Home » Activism, Public Services » CORRECTION: No Rincon Hill Development Impact Fees Have Been Spent Outside of Rincon Hill

CORRECTION: No Rincon Hill Development Impact Fees Have Been Spent Outside of Rincon Hill

Time for me to eat some crow pie. I jumped to conclusions before taking the time to do some further research and, as a result, posted some erroneous conclusions about development impact fees collected in Rincon Hill. This is one of the risks of putting yourself out there instead of just letting the world pass by without engaging in local issues and concerns, I suppose … hopefully, you accept that I’m only human and will make mistakes here and there, but my intentions are good as this posting reflects.

I read an article online last Sunday (THIS ONE), and I felt alarmed. It says that funds are collected downtown and in Rincon Hill for green space, another section mentions land is too expensive downtown to actually put the money to use to buy land for park space, and then the article mentions “the Fund has been used on improvements at Union Square and at Ferry Park.” What I did not realize when I read the article and passionately sounded the alarm on my blog is that there are multiple green space funds held by the City and County of San Francisco with their own specific purposes. My interpretation that there was a single downtown park fund that office and residential (Rincon Hill) development kicked money into on a square footage basis was totally wrong.

Now I know how Dan Rather felt, kind of….

Thankfully, I am able to simply remove my postings with my incorrect conclusions from my blog (as I have done) so that no one else reads them. Even better, I’ve learned of a contact at the Planning Department who is knowledgable of the Rincon Hill Plan, fees collected for the plan, and their inflow/outflow who I can call to fact check in the future. I’m not sure he’d want me to post his name here, so I’ll just publicly thank him for alerting me and providing an explanation of the various applicable development impact fees collected downtown and in Rincon Hill.

There are two funds that I mixed up:

  1. Rincon Hill Community Infrastructure Fund
  2. Downtown Open Space Fund

Rincon Hill Community Infrastructure Fund
The Rincon Hill Fund money can …

only be used within the Rincon Hill Downtown Residential District (roughly bounded by Folsom, Embarcadero, Bryant, and Essex) or within 250 feet of its border. These are the limitations by ordinance. It would be completely illegal to use the funds elsewhere, and it has not been proposed by anyone. To spend the money in the Rincon Hill Fund outside Rincon Hill would require a legislative change to the Planning Code, which also has not been contemplated by anyone. A vote of the Planning Commission is required to approve any expenditure of funds from the Rincon Hill Fund, and an additional vote of the Parks and Recreation Commission is required to approve an expenditure related to the acquisition of or improvement of property for public open space.

Also, my 8,000 new unit estimate that I pulled from the February 2007 San Francisco magazine cover story about the City’s new developments was way off because a portion of those units already exist. Also, the 8,000 number includes a total buildout of what I consider the Rincon Hill neighborhood, but the City Planning folks consider two separate areas for their purposes, one being Rincon Hill and the other being the Transbay Area. The residential buildings built in the Transbay Area as the Planning Department considers the area north of Folsom are not subject to the Rincon Hill impact fees. A better estimate for new units in Rincon Hill is 2,200 units. For my square footage guesstimate, I just pulled it out of the air and figured I was erring on the low side – a better estimate is 950 square feet average per unit. The total revenue for the Rincon Hill Community Infrastructure Fund will likely top out around $23 million – and $6 million of those funds must be transferred to yet another community fund called the SoMa Stabilization Fund, leaving Rincon Hill with $17 million. Maybe somebody can investigate what exactly is supposed to happen with that $6 million to go to the SoMa Stabilization Fund because that doesn’t sound like it will help Rincon Hill residents, but I dare not go far down that path right now.

Downtown Open Space Fund
This is the fund that may have been tapped for improvements in Union Square and Ferry Park. It applies to new commercial development in the C-3 Zoned Districts downtown and not Rincon Hill.

New Pocket Park in Rincon Hill!
All of that behind me (I hope), I’m thrilled to also have learned that the City has used some of the funds that have come in from the first One Rincon Hill tower development to purchase some vacant land to develop into a pocket park at 4 Guy Place. The City will be engaging neighbors of that new acquisition to discuss design in the future. Yeah!!

I still encourage folks to join the Rincon Hill Neighborhood Association, get to know your neighbors, and unite to make sure that Rincon Hill is given appropriate consideration at City Hall. This is a very political town, and the pork goes to those who squeal the most. Thanks for reading!

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