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Etched in stone

The following appears on the home page of the San Francisco Planning Department:

Planning Department Resources: presented below is the most valuable of Departmental information sources, The Planning Code. To receive the law as given down by the City of San Francisco and the Planning Department, click on the tablets. 

The following provision appears in Section 306.7 of this "most valuable of Departmental information source":

The Board of Supervisors and the City Planning Commission are hereby authorized to impose interim zoning controls to suspend temporarily the processing of certain applications for demolition permits, building permits and other land use authorizations which may be in conflict with a contemplated zoning proposal which the Board of Supervisors, the City Planning Commission or the Department of City Planning is considering or studying or intends to study within a reasonable time. The provisions of this Section will allow time for the orderly completion of a planning study and for the adoption of appropriate legislation. Interim zoning controls are necessary to ensure that the legislative scheme which may be ultimately adopted is not undermined during the planning and legislative process by the approval or issuance of permits authorizing the alteration, construction or demolition of buildings or the establishment or change of uses which will conflict with that scheme. In determining whether to impose interim zoning controls, the body imposing the controls shall consider the impact on the public health, safety, peace and general welfare if the proposed controls are not imposed, including, but not limited to, the public interest in the following objectives:
(1) Preservation of historic and architecturally significant buildings and areas;
(2) Preservation of residential neighborhoods;
(3) Preservation of neighborhoods and areas of mixed residential and commercial uses in order to preserve the existing character of such neighborhoods and areas;
(4) Preservation of the City's rental housing stock;
(5) Development and conservation of the commerce and industry of the City in order to maintain the economic vitality of the City, to provide its citizens with adequate jobs and business opportunities, and to maintain adequate services for its residents, visitors, businesses and institutions;
(6) Control of uses which have an adverse impact on open space and other recreational areas and facilities;
(7) Control of uses which generate an adverse impact on pedestrian and vehicular traffic;
(8) Control of uses which generate an adverse impact on public transit.



Rx moral Viagra

july 17, 2000. The Planning Commission received a few knuckle raps last week.

Ever the graceful politician, Supervisor Gavin Newsom delivered his blows with politesse: "The Board of Supervisors increasingly is being put in the position of adjudicating planning issues…. we have become not just the last resort, but the only resort, for a public that’s lost faith in our planning process."

Veteran housing advocate Sue Hestor really let the ruler fly: "You are the most impotent body I’ve ever seen."

The malady under scrutiny is not a trendy erectile dysfunction but a good old-fashioned case of shooting blanks. The Planning Commission is failing to produce plans. Any building plans you see walking down the street must be the result of an illicit liaison with another father. You might look carefully for family resemblances.

Newsom and Hestor’s frustration perches precariously on the lip of a smoldering volcano. San Francisco’s housing crisis heats up daily — the California Association of Realtors announced Thursday that only 10 percent of the city’s households can afford to buy a median-priced home. Eruption is imminent, as 500 people from the Mission and elsewhere tried to make clear outside the Planning Commission meeting on the same day.

Inside, however, commission president Anita Theoharis held sway, and rudeness ruled. The Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition had put together a delegation to present its case before the commissioners and the crowded meeting room. The first speaker set a serious tone, asking for a moment of silence in memory of those who will die on the streets for lack of housing. The six delegates clasped their hands and looked toward the floor.

Theoharis called the next speaker.

"I asked for a moment of silence."

"I’m sorry," she replied. "The acoustics are terrible here; I didn’t hear what you said." She called again for the next speaker.

The delegates stood silent.

Theoharis began sputtering names, calling the next speaker, and the next, and the next, until at last one of the delegates stepped up to the microphone and presented their proposal.

It’s a simple one, born of a recognition that the city’s stampeding economy is turning far too many of the present residents from their homes because they cannot afford to pay market rates. In essence, it says, don’t do anything without thinking about the consequences. It calls for

(1) a moratorium on all market-rate housing development;

(2) a moratorium on all multimedia development;

(3) an abatement of illegal conversions of existing buildings;

(4) a community-based rezoning of the Mission District, with a provision for the rezoning in the 2000-2001 budget.

A simple proposal, concisely argued. Perhaps rattled by the applause that greeted each speaker, Theoharis did her best to prevent the presentation from proceeding smoothly, lecturing the audience on its intrusions and interrupting one of the speakers to chide the owner of a cell phone. (When another cell phone rang during a later discussion, it apparently didn’t bother her enough to disrupt the speaker’s train of thought.)

A simple proposal, concisely argued. A far cry from Planning Director Gerald Green’s report that followed, pulling out all the stops: The coalition’s passion is not directed in the right place…. The situation is the result of unusual economic changes across the nation, not just locally…. I can’t understand why in this time of housing crisis, we’d consider a moratorium on market-rate housing…. Clearly, land use contributes to change in the city, but others do as well…. You should express your passion to the wider city family…. I would direct you to the Board of Supervisors.

Responding with shouts of "Bullshit!" and "We’ll be back," the coalition’s supporters left the room. In fact, guards herded the entire audience from the room, presumably as punishment for their rowdy behavior. The commissioners took the time to stretch their legs, eat a sandwich, chat among themselves.

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When they reconvened, Commissioner Beverly Mills politely requested Green to schedule a hearing on the proposed moratoriums, with a date to be set by the next commission meeting. And then the business of the day began in earnest. At the outset, Commissioner Dennis Antenore suggested they require developers who demolish affordable housing to replace it either with funds or with other housing. "If we don’t, we are failing to respond to what everyone has said today and in the past weeks." The commission promptly approved one item after another that would only intensify the churning in the neighborhoods:

360 10th Street, between Folsom and Harrison. Demolish two dwelling units and construct six new live/work units. Passed, with Antenore, Joe, and Martin dissenting.

673-683 Brannan Street / 168-178 Bluxome Street. Demolish an existing 10,000 square foot warehouse and construct four new buildings containing 177 live/work units and 177 parking spaces. Each structure will be 55 feet tall; they will cover the full length and width of the block from 5th to 6th Street. Passed, with Antenore, Joe, and Martin dissenting.

1247 Harrison Street, between 8th and 9th Streets. Demolish the existing building and construct three new live/work buildings containing 64 units. Passed, with Antenore and Joe dissenting.