San Francisco’s Market-Octavia Neighborhood Plan originally called for Market Street to be zoned for 85 feet in height from Church Street to the east, while west of Church to Noe Street was to be zoned for 65 feet. Due to concerns about potential historic resources, San Francisco’s Planning Commission adopted a plan that called for the heights to remain at 50 feet west of Church Street until a historic survey was complete. Following the survey, heights for non-historic corner parcels from Church to Noe Streets were raised to 65 feet.
On the agenda for San Francisco’s Planning Commission this afternoon, amendments sponsored by Supervisor Wiener which would change the Upper Market Neighborhood Commercial District to a Commercial Transit District (changing density controls from being based on lot size to the physical characteristics of any proposed buildings); raise the height limit of the southwestern corner parcel at the corner of Market, Noe and 16th Streets (which is just outside the Market-Octavia Plan boundaries) from 50 to 65 feet; and grant a planning code exemption for the off-site auxiliary kitchen for Café Flore which is across the street from the cafe.
In addition to raising the height limit for the aforementioned southwestern corner parcel, currently the site of FitnessSF, the Planning Department recommends that the Commission also rezone two other corner parcels at the Market, Noe, and 16th Streets intersection, the only two remaining corner parcels east of Castro Street that are not historic resources.
From the Castro/Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association (EVNA), the oldest continuously running neighborhood association in San Francisco (founded in 1878) with respect to Supervisor Weiner’s proposed amendments and legislation:
EVNA is supportive of legislation to change the Upper Market [Neighborhood Commercial District] to a [Neighborhood Commercial Transit District], but opposes this legislation as written because of its inclusion of two unacceptable exceptions:
1) the section that increases the height limit for one lot at Noe and Market Streets, currently a gym, FitnessSF, from 50 ft to 65 feet, and
2) the section that would grant an exception to a non-permitted accessory use for only one business in order for Cafe Flore to continue to operate an offsite illegal kitchen at 258 Noe Street.
In regard to the up zoning of the SE corner of Noe and Market Streets (FitnessSF), it is the position of EVNA that it is irregular to initiate a change in permitted height for one site without community input, without a permit application, and without plans submitted to the SF Planning Department for review. Once the full plans are available, the benefits to the community, any negative impacts have been thoroughly reviewed, and the community has weighed in, if the height increase is deemed warranted, that would be the time to initiate an exception to the zoning.
In regard to the exceptional legalization of the off-site kitchen for Cafe Flore, EVNA opposes the legalization of an illegal activity that has been engaged in knowingly by a business owner over a period of several years. Other businesses are required to conduct their activities within the parameters of the law. Cafe Flore was a successful business for many years without the use of an illegal kitchen. The new owner’s decision to expand the menu entailed additional kitchen facilities. But to rest the financial well-being of an expanded business on an illegal activity cannot be condoned. It is unacceptable for the City to make an exception to the law for one business in order to accommodate its illegal activity. There is also the question of what further changes in use at 258 Noe might be triggered by granting such an exception and whether there might be unintended consequences.
EVNA strongly opposes the inclusion of these two exceptions in the legislation and therefore opposes the legislation as written.
Supervisor Wiener, once President of the EVNA, disagrees with the EVNA’s arguments and opposition as does San Francisco’s Planning Department which recommends the Planning Commission approve the amendments along with the Department’s additions.
∙ Market-Octavia Plan And Requisite Rezoning Approved By The Board [SocketSite]
∙ Proposed Upper Market Planning Code and Zoning Map Amendments [sfplanning.org]