This week’s update reports on three recent planning policy measures of import to the San Francisco real estate community.

Stimulus Program

Last week, the Planning Commission adopted a “Stimulus Policy for Recession Recovery & Project Implementation.”  This measure gives sponsors of approved projects that have exceeded their performance commencement deadlines a one-time opportunity to submit Building or Site Permit Applications immediately, without going through the typical lengthy Planning Commission extension process.  The Stimulus Program does not change existing policy subjecting the new Building or Site Applications to current fee amounts and other current Code requirements.

Eligible projects are those with construction costs over $500,000 and approvals no more than 10 years old.  The Planning Department is mailing notice of the Program to approximately 65 identified eligible project sponsors.  The project sponsor will have 60 days to “opt in” to the Program.  Planning also has produced a list of the eligible projects.  Please contact our office if you would like to know if your project is on the list.  Further details on the Stimulus Program are provided below.

Office Allocation

The Planning Department recently announced that it has added 800,000 square feet to the City’s Large Project Office Development Allocation pool.  This additional square footage previously had been incorrectly deducted from the pool.  This is welcome news as many in the development community are concerned about the availability of allocations due to the recent abundance of office development applications.

CEQA Reform

The Board of Supervisors’ Land Use and Economic Development Committee considered Supervisor Wiener’s CEQA reform legislation (see our March 29, 2013 Update) at its April 8, 2013 hearing.  It was an overflow hearing room, with both supporters and opposition present and vocal.  Over 50 speakers addressed the Committee.  In the end, the Committee voted to continue the matter until April 22.  Supervisor Kim introduced her alternative CEQA legislation this week, and the Committee intends the use the continuance period working to reconcile the two measures.

Further Stimulus Program Details (and Performance Condition Clarification)   

In order to be eligible for the Stimulus Program, the development project must meet the following specific requirements:

     Has a Conditional Use Authorization, a Downtown Project Authorization, or an Eastern Neighborhoods Large Project Authorization approved by the Planning Commission between April 4, 2003 and October 4, 2011;

     Has a condition of approval with a performance time frame that has expired;

     Is not subject to specific Planning Code provisions that limit the time frame for project implementation (e.g., § 321(d) for large office projects);

     Has an estimated construction cost of no less than $500,000; and

     Does not involve any Wireless Telecommunications Facility.

A submitted Building or Site Permit Application (the “Application”) will be approved only if it meets the following specific requirements:

     The Application complies with all other conditions of approval and is consistent with the project’s granted approval(s);

     The Application complies with all Planning Code provisions currently in effect, including but not limited to use limitations, building form controls and development impact fees; and

     The Application is approved by the Planning Department and issued by DBI no later than October 4, 2014.  This 18-month period may be extended at the discretion of the Zoning Administrator only where implementation of the project is delayed by an appeal or by a legal challenge, and only by the length of time for which such an appeal or challenge had caused delay.

In a related action, the Planning Commission formalized its existing policy concerning the performance time frames imposed on future Conditional Use Authorizations, Downtown Project Authorizations, and Eastern Neighborhoods Large Project Authorizations.  The performance time conditions for these Authorizations will provide that a Building or Site Permit must be issued within three years from the date of approval.

The conditions of approval also will provide that if the three-year period lapses without issuance of a Building or Site Permit, the project must seek renewal of the Authorization through an amendment of the original Authorization or an application for a new Authorization.  If the project sponsor does not file for such a renewal, the Planning Commission must conduct a public hearing in order to consider revocation of the Authorization.  

The issues discussed in this update are not intended to be legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is established with the recipient. Readers should consult with legal counsel before relying on any of the information contained herein. Reuben, Junius & Rose, 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 leasing, acquisitions and sales, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, lending/workout assistance, subdivision and condominium work.