Planning Commissioner Kathrin Moore was Honored at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Meeting.

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Planning Commissioner Moore slipped away with her husband, Bill, after swarms of photographers and well-wishers piled on the love and affection at the City Hall ceremony honoring one of our own for her years of exceptional service. Photo by zrants.

“This notable occasion, the celebration of Commissioner Moore’s election to the position as Fellow of the prestigious American Institute of Certified Planners, gives us the opportunity to thank her for her past service and appeal to both her and the Board of Supervisors to continue her invaluable service on the Planning Commission.  This recognition by her peers reinforces what we have seen consistently now for nearly twelve years.” – Jim Warshell, Co-Chair, Van Ness Corridor Neighborhoods Council 

Thank you Commissioner Moore and congratulations on this honor.

Commissioner Moore’s continued service is supported by Noe neighborhood council  and many other neighborhood groups who she has worked with to bring about better projects that satisfy developers and neighbors. Please encourage Kathrin’s continued service: Petition Please Reappoint Planning Commissioner Kathrin Moore

 

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New amendments to Scott Wiener’s SB-827 are here

This the latest edition of Amendments to SB-827. We are still concerned with many aspects of the bill.

http://sd11.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd11.senate.ca.gov/files/sb_827_amendments_022718.pdf

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Local inclusionary %affordable requirements apply (anticipated this, doesn’t really change anything)
  2. Rent controlled homes cannot be demolished for SB 827 without local govt demo permit; every displaced tenant will have a Right to Remain Guarantee – which is really only a right of first refusal upon completion at the rent previously “enjoyed” by the tenant in their demolished unit (see #4)
  3. Local demo permit process shall remain
  4. Displacement protections: moving expenses & 42 months rental assistance for comparable unit in the area; right of first refusal…
  5. Local setback and yard requirements remain enforceable
  6. State density bonuses may be added
  7. Transit rich projects only qualify within 1/4 of a transit stop on a corridor; not the corridor itself
  8. Street width changes from curb to curb to property line to property line; the width threshold for the taller heights is now 75 feet instead of 45 feet.
  9. Parcels affected are residential and mixed use; not industrial
  10. SB827 projects may be eligible for SB35 streamlining

This really doesn’t change much. It’s still a power grab, and the heights didn’t change, if anything state density bonus impact is confirmed. We always anticipated the local inclusionary requirement would be present.

Just 23 in-law units built after two years as SF seeks to iron out approval process

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

Two years after San Francisco passed a law intended to encourage property owners to add accessory dwelling units to help ease the housing crisis, snags in the approval process are calling into question the program’s effectiveness.

The most recent data shows there have been 109 permits issued for construction of new accessory dwelling units — sometimes called garden apartments, granny units or in-laws — and only 23 units have been built as a result of The City passing legislation in 2016 to allow their construction citywide.

Accessory dwelling units, which are added within a building’s existing envelope, are hailed as a cost-effective way to create affordable housing and are covered by rent-control laws when added to existing rent-controlled buildings.

Applicants, however, are expressing frustration over the approval process and say they are running into obstacles when it comes to passing requirements like the fire code, according to a hearing at the Building Inspection Commission last week… (more)

The program is based on the assumption that a lot of homeowners want to invest in their property to build a new unit to rent out for added income. Why would they want to disrupt their lives and spend a lot of time and money when they like their life the way it is? There are few empty garages in SF and you can’t trust the city to allow you to park outside your home. Why give up your off-street parking space?

These conflicting ideas are not working because you can’t incentivize people to do things they don’t want to do. Maybe instead of hiring consultants to dream up incentive programs, people ignore, City Hall should ask the public to suggest changes they want, and the Planning Department should make it happen for them. If they can work for the developers, they can work for everyone else.

Scott Wiener’s war on local planning

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

His next round of housing bills force cities to accept growth and displacement—without giving them the money or tools to mitigate it

On January 19, I attended UCLA Extension’s 2018 Land Use Law and Planning Conference at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Seated in long rows of tables under the glittering chandeliers of the hotel’s Crystal Ballroom, hundreds of elected and appointed public officials, developers, attorneys, and consultants are annually briefed by sharp pro-growth land-use lawyers and other like-minded experts on the latest California land-use legislation and case law.

This year the star of the show was State Senator Scott Wiener. He earned that role by authoring SB 35, the controversial “by-right” housing bill that Governor Brown signed into law in September. Like his fellow Yimbys, Wiener believes in a supply-side, build-baby-build solution to California’s housing woes and blames those woes on local jurisdictions’ resistance to new residential development. He presents himself as a brave policymaker who grapples with hard issues that others have dodged—an image belied by his evasive responses to my questions…

SB 827

Drafted by California Yimby Executive Director Brian Hanlon, and coauthored by State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), SB 827 would prohibit cities from limiting heights to lower than 45 feet (six stories) or 85 feet (eight stories)—depending on the width of the street—on parcels within a half-mile of a “major transit stop” or a quarter-mile of “a high-quality transit corridor.” For such parcels, SB 827 would also suspend local parking minimums, density restrictions, and “any design standard that restricts the applicant’s ability to construct the maximum number of units consistent with any applicable building code.”…

SB 828

Wiener’s companion bill, SB 828, would exponentially increase both cities’ Regional Housing Needs Allocations (RHNAs) and state authority over local land use planning. I’m going to review the bill in wonky detail, because though SB 827 has gotten the lion’s share of publicity, support, and pushback, SB 828 is likely to have at least as much impact… (more)

Lots of details are covered in the article. Please read the entire story.

We attended the Town Hall Meeting, along with a group of citizens from Marin and Senator Wiener’s district 8 Noe Valley neighborhood. We’ll post a link to the video that was shot of the meeting, and anticipate more from Zelda on this subject.

A lively opposition group is already being formed to fight this legislation that grabs power from local governments and centralizes controls over local zoning. Many people who support development do not support this power grab from the state.

Homes in SF, some historic, illegally demolished by developers

By J.K. Dineen : sfchronicle – excerpt

In early December, the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection received a permit application to demolish a home at 49 Hopkins St., a 1935 modernist residence just east of Twin Peaks that was designed by famed architect Richard Neutra.
But there was a problem with the application: The house had been torn down two months earlier. All that remained of the white, two-story redwood-and-concrete-block home was a garage door and frame. The rest of the house, one of five structures the pioneering modernist designed in San Francisco, had been carried off in dump trucks…

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents Russian Hill, Chinatown and North Beach, said he’s drafting legislation that would impose penalties substantial enough to discourage illegal knockdowns.

“The signal that is sent time and again is that you can demolish even some of the most important historic, iconic buildings in the city with impunity,” Peskin said. “It really speaks to an attitude and a culture in our planning and building departments that nothing is sacred.”…

“It’s serial lying and serial fraud over and over again, and they get away with it,” said Planning Commissioner Dennis Richards.

Planning Department Zoning Administrator Scott Sanchez said imposing a five-year stop-work order penalizes neighbors who have to live with the detritus of the aborted construction project. It also temporarily eliminates a housing unit. But he agreed that the current penalties are not much of a deterrent.

“We don’t have anything in the planning code that addresses those violations,” he said….(more)

What really makes America great or unique? We used to have trust in a system of law that relied on well-intentioned citizens electing officials to write laws that the public respected and agreed to abide by.

We no longer have trust in government and we no longer have a honest citizenry. Now we are faced by the daunting option of anarchy or an over-bearing government that over regulates us. There is no over-seeing eye in the sky that watches out for our interest. The enforcement system relies on public complaints to investigate illegal activities.

If you see something that looks “wrong” you must file a complaint with the zoning administrator and that report may eventually get the attention it deserves. As Planning Department Zoning Administrator Scott Sanchez points out, the options for reprisal are limited.

Can we pass stricter laws with higher penalties that may stop these illegal actions? Perhaps, but, that will not happen overnight. Perhaps we need to extend the penalties to the contractors and others who are involved in the demolition, or encourage neighbors to do a lot more checking as they see construction sites go up next door. Look up those permit numbers to see what is included in the approved plans, and call anything suspicious to the attention of your supervisor.

The enforcement system should be a large part of any conversation with candidates for mayor and supervisor as we move into this highly charged campaign. Ask them for solutions and support the ones with the best answers for solving the problems you want dealt with.

RELATED:
For a really interesting presentation on a CEQA Exemption argument at the Board of Supervisors Meeting on January 9, 2018. Will try to get the link after the live show, but, this is the 3 PM special hearing. The property under appeal is at 2417 Green Street. Other than historic resource protection issue and this one has it all. – possible flooding or soil issues, a famous Holloywood filmmaker, contaminated soil, poor soil that is protected under the soil-protection act protection act and other issues raised by a geotechnical engineer; the historical resource is built on a brick foundation in poor soil and the plan is to anchor their foundation to the brick foundation on the poor soil. I don’t see how they can deny this appeal.

Governor Brown Vetoes Flawed AB 890, Signals Preference for More Comprehensive CEQA Reform

Miller Starr Regalia : lexology – excerpt

Fortunately, Governor Brown was receptive to the bill’s many critics, and struck a blow for local land use control, local initiative rights, CEQA reform and commence sense by vetoing it. His short letter to Assembly members, which can be found here, states in pertinent part that “[i]nstead of the piecemeal approach taken in this bill, I prefer a more comprehensive CEQA review, which takes into account both the urgent need for more housing and thoughtful environmental analysis. Hear, hear!…(more)

RELATED:
The Opposite of CEQA Reform: Legally Flawed AB 890 Would Expand Opportunities For CEQA Litigation Abuse While Abridging Constitutional Local Initiative Rights,”
by Arthur F. Coon and Bryan W. Wenter, AICP, posted September 19, 2017.)

One Oak’s OK Challenged

: sfweekly – excerpt

An appeal has been filed against an enormous Van Ness and Market housing development.

Last year, construction workers broke ground on a $316 million project to speed up the buses that run along Van Ness Avenue — the vital north-south corridor that serves the center of the city. Dedicated bus lanes, improved boarding stations, and new vehicles will make getting from Russian Hill to Civic Center smoother, faster, and safer, when the project is completed in 2019.

“This marks a significant step forward in making transit faster and more reliable on Van Ness Avenue,” said Mayor Ed Lee when the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit Project (BRT) launched. “We will be improving a crucial travel corridor in San Francisco. When this project is completed, everyone can enjoy a safer, better Van Ness Avenue.”.

The project sounds great. But several residential developments coming to Van Ness Avenue and Market Street could derail the millions of dollars the city, state, and taxpayers have committed to speeding up this transit corridor, thanks to the impending arrival of hundreds of privately owned vehicles, which threaten to clog up this transit-rich artery. Or so claims Jason Henderson, who last month filed an appeal of the city’s decision to allow One Oak, a 304-unit luxury apartment building, to begin construction without a thorough review of the traffic impacts its 136 parking spots will have on the neighborhood… (more)

 

More hearings on Water Quality and Groundwater Safety concerns

Guest writer:

Dear Water Warriors,

If SF has plenty of water in storage*, why is the city blending?
The state may be requiring SF to do so but…why?
How much is DPW involved in this “blended” water project?
After all, pipes are repaired, re-routed by DPW…& if there is an “emergency,” aren’t there federal funds?**  Could this be part of OneBayArea Plan to support the 1 million people for our future city? But since we don’t have the $, do they need to mess with it and then “fix” it? Hate to think so…but really, why? See some detailed information about other city experiments with changing water sources in the links below:

“San Francisco Ordered to Stop Using Century-Old Water Rights” (KQED 6/26/2015)
https://ww2.kqed.org/science/2015/06/26/san-francisco-ordered-to-stop-using-century-old-water-rights/ according to Steve Ritchie: “We have plenty of water in storage.”

“Fight over senior water rights splashes into the Capitol” (SF Chronicle 3/21/16)
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Fight-over-senior-water-rights-splashes-into-the-6932476.php

Senior water rights data – California
http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/_data/ca_water_rights/

PBS link to “Poisoned Water” video about the Flint, Michigan, water crisis:
http://www.pbs.org/video/3001355667/

** Flint received $10 billion from the federal government to “fix” the water emergency problem (subsidies ran out, water rates increased): http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/senate-approves-bill-water-projects-millions-flint/

Flint said it was costing them too much for their water system so was this all just to get $$$? to be used like wherever the officials wanted? This is so weird.

There’s a bunch of other articles on Flint on the pbs website:
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/tag/flint-water-crisis/

SF apartment project faces delay for casting shadow on park

By J.K. Dineen : sfgate – excerpt

It was a showdown between badly needed housing and precious open space on South of Market’s hardscrabble Sixth Street.

And on Thursday, open space won out — at least for now.

In a rare decision, the Planning and Recreation and Park commissions forced the developer of a proposed 84-unit apartment complex at 301 Sixth St. to redesign the project after residents and community advocates complained that the 82-foot-high building would cast a shadow on the Gene Friend Recreation Center(more)

This is a rare moment indeed, and shows a new respect for preservation of natural light on open space that has been losing a lot of ground lately. The hows and whys of this decision including the likelihood of it being repeated on other outdoor areas is hard to gauge, but we remain hopeful that the commissions charged with preserving our quality of life will continue to do that.

 

Timeline: Lawyers for Developers Share Tactics to Blunt CEQA

By Kevin Stark : SFpublicpress – excerpt

Why the rush to build on the lowest levels of the bay?

In 1995, the Diablo Valley Ranch, a drug rehab facility in Contra Costa County, planned to expand. The problem? According to neighbors, the land it wanted to build on was contaminated with oil and toxic chemicals.

The company made what was then an obscure argument: The California Environmental Quality Act, known as CEQA, the state’s premiere environmental law, did not require developers to consider how the environment might influence its project, only how the project would affect the environment.

Today, developers are using the same reasoning to push back on the ability of Bay Area cities to regulate waterfront development and protect residents from rising sea levels, a product of human-caused climate change. Over the last two decades, as developers won over judges in more and more state courts, lawyers began peppering these phrases in environmental impact reports, lawsuits and responses to public comment…

November 2016: RULING

Mission Bay Alliance v. Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure; Golden State Warriors Arena LLC — The Court of Appeal rules in favor of the Golden State Warriors basketball team in its application for a $1 billion development including a sports arena and office complex. The legal challenge had focused on the effects on traffic and wind patterns, mentioning sea level rise only parenthetically.

Defendants argue correctly that CEQA does not require analysis of the wind impacts on the project. “[T]he purpose of an FSEIR is to identify the significant effects of a project on the environment, not the significant effects of the environment on the project.”

December 2016: ACTION

San Francisco’s Natural Resources Management Plan — The City of San Francisco, which owns a golf course and natural area in coastal San Mateo County, issues a wide-ranging parks management plan calling for keeping the level of wetlands artificially stable. In comments, the Sierra Club objects that the proposal “will lack any resiliency in the face of increased climate stress and inevitable sea-level rise.”

“The purpose of an EIR is to provide public agencies and the public in general with detailed information about the effect which a proposed project is likely to have on the environment.”(more)

Regardless of how your feel about global warming and sea level rise, pay more attention to who supports the candidates if you don’t like these rulings.