Martín Ugarte (2nd from right) lead a break-out group discussion at the March 25, 2017 community meeting about the affordable housing construction planned for the Balboa Park Upper Yard site. Photo by Tony Bear!

First large public community meeting shares information, solicits opinions

Saturday, March 25, eighty people attended a three-hour community meeting at Balboa High School. The event, organized by Mission Housing Development Corporation staff, shared details about the affordable housing construction planned for the Balboa Park Upper Yard site, a vacant property at the corner of San Jose and Geneva Avenues in San Francisco. The 100-percent affordable rental housing planned for the site will be offered to low- and very low-income families, including some formerly homeless.

The goals of the meeting: to share basic information about the issues surrounding the mixed-use complex, and to get input from community stakeholders about ways the apartment building can best serve the Balboa Park neighborhood.

Mission Housing Executive Director Sam Moss opened the meeting. He acknowledged the years of community engagement that helped bring the project to fruition.

“Many organizations and individuals are responsible for getting us to here,” said Moss. A slide in the presentation thanked John Avalos, San Francisco District 11 Supervisor from 2009 – 2013.

“Supervisor Avalos and his staff put in years of tireless advocacy and community organizing that brought this project to light, from its first envisioning through convincing SFCity to buy the land and hold the Request For Qualification competition led to this day.”

Also recognized: A coalition of community stakeholders organized as Communities United for Health and Justice. CUHJ conducted dozens of community surveys, group meetings and face-to-face interviews with residents of District 11. The work helped define the community vision for the Balboa Park Upper Yard development.

Planning and zoning requirements, transit hub considerations

San Francisco’s Planning Department and the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, also known as MOHCD, have specified various aspects of zoning and land use for the Balboa Park Upper Yard parcel. Much of the vision for the site was formulated in the Balboa Park Station Area Plan, developed in 2008 and 2009. The meeting began with a presentation detailing the city’s vision for the site.

The Transit-Oriented Development is being done in partnership with MOHCD, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). The office of District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safaí will help Mission Housing coordinate all parties and keep the hopes and concerns of the entire community at the forefront of every decision.

All the parties are collaborating to upgrade transit facilities, and improve pedestrian and bike rider safety, along with the construction of the housing and community-serving ground floor spaces.

Scott Falcone, a long-time neighborhood resident and an affordable housing development consultant to Mission Housing, outlined how the community planning process will progress, and discussed the development schedule. Then, Falcone and Moss clarified what goals the development will accomplish, beyond creating 80 to 120 units of affordable housing. “This is an opportunity to create a gateway into the neighborhood at this major transportation center,” said Falcone. “The development team is committed to working together with the community in a meaningful way, today and throughout the years to come.”

Anne Torney, AIA, partner at Mithun | Solomon, the architecture firm charged with designing the development, presented the opportunities and challenges the development faces. Some of the areas examined: SFMTA and BART considerations, street design, and neighborhood impacts. Developers hope to include community-serving ground floor spaces and public open space to for use by the apartment tenants as well as residents of the surrounding neighborhood. “Our goal is to balance the need for affordable units, and the desire for the building to fit-in with the neighborhood scale,” said Torney. “This is an opportunity to create a neighborhood-transforming asset.”

“We will be designing and building the Balboa Park Upper Yard development in a manner that produces a high-quality, enduring living environment.”

Four break-out groups allowed community members to drill down into particular topics about the development. The lively discussions included issues such as: the design of the building, housing affordability, circulation and transportation, and supportive services. The developers displayed enlarged visuals, and note takers recorded the feedback given. Community members offered opinions about important considerations, and gave optimistic solutions for the development team to consider. At the end of the meeting, all the participants heard highlights from the break-out group discussions.

Only the beginning

The March 25 meeting was the first in a series of large public community meetings this year, to ensure the community has considerable input. The development team already participated in meetings with District 11 community organizations and neighborhood resident associations in 2016, and earlier this year. These smaller meetings will continue.

Second public meeting reviews construction scenarios

May 13th, another large community meeting was held at Balboa High School. This meeting was well attended by community members. Also present were staff from MOHCD, SFMTA, Planning and BART.

The development team presented a range of construction scenarios based upon the community input obtained at the March meeting. The PowerPoint presentation and design variables presented to the community members are linked below.

Aditi Mahmud, Project Manager at Mission Housing, is the organizer of the Balboa Park Upper Yard community meetings. She looks forward to engaging more community partners to host future events. “Every community meeting should be accessible to people all over the Outer Mission/Excelsior area, so we are looking at a variety of venues for future events,” said Mahmud. “Thanks to John Neponuceno, the assistant principal at Balboa High, and his staff. They have helped make planning our events smooth and painless.”

This fall, the developers hope to submit a community-endorsed plan for the development to the Planning Department.

RELATED: View the March PowerPoint presentation shown

RELATED: View the May PowerPoint presentation shown

RELATED: See the Construction Variations discussed May 13

RELATED: See this PDF for frequently mentioned comments from the March 25, 2017 community meeting, and other meetings from the last several months.

READ ALSO: Mayor’s Office selects Mission Housing and Related California partnership to build affordable housing at Outer Mission/Excelsior site

Mission affordable housing builder undertakes retrofit

The ground floor area at 3254 24th Street will undergo one of the more extensive rehab efforts, eliminating the existing commercial space. Photo by Tony Bear!

Mission Housing begins life and safety upgrades; Mayor’s office funding retrofit on various permanently affordable rental units

The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development for the City and County of San Francisco, also known as MOHCD, has awarded Mission Housing Development Corporation $4.5 million to perform wholesale structural improvements on several buildings in the Mission Housing portfolio.

In 2016, MOHCD issued a Notice of Funding Availability, or NOFA. The goal of the funding: To finance the acquisition and rehabilitation of numerous multi-family buildings in the San Francisco Small Sites Program. Small Sites are defined as five- to 25-unit buildings that house low-income tenants vulnerable to displacement. The program provides the money needed to help nonprofits buy and/or maintain these sites. The residences are protected from real estate speculation and rising rents, and San Francisco affordable housing stock is maintained.

The Mission Housing response to the NOFA detailed the extensive rehab work needed to stabilize six multi-family buildings and help preserve their affordability over the long-term.

“One reason Mission Housing exists, is to stabilize and preserve affordable housing stock in the Mission and throughout San Francisco,” said Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing. “People have a right to live in safe, habitable places. Thanks to the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development we can make the investment needed to uphold the high quality of life all San Franciscans deserve, regardless of their income.”

Retrofits address multiple concerns while preserving housing stock, community-serving businesses

The six properties being retrofitted, originally built in the late 1890s and early 1920s, were acquired by Mission Housing in the 1980s and 1990s to preserve affordable housing stock.

The construction efforts are projected to begin in fourth quarter of 2017. Much of the work needed addresses seismic concerns, habitability, life/safety, and code compliance issues. While most of the building occupants should experience minimal disruption, a few residents may be temporarily relocated at some point in the construction phases.

The retrofit work will encompass a few commercial spaces. “Mission Housing is working with all the affected commercial tenants to ensure their businesses remain strong throughout construction,” said Moss.

Calle 24 Latino Cultural District could gain a community-serving space

The ground floor area at 3254 24th Street will undergo one of the more extensive rehab efforts, as part of essential life and safety upgrades needed to keep the upstairs residences viable. Because this renovation will substantially reduce the amount of commercial space, it could be converted to offices for the Mission Housing Resident Services team.

“We are looking into how the space could transition into a neighborhood-serving hub,” said Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services for Mission Housing. Contreras is a member of the Calle 24 Council. “Our teams could be in closer proximity to our 24th Street-area residents, and more non-residents could access our community services.”

“This change would make 3254 24th Street another asset to the Mission District,” said Contreras.

The commercial tenant being displaced by the retrofit work will receive assistance with relocating.