Can SF ever enforce its own zoning laws?

by Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

The story of 660 Third Street is a case study in how property owners seem to think they can violate the rules at will, and get away with it.

MAY 21, 2015 — The battle over regulating Airbnb has spotlighted the problematic enforcement of San Francisco’s zoning laws.

But the Airbnb fight is just one spectacular instance of the city’s chronic difficulties in this regard.

Since last spring, 48 hills has been following a textbook case of a less-conspicuous but equally consequential kind of lax zoning enforcement-cum-big business refusal to obey the law: the rampant illegal conversion of properties zoned for industrial use—in local plannerese, Production, Distribution, and Repair—into offices.

I refer to the ongoing situation at the handsome brick-and-timber building at 660 Third St

In the mid-Nineties the Rabins had illegally converted the industrially zoned building into offices (for almost a decade, it housed the headquarters of Wired).

That’s a common practice in San Francisco and a major factor in the drastic shrinkage of the city’s blue-collar jobs and in the dire shortage of light manufacturing space, which has been well publicized by SFMade.

In May 2013, the Rabins asked the city to legalize retroactively the conversion of 660 Third into offices. The Planning Commission, however, said that only the top two floors could remain offices; the bottom two would retain their official PDR zoning.

That was last September…

The city cracks down; nothing happens (more)

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