Noe Valley Voice September 1997

Supes Trim Down Clipper Street Complex

By Loren J. Bialik

In July, the Board of Supervisors made a concession to the neighbors and scaled down part of a large housing development set to go up on Clipper Street between Douglass and Hoffman. Against the wishes of the city's Planning Commission, the board voted to reduce four of six duplexes facing 25th Street from three to two stories over a garage.

"This was the first time the board has modified a decision by this Planning Commission," said Ernie Beffel, attorney for the neighbors. "Everybody is pleased with the compromise."

As reported in the July/August Voice, many residents had been distressed in May when the Planning Commission approved developer Raymond Wong's plans to divide six lots into 13, and to erect an imposing 22-unit housing complex on the now-vacant site.

Members of the Friends of Noe Valley immediately filed an appeal. Now they're savoring the victory. "The neighbors pulled together to use the political proc-ess," said Beffel. "We showed the board how they could still meet their housing priorities and reach a compromise between the developer and the neighbors."

But all is not quiet atop Clipper Street hill. Some neighbors, like Barbara Martin, still have a bad taste in their mouth. For 16 years Martin has fought the development of these lots, fearing it would dwarf her Hoffman Avenue home.

Now Martin plans to take her case to the Department of Public Works. "There are serious questions regarding the soil studies that have been done," she says. "That land is filled-in land from the 1940s, when the city widened Clipper Street and tore out part of the hill."

Meanwhile, a new controversy has sprung up, over another building in the area. The owner of 4521 25th St., just west of the Clipper Street development, wants to tear down the edifice and raise a new two-unit building. The old structure is 24 feet high and has one story over a garage. The new building would be 35 feet high with three stories over a garage.

The neighbors have already asked the owner to trim down the size. "We're looking forward to seeing revised and more modest plans soon," said Beffel.