Saturday, January 31, 2009

Spot Zoning Part II - A strange series of events

Advocates of the community planning process were happy to learn that Sandoval’s spot zoning legislation died at the Board of Supervisors. We believe Sandoval’s legislation died because the merits of raising the heights on just two properties were never vetted through the planning process. Interestingly enough, one Supervisor who supported his legislation at committee did not support it at the Board. This would be the first strange event in a series of strange events.

On Monday November 24th, the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan was passed by the Land Use Committee. The height limits along Mission Street are an aspect of the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan. While the Committee voted to keep the height limits along Mission Street as they have been, but nor below 55ft, the text of the actual legislation had the height limits set at 85 feet. The text carried a previous proposal, rejected by the Committee, to set the height limits along Mission Street at 85 ft.

On Tuesday November 25, the Plan was scheduled to be heard at the full Board of Supervisors. Given that the Plan was approved late Monday evening, there was not enough time to change the actual text of the legislation for the Board meeting to reflect what was passed.

The Board followed the Committee’s recommendation on height limits along Mission Street. As for the the height limits on both the El Capitan and New Mission theatre, they stayed where they are at, 55 feet and 65 feet respectively.

Are you with me so far?

The next strange event happened sometime in the week of the 24th when the Planning Department staff in charge of actually changing the text in the legislation to reflect the Board’s decision made a typographical error. They were making the changes they did not have time to do on the 24th.

The height limits on paper for the New Mission Theatre remained unchanged @ 85 ft instead of 55ft, but the height limit for the El Capitan Theatre was amended to reflect the Board’s decision at setting it at 55ft.

So of all of the parcels to get wrong, the planning staff gets wrong the one that is owned by a well connected restaurateur/developer. A part of me believes that it was an honest mistake because there is no evidence to the contrary.

When the Board approved the heights along Mission Street on the second reading on December 9th, as I stated in a previous post, they did not know that there was a typo regarding that one parcel.

This is where the problem begins. The planning staff made a typo that is caught too late, and the Board essentially votes the typo into law.

In a not so strange event, at the same hearing another Supervisor again tries to assist the well connected restaurateur /developer by trying to exclude his parcel, and that of the El Capitan Theatre, from the legislation. At this point the Supervisors are still unaware of the typo in the legislation. This move, if supported by the Board, would have essentially allowed the well connected restaurateur /developer to circumvent the planning process.

The centrist block of the Board of Supervisors supported the move to sever the two parcels from the height limits legislation in an effort to give the well connected restaurateur /developer his desired height. I guess they are not really into the idea of a community planning process and are ok with bypassing the planning process for well connected individuals.

Fortunately his efforts failed.

During all this time parcel 3616-007 had the incorrect height limit. On December 16th, the Board voted to correct their mistake. The Board passed the issue on the second reading, fixing the typographical error. Supervisors Carmen Chu, Dufty, Elsbernd, Alioto-Pier opposed fixing the error. Why would four otherwise rational law makers vote against a non-controversial issue such as fixing a mistake?

Unfortunately, as I mentioned in an earlier post, the Mayor vetoed the legislation fixing the issue before he left to Washington DC. For President Obama’s Inauguration.

No comments: