DZLU MEETING DATE: November 20, 2018
1. PRESENTATION ON HISTORIC PRESERVATION DESIGN GUIDELINES from PLANNING DEPARTMENT
Presenters from Planning Department – Tim Frye, Jonathan Vimr, Shannon Ferguson and Monica Giacomucci
Tim Frye began the presentation by noting that this is the “beginning of a conversation.” There were two handouts: one a hard copy of the Open House Slide Show, and the second a deeper look at the guidelines process. Currently there are 83 different design guidelines in San Francisco, developed over 30 years. The Urban Design Guidelines were adopted with the idea that the Historic Design Guidelines would subsequently be adopted and apply to areas of the City where there are historic resources, including not only City landmarks but also any property eligible to be on the National or California Register.
Currently, local SF landmarks have specific elements adopted in their ordinances. The hope is that the HDG will have similar function for all other historic resources. The Planning Department wants to include specific examples. These might be applied in one way in one neighborhood and in another way to another neighborhood. The guidelines will be rooted in the Secretary of Interior Standards. Although it is ageed that these standards should be used as a baseline, they are still very broad. The HDG can be more prescriptive.
The format of the guidelines is to present a guiding principle and then describe how best to implement it with both good and bad examples. There may still be different interpretations but at least everyone will be uing the same document. The HDG will not try to solve for every situation.
The planners confirmed that the only way for a public hearing on proposed projects to take place is that the property or district be a SF landmark. Once adopted, the HDG would be applied to both SF-designated landmarks and the other historic resources. They are hoping that the HDG will be adopted at a summer of 2019 joint meeting of the Planning Commission and the Historic Preservation Commission.
In responding to questions from committee members, the following points were made:
– There is a question regarding the overlay of the Secretary of Interior Standards vs. the HDG and how they will interface.
– It is hoped that HDG will give guidance, particularly in the case of early designated local landmarks where things are missing from the ordinances given current knowledge.
– There is concern among some neighborhoods regarding development immediately around historic districts. There may need to be “buffer design zones” developed.
– There is interest in using more illustrations than photos.
– How to handle “facadism” will probably not be addressed in the HDG but will be addressed elsewhere. There is a joint meeting of the Planning Commission and the Historic Preservation Commission scheduled for January 24, 2019 to address this.
– Similar to the Residential Design Guidelines, it is anticipated there will be a Historic Design Guidelines Team within the Planning Department.
– The department plans to release materials on a new survey of historic resources, planned to take until 2022, initially focusing on environmental hazard areas. They will be working with the Getty Conservation Group using a software program called “Arches” to identify and catalogue historic resources. This is being used in Toronto, San Antonio, Los Angeles and other areas.
DZLU suggested that it might be effective to develop “universal” principles, such as “respect and design for the slope of the land,” respect the heavy representation of a particular architectural style in a neighborhood (i.e., Victorians), respect design, good practice, and visual principles vs. developing many separate guidelines for individual neighborhoods.
It was also suggested that the Guidelines include attention to major building equipment, exterior and interior, that is often not fully shown in drawings and is usually installed late in construction. Examples may include solar panels, air handling units and exhaust stacks, fire department water connections and large audio-visual equipment installed in the interior of historic performance spaces.
2. ONGOING PROJECT UPDATES:
a. WHOLE FOODS 365 AT 1600 JACKSON – The Planning Commission rejected the Whole Foods proposal at the 11/8 conditional use hearing, expressing concerns over the city’s critical housing shortage and worries over the impact an Amazon-owned enterprise might have on neighborhood businesses. The broad desire among RHN membership and beyond for a full service grocery was clearly conveyed during this process. DZLU is greatly appreciative of the efforts of all who testified, wrote letters, organized and helped strategize over this project. We are not aware of any new proposal from the building owner/developer at this time. Looking ahead, the notion of “spot-zoning” this site to allow for future provision of a large grocery was raised by several commissioners, as current zoning restricts commercial development to 4,000 sf. It was suggested that RHN ask Supervisor Peskin how we might work together to secure a full service grocery for our neighborhood.
3. ONGOING POLICY UPDATES:
a. DEMOLITION CONTROLS – DZLU representatives met with Lee Hepner of Supervisor Peskin’s office on 11/16 to learn more about this proposal and to share DZLU’s comments (previously summarized in DZLU’s 9/18/18 meeting minutes). A draft is anticipated on 12/4 for the Land Use and Transportation Committee. A 3-4 month process is anticipated including hearings at the Planning Commission, Land Use Committee and full Board of Supervisors. We agreed that providing ample opportunity for community and RHN input early and throughout this process is critical.
There is agreement over the need to control overscaled development and clearly define demolition. However, there were also concerns that many conventional and appropriate alterations and expansions that add housing stock and improve properties may be included under the new proposal which also appears to expand the need for conditional use hearings. Also discussed was the inclusion of unit mergers under this framework, as is currently proposed. Should there be focussed, separate efforts to address that and other issues?
b. VAN NESS CORRIDOR NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL — Mike Buehler from Heritage discussed historic auto showrooms and garage buildings.
c. PROPOSED PARKING LEGISLATION to eliminate parking minimums for new development projects, sponsored by Supervisor Kim. Three public meetings have been held. The legislation is planned to go to the full Board of Supervisors on 12/4. If passed, many new projects will potentially include no or minimal parking. DZLU suggested that if minimums are eliminated, consideration also be given to removing parking maximums, so that the unique parking needs of any individual project can be fully evaluated.
d. POLK STREET/PACIFIC AVE SPECIAL AREA GUIDELINES – DZLU will draft a letter expressing RHN support as this is anticipated to go to the Planning Commission 11/29. The Guidelines have incorporated our comments when appropriate, especially regarding stepping building heights to reinforce the area’s topography. They complement the City’s recently adopted Urban Design Guidelines with a focus on the more unique qualities of the Polk/Pacific business districts and they appear to reflect common-sense principles and good urban design practice.