DZLU MEETING DATE: May 19, 2020 (via Zoom)
1. ONGOING PROJECT UPDATES
a. 1600 JACKSON (Mollie Stone’s)
While it is assumed that Planning is working to process this project, the department’s website indicates that a permit application had been submitted last November and the project appears to still be under review. We believe the project could be especially instrumental in reviving the Polk Street business district as businesses strive to reopen in the wake of the coronavirus. There is concern about pent-up demand for construction and availability of labor, and whether that might be a continuing challenge for the construction market.
DZLU has contacted the project planner, Nick Foster, who confirmed that Planning should be able to issue the environmental clearance very soon and be able to approve the project shortly thereafter. Much of the review has been centered around loading plans and coordination with SFMTA, as had been the case with the previous Whole Foods proposal. He gave assurances that he would “not allow this project to slip through the cracks.”
b. 1580 PACIFIC (at Polk–Site of Jug Shop)
DZLU will reach out to invite the developer, JS Sullivan, to make a presentation to DZLU of this mixed-use building via Zoom, potentially at the next DZLU meeting on June 23. The developer is targeting this summer for a conditional use hearing before the Planning Commission.
The drawings of the project, available at Planning’s website, are very preliminary. It was suggested DZLU weigh-in with constructive feedback, especially on the elevations, materials and details. It was asked if street trees were planned and whether any building projections, such as bay windows, might conflict with them. Trees are planned on both Polk St. and Pacific Ave. and the building facades appear to be flush.
Based on a presentation in February at the Van Ness Corridor Neighborhood Council, discussions have been ongoing with the Jug Shop to maintain a corner presence in the new ground level commercial space. It was recently commented that the developer is trying to receive an exception to allow burying the project’s electrical transformer in a vault below the sidewalk, rather than locate it within the building, where it would create a blank space along the street frontage and result in a reduced area for the Jug Shop.
c. 1650 POLK (at Clay–Site of Big Apple)
As summarized at our February meeting, the owners of this building that had previously housed the Big Apple market are proposing to utilize the existing building for an entertainment center focused on children and families, incorporating space for games and equipment on the lower level with family-type food service on the ground level. VNCNC has expressed its support. Discovery Polk was also supportive of this concept.
Though outside RHN’s boundaries, DZLU has been interested in following this proposal with its potential to finally activate a building vacant since 2014, provide offerings for children and families, and contribute to the vibrancy of Polk St.
The entertainment use requires Conditional Use approval and a hearing is scheduled at the Planning Commission on 5/21/20.
Subsequent to our meeting, the Commission unanimously approved the project on 5/21.
d. 659 UNION (at Columbus)
As previously reported, DZLU’s chair was invited by North Beach Neighbors to participate in a working group on the development of the burned-out building at Union and Columbus. The group last met on 4/27. The group is chaired by NBN’s Planning and Zoning chair. A brief summary from the earlier email report:
The developer shared two concepts. Both leave the massing along Union and Columbus essentially as is and shift the density and height toward the Powell garage part of the site. It seemed a much better fit than some of the earlier graphics that were publicized that had presented a new mass directly atop the corner building. Both concepts include a required share of below-market-rate units. Per the owner, it does not appear financially feasible to preserve the existing exterior walls that are temporarily shored.
The 1st scheme provides approximately 94 small residential rental units with 10 hotel units, ground level commercial and a rooftop restaurant and public open space. A very slight shadow impact is created along the edge of Washington Sq. Park. This scheme would require the creation of a Special Use District (SUD) by the Board of Supervisors to change existing zoning.
The 2nd scheme utilizes the State Density Bonus (SDB) program and yields approximately 60 larger condos and ground level commercial. There is no shadow impact.
The owner is leaning toward the SDB scheme, as the political process to gain backing for the SUD option may be quite challenging.
Among the working group’s comments:
– we urged that the project consider an entrance to a future Central Subway extension stop. RHN’s Transportation Committee chair has been in communication with the owner on this and will be invited to join a follow-up session anticipated in a month.
– include a range of unit sizes to accommodate families.
– encourage that discussions continue between Gould Evans architects and San Francisco Heritage on the approach to preservation issues.
– and that the designers explore ways to eliminate the shadow impact of the SUD scheme.
A second DZLU representative will join the working group at its next meeting, date tbd.
e. 1998 POLK (Reveille Café)
A permit has been taken out and interior construction work is well along.
f. SFCUU – Underground Utilities
A presentation of the Telamon report on the master plan study to the Board of Supervisors, originally anticipated in March, has not yet been scheduled, nor has a pre-publication meeting with SFCUU been scheduled.
2. ONGOING POLICY UPDATES
a. LOMBARD STREET
The city is working with SF Parks Alliance to provide several programs such as traffic managers and roving “ambassadors.” They were to begin March 16th, had completed a training session and had trained ambassadors when shelter-in-place began. We assume the plan is still in place to be resumed at the appropriate time.
b. COMMERCIAL VACANCIES & POLICIES
A broad range of items were touched upon:
Due to the coronavirus, we understand Supervisor Peskin has proposed deferring implementation of the commercial vacancy tax.
SB 939: There was some discussion of Sen. Wiener’s proposed legislation creating a moratorium on Covid-related commercial evictions, including provisions governing lease negotiations among many other items. This is highly controversial and if passed would likely be subject to litigation.
Slow Streets: Several locations have been discussed for North Beach. If restaurant interior capacities are to be reduced, providing more open-air space and/or sidewalk seating and parklets may be critical. The possibility of more outdoor space, parklets, drive through & pick-up spaces introduces the possibility of continued diminished parking.
The need for reform of permitting, zoning and conditional use processes is even more pressing. In the short-term, expediting permitting of take-out
windows and restaurant and cafe remodeling to accommodate social distancing is vital.
DZLU’s chair will introduce the chair of RHN’s Local Business committee to the chair of North Beach Neighbors’ Small Business committee. RHN had enthusiastically endorsed NBN’s earlier “Roadmap to a Thriving Small Business Community” and would be eager to collaborate on any subsequent initiatives.