Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

SF supervisors set to adopt new zoning controls for Castro, Noe Valley retail spaces

The city is set to adopt new zoning rules for retail spaces along Castro Street. Photo courtesy of the Castro CBD.

The city is set to adopt new zoning rules for retail spaces along Castro Street. Photo courtesy of the Castro CBD.

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors is set to adopt new zoning controls for the city’s Castro and Noe Valley shopping districts that will make it harder for non-retail businesses to open in ground floor storefronts.

At its meeting this afternoon (Monday, May 11) the board’s land use committee voted without objections to recommend that the full board adopt the proposal, which will require non-retail businesses to seek a conditional use permit in order to open in ground floor retail spaces. Doing so will allow for the public to weigh in and voice opposition to those businesses deemed not suitable.

The measure will be heard at the board’s Tuesday, May 19 meeting.

“The intent of these controls is to incentivize active ground floor uses along our neighborhood commercial corridors. It doesn’t ban anything,” said gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, who sponsored the zoning change and is vice chair of the land use committee. “In crafting these controls, we worked closely with our neighborhood associations and merchant groups.”

The city’s small business commission also endorsed the zoning change, and at its April 23 meeting, the city’s planning commission voted to unanimously endorse the proposal. No one spoke in opposition of the changes during today’s board committee hearing.

As the Bay Area Reporter has noted in previous coverage, the legislation makes permanent an interim zoning rule the city adopted along upper Market Street between Octavia Boulevard and Castro Street requiring office-type uses, such as banks and title companies, to seek conditional use permits if leasing sidewalk-fronting storefronts.

The interim rule was put in place in the summer of 2013 in response to a slew of new mixed-use buildings opening along the busy thoroughfare that combined new housing over retail spaces. Castro residents voiced concerns that banks and real estate firms would rush in and crowd out more traditional retailers, leaving dead zones at night and on weekends when the office-type uses were closed.

“With a lot of new ground floor retail space coming online, the last thing we need as a neighborhood is for that retail space to be overwhelmed by office uses,” said Wiener. “We don’t want it to be a dominant part of this new retail space. Otherwise it hits a tipping point and makes it less attractive for people to shop, eat, and drink.”

With similar concerns raised about the 400 and 500 blocks of Castro Street, as well as 24th Street between Diamond and Chattanooga in Noe Valley, Wiener decided to also extend the zoning rule to those commercial corridors.

— Matthew S. Bajko, May 11, 2015 @ 2:24 pm PST
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