Neighbors fighting city land sale 

A patch of land with trees and flowers on a steep embankment of upper Market Street may be the first piece of surplus property The City sells to help pay for low-income housing — but neighbors are fighting to protect what they call a park.

The potential sale of 3184 Market Street, a 12,700-square-foot plot of land northeast of Twin Peaks, is under consideration as part of the Surplus City Property Ordinance, passed in 2002 by the Board of Supervisors, as a way to create housing for low-income individuals, including homeless people.

Although several parcels of land are currently being considered for development, the steep slope of the Market Street plot, which reaches up to Corbett Street, would make it difficult, and thus more expensive to develop, which wouldn't be cost-effective for low-income housing, Joel Lipski, housing development director for the Mayor's Office on Housing, told The City's Planning Commission Thursday.

Lipski was at the meeting to request that the land's "public" zoning classification be changed to a residential designation, in order to qualify it for sale.

"It would only make sense to someone who could build something that could be sold at a relatively high price," said Lipski, who later told commission members that The City anticipated being able to sell the lot for $2.2 million.

Several dozen neighbors at the meeting protested the potential development of the land and said the plot had more value as green open space.

Miranda Coffeey, who has lived on Corbett Avenue for nearly 30 years, said that before The City put a chain link fence around the land about 20 years ago, neighbors considered it to be a community park where they would garden, planting trees and flowers. Coffeey said it was ironic that Mayor Gavin Newsom has touted his efforts to plant thousands of trees in The City, "and here we're talking about taking some down."

Although the Planning Commission officially recommended that the Mayors Office on Housing examine whether The City's Recreation and Park Department would be interested in taking on the land parcel as open green space, the commission did approve the rezoning request.

Commission member Dwight Alexander said the need for affordable housing in San Francisco weighed more heavily on his mind than the need for open space.

"If it comes between people having a place to live, or the neighbors having an open view, I want people to have a place to live," said Alexander.

Although a similar parcel of land at Roosevelt Way and Henry Street was also considered for sale, neighbors — with the help of their district Supervisor, Bevan Dufty, convinced the Housing Office that the land was better suited for a park than development.

Many of the other surplus properties proposed for development or sale were deemed too small or odd- shaped to be of use.

Affordable housing will be developed at Broadway and Sansome, and property at 150 Otis is in the planning stages for possible development, according to Lipski.

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Bonnie Eslinger

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