New Historic Districts - Planning Commission Hearing 2/02/12

Posted On: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 6:47am | Posted By:
Topics: Community Information | Tags: San Francisco Districts, san francisco neighborhoods, san francisco planning, zephyr real estate

On February 2, the Planning Commission will act on updating and revising Articles 10 and 11 of the Planning Code. Articles 10 and 11 of the Planning Code govern how historic preservation is regulated in San Francisco. The passage of Proposition J in 2008 necessitates that San Francisco update its Planning Code.

Supervisor Scott Wiener has proposed several common-sense amendments to Articles 10 and 11 to make the creation and regulation of new historic districts more transparent, more certain and more accessible to everyone – particularly those of limited means. These amendments would:

  • Establish Permit and Application Fee Waivers to waive all or part of fees associated with Certificates of Appropriateness in cases of economic hardship (including affordable housing);
  • Allow an exemption from conformance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for the Treatment of Historic Properties when conformance would create a significant economic hardship (including affordable housing), provided that the scope of the project does not include demolition, fees have been waived and the Zoning Administrator has determined that all other aspects of the project are Code-complying;
  • Ensure that non-landmark properties in historic districts are not required to meet overly stringent standards by specifying that the HPC or Planning Commission shall consider whether a proposed project, other than one on an individual landmarked building, is consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for the Treatment of Historic Properties as interpreted by the Planning Department in Guidelines, Interpretations, or Bulletins adopted by the HPC and the Planning Commission. For non-landmarked properties, the Secretary of the Interior Standards should be considered, but projects should not be required to be consistent with these standards. Development of these local interpretations of the Standards would be a public process led by the Planning Department;
  • Provide that if any individual member of the public requests the nomination of a historic district, that the nomination be supported by 66% of the property owners in the proposed historic district;
  • Require that the Planning Department conduct outreach, via surveys, informational voting, and so on, to invite all property owners to express their opinion on the nomination of any proposed historic district, with a goal of obtaining the participation of at least 50% of property owners within any proposed district – so that owners and occupants of proposed historic districts are informed of the practical consequences of the adoption of the district, including the availability of preservation incentives, the types of work requiring a Certificate of Appropriateness, the process and fees for obtaining a Certificate of Appropriateness, and the types of work that is generally ineligible to receive a Certificate of Appropriateness.
  • Provide that the Planning Commission’s review of any proposed historic district will include findings regarding the district’s consistency with the General Plan, and specifically policies that encourage the production of housing and transit-oriented development;
  • Allow that when an application is made for a permit for work on a sidewalk or street within a designated historic district, the processes outlined in Articles 10 and 11 do not apply unless the streets and sidewalks of the district have been explicitly called out as character-defining features in the designating ordinance;
  • Establish that when the Planning Commission modifies decisions by the HPC in cases where a project requires multiple approvals in addition to a Certificate of Appropriateness, the Planning Commission takes into account all relevant General Plan and Planning Code policies in addition to all applicable historic resource provisions of the Code;
  • Provide mailed notice for applications within historic districts to owners and occupants within 150 feet of the subject property (rather than 300 feet);
  • Limit Certificates of Appropriateness to work affecting the character-defining features set out in the designating ordinance;
  • Require that, for projects proposed by public agencies or for City-owned properties, the Planning Department and the HPC shall consider the relevant public agency’s mission and constraints in considering the application.

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