|as does Jeff Matt, Contractor: Builtwell
||[Apr. 5th, 2007|07:24 pm]
I don't often send out gang emails but this one is important to me and our city. Some of you know that I have been working on what has become an extremely contentious project South of Market. The attached letter describes the situation that my clients are facing. What it doesn't describe is the time and investment that they have poured into moving the Hole In The Wall Saloon to keep it alive as a casual, welcoming locus for its patrons- SF residents and travelers from around the world, all are welcome at the Hole In The Wall. That establishments like this remain open if their owners wish them to is an important component of our city's livability.|
The owners are facing one of the great failings of our city planning process- that which allows an individual undue power over small property owners and business people by using the complaint process to enter a war of attrition designed to financially cripple the applicant's project. This process costs the complainant little; in fact it causes the time spent by the Planning Department resolving the complaint to be billed to the applicant who has filed for a building permit. This cost is in addition to the costs of holding a property, stalled construction, legal and other consultants' fees. Even my time as designer and project manager on a contested project increases to address the complaint. Savvy complainants know that most small businesses can't sustain the time and expense it takes for hearings, appeals to those hearings, mailings and public notifications. Consequently the planning process is used to extort and even kill projects outright.
I am not suggesting that the ability for public input regarding development in the city be constrained, I am suggesting that the process has a weak link and in this case that weakness is being exploited to effect against two of the best, most honorable clients that I have had. (Full disclosure- I have known John and Joe through their ownership of the Eagle Tavern and the friends that I have who work there and I thought highly of them before this project started. Working for myself allows me to pick the people with whom I work and as much as is possible I try to choose the good ones.)
It should not be forgotten that the project is a principally permitted use by the text and spirit of the Planning Code and that the Department of City Planning's recommendation to the Planning Commission is that the project be approved without hearing the Discretionary Review petitions of the complainants. John and Joe have acted in good faith, selected a location that allows their use and are working to keep a San Francisco institution (that they happen to have started) alive.
So if you haven't been to either of John & Joe's establishments get out to the Eagle to see a band, enjoy the beer bust or relax on the patio. Stop by the Hole In The Wall for a drink and to see what all the fuss is about. Read their letter, read the press that will be out in the next two weeks about the situation and come out to support us at the upcoming hearing. This is how we ensure that San Francisco remains a place for everyone, not just those who feel that their view of the city's future is the only way forward. Please spread the word to all whom you think might be interested.
Apologies to those who might see this twice- as I said, I don't send these big emails out often!
227 Shipley St.
SF, CA 94107