Neighbors Rally to Keep Ugliness Off Valencia

While the “artisan haircut”-promising 299 Valencia has been attracting a lot of negative attention lately, another forthcoming development down the street is getting neighbors all worked up.

Apparently people are fuming over plans to convert the historic Kentucky Fried Chicken building into another boring, tasteless, cookie-cutter condo development.  The problem?  It's too tall, it doesn't provide any parking (it's a “bike-centric” building, whatever that means), would “devastate” The Marsh Theater next door, and is irresponsible towards the “character, culture and integrity” of the community.  But it gets worse:

[At a meeting discussing the project], one neighbor kept it simple. “My concern is trivial but I will voice it — the building is ugly,” he said.

Yup, it's ugly.  Fact.  It's so ugly that the ugliness of what is slated to replace the neighborhoody KFC is at the heart of the petition letter area businesses are sending to the Planning Commission:

As an owner/manager of a business on Valencia Street I oppose the proposed construction of a five story, fifty-five foot tall, twelve unit apartment building on the corner of Valencia and Hill Streets (1050 Valencia Street). This blandly-designed project is out of character with the charming stretch of mostly one, two and three story buildings and stores along this stretch of Valencia Street and surrounding blocks. It threatens the unique neighborhood feel that attracted us to locate our business here and which draws the clientele that we depend upon for our survival.

We respectfully request that you reject the plans submitted for 1050 Valencia and ask the developer submit plans that are compatible with our neighborhood.

I don't personally have any food in this fight, but I can see where neighbors are coming from.  When I look at the plans, I see yet another pricy see-thru box with a UPS Store on the ground floor, disrupting the unique vibe of the neighborhood.  When I look at what stands today, I see a Kentucky Fried Chicken.

With that, the Liberty Hill Neighborhood Association has lined Valencia Street with a heap of soon-to-be-torn-down fliers, requesting that every able-bodied fist-shaker storm City Hall tomorrow and let the Planning Commission know they're not down with “blandly-designed” buildings on Valencia.  So if you want to defend Valencia against this glass-paned bane and preserve our unique architectural character, you best show up to Room 400 tomorrow at noon.  There's a Kentucky Fried Chicken at stake.

Comments (16)

I’m calling bullshit on this one. The neighbor’s released their own plans for the site, which are even uglier.

It seems their complaint isn’t about ugliness at all, but rather about the number of units vs. parking spots. Since the city won’t budge on that issue they’ve decided to complain about architecture as a means of accomplishing the same goal.

More homeowners with high incomes. Isn’t that what we all want? ;)

Thank god it’s not a Jack in the Box! No garage pah! It doesn’t look grungy (not 90’s more 16th & Mission grunge) enough. Needs a bar or a garden on the rooftop. New Mission zoning rule.

Last time I checked, we still can’t bring people back from the dead which means we won’t be able to reanimate all the people who built the 2 and three story Victorians everyone seems to care so much about. (never mind the fact that there are buildings from every decade on Valencia and there are a fair amount of 5 story buildings as well. But hey! It’s only the 2 and 3 story twee victorians that matter. right?)

Also, just out of curiosity, if you think this is ugly, what would you like to see instead? People in this city are very quick to say they don’t like something but then can’t say what they would like to see as an alternative.
Personally, I think it’s pretty bland, but not the worse thing in the world. I would rathe see something way more modern and no bay windows. But that’s just me.

this new thing is “bland” and “ugly” …but the Marsh building is “charming”? That only makes sense if “charming” is a code for “short” and “already there”.

I don’t love it, but so what? The proposition that “everyone nearby gets to decide what your building looks like” seems utterly untenable. How nearby do you have to be? I’m about two blocks away, and goddamn it, I want it to look like Mies Van Der Rohe’s Lafayette Park Townhouses in Detroit:⅓559683796_d34361353c.jpg

As someone two blocks away, how many votes do I get. How many votes are there? 1,000? 20? Where does my voice fit? Should I propose alternatives, like some Philip Johnson residence? The Cartier Foundation in Paris? That would be nice. Should I go door to door seeing what I can drum up the most support for? Or do two loudmouths next door get to decide what the Mission looks like from now on?

Come to think of it, I don’t like two-to-three story Victorians. I want to retroactively have your buildings razed and replaced with things of my liking. I can’t? You own the property? So does the guy with the new building plans. Weird how you get to decide how his building looks, but he doesn’t get to decide how yours does.

I actually think it looks like a great place to live. Lots of light and those bay windows will make for rooms that feel big and are amenable to modern open floor plans. The bay windows also help blend in with the Victorians in the neighborhood (and IMHO living in a carved up shotgun Victorian sucks… I don’t understand peoples attachment except for the exterior appearance).

I get the parking complaint though. The mission long range plan calls for less than one parking space per new apartment and my personal feeling is that’s just dumb. People still need cars to get in and out of the city.

I also understand the height problem. Again, the long range plan is at fault. The max height for new construction is 55’ so every developer submits a plan for a 55’ building in order to maximize profits at the expense of blending into the surroundings. My belief is that the max height should be 55’ feet or the height of the highest adjacent building plus 12’, which ever is less. Possibly slap in an exception to allow a 3 story building next to a one story building.

I’m sure all 12 of the Marsh’s regular patrons will be deeply horrified by the new building.

I honestly don’t have an issue with a new, taller building on the street. I just want something that speaks better to the character of the neighborhood. This building could exist anywhere. I get it, it’s better than a KFC, but developers desperately want to move into this corridor, so let’s challenge them to come up with the next architecture style of San Francisco.

This ain’t it.

(And that first floor retail space is begging for a Quizno’s or a Starbucks.)

It sure beats Spork

And finally {continuing to shake fist}

While I don’t like the design, it seems to exactly take into account the “nature of the neighborhood,” while adding some vertical height, which provides density we desperately need. Architecturally, it has that quasi-bay window thing that is included for one reason - to echo the bay window norm of Victorian buildings. It also seems to be working that Parisian cafe look on the first floor, which any neighbor would love if [insert artisanal coffee house] were there, but looks like Starbucks to some, because, well, it’s new. It’s very hard to design-in patina.

I would much prefer something that completely ignored the nature of the neighborhood - it’s 2012, dammit. But this is the kind of design that anticipates those kinds of complaints, and panders to them.

Now, if your problem is just height, well, sorry. It’s great that you can afford to live in a city with such low supply, but we need to increase supply so *other* people can afford it. Height makes that possible.

Is no one here making the connection between the paucity of available apartments in the Mission and the construction of new housing? Every single vacant lot on Valencia and Mission should be filled with a 5 story building to accommodate the influx of people to the neighborhood. If people want to keep the area low-density, they should volunteer to live in the high-rises in the Tenderloin or downtown, which exist because that’s where everyone wanted to live 100 years ago.

Yes, these new developments are bland-o-rama, but they’d be even less likely to get built if they had any distinction.


Nice! Hopefully they’ll be successful in keeping this eyesore out of the neighborhood!

Haw haw haw. Fuck you KFC.

New building is fine.

The rest of you get over yourselves. There are much bigger battles in life.

That is, if you have one.