Plans to build affordable housing at the site of the Upper Haight McDonald's are less than a month old, but the project is already controversial.
In an environmental justice analysis of of the project site released by the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development, three alternatives have been offered; a 50-foot, 5-story residential building, a 65-foot, 7-story building, or no new construction at all.
Last month, the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council released a letter to the city about the proposed development, citing concerns that a building which exceeds area height limits could “substantially change the character of the area."
Specifically, HANC's letter stated:
We are concerned that the 65-foot, 7-story alternative may have significant environmental impacts and degrade the historic value of the west end of Golden Gate Park and the neighboring Stanyan Park Hotel. HANC does support maximizing the amount of affordable housing constructed in our neighborhood, but only where this is appropriately balanced with preserving the neighborhood’s character and environmental quality.
Examiner columnist Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez addressed the letter in a column this week titled, "Haight neighbors claim 100 percent affordable housing project at McDonald’s is too tall," but Rupert Clayton, HANC's Housing and Land Use Chair, told Hoodline his group's position wasn't fully represented.
"I can see how people are interpreting this as favoring five stories over seven," said Clayton, who drafted HANC's letter. "The reality is that we fully support building affordable housing on this site, and we're not going to take a position on any particular configuration until there's a design to review."
As a result, "we can only assess the likely environmental and historic-preservation impacts of a future affordable housing development in very general terms," said Clayton.
"We absolutely think that having affordable housing on the site is a great idea," said Clayton. "We support it, and we want to make that happen fast."
And after collectively identifying the communities best served by affordable housing on site—the elderly, or families, or the formerly homeless, for example—Clayton said, "at that point we'll see a design, and hopefully whatever design it is will look good, no matter what its height is."