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City Passes Legislation To Establish Divisadero Commercial District

By Nuala Sawyer - Published on November 20, 2014.
On October 28th, a piece of legislation for the Divisadero corridor which may have significant impacts on our street's local businesses passed quietly through city approval. Thanks to a push from London Breed, the Divisadero Neighborhood Commercial District has officially been established. 
This new Neighborhood Commercial District (NCD) runs along Divisadero from Haight to O'Farrell streets. According to a post announcing the passage of the legislation on London Breed's Facebook page, San Francisco's NCDs "give merchants and residents greater power to tailor their neighborhood planning, and help them shape the future of their neighborhoods." The move replaces our corridor's status as the Divisadero Street Alcohol Restricted Use District. 

So what does all that actually mean? Conor Johnston, a legislative aide in London Breed's office, informed us of the key changes that this legislation institutes:

  • Bars, restaurants, entertainment venues, philanthropic organizations and trade shops will now be permitted to utilize the second floor of existing buildings with no prior residential use
  • Buildings on lots that have a 40-foot height limit will be permitted an additional 5 feet in height, if that additional height is used to provide active street-fronting business or residence
  • Any minimum parking requirements will be eliminated from the district. Maximum permitted parking for residential and non-residential uses are reduced to that of a Neighborhood Commercial Transit District
  • Any restrictions on formula retail businesses will now reflect the citywide policy for Neighborhood Commercial Districts

In practical terms, this means that Divisadero will have some greater freedoms allotted by the notoriously difficult city planning department (we're still trying to get clarification on the practical application of the new parking rules and how the proposed Area Q residential parking permit zone might fit into all of this). 

Divisadero Merchant's Association President Solange Gabrielli supported the change. Breed attended a merchant's association meeting in October to discuss the legislation, which appealed to the association as a whole. "It helps make sure that merchants and neighborhood associations have more of a say for what goes into their neighborhood," said Solange. "As a business owner on Divisadero, that's attractive." 

One issue Gabrielli brought up is that Divisadero doesn't currently have any formula retail restrictions on Divisadero. "Everyone was under the impression that we had a restriction, but we don't," she says. "We're just lucky that most of the businesses aren't formula retail. That's something that we're going to be looking at in 2015 to make sure the character of the 'hood stays the same. "

We'll keep you up to date on any local businesses who will be exercising their newfound freedoms based on the change, including whether La Urbana's fabled rooftop patio will finally come into existence.

In the meantime, what big changes would you love to see come to Divisadero? 

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