Amnesty program for eastern neighborhood businesses extended 

click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo

More time was granted Tuesday for property owners in eastern neighborhoods to pay a fee to become legal if business uses became illegal under land controls adopted in 2009.

These land-use controls, which became known as the Eastern Neighborhood Plan, were intended to strike a balance among conflicting demands from the housing, industry, office and technology sectors. Land-use conflicts heated up during the turn-of-the-century dot-com boom, when tech firms began pricing light industry out of The City and blue-collar jobs began to vanish.

The plan designated areas in the Mission, South of Market and Potrero Hill neighborhoods where buildings could only house uses known as production, distribution and repair —such as printers, design, repair, food preparation, flower arrangers, house builders and furniture wholesaling.

That left buildings with office uses in a bind. However, the plan included a three year amnesty program where businesses made illegal under new controls could pay a fee to become legal. Fees could be as high as $10.50 per square foot.

But the program had few applicants leading up to its end, prompting concerns that if it wasn’t extended it would mean the loss of office-use businesses.

An attorney representing clients in the area had suggested hundreds of businesses were operating illegally, but the Planning Department has it’s just a “small fraction.”  

The Board of Supervisors extended the amnesty program until November in an 11-0 vote Tuesday.

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