Thursday, October 30, 2008

Eastern Neighborhoods Hearing

Yesterday, the Land Use Committee met to discuss some minor amendments to the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan. Needless to say, few of the amendments reflected any of the concerns raised by community-based groups. But more on that later.

A list of the amendments can be seen here, under the session #8.

One of the issues brought up by MAC is the lack of a strategy in the Plan to support the current businesses along Mission Street from being displaced. There are plenty of housing development opportunities along Mission Street. These housing development opportunities are on hundreds of parcels along Mission in the area plan that are 0-1 stories and do not have housing units.

It is the businesses on these parcels that most likely to be displaced because buildings without housing are generally the easiest to demolish. Because of the two density bonuses given to developers (greater heights and no density limits), there are very favorable incentives to develop housing.

The density bonuses create incentives to build housing because if a developer can build higher, then they can generally increase the return on their investment. Also, if there are no density limits, then developers can build smaller units, and thus more units per development site, than they could have before the passage of the Plan. Again, generally the more units they can build, the greater their return on their investment will be.

What are we proposing? Among other things, we are proposing stronger conditional use controls and incentives for new developments to lease their space to locally owned community serving business.

To state the obvious, the displacement of the current businesses serving the neighborhood will inevitable lead to the loss of the neighborhood's character. What ever our opinion of Mission Street is, we cannot deny that the businesses along the corridor serve a low-moderate income population. Hey, everyone needs a place to shop.

Surprisingly, the Supervisor from District 3, who fights tooth and nail for neighborhood serving businesses in North Beach, seemed uninterested about protecting community serving businesses in the Mission.

The Supervisor from District 11 was the only member of the Land Use Committee to even show the slightest bit of concern about the character of the Mission, and the businesses that serve the neighborhood. He asked the Planning Department to do something about it, lets see what they come up with.

I recognize that building a mix of affordable and market rate housing along Mission Street is a good things, but what are the benefits to the current businesses, if they will be displaced?

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