Skip to main content
Legal Alert

Moratorium on Conversion of PDR Uses in Central SoMa Plan Area

Moratorium on Conversion of PDR Uses in Central SoMa Plan Area

On October 9, 2014, the Mayor approved legislation passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors that places a moratorium on the change from Production, Distribution and Repair uses ("PDR") to non-PDR uses within the portion of SoMa now moving toward an up-zoning to taller buildings and fewer PDR-only lots. This legislation affects the to-be-rezoned area called the Central SoMa Plan Area, centered around the proposed 4th Street Municipal Railway line. The Central Plan Area is bounded (generally) by Market Street on the north, Townsend Street on the west, 2nd Street on the east and 6th Street on the west. The Central SoMa Plan was developed in response to the creation of the proposed 4th Street subway as well as the City's recent economic boom experienced particularly in downtown and Mission Bay. This boom has generated the concern that without this up zoning (oriented toward more office uses), the City would run out of office space within the next five to ten years.

The sponsoring elected officials successfully made the case to their colleagues that PDR uses will be displaced by higher paying uses, such as office and residential, before the Plan can be adopted with its own protective measures; and that the booming development in the City is outpacing the City's ability to design and implement new permanent controls for this Plan Area.

The moratorium was put in place for 45 days; however, it is expected to be renewed until the new controls for the Central SoMa Plan Area are adopted. The moratorium revisits the debate over the protection of PDR that many had thought was resolved when the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan was adopted. This Plan rezoned large parts of the eastern portion of the City and was designed in part to protect against the loss of industrial use. 

The moratorium prohibits the removal of any PDR use to a non-PDR use; however, certain uses and projects are exempted from this moratorium. Generally, those exceptions include: (i) a property located in a C-3 (downtown) zoning district; (ii) a property that contains a gas station, parking lot, or self-storage; (iii) a project that proposes 100% affordable housing; (iv) a project that is subject to a Development Agreement with the City; and (v) a project that filed an environmental application on or before September 1, 2014 (and received certain Planning Commission approval for office use on or before September 11, 2014).   

The draft Environmental Impact Report for the Plan is not expected to be released until early next year.  Public debate over the Plan and the approval process will postpone the Plan's adoption at least until the middle to end of 2015.

On October 24, 2015 the Planning Department sent a report to the Board suggesting several ways to address the conditions that led to the moratorium: (i) maintaining  the existing SLI and SALI zoning districts for certain properties; (ii) limiting the conversion of PDR space; and (iii) establishing incentives for new PDR uses. The Board adopted this report on October 28. 


For More Information, Please Contact:

Sean Marciniak
Sean Marciniak
San Francisco, CA