I understand the need of a planning department to enforce safety codes, plan large construction like the Salesforce tower and make traffic decisions. But every discussion I heard that day was a planner making completely subjective decisions that, in my mind, shouldn't be anybody's business but the building owner. No wonder we have problems building enough housing when so much effort is exerted dealing with such minor design decisions.
the racist Supreme Court under former President Taft
I was disappointed recently when I found out they had shut their doors permanently. I was surprised too, because they always seemed to be busy. Apparently, they had an ongoing dispute with the zoning department over whether they were a "cafe/restaurant" or "office".
It's a pity in this case because I really liked Workshop Cafe. I worked nearby and when we went by it felt like any other cafe, though a bit quieter. Also, the area right outside it was very pleasant for it having been there. This is definitely a loss for the feeling of that corner.
It’s also a way to concentrate traffic where there’s infrastructure to support it, and limit it where there isn’t.
Proponents would say that that a good central plan adds value more value to the city as a whole than it costs in local inefficiencies.
All they were asking was for 2/3rds of the space to be available to the public.
They could have made 1/3 reservable. They could have charged for wifi in the other 2/3rds or came up with other ideas.
It isn't a micromanage, it is the intended feature of zoning.
> A good analogy for this principal is a movie theatre. Customers must buy a ticket to enter (i.e. reserve space), and the principal use is the movie theatre. Customers may purchase food and beverages in the theatre, and may consume them in the actual theatres. Such food and beverage sales often outpace actual ticket sales. However, the Planning Code does not consider a movie theatre to be a restaurant simply because its customers may, and often do, purchase food and drink that is prepared on-site.
(principal is your pal)
Not really surprised the zoning department ruled it was co-working space vs a cafe:
I wonder if this is a bit of a perception is 9/10ths of reality thing where the fact that the furniture looks too "office like" with the separated meeting table with an wall hung TV and other office-feel things; rather than cafe-like with exposed wood and pipes, Edison bulbs, copper stuff, monitors that are built into an enclosure instead of free standing, etc. the bureaucrats found a probably already biased/influenced position and finding easier to rationalize.
I know that may seem silly to some, but if you have ever worked with or in a bureaucratic and especially a political office, you will surely know what I mean when I am describing the use of any and all excuses and tiniest little reasons to rationalize a preconceived or forgone conclusion. It's really a major scourge on every single aspect of government and leads to these kinds of decisions.
My theory is that it largely stems from the fact that bureaucrats, including most politicians these days, simply have no real accountability or consequences for their actions and decisions, so some tiny technical violation can invalidate everything else on precept.
A true cafe doesn't charge you an hourly seating price. Its somewhat a grey area though as a cafe might have an `order` minimum/hour or kick someone out who hasn't bought something recently.
If you're spending more than a half hour at a coffee shop, you're there to work. You're playing this game where you're trying to figure out whether you've bought enough coffee not to look like a complete mooch. You're also hoping the free Wi-Fi is up and working, and that nothing is going to happen that will disrupt the work you're doing.
Workshop offered a great cafe menu, but most importantly offered assurances around seating, quiet spaces, and high-quality Wi-Fi. It was a hybrid model, and one I don't think there are decent laws established for them. This is a bummer, and probably a bad application of by-the-book zoning in a city where those same laws are being used to prevent way more important things like improved housing density.
But that's SF for you, I guess.
On a side note, I’m surprised you are calling out the right wing for being anti virtue signaling. In my opinion, people who name themselves the Moral Majority are the biggest virtue signallers of them all.
On a side note, trying to put a label into one or two buckets is very short sighted.
Nicotine is addictive, last I checked a carcinogen in its own right (even if better for you than other cigarette additives), and there are reports that an entire generation is starting life addicted to it more than any previous generation. So if I think that's concerning, I am just trying to signal my virtue?
Can't be that I came to be concerned about either case for good reasons.
What I see a lot of on the internet lately is that people become unable to argue points like this and pull out the "virtue signalling" label when backed into a corner. Or like you I guess, you decide to mock "virtue signalling" without understanding how a person comes to these opinions in good faith.
If you want to reduce plastic consumption, just don't use it. But I bet you use a phone, computer, desk, eye glasses, wallet, clothing, etc., all made from the environmental destroying resource.
If you don't like addictive carcinogens, don't take them. Or is it your job to save humanity by banning it for everyone, or people of a certain age?
I have plenty of concerns, but I don't dare force them on the masses because of my own efforts of good faith. Change starts with you.
But here's a question... if plastic and nicotine and maybe other things like alcohol are so bad, why not just outright ban them (prohibited) instead of just limited to reduced consumption? It's b.s. legislation meant to signal virtue to the constituents. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
It is a lazy ad hominem
What's more surprising to me is that an area zoned for retail restaurants is not zoned for office use. I see shop fronts in strip malls converted to ad-hoc office space all the time.
I assume this is a zooming regulation specific to SF? What would be the rationale behind it?
I can understand restricting retail use in areas otherwise zoned commercial if the area can't support traffic from, or doesn't have enough amenities for, the general public.
But what impact would an office have on a neighborhood that a restaurant wouldn't?
Preventing tech converting all the retail and restaurant space to offices.
For what it's worth, reading the appeal reminds me why its worth paying a high dollar real-estate lawyer who deals with the planning department all the time. The Cafe's appeal didn't address the basis of the complaint: supplemental versus primary use in terms of floor area. Basically, there was no basis for overturning the zoning official's determination because the appeal did not address the basis for the zoning official's determination.
Most permits go through anyway, because the Commission chooses not to involve itself in everything, but every permit can be appealed with an application for Discretionary Review.
From my experience as a planner and subsequent experience as an architect, I infer that the discretionary review process tends to prevent injunctive delays via the courts. Conclusion of the quasi judicial discretionary review process exhausts due process while direct decision by the board makes overturn by a court highly unlikely because the board has statutory authority to make the decision to issue the permit. From a project development standpoint, the timeline is predictable so long as it accounts for the discretionary review process. If discretionary review doesn’t happen then the project will be ahead of schedule.
To put it another way, discretionary review tends to benefit professionals but will tend to upset those attending their first rodeo. As I mentioned elsewhere it’s often worth hiring a local real estate attorney experienced at working with the planning department.
If you're looking for a way to get involved, letting the mayor know your thoughts about this might be a good start.
Can someone who has been to both and has differing opinions about them share how they differ?
I worked out of both WeWork shared space and at Workshop Cafe.
At WeWork you pay $350 per month (price varies) and get access to a shared space that is arranged like an open office (shared tables / desks). This is for the lowest plan, you can get dedicated office for more money.
Workshop Cafe is (was) arranged like a coffee shop, but with more seats. You pay per hour (forgot how much, but not much) for access to a dedicated table / desk. They have a better wi-fi than most coffee shops and they have outlets at each table.
It's also a coffee shop (you can buy coffee, tea, basic food).
They were both great for what they were offering.
It'd stop if it weren't profitable.