DZLU MEETING DATES: June 22, 2021 & July 20, 2021
1. ONGOING PROJECT UPDATES
a. 659 UNION (at Columbus)
Though just outside RHN’s boundaries, we are clearly major users of this site and hugely interested in the opportunity to offer feedback. North Beach Neighbors had invited DZLU’s chair to participate in past presentations by the project sponsor to NBN’s Planning and Zoning Committee. The project team represented by Jeff Jurow (project sponsor) and Bob Baum (architect with Gould Evans) made a presentation to DZLU on 6-22-21.
The Verdi Building, 659 Union Street, between Columbus and Powell Street, a long-time prominent structure in North Beach, was reduced to a building shell due to a devastating fire in 2018. Since then, there have been many proposed designs for the site. Most included rehabilitation of the original building with new additions. The extensive plans presented to DZLU have been significantly scaled back from earlier schemes. The current plan would preserve the brick walls and restore the building’s previous exterior appearance; the project’s goals include reactivating the corner and providing continuous ground level commercial uses, restoring the lost housing with 23 units and including input from the community. To compensate for the scaled back scope and to help defray the great expense of the restoration, an addition is planned along Powell Street with a new roof-top restaurant set far back from Union Street. The project sponsor is planning to use the CA State Density Bonus Program to gain waivers including that of the height for the rooftop restaurant portion and of the open space requirement for the residential units. (The sponsor cited the proximity of Washington Square Park as readily accessible open space.)
Since the height and mass of most of the building will remain unchanged, the sponsor and his shadow consultant maintain that there will be no additional shadow on Washington Square Park. DZLU has requested that we be apprised of finalization of the shadow study to confirm that there will be no negative impacts on this vital neighborhood open space resource.
The presenters requested a letter of support from RHN.
DZLU Committee members were pleased with the retention of the size and character of the original building, the sensitivity to community interests and the regained housing units. We recommend that the RHN Board approve a letter of support, referencing the project as shown in the sponsors’ submittal to Planning dated 5-21-21 which was also presented to DZLU on 6-22-21. Renderings of an aerial view of the project and a view from the Union-Powell corner are attached.
b. 82424 POLK (at Filbert)—Cannabis retail
The Planning Commission approved the project at a Conditional Use hearing on 6-3-21 and set conditions, including requiring the applicant to seek a white zone at the curb and to provide appropriate seals at windows and doors to the vaping room at the rear of the project to fully contain potential odors.
2. ONGOING POLICY UPDATES
a. COMMERCIAL POLICIES: SHARED SPACES PROGRAM, PARKLETS
Legislation has passed to make the program permanent. See the following link to a Chronicle article:
Two key issues were decided. (1) Owners were not required to maintain public access to parklets after hours, when the parklets may be secured. (2) Parklet approvals remained the responsibility of Planning, not DPW, as some had proposed.
DZLU raised ongoing concerns about safety in terms of sturdiness and clearances from traffic as well as the issue of highly uneven design quality. We understand that Planning continues to develop guidelines.
b. UNDERGROUNDING UTILITIES
With the possibility of new federal infrastructure funding, as well as recent discussions by the BOS regarding the feasibility of purchasing distribution lines from PG&E, we started a discussion on whether the time may be ripe to renew advocacy on this issue in coordination with SFCUU.