Crestmont Hills Development Update

October 7th, 2006

New Ordinance May Delay, But Won’t Block Massive Condominium Project in Forest Knolls

In June 2004, the Planning Department notified homeowners at the end of Crestmont Drive (on the upper slope of Mt. Sutro beyond Devonshire Way) that a new development involving 34 three- and four-bedroom condominium units was proposed to be built on a downhill extension of the street. This would extend what is already the City’s longest no-exit cul-de-sac, bring an unacceptable traffic and parking burden to Forest Knolls’ narrowest street, eliminate the area’s only accessible green space and play area for children (homes on this street have no yards), threaten safety due to limited access in case of emergencies, and pose a grave seismic risk to existing homes, as evidenced by recent landslides on the slope directly above the proposed project. Out of scale and out of character with the rest of the neighborhood, this development would significantly increase traffic on all of the major Forest Knolls access streets – particularly Warren, Oak Park, Christopher and Devonshire, and would moreover open the way for even further development if the road were extended to the two additional unbuilt parcels on the hillside.

Alarmed neighbors rapidly mobilized and formed a coalition to combat this ill-conceived project, with considerable success to date: an initial petition and mailing campaign was followed by an effort to alert the Forest Knolls and TPIA area and to place anti-development posters in as many homes as possible. The numerous yellow-and-red “Stop Crestmont Hills” signs posted in windows and on fences throughout the community are tangible evidence of the strong grass roots sentiment against this development.

Responding to neighborhood concerns and after meeting with coalition members and viewing the impacted area, our supervisor, Sean Elsbernd, was instrumental in assuring that a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) would be required. The initial study and Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the EIR was published in late May 2006 and the community responded with almost 150 letters and mailings opposing the project as planned. The Planning Department is now digesting this vigorous response and is moving forward with the EIR process.

In the meantime, recognizing the depth and breadth of neighborhood opposition, and, in particular, concerns about geoseismic safety, Supervisor Elsbernd has proposed an ordinance, amending the SF Building Code, creating a “Crestmont Slope Protection Area.” This would require additional review by a Structural Advisory Committee and specify additional structural and seismic safeguards to address certain of the issues which have been raised. Based on a previously passed ordinance regarding Edgehill Way, also on a steep hillside between Dewey Blvd. and Portola Dr., we consider this a positive step.

However, many of the critical issues which will negatively impact the neighborhood remain, including traffic and safety, parking, excessive density, lack of public transportation access, loss of play areas and green space, etc. This massive development, so out of character with the rest of Forest Knolls and so ill-conceived, is unlikely to be stopped or downscaled by the proposed ordinance, though it may be further delayed. Only constant vigilance and pressure from a concerned and active neighborhood and supportive friends throughout the City will have the power to stop, or at least to significantly downsize, this proposed assault on our neighborhood’s integrity and quality of life.

For further information and updates, or to volunteer your help, please visit the coalition’s web site or call the Crestmont-Mt.Sutro-Forest Knolls Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, 415-640-3869.

Entry Filed under: Issues