§ 243.



General. A Special Use District entitled the Van Ness Special Use District, the boundaries of which are shown on Sectional Map No. SU02 of the Zoning Map, is hereby established for the purposes set forth below.


Purposes. In order to implement the objectives and policies of the Van Ness Avenue Area Plan, a part of the General Plan, which includes (i) creation of a mix of residential and commercial uses on the boulevard, (ii) preservation and enhancement of the pedestrian environment, (iii) encouragement of the retention and appropriate alteration of architecturally and historically significant and contributory buildings, (iv) conservation of the existing housing stock, (v) enhancement of the visual and urban design quality of the street, and (vi) the establishment of an area appropriate for a medical center use (the “Van Ness Medical Use Subdistrict”) to support citywide and regional health care at the transit nexus of Van Ness Avenue and Geary Boulevard; the following controls are imposed in the Van Ness Special Use District.


Controls. All provisions of the City Planning Code applicable to an RC-4 District shall apply except as otherwise provided in this Section.


Basic Floor Area Ratio. The basic floor area ratio limit shall be 7.0 to 1 in the 130-foot height district and at the hospital site within the Van Ness Medical Use Subdistrict, and 4.8:1 in the 80-foot height district. These limits shall apply to dwellings notwithstanding Section 124(b) of this Code, including floor space used for nonaccessory off-street parking, driveways, and maneuvering areas. The floor area ratio may be increased to up to 7.5:1 for a medical office building if located within the Van Ness Medical Use Subdistrict. For definitions of floor area ratio and gross floor area, see Sections 102.11 and 102.9, respectively. The provisions allowing a floor area premium set forth in Section 125(a) shall not apply in the Van Ness Special Use District.


Housing Density. The restrictions on density set forth in Sections 207, 207.1, 208, 209.1 and 209.2 of this Code shall not apply.


Height and Bulk Restrictions. See Height and Bulk Map No. HT02. See Section 270 of this Code for bulk limits. However, medical centers within the Van Ness Medical Use Subdistrict subject to otherwise applicable standards for bulk limits per Section 270 and 271(c)(2) shall be permitted to exceed such standards to allow for unique massing and volume required for medical facilities, if authorized as a Conditional Use pursuant to Section 303 of this Code, in lieu of findings otherwise required under Section 271 of this Code.


Awnings, Canopies and Marquees.  Awnings, canopies and marquees, as defined in Sections 790.20, 790.26 and 790.58 of this Code, and further regulated by the Building Code and Sections 243(c)(6), 136.2 and 607.3 of this Code, are permitted. However, medical centers within the Van Ness Medical Use Subdistrict subject to otherwise applicable standards for awnings per Section 136.1 of this Code shall be permitted to exceed such standards to allow for coverage of patient drop-off and entry areas.


Medical Centers within the Van Ness Medical Use Subdistrict subject to otherwise applicable standards for obstructions over streets or alleys per section 136(c)(1)(B) of this Code shall be permitted to exceed such standards for vertical dimensions and horizontal projections for architectural features to provide visual interest, achieve appropriate articulation of building facades, and reduce pedestrian level wind currents.




Signs located within the Van Ness Special Use District, with the exception of the Civic Center Special Sign District as described in Section 608.3 of this Code and as shown in Sectional Map SSD, shall be regulated as provided in Article 6, including Section 607.3 which governs signs located in the Van Ness Special Sign District.


Signs on structures designated as landmarks under the provisions of Section 1004 shall be regulated as provided in Section 607.3(d).


Rear Yards. The requirements of this Code applicable to rear yards may be modified or waived by the Zoning Administrator pursuant to Section 307(g) if all of the following conditions are met:


The interior block open space formed by the rear yards of abutting properties will not be adversely affected; and


A comparable amount of usable open space is provided elsewhere on the lot or within the development where it is more accessible to residents; and


The access of light and air to abutting properties will not be significantly impeded.

This provision shall be administered pursuant to the procedures which are applicable to variances, as set forth in Sections 306.1 through 306.5 and 308.2 of this Code.


Required Setbacks. Setbacks for buildings exceeding a height of 50 feet shall be regulated as provided in Section 253.2 of this Code.


Limitation of Nonresidential Uses.


Residential Uses; Ratio Established. In newly constructed structures, nonresidential uses shall only be permitted if the ratio between the amount of net additional occupied floor area for residential uses, as defined in this paragraph below, to the amount of occupied floor area for nonresidential uses in excess of the occupied floor area of structures existing on the site at the time the project is approved is 3 to 1 or greater. In additions to existing structures which exceed 20 percent of the gross floor area of the existing structure, nonresidential uses shall be permitted in the addition in excess of 20 percent only if the ratio between the amount of occupied floor area for residential use, as defined in this paragraph below, to the area of occupied floor area for nonresidential use is 3 to 1 or greater. This residential use ratio shall not apply to development sites in the Van Ness Special Use District which have less than 60 feet of street frontage on Van Ness Avenue and have no street frontage other than the Van Ness Avenue frontage. For purposes of this Section, “nonresidential uses” shall mean those uses described in Sections 209.2(d) and (e) (hotel, inn, hostel), 209.3(a) (hospital, medical center or other medical institution with in-patient care facilities), 209.4 (community facilities), 209.6 (public facilities and utilities), 209.7 (vehicle storage and access) and 209.8 (commercial establishments); in the Automotive Special Use District nonresidential uses include automotive uses as described in Section 237; “residential use” shall mean those uses described in Sections 209.1 and 209.2(a), (b) and (c) (dwelling units and group housing).


Reduction of Ratio of Residential Uses for Affordable Housing. The Planning Commission may modify the Van Ness Special Use District residential to nonresidential use ratio between Golden Gate Avenue and California Street as a conditional use in one of the following ways:


In-Lieu Fee. By conditional use, the developer may elect to fulfill the obligation to build housing by paying an in-lieu fee to the Affordable Housing Fund as provided in Section 413 of this Code. No more than a 50 percent reduction of the required housing for a specific project can be fulfilled by paying an in-lieu fee. Use of these funds shall provide affordable housing within 2,000 feet of the Van Ness Special Use District. The in-lieu fee shall be determined by the following formula:


(Lot Area ´ FAR)/4) ´ 3 = Residential SQ. FT. Requirement


Residential SQ. FT. Requirement – Residential SQ. FT. Developed = LOSS


LOSS ´ $15 = In-Lieu Fee


Providing Affordable Housing. By conditional use, the developer may reduce up to 50 percent of the required amount of on-site housing by maintaining a portion of that housing as permanently affordable for the life of the project. Affordable units shall be managed by a nonprofit housing agency through a duly executed agreement between the project sponsor, the nonprofit agency and the Planning Department. The mix of affordable units retained in the project shall conform to the overall dwelling unit size mix of the project. The portion of retained residential which shall be affordable will be determined by calculating the number of market rate units which could be subsidized by the amount of “in-lieu fee” calculated in Paragraph (i) above. The number of square feet of affordable housing shall be calculated in the following manner:


In-Lieu Fee / $30/square foot subsidy = Square Feet of Affordable Housing Retained in the Project


Annual Reporting, Evaluation and Adjustments to Affordability and Fee Calculations. The Department shall report annually to the Planning Commission on the activity and utilization of Section 243(d)(8)(B). 1 Based on an evaluation of this report, the Planning Commission may initiate a modification or deletion of Section 243(d)(8)(B). 1

The dollar amounts used in the calculation for Paragraphs (i) and (ii) of this Subsection shall be subject to annual adjustments in accord with Section 413.6(1) 2 of this Code. Affordability shall be defined by rents or sale prices affordable by households with no more than 80 percent of median income standards developed by HUD.


If the Commission finds that taking into consideration projects constructed since the effective date of the Van Ness Special Use District and the housing development potential remaining in the District the overall objective of adding a substantial increment of new housing on Van Ness Avenue will not be significantly compromised, the Commission may by conditional use modify the 3:1 housing ratio or may modify the rules regarding the timing and location of linked projects if in addition to Section 303(c) standards of this Code it finds that:


The project is to provide space for expansion of an established business from an adjacent site (for this purpose two sites separated by an alley shall be deemed to be adjacent) or,


The project is to provide space for an institutional, hotel, medical, cultural or social service use meeting an important public need which cannot reasonably be met elsewhere in the area, and


Housing cannot reasonably be included in the project referred to in (1) and (2) above.

The Commission shall consider the feasibility of requiring the project to be constructed in such a manner that it can support the addition of housing at some later time.


Off-Site Provision of Required Residential Space. For the purpose of calculating the 3 to 1 ratio between residential and nonresidential use, two or more projects for new construction within the Van Ness Special Use District may be considered and approved together as linked projects. The requirements of Paragraph (A) above may be satisfied if the aggregate amount of occupied floor area for residential use in two or more linked projects is at least three times greater than the aggregate amount of occupied floor area for nonresidential use.


Those building permit applicants who wish to link two or more projects for the purpose of meeting the 3 to 1 residential to nonresidential ratio shall file with the Planning Department a statement of intent identifying the applications covering the projects that are to be considered and approved together;


When the Planning Department approves an application for a project containing only nonresidential use and the project is linked to one or more other projects pursuant to the statement of intent filed with the Department, it shall include as a condition of approval a requirement prohibiting the project sponsor from commencing any work on the site until the Zoning Administrator issues a written determination that such work may proceed. The Zoning Administrator shall not issue such a determination until those permits authorizing the projects containing residential use have been issued and foundations have been completed at each such site;


If a permit for a project containing nonresidential use expires because of delays in the completion of foundations for linked projects containing residential uses, new permits may be approved for the nonresidential project within three years of such expiration without regard to the 3 to 1 residential ratio requirement if a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy or a Permit of Occupancy has been issued for each project containing residential use;


No building or portion of a building approved as a linked project that contains residential use required to meet the 3 to 1 residential to nonresidential ratio requirement shall be used for any nonresidential purposes; provided, however, that this restriction shall no longer apply if 50 percent or more of the non-residential occupied floor area in the linked projects has been converted to residential use, or has been demolished, or has been destroyed by fire or other act of God;


The Zoning Administrator shall impose as a condition of approval of a permit authorizing the residential uses of linked projects the requirement that the owner record in the land records of the property a notice of restrictions, approved as to form by the Zoning Administrator, placed on the use of the property by this Section.


Nonconforming Uses. A use which existed lawfully at the effective date of this Section and which fails to conform to the use limitation of Section 243(d)(8)(A) 3 above, shall be considered a nonconforming use and subject to the provisions of Sections 180 through 188 of this Code, including the provisions of Section 182 regarding change of use, except as follows:


In calculating the cost of structural alterations pursuant to Section 181(b)(4), the cost of reinforcing the building to meet the standards for seismic loads and forces of the 1975 Building Code shall not be included; and


Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 181(b), the structure occupied by the nonconforming use may be enlarged by an amount equal to 20 percent of the gross floor area of the existing structure.


Demolitions. All demolitions of buildings containing residential use and all conversions from residential uses to nonresidential uses above the ground floor shall be permitted only if authorized as a conditional use under Section 303 of this Code, unless the Director of the Department of Building Inspection or the Chief of the Bureau of Fire Prevention and Public Safety determines that the building is unsafe or dangerous and that demolition is the only feasible means to secure the public safety. When considering whether to grant a conditional use permit for the demolition or conversion, in lieu of the criteria set forth in Planning Code Section 303, consideration shall be given to the adverse impact on the public health, safety and general welfare of the loss of housing stock in the district and to any unreasonable hardship to the applicant if the permit is denied. The definition of residential use shall be as set forth in Section 243(d)(8)(A), 4 but shall not include any guest room in a building classified as a residential hotel subject to the Residential Hotel Unit Conversion and Demolition Ordinance.

A conditional use permit shall not be required if the demolition permit is sought in order to comply with a court order directing or permitting the owner to demolish a building because it is unsafe. No person shall be permitted to construct anything on the site of a demolished building subject to such an order for a period of two years unless (a) the proposal is for at least the same number and size of dwelling units and guest rooms and the same amount of nonresidential floor area as that which was demolished or (b) the applicant requests and is granted an exemption from this requirement on the ground that the applicant has demonstrated that (1) the need for demolition did not arise because of the deliberate or unreasonable neglect of the maintenance of the building, or that (2) the restrictions would cause undue hardship to the property owner or that (3) the restrictions would leave the property without any substantial remaining market value or reasonable use.


Residential Parking. Pursuant to Table 151 in Article 1.5 of this Code, the residential parking requirement shall be one space for each dwelling unit; provided, however, that the Zoning Administrator may reduce the parking requirement to not less than one space for each four dwelling units pursuant to the procedures and criteria of Sections 307(g) and (i) of this Code.


Medical Center Parking. Notwithstanding any contrary provision of this Code, the maximum parking provisions for the Van Ness Medical Use Subdistrict shall not exceed the lesser of 990 spaces or 125% of the minimum number of spaces required by Code in the aggregate for the Cathedral Hill Campus which, for purposes of this subsection, shall be the Van Ness Medical Use District and Assessor’s Block 0690, Lot 016, located at 1375 Sutter Street. Any parking sought up to this maximum but that exceeds the parking provisions outlined elsewhere in this Code may only be granted by the Planning Commission as a Conditional Use Authorization.


Medical Center Loading. Loading standards for medical centers within the Van Ness Medical Use Subdistrict applicable under Section 154(b) may be reduced from the required minimum dimensions through a Conditional Use Authorization, provided that the dimensions provided will be sufficient to meet the reasonably foreseeable loading demands associated with the proposed facility.


Adult Entertainment Enterprises. The uses described in Section 221(k) of this Code are not permitted.


Other Entertainment Uses. Other Entertainment Uses as defined in Section 790.38 of this Code shall require notification as set forth in Section 312 of this Code.


Formula Retail Uses. Formula Retail uses, as defined in Section 303(i) of this Code, shall be permitted, subject to a Conditional Use Authorization, in parcels zoned RC-3 or RC-4 that are within the Van Ness SUD.


Medical Center Street Frontages. If authorized as a Conditional Use under Section 303 of this Code, a medical center within the Van Ness Medical Use Subdistrict may deviate from the street frontage requirements of Section 145.1 of this Code, so long as the Planning Commission finds that the proposed street frontages otherwise achieve the intended purposes of Section 145.1 to “preserve, enhance and promote attractive, clearly defined street frontages that are pedestrian-oriented, fine-grained, and which are appropriate and compatible with the buildings and uses” in the surrounding areas.


Reduction of Ground Level Wind Currents.


New buildings and additions to existing buildings shall be shaped, or other wind baffling measures shall be adopted, so that the development will not cause year-round ground level wind currents to exceed, more than 10 percent of the time, between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., the comfort level of 11 m.p.h. equivalent wind speed in areas of pedestrian use and seven m.p.h. equivalent wind speed in public seating areas. When pre-existing ambient wind speeds exceed the comfort levels specified above, the building shall be designed to reduce the ambient wind speeds in efforts to meet the goals of this requirement.


An exception to this requirement may be permitted but only if and to the extent that the project sponsor demonstrates that the building or addition cannot be shaped or wind baffling measures cannot be adopted without unduly restricting the development potential of the building site in question.


The exception may permit the building or addition to increase the time that the comfort level is exceeded, but only to the extent necessary to avoid undue restriction of the development potential of the site.


Notwithstanding the above, no exception shall be allowed and no building or addition shall be permitted that causes equivalent wind speeds to reach or exceed the hazard level of 26 m.p.h. for a single hour of the year.

For the purposes of this Section, the term “equivalent wind speed” shall mean an hourly wind speed adjusted to incorporate the effects of gustiness or turbulence on pedestrians.


Van Ness Medical Use Subdistrict – Conditional Use for Medical Center. Within the Van Ness Medical Use Subdistrict, the boundaries of which are shown on Sectional Map No. SU02 of the Zoning Map, medical facilities affiliated with the same institution, separated only by a street or alley, shall be considered a single medical center for purposes of this section.


The “Van Ness Medical Use Subdistrict” shall be defined as the area shown on Sectional Map SU02, to provide medical services by a licensed medical provider. The purpose of the Subdistrict is to allow for the development of a seismically compliant medical facility with unique design requirements not otherwise permitted within the Van Ness Special Use District. To the extent provided in Section 243, deviations from the controls of Section 243 shall be permitted in the Subdistrict relating to bulk, FAR, parking, loading, projections and obstructions over streets and alleys, and street frontage due to the unique requirements of new medical centers.



1. So in Ord. 131-13 .

2. So in Ord. 131-13 and previously.

3. So in Ord. 131-13 .

4. So in Ord. 131-13 .


(Added by Ord. 537-88, App. 12/16/88; amended by Ord. 79-89, App. 3/24/89; Ord. 312-92, App. 10/9/92; Ord. 161-96, App. 4/24/96; Ord. 327-96, App. 8/21/96; Ord. 85-10, File No. 091271, App. 4/30/2010; Ord. 5-11, File No. 101091, App. 1/7/2011; Ord. 63-11, File No. 101053, App. 4/7/2011, Eff. 5/7/2011; Ord. 140-11, File No. 110482, App. 7/5/2011, Eff. 8/4/2011; Ord. 131-13 , File No. 120357, App. 7/11/2013, Eff. 8/10/2013, Oper. 9/9/2013)

Divisions (b), (c)(1), (c)(4), (c)(7), and (c)(8) amended; Ord. 63-11, Eff. 5/7/2011. Division (c)(8)(I) added; Ord. 140-11, Eff. 8/4/2011. Divisions (b), (c)(1), (c)(3), and (c)(4) amended; new division (c)(5) added and former divisions (c)(5) through (9) redesignated as (c)(6) through (10); division (c)(9)(F) amended; new divisions (c)(9)(G) and (H) added and former divisions (c)(8)(G) through (I) redesignated as (c)(9)(I) through (K); divisions (c)(9)(L) and (d) added; Ord. 131-13 , Oper. 9/9/2013.


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