Clubs vs. condos - Page 2

Can new housing coexist with nightlife in western SoMa? A rezoning debate around the 11th Street Corridor heats up

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"The purple building" at 340 11th Street could be the last housing allowed on that club-heavy block.
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY MIKE KOOZMIN

Goldman said he understands the concern and "my client is considering alternatives to housing." While he was a little frustrated that it wasn't until November that they first heard about a proposal to ban residential projects on the block, "We've definitely heard the concerns of the nightlife entertainment folks...No decision has been made yet, but it's the goal of my client to decide fairly soon."

A ban on housing is just one of the changes that Alan and other members of the California Music And Culture Association (CMAC) are pushing the supervisors to make to the plan, provisions he was unable to get into the plan as a member of the Western SoMa Task Force for four years before resigning in frustration.

"The task force was made up of people primarily interested in residential development," Alan told us. "The plan is pretty much about protecting residential."

That perspective irritates task force chair Jim Meko, who said he held about 60 meetings on entertainment and nightlife issues and bent over backward to accommodate that community. "Overall, the Western SoMa Plan is very friendly to the entertainment industry," Meko said, noting that the plan grandfathers in all existing nightclubs, even after a building is demolished, and requires new residential construction to buffer against street noise. "They're never satisfied."

But Meko does concede that accommodating existing residents and new residential development was central to the task force's work, as it was charged with doing by the Planning Department. "The most important thing was to do no harm to anyone," Meko said was the guiding philosophy behind the task force's approach. "We're the real test case for a mixed use community in the city."

While Folsom Street has more bars that 11th street, and those bars will be protected under the plan, Meko said the idea was to keep them limited in scale and prevent the proliferation of large clubs that operate into the wee hours.

"Folsom Street is where the residential growth will go," Meko said. "That's the area where we want to add the most residential growth and it seems dumb to add more nightclubs there."

But he also doesn't think it makes economic sense for many clubs to open there anyway. With allowable height limits in that corridor being increased from 50 feet now up to 65 feet, and with the plan's approval allowing development projects to move forward, many of what he called the "old junky buildings" where clubs could find cheap rent will likely be demolished.

"With the height increases, those buildings are going to be history in five years," Meko said.

Kim said she is supportive of both nightlife and the plan's facilitation of residential development.

"It's transit-first and a good place to be able to handle the density that's close to downtown," Kim said, noting that she's supportive of even the massive residential project proposed for 801 Brannan Street, mostly because it includes units with up to two and three bedrooms and an elegant design by architect David Baker.

That project would have 432 housing units with a total of 606 bedrooms, 22,124 square feet of retail, and a 422-car parking garage on a site of just over four acres. In many ways, it is typical of the housing density that will begin to crowd into Western SoMa.

Meko was critical of how the entertainment community was able to make changes to the plan after all the hard work of the task force, and he told us, "It was a choice Jane Kim had to make, and she will have to answer to her constituents in the future."

But Kim said the change on 11th Street made sense and that it's important to strike a balance. "Entertainment is clearly an important part of Western SoMa and 11th Street is unique in showcasing that community," Kim said.

Comments

It was compromise—pusillanimous, self-interested politicians, instead of dispassionate legislative fortitude that yielded neoliberal investment-grade, rent-control busting, tenancy-in-common housing speculations, in the first place. Selfish moderate-to-conservative San Francisco politicians continue to move San Francisco toward neoliberal capitalist anarchy.

Posted by Awayneramsey on Feb. 20, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

It was compromise—pusillanimous, self-interested politicians, instead of dispassionate legislative fortitude that yielded neoliberal investment-grade, rent-control busting, tenancy-in-common housing speculations, in the first place. Selfish moderate-to-conservative San Francisco politicians continue to move San Francisco toward neoliberal capitalist anarchy.

Posted by Awayneramsey on Feb. 20, 2013 @ 12:45 pm

I doubt if more than 1% of SF'ers ever visit a nightclub. But 100% need housing.

Jobs and housing are important; nightclubs are not.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

Nightclubs create jobs.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 20, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

nor in a way that will help SF move forward.

It's a non-issue.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 20, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

I've worked in the night-club/ bar industry for 13yrs & in fact work at DNA. Born and raised in San Francisco as well. So I would argue that my job and right to afford to live in the city I love and lived in for 42yrs is ACTUALLY an issue. SF does not need every single inch of it covered in residents to move forward, not that much of that forward momentum is all that positive.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 11:52 am

No wonder you want subsidized housing.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

and thus understandably scoffs at the notion that a bartender might support himself.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

someone who is middle-aged and still serving drinks to spotty adolescents in seedy nightclubs probably isn't the most objective voice in the room, feel me?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

Another instance of the "Huh?" indentifier, natch.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

Do elucidate.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

Especially not you with your market-based philosophy. What's wrong with a 42 year old bartender? I'd like to think that middle age doesn't start until age 50, or at least 45.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

between those with agenda, and those who take wach issue on it's own merits.

We can debate when middle-aged starts, but 40 isn't a bad threshold, with 60 signifying "old".

Is this guy going to be serving beers to kids 40 years younger than him when he is in his 60's? I hope not, for his sake.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 2:28 pm

Can't even under stand why you'd start to claim there is, or should be.

Some of the most beloved bartenders in San Francisco history worked until advanced age.

Ridiculous, gratuitous, *ugly*, ageism.

Posted by lillipublicans on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

middle or old age. Not that I'd expect you to understand since you're probably on a mimimum wage yourself. Or unemployed which would explain why you're here 24/7

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

And unfair. I'm a big fan of nightlife culture and the richness it adds to San Francisco. I don't want the city to be nothing but residents nor does it have to be, as the commenter noted in his thoughtful comment, in order to move the city forward. Insulting the commenter and degrading their choice of work isn't helpful.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

f-you

Posted by Guest on Mar. 09, 2013 @ 10:03 pm

Actually, Guest, it simply isn't true to dismiss the importance of nightclubs to the economy. Tourism, which includes nightlife, is San Francisco's number one industry, generating far more economic impact than housing development. And a city study last year found that the nightlife industry in particular employs 48,000 people and generates $4.2 billion in economic activity and $55 million in taxes per year. See: http://www.sfbg.com/2012/02/28/war-over-fun-won

Posted by steven on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 11:55 am

hitting nightclubs. I can guarantee you that.

A few low-spending Scandinavian backpackers might be, I suppose.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

Bad answer. By that logic we should level museums, libraries, city parks, recreation centers... And if you're gonna make up your own statistics--only 1% of San Franciscans ever visit a nightclub?--YOU'VE LOST THE RIGHT TO COMMENT!

Posted by Carl Russo on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

Then why doesn't the city pay for nightclubs.?

I guess what you said is a lie.

Posted by anon on Feb. 23, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

Get out much?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 4:32 am

That's the point. Some areas are not appropriate for single or multifamily housing because their use is incompatible with either - this is one of those cases. We're not talking about an entire residential district here - just a little alley. Seems reasonable to me.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 20, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

Exactly the demographic for nightclubs?

Most people would hate to live there, but not everyone.

Posted by anon on Feb. 24, 2013 @ 8:54 am

Remember when Steven exclaimed that everyone was waging a war on fun when Club Six expected to keep the party going even though a few thousand SRO dwellers lived right on top of it?

I'm okay with banning market rate condos from 11th Street and I never liked the charge from Planning that we had to zone for much more housing.

But as far as extending the licensing hours at ground floor restaurant/entertainment lite uses in the upzoned Folsom NCT, that's just begging for the kind of land use conflicts that thoughtful zoning is supposed to anticipate and rule out.

That seems too close to then supervisor Newsom's suggestion for an entertainment zone in the western SOMA and which got pilloried and excoriated royally.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 20, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

The Richmond? The Sunset? Why can't they just develop those neighborhoods? Those could use development, more than SOMA.

Posted by ??? on Feb. 21, 2013 @ 10:58 pm

the 1950's and 1960's. But the east side, having all the industry, is perfect for conversion to residential now that industry has all but left. And the allowable heights in SOMA, along with much better transit, make it the obvious location for new high-rise residential build.

Same goes for the entire SE of the city.

Posted by anon on Feb. 24, 2013 @ 8:53 am

How about RICHMOND and UNION CITY and SAN LEANDRO and NEWARK and FREMONT, why can't these cities along existing rapid transit corridors upzone to San Francisco neighborhood heights, 45' and THEN we can start to bring Yogi Berra to life in San Francisco--it is so crowded that nobody wants to live there anymore.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 24, 2013 @ 9:09 am

Develop Hunters Point or the Bayview

Posted by Guest on Feb. 26, 2013 @ 4:37 am