Late Summer Round-Up

​With Labor Day weekend approaching and the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors both on hiatus for the remainder of August, things have quieted down.  But, here’s a summary of some recent items to keep on your radar for early fall.

Code Clean Up

On August 13th the Planning Commission adopted a recommendation to approve various Planning Code text amendments suggested by staff to correct a number of errors, oversights, and outdated language, many of which are associated with the recent re-organization of Article 2.  As the staff report explains, the existing Code contains “various errors, improper and outdated cross-references, lack of clarity, grammar mistakes, and incorrect illustrations.”  The clean-up legislation is necessary as even minor or clerical revisions to the Code require a legislative amendment to revise.  Something as small as forgetting to dot an “i” or cross a “t” could take years to correct.

While the proposed Code revisions are generally minor and not intended to make substantive changes, there are some noteworthy items.  For example: (a) replacing a table containing FAR limits for several districts that was mistakenly removed earlier this year; (b) specifying a conditional use requirement for private parking lots in RC and RTO districts, where the existing Code incorrectly prohibits such use; (c) returning the prohibition against massage establishments in RC Districts that was mistakenly eliminated; (d) amending residential parking controls for C-3 Districts in Table 210.2 so that  it is consistent with Section 151.1; (e) revising the zoning control tale for C-3 Districts to prohibit public and private parking lots in C-3-S Districts; and (f) replacing the criteria for large lot developments in RTO and RTO-M Districts that was inadvertently deleted, among many others. 

The Commission recommended approval of the amendment to the Board, which is anticipated to consider the legislation later this year. Until then – read with caution.

The Ever-Expanding Definition of Formula Retail

Late this summer, Supervisors Mar, Breed, and Avalos proposed new legislation that would once again expand the definition of formula retail uses.  The ordinance, which trails last year’s more expansive formula retail control amendments, would revise the definition of formula retailers to include subsidiaries or affiliate of qualified formula retailers that meet certain criteria. 

The Planning Code currently defines formula retail as a type of retail sales or service activity that has 11 or more other retail sales establishments in operation, or with local land use or permit entitlements approved for operation, worldwide. In addition, formula retailers must maintain two or more standardized features, including array of merchandise, façade, décor and color scheme, uniform apparel, signage, trademark or servicemark.

The proposed ordinance would expand this definition to include all subsidiaries or affiliates of qualified formula retailers that meet all of the following criteria: (a)  fifty percent (50%) or more of the stock, shares, or any similar ownership interest of such establishment is owned by an existing formula retail use, or a subsidiary, affiliate, or parent of an existing formula retail use; (B) there are 3 or more other retail sales establishments already in operation anywhere in the world; and (C) the retail establishment maintains two or more of the required standardized features for a formula retail use. 

We’ll be interested to see how this proposal is received by the Land Use Committee and Board, as the Planning Department recommended against expanding the definition to include subsidiaries in connection with last year’s more expansive formula retail control amendments.  Land Use Committee calendars for September have not yet been posted, but this legislation was referred to the Committee in July, and is likely to be heard in the fall. 

2015 Planning Department Fee Schedule Effective August 31st

It’s that time of year again.  Planning has updated its fee schedule for each class of application, permit, filing request or activity undertaken by the Department.  Each year, the City Controller adjust the fee amounts in this schedule by the 2-year average consumer price index (CPI) change for the San Francisco/San Jose Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA).  

A copy of the 2015-2016 Planning Fee schedule, which takes effect on August 31st, is available on the Department’s web site.