Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Say It Ain't So

According to post on the SFGate.com City Insider’s page, Mayor Gavin Newsom vetoed a piece of legislation passed by the Board of Supervisors that would have corrected a typographical error in the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan that was recently approved by the Board. Why would the mayor veto something that is essentially a non policy issue, but is just correcting a mistake? Before I answer that question, let me give you some history on the matter.

In December the Board of Supervisors voted to maintain the maximum allowable heights of buildings along Mission Street at their current levels, a change from the proposed allowable heights in the Eastern Neighborhood Plan.

In order to do this every parcel, several hundred if not thousands, had to be listed in the legislation at their correct heights. Every parcel has the correct height listed except for one. On that parcel happens to sit the New Mission Theatre and Giant Value store. The Supervisors believed that they voted to maintain the height of that parcel at 65 feet (approximately 6 stories), but the legislation carried the typo. The Board with out knowing voted to approve the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan with the allowable height at that particular parcel at 85 feet.

To their credit, the mistake was owned up to by the Planning staff. When informed of this error, the Board of Supervisors drafted and passed legislation to correct the mistake. What is funny is that some supervisors (Dufty, Alioto-Pier, Elsbernd and Carmen Chu) voted against correcting the mistake. Why would they vote against correcting a mistake? It is not even a policy issue.

The owner of the site, Gus Murad, (who is politically well connected and happens to assist with fundraising for a variety of San Francisco politicians) plans to build an eight story tower that would contain high-end condos and a nightclub. If the heights were correctly set at 65 feet he would need to apply for a zoning variance to be allowed to build an eight story tower. To my knowledge, he has had these plans in the works for years, but has yet to apply for a variance. We hope he develops a project that is an asset to the community.

The problem is that he has circumvented the planning process that all other developers have to abide by, most likely because he is politically connected. The Newsom veto allows him the additional height to build his project without having to provide any additional benefits for the community. In this day and age of Change, shouldn’t the politicians be called out for appearances of out-right voting under the influence of money.

No one is outright opposed to an eight story tall tower along Mission Street, but the developer should go through the proper channels to do it. Otherwise, this is spot zoning by the Mayor and the four Supervisors who supported the original amendment. This winter the community and the Planning Department completed a decade long planning process, just to have the Mayor allow one special character exempted from its requirements because of a mistake. All San Franciscans should be outraged at such blatant pay to play politics and call Supervisors Chu, Elsbernd, Alito-Pier, and Dufty to demand that they support the override of the Mayor’s Veto that is scheduled to be considered at the Board of Supervisors February 3.


No comments: