1997-2000 Development Attempt of 1269 and 1271-79 Lombard Lots
By the mid 1990's, five of the 1870's side by side cottages still remained on the west end of the Lombard ridge, which was artificially and abruptly ended with the Polk Street cut between Greenwich and Lombard in 1894.
1249-51, 1261, 1265 NE from 1267,..........1265 S from 1267,...............1269,79 SW from 1267,..........1279 E from Polk
Three others still stood at ridge end above Polk cut, but were destroyed by fire that swept up hill from west in 1898. 1279 may have been rebuilt on original foundation of what is now 1271 Lombard, which was probably moved to it's Lombard frontage before the fire. 1279 was taken down in 1999 to make way for the 1275 Lombard of today. All that were left of others burned in fire with Polk St. addresses, even though after cut they were at top of 70' cliff above Polk. Concrete footings and stairs behind both 1271-75 and 1269 lots are all that remained. 1269 cottage escaped damage from 1898 fire, but two houses in lot behind it burned. Next uphill lot was 25' deeper and our 1265 cottage there was only damaged in southwest corner by fire.
Sanborn 1899 Polk-Lombard-Greenwich E to midblock,......................1915-75 Rear lot Plans for 1263-79 Lombard Lots
1898 fire didn't extend further uphill, so 1257 and 1249 cottages suffered no damage, just as the entire block was spared in 1906, mostly by diligent neighbors on roofs smothering fire blown debris from blocks to north before igniting homes on our Lombard ridge. Over the years, 1249-51 was expanded lovingly into it's current four floor magnificence, still perched atop Lombard ridge. 1257 Lombard added rear rooms, but front from outside looks much as it did in 1870's.
1265, 1269 and 1279 ridge cottages and lots in front to Lombard were all owned by Davises from 1920's to 1970's. After rebuilding of southwest corner of 1265 after 1898 fire and adding shingles sometime later, it appears to be little changed from original 1870's cottage. It is possible that interior clear redwood paneling may have been added in connection with rebuilding after fire, as it is exactly like what existed in 1279, which may have been added to rebuilt or moved cottage onto foundations of what is now 1271 after it may have been moved to front at same Lombard lot as Lombard after Lombard grading in 1894.
1265 Lombard Cottage Interior: E View.....................Southeast View............................................South View
That leaves 1269 Lombard as only ridge cottage that had little apparent change from when it was built in 1870's. After 1975, when 1263-79 were sold as three separate lots with easements to account for overhang and access uses that evolved over the years. It was 1269 that changed dramatically, both first and again most recently. In 1980 a $35,000 building permit was approved to: 'add bathroom downstairs, add interior stairway and construct new foundation on SE corner & E Wall'. The result was destruction of the front 1870's facade and rebuilding of it on two floor levels moved 15' to 25' forward on lot to create two floors of new interior space.
1269,71 SW from 1267,..1269 Roof NE , 1269 Rear yard, 1265 West Wall,.. 1269 Front behind terraced gardens
This extension forward not only affected the historical character of the cottage but also encroached on midlot open space which mostly continued on uphill lots from 1269 to residences fronting on Larkin. Both these issues became important in most recent completion of 1269 development, along with the Planning Commission Motion 10909 relating to rear yard behind 1269.
This 1269 construction in 1980 may have been the most significant change since building on Lombard frontage of ridge lots after the 1894 grading of Lombard from Polk to Larkin after completion of the Polk cut. 1271 was probably first with a Lombard lot frontage, if it was moved from back of lot before 1898 fire. Next would have been Meussdorffer designed flats at 1257-59, followed by Wright, Rushworth Cahill's 1263,67 in 1908. Since Lombard frontage homes had been built earlier on lots further up hill toward Larkin, the fact or fiction story of four Italian gardeners establishing midlot open space with front of lot residences mostly on alternate lots was tied. Who those Italian gardeners were and whether they worked at Western Nursery down hill to west or other nurseries stretching west to Presidio is unclear.
Another fact or fiction tale focuses on whether Mrs. Davis, as owner of 1263-79, was heartbroken when 1299 Lombard six floor apartment built was built after 1928 and blocked west windows of her 1271 home. It is also not clear whether she would have realized her 1263,67 flats had done same thing some years earlier to 1257-59 front flats. By 1997, the fourteen west windows of 1263,67 flats still were unobstructed to west looking over the front terraced garden of 1269 to 1271-79 old buildings on next lot before having west view blocked by same 1299 Lombard apartment cement wall that long ago blocked 1271.
1997 For Sale 1269,.......................1963-67 (l) 1269 Center For Sale Signs,..................1997 For Sale 1271-79
As long as access easements between 1269 and 1271-79 were in place, this open space to west was likely to continue for 1263,67. However, in 1997 both 1269 and 1271-79 properties were for sale and before year end were bought by Rene Peinado's construction company. George Hauser, an architect who had done recent work in neighborhood may have discussed with previous 1269 owner the possibility of building on front of 1269. After ownership change of 1269 and 1271-79, George and Rene emerged together in a proposal for both properties which was reviewed by neighbors and focused mostly on filling 1269 as indicated in initial and compromise sketches below.
1997 Proposed Plans:.1269............1263-79 Proposal and Compromises...............1271-79 Plans View W from 1267
Neighbors had range of height, density, and open space and other issues that would scale back Peinado-Hauser plans and were joined by Russian Hill Neighborhood Association in many objections. Meanwhile financing was committed to by Redwood Mortgage and planning moved forward with one of first uses of Ellis Act in San Francisco in connection with 1271-79 tenants. Resident owner of 1269 moved on sale of 1269, but the sale was complicated by an easement agreement shortly before, which didn't appear to acknowledge the Planning Commission Motion 10909 regarding restrictions on land on which easement pertained.
As owner of 1263-67, my primary concern was integrity of our front flats in connection with proposed excavation immediately downhill which would go to street level, well below our foundation. I was also concerned with excavation plans in rear of 1269 since I was well aware that our 1870's cottage didn't have full foundation and had been listing west, which was basis for overhanging encroachments in easement with 1269 when I purchased in 1975. I was sympathetic with other neighbors views relating to footprints of lot coverage, densities and heights, but was not sure that their views on how integrity of our buildings, which would be most affected by whatever was approved, should simply be left to Building Inspection after Planning approval.
Even though, as most affected neighbor, I did have strong views as indicated, the neighbor position considered by Planning Commission was largely shaped by individual outside neighborhood, who led negotiations during Planning Commission hearing with one of project sponsors. The approval moved the existing 1269 cottage further forward as well as heightening it. On 1271-79 it forced strict exterior preservation requirements on front 40' or so of 1271 building and allowed demolition of 1870's rear cottage along with new four story residence in its place.
1998 Front 1269-71 Excavation:.................1269, 1271 View W from 1267..............1263-1271 View SE from Lombard
Shortly after Planning Commission April 1998 decision, Bobcats were excavating front of 1269 without any shoring to ensure safety of our uphill front flats at 1263, 67. Work was finally stopped with Red Tag near end of front excavation. In 1999 retaining wall and foundation footings were finally poured for planned construction on front of 1269. Retaining wall failure resulted in Red Tag issued on our 1263,67 front flat building. Around same time excavation and foundation was constructed to expand 1269 home south to property line.
2001 Completed 1271-5: W from 1267,.......1257-79 S from Lombard...................2011 1263-79 with 1269 Removed
We notified our Allstate insurance carrier of Red Tag on our property and an engineer conducted an assessment and developed a report on what damages were attributable to 1269 retaining walls failure. Work at both 1269 and 1271-79 mostly ceased for some months while I negotiated with 1269 owner on potential tieback system to correct retaining wall failure.. 1271 remained perched on blocks in state of external integrity to which it was to be preserved with excavation below for garages at Lombard street level. Rear 1279 cottage was demolished to make room for new construction.
In subsequent months, I maintained some contact with George Hauser and was invited to participate in Mediation that included Wagner Construction, the firm responsible for the failed front excavation retaining wall. I did have opportunity to indicate damages to our 1263-67 buildings that engineer report associated with failed retaining wall. By then further wall problems had been deter with a system other than tie backs about which I discussed with Rene. The mediation didn't respond to damage on our property, but I did get to spend that day of Mediation in old Standard Oil of California Board Room at 225 Bush, where I had been only once before when a Brazil asphalt plant project on which I had developed capital investment justification was presented.
By then, I believe Rene had taken sole responsibility for 1269 and George for 1271-79. Redwood Mortgage continued to finance completion of work at 1271-79 and finally sold the rear unit in 2010 while they were working on plans to complete 1269, of which they became owners sometime after mediation. All then became rather quiet on our 1263-67 Western Front for nearly another decade.