Eastern area development standards under review 

The City’s Planning Department believes it’s on the right track in coming up with development plans for the eastern neighborhoods, but some city supervisors and now a public policy think tank are trying to raise the bar.

Supervisor Sophie Maxwell drafted a resolution asking the Planning Department to meet some very high goals for development and zoning plans for San Francisco’s eastern neighborhoods — the Mission District, South of Market, Potrero Hill and the Central Waterfront.

The resolution prompted the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, a public policy think tank, to submit a resolution of its own.

"[Maxwell’s resolution] articulates a set of values and priorities. These values and priorities, I agree with them, it’s just that they’re not all there is to it," said Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of SPUR.

Maxwell’s resolution sends a strong message that the plans, due out next year, should include a number of significant development standards, including requiring that 64 percent of all housing units developed in these neighborhoods be below market-rate. It also seeks to protect existing art venues and leave them space for expansion by prohibiting market-rate housing in the vicinity.

The resolution submitted by Metcalf asks city planners to focus on ways to reduce the need for residents to drive, intensive land uses along transit routes that could generate funding for transit improvements, and the development of "complete neighborhoods" by ensuring the proper amenities are in place around new housing developments.

All agree that the eastern neighborhoods, which are being aggressively targeted by developers, are going to change dramatically in the coming years.

During a hearing last week on the resolution by the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee, Planning Department officials said the new requirements proposed by Maxwell could delay the plans, due out in November 2007. The department has been working on them since 2002.

The department also said it would be challenging to achieve the goals set by Maxwell and SPUR. Amit Ghosh, head of the City’s policy planning, asked during the hearing to make the language more flexible.

Supervisor Jake McGoldrick indicated during the hearing that the resolution could ensure better planning.

"It’s time to stop failing," McGoldrick said. He said The City should no longer "let market forces be the barracuda that eats up" San Francisco.

The Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing on Maxwell’s resolution on Oct. 26, and the Board of Supervisors committee is scheduled to vote Nov. 1 on the resolution.

Maxwell said she has not had the chance to review SPUR’s resolution, but will consider all input.

"I would hope to see some of our ideas included in Maxwell’s resolution," Metcalf said.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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