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SF finally cracks down on illegal offices

September 8, 2015

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

Zoning decision on Soma building sends a message that developers can’t just turn industrial space into offices

SEPTEMBER 8, 2015 — San Francisco’s zoning administrator has finally ruled that a Soma landlord illegally converted an entire industrial building to office use – a rare decision that gives some hope that the rampant loss of production, distribution, and repair could be slowed.

Scott Sanchez ruled on Aug. 28 that the two lower floors of 660 Third Street are zoned for PDR, and set fines of $250 a day until the existing office and retail tenants are removed.

At a May 14 Zoning Administrator hearing, attorney James Reuben, a principal at Reuben, Junius & Rose, argued that since the Planning Commission had allowed other PDR properties, including one across the street at 665 Third, to be converted to office space, the total conversion of 660 Third should be fine.

But Sanchez was not persuaded….

The City has assessed the owners administrative penalties of $250 per day for each day the violation continues unabated, excluding the period of time the NOV has been pending before the Zoning Administrator. The NOV was issued on April 2; the hearing occurred on May 14.

Meanwhile, for a full year the Rabins have collected office and retail rents from their illegal tenants on the lower two floors of their property.

This decision ends a chapter in the saga of 660 Third, but it may not close the book: the Rabins have 15 days from August 28 to appeal the decision and assessed penalties to the Board of Appeals. As of Friday afternoon, September 2, they had not appealed.

For the moment, Sanchez’s decision upholding the Planning Department’s resolution stands as a small victory for San Francisco’s working class and a satisfying run-up to Labor Day… (more)

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