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SAN FRANCISCO-Members of two San Francisco churches are debating a high-rise housing project one of them has proposed. The church groups testified for hours yesterday at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting. No agreement was reached. The board will meet again to discuss this on Dec. 3.

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church members say they will raise $5 million to seismically retrofit their 19th century church on O’Farrell Street and build 240 units of assisted-living senior housing in a 23-story building. The church has received approval from the city’s Planning Commission, agreeing also to make 48 units at another housing tower affordable for at least 50 years.

The First Unitarian Universalist Church appealed this ruling to the Board of Supervisors, saying that they had not been included in the planning of this structure, which includes no affordable or below-market rental units. The church says that it also faces retrofitting challenges and has raised $2.2 million through member commitments.

First Unitarian proposes two shorter towers instead but St. Mark’s argues that this won’t work. “I hate to see this kind of debate,” said Supervisor Gavin Newsom, who says that there are good people on both sides.

Newsom was the only supervisor that stated he was in favor of the project. Many others had reservations. Therefore, the board that the decision would be postponed to give the opponents more time to work out an agreement.

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