Busy Monday at the Board:  TDR, CEQA and Fees.  Also a PC Nomination Update.

Next Monday’s calendar for the Board of Supervisor’s Land Use and Economic Development Committee is chock full of legislation that could have significant effects on land use and real estate in San Francisco. Here’s the rundown:

Transferable Development Rights (TDR) Amendments

The TDR amendments that we discussed a few weeks ago are back at the Land Use Committee, after being in front of the full Board last week. To recap, the amendments would expand the universe of lots that individually landmark buildings could transfer TDRs to as well as create a new, generally applicable rule that any seller of TDR may be required to spend some of the proceeds on the preservation, rehabilitation or maintenance of their historic building. In addition, Old St. Mary’s Church would be rezoned so it can take advantage of the TDR program.

The preservation requirement has been the most controversial measure in the amendments. Many argue that the requirement is unnecessary and harmful, as many lenders already require owners of historic properties to keep the buildings in good condition and also require that any proceeds obtained from the building must go towards paying down the loan. The preservation/maintenance requirement could in fact jeopardize historic properties by deterring lenders from loaning money for things like seismic retrofits.

Last Tuesday, after stakeholders pressed these concerns with the Board, the Board divided the legislation, leaving the Old St. Mary’s rezoning as a standalone measure, and sent both items back to the Land Use Committee for further consideration. We have reason to believe some positive changes may be in the works. The committee will take up the ordinances on Monday. We will keep you posted.

CEQA Reform

We first reported to you last spring about the CEQA reform ordinance was first introduced. Among other things, the ordinance would set a 20-day appeal period for categorical exemptions and negative declarations, ending the current situation where these documents can be appealed at any time up until a project is approved an all other appeals for the project have been extinguished. Since the ordinance was first introduced, some amendments have been made, including expressly subjecting community plan exemptions to the 20-day appeal period. This reform package makes significant progress towards making the CEQA appeal process more efficient and equitable. The Land Use Committee will consider the ordinance Monday as well. Contact us if you would like a copy of the most recent version.

Impact Fee Clarification

Another ordinance has been making its way through the legislative process that, while technical in nature, substantially clarifies impact fees that are charged to projects located in specific plan areas (e.g. Eastern Neighborhoods, Rincon Hill). Among the more significant clarifications are:

• Legitimization of offices uses in the Eastern Neighborhoods would be subject to a $2/sf Transit Impact Development fee and a $8.50/sf Jobs Housing Linkage fee, with no Eastern Neighborhoods impact fee, for a total of $10.50/sf.
• Rincon Hill and Market/Octavia impact fees and SOMA Stabilization fee will be reduced, but the fee now will be based on the addition of gross square feet, as opposed to net square feet; the intent is to make these fees consistent with other fee calculations in the Planning Code, and also not to increase the actual amount charged (i.e. the use of the larger gross floor area number is off-set by the lower per square foot fee).
• Clarifies impact fees and the Jobs Housing Linkage fee for changes of use which reduces the fee based on the existing use.
• Subjects additions to existing structures to impact fees when there is an increase of 800 square feet, rather than 20% of the existing structure.
• Subjects all changes of use in the Eastern Neighborhoods to the Tier 1 (lowest) impact fee.

This ordinance will also be heard by the Land Use Committee on Monday.

Creative (Potential) Plans for the King Street Borders

What to do with the soon-to-be-closed Borders on King Street? LiveSoma.com reports this week that there is talk of a Lucky Strikes bowling alley, with hours until 2 a.m. and a full liquor license, being considered for the uniquely-sized space. Now that’s the kind of creative re-use we were expecting! (Can you tell that we are fixated on the big bookstore issue?)

Status: Planning Commission Nominations

The re-appointment of Planning Commissioner Gwyneth Borden is scheduled to be heard by the Rules Committee on September 30, 2010. Ms. Borden has served on the Planning Commission since 2008, and her term expired on June 30, 2010.

The Mayor has also submitted nomination for the last, currently vacant, seat on the Planning Commission. Rodney A. Fong has been nominated for the Planning Commission seat previously occupied by Bill Lee. Mr. Fong is the current President of the Port Commission, and has served on the Port Commission since November 2006. Mr. Fong prior or current affiliations include Board President for the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District, President for the Fisherman’s Wharf Merchants Association, Board Member for the San Francisco Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Chairman of the California Travel Industry Association and Board Member-Lifetime Seat for California Chamber of Commerce. We believe Mr. Fong would be a great addition to the Planning Commission.

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