The Planning Department staff, following through on a directive from Mayor Lee’s office, prepared process changes for 100% Affordable Housing projects. DHIC supported the changes to streamline 100% Affordable Housing. However, the Planning Dept. added key changes to the neighborhood notification process and planning approvals:
- Shorten the time for neighborhood review of proposed projects (after mailing of a 311 notice) from 30 days to 20 days
- Allow over-the-counter (OTC) permits for one and two-story additions to the rear of a residence (up to 360 square feet & 12 feet deep) with no neighborhood notification other than a single pre-application meeting with adjacent neighbors
- Replace mailed project notification (containing the notice of Planning approval, printed plans of proposed project, and appeal) with a 3X5 postcard mailer
DHIC strongly objected to these changes.
Regarding notifications, when Planning approves a projects plans, neighbors within 150 feet of the project receive a mailed notification packet (called a Section 311 Notice). The Section 311 packet includes printed plans and the details on how neighbors can appeal the approved design. Planning proposed to replace the packet with a postcard. Neighbors would have to find and download final plans online. Planning also proposed to shorten the 30-day appeal deadline to 20 days.
The recurring theme here is to discourage public participation, hence cutting ten days from the notification period and eliminating notifications for pop-outs. How can ten days make any difference in the permitting process when it takes months if not years to complete the cycle from start to finish?
DHIC wrote Planning opposing these changes and testified twice at the Planning Commission against the remaining changes. Finally, we wrote to Supervisor Jeff Sheehy and the other Supervisors when these changes went to the Board of Supervisors.
On June 26, the Board of Supervisors agreed with us and ordered Planning staff to to go back to the Planning Commission’s recommendations and reinstate notifications for pop-outs, and keep the Section 311 notification periods at 30 days and maintain the current level of information mailed out with the 311 notices. A big win for neighbors and their neighborhood organizations!