Eight in the Haight — Maximizing Affordable Housing at 730 Stanyan

Dean Preston
4 min readSep 13, 2020


For over a decade, there’s been no new affordable housing created in the Haight Ashbury. Zero.

Housing prices have soared, but no new affordable housing. In fact, we’ve lost affordable housing, with tenants being driven out by evictions and conversions to condos and TICs. The last new affordable housing developed in the Haight was the senior housing at 1250 Haight in 2007.

In 2017, the City purchased the McDonald’s site at 730 Stanyan Street to build affordable housing. Despite interim use proposals from community groups, the property sat vacant for two years.

I came into office December 17, 2019. Activating the site for interim use, and supporting prompt development of permanent affordable housing there, was a top priority. We convened meetings regarding the interim use and were hard at work finalizing an interim use in February/March, when COVID hit.

Facing a global pandemic and rising homelessness, we partnered with the City’s Emergency Operations Center to open a temporary Safe Sleeping Village — known as CAMP — for homeless individuals at 730 Stanyan. This was only the second safe sleeping village in the city. Despite opposition from a newly formed facebook group and a lawsuit by the co-chair of Women for Trump, the site opened May 30th and by all measures it’s been successful. It’s temporary and will not interfere with the timeline for the development of the badly needed permanent affordable housing.

Meanwhile, the planning for the development of 730 Stanyan has continued. Two well established nonprofit developers — Chinatown Community Development Center and Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation — have been selected to co-develop it, with TNDC tasked with operating the site once built. Community meetings have been held and three things are clear.

First, the community overwhelmingly supports 100% affordable housing on this site. There are a handful of detractors but the neighborhood sentiment is clear and I’m proud that most D5 neighbors welcome affordable apartments with open arms.

Second, the community overwhelmingly supports maximizing the number of affordable units at the site, a position I strongly support. Current zoning laws allow an eight story building. Our office has not heard from any community group in direct opposition to the eight stories allowed by current zoning laws. Indeed neighbors are far more focused on affordability levels and the populations served.

Nonetheless, the project is currently proposed at six floors, not eight, to the frustration of our office and many neighbors. The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) has directed the developers to build a six-story project, not an eight-story project, because MOHCD insists there are not the available funds — an estimated additional $11 million — to build 31 additional units of affordable housing on two additional floors.

This is a once in a decade opportunity. Our affordability crisis is too acute to waste this opportunity to build on public land where the community supports a 100% affordable project. Our City should prioritize creating over 30 additional affordable units by increasing the height to the maximum allowable under current zoning, eight floors.

How will the City pay for the extra units? The Mayor and her Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) have considerable discretion on where in the City to allocate affordable housing funds and should use that discretion to bring affordable housing to this increasingly unaffordable neighborhood that wants to do its part to support affordable housing. Additionally, 730 Stanyan is the exact kind of project that could benefit from extra funding from Prop I, the ballot measure our office wrote to increase the transfer tax on high end (over $10 million) property sales to generate additional revenue for affordable housing. The measure is estimated to bring in an average of $196 million per year, a small portion of which could easily make eight stories a reality at 730 Stanyan.

Third, many community members have spoken out about a desire to include senior housing in addition to Transitional Aged Youth (TAY) and family housing at 730 Stanyan, and we know from attending community meetings over the past year that serving all three groups has been a priority for neighbors. Our seniors certainly need additional affordable housing opportunities. We are working with MOHCD, the developers, and neighborhood groups to explore the ways to make this possible at this site. We love the idea of a multigenerational, 100% affordable housing complex at the entry to Golden Gate Park.

I’m excited for the proposed 100% affordable housing at 730 Stanyan, and excited for the commercial space and the services for seniors, transitional aged youth, and job training it will bring to our District. As currently proposed it would be 121 units. With two additional floors, it would be approximately 152. This is a great opportunity for the neighborhood and I look forward to doing everything possible to move this project forward.