This Week: In-Kind Agreements; Bookstore Redux

New Guidelines for In-Kind Agreements to be Considered by Planning Commission

As many readers are already aware of, over the past few years the city has begun to identify specific areas for neighborhood-based rezoning. These efforts have led to the Rincon Hill, Market/Octavia and Eastern Neighborhoods plans, to name a few. These plans impose an impact fee on all new development located within their boundaries. When subject to an impact fee, the Planning Code provides project sponsors the option of waiving the fee if an “in-kind” infrastructural improvement is provided in conjunction with a project. Examples of such in-kind improvements include new parks, child care centers or streetscape improvements. At today’s meeting, the Planning Commission will consider a new policy that will provide the Planning Department and the public guidance on how to pursue an in-kind agreement. The policy was developed by the Planning Department with consultation from area plan Citizens Advisory Committees (CAC).

In general, the new guidelines ensure that all relevant parties have a chance to weigh in on a proposed in-kind improvement. The policy requires early notification and consultation with the plan area CAC as well as review by relevant city agencies before a proposed in-kind agreement is considered by the Planning Commission (which must ultimately approve any such agreement). The policy emphasizes (but does not require) that a proposed in-kind agreement should be endorsed by the local CAC. Many CACs will have prepared a list of community improvements that they have prioritized to give project sponsors an idea of what they would like to have built. The Planning Department will also review the proposed in-kind improvement to ensure its value covers the cost of the waived impact fee and to make sure there is a plan in place to maintain the improvement. An important note: if this policy is put in place, project sponsors will be required to complete the in-kind improvement before the first certificate of occupancy is approved for the principal project. Let us know if you would like a copy of the policy.

And Then There Were 4…Big San Francisco Bookstores

Regular readers will remember that we published an update in July discussing the future of big bookstores in San Francisco. We observed that while these large retailers were struggling throughout the Bay Area and nationwide, San Francisco’s stores appeared to be weathering the storm. Well less than two months later we’ve found the need to update that assessment. First reported on August 24 by the blog, the Borders bookstore at 200 King Street has posted store closing sale signs in its windows and will finally shut down on Saturday, October 16. So much for our observation that the store appeared to be humming along, and so much for San Francisco avoiding the bookstore closure wave. What could possibly fill this soon to be vacant space?

Community Involvement

Our managing partner Kevin Rose serves on the Solo and Small Firm Committee of the Bar Association of San Francisco. This committee is sponsoring a CLE event titled “Strategies for Launching and Running a Small Law Firm.” This seminar will be held on Saturday, October 23, and is targeted at lawyers looking to start their own practice, or as a refresher for newer firms or attorneys that have recently hung their own shingle. Please contact Kevin for more information.

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.

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