An amendment to a piece of legislation drafted by Supervisor London Breed in 2015 to preserve nightlife and entertainment venues received approval from the Planning Commission on Thursday, Jan. 5, adding in protection from the construction of hotels and motels to that of residential developments.
Prior to 2015 new residential developments built adjacent to music venues had the right to sue them for noise complaints, even if the venue was there first. Most notably this affected Brick + Mortar, which was forced to install $50,000 in extra soundproofing after complaints from neighbors. Sound levels were forced to be lowered, which according to owners reduced attendance to the club.
In addition, a pending development for Divisadero and Grove has caused a headache for rock venue The Independent, who will be sharing a wall with the new condos.
But the “nightlife legislation” drafted by Breed sought to fix that problem. The Entertainment Commission will now be involved in the conversation between developers and venues, helping to prevent issues before they occur. Places of entertainment can no longer be legally deemed a “nuisance” if they are operating within their permits, and all potential residents of housing located near entertainment venues are legally required to be informed of the fact before moving in.
The results were seen almost immediately when a redesign of the Divisadero and Grove development included triple-paned windows, and a restructuring of the apartments that avoided placing bedrooms on the side of the building that faces the club.
The legislation was a smart move in a city with rampant development and a large number of music venues, but there was something missing: protection from pending hotels and motels.
Conor Johnston, legislative aide to London Breed, notified the Planning Commission that strife between hotels and venues already exists. Campton Place Hotel is embattled with Love and Propaganda, and a newly completed Hampton Inn on Jessie Street is having a hard time with the Mezzanine’s raucous shows. Its TripAdvisor ratings have dropped, and the Inn is having to refund customers who’ve complained about the noise.
To highlight the citywide importance of this, Johnston pointed out that 26 hotel and motel developments are pending, 17 of which are within 300 feet of a music venue or club. Two of these are near Ruby Sky, two near Temple Night, and two more have three different venues close by.
“Hotels by nature want to be near the action,” Jonhston said. “But we have to make sure that hotels and venues are both good neighbors. We’ve created structure to help these different uses or use types to co-exist before problems arise, as opposed to after the fact, when people are unhappy.”
Diego Sanchez, a legislative analyst for the city’s Planning Department, supported the amendment.
“Early outreach to stakeholders can help improve development designs,” he pointed out, highlighting that these laws will help prevent problems before they occur.
The Planning Commission approved the amendment unanimously. The amendment will next go to the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee, and then the whole Board for a final vote.