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(1) In C-3 Districts, any project proposing new construction of a Non-Residential building or an addition of Gross Floor Area equal to 20% or more of an existing Non-Residential building. Institutional and Residential Uses in C-3 Districts are exempt from the requirements of this Section 138.
(2) In the Central SoMa Special Use District, any project proposing new construction or an addition of 50,000 gross square feet or more of Non-Residential use. Retail, Institutional, and PDR uses in the Central SoMa Special Use District are exempt from the requirements of this Section 138.
(b) Amount Required. Open space shall be provided in the amounts specified in Table 138.
(c) Location. The open space required by this Section may be on the same site as the project for which the permit is sought, or within 900 feet of it on either private property or, with the approval of all relevant public agencies, public property, provided that all open space required by this Section for a project within the C-3 District shall be located entirely within the C-3 District. Projects within the Central SoMa Special Use District may provide the open space required by this Section 138 within one-half mile of the project if the required open space is on publicly-owned land underneath or adjacent to the I-80 freeway. Open space is within 900 feet of the building for which the permit is sought within the meaning of this Section 138 if any portion of the project is located within 900 feet of any portion of the open space. Off-site open space shall be developed and open for use prior to issuance of a first certificate of occupancy, as defined in Section 401 of this Code, of the project whose open space requirement is being met off-site. Failure to comply with the requirements of this subsection (c) shall be grounds for enforcement under this Code, including but not limited to the provisions of Sections 176 and 176.1.
(d) Types and Standards of Open Space.
(1) C-3 Districts. In C-3 Districts, except as otherwise provided in subsection (f), the project may satisfy the requirements of this Section by providing one or more of the following types of open space: A plaza, an urban park, an urban garden, a view terrace, a sun terrace, a greenhouse, a small sitting area (a “snippet”), an atrium, an indoor park, or a public sitting area in a galleria, in an arcade, in a public street or alley, or in a pedestrian mall or walkway, as more particularly defined in the table entitled “Guidelines for Open Space” in the Open Space Section of the Downtown Plan, or any amendments thereto, provided that the open space meets the following minimum standards. The open space shall:
(A) Be of adequate size;
(B) Be situated in such locations and provide such ingress and egress as will make the area easily accessible to the general public;
(C) Be well-designed, and where appropriate, be landscaped;
(D) Be protected from uncomfortable wind;
(E) Incorporate various features, including ample seating and, if appropriate, access to food service, which will enhance public use of the area;
(F) Have adequate access to sunlight if sunlight access is appropriate to the type of area;
(G) Be well-lighted if the area is of the type requiring artificial illumination;
(H) Be open to the public at times when it is reasonable to expect substantial public use;
(I) Be designed to enhance user safety and security;
(J) If the open space is on private property, provide toilet facilities open to the public; and
(K) Have at least 75 percent of the total open space approved be open to the public during all daylight hours.
(2) Central SoMa Special Use District. In the Central SoMa Special Use District, a project shall satisfy the requirements listed below, as well as the approval process described in subsection (e):
(A) Projects shall meet the minimum standards of subsection (1).
(B) Projects may provide open spaces outdoors or indoors, subject to Commission review pursuant to subsection (e) below or may pay the in-lieu fee as set forth in Section 426, except that development on sites of 40,000 square feet or more and located south of Bryant Street shall provide the required open space outdoors and may not pay an in-lieu fee.
(C) All open space provided shall be at street grade up to an amount that equals 15 percent of the lot area. Any additional required open space may be provided above street grade.
(D) All open space shall be publicly accessible, at a minimum, from 7AM to 6PM every day.
(E) All outdoor open space provided at street grade, except space provided underneath the I-80 freeway, shall meet the following requirements:
(i) The open space shall be open to the sky, except for obstructions permitted by Section 136 and up to 10% of space that may be covered by a cantilevered portion of the building if the space has a minimum height of 20 feet;
(ii) Any buildings on the subject property that directly abut the open space shall meet the active space requirements of Section 145.1; and
(iii) The open space shall be maximally landscaped with plantings on horizontal and vertical surfaces, subject to the appropriate design for circulation routes and any recreational or public amenities provided. Such plantings may include, but are not limited to living walls, stormwater gardens, and drought-tolerant landscaping.
(F) All indoor open spaces provided at street grade shall:
(i) Have a minimum area of 2,500 square feet;
(ii) Have a minimum floor-to-ceiling height of 20 feet for at least 75% of the space;
(iii) Provide openings directly to a sidewalk or other publicly-accessible outdoor space and, weather permitting, be accessible without the need to open doors;
(iv) Be situated, designed, and programmed distinctly from building lobbies or other private entrances to the building;
(G) Projects shall make efforts to include at least one publicly-accessible potable water source convenient for drinking and filling of water bottles.
(H) Any food service area provided in the required open space shall occupy no more than 20% of the open space;
(I) Any restaurant seating shall not take up more than 20% of the seating and tables provided in the required open space; and
(J) All spaces shall facilitate three-stream waste sorting and collection.
(e) Approval of Open Space Type and Features.
(1) In C-3 Districts, the type, size, location, physical access, seating and table requirements, landscaping, availability of commercial services, sunlight and wind conditions and hours of public access shall be reviewed and approved in accordance with the provisions of Section 309, and shall generally conform to the “Guidelines for Open Space in the Open Space Section of the Downtown Plan, or any amendments thereto.
The Commission may, by resolution, declare certain types of open space ineligible to meet the requirements of this Section 138, either throughout C-3 Districts or in certain defined areas, if it determines that a disproportionate number of certain types of open space or an insufficient number of parks and plazas is being provided to meet the public need for open space and recreational uses. Such resolution may exempt from its application projects whose permit applications are on file with the Planning Department.
Over time, no more than 20 percent of POPOS in the C-3 Districts shall be indoor space and at least 80 percent shall be outdoor space. Once an indoor space has been approved, another such feature may not be approved until the total square footage of outdoor open space features approved under this subsection exceeds 80 percent of the total square footage of all open spaces approved under this subsection.
(2) In the Central SoMa Special Use District, all determinations concerning the adequacy of the location, amount, amenities, design, and implementation of open space required by this Section shall be made in accordance with the provisions of Section 329 and subsection (d)(2), above. As part of this determination, the Planning Commission shall consider the ability of the open space to meet the open space, greening, and community needs of the neighborhood, as follows:
(A) Location. The provision of outdoor space, including off-site, should be given preference over the provision of indoor space and/or the payment of the in-lieu fee. The Commission may approve the provision of indoor space and/or the payment of the in-lieu fee only where the provision of outdoor space would:
(i) Be subject to substantially negative or unpleasant environmental conditions, such as noise, wind, or lack of access to direct sunlight; and/or
(ii) Where provision of the open space outdoors would substantially degrade the street wall or otherwise undermine the pedestrian experience.
(B) Amenities. The type of amenities provided shall take into consideration and complement the amenities currently and foreseeably provided in nearby publicly-accessible open spaces and recreational facilities, both publicly and privately owned, with a preference given to provision of amenities and types of spaces lacking or over-utilized in the area.
(C) Community Needs. The Commission shall consider the extent to which the open space serves the open space and recreational needs of the diverse inhabitants of the Central SoMa Special Use District, including but not limited to residents, youth, families, workers, and seniors.
(f) Open Space Provider. The open space required by this Section may be provided: individually by the project sponsor or jointly by the project sponsor and other project sponsors, provided, that each square foot of jointly developed open space may count toward only one sponsor's requirement. With the approval of the Planning Commission, a public or private agency may develop and maintain the open space, provided that (i) the project sponsor or sponsors pay for the cost of development of the number of square feet the project sponsor is required to provide, (ii) provision satisfactory to the Commission is made for the continued maintenance of the open space for the actual lifetime of the building giving rise to the open space requirement, and (iii) the Commission finds that there is reasonable assurance that the open space to be developed by such agency will be developed and open for use by the time the building, the open space requirement of which is being met by the payment, is ready for occupancy. Property owners providing open space under this section will hold harmless the City and County of San Francisco, its officers, agents and employees, from any damage or injury caused by the design, construction, use, or maintenance of open space. Property owners are solely liable for any damage or loss occasioned by any act or negligence in respect to the design, construction, use, or maintenance of the open space.
(g) Nonresidential/Residential Open Space. In mixed nonresidential/residential projects, open space which meets the requirements of Section 135 regarding common usable open space for residential uses, and the requirements of Section 138 regarding open space for nonresidential uses, may be counted against the open space requirements of both Sections 135 and 138.
(h) Maintenance. Open spaces shall be maintained at no public expense. The owner of the property on which the open space is located shall maintain it by keeping the area clean and free of litter and keeping in a healthy state any plant material that is provided. Conditions intended to assure continued maintenance of the open space for the actual lifetime of the building giving rise to the open space requirement may be imposed in accordance with the provisions of Section 309.
(i) Informational Plaque. Prior to issuance of a permit of occupancy, one or more plaques shall be designed and placed in publicly conspicuous locations as described in this subsection.
(1)1 The plaques shall:
(A) state the right of the public to use the space; and
(B) state the hours of use; and
(C) describe its principal required features (e.g., number of seats, uses and/or other defining features); and
(D) state the current name, telephone number, and postal address of the owner or owner's agent responsible for public access and maintenance; and
(E) describe the type of open space; and,
(F) state the location of the open space, and, in cases where that space is not visible from a major sidewalk, include directions to the open space.
(2) In terms of design and appearance, the plaque shall:
(A) include the standard Privately-owned public open space logo developed by the Planning Department; and
(B) follow the Zoning Administrator Bulletin 8 for POPOS Informational Plaques in terms of detailed dimensions, font type and size, color, and other graphics ; and
(C) be developed using the POPOS signage design toolkit provided by the Planning Department; and
(D) be made of opaque, non-reflective material, and provide a clear contrast between the lettering and the background; and
(3) The plaque shall be located as follows:
(A) Exterior. If the open space is located outside of a building and is at least partially adjacent to a public sidewalk, a plaque shall be placed on each building face adjacent to the space. Each plaque shall be located as close as possible to the nearest adjacent public sidewalk, but in no case shall any portion of each plaque be located more than five feet from the nearest sidewalk. Alternately, a plaque may be attached to an improvement within the open space or a free standing post so long as the entire plaque is located within five feet of and is clearly visible from an adjacent public sidewalk.
(B) If the open space is located inside a building, or if the open space is located outside a building but is primarily accessed through a building, or if the open space is not otherwise easily visible from the nearest public sidewalk, a plaque shall be placed within five feet of each pedestrian entrance to the building on the outside wall (exclusive of service, emergency, maintenance and related entrances). The plaque shall describe the location of the open space and provide directions on how to get to the space, way-finding signs shall also be placed within the building (e.g., in the lobby and at the elevator) clearly indicating the path to the open space.
(4) The plaque shall be placed so that the midpoint of the plaque is positioned at a height between four and one-half to six feet above grade level; and
(5) Existing POPOS. Existing POPOS shall comply with the current signage requirements contained in this subsection (i) and in the Zoning Administrator Bulletin referred to in subsection (i)(2)(B) whenever:
(A) the project seeks new approvals that trigger compliance with the signage requirements; or
(B) the existing signage is not in compliance with the requirements in effect at the time of a prior project approval; or
(C) the existing signage requires alteration in order to comply with Federal or State requirements for directional and informational signs.
(j) Notwithstanding the requirements established in subsections (b)-(d) above, the following additional standards shall apply in the C-3-O(SD) district:
(1) Public connections directly to the rooftop park on the Transbay Transit Center from adjacent buildings shall be counted toward the open space required per subsection (b) above provided that they meet all the following criteria:
(A) Such connections shall provide both horizontal connection (i.e. pedestrian bridge) from the subject development lot to the Transit Center Park as well as vertical connection to access such park connection from a publicly-accessible space at street level;
(B) Such connections described in (A), both vertical and horizontal, and any related circulation spaces, shall be publicly-accessible at any time the Transit Center park is open to the public;
(C) Horizontal connections shall have a minimum clear walking path of 12 feet;
(D) The project sponsor shall provide a letter, prior to project approval subject to Section 309, from the Executive Director of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority or any successor agency or agencies with jurisdiction over the Transit Center park indicating tentative approval of the horizontal connection as designed;
(E) Any vertical connection shall be clearly and prominently signed from a public sidewalk or public space as described in (A) above, and shall feature an informational plaque meeting the standards in subsection (i) above and further established in the "Guidelines for Open Space."
(F) The square footage equivalency of such park connections for the purpose of meeting Section 138 open space requirements shall be calculated to include:
(i) The area of the bridge structure from face of building to furthest point of connection on the rooftop park;
(ii) The area set aside for public circulation on or adjacent to the development lot, within or outside of the building envelope, that provides access to the park connection and is not otherwise necessary for general building circulation;
(iii) The area on any floor devoted to vertical circulation dedicated specifically to provide public access to the park connection, except for any features that are otherwise necessary for the general circulation or support of the building; and
(iv) An additional 5,000 square feet bonus.
(G) Approval of such connections by the Planning Department or Commission is conditioned on obtaining the necessary easements, permits or approvals otherwise required by other governmental agencies or authorities.
(H) Such connections must satisfy all applicable permit and governmental approval requirements and be completed and available for public use prior to issuance of the first Temporary Certificate of Occupancy for the project.
(I) Building connections that are designed primarily to provide access to the rooftop park for tenants of the subject building and not to either provide public access through the subject building to the park or to provide public access to retail in the subject building at the level of the park shall not be eligible for credit toward open space required under this Section.
(2) Any observation deck or sky lobby or similar space of public accommodation on any story above a height of 600 feet that is open to the general public shall be counted toward the open space required by subsection (b). Such spaces shall not include any space that requires a fee for access, a bar, restaurant or other primarily-commercial use, except that a space qualifying under this subsection may include ancillary retail or eating and drinking activities not to exceed 50% of the publicly-accessible floor area of such space.
(3) Any mid-block public pedestrian pathway that meets the design criteria of Section 270.2(e) whether required or not, shall be counted toward the open space required by subsection (b), except that any mid-block pathway constructed on Assessor's Block 3721 connecting Howard and Natoma Streets need not be open to the sky provided that it has vertical clearance of at least 25 feet, is open to the public at all times, and is open to the air at both ends such that it does not require opening of doors for access.
(Added by Ord. 414-85, App. 9/17/85; amended by Ord. 182-12 , File No. 120665, App. 8/8/2012, Eff. 9/7/2012; Ord. 228-12 , File No. 120220, App. 11/14/2012, Eff. 12/14/2012; Ord. 232-14 , File No. 120881, App. 11/26/2014, Eff. 12/26/2014; Ord. 188-15 , File No. 150871, App. 11/4/2015, Eff. 12/4/2015; Ord. 296-18, File No. 180184, App. 12/12/2018, Eff. 1/12/2019; Ord. 63-20, File No. 200077, App. 4/24/2020, Eff. 5/25/2020)
Division (b) amended; division (j) added; Ord. 182-12 , Eff. 9/7/2012. Section header and divisions (c), (f), (h) and (i) amended; divisions (i)(1)1 through (5) added; Ord. 228-12 , Eff. 12/14/2012. Divisions (b), (d), and (e) amended; Ord. 232-14 , Eff. 12/26/2014. Divisions (a) and (b) amended; Ord. 188-15 , Eff. 12/4/2015. Section header and divisions (a)-(e) amended; divisions (a)(1), (e)(1), and Table 138 designated; divisions (d)-(d)(11) redesignated as divisions (d)-(d)(1)(K); divisions (a)(2), (d)(2)-(d)(2)(J), and (e)(2)-(e)(2)(C) added; Ord. 296-18 , Eff. 1/12/2019. Divisions (a)(1) and (c) amended; Ord. 63-20 , Eff. 5/25/2020.