Related-California’s proposed 316-unit housing development at 1601 Mariposa Street has been subject to intense scrutiny by Grow Potrero Responsibly.  Members of the Potrero Hill-based civic advocacy group are concerned about traffic, pedestrian safety, hazardous materials, a lack of recreational areas within the development, the potential shadowing of Jackson Playground, and the absence of public infrastructure to support the large housing proposal.  

Earlier this year West Oakland resident Sonja Trauss joined the debate, bent on making sure the project gets built as planned.  Trauss sees 1601 Mariposa as helping to ease the Bay Area’s housing crisis. Trauss founded San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation (SFBARF) with her own funds to fight housing shortages by promoting high density developments.  The organization has amassed a mailing list of 170 people, with upwards of 50 active members. 

Trauss believes that even pricey housing, aimed at wealthier tenants, will increase supply in ways that will dampen overall costs. “Keeping new developments from being built will only add to future problems in the City,” she said. SFBARF is gaining momentum, and “has attracted members such as Chris Nicholson, a former New York Times editor,” according to a report from the San Francisco Business Times.  

Trauss wanted to live in San Francisco, but couldn’t find a place in the City when she moved from Philadelphia four years ago. Since then, she’s been supporting development in the area. Trauss actively campaigned for a Raintree Partners project located at 2051 Third Street last summer.  According to Richard Price, development associate at Raintree Partners, Trauss’ testimonials had a positive impact for the project at public meetings. 

However, according to long-time resident Lisa Juan, the Hill is one of the last San Francisco neighborhoods that remains relatively traffic free, with a small town feel. The community’s moderately low density is what attracts families to live in the area, she said. Juan wants Related to “scale the development to the community and population.” 

According to the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) released by the San Francisco Planning Department last year, intersections at Mariposa and Mississippi streets and 16th and Arkansas streets would experience increased traffic congestion if the development is built as planned.  The DEIR also emphasized the need to properly handle hazardous wastes and particulates that might be released during construction, though these adverse environmental impacts would be less than significant if properly mitigated.

“The Planning Commissioners were very engaged during the testimonies, which lasted for two hours,” said Grow Potrero Responsibly member Holly Friedman, referring to a Commission hearing on the project held in January.  Grow Potrero Responsibly believes that the Planning Commission will recommend a lower density project with new community benefits.

According to Evette Davis, public relations manager at BergDavis Public Affairs, “Related is very open to working with our neighbors, including the adjacent schools, to schedule and coordinate activities as much as possible to reduce exposure to noise, dust and other disturbances.” She said the earliest construction would begin is in the spring of 2016, pending City approval, and would last for roughly two years. 

Originally Published in March 2015: PotreroView.net

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