Noe Valley Voice March 1998

Neighbors Trim Down Noe Street Project

By Loren J. Bialik

A developer and his neighbors have reached a compromise for a new building to be erected next to the community garden at Noe and Cesar Chavez streets. The four-story, two-family townhouse will replace a vacant one-story cottage, which was condemned by the city after a 1995 mudslide hurled rocks into the back of the house. (See "Soaked Hillside Gives Way," February 1995 Voice.)

At a Board of Permit Appeals hearing Feb. 4, property owner Gerry Agosta agreed to reduce the length and height of his proposed building at 1344­48 Noe St. The compromise was brokered by former supervisor and current city treasurer Susan Leal, who lives on the block.

"Before this compromise," said James Ellingsen, who lives a few doors down from the project, "the house would have extended 111/2 feet back beyond other houses, creating a wall for the neighbors. Now we will have open space."

Still, he and several other neighbors are not totally satisfied. "We object to the size of the building and the lack of parking. But if the new plans the developer submits conform with the compromise, we won't appeal this further," said Ellingsen.

Agosta, whose office is in the Mission (and whose wife, Lisa Moresco, co-owns Natural Resources on Castro), is happy to hear that. "It's not exactly what we wanted either, but we're glad a solution was reached. We'd like to move on with this project," he said.

Before any construction can begin, however, he must stabilize the steep hill behind the cottage and the community garden, planted 13 years ago by neighbors and members of Friends of Noe Valley.

"Three different engineering firms have taken a look at the hill," said Agosta. "The city has approved their recommendations" for shoring up the property.

Agosta said building on the site should begin in March. He also repeated his promise not to encroach on the garden ("Builder Vows to Protect Community Garden," November 1997 Voice).