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New Development Requesting Exceptions from Planning Commission – TAKE ACTION! NO EXCEPTIONS IN RINCON HILL

I won’t pretend that I understand the Planning Code at this point in time, but I do understand fairness and the need for everybody to follow the rules of the community – in this case, the Rincon Hill Plan adopted in 2005. I also have great concerns, as I learn more, about how the existence of the Rincon Hill Plan gives developments a free pass from going through a complete Environmental Impact Review to evaluate the effects of a planned development on the aesthetics, public services, recreation, and transportation/housing of existing developments.

From the Planning Commission’s meeting notice for the upcoming March 26, 2009 NEW DATE April 9, 2009 meeting ….

The Planning Commission will hold a PUBLIC HEARING on these items and on other matters on Thursday, March 26, 2009 beginning at 1:30 p.m. or later (please call 558-6422 on Monday, March 23, 2009, or thereafter for a recorded message giving a more precise hour that the hearing of this specific matter will begin), in City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place (formerly Polk Street), Room 400.

2007.1121XV: 430 Main / 429 Beale Street, north to south through lot between Main and Beale Streets, and between Harrison Street to the west and Bryant Street to the east; Lots 305 & 306 in Assessor’s Block 3767 – Request under Planning Code Sections 309.1, 825, and 827 for determinations of compliance, and exceptions for dwelling unit exposure. The subject property is located within the RH DTR (Rincon Hill Downtown Residential Mixed Use) District with an 84-X Height and Bulk Designation.

The project proposal is to construct a new eight-story, 84-foot building consisting of up to 113 dwelling units over a below-grade parking structure for up to 57 spaces. The development proposal also requires a Variance for open space, to be heard and considered by the Zoning Administrator at the same hearing.

For further information, call Ben Fu at (415) 558-6613, or e-mail at ben.fu@sfgov.org, and ask about Case Nos. 2007.1121XV.

Persons who are unable to attend the scheduled Planning Commission hearing may submit written comments regarding these cases to the individuals listed for each case above at the Planning Department, 1650 Mission Street, 4th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103. Comments received by 11:30 a.m. on the day of the hearing will be made a part of the official record and will be brought to the attention of the Planning Commission.

Pursuant to Government Code § 65009, if you challenge, in court, the approval of a conditional use, you may be limited to raising only those issues you or someone else raised at the public hearing described in this notice, or in written correspondence delivered to the Planning Commission at, or prior to, the public hearing.

What does “exceptions for dwelling unit exposure” mean exactly? Does that mean they toss up an 84 foot building on the back side of Baycrest’s swimming pool without regard to the fact that they’re blocking sunlight from the units (like mine) whose only window looks out into the pool area?

What does “requires a Variance for open space” mean exactly? While the other developments in the neighborhood are providing open spaces for the neighborhood that meet the plan, these guys can get around the requirement? This should makes everyone who lives in Rincon Hill a little angry, if my interpretation is correct.

Furthermore, what kind of units and who will live in this building of 113 residential units – will these be apartments, condos, or what?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a NIMBY, anti-development type by any means. However, I am a stickler for playing by the rules established by the community in which you’re wanting to develop your property. If you want to build a building in Rincon Hill, you should be prepared to follow the Rincon Hill Plan as community members and other stakeholders agreed upon and the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor approved in 2005.

If you live in BayCrest Towers, Bridgeview, or Portside, you certainly have an interest in speaking up and pointing out the impact on sunlight and shadowing from an 8-story development. If you live or work in Rincon Hill, you certainly should have an interest in new developments providing open space as prescribed in the Rincon Hill Plan to try to gain some ground on the lack of parks and other publicly accessible recreational areas for people in the neighborhood.

ACTION STEPS – (if you have additional suggestions for actions, please let me know at RinconHill@gmail.com)

1. Tell your neighbors that a developer is wanting to put up an 8-story building in a very small space running between Main and Beale Streets and get exemptions because they don’t have the room to meet Planninc Code requirements in Rincon Hill (maybe they shouldn’t be developing the land into an 8-story, 113-unit building then), and that we need their (your neighbors) help (in particular, a postal letter and, if possible, attendance at a Planning Commission meeting). The most helpful action is attendance at the March 26th NEW DATE April 9, 2009 meeting.

2. Write a postal letter and email TODAY to Mr. Ben Fu, Planning Department, 1650 Mission Street, 4th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103 telling the planning Commission to deny any and all requested exceptions relating to Case Nos. 2007.1121XV. Tell them an 8-story building would practically eliminate sunlight for BayCrest Towers residents with units facing the courtyard, casting shadows over the BayCrest Towers recreational open spaceHere’s a sample letter (feel free to send me suggested edits/improvements):

See updated sample letter and other info. at http://livable.wetpaint.com

Attend the March 26, 2009 NEW DATE April 9, 2009 Planning Commission meeting. While we’re not nearly as organized YET in Rincon Hill as the Telegraph Hill/North Beach/Barbary Coast residents, we have to start somewhere. While the letters are nice, showing up at the meeting actually makes the difference if anything will have an effect.

Any suggestions are appreciated – RinconHill@gmail.com Like I said earlier, I don’t claim to understand the Planning Code very well right now, but I know that you can’t sit on your hands and be quiet while people or businesses are trying to wrangle out of obligations expected of everybody else – like somebody showing up to eat dinner and leaving without helping to wash the dishes or even so much as a thank you.

Update 2:40pm on 3/9/2009 – I have a better understanding of the exceptions requests now (and modified my text above to reflect my new understanding), but I’m still looking for any suggestions.

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