Update on San Francisco Planning Commission acknowledges the DRAFT Japantown Better Neighborhood Plan

The Draft Japantown Better Neighborhood Plan was acknoweldged by the Planning Commission on June 25, 2009, as a “a significant milestone marking years of broad community planning efforts, and represents many of the community’s goals for the area at this point in time.”

The Commission approved a resolution that requires more work to be done with the community to refine the draft plan, including the following:

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Planning Commission acknowledges public comment that has been received regarding concerns over different aspects of the Draft Plan—including but not limited to cultural preservation, the provision of mixed‐income housing, the retention of existing merchants, structural analysis on Japan Center garage, mitigation of neighborhood impacts during potential construction, proposed tower heights, and the need to provide more direction for the implementing organization, and directs the Department to continue to work with the community on these issues prior to initiating environmental review; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Planning Commission requests the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors to consider funding for further modification and study of the Draft Plan in a community process, including environmental review, when considering the city’s budget; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Planning Commission directs Planning Department Staff to undertake environmental review of the Draft Plan and further modify it as soon as funding becomes available; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED that this Resolution is not a plan approval but represents the Commission’s acknowledgement of work performed to create the Draft Plan.

FURTHER RESOLVED that this acknowledgement of the draft plan does not endorse any parcel‐specific rezoning or parcel‐specific height limit.

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Planning Department work with Office of Economic and Workforce Development to develop a strategy to retain existing businesses.

FINALLY RESOLVED, that prior to any Commission hearings or action on what will be the Draft Plan for CEQA evaluation, the Commission recognizes that changes to the present Draft Plan will take place and that any revisions will be incorporated to the Draft Plan and will be subject to CEQA review. This Resolution does not commit the Commission to the Draft Plan or any specific project. Consistent with CEQA, the Commission may decide to approve or disapprove the Draft Plan after completion of environmental review of the Draft Plan, and based upon independent review, consideration of any environmental effects caused, and community involvement throughout the environmental review process.

Further, during the anticipated CEQA review of the Draft Plan, the Commission expects that appropriate alternatives to the Draft Plan will be developed and explored and that the Draft Plan may evolve accordingly, and that no final Plan will be adopted until the environmental review process is completed and hearings conducted on the proposed Ordinances to implement the final Japantown Plan.”

Please stay tuned for next steps by checking the Plan’s website: http://japantown.sfplanning.org/

Read more about the Planning Commission’s decision and necessary next steps by opening the attached resolution.

On behalf of Nakayoshi – thank you for your interest in this issue and if you took the time to write a letter or tell a friend, you’ve helped create an opportunity for the community and for our generation to have a voice in the issue of how San Francisco’s Japantown will grow and evolve over the coming years.

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