Better Streets Plan Provisions Stripped from Chiu Garage Legislation

IMG_3842.jpg Revised legislation could slow down Ellis Act evictions in Chinatown, North Beach, and Telegraph Hill, but would not require garages to meet the design principles in the Better Streets Plan. Photo: Michael Rhodes

In a move to gain the support of Supervisor Bevan Dufty, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu has stripped language from his proposed garage legislation that would have ensured all new garage additions to existing buildings in Chinatown, North Beach and Telegraph Hill conform with Better Streets Plan (BSP) guidelines.

The original legislation, which Chiu sponsored, would have required garage additions in sections of those neighborhoods to receive a conditional use authorization from the Planning Commission. Garages would be blocked if they had been built following no-fault evictions or didn't meet the design guidelines in the BSP.

At Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, Chiu announced that the BSP provision would be removed, and only buildings with four units or more would need to go through a full discretionary review process at Planning -- significantly lowering the bar for adding new garages compared to the original proposal.

Chiu said the revised legislation would return to the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee for a public hearing on Monday. The revised legislation, he said, "would really help to protect the core purpose of why we're moving this legislation," while dealing with the concerns raised by Dufty and others.

That's still an important victory for protecting housing, said Livable City's Tom Radulovich, but a setback in terms of ensuring better conditions for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders.

"The consolation is we've got the Planning Department talking about it for the first time," said Radulovich, a principal supporter of the BSP provision. "It's been a big loophole in the Planning Code because the addition of a non-required garage has a big impact."

Revised legislation hasn't made its way to the public yet, but it will likely still include restrictions on driveways on portions of major commercial streets like Broadway and Columbus, and could still remove parking minimums in the affected neighborhoods.

Garage addition companies, landlords and condo conversion supporters who oppose the measure have heavily lobbied Dufty, who could provide a critical override vote in case Mayor Newsom vetoes the legislation. Dufty has said he supports legislation to limit no-fault Ellis Act evictions, but has been cool on further restrictions to new garage additions in Chinatown, North Beach and Telegraph Hill.

You can contact Supervisor Dufty's office about the legislation by email at Bevan.Dufty@sfgov.org or by phone at (415) 554-6968.