Who cares about SoMa’s Youth and Family Zone?

Following a two week continuance that came about at the request of Supervisor Jane Kim, a proposal for an 11 story hotel at 250 Fourth Street will be considered by the Planning Commission this Thursday afternoon. Commissioners agreed that the project sponsors needed more time to conduct adequate outreach to the nonprofit organizations serving the Filipino population in the area. 

The South of Market Community Action Network (SOMCAN) has lobbied heavily to create “an equitable, culturally competent and healthy neighborhood for themselves and their families.” Upon adoption of the Eastern Neighborhoods rezoning process in 2009, the area that includes the hotel site was designated as the SoMa Youth and Family Zone Special Use District (SUD).

The Planning Department’s case report for 250 Fourth Street advises the Planning Commissioners of the existence of the Youth and Family Zone but notes that the SUD “does not preclude the expansion of hotel, office or other uses.” However, the 220 unit tourist hotel will require Conditional Use authorization, which means that the Commissioners have considerable discretion. “Necessary” and “desirable” are the key arguments they have to consider.

According to the Planning Code, the Youth and Family Zone was created to address youth and family concerns and expand affordable housing opportunities.

In drafting the law, the Board of Supervisors placed a priority on the allocation of affordable housing, including “a preference for the residents of the Youth and Family Zone Special Use District taking into account the diversity of such residents and their need and ability to purchase such housing,” according to language included in the ordinance.

The adopted ordinance goes on to say, “The Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH) shall submit [a] report to the Board of Supervisors within 6 months of the effective date of this Ordinance. The report shall include recommendations for legislation or programmatic changes to the procedures for affordable housing allocation based on the findings of the report.” The report was never forthcoming, according to MOH’s Claudine del Rosario.

Jane Kim’s office has asked Jim Reuben of Reuben & Junius to meet with SOMCAN and the SoMa Community Coalition to discuss mitigations. TODCO, a local nonprofit housing developer, and Local 2, the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union, already met with the developer and have endorsed the project.

Jim Meko
SoMa Leadership Council

 

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