Protecting Industrial Uses in a Tech Bubble

Monday, May 8, 2017 | 9 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.
CM | 1.25
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You'll learn about:

  • How the intentions of certain zoning codes and regulations cannot accurately match up to new and upcoming businesses 
  • Examples of hybrid businesses and how they do not neatly fit into existing land-use categories
  • Why new hybrid businesses do not necessarily need to be separated from sensitive receptors or need such large buildings 
  • Modern tools and machinery used for design and manufacturing

In 2008, at the height of the recession, San Francisco rezoned the eastern end of the city. This added a number of areas permitting housing, office, and designated industrial areas to be protected—areas known as PDR (production, distribution, and repair) districts. PDR districts permit and preserve land for industrial and arts uses while creating buffers between traditional noisy industrial uses (like heavy machinery) and quieter businesses/residential areas.  

Now, almost 10 years later, the “tech boom” has brought a significant number of start-up businesses to San Francisco seeking office space, and the city is now under extreme pressure for resources, including office space. In 2015, the city's Planning Department received more than 100 complaints regarding illegal office conversions from single-family dwellings to industrial warehouses.  This avalanche of complaints has led to a number of eye-opening discoveries, including the amount of industrial spaces lost in PDR districts, the blurring of tech and manufacturing, and gaps in the permitting process. This presentation will address the following questions and topics: What if these PDR industries really don’t exist anymore? Are we protecting nostalgic memories for businesses that are no longer viable? Is PDR enforcement swimming against the tide? If these businesses change so often, how do we enforce/monitor PDRs?


Dario Jones , San Francisco Planning Department , Oakland , CA
Laura Lynch , City & County of San Francisco , San Francisco , CA (see bio)
Christine Haw , City of San Fransisco , San Francisco , CA (see bio)
John Rahaim , San Francisco Planning , San Francisco , CA (see bio)