As a plugged-in reader wrote four months ago:
“The planning code is a nightmare to navigate. The so called “design guidelines” are tools used arbitrarily by any of the planners to approve or disapprove a design. They are already speculating about adding Historic Districts throughout neighborhoods such as Noe Valley and Glen Park, making it virtually impossible to add on or do any exterior renovations to any house older than 50 years. Much of the planning department is provincial, narrow minded and bureaucratic beyond reason.”
As Lili Weigert writes last weekend:
“As San Francisco takes an increasingly conservative approach to historic preservation, rejected [remodeling] proposals are piling up in the City Planning office. The delays have hurt homeowners, architects and the building industry. Today most everyone – even some preservationists – has started to question the city’s permit process and what needs to change.
Michael Antonini, president of the San Francisco Planning Commission, agrees that things need to change. “There were a lot of people in the preservation community in the past who thought things were too liberal,” he said, “but the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. Now, you have to know whether some kind of historic event happened in your house, and if your house is potentially historic, you have to do a survey of your neighborhood.
Even if your house isn’t historically significant, you need to know whether the neighborhood is. All our regulations are making it really unappealing for property owners to fix up their buildings.
Antonini, who along with the other commissioners has the final say on controversial or complicated permit applications, also agrees that the current interpretation of the preservation standards is resulting in subpar architecture.”
As we write today: No kidding. And once again, perhaps it’s (past) time to move forward rather than remain stuck in the past.