This Week In San Francisco Land Use

Fee Deferral Program Implementation Begins

At long last, the fee deferral program became effective on July 1, giving project sponsors a new tool to kick start projects and vastly reshaping the way fees are collected in the city. As is to be expected, we will be learning the details about how the new program will be implemented over the next few weeks.

First up, the Department of Building Inspection has posted a new city-wide fee register, listing all current development fees from all relevant agencies applicable to projects located in the city. The fee register can be found at: “”.

DBI will also begin issuing fee reports for each project that is subject to city development fees. The report will contain all fees that apply to a project and will also include the staff contact in charge of calculating each applicable fee. The fee report will be issued prior to the issuance of the first site or building permit for a project, and can be appealed to the Board of Appeals.

DBI has made some administrative changes in response to the program as well. Most important is a new policy, effective July 1, changing the date for determining a project’s compliance with the San Francisco Building Code. Previously, the rule was that the filing date of a site permit was the date of determining building code compliance. Now, the rule is that the filing date of the first site permit addenda is the date of determining building code compliance. Effectively, any changes in the building code between these two dates would now apply to a project. In addition, a site permit addenda now cannot be filed until after the site permit has been issued.

Another new rule is that projects that are subject to impact fees must now submit eight copies of building plans, instead of two.

The interest rate for project sponsors that defer fees has yet to be established yet, but is expected within the next few weeks. We’ll keep you posted.

Northeast Embarcadero Study Released

Its hard to fathom the changes that the stretch of the Embarcadero from North Point to Washington Street has undergone in the past century. During World War II, the waterfront was used as a military logistics center. The infamous Embarcadero expressway was completed in the 1960’s, which led to an all-out revolt against new freeways in the city. Unsurprisingly, the elevated freeway drastically reduced the desirability and usability of the area by separating the waterfront from the local neighborhoods. In fact, Steve McQueen’s safehouse in the movie Bullitt was located just a few blocks south of here, enshrining it as a location to be avoided. After the Loma Prieta earthquake, the freeway came down and the Ferry Building was restored, paving the way for a rejuvenated northeast waterfront.

This being San Francisco, many people have different feelings about how this area should be rejuvenated. Everyone appears to agree that Port’s parking lots along the west side of the Embarcadero have to go. Existing residents see these parcels as future public open spaces, while housing advocates see new infill development opportunities.

To help in guiding the transition of this area, Supervisor David Chiu requested that the Planning Department conduct a study, focusing on creating a unique waterfront experience while ensuring strong connections between the neighborhoods to the west of the Embarcadero and the Bay. That report was released recently, and the Planning Commission held a public hearing earlier today.

In general, the study envisions a west side of the Embarcadero with retail businesses along the ground floor, limited parking and automobile access, with residential uses above to enliven the area with new residents. New open space would be reserved amongst these developments. Density limits would be eliminated and height limits would be increased on a handful of parcels near the southern, more heavily developed end of the area.

The study does a good job at analyzing and illustrating its recommendations for each one of the existing parking lots. While not legally binding like the Planning Code, the study outlines the Planning Department’s recommendations for the area and would serve as a guideline for future development.

The Northeast Embarcadero Study can be found at: “”.

Reuben & Junius, LLP is a full service real estate law firm. We specialize in land use, development and entitlement law. We also provide a wide range of transactional services, including leases, purchase and sale agreements, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, lending/workout assistance, subdivision and condominium work.

Copyright 2010 Reuben & Junius, LLP. All rights reserved.