Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Supervisor Scott Wiener Says Historic Preservation Is Overbearing

Posted By on Tue, Jan 25, 2011 at 5:00 PM

click to enlarge Preserving the future
  • Preserving the future

In its effort to preserve the past of San Francisco, the Historic Preservation Commission might just be hindering the city from having any kind of real future -- one with affordable housing, good transit, and healthy redevelopment.

It was a good thing for San Francisco when voters in 2008 passed Proposition J -- a measure pushed by then-Supervisor Aaron Peskin -- which elevated the Historic Preservation Commission from an advisory body to one that wields real authority.

Just as there is such a thing as too much development, there can also be too much preservation. In the last year alone, historic preservation advocates have been running around town trying to mark libraries, buildings, trees, and parks as historic.

More recently, the city hired consultants to survey properties citywide and decide what they thought was historically significant. Consultants looked at buildings built more than 50 years ago, but as some developers pointed out, that doesn't necessarily mean they are historically significant.

In other words, the term "historic" has become so broad that it touches almost every neighborhood, hindering development and creating new expenses for property owners. The issue has been bubbling under the political surfaces at City Hall, where some are calling it a power grab in the name of preservation.

Commissioners last week started reviewing the surveys, using them as a tool to create widespread historic districts.

Supervisor Scott Wiener took the bold step today,

calling for a hearing to rein in the heavy-handed preservationists

before they stamp out important development. He pointed

out that there are efforts to preserve parts of Dolores Park that

desperately needs renovation.

"If we have a commission made up exclusively of

advocates for historic preservation --only advocates -- that is a problem," Wiener said. "We see an increase in the use of surveys, that, if unbalanced, can

jeopardize future affordable housing development and transit-orient development."

In SOMA, developers are clamoring to build in one of the most ripe areas for redevelopment. Yet consultants have deemed more than 600 properties there as significant, which would mean developers would have to jump through hoops and spend millions of dollars on construction there.

It's not just a developer issue. Homeowners in the Mission are finding that their homes are being deemed historic. That would burden them with extra expenses, and force them to go through the Historic Preservation Commission before making any changes to their homes.

"You'd have to keep up with the preservation Joneses," said Joshua Arce, with the Bright Line Defense Project, a community advocate organization. "It puts a cost on preserving your home."

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF

and @SFWeekly  

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , ,

About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"