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Seal of the City and County of San Francisco
City and County of San Francisco

April 8, 2009 Special Meeting

April 8, 2009 Special Meeting

San Francisco

Historic Preservation Commission

Meeting Minutes

Commission Chambers – Room 400

City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

12:30 P.M.

Special Meeting

COMMISSIONERS PRESENT: Chase, Hasz, Martinez, Damkroger


STAFF IN ATTENDANCE: John Rahaim – Planning Director, Tina Tam – Preservation Coordinator, Tara Sullivan - Planner, Sohpie Middlebrook – Planner, and Linda Avery – Commission Secretary

1. 2008.1393T (T. SULLIVAN: 558-6257)

Ordinance Rescinding Planning Code Articles 10 & 11 in their Entirety and Adopting a New Article 10 & 11, and adding new Planning code section 176(F) [Board File No. 08-1565]. Ordinance introduced by Supervisor Daly and former Supervisor Peskin that would rescind Articles 10 and 11 from the Planning Code in its entirety and adopting a new Article 10 and 11 to implement the provisions of the new San Francisco Charter Section 4.135 (Historic Preservation Commission), and to add Section 176(f).

Preliminary Recommendation: Approval with Modifications.


President Chase started off the hearing by announcing comments would be limited to two minutes each from the public; that public comments would be allowed on specifics of issues or sections discussed; and that general comments would also be allowed at the conclusion of the staff presentations.

1) Multiple Entitlement issues continued from last hearing - language proposes that the Planning Commission could modify a C of A. Within 20 days specific findings and a written report would be provided to Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) for their review.

· Commissioners Damkroger and Martinez agreed the project should come back to HPC and HPC has the option to elect not to hear it, or hear it as a consent item.

· President Chase suggested that if there is no greater impact to the historic resource, the project shouldn't come back to HPC for re-review.

· For appeal process, if the building is materially enlarged or changed, HPC Commissioners could initiate an appeal process to Board of Supervisors (BOS) or Bureau of Permit Appeal (BPA).


Cynthia Servetnick (Consortium) – suggested BOS create a task force in the interim between the 90 days when the Planning Department submit their comments on Articles 10 & 11; so that the Commissioners and the public can follow the process of amendments as the ordinance made their way to the Supervisors.

2) In Article 10 the draft added a new point M in response to Commissioners Martinez and Olague's comments on retaining and recognizing cultural diversity in major and minor groups and their possible significance to San Francisco.

3) Proposed under the Powers and Duties of HPC:

· Duty K – change all  shall to  may .

· City Attorney suggested to put  shall and  may in front of each category, and  may for category K. Commissioners agreed.

· Commissioner Martinez is fine with removing point 4 that allows HPC the appropriate level of environmental review to be conducted (the Environmental Review Officer (ERO) has the authority to do this under CEQA and the rules and regulation of the City)


Inger Horton, Cynthia Servetnick, Gee Gee Platt


Tara's comment on Cat Ex: It is not like a negative declaration or an EIR where there is a mandatory draft comment period. When a Categorial Exemption(Cat Ex) is issued, it is final. Draft Cat Ex is not feasible. The Department doesn't mind that a Cat Ex be distributed and reviewed by the HPC when the subject building has historic resource issues. It is the  may and  shall issue that is troublesome to the Department and the technical appropriated level of environmental review. The Environmental Review Officer (ERO) reviews cases internally to decide the level. The appeal process is where the appropriate level of environment review is hashed out.

Commissioner Damkroger asked what a CAT Ex was and was told that it is an environmental review document

President Chase asked that the environmental document be defined for the legislation.

Tara responded that there will be a place holder for definitions pertaining to Articles 10 & 11.

4) Definition of Major and Minor Alterations

Commissioners Martinez and Chase felt that the definitions belong in the draft ordinance while Commissioners Damkroger and Hasz felt that a stand alone (trailing) document makes more sense and can provide greater flexibility in determining what types of projects need Commission review as long as it is given a name, an established time line of when it needs to be created, and made public. There was no consensus.

5) Discussion on how best to add definitions in the legislation for the future.

Commissioner Martinez – If definitions are added later, then it would be at the Board of Supervisors' level. It doesn't give the HPC the opportunity for discussion and that might end up with another piece of legislation.

President Chase – There is a basic list of definitions currently in the Planning Code and in the language of the Landmark Preservation Advisory Board's Articles 10 and 11. Those that need special attention might be called out in trailing legislation.

Tara – Proposed to remove the definition section from this legislation and use trailing legislation for future definitions in question.

6) Demolition - as drafted, the HPC could approve demolition of a contributory structure in a historic district if it meets the definition of demolition under two criteria: 1) The structure has no substantial market value, and 2) There is a serious and eminent safety hazard to the public. These afford the HPC limited circumstances to approve demolitions. This draft proposed to add two more provisions to the demolition section: 1) rescind or delist a contributory building so it can be demolished, and 2) if HPC has specific findings that the project meets the Secretary of Interior Standards for rehabilitation and that as proposed, alteration(s) would be the best way to preserve, protect, and enhance the historic district and its integrity.


Director Rahaim – major alteration would be in the purview of the HPC. Demolition should be in the HPC purview as well, and not necessarily has to go to the Board of Supervisors.

President Chase – When is demolition beyond a certain point in the retention of historic fabric?

Director Rahaim – The question is the consequences of the demolition.

Commissioner Martinez – I'm fine with de-listing by the Board of Supervisors. Need to have different definitions of demolition or leave it at the discretion of this Commission when it's a preservation or restoration project.

Sophie [Middlebrook]– It's hard to come up with definitions of demolition that works across the board. I suggest we keep the tighter definitions of demolition which insures an extra level of review for projects that may be classified as demolition even if they are reconstruction or rehabilitation; and to keep working on addressing the consequences of demolition. It is important to revisit the actual definitions of demolition.

Commissioner Martinez – Suggested language for preservation, reconstruction and restoration projects that meet the Secretary of Interior Standards. The HPC has the power to say it is not demolition. For the purpose of the planning code or other sections of the code, it is not a demolition if it's everything but rehabilitation.

President Chase – concurred with Commissioner Martinez on how that definition is utilized by other sections of the code that would preempt the intent for preservation on the site.

Commissioner Damkroger – I have a question about this section of the code just applied to historic districts.

Tara – responded that this section deals with both demolition of individual landmarks and contributory buildings in historic districts. We will include that in the language.

Commissioner Damkroger – on line 15 - individual landmarks go back, and line 20 – individual landmarks is added in.


Gee Gee Platt, Cynthia Serventnick, Joe Butler

7) Major and Minor Alterations -- as proposed there are detailed requirements for what qualifies as a major alteration, and what is not considered a major alteration is a minor alteration. Including so much that qualifies as major alteration binds the HPC to delegate certain things to staff. If something technically qualifies as a major alteration under the codified list, delegating something might require a code change. Staff felt that HPC should have the ability to delegate the approval of these minor alteration to staff in a C of A and we tried to determine how much to codify.


Cynthia Serventnick, Catherine Howard, Fred Miller, Gee Gee Platt


Commissioner Damkroger – If HPC gets an application for demolition, the application would change what is identified in the designating ordinance as a significant feature, or change it to a major alteration.

Sophie – The intent to remove specificities of both major and minor alterations is to allow HPC the ability to determine through the rules and regulations process to decide what cases HPC wants to hear and what to leave to the Planning staff. The draft tries to remove language from the code and put it into rules and regulations. It is a hybrid of major and minor alterations. It didn't go far enough or went too far, but the middle didn't work.

Commissioner Damkroger - The language makes sense to me. If there was a proposal to change anything that is identified in the designating ordinance, then it would be a major alteration. The trouble is old designations where there isn't much specificity

Sophie – And most of the C of As are for old designations.

Tara – The way to define all the brief designations from a long time ago that don't list the character defining features is to use rules and regulations.

Commissioner Martinez – Where do we look for other specificities when the language is so general? It may set a bad precedent about having to refer to multiple documents. It's complicated enough as it is without this authoritative document that you could look at and know what is going on. If there were some other problem that is on the list, make that known to the BOS. The document has to be specific.

Commissioner Damkroger – There are areas where fewer specifics are important in an ordinance like this. The details are more useful/ beneficial in an implementation document. The ordinance will give the direction, the design guidelines will give specifics of how the ordinance is applied. I would go with something like staff has suggested, providing the details in implementation documents.

President Chase – It is also important that where the Commission makes a determination of what is major or minor that it should be referenced somewhere. If HPC was to follow the draft language, where does the public, the professional, as well as the homeowner find out what is major or minor?

Tara – Suggested to add specific language in the draft saying the definition of what qualifies as major or minor will be put into an implementation document. Staff can cite some formal document by reference that will exist in hard copy somewhere but would not be codified.

President Chase - Where would a consumer find this and have access to the ordinance concurrently?

Susan Cleveland-Knowles, Deputy City Attorney – HPC could name the document now or propose to the BOS and name it in regulations and provide that it must be made available in the Planning Department's website and other location you deem appropriate.

Tara – Another way is the appendix. HPC can add an appendix to Article 10 without going through the legislation process, but that's codified. The Department is recommending not to codify it now but to follow it in trailing legislation.

Commissioner Martinez – Points 1, 2, and 3 are the most problematic in terms of language, being perhaps a bit open-ended. From point 4 onward there is no problem with the level of specificity.

Tara – The Department is recommending keeping it more general and reference something later.

Commissioner Martinez – The HPC has a disagreement in our recommendation and I would encourage that we be as specific as possible.

President Chase – we do have options about making a decision today.

Commissioner Martinez – Suggested  in kind is not good terminology. Use substitutions that match the original instead of  in kind.

8) The purpose of the Administrative C of A is to alleviate staff time and project sponsor time.

· A minor alteration does not need a full level HPC review. Department proposes that staff would review minor alteration projects and approve them in C of As. The approved C of As would go on an Administrative List with a case number and a brief description, and within 10 days would be presented at the next HPC hearing. At the hearing, the Commissioners could request and schedule a full hearing if they want more thorough review of the item. If nothing is pulled off the Administrative List, the C of A would become final. It could always be appeal at the appropriate appellant body, the Board of Permit Appeal or the Board of Supervisors.


Commissioner Martinez – The proposal is generally a good idea for it saves time and money. How would a member of the public ask the Commission to take an item off the calendar?

Commission Secretary Avery – If the Administrative List is on an agenda for your public meeting(s), a member of the public could come with the intent to ask the Commission to have a full hearing.

President Chase – The information provided on the Administrative List should be sufficient enough to understand the project. There may be a reason for the Commission or the public to raise a concern to pull an item off and be heard. He recommended when the case proceed to that point, that the Commission get the C of A notice.

Commissioner Damkroger – I support the list the need for a description; the hold on the C of A until the time is up; and that people can request pulling an item off at the hearing.

Tara – Agreed there is a disconnect in the proposed timing of within 10 days after the Administrative C of A is issued. There is notification and hearing scheduling issues to take into account. She will put more specificity into the code about what would be detailed on that list.


Grey Miller, Cathy Howards, Gee Gee Platt

9) As proposed in the Board legislation, any alterations to a storefront would require a full HPC review.

· As modified in the draft, a major alteration is defined for storefronts that extend beyond piers and lintels of the storefront or the ground floor openings which include cladding materials, excessive signage, and removal or obscuring character defining features. All of that work will immediately trigger HPC review. A minor alteration for storefronts is defined for storefronts that are contained within the ground floor piers and lintels and to be compatible to the character defining features of the building. The Department proposes the ability to approve minor alteration at staff level.


Gee Gee Platt

Commissioners Chase, Hasz, and Martinez – support keeping the Board of Supervisors' language because changes to these ground floor storefronts have been significant alterations that have been inconsistent with the historic character of the building.

10a) Designation Process in Article 10 – Staff proposed a change by moving the nomination section ahead of the initiation sections. The process begins with a nomination application which comes with a draft designation report. This report package will be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Officer (HPO) who determines the application is adequate and complete within 30 days. The intent of the change is to streamline the process. Once the application has been determined complete, the HPO informs the HPC about the application and schedules a hearing. After HPC has passed a resolution initiating designation, the site or district is treated as if it is already a landmark, subject to all the review procedures of landmarks/ districts. Applicants can still apply for C of A if they want to move forward, but during the time it is in initiation but prior to designation, it is subject to the review processes for landmarks. The intent is to protect sites that have not yet received final designation by the BOS and the Mayor's ordinances but has been designated.

10b) Requiring the insertion of height and bulk discussion in the designation in historic districts – Once HPC has made its final designation to the BOS recommending approval of the district, HPC needs to include discussions on contributor & non-contributor, control and standards to protect and maintain integrity of the district, insure compatibility of the alteration, addition and new construction within the historic district including, 1) specific design standards for work within, 2) setback, height and bulk controls for addition and new construction in the historic district which is presumed to be compatible to the height and bulk of the new historic district.


Gee Gee Platt


Commissioner Martinez – In terms of criteria, the language needs to include multicultural perspective, not just about history, but about histories. He suggested the following: under significant event, maybe add social and cultural heritages of San Francisco; under significant architecture, he thought that architectural work considered to be of outstanding value is left out; under architect, maybe add engineers, builders whose work is culturally or historically important, not just important. He would like to see significant architecture be more open ended to include vernaculars, structures to include contractor design and engineering structures. Regarding height and bulk, he preferred the language he suggested that  HPC may adopt guidelines for the district describing the height and bulk that would be generally compatible with the district. It is a guideline that architects and developers can go by. If they want to go beyond the guidelines, they would have to be able to justify and convince everybody.

President Chase – Suggested using the standard nomenclature  building structure or  object . It captures all the man-made features.

Commissioner Martinez – Suggested also including eccentric buildings and individual master pieces of great value that don't fit into established architectural types or styles.

Commissioner Damkroger – She is also uncomfortable with the language  the presumption of compatibility and agreed with Commissioner Martinez's simpler language on guidelines for height and bulk.

Commissioner Martinez – on the subjects on nominations, he suggested maybe change  adequate and complete case report to just  adequate case report. {Staff, Sophie Middlebrook suggested the language could be  adequate and complete draft case report because it doesn't have to be the final product and there is time for refinement as long as the HPO feels it is adequate enough to go to HPC in order to pass that initiate resolution.}

Commissioners Chase, Damkroger, and Martinez concurred with  draft.

Commissioner Damkroger – asked if there had been any discussion about providing opportunities for other commissions to initiate designation. {Staff, Tara Sullivan, responded that there was no discussion, because other commissions don't have the Charter power. Other commissions can pass resolutions to forward the nomination to you or the Board. The HPC has the power to initiate designations, just like the BOS does.}

11) Compliance with Maintenance Requirements in Section 1011 – The Department is proposing to strike e) and f) that relate to deteriorated or ineffective waterproofing, defective or inefficient weather protection, and possibly strike g) deteriorated ornamental features.


Joe Butler

President Chase – Decided to retain e) and f) and add the word  secure as suggested by Joe Butler.

Commissioners Damkroger and Martinez both agreed.

12) HPO shall report directly to the Planning Director and shall oversee the professional preservation staff and administrative services of the Historic Preservation Program. Added Point A – the HPO shall be chosen by the Planning Director in consultation with the HPC. The Director of Planning is to provide a short list of 3 names to the Commission for consultation in a closed session. According to the language of Proposition J, the Director has the complete control of who the HPO is.

Commissioners Chase, Hasz, and Martinez – support that the three HPO nominees should come from the Planning Director; that the selection is an open process and anyone who is interested could apply; that combined consultation would provide some guidance from the HPC to the Director the kind of qualities and characteristics the HPC desires and the Director can take the remarks, issues and concerns into account when he makes the selection decision; and that the consultation process would be in a closed session.

13) Engaging outside expert for technical advice at the expense of project sponsor – The Planning Department feels the language would have given the HPC complete discretion to tell a project sponsor to get a paid expert opinion. We propose to delete that language throughout the document.


Commissioners Chase and Martinez preferred to leave the language in and have it codified in the General Power and Duties section so there is no challenge about the HPCs ability to engage outside experts. They agreed that maybe the language has to be changed.

Sophie – She suggested to at least change the language so that the HPC  may require that the project sponsor engage a professional.

Commissioners Chase and Martinez – accepted the  may change.

Commissioner Damkroger – Would be fine with the project proponent retaining the expert. She would like some involvement of the HPC or HPO in the selection of that expert.

President Chase – The engagement of a third party expert in the field is that it is done in a manner that the Commission can feel assured that someone substantiate the concern HPC has or make experienced recommendations.

Tara – Will add the concept back by rewriting the language.

14) Add language on Stewardship of the HPO – The HPO shall be required to protect the interest of historic preservation through environmental review and development processes.

Commission Secretary Avery – Asked if the Commission was willing to support and take action for the changes made up to this point.

ACTION: Commissioner Damkroger (seconded by Hasz) motion to approve April 7, 2009 Department's final draft with the modifications HPC has made thus far.

AYES: Chase, Damkroger, Hasz, and Martinez (+4, 0)

ACTION: Commissioner Martinez (seconded by Hasz) motion to approve up to 1006 with HPC modifications.

AYES: Chase, Damkroger, Hasz, and Martinez (+4, 0)

ACTION: Commissioner Martinez (seconded by Damkroger) motion to approve, from the end of Section 1005 through 1007.1, staff's proposed modifications for 409 with exception that deals with major and minor alterations. The Commission is divided. Some members prefer the BOS's version; some members prefer the staff's version; some members approved both version. The second part of the motion, the Commission believes the issues of murals is complicated issues but important to historic resource issues and would like to see that issue brought forward for discussion and possible future legislation.

AYES: Chase, Damkroger, Hasz, and Martinez (+4, 0)

ACTION: Commissioner Martinez (seconded by Hasz) motion to approve the language from 409 through the end of 107 with HPC modifications.

AYES: Hasz, Martinez, Damkroger, Chase (+4, 0)

ACTION: Commissioner Damkroger (seconded by Martinez) motion to approve up to 1011 on 4/7/09 documents with the modifications agreed upon.

AYES: Hasz, Martinez, Damkroger, Chase (+4, 0)

ACTION: Commissioner Martinez (seconded by Damkroger) motion to approve the balance of Article 10 dated 4/7/09 with the Department's language as per the HPC comments

AYES: Hasz, Martinez, Damkroger, Chase (+4, 0)

ACTION: Commissioner Martinez (seconded by Hasz) motion to approve Article 11 dated 4/7/09 with the Department's language with all HPC recommendations and changes as stated

AYES: Hasz, Martinez, Damkroger, Chase (+4, 0)

Adjournment: 5:57 p.m.

The minutes was proposed for adoption at the Regular Meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission on Wednesday, October 7, 2009.

SPEAKER: Peter Warfield

ACTION: Approved

AYES: Buckley, Hasz, Martinez, Matsuda, Wolfram, Damkroger, Chase

Last updated: 11/17/2009 10:00:55 PM