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The provisions and procedures set forth in this Section shall govern the review of project authorization and building and site permit applications for the construction or substantial alteration of structures in Downtown Residential districts, the granting of exceptions to requirements of this Code, and the imposition of modifications necessary to achieve the objectives and policies of the General Plan and the purposes of this Code as provided for in Section 825 and elsewhere. When any action authorized by this Section is taken, any determination with respect to the proposed project required or authorized pursuant to CEQA may also be considered.
(a) Design Review.
(1) In addition to the standard permit review process, the design of projects greater than 50,000 gross square feet or 85 feet in height shall be subject to design review and approval by Department staff. A detailed design review will be initiated by Department staff working with the project sponsor, at the time an application for 309.1 review or building permit is filed, and may take place in advance of filing a building permit application. This comprehensive review shall resolve issues related to the project's design, including the following:
(A) Overall building massing and scale;
(B) Architectural treatments, facade design and building materials;
(C) The design of lower floors, including building setback areas, townhouses, entries and parking and loading access;
(D) On sloping sites, parking provided above ground pursuant to Section 825(b)(5)(A);
(E) The provision of required open space, both on- and off-site;
(F) Streetscape and other public improvements, including tree planting, street furniture, and lighting;
(G) Circulation, including streets, alleys and mid-block pedestrian pathways;
(H) Other changes necessary to bring a project into conformance with the applicable elements and area plans of the General Plan.
(2) If the project sponsor opposes project modifications and conditions recommended by the Director of Planning pursuant to the design review, the Director shall prepare a report of recommended modifications which shall be presented to the Planning Commission for a hearing pursuant to Subsection (e) and which shall be available to the public upon mail notification of said hearing.
(1) Exceptions to the following provisions of this Code may be granted as provided for below:
(B) Provision for exceeding an accessory residential parking ratio principally permitted and up to the maximum permitted by Table 151.1.
(C) Exceptions to the lot coverage requirements of Section 825(b)(2) for conversions of existing non-residential structures to residential use.
(D) Reductions in the dwelling unit exposure requirements of Section 140.
(F) Reduction of required on-site residential open space of 36 square feet per unit described in Section 827(a)(9) to create additional off-site publicly-accessible open space and superior building design.
(G) Design, location, and size of publicly-accessible open space as allowed by Section 827(a)(9) and equivalence of proposed publicly-accessible open space in size and quality with required on-site open space.
(H) Modifications to the required upper story setback above a height of 45 feet on the north side of mid-block pedestrian pathways as allowed in Section 827(a)(5)(C)(i).
(I) On development lots larger than ½-acre, minor deviations from the provisions for measurement of height in Sections 260 of the Code as otherwise provided in Section 304(d)(6), in cases where the Planning Commission finds that such minor measurement modification is necessary for a project of outstanding overall design, complementary to the design of the surrounding area, and necessary to meet the intent and policies of the relevant area plan of the General Plan.
(c) Hearing and Determination on Design Modifications and Applications for Exceptions.
(1) Hearing. The Planning Commission shall hold a public hearing for all projects greater than 50,000 gross square feet, for all projects 85 feet in height or greater, and for applications that require exceptions as provided in Subsection (b).
(2) Notice of Hearing. Notice of such hearing shall be mailed not less than 10 days prior to the date of the hearing to the project applicant, to property owners within 300 feet of the project that is the subject of the application, using for this purpose the names and addresses as shown on the citywide Assessment Roll in the Assessor's Office, and to any person who has requested such notice. Such notice shall also be published at least once in an official newspaper of general circulation at least 10 days prior to the date of the hearing. The notice shall state that the written recommendation of the Director of Planning regarding design modifications to the project and regarding any requests for exceptions is available for public review at the office of the Planning Department.
(3) Director's Recommendations on Modifications and Exceptions. At the hearing, the Director of Planning shall review for the Commission key urban design issues related to the project based on the design review pursuant to Subsection (a) and recommend to the Commission modifications to the project and conditions for approval as necessary. The Director shall also make recommendations to the Commission on any proposed exceptions pursuant to Subsection (b).
(4) Decision and Imposition of Conditions. The Commission may, after public hearing and, after making appropriate findings, approve, disapprove or approve subject to conditions, the project and any applications for exception. In addition to the requirements set forth in this Code, additional requirements, modifications, and limitations may be imposed on a proposed project, through the imposition of conditions, in order to achieve the objectives and policies of the General Plan or the purposes of this Code, including any modifications recommended by the Planning Director arising from design review. If pursuant to the provisions of this Section, the Planning Commission determines that conditions should be imposed on the approval of a building or site permit application or an application for exceptions to conform the building to the standards and intent of the Rincon Hill Plan and other elements of the General Plan and the applicant agrees to comply, the Commission may approve the application subject to those conditions.
(5) Appeal. The decision of the Planning Commission on the granting of any exceptions pursuant to Subsection (b) may be appealed to the Board of Appeals by any person aggrieved within 15 days after the date of the decision by filing a written notice of appeal with that body, setting forth wherein it is alleged that there was an error in the interpretation of the provisions of this Code or abuse of discretion on the part of the Planning Commission.
(6) Decision on Appeal. Upon the hearing of an appeal, the Board of Appeals may, subject to the same limitations as are placed on the Planning Commission by Charter or by this Code, approve, disapprove or modify the decision appealed from the Planning Commission. If the determination of the Board differs from that of the Commission it shall, in a written decision, specify the error in interpretation or abuse of discretion on the part of the Commission and shall specify in the findings, as part of the written decision, the facts relied upon in arriving at its determination.
(7) Discretionary Review. No requests for discretionary review, other than through the procedures set forth in this Subsection, shall be accepted by the Planning Department or heard by the Planning Commission for permits in a DTR district.
(d) Change of Conditions. Authorization of a change in any condition previously imposed pursuant to this Section shall require an application for a change in conditions, which application shall be subject to the procedures set forth in this Section.
(e) Unbuilt Tower Projects; Progress Requirement and Approval Revocation.
(1) Construction of any development in an "R" bulk district containing a building taller than 110 feet (herein referred to as a "tower project") shall commence within 24 months of the date the tower project is first approved by the Planning Commission or Board of Appeals pursuant to the provisions of this Section. For tower projects that contain more than one tower structure, each tower structure shall be considered as a separate phase of development, with a requirement for commencement of construction for each subsequent tower phase of 18 months beginning after the Certificate of Final Completion and Occupancy is issued on the previous tower phase. Failure to begin construction work within that period, or thereafter to carry the development diligently to completion, shall be grounds for the Planning Commission to revoke approval of the tower project or phase. Neither the Department of Public Works nor the Board of Appeals shall grant any extension of time inconsistent with the requirements of this Subsection (e)(1). For the purposes of this Subsection, "carry the development diligently to completion" shall mean continuous construction work without significant stoppage toward the completion of a tower structure beyond any site clearance, grading, excavation, or demolition of existing buildings on the project site.
(2) The Department of Building Inspection shall notify the Planning Department in writing of its approval for issuance and issuance of a site or building permit for any tower project and of the revocation, cancellation, or expiration of any such permit.
(3) At the first regularly scheduled Planning Commission meeting after the time period described in Subsection (e)(1) or this Subsection (e)(3) has elapsed for any tower project or tower phase, the Planning Commission shall hold a hearing requiring the tower project sponsor to report on the construction progress of the subject tower project or phase. If the Commission finds that the tower project or phase does not meet the progress requirement of Subsection (e)(1), the Commission may revoke or extend, up to a maximum of 12 months for each extension, the approvals for the tower project or phase.
(4) Appeals of Planning Commission decisions pursuant to this Subsection (e) shall be conducted pursuant to the procedures of Subsections (c)(5) and (c)(6).