Consider the story of the flower farm at 770 Woolsey Street. It slopes down 2.2 acres in the sunny southern end of the city and is filled with run-down greenhouses, the glass long shattered—a chaos of birds and wild roses. For five years, advocates fought a developer who was trying to put 63 units on that bucolic space. They wanted to sell flowers there and grow vegetables for the neighborhood—a kind of banjo-and-beehives utopian fantasy. The thing they didn’t want—at least not there, not on that pretty hill—was a big housing development. Who wants to argue against them? In San Francisco the word developer is basically a slur, close to calling someone a Republican. What kind of monster wants to bulldoze wild roses?
Decades of progressive governance in San Francisco yielded a thicket of regulations—safety reviews, environmental reviews, historical reviews, sunlight-obstruction reviews—that empower residents to essentially paralyze development. It costs only $682 to file for a discretionary review that can hold up a construction project for years, and if you’re an established club that’s been around for at least two years, it’s free. Plans for one 19-unit-development geared toward the middle class were halted this year because, among other issues raised by the neighbors, the building would have increased overall shadow coverage on Dolores Park by 0.001 percent.
These are just two examples of San Francisco’s exclusionary zoning problem, but of course, the city has other unfortunate things going as well. For the full article, click here.