CFAH

CityPlace: Rendering
A plugged-in tipster reports: “Despite strong community support and the approval of the San Francisco Planning Commission last month, the CityPlace Environmental Impact Report has been appealed to the Board of Supervisors.”
San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors is currently scheduled to hear the appeal on Tuesday, September 7 although the official agenda for that Board meeting has yet to be released.
CityPlace (935-965 Market) APPROVED By The Planning Commission [SocketSite]
Details To Augment Designs For “CityPlace” (935-965 Market Street) [SocketSite]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by EH

    let me guess…rob anderson?

  2. Posted by dollarstodonuts

    Livable City?

  3. Posted by Joe

    Does it matter – all it takes is one person to appeal

  4. Posted by zzzzzzz

    Doesn’t this kind of appeal require a supermajority of the Supes in order to overrule the Planning Commission?

  5. Posted by Sunny Jim

    @EH
    Most likely to be Sue Hestor

  6. Posted by OneEyedMan

    I think it’s $500 dollars to get an EIR certification appeal heard by the BOS. Simple majority vote required. Any zoning changes approved by the Planners must be appealed at the Appeals Board. $600 fee and I think 4 of 5 vote required to overturn.

  7. Posted by frenchjr25

    My problem with the project is the loss of the St. Francis Theatre. It is a historic structure no matter what the Preservation committee says. It is important because it was run by Sid Gruaman (later of the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood).
    And it is a cultural landmark for the average San Francisco citizen.
    CityPlace could easily have kept the facade, lobby, and auditorium. Building around theatres has happened all around the world.
    The appeal should be approved and the St. Francis should be saved. Build the new building around it.

  8. Posted by reconeix

    I was initially interested in this development — however the more I examine the placement (in this so-called Mid-Market redevelopment) I see that it’s not really Mid-Market at all. It’s essentially building another big mall, right next multiple other malls. While leaving the area of Market that needs development (between 5th and 7th) still in it’s squalarous condition.
    do we need another Mall, right there? Especially since they’ll be tearing down an interesting facade and leaving 2 butt ugly building flanking either side?
    Put this building between 6th and 7th and then we’ll be on to something great for Mid-Market!

  9. Posted by Al

    What it’s replacing is pretty freakin’ ‘squalarous’.
    I guess you made a typo, because this is between 5th and 7th.
    It’s true that the flanking buildings aren’t the most beautiful either, but I’m guessing that if the new place goes ahead, it’ll provide plenty of incentive for the neighbors to cash in on the increased foot traffic by fixing up/rebuilding their properties.
    By all means build something else between 6th and 7th. In fact, this going ahead probably makes it more likely that something will get built there.

  10. Posted by Mystery Realtor

    Any improvement is better than what’s there now (junkies and ho’s).
    NIMBY’s be damned.

  11. Posted by wordsmithy

    Squalorous is not a word. The one you were looking for is squalid.

  12. Posted by jason

    Saving the St. Francis Theater is a pretty lousy argument for appealing this project. Wait, before you go all “San Francisco” on me…yes I am a resident and a history buff. The St. Francis does have historical significance and it would be a shame to lose it. But guess what? We already lost it 9 years ago when it closed. It has sat vacant ever since. What do you propose? The City take it over, and operate it at a loss? Or YBCA? Etc? I’m not opposed to incorporating something in to the facade, but to scrap a redevelopment project because of a vacant theater no one has mentioned in 9 years…come on.

  13. Posted by xyz

    This is not a NIMBY issue. The whole neighborhood seemed to be for it – residents and merchants. The opposition was Livable City and the SF bike coalition – your dues hard at work.

  14. Posted by lyqwyd

    @xyz
    I’d be quite interested to know if either of those groups are responsible for the appeal. Any evidence to support your claim?

  15. Posted by Archtype1

    frenchjr25-“cultural landmark for the average San Francisco citizen”?
    You have to be kidding.
    I have lived in this town for 35 years and have never heard one person mention the place. What I do know is that mid-Market needs all the help it can get.
    You’re kidding, right?

  16. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    I doubt that Livable City and the SF bike coalition oppose the project as commercial redevelopment, just the out sized parking component of the project.

  17. Posted by zzzzzzzz

    But Livable City and the Bike coalition would rather keep the area in its decrepit state than tolerate – oh, the horror! – a limited amount of parking (fewer spaces, by the way – than comparable developments in cities like New York and Washington with far superior transit systems). It is mind boggling that the opposition to this could actually prevail, but hey, this is San Francisco, after all.

  18. Posted by xyz

    I sat through the 6 hour+ planning commission meeting about Cityplace and the only people who spoke in opposition to this project were Livable City and the SF Bike Coalition. They asked the planning commission not to approve the ENTIRE project because they object to the parking.
    I have no idea who appealed to the BOS, but those two groups were the most vocal opponents at the hearing. There was unanimous support from local merchants, local residents, and a bunch of union groups.

  19. Posted by Jamie

    Yep, all about the exceptions for additional parking spaces beyond the Code’s allowance …. Target, if they can make up for their idiotic political donation to homophobes, doesn’t seem to need it’s own parking at the Metreon. I do not expect the project to lose the appeal, but it is a bad precedent to give parking exceptions against our Transit First policy just because a developer whines that their project will not pencil out without exceptions to planning code’s parking spot allowance.

  20. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    zzzzzzzz – Why do you lay the blame on organizations simply trying to hold the city to its already established planning policies ? Why not blame the developer who could easily build this within the constraints ?
    Parking in a congested area is valuable and the developer is getting greedy here at the expense of all street users. They’re playing a game of chicken and hoping that that the opponents will back down. If this project fails the developer unwillingness to build within planning code is the cause.
    And on that claim that NYC allows more parking : that’s not a comparable situation. NYC is huge. The last time this claim came up, I took a look at the alleged “parking rich project in NYC”. It was the Atlantic Yards redevelopment in Brooklyn, hardly the densest part of NYC and not even in Manhattan. The nearest comparable project in SF would be the redevelopment of the Schlage Lock factory site way down in the south end of the city.
    The developer could easily build this within planning’s parking criteria. Neighboring properties demonstrate that the building can operate successfully with reduced parking. What’s at stake here is extra bonus cheese in the form of an increased parking entitlement. I cannot blame the developer for trying to hold out. Why not ? It is free money, a gift from the people of SF.

  21. Posted by zzzzzzzzz

    The developer isn’t creating City Place out of the goodness of their hearts – it has to pencil out, period. That isn’t “greed” (such an abused an meaningless term!); it’s basic economics in a capitalist system. The problem here is an unrealistic planning code, not the developer’s desire to build a project that makes economic sense.

  22. Posted by Embarcadero

    I don’t buy the “doesn’t pencil out” argument. The city committed to a transit-first policy, I’d like to see them stick to it. There’s no justification for the additional parking allowance in a location that is so exceptionally well served by public transit (MUNI, BART, SAMTrans, even CalTrain isn’t more than a 15 minute walk).
    Hats off to the SF Bike Coalition for being a voice of sanity here.

  23. Posted by Jim

    And who is Livable Streets? – essentially one person, another SF trustafarian who has nothing to do put pontificate from his high horse how the city should be. I notice at Planning Commission and Supervisors meetings, Radulovich and Hestor are reduced to sitting with each other – no one else is interested in talking with them. As has been noted, only in SF can one person derail the wishes and desires of a democratically made decision.

  24. Posted by Mikey

    I call BS on the entire “if we want people to use public transport we have to reduce the number of parking spaces” argument.
    I just got back from Vancouver, a walkable and transit-rich city to an extant that SF can only dream of, and they have lots of parking spaces, lots of garages, and the condo buildings are allowed to build MORE than 1 parking space per unit.
    The problem isn’t an abundance of parking spaces, it’s a lack of reasonable (cost-effective, clean, reliable) transit alternatives.
    Figure out the transportation component and the parking will take care of itself.

  25. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    zzzzzzzzz – How do we know that this project won’t pencil out with out excess parking ? Because the developer says so ? Of course they are going to say whatever it takes to receive the gift of free parking entitlements.
    The claim that parking is required for success is suspect since neighboring properties seem to be doing fine without a large on-site parking lot.
    Do you honestly think that the SF Bike Coalition “would rather keep the area in its decrepit state” ?

  26. Posted by Conifer

    If you think this city is in trouble now, just wait until Mayor Napoleon takes office.
    This is the best reason to vote against Newsome for Lt Gov, to keep him in SF.

  27. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “This is the best reason to vote against Newsome for Lt Gov, to keep him in SF.”
    wittiest comment of the week !

  28. Posted by Denis

    Not sure why I’m commenting here, but any developer brave enough to tackle what could be an incredibly risky project in an area long tainted by blight deserves a little wiggle room in planning code.

  29. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    ^^^ I agree Denis, a little wiggle room seems appropriate since they are expanding the zone of gentrification here. I think they asked for too much here though.

  30. Posted by joe

    You joke, but its true. We would be in bad shape if Newsom gets the gig.
    It would be horrible if Napoleon Peskin got elected Mayor – get ready for all of SF to be dipped in Amber.

  31. Posted by Denis

    Peskin will be appointed mayor by the BOS if Gav goes in. I wonder what kind of damage the man can do in a year? Interesting times!

  32. Posted by joe

    I am pretty sure that only a sitting member of the BOS can be elected (it has to be a vote) mayor if dipschit gets elected deputy dawg ca.
    Baron Peskin is not a member of the BOS thankfully.

  33. Posted by Denis

    ^No.. Peskin can be appointed… He’s definitely angling for the job, and as far as I know, it’s probably a done deal. There have been numerous articles in the Chronicle and elsewhere regarding this. Here’s one from the Bay Citizen:

  34. Posted by OneEyedMan

    I agree it is the exceptions the developers manipulate into the projects that makes people angry. Why should you have to be a NIMBY to get the Planning Dept to enforce and support their own codes? Below is the City Insider article regarding the approval of 222 2nd. The plan approved was the 3rd design reviewed by planning staff. As they defended the project: It had the fewest violations of the planning codes of any of the designs proposed by TS. The planning codes are there to protect and enhance the quality of life in SF for it’s residents. Why should private, out of state developers be allowed to receive exemptions to the codes to the detriment of thousands of tax-paying residents? The neighbors of 222 are not naive. We know we live downtown and that they build big buildings downtown. All we wanted was a less massive structure with more car share spaces. Maybe at least a nod toward asthetic compatability with the neighborhood. What we got: Bupkis!
    A towering decision: A split Planning Commission has cleared the way for a 26-story office building at the corner of Second and Howard streets, much to the dismay of the families in the residential high-rises that have sprung up across that evolving South of Market area.
    Residents argued Thursday that the proposed structure at 222 Second St., with its 430,000 square feet of office space was just too massive for the neighborhood and that the traffic it would bring would endanger their children.
    But the $100 million building is slated to replace a parking lot on a piece of land already earmarked for high-rise office construction and meets almost all the city zoning requirements.
    Emphasis on the “almost.” The building’s architects needed a number of exceptions that some commissioners weren’t inclined to grant.
    Because a slice of the 350-foot-high building intrudes on an area with a 150-foot height limit and the bottom floors of the tiered structure are bulkier than allowed under city codes, special approval was needed.
    Exceptions also were required to allow the building to cast excessive shadows on nearby streets and the increase in ground-level wind caused by the building’s design.
    That was enough for some commissioners to vote against allowing the rule exemptions.
    The final vote on the main group of exceptions was 4-3, with Commissioners Kathrin Moore, Christina Olague and Hisashi Sugaya opposed.
    Opponents will get another chance to block the project when it goes to the Board of Supervisors for approval of the height and bulk exceptions.
    If the project gets the board’s OK, construction could begin in a year.
    – John Wildermuth
    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/08/17/BASV1ETVM4.DTL#ixzz0wueWAo00

  35. Posted by abc

    How is building a commercial development with parking in a blighted area detrimental to the citizens of SF? The tax revenue from the development will be good for the city.
    Transit first was a good idea in theory, but all that good transit hasn’t really materialized. In fact, since the transit first policy was passed, the transit in this city seems to have degraded. And removing parking with the idea that people will then take lots of terrible public transit or ride their bikes is just not realistic for a lot of people……

  36. Posted by sfrenegade

    The NIMBYs in this city never want anything built. Their complaints are ridiculous. There are plenty of tall buildings in the area. And how many kids actually live within 2 blocks of this place? Why do people take these fabricated complaints seriously? A 150-foot height limit is low anyway, and the planning codes need to be revised for more dense development in places like this.

  37. Posted by Mikey

    The NIMBYs in this city never want anything built. Their complaints are ridiculous. There are plenty of tall buildings in the area. And how many kids actually live within 2 blocks of this place? Why do people take these fabricated complaints seriously? A 150-foot height limit is low anyway, and the planning codes need to be revised for more dense development in places like this.
    Well, there’s a childcare center right behind 246 second street. There’s 246 Second Street, 199 New Montgomery, SF Blu, One Hawthorne. So it may not be Walnut Creek, but there ARE kids around.
    The bigger issue is that SF is trying to promote downtown living, which is great, but building a very large office building on a small lot right in the middle of a fairly low-rise neighborhood is stupid.
    Look at how 55 Second Street incorporated a in-scale sized lobby/open space with a high rise behind. That makes sense. The bloated glass marshmellow proposed for 222 second doesn’t make sense except for the developer who wants to squeeze every last square foot out of a small lot.

  38. Posted by sfrenegade

    “a fairly low-rise neighborhood”
    Seriously? Have you ever been here before?

  39. Posted by Mikey

    ^^^^ I used to live there.
    I’m talking about the stretch along Second street from the ballpark to about Mission. Except for 246 Second street and the Courtyard Marriott, there really aren’t any buildings over 10 stories along Second Street.

  40. Posted by sfrenegade

    101 2nd St. doesn’t count? It’s at the corner of 2nd and Mission, south of Mission. There are several neighboring tall buildings surrounding on Mission St. and to the east on 1st. And let’s not even forget the Pacific Telephone Building just next door on New Montgomery, which was once the tallest building in SF at 435 feet. Are those all in completely separate neighborhoods?

  41. Posted by OneEyedMan

    101 2nd is on the southern corner of 1st and Mission. As you walk south down 2nd this is pretty much the last of the really tall buildings. The Pacific Telephone building is slated for conversion to residential as soon as the economy allows, and as far as planning goes it is in a separate neighborhood as a historic district. There is a 102 unit residential building already approved across from 222 at 201 2nd. If you look at the newest building in the area, One Hawthorn, you will note it has a mid-rise stucco/brick podium consistent with adjacent structures and a significant set back to the glass residential tower. From street level it is almost indistinguishable from it’s 100 year old neighbors. 222 is indeed a “bloated glass mashmallow” or as the architect himself referred to it, in a perhaps freudian slip, at the Planning Commission meeting “It’s a fortress”. As far as kids go, there are plenty. 303 2nd has a pre-school/child care center with a 98 child capacity that is always full. I walk my dog by there every evening and would say 90% of the parents picking up their little ankle biters are pedestrians, and not driving.

  42. Posted by sfrenegade

    We could keep going. There’s the, ahem, telephone exchange building at the corner of Folsom & 2nd. And the block that 222 is on has other tall buildings too, As you mentioned, One Hawthorne, and as Mikey mentioned, 246 2nd, and then there’s the building next to it on Folsom. Anyway, it’s a good starting point for more dense development to accompany the existing tall buildings in the area. Let’s also not forget that Transbay Terminal will have its tower right in this area too.
    Yes, I know of the child care centers in the area, but again, we’re talking about NIMBYs who live in the neighborhood. Many of the people walking their kids there work in the area, but don’t live there. Again, note my question “And how many kids actually live within 2 blocks of this place?”

  43. Posted by midmarketresident

    I’m new to this whole debate, but can someone please explain to me this passionate argument against parking from a logical perspective? Are you afraid that there will be more cars driving into sf? or that bart will go under because people will stop riding it? I have not heard anything besides this “transit-first” buzzword. The whole thing seems nonsensical to me.

  44. Posted by givemeabreak

    MMR — I think it has to do with the holiness of bike riding, the total decadence of capitalistic running dogs and –OH I forget, someone here will explain it al to you in detail

  45. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    More parking equals more cars which equals more congestion. Surely you can follow that argument midmarketresident.

  46. Posted by givemeabreak

    nvj welcome back from bike centric tibet?, china, NK or your choice of 3rd world countries

  47. Posted by anon

    midmarketresident – think of it this way:
    You have a drain in your sink that can take a certain amount of water per second. If you start pouring more water into the drain that can drain out, bad things happen.
    Our streets are the drain. If you add the potential for more water to enter the drain at any time (by adding more parking capacity), you increase the likelihood of overflows.
    Congestion = terrible for the economy of a city. More parking = more cars = more congestion.
    Not that hard to follow, no?

  48. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Have you ever been to Amsterdam givemeabreak? If not, you might want to do yourself a favor and go visit some time.

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