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Seal of the City and County of San Francisco
City and County of San Francisco
Public Hearings 

September 6, 2007 - Special - 6 p.m.

September 6, 2007 Special - 6 p.m.



Special Meeting Minutes

Commission Chambers - Room 400

City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

Thursday, September 6, 2007

6:00 PM

Special Meeting

COMMISSIONERS PRESENT: Olague, Antonini, S. Lee, W. Lee, Moore and Sugaya



STAFF IN ATTENDANCE: Dean Macris – Director of Planning, Larry Badiner – Zoning Administrator, Amit Ghosh – Chief Planner, Ken Rich, Sue Exline, Neil Hrushowy, Sarah Dennis, Linda Avery – Commission Secretary.

( Tape IA ; IB; IIA) (K. RICH (415) 558-6345)

EASTERN NEIGHBORHOODS PROGRAM - The Eastern Neighborhoods Program encompasses the Mission, Central Waterfront, East SoMa and Showplace Square. Planning staff will present an information-only progress report on the following elements of the Eastern Neighborhoods Program: 1) Draft zoning controls; 2) Draft height and bulk controls.

Preliminary Recommendation: No action requested (informational item)


Jim Meko

- San Francisco is a City of neighborhoods. Public safety is one of the fundamental insecurities of modern urban life.

- The least safe communities in cities today are those who have had their density tightened into residential fabric.

- We did a high analysis for Western SoMa and made analysis looking at many factors such as wind, historic resources and I do not see that analysis here for the Eastern Neighborhoods.

Chris Durazo

- The maps produced are very helpful to really understand the plan.

- I am very concerned that a third part of the area of the SOMCAN area is now doubled in height all around the whole area.

- Send staff to the SOMCAN area to present the information and work with the pack and see if it is going to be livable.

Bill Poland

- The proposal put forth by the Mayor's Office of Housing with the 50-percent land dedication and other objectives that they are trying to get are completely and totally infeasible for this plan.

- If those proceed, there would be no development for a number of years here in San Francisco.

Sean McArdle, Bay West

- The Mayor's Office of Housing proposal of 50-percent to affordable housing will stop developments because of fees and construction costs.

Sean Murphy

- It is important that when we look at new projects that we do it with existing context and fabric.

- Those plans and maps need to be carefully reviewed by you because unfortunately they have errors in them.

Neil Sekhri

- I am concerned that this proposal will not achieve its goals of preservation of PDR uses and encourage new housing production for affordable housing.

- The rezoning would create new value and development potential through density and height increases and zoning changes.

- The problem is that the down zoning is being used to justify significant increases in the public benefits and affordable housing that are economically infeasible.

- We look forward to working with the Mayor's Office of Housing and The Planning Department to explain with numbers why this might not work.

Fred Snyder

- Nobody wants to identify that between 16th Street and the railroad on Third Street the area is becoming one of the major transit corridors.

- We need a lot more meaningful dialogue to get to the facts of what is going on.

- The affordable housing proposal from the Mayor's Office of Housing fails to mention the Mission at all.

Robert Herr

- The proposed height map does not make sense to have the south side of Harrison Street be lower than the north side of the street.

- You would have more attractive and desirable and certainly have more people living on that side of the block if you have a uniform 85 foot height.

Elan Drucker

- Much of the surrounding area on the 500 Florida Street is residential mixed use with retail and office. The Department has zoned this block for PDR-1.

- Furthermore, The Department has zoned the area as UMU which gives all those parcels flexibility to adapt their uses as light industrial uses.

- It makes sense to have Florida Street to be consistent with the surrounding uses.

Joe Boss

- We feel that the Northbound should go up at least to 20th Street, some people feel that it should go up to 18th Street, to protect that historic district.

- I have concerns about limiting to 5,000 square feet per parcel to certain uses because it leads to some loop wholes. We need to examine that a lot closer.

- On the maps, we see the BART stations but we do not see bus lines and Caltrain stations. It should be always on the map to inform you on public transit.

Greg Markoulis

- There is an empty lot of 5,000 square feet at the end of our project at 23rd and 3rd Street.

- The height limit is said to be 85 feet and the map shows it as 65 which is the current limit. You have to be able to build to pencil up.

- We request the height limit to be 85 feet or higher so that we can build.

Judy West

- One of the things that is really missing from your analysis and studies - that are being published - is any evidence of where the residential units are actually located.

- I would encourage you to ask the department to show you where those residential units are.

- Focus your attention to the Franklin Park area for higher density.

Karin Edwards, Neighborhood Park Council

- We are concerned that the proposed rezoning does not adequately recognize open space and recreational facilities as essential components of healthy neighborhood.

- Those are not part of the rezoning efforts. Neither are the proposed financial strategies to adequately fill existing and future needs.

Gabriel Metcalf, SPUR

- When are we going to concentrate on the region growth? We need to put as much of the jobs and housing as possible near transit.

- This is the only way to stop global warming. From the environmental perspective, it is the most important piece of the planning we have to do.

- The maps accidentally forgot to contain the central subway, Caltrain and future improvements on 16th Street.

Lois Roberts

- Concern about safety in case of an emergency with high rises.

- Green space is also important but not on top of an 80 foot building. We have a lot of land - for example, behind Cesar Chavez.

Brett Gladstone

- I would like to propose a safety vault because what if we are making a mistake?

- Think again and consider putting in place some conditional use or discretionary review procedure for a safety vault if a property owner can prove that no one wants to occupy the PDR.

- Also, I urge you to look at the idea that affordable housing above 15% should be put on projects to get a 5 foot additional limit and does not give a floor it gives a retail space.

Jeffrey Leibovitz, East SoMa

- Thanked the Commission and The Department for working with us and take everything into consideration.

- You are not going to please everybody, but make your decisions for a better San Francisco.

Dan Murphy

- I have a specific concern about the proposed free wall height on 16th Street.

- The massive public benefit infrastructure for many of the neighborhood, especially Showplace Square, basically there is no pedestrian open space.

- I would recommend adding one more criteria when analyzing height within the Eastern Neighborhood - to look for opportunities when reasonable up zoning could be used to accommodate public benefit and hard infrastructure.

Philip Lesser

- There are a number of things on today's draft different from the last draft and we want to thank the Department.

- We need to have the flexibility because 5,000 square feet is not going to do it for a researchable institution.

- If you want to have affordable housing, we need to have zoning there for public parking lots and flexibility for PDR that is compatible with residential.

Sue Hestor

- I do not trust staff's review of projects that are permitted and do not have any review.

- I do not think that this enormous chunk of the City should be given to the South East Quadrant.

- How does all this stuff happen? Tell us how projects go through the process.

- There are those high rises and the bridges are not going to be in perspective for any body.

Tim Colen, San Francisco Action Coalition

- We are here to support affordable housing and livable neighborhoods.

- You are in a difficult position where you are going to have to figure out what it is that we can do to incentive people to come in and deliver the amount of affordable housing we want and build the amenities for these livable neighborhoods.

- We hope that you wait and consider carefully the technical analysis being done now but consider the large picture; the City does not have the resources.

Bob Meyers

- I would like to discuss the East SoMa area between Third, Fourth, Townsend and Harrison Streets. It is the Urban Mix Use, UMU.

- This is a failed concept. The zoning in place has not produced one unit of affordable housing or protected PDR uses.

- I do not see this happening because it needs better incentives to make it workable.

- Why is this small area singled out to carry the burden of affordability for the entire East SoMa?

Deborah Walker

- We have a great need for affordable housing and the only way to get is to ask for it and demand it.

- One by one projects have been approved and have changed all these neighborhoods forever. Live work required that artists be there, especially in the Mission.

- These areas are the only ones to get affordable housing and it is really a step forward.

- Revisit the springing conditions decision about when the dateline for that is.


- I would like to see a map that goes site by site showing to this Commission how many sites we are setting for additional floors.

- Staff admitted that the zoning in plans needs to be financially feasible. If we are not getting any extra units, extra height and we can barely make it work with 85-percent market rate, how are we going to make it work at 50-percent?

Jazzie Collins

- No one has brought MUNI to the table and allowed them to express how they are going to expand the transit area in the Eastern Neighborhoods.

- No one has indicated what public safety measure for pedestrians are going to be used in the Eastern Neighborhoods.

Richie Hart

- Let us talk about incentives for affordable housing. Every other county by [around] San Francisco offers it to developers.

- On PDR issues, you need to take into consideration Supervisor Ammiano's ordinance to provide health insurance if you have 20 employees or more.

- We are making it tough to build in the City.

John O'Connel

- The three new proposals from the Mayor's Office of Housing came to us about 10 days ago.

- The first proposal was 100-percent affordable housing, land use for 50-percent affordable, 25-percent market rate and 75-percent moderate.

- With the economics of construction, it is not going to work. You need to revise the plan.

Steven Aiello

- This draft summarizes the papers we have been writing in meetings with the Planning Department to come up with something that is feasible.

- We believe in the need of funding public benefits.

- Corners around BART stations, it should be looked at from an urban design perspective.

- Something that it was overlooked significantly is the East way connection between the 16th Street BART station and the Third Street light rail.

- The vision of it as a transit corridor has not been aligned with the land use or the height plan.


- This process is incredibly complex and I am suggesting that it actually be brought to conclusion in a reasonable amount of time.


Adjournment: 9:44 P.M.



ACTION: Approved

AYES: Olague, Antonini, S. Lee, W. Lee, Moore and Sugaya

ABSENT: Alexander

NOTE: Per Section 67.18 of the Administrative Code for the City and County of San Francisco, Commission minutes contain a description of the item before the Commission for discussion/consideration; a list of the public speakers with names if given, and a summary of their comments including an indication of whether they are in favor of or against the matter; and any action the Commission takes. The minutes are not the official record of a Commission hearing. The audiotape is the official record. Copies of the audiotape may be obtained by calling the Commission office at (415) 558-6415. For those with access to a computer and/or the Internet, Commission hearings are available at Under the heading Explore, the category Government, and the City Resources section, click on SFGTV, then Video on Demand. You may select the hearing date you want and the item of your choice for a replay of the hearing.

Last updated: 11/23/2009 12:17:59 PM