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Neighborhood Appeals Process: No More "Shakedowns"?

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Yesterday the Chron reported that the city's work to reform the increasingly contentious process known as "discretionary review" got discussion in a Board of Supes committee. Basically, as Curbed readers may already know, the process allows residents to appeal any private construction project in the neighborhood, bringing them before the Planning Commission to argue over various and sundry detrimental effects. The appeals are supposed to be for "extraordinary" circumstances, but apparently there are about 200 extraordinary circumstances in the city every year, a load that ends up costing the Planning Commission valuable time that could be better spent on "big-picture planning concerns." Complaints also center on "shakedowns": "There has been more than one instance we've heard of where it has been used by neighbors to get money from a person or project sponsor. ... 'Give me $20,000, and I won't file a DR' kind of thing." On the other hand, a discretionary review lawyer says it's not necessarily extortion. "Value is being taken away from someone's house, and they want to be made whole."
· Supes may reform process to appeal construction [SFGate]
· Planning Reform Means Neighbors Will Have to Make Nice [Curbed SF]
· Writing's on the Wall: End of Planning Shitshows [Curbed SF]