Oblivious to the incongruence …

by JIM MEKO

On Monday, the Planning Department appeared before the Land Use Committee of the Board of Supervisors to argue that there is such a severe shortage of space for PDR (good working class jobs) that we need to allow offices to move into an area set aside for industrial protection.

This Thursday however, the same team will be arguing at the Planning Commission that we can afford to lose 80,000 square feet of PDR space at 660 Third Street “for the sake of historic preservation.” 

Oblivious to the incongruence of all of this, they’ve asked that it be placed on the Consent Calendar where items of little consequence are sent.

The Supervisors are well-meaning folk and don’t want to do anything to harm service and light industrial jobs but they’ve been sold a bill of goods. PDR thrives best in existing buildings where development costs are low and the neighboring infrastructure long ago grew to accommodate these kinds of businesses. The Planning Department’s new scheme would encourage new construction predicated on providing 66% new office space and, if everything goes right, opening up 33% for new PDR space.

The 33% of the space will be at market-rate without any subsidy. The average PDR business expects to pay $1.50 to $2.00 per square foot; no high tech office developer is thinking in those terms. A couple years from now, when the space has sat mostly vacant, expect the planners to be back before the Board of Supervisors to argue, “you gave it your best shot but you know how these market forces can be.”

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