LEGISLATIVE DIGEST

 

[Japantown Special Use District.]

 

Ordinance adding Planning Code Section 249.31 to establish the Japantown Special Use District for property generally bounded by Bush Street, Geary Boulevard, Laguna Street, and Fillmore Street, as defined herein, to require conditional use authorization and additional Planning Commission findings for specified uses, and to require specified notice, including additional posted notice; amending Planning Code Section 703.3 to require conditional use authorization for the establishment of formula retail uses in this District; amending the City's Zoning Map Sectional Map 2SU to reflect the boundaries of this District; requiring a report on the status of this District; and making environmental findings and findings of consistency with the General Plan and the priority policies of Planning Code Section 101.1.

 

Existing Law

 

The area commonly referred to as Japantown is bounded by Bush Street, Geary Boulevard, Laguna Street, and Fillmore Street.  This area is comprised of four different zoning districts: NC-2 (Small-Scale Neighborhood Commercial), which is located along the northern Post Street frontage and portions of Buchanan and Sutter Streets; NC-3 Moderate-Scale Neighborhood Commercial), which is located along Geary Boulevard, southern frontage of Post Street, and Fillmore Street frontage; RM-1 (Low-Density Residential, Mixed), which is located on the corner of Webster and Bush Streets; and RM-3 (Medium-Density Residential, Mixed), which is located along Bush Street, Laguna Street, and a portion of the southern frontage of Post Street.  Uses in each district are governed by the relevant provisions of the Planning Code that pertain to that particular district.  

 

Amendments to Current Law

 

This legislation would amend Planning Code Section 249.31 and the City's Zoning Map Sectional Map 2SU to establish the Japantown Special Use in the area bounded by Bush Street, Geary Boulevard, Laguna Street, and Fillmore Street.  The Ordinance would apply to all of the Assessor's Blocks within this area, which includes Assessor's Blocks 675, 676, 677, 684, 685, 686, 700, and 701.  The legislation would require conditional use authorization for the establishment of any new use or change in use in excess of 4,000 gross square feet, for the merger of one or more existing uses into a use in excess of 2,500 gross square feet, and for the establishment of any formula retail use as defined in Planning Code Section 703.3.  As part of any conditional use authorization or for a Planning Commission decision when it exercises its discretionary review powers in this Special Use District, the Planning Commission would be required to make additional findings.  These findings are that the subject use: 1) is not incompatible with the cultural and historic integrity, neighborhood character, development pattern, and design aesthetic of the Special Use District and 2) supports one or more of the purposes for establishing the Japantown Special Use District, as delineated in the legislation.  This legislation would require notice pursuant to Section 312 for any new use or change in use within the Special Use District's neighborhood commercial zones. In addition to the Section 312 notice, the Ordinance would require specified posted notice.  This Ordinance also would adopt environmental findings and findings of consistency with the City's General Plan and eight priority policies of Planning Code Section 101.1.

 

Background Information

 

The goal of this legislation is to strengthen Japantown's identity as the cultural, spiritual, recreational, and commercial center of the region's Japanese and Japanese-American community.  An additional goal is to stabilize change in Japantown and preserve its existing character so that the City and stakeholders have an opportunity to work collaboratively on an anticipated community planning process.