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SF Entertainment Commission to set guidelines for housing development review

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San Francisco’s housing developers can add nightlife noise to the list of concerns they will have to address when asking The City to approve their projects.

The Entertainment Commission is expected to approve guidelines Tuesday for what will trigger its review of housing developments under a new program mandated by the so-called Nightlife Protection legislation approved by the Board of Supervisors in May.

The review is meant to result in developers taking proactive measures to reduce complaints new residents might have with nearby night clubs, music venues and theaters. The commission already fields noise complaints on a daily basis, mostly related to patrons coming and going from venues.

Amid the housing construction boom, the 12-year-old commission will likely have its hands full. Some 130 proposed housing development projects could trigger review under the proposal, said Jocelyn Kane, executive director of the Entertainment Commission.

Those developments, which are at various planning stages, are predominantly in SoMa, southeastern neighborhoods and downtown.

A draft of the guidelines for triggering review by the commission includes if two or more places of entertainment are within 300 feet of the proposed project.

Under the guidelines, a full commission review of a housing development could also happen if the proposed project contains seven or more housing units and is planned for a site near a venue with a capacity of more than 270. The more a project meets the criteria, the more likely a hearing would be held.

Kane and her staff would determine, based on the guidelines, if a hearing should be held. Any hearing would have to be held within 30 days of receiving notice of a proposed development, with a possible 15-day extension.

Part of the effort is to simply get developers to keep the potential conflicts in mind. Kane said developers “don’t go at night to any of the locations.”

“It’s basically an education process,” Kane said. The commission would make recommendations to the Planning Commission of projects it reviews, which could be anything from were entryways or windows should be located or the need for additional sound proofing.

The City’s approval process for development is often criticized for being cumbersome and lengthy. But Kane said the added review won’t be much of a burden other than “one possible meeting.”

“It’s important. It’s a priority,” Kane said of protecting nightlife from conflicts with new residents. “No one wants to stop a project,” she added, noting that the commission’s role is purely advisory.

The legislation that mandated the program, which was introduced by board President London Breed, also requires landlords notify prospective tenants of what entertainment venues are nearby.

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