Neighborhood Commercial Districts (NCDs) in San Francisco are commercial areas outside the downtown area with commercial use allowed on the ground floor and other uses on upper floors. San Francisco’s City Planning Code determines acceptable uses in residential, commercial, and industrial-zoned districts. Each zoning district use may be permitted, conditionally permitted, or not permitted. Conditionally permitted uses require extensive review and approval by the Planning Commission.
In order to open and operate a business in San Francisco, business owners may need permits from several City agencies separately, including permits for construction from the Department of Building Inspection; the sale of food from the Department of Health, etc. In order to change the use of property in certain districts, the person applying for building permits must post notification of the proposal for neighbors for 30 days. During this time, the City is not allowed to issue permits and the public is allowed to request a review.
Proposition H Proposal
Proposition H would change the current Planning Code for Neighborhood Commercial Districts to (1) amend the permitting and inspection processes across the city and (2) adjust zoning in all of the City’s neighborhood commercial and neighborhood transit districts.
1. PERMIT AND INSPECTION CHANGES
- Streamline the current permitting and inspection process to 30 days and allow simultaneous cross-department review of applications rather than the current sequential, multi-agency review.
- Require City agencies to coordinate their inspections and schedule them within 2 weeks of an inspection request. Inspections would be limited to compliance with an objective checklist adopted by the agency.
2. ZONING CODE CHANGES
- Revise zoning to increase the types of permitted and conditionally permitted uses to include arts and entertainment activities, community facilities, social and philanthropic services, retail, and restaurants, among others.
- Address reduced capacity in restaurants in compliance with COVID-19 social distancing by expanding the use of outdoor areas.
- Allow businesses to permit certain types of co-working uses as “retail workspaces.” For example, this would allow a restaurant to act as a workspace for the public on days when the restaurant is open.
In addition, Proposition H would change restrictions to allow temporary uses in bars and entertainment venues, and temporary retail “pop-ups” in vacant storefronts.
Source: Legal Text of Proposition H and League of Women Voters of San Francisco Nonpartisan Analysis of Proposition H