Codes in general and particularly Planning codes shape the form of buildings and cities. In San Francisco the Planning Commission consists of 7 members appointed by the Mayor and Board of Supervisors. They have the responsibility to review projects and interpret conformance to planning codes. They hold public hearings and listen to various points of views and make decisions in the interest of the public good.
This Thursday, April 26, 2011, my Mock/Wallace partner Ron Wallace will be representing our clients before the Planning Commission in their efforts to open a restaurant in a currently empty storefront on a busy section of Mission Street. In this case, there are conflicts between interest groups. For our clients, it is their desire to open a business working within the requirements of the planning and building code. For residential neighbors whose rear yard abuts the Mission District commercial district, it is their desire for peace and quiet.
One could wonder why someone who purchases a residence next to busy Mission Street would be surprised and offended to find commercial activities occupying properties next to them. The City Planning staff has reviewed the proposed project and after hearing all points of view to date, have recommended the Planning Commission approve the project. Never-the-less, there are valid points on both sides and in this case the San Francisco Planning Commission has the power to make the decision on whether or not our clients can proceed, and if so what additional requirements are required as a condition of approval. The Planning Commission is powerful as they can waive or add additional requirements of the code. The hearings are televised and when I stumble on them channel surfing, I sometimes watch in fascination as this process unfolds.