Bay Area/ San Francisco
Published on April 01, 2015
Divisadero Corridor Could Be Rezoned For Higher Density

Photo: sgibbons

In the past two weeks, many residents along or near Divisadero Street received a Public Hearing notification from the SF Planning Department, stating that the Divisadero corridor will be undergoing a zoning change. Curious about what the details were behind the jargon, we dug a little deeper. 

First, it's important to understand how Divisadero is currently zoned. Last November, Divisadero from Haight to O'Farrell streets was established as a Neighborhood Commercial District (NCD).

According to the office of District 5 Supervisor London Breed, this move was created to "give merchants and residents greater power to tailor their neighborhood planning, and help them shape the future of their neighborhoods." For a full list of how establishing Divisadero as an NCD happened and what it entailed, read our post about it from last fall. 

Now, the zoning may be changing again. A proposal has been put forth to establish Divisadero as a Neighborhood Commercial Transit District (NCTD). That one extra word—transit—has the potential to change quite a bit. 

In the distributed ordinance description, this new zoning would remove current residential density limits. The current limit is one dwelling per 800 square feet, and one bedroom per 275 square feet for group housing. 

Reader Phil M. initially contacted us about the changes, after receiving the public hearing notice in the mail. He reached out to Aaron Starr in the Planning Department, who clarified a few points.

First off, said Aaron, the existing height limits for buildings along Divisadero Street won't change. They are currently set at 65' (six stories) between Oak and O'Farrell Streets, and 40 feet (four stories) between Oak and Haight. 

What could change will be the above-mentioned density. With the new zoning Divisadero residences will be able to pack more apartments into one space. As Phil pointed out, "on a typical 35x100 lot, you could only put 4 units (35X100/800 = 4.375), which doesn't make sense for a 6-story apartment building."

Conor Johnson from District 5 Supervisor London Breed's office states that this proposal is based on her recommendation, and that she supports it. But he also points out that "it's a relatively minor change—from NCD to NCT. The difference is that an NCT does not have an arbitrary limit on the number of housing units allowed per parcel."

Overall, this zoning change probably isn't going to affect current buildings. What it will allow is for future developments—such as the apartments planned for the former Alouis Auto Shop, or the new residential units planned for Hayes Street, to increase the density of units per building. Whether this is the first step towards a wave of micro-apartments opening up on Divisadero remains to be seen. 

If you'd like to learn more, a Public Hearing will be held on the re-zoning on April 2nd at noon, in Room 400 at City Hall.