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article imageOp-Ed: Residents fear 'Dental Condos' will diminish retail space Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Aug 29, 2012 in Lifestyle
San Francisco - Nothing stirs people up like changes to a familiar setting, even in a city like San Francisco. Something as simple as adding a parking space can spark a flurry of concerns from any and all sides.
Next to Star of the Sea Church convent at 4334 Geary Blvd is a lamp repair shop that is scheduled to be torn down and in its place a medical/dental building is to be built. Few will argue that the little shop with its faded sign and dry-rot wood has seen better days.
But residents and others like Joe O’Donoghue did not like the way the permit process was managed. There was concerns that the new 40-foot building (four-story) design would block sunlight to the apartment flat, next door on the East side of the building.
And, as reported in the August issue of the Richmond Review neighborhood newspaper, concerns about parking and whether or not the plans for the medical/dental office complex should have a reduction in parking or an expansion got some people into a dither.
In his letter to Aaron Star at the SF Planning Dept., O’Donoghue’s major concern was that the process of notifying the public about the plans to demolish and then rebuild was a failure. As he sees it, the planning department “excluded the opposition” by not fully coordinating the notification process. O'Donoghue sees most of that failure on the shoulders of Star who is the overseeing project manager for the site.
A notice of public hearing was released as early as March 23rd at City Hall in room 408 and subsequent hearings followed. Yet, according to O’Donoghue, in his letter to Star back in June, said that as project manager, the corrections that were to be made in the notification process were “stale and inadequate.” O’Donoghue also pointed out that when previous modifications had been done in the past to the lamp repair shop, it was done so without disrupting the “light and air” of the 12 units, (as he described it), and, hence not impacting the tenants. In his letter to Star, dated June 8, 2012, O’Donoghue describes the proposed plans as “Dental Condominiums.”
On August 16, the plans for the new medical/dental building complex were approved. It was item number 17 on the agenda. Yet “approval of the plans is contingent upon modifications being added,” said architect Bill Pashalinsky. He specializes in small office buildings, primarily in the Richmond/Sunset and Haight-Ashbury, Noe Valley Districts. The modifications to the proposed plans would include light wells of about 3 feet-9 inches to about 4 feet and 6 inches, allowing for sunlight to stream in on the East side of the building. This would accommodate the residents of the apartment/flat next door.
Pashalinsky, would not comment on much else such as the issue with the parking, other than to say, “we are moving on.” The modifications to the architectural design plans should take about a week or two, Pashalinsky estimated. As far as any other obstacles or delays, “I would have to have a crystal ball to foresee any other obstacle or delay.”
The Richmond Review tried to reach Aaron Star at the SF Planning Department. He is the project manager. Yet he would not respond. And, while O’Donoghue’s letter to Star in June was more than three pages, with more concerns that included the loss of retail space on that block of Geary Blvd, O’Donoghue was also not able to be reached for further comment.
Pashalinsky said that once the modifications are completed the plans for the new medical/dental complex will have to be reviewed again before final approval.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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