tv [untitled] January 16, 2012 6:01pm-6:31pm PST
housing they live in replaced an earlier generation of businesses and residents. we also noticed that many of those opposed to the project of lived here for years in rent- control housing. it is a curious platform from which to oppose new how it -- new housing. it displaces no one except tennis courts. the accusations against the project is that it will become largely housing, something we can see. this is some of the most valuable land in northern california. for decades through land-use decisions and policy, the city has said it the land is developed for private housing, it must pay. this includes rent to the city,
enormous fees to support subsidized housing, a new private maintained park, a new recreational facility, in the walkway to access the waterfront, and enlivened streetscape. these are not small benefits or cheaper ones. on the question of height, we would know the proposed project is 1/4 of the commercial building and 1/2 of the adjacent residential building. this is nestled among the tallest buildings on the skyline. we ask the city to choose a land use alternative that benefits the largest number of sentences since -- san franciscans and not those of a single neighborhood. >> is there additional public comment? it is not necessary.
>> my name is lee is -- louise renny. i would like to follow-up with three comments in opposition to the change. when you take a look at the pictures of the project, much is made of the improvement in the condition of the property facing the embarcadero. that is true. presently, the owners have kept the property in such poor condition purposely that anything would be an improvement. the neighbors have announced that the fence be painted. we have volunteered to do it. -- the neighbors have asked the defense be painted. we have volunteered to do it. we have announced that a copy piece of land be open and available for open space. for many of us, it is the height of hypocrisy to be rewarding what should be a code enforcement action taken against
the developer, and you are rewarding him with a high change. as my husband and others have pointed out, this is the beginning of the end of an open waterfront policy that has stood the city in good stead. i do not care to live in a place like miami beach. if this developer and others waiting in the wings get their way, that is what is going to happen to san francisco. that is not necessary when there are alternatives. none of the neighbors are saying no to anything. we are trying to take a look and a viewpoint of what makes san francisco special. having the waterfront height limit at a level which keeps the
water from open is -- waterfront open is certainly in the best interest of the city. none of us seek that making this change will meet the test that this commission must meet to make the jones -- make the zoning change. thank you. >> i am jim chapel representing spur. i went back into the archives to look at some of our history working on this issue going back to 1990 and proposition h.. the six years and thousands of hours of work that some of you were involved in. it finally came out on june 24,
1997. that is when the waterfront land use plan was passed designating this site as an opportunity site for development. since then, the port commission has been undergoing almost constant scrutiny of that plan and the site for the past six years. dozens of workshops, meetings, and hearings at the port commission. two years ago when i stepped down, i decided i would continue to testify on the project because i had started on it and thought it would only be a couple of months with a couple more meetings. he r&r two years later. -- here we are two years later. we are considering a project that is brilliant. it is a first-class developer with a track record for keeping commitments and developing a
first class projects. and absolutely first-rate architect and landscape architect from incredible community benefits in terms of opening the corridors, open spaces. the reconfiguration of the health club as desired by the owners of the private business, significant badly needed revenue for the port, and badly needed housing for the city. finally, the removal of an eyesore that may have been appropriate 50 years when it was up against a double decker freeway, but it is clearly not appropriate today considering the grand embarcadero boulevard. this waterfront belongs to all of us, not just a few neighbors. the photos simulation you were shown shows the wrong elevation of the building. it shows the view from the embarcadero and not from the park.
there is a big misunderstanding there. the irony is that the neighbors are going to be major beneficiaries of the project. this will be a significant environmental benefits to everyone. it is a small project. 12 stories is not a high-rise building up against a building that is much higher. please vote to initiate the general plan amendment with all deliberate speed. thank you. >> any additional public comment? >> good morning. my name is pete jones. i am one of the founders of western athletic clubs and currently the senior vice president of development. i am here as an interested party. for the last 20 years, we have been the operators of the golden gate swimming and tennis club.
we are not sponsors of this amendment. we have been invited by the developer to express our opinion as to what would be the best use of the square footage that was available to us as expressed in the development. unfortunately, in our opinion, it did require the total elimination of the tennis courts. i do not express any further opinion except that i wanted to make myself available in case there are questions that concern the operation of the club. thank you. >> additional public comment? simenon, -- c nine -- seeing none, public comment is closed. commissioner antonini?
>> in an earlier form, this did not pass. as staff has pointed out, what is before us today is not a recommendation. this is the recommendation of the general amendment that would increase heights in part of the plan. there will be plenty of time to decide whether this is appropriate or not. if you do not initiate, you cannot have a discussion. if you do not initiate based on what the plan has been designed for, you have to initiate at the height asked for and then have a discussion. i do not think you can go up, but obviously you can go down. i do have some questions. if i could speak to the representative from the port,
great. >there was some talk. one of the speakers early on talk about infrastructure financing and support getting the increment that cannot exceed 65%. i am not sure exactly how it is structured. is that a correct assessment? >> comment suggested the port planned on receiving 100% of the increments. this would be the second attempt to set up an ifd. first one was the rincon hill one set up a few years ago. we have to go forward with the process through the board of supervisors.
we have to go forward on the ifd process. it is still being put together for this project. our term sheet was the best guess on what might result from the process based on rincon hill and state law. we will see how the process comes through the board and what percentages are available to the port to spend on park projects. >> that is my understanding. under the best of circumstances, the highest percentage that could possibly go back into the area of the project would be 65%. development has a higher percentage. that is all it could possibly be. my second question is in regards to the map. there were some questions brought up. the map we are looking at points out the zoning for 275 feet. that surrounds the park and
includes the condominium. is this correct or incorrect? what is bill could be less in height? is that the situation? >> the golden gateway redevelopment plan included a recommendation for an 84 foot height limit on several properties adjacent to the project site. it is currently zoned and mount in the general plan as 84 feet. surrounding properties are sold at 275 p. regardless of the language in the redevelopment plan, for whatever reason the height plan was not carried forward into our actual legislative zoning and planning nmap.
the backdrop is zoned for 275 feet in height. that is not precisely correspond to what was built. that is the zone height limit in the areas to the west. >> in the one area that would be to the southwest of the project site, what was billed was considerably higher than what is being proposed. it may be in the range of 200 feet or more. i think it is to the south of jackson. north of jackson, you have condominiums and other structures that are considerably lower than that. the zoning is correct on the map. that answers my question. i would speak in favor of
initiating. i think this project goes a lot of good things. it is the exact formation, structure is a subject for discussion. there will be opportunities for that. it does give back a lot of things to the city. it does keep the club and improve it to some degree. i did have one question for the fellow from the athletic club. it has nothing to do with our initiation today. i wanted to get the latest plan. it does or does not keep the tennis courts? >> tennis courts are eliminated. >> it would enlarge the swimming facilities? >> it would enlarge the swimming and fitness facilities. we are, i believe, the largest operator of private tennis courts in the city.
we are tennis people, if you like. i do not know if this is a viable option or not, but i would like to throw it out there. we would be more than willing to build an alternative 12-court tennis facility on some piece of land proximate to the market area. we are on a month-to-month lease with our landlord. we also have a huge responsibility to the members of the club. i propose that as a possible compromise. >> you also have the bay club. >> we have 10 clubs. >> i just wanted to get that clarification.
it has nothing to do with this particular situation. another thing presented were some of the benefits of the parks and opening up jackson and pacific. i think the parking should be underground. there are a lot of good features to this. as i pointed out in my question , southwest of the building, there are considerably higher buildings in existence. this does step down to the waterfront. there is room for discussion on the height question. i think this addresses a lot of the concerns. it is not analogous to the fontana, two towers completely out of proportion to everything else that exists. this is in the context of higher and lower buildings. the lower buildings are closer to the water.
i think our charge is to step down to the waterfront. that is what this appears to do. we will see what the other commissioners have to say. i think initiation is proper at this time. parks commissioner -- >> commissioner fong. >> i will speak to supporting to initiate. i am also speaking as a swimmer. i am there several times a week. i have been a charter member of the bay club since its inception in 1979. i am in love with that pool. i think it is great but we have the opportunity to improve it. we realize there will be some downtime if the project moves forward. it is much like the oil drive -- doyle drive. it will be better. i appreciate the comments about
future development and potentially changing the height of the waterfront. it could be a slippery slope we are engaging in. i do feel this is different from fontana towers. this particular site is a cornerstone peace, a corner location, to the market- embarcadero juncture, intersection as a whole. i do not think it will stick out like a sore thumb. i think it will be a cornerstone. the developer has made many modifications to the project. i do not know what version they are on. i know there are many. in response to the neighborhood, i think they have been responsive. that is the main part of my comments. as far as the actual height, the best example is when we had the
peter pan tent. someone pointed out that was exactly the height of what is being proposed now. i am curious what my fellow commissioners have to say. i am supportive of moving forward. commissioner moore. >> i would like to ask the city attorney to interpret for myself and the rest of the commission what we do when we find a discrepancy between different documents that we reference for our decision making. we have found ourselves in the situation before. it is extremely difficult. only you can interpret for us what it means and does not mean. >> kate stacey from the city attorney's office.
if the committee finds discrepancies in documents, it is up to the commission on how to resolve those discrepancies and recommend changes in fixing them. one discrepancy raised was a discrepancy with the zoning map. the zoning map is considered part of the planning code. any changes to the zoning map would be pursued as a planning code amendment rather than a general plan amendment. today before the commission is just a general plan amendment. if the zoning map does need to be amended, it could be done as part of the planning code amendment. >> i have to think about what was said. it leaves me wondering what you really mean by that.
>> commissioner miguel. >> this is the kind of matter i do not like when it comes before us. even the agenda speaks to my problem. in the description of the item, is says the requested item is associated with the development. i would rather have seen an actual change if necessary, if desired to the waterfront land use plan rather than something associated with a specific development. it is bad land-use planning, in my concept of land use planning. it is spot zoning to an extent although i dislike that particular term. the term commissioner fong used, the possibility of a slippery
slope, is always there with spot zoning. however, it rarely happens. i do not contemplate a wall of high-rises as one of the speakers mentioned earlier. i think i understand to some extent the port's necessities, what they need as far as finances, the availability of parking. the small port site does nothing. it is too small to work with by itself. the idea of combining the two has a distinct logic to it without question. i do not think the argument for a wonderful green rupert or an obnoxious green fence -- green roof or obnoxious green fence
have anything to do with what we're talking about. they will be dealt with as in normal situations. i have some problems with the project itself. i know we're not discussing the project, but we are enabling it. that is why i am trying to be very cautious about how i approach it. we still have the der and the project itself to come before us. we are saying it is ok to go to 136 at that point. that is basically all we are saying right now. i may go for it. it is not the best land use plan. >>
a lot of comments about the fact that won approval is to each other, which is not the case. each has to be considered and it -- individually. we noticed the uses are different in the southern waterfront and the northern waterfront. we try to have some similarities and try to have some marion. this certainly would be in the context with what the southern waterfront is showing us, too. the other question i had was in regards to, i guess what commissioner moore brought up. she can probably elaborate. i thought we asked that question. if the zoning is such and if it is built, there will be lower height, and i do not see the conflict. just because something is zone that way does not mean that what
is billed there has to be up to the maximum the zoning to exist. i am not sure there's any correction. maybe somebody can make it more clear to me. but it seems like that is when the existing -- director, did you want to add something? >> what is before you now is the general plan that the best map. the other two would have to change. those two are in conformance. they say the same thing. they would both have to change it they want to accommodate this project. the only discrepancy, if you call it that, is that the original redevelopment plan called for this site to be 84 feet. that expired several years ago. that is the description need -- discrepancy that was raised. >> so that is not a factor anymore.
>> this is an enabling piece that has to been done for this project. it might turn out that the project has a different form when it is approved. but as directed by staff and by the city over the course of many years, we have asked the developer to please scope something that steps down to the waterfront, and what they have sculpted and falls a higher height on part of the project. you may agree with that, you may not agree. in order to move further, we have to go to step one, which allows us to consider the possibility of general plan amendments and allow this to even be in the ballpark, and then we can make decisions as to what is appropriator about the project and what heights are opprobrium. i think this is a good step one of what we should vote to approve today. commissioner moore: i would like to clarify that i was not questioning his competence. i was only using the tool which
i need to use and that is for the city attorney's interpretation. it is clear to the -- that this is not just an opinion. but it is in the law as we understand it. it is difficult for commissioners to find themselves, when the public called on us that there is a description -- but -- a discrepancy on something, what the right steps are. however, i think the director verbalized the timelines of redevelopment plan having expired. with that, i think we have at least an explanation by which we can move forward. this is actually very slow, but they agree with mr. chappell testifying for spur.
but moving forward with the land use plan, project early in life that the port is not a port that used to be a poor. it is something that needs to be balancing the objections -- objectives of waterfront development with an operation that still makes sense. otherwise, the port will remain a relic or something of the past without any liability for today. and that is a very, very difficult task because the port is very well aware of the limitations of what it can do, including the support and the lack of support for change. this is an issue of change. i am concerned that the real project, which we do not even really know in this current configuration, is being basically described and perched in front of us without us having a real full overview of what it
is, what we're commenting on. it is a wall. it is glass. it is this than that. the project is unknown to the majority of us. and i think that makes it very difficult to support one way or the other, while what we're doing today is not going to approve the project. it has little or nothing to do with the project. we still have all the possibilities to basically not like the project. that still was in the credit of of this commission. so there are a couple of other commissioners, and i will listen more. commissioner sugaya: i guess, for me, it is a matter of context. did the project proposal that asked for rezoning further south on the embarcadero, and this one, i think, are quite different, in my view.