363 6th Street Site

Plans to raze the former City Life Church building at 363 6th Street, a building which was originally a candy factory and was briefly home to a bondage dungeon (the SF Citadel) as well, have been approved.

And as proposed, a nine-story building with 104 residential units over 700 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and a basement garage for 45 cars would rise upon the site, as we first reported earlier this year.

Designed by Forum Design for Realtex, the development is a block away from the EndUp (which never sold) and right across the street from another eight-story development that’s in the works.

And as designed, the nine-story building will add 46,300 square foot hours to the 38 million square foot hours of shadow cast upon the nearby Gene Friend Recreation Center and park at 270 6th Street, an increase of 0.028 percent.

According to Planning Code Section 295, however, which was adopted in 1985 in response to voter-approved Proposition K and requires Planning Commission disapproval of any structure greater than 40 feet in height that casts a shadow on any property under the jurisdiction of the Recreation and Park Department, as is the recreation center, the standard allowable shadow increase for the recreation center is zero (0.0) percent.

In order to allow the 363 6th Street development, San Francisco’s Planning Commission voted to amend and raise the cumulative shadow limit for the park, deeming the increase insignificant.  The action could either set a precedent or now make it harder for a number of other nearby projects, which could also add to the shadowing of the same park, to earn exceptions as well.

21 thoughts on “Shadows Don’t Sink This Sixth Street Project, But…”
  1. Good job. Hope to see more of this.

    And its great that the developer appears to be right-sized parking this project with slightly less than a 0.5:1 parking ratio. Would prefer to see no parking at all, but much better than what some of these spreadsheet-based developers are proposing.

  2. The problem is, why even have the ordinance if developers and the City PTB wink and nod and get past it. Crony capitalism at work in progressive SF.

    As an individual homeowner just try to see how far you get doing an addition which violates the code.

    The City is asking for draconian initiative which are brewing and which would tak away discretionary review, in most cases from the PC.

    1. I’m not sure what’s draconian about allowing people to do something that’s legally allowed as of right on their property. In fact, the process we have now is draconian.

    2. Do you honestly think that you would notice the difference between 0.0 and 0.02?

      If you say yes, you’re lying. If you’re honest and say no, then you have to wonder why our rules are written in such a way as to be so restrictive and draconian? We have the most extreme housing crisis of any city in the united states, and we’re up there internationally. If those facts dont motivate you to take a serious look at why that exists, then you are part of the problem

  3. Too bad the commission couldn’t make this common sense exception for the Transbay Tower and let it be built to 1200′, instead the tallest building in the west is going to be a 900′ tall airplane wing with a 300′ Festivus pole on top.

    1. That’s just a never ending game though. In 10 years St. Louis might build a 1500 ft skyscraper and then we’re 2nd/3rd place again

        1. Don’t hold your breath.. Seriously. It’s never going to happen. The transamerica pyramid was originally designed to be 1k’

  4. The Planning Commission and the Rec and Park Commission must make an exception because of the totally stupid way Prop K, the Sun and Shade ordinance was written.

    ANY increase in shade (yes, even 0.000001 %) is forbidden, as though that could even be measured. It does not differentiate whether the shadow is at 7 am on December 21 (when no one is in the parks, when the shadow is virtually horizontal from a building a half-mile away, and it is most likely raining anyway.) It misunderstands optics, in that the shadow from a building next door is real, but one from some distance away is “overwhelmed” by reflected light and in fact is no shadow at all.

    This is what happens when a law is written by a lawyer (Sue Hestor) without consulting with a scientist or an architect or a landscape architect.

    1. It wouldn’t be practical to make approval of the construction of a building depend on the light reflecting from other buildings and nearby features to compensate for the direct shadow. If we did that then what would happen when these other buildings or features change?

      Prop K may or may not be bad law, but not because of physics.

      FWIW, light in the visible spectrum doesn’t appreciably diffract around the edges of buildings, unlike radio waves. Simple raytrace analysis is adequate to describe the shadows that would be cast by this building on the park.

      BTW, calculating the light reflected off all the buildings and features visible from every point in a typical urban park of 1-3 acres in size would be quite complex and error prone. The percentage of light reflected from a building can be changed by paint, soot, opening windows, or closing curtains.

      1. And the percentage of light that makes it to the ground can be changed by fog, regular clouds, time of year, contrails, etc. Why is it ok to ignore all that?

        1. time of year and time of day are accounted for in the shadow calcs I’ve seen. For example, from a 2012 calc of Transbay Tower shadows on Union Sq: “The maximum area of new shadow is 24.5% of the park at 8:00 in early April and early September. The shading on these particular days would begin at 7:40am at the southwest corner part of the park, peak at 8:00am, and depart by 8:40am”

          AFAIK, the atmosphere is not under the jurisdiction of SFPlanning. But perhaps you are suggesting that that construction of this building will affect the amount of fog, clouds, and/or contrails overhead. Curious to see your calcs for that. I’m going to take a WAG and say the effects would be within the margin of error of the estimate itself, making the exercise meaningless.

          Of course we also left out the shadows on reason cast by those who (s)troll by in tall pointy hats.

  5. I own unit directly across from where this will be built — it will block my view, but I’ll still take gentrification over having my view. We need more sane civilians in our neighborhood.

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