Better Streets Plan Provisions Stripped from Chiu Garage Legislation

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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.

  • North Beach has enough garages. Dufty is a joke. He came to North Beach Neighbors but sadly I was out of town. And I was never given an update.

    Who has the deepest pockets? Apparently not people who want a walkable neighborhood.

  • I guess only his aid could make it. Three cheers to the future mayor of SF!

  • Richard Mlynarik

    Remember who owes whom when Gavin Dufty runs for mayor on the SFBOM/GGRA/SFPOA/RBA/etc ticket. Four more years … of Willie.

  • JohnB

    Mike

    Won’t the neighborhood be more walkable if there aren’t cars parked all over the sidewalks because there isn’t any garage parking?

  • Sidewalk parking isn’t THAT big of a deal in North Beach, there are enough DPT around for the meters to keep that pretty limited. I’m just sick of only seeing garage doors in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the world. But such is the cost for doing business in America.

  • JohnB

    Mike

    I’m surprised about it in another way. Having a garage under a building in the way that it seems only SF does is a real seismic no-no.

    But the average condo in North Beach probably costs a million and, for that money, people expect an off-street parking spot.

    It’s not clear how we put the genie back in the bottle.

  • JohnB, is that a threat? If we don’t give up our apartments for your garages, you’ll block the sidewalks with your cars? I hope you wouldn’t advocate breaking the law over something as silly as parking in such a walkable neighborhood…

  • If we continue to put parking instead of housing on the ground floor of every building then the price will only climb.

  • MG

    Of all the big “old” dense American cities (SF, NYC, Boston, Philly, DC, Chicago), San Francisco has the absolute worst garage epidemic I’ve ever encountered. I’ve never seen so many rowhomes (or Victorians that are almost rowhomes) with front facing garages literally on every single unit. This just doesn’t happen in other old cities to the degree that it does in SF. Can you imagine garages being tacked on to the fronts of NYC’s brownstones or Philadelphia’s brick rowhomes? It would be considered an atrocity! So why is it tolerated here?

    Furthermore, all these garages have actually made the parking situation in SF much worse than it should be. In any dense city, street parking availability is highly dependent on turnover. Since you can’t ever block someone’s driveway, a street-facing garage becomes the equivalent a car permanently parked on the street. It doesn’t matter whether the owner is currently home or not, that potential parking space is permanently off-limits. Now let’s say that person gets in their car and goes to another part of the city. Their car is essentially now taking up two parking spaces at once (one at their current location, and a second in front of their driveway). Whereas in a city that isn’t overrun with street-facing garages, that person’s car would only take up whatever parking space it is currently parked at.

  • JohnB

    Josh,

    No threat, just an inevitability. I see cars parked on sidewalks all the time although I can’t say that’s true in North Beach. But either way, it’s better if they are off the street, off the sidewalk and somewhere unseen.

    Mike

    Many garages are in basements that are part of whole underground. You need 10 foot ceilings for habitable space and many garages are less than that. You also need windows, plumbing etc which a garage doesn’t need.

  • Jacob Ritter

    Is there an award for best comment ever on an
    sf.streetsblog post? Because I’d like to nominate MG’s

  • 2nd that!

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