This Week In San Francisco Land Use – June 30, 2010

Ballot Measure to Tax Commercial Property Doesn’t Make the Cut – But Two Tax Measures Head to Voters

With the 2011 budget hole plugged, the Board of Supervisors already have an eye on next year’s inevitable budget deficit. The Board contemplated sending three new tax measures to the ballot this November. One measure, pushed by Supervisor Chiu, would have established a progressive payroll expense tax (thereby reducing the tax some employers would pay) in conjunction with imposing a gross receipts tax on the rental of commercial real estate. Another measure, pushed by Supervisor Mirkarimi, would have increased the tax on commercial parking garages to 35% and imposed a new tax on valet parking services. Finally, an increase of the real property transfer tax on sales of property valued at $5 million or more – specifically, the tax on sales of property valued at $5 million to $10 million would increase from 1.5% to 2% and the tax on sales of property valued at greater than $10 million would increase from 1.5% to 2.5%.

Likely recognizing that a full slate of new tax measures may doom each individual one, the Supervisors agreed to send only the transfer tax increase to voters in November. In addition, enough signatures were gathered to place the Hotel Fairness Initiative on the ballot this November, which would increase the hotel tax for tourists by 2%. Both measures are expected to bring in upwards of $36 million each into city coffers.

New Planning Fees Go Into Effect August 9 – With Increases Across the Board

The Planning Department has issued its 2010-2011 fee schedule that will go into effect August 9. As is expected, all fees have been increased modestly. One new fee stands out, though: A Class 32 categorical exemption from CEQA is now subject to a separate sliding scale fee. The previous fee was a $5,444 fixed fee. It will now be at least $10,375, and likely much higher, as it will be based on construction cost of the project. You can find the new fee schedule here: “”

First Fee Deferral Monthly Surcharge Rate Released

This week, the Department of Building Inspection released the first monthly surcharge rate for the fee deferral program. The July rate is 1.84%.

In other fee deferral news, both the Public Utilities Commission and the San Francisco Unified School District have yet to agree to make the development fees they charge eligible for the fee deferral program. The PUC is expected to take this up at its next meeting, but there’s no word yet when the School District may consider the issue. Project sponsors will not be able to defer the fees charged by these two entities until they agree to participate in the program. We’ll keep you posted.

Zoning Administrator Position Posted; Planning Commission Seats Will Soon Be Vacant

Earlier this month, the city’s Department of Human Resources posted the job opening for the Planning Department’s Zoning Administrator position. Scott Sanchez is the interim Zoning Administrator. The “ZA” is a Charter position whose responsibilities include interpreting the Planning Code, advising the Planning Director and Planning Commission, managing the code enforcement unit, conducting variance hearings, among other things. Applications are being accepted through August 6. If you are curious, check out the job listing at “”

Planning Commissioners Bill Lee and Gwyneth Borden’s terms recently expired.  The Mayor has yet to nominate Lee or Borden or anyone else for these two important Commission seats.  As a result, on September 1, these seats will be vacant, and the Commission will be operating with just five Commissioners.

SoMa Leadership Council Goes on Hiatus

Last week, Jim Meko, chair of the SoMa Leadership Council, announced that the group would be going on hiatus, citing a lack of participation in its management. The Council was integral in the formation of the Western SoMa Citizens Planning Task Force, a city body that is guiding and consulting the planning initiative that will ultimately result in the rezoning of the West SoMa neighborhood. While the task force continues on without the Council, it is unclear what effects this development will have on the planning initiative. The Environmental Impact Report covering the rezoning is expected to be published early in 2011.

And Finally, a Race to Be Green

How quickly can buildings go green? That is the question the US Environmental Protection Agency was trying to solve when it established a green building “race” last year. The EPA estimates that, on average, 30 percent of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted – a great motivator to the “racers.” Office buildings, dormitories, elementary schools, hotels, retail buildings, convention centers, airports, malls and other buildings originally applied to the contest, believing they could reduce their energy use intensity the most in one year. EUI of a building is calculated by dividing the total energy consumed by the building in one year by its floorspace. A pool of 200 applicants was recently whittled down to 14 finalists. Unfortunately, none are located in San Francisco or the Bay Area. San Francisco International Airport was one of the original applicants.

Final results will be announced October 26. You can read more and follow each finalist here: ””

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