tv [untitled] February 21, 2013 4:30pm-5:00pm PST
years. the morning of our staff and other employees have been there 18, 20 years. my general manager has been there 32 years. it's very much a family as far as -- as well as a business and it's extremely important that we -- the cafe floor is a very small -- it's only 900 square feet. it's a greenhouse. there are no storage, there is no self-ing. when you walk in everything you see is exactly what we have there. and there is no sporectiontionv to put in the products. the kitchen we use across the street is mainly for making soup stockses and cleaning lettuce and vegetables and stuff like that so we don't have any cross contamination of pro scenes. it's very important. * proteins i do want to say something
about cafe floor. our taxes are current. i don't understand why this was brought up when everything is just fine with us tax wise. and thank you very much. >> thank you. ken bunch, deborah aiano, gerald -- i'm sorry, can't read that last name. john kodera. sister honey bee, ron schmidt. hello, my name is kenneth bunch. i'm the founder of the sisters of perpetual indulgence. cafe floor is like any other business in the castro, any other business or cafe. it's a community center. over the last couple of decades, people meet there to talk about issues and to make
plans and form organizations, [speaker not understood] the sister. we've all at various times met there to plan our activities. as well, cafe floor has donated thousands of dollars to charity, to our charities over the years. and you really have to understand, cafe floor, the kitchen is more like a walk-in closet. it really needs -- for the tremendous number of people that want to eat there and there are, as has been said, especially on the weekends, a line of people out the door to eat there, so socialize, to connect, and to eat the great food. in order to provide that service, they really need an off-site kitchen. and i understand that they've had one for a long time. and, so, this proposeses just to legalize that. it's a very unique institution,
as i said in the castro. it really needs this off-site kitchen to support its services. i hope you support it. >> thank you. hello, my name is deborah [speaker not understood]. i've been going to cafe floor since the early '70s. i've always eaten there, socialized there, i consider it a community center. and i'd just like you to support the legislation to legitimatize the work around that business has created to provide food and a place for people to get together in san francisco. thank you. good afternoon, president fong and members of the planning commission. my name is john caldera and i'm a 26 year resident of san francisco and i'm a board appointed member of the veterans affairs commission. we meet right just down the hall in room 416 on the second
tuesday of the month. i'm also the executive director of the san francisco chapter of veterans for peace here and we help host the grand stands for san francisco pride. so, i'm involved with the community and echo the thoughts that many business he have come and gone. and i'm here to speak in favor of cafe floor. the fact that the legislation before you is really more to grandfather what already exists. the food that comes from cafe floor is healthy food. it's not processed food. as someone who has lived with hiv for over 17 years, that's what i'm looking for to put in my body. when i eat there, i feel like i'm doing something good for my health. it's not something that's come frozen out of a patty. and that type of food takes time, takes preparation. so, i ask your indulgence to allow what already is. thank you very much.
hi, my name is gerald childerses. i'd like to speak in favor of the legislation for cafe floor. * i have heard a lot of people speak. some opposed, some in favor. it seemed like a lot of people opposed wanted to be punitive against the person. that could certainly happen here. but that would also be punitive against the community and i hope we don't do that. i think the cafe floor has been a great member of the community. i think this is a way for us to get everything above and beyond and aboveboard, legalize it, make sure everything is right for the future. once that's done, everything seems like it would be a go. there's no problems after that. [speaker not understood] health considerations or anything along those lines at this point. and frankly, i think that we should just do this. i hope you guys agree with me. thank you very much for your time.
good afternoon, supervisors. my name is ron schmidt. i wrote this letter to supervisor wiener and expecting that it be shared with you as well. i'm going to leave a copy here for you to take home. dear supervisor wiener, san francisco has been my home for the last 16 years. the castro my neighborhood, and cafe floor the soul of the castro. i can't imagine the loss of this venue. whether my mood is fair to midland and down, i find [speaker not understood] in this remarkable place. the barista know my order before i reach the register. [speaker not understood], delicious vegetarian soups, oil
instead of wine on my avocado or meat salads, warm greetings and equally warm smiles all around even fromth village of cooks as they glance up from the splendors they place on the plates. cafe floor staff are extended family whether cooking, serving or busing the tables. but that's only part of the picture. invariably i have a friend or two or more stop and share my table and catch up on each other's lives. often these are friends i met first at cafe floor as i write in my journal or catch up on my reading. often in fact i am caught up with the conversations with visitors from montreal, pares, florence, hong kong, cafe floor brings people together from all over the world and i am still in touch with many of them. as i sat sipping cappuccino with friends, they chatted as they came through the gate [speaker not understood].
i turned 76 on my last birthday and was nearly 40 when i came out. it is still thrilling to me. it is still thrilling to me to live in a community where people feel free and safe to be who they are. i get an actual rush when i see two men holding each other's hands across the table or women burst into laughter as they embrace, or families straight or gay sharing the space comfortably with one another. george carlin once said, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away, and that's what cafe floor does for me, provides me with moments that take my breath away and thrills my soul with warmth. thank you. >> sister honey bee. i actually wanted to say that name twice. [laughter]
>> gary virginia, alan nelson, [speaker not understood]. >> if your name has been called, come on up to the podium. >> [speaker not understood], lynn williams, and james estrano. my name is sister honey bee, and you may think that i am biased, and i am. so, i am going to appeal to your bias. imagine having a place like this that you go to and the way that it was described by all of us here. and suddenly it's taken away. that's like snatching food from you when you're hungry. cafe floor feeds us as your place would feed you. [speaker not understood] in the community, they park their car
and pay muni. they shop. we are all nourished in one big beautiful context. mr. president and commissioners, my name is paul page. i own property, residential property up the street on market street and i just want to say when i first moved to san francisco 20 years ago, i stood at the corner of castro and market and asked, where is it? in other words, when you look at the castro, there's really nothing there in a sense until you happen to stumble upon cafe floor. and then you realize that's essentially the community center. everything else in the castro, even to the present day, are either chain stores or things that are totally unrelated to the community other than to take money from the residents there. so, cafe floor is the only institution, really, in the castro that gives money back and give a place for the residents to live.
i wanted to point out something i've heard, too. some of the early speakers talked about the oddity of having food shuttled between kitchens a couple of feet, distance between doors. when you think about that, that argument would mean that starbucks would have to be closed down because all their food is trucked in. pete's would be closed down. perhaps even your own kitchen here in city hall would have to be closed down because they're moving food across courts and across hallways. so, the argument that it's somehow offensive to move food between places would mean a whole range of businesses and the city would have to close down because they're all operating on the principal of cooking somewhere and moving the food somewhere else. so, i think what we need to do is preserve the ability of cafe floor to exist and to meet the demand which means they need more kitchen space to reject that, they would call for the closure of cafe floor. you may as well just close down
the castro as well. thank you. hello, my name is lynn williams. i'm here to speak on behalf of j.d. and cafe floor and legalizing the kitchen for him. i am co-founder of a benefit corporation here in san francisco. i'm very purpose driven and that's one thing j.d. and i have in common and i'm here to support him and his purpose to bring positive change to the community, support community, support each other. so, i'm here to just say what can we do to help him? he's such a strong, valuable resource in the community. so, i just want to speak on behalf of his character and purpose and how we can help him to help the community and help each other. so, thank you. hello, my name is james strano. i'd just like to support j.d. and support this legislation by
supervisor wiener. i have been in the community since 1988. i do a lot of charity work for different organizations. and my background is in food and service industry. i've been in catering for over 20 years and i've seen that off-site kitchen across the street. and in all the time that i've done catering, i've jet to see anyplace as clean as that off-site kitchen. he's done everything he can to comply with every ordinance and every law law. heasked many friends who all pitch in and help. this is a community resource and it's also a business that provides almost 40 people with a job. and all he would like to do is help this business grow so the community can get more out of it. thank you. good afternoon, commissioners. my name is alan beach nelson.
i'm president of castro eureka valley neighborhood association and have been for three years, i'm in my fourth year since scott wiener vacated the position to become supervisor. first of all, i'll say the board voted on this legislation and it was not unanimous. we are supportive in general of the legislation. in fact, i met several times with john ram to talk about including the orphan block grant in the neighborhood plan, and the height extension [speaker not understood] density deep control. but we do take -- the board takes issue with the fact that the height increase is only being applied to one person. it sounds to me like that legislation is being changed a little bit, but if that were the case, we would be supportive of it. there's been a lot of
conversation about how fabulous cafe floor is. you're right, it's fabulous. i love the place. it was one of the first places i went to when i moved to san francisco in 1993. i've been here for 20 years. the issue for me on a personal level and for the board is exceptionalism and rewarding that behavior. and that's essentially what this legislation does. i found it interesting that scott's a little hesitant about applying off-site legislation across the board. i find it interesting scott says we need to think about that, but he wants to apply it to this one place and that's really our issue, why this one business get exceptional rules and everybody else doesn't have to play by them? that's not fair. thises the end that's based on quality, everybody being treated equally. the fact of the matter is this legislation, that component of it, would be treating j.d.
petras cafe floor -- it's not j.d., i like j.d., would be treating cafe floor differently than everybody else and that's what i have a problem with. now, if you guys work on legislation that would actually apply across the city or even on the entire upper market corridor, i'd be all for it and i think the voters would be for it. but it's not fair giving somebody an unfair advantage. the fact of the matter is also cafe floor was a thriving by for 30 years before j.d. took over and some of that time before hand apparently there was an off-site kitchen. but a lot of time it was president. it can continue to thrive without this off-site kitchen. eventually i'd like to see that happen, but for everybody. thank you. good afternoon, commissioners. my name is gary virginia. i'm a community activist, grand marshal at the pride parade. live in the castro since 1987
and i've done a lot of fund-raising, the annual pride [speaker not understood], i raised $40,000 in one day for an aids charity. i've done benefits in bars and restaurants all over san francisco. and cafe floor has been nothing but exceptional hosting events. the comments about it's existed a long time. if a place it busy it doesn't mean it's po lard. the last several years within a block of cal state flora, [speaker not understood], baghdad cafe which has been there for decades, [speaker not understood], 2223 restaurant, eich's sandwich shop, jake's restaurant and blue restaurant and that's just what i could think of while sitting here. that's what's in a [speaker not understood]. some have been independent restaurants for 25 years. when minimum wage goes up, when
the health ordinance required goes into effect, it can affect a business by $10,000 or more a month. this extra revenue for sales tax or when gasoline goes up, the products go up in cost just because a place is busy doesn't mean it's profitable. regarding the comments on the health and cleanliness, yesterday happened to be a random check. it scored a 92. as you know, when they come in, they don't give you any warning. the question, going from aydin jai alley is kind of [speaker not understood]. cafe floor doesn't charge anybody. we've been having events there, my mardi gras club has benefits there. there is a monthly get queer social there years now. a monthly bisexual gathering. monthly ladies night social
there. weddings, celebrations, memorials, birthdays, it truly is a community center. there were a hundred kids there from the school of the arts having a published reading a couple months ago. in addition to that the owner gives food donations even to the city hall tree [speaker not understood] consistently for 10 years. so, this is why the planning code exists, to make exceptions where needed. it is not a concrete document. and i want to thank supervisor wiener and his staff for outlining it for you. [speaker not understood]. thank you. >> thank you. is there any additional public comment? if you haven't spoken already. hi, my name is sara [speaker not understood]. i grew up on the east coast, but i've been out here 40 years. and one of the things i've always loved about california
and san francisco in particular is that there are exceptions and [speaker not understood] and so forth. it's not a rigid thing. it seems that this system is working very well and cafe floor is a cornerstone of that neighborhood as far as the feeling to me that i observe and the food they serve is, as a physician, exactly what i would like everyone i know to eat. and i think we should be proud of it and help it grow along. and if grandfathering this in or whatever need to be done, i think it would serve everyone. thank you. >> any additional public comment? okay. seeing none, the public comment portion is closed. opening up to commissioners. commissioner wu. >> thanks. so, before getting to the question of cafe floor, i want to ask staff about the density
controls and nct. so, it seems like there's been a movement for a couple of years to move from ncds to ncts. and the difference in the density control is no longer -- it's no longer tied to lot area and i just wanted to understand some of the policy thinking behind that. >> sophie hayward, planning staff. and you're right, the density in the nct district is controlled by the bulk and mass of the building and not by lot area. whereas in the d district it's by lot area. >> does that provide more flexibility or, you know, [inaudible]? >> if i could, emory rodgers, planning department staff. this idea came out of the market and octavia plan. it was an idea about trying to get density in neighborhoods in a way that is compatible with existing character. if you look at the zoning prior to the change to the nct and rto, the zoning actually would
not allow the existing housing stock to be rebuilt because the existing housing stock was much denser than what the zoning would allow. so, by looking at what is the appropriate form and sticking with the prevailing form of the area, we were able to get more density within the historic character of the district. >> thanks, that's really helpful. i'm supportive of that part of the legislation, the consistency, have it all be one market nct makes sense. on the question of cafe floor, i think it really is a fine, welcoming place. so, i'm supportive of allowing them to have accessory use across the street. staff recommended it be city-wide. i don't think this is the appropriate time to go city-wide. i think that that requires some discussion across the city, what this might mean for other neighborhoods. but i actually don't think this is a top priority for city-wide discussion, depending on what sort of comes up in other neighborhoods.
i think what i've seen we've done is make it apply to the entire -- in this case would be the upper market nct, if that portion passes. i refer to actually the sacramento street item that we had today where we change the use for medical street. and also the third floor, what was it, personal service that we made recently on valencia street. so, maybe i can ask the supervisor if he wanted to speak to that at all, the idea of making it available to the entire upper market nct. thank you, commissioners. i would be very open to legislation to change the nct to allow for off-site. i do believe that would probably trigger city-wide discussions because once you set precedent in one ncd or nct, that could become a
template for others. so, that's something i'm very open to, i think having flexibility for different kinds of food operations. we've seen now in the city between traditional brick and mortar restaurants, [speaker not understood], the way we serve food changes over time. it has a few categories and there are many more categories. that is a discussion worth having. it is something i'm open to. so, just to respond to mr. beach nelson, i'm not in any way saying i have doubts about that. i think it would be a very, very good idea. right now what we have is an important [speaker not understood], hey, give me an off-site restaurant -- off-site kitchen, ha had an off-site richen as far as we can tell bilk into the 1980,. this is something that has been there a very long time.
we have an operation that is at risk of being shut down because there is no way around the planning code prohibition. so, my view is we should resolve it for this very important community business. no other business in the castro has come forward to me and said, hay, i have the same problem, we can have that conversation about the broader code change whether it's in the upper market nct or city-wide. >> okay, thank you. thank you, commissioner. >> commissioner borden. >> yeah, i'm very supportive. i think that we've heard no opposition to the change from ncd to nct. it sounds like people are on board with the height change and i would support the [speaker not understood] correct it for lots along the way. i understand people say it could be specialty use. we have these situations all the time. we approved philanthropic uses
which applies to certain lots because the project sponsor we had earlier in sacramento street was also specific more to a lot we were able to expand it. something that might be easier to consider to look at this more broadly if the legal asian of existing off-site kitchens, having a process or pass maybe city-wide for that. i imagine there are a lot of illegal off-site kitchens. the issue around food trucks, i have a restaurant right on the corner from where i live that also has a food truck. i see the food going back and forth. i know other [speaker not understood] don't have brick and mortar restaurants. they're [speaker not understood], one first step just might be legalization of an existing off-site restaurant and ncts throughout the city could be step one. and then step two, looking at -- because obviously most people are fine with the status quo. the issue is we don't know if we do a new balance, creating
kitchens all over the place. the issue was not going to the next step. >> this makes sense with cafe floor, with the commercial being in the front and kitchen being in the back. it is pre-existing many years. we had the castro country club. it had been turned into another use a long time ago. we all supported that use continuing because it made sense. i think there are instances in which we want to support our small businesses and local businesses in the community and needing to do those things. it is true that in that nayerction, i was shocked when that cafe went out of business. it always seemed like a thriving restaurant and it didn't continue. the new place is going in there concept is going to work out.
there seemed to be a turn over in the neighborhood, we can support that, the owner having a track record the last 32 years. it says a lot about this business. i agree when i think of cafe floor. it is a gateway when you're coming up market street. i think it makes a lot of sense. again, i would support looking at a legalization process for an existing off-site kitchen. maybe that is something staff can talk about whether you considered this versus the blanket allowance. >> i think as staff, we considered the ordinance thats was before us, which very specific in a geographic area. * and in talking through the specific issues associated with cafe floor, we were just exploring whether or not, a, we were comfortable with drape creating a legal nonconforming use, whether there was a way to avoid that situation. and then secondly, whether we
could craft something that was narrow enough that would not create sort of unintended consequences, but would be more broadly applicable to the west side of one block of the city. and that's how we came to that tentative solution and i'm sure we're open to talking more about that. >> did you at all -- do we have any sense of the issue around illegal or secondary or off-site kitchens? do we have any sort of knowledge or information about that? >> no, commissioners. i think part of the issue here was trying to avoid a nonconformity when we could. that was part of the reason for the recommendation. secondly, recommend, this is only in an ncd district. it wouldn't allow these off-site kitchens in a residential district. my feeling as we discussed it in staff, it didn't seem to be that much of a problem frankly. it's an operation that happens in the board committee of a restaurant, any restaurant in