Upzoning Ingleside: Proposal To Meet Housing Goal Still Shifting

The neighborhood could see building heights raised between six and 14 stories to meet the state’s demand for more housing.

Rendering showing Ocean Avenue with building envelopes.
A rendering shows what Ingleside's Ocean Avenue would look like in the unlikely occurrence that all properties were rebuilt using proposed building height allowances. | Courtesy image

The neighborhood’s transit corridors are subject to San Francisco’s state-mandated plan to raise building height limits.

To meet the state requirement to build 82,000 new homes by 2031, the San Francisco Planning Department has been working on a proposal for upzoning the western and northern sides of the city for nearly two years with their first hearing about it taking place on Feb. 1. The plan includes upzoning more of Ocean Avenue’s properties near the City College of San Francisco toward the Lakeside neighborhood as well as most of Junipero Serra Boulevard from 19th Avenue to Sloat and St. Francis Boulevard to between six and 14 stories.

“The Planning Department's rezoning effort is iterative and I agree that the focus of the height increases should be along major commercial and transit corridors, like Ocean Avenue, where we want to support more housing opportunities for workers, families and seniors,” District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar said.

Melgar also said that the upzoned parcels must be carefully considered so the plans best represent the city’s unique neighborhoods.

Areas along Junipero Serra Boulevard near Ingleside Terraces will be upzoned to six stories and the building at the corner of Junipero Serra Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, where the Chicago Title Insurance Company is located, will be upzoned to 14 stories or 140 feet. The proposal also includes two blocks of Monterrey Boulevard in Sunnyside which will be upzoned to six stories.

While Randolph Street and Brotherhood Way are not highlighted in the plan, despite lying along transit lines, Planning Department Public Relations Manager Annie Yalon said Brotherhood Way is and always has been a part of the rezoning proposal.

Randolph Street, however, is a part of their priority equity geography in the Housing Element, the vision for sheltering residents as the city grows, which will have targeted investments by the city to achieve certain goals like fostering racially and socially inclusive neighborhoods through equitable distribution of investment and growth.

Feedback from the community has been mixed.

Ingleside Terraces resident Monica Morse finds the plans to be misguided with an inaccurate projection of the growth of the city and how it displays an anti-single family home, anti-residential community way of thinking.

"I'm hoping they preserve some of these planned residential communities that are historic in nature," Morse said. "Right now the plan goes through it. It has no regard for these communities. It'll replace single-family homes. This idea that it was on commercial corridors, there's very little commercial on Junipero Serra. It's homes that go right up against it. It's super irresponsible. It's super aggressive."

Professor and Haight-Ashbury neighborhood activist Calvin Welch told the San Francisco Chronicle that the rezoning would cause the demolition of single-story retailers. Demolition of residential units, however, would be protected.

As for the impact on small businesses along these upzoned areas, Ocean Ale House owner Miles Escobedo said it won’t affect his business unless it brings in affordable housing.

“It needs to be affordable so people can afford to go out and support small businesses that also have to pay rent or mortgage or insurance or taxes in this city that has a tough time supporting the little guy,” said Escobedo, who is also president of the Ingleside Merchants Association.

While meetings around the proposal are still ongoing, the city is eager to move things along with Mayor Breed’s Executive Directive on Housing for All last year requiring the Planning Commission to submit a final zoning proposal for consideration to policymakers by January 2024.

Despite this, the supervisors and Breed have not been on the same page with additional housing measures. In March, Breed vetoed District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin’s bill that would limit density along the city’s Northern Waterfront, claiming that it would counter the goals of the Housing Element that they unanimously approved last year. Her veto was overturned on March 26 with an 8-3 vote.

Breed announced an update to the Housing for All plan last Wednesday that includes switching the planning commission's focus toward six- and eight-story buildings instead of maxing out allowable heights. High-rise buildings would still be included on the city’s widest and busiest streets. In addition, Breed asked the commission to consider removing density limits that currently restrict the number of housing units that can be built on parcel sizes to help combat the need for additional housing.

“If we want to be a city that families can afford to live in, where workers can be near their jobs, where seniors and young people can find safe, affordable places to live, then we need to completely change our approach to housing,” Breed said. “We have made real progress this first year but there is much more work to do to deliver real and lasting change to make San Francisco a city for all.”

While the city’s housing battle continues, the next steps for the upzoning plan include an additional hearing by the Planning Commission, which is to be announced due to rescheduling, before the proposal goes before the Board of Supervisors later this year.

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