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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nob Hill Condo Owners Set to Pull Plug on Masonic Concert Hall

Posted By on Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 4:20 PM

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With a pending zoning lawsuit, and a hearing next week before a nay-saying Board of Supervisor, the NIMBY condo owners of of Nob Hill seem poised to kill plans to expand the number of concerts held at the Masons of California event hall on California Street.

Representatives for the Mason's tenants, Live Nation, have been holding meeting with residents of the ritzy neighborhood for 16 months. They had hammered out an agreement with city planning officials allowing the Masons to improve their sound system, stage, kitchen, and other facilities to accommodate more events -- provided  they held to 41 conditions governing details such as bus parking, equipment-loading, crowd-control and the like.

As of earlier this year the Masons seemed on their way to obtaining permits to host mid-sized concerts and other events such as those found at the Fox Theater in Oakland.

On April 23, however, the Nob Hill Association filed a lawsuit challenging the decision of San Francisco's zoning administrator to allow renovations to proceed. And the neighbors have also finagled a hearing before the Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to re-consider whether there has been sufficient environmental study of the Mason's renovation plans.

Consultant Evette Davis says she's spending this week meeting with supervisors, but refused to prognosticate about whether she'd manage to

keep the music plan alive.

"The thing we've tried to stress in

these meetings is, we're more than happy to sit down and talk with

neighbors if there's something else you think we need to be doing,"

said Davis. "We're happy to make additional concessions to operate as a

good neighbor."

The Masons and Live Nation would seem to have the deck stacked against them, given the hostility this Board of Supervisors has shown to even incremental change in San Francisco.

Today's Examiner reports that Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier is poised to obstruct plans to extend the antique Muni F-Line to Fort Mason because such an extension might lure Marin commuters to park in the Marina Green lot -- a supposed problem that could be fixed simply by installing meters. Alioto-Pier's sympathy to Marina homeowners' desire to keep out visitors would seem to bode well for NIMBY Nob Hill dwellers wishing to do the same.

Last week, meanwhile,  the Board of Supervisors effectively shot down a proposed 38-story apartment building that had been in the works for five years, by overturning the Planning Commission's determination that the building's environmental studies had been adequate, accurate and complete.

Following that decision, Board President David Chiu, was quoted as saying the environmental studies were flawed because they didn't "acknowledge the significant cumulative impacts of wind, of shadows, on transportation, on parking, on transit, on aesthetics."

In that vein, it's easy to imagine hours of City Hall debate next week over the environmental implications of renovations in the Masonic Hall kitchen knife drawer, before supervisors use those purported implications as rationale for vote to killing the music at Masonic Hall.

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Matt Smith


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