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Ronen pushes ‘amnesty’ for Mission building zoning violations

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Roughly 100 vendors in one 18th Street building face ouster

Photo via Google

On Tuesday, Supervisor Hillary Ronen proposed what she calls an “amnesty” measure for nearly 100 outlets facing removal from a single building on 18th Street over zoning violations, arguing that businesses in the ActivSpace building should be spared for the sake of the neighborhood.

Seattle-based ActivSpace leases to “small business owners, entrepreneurs, craftspeople, [and] artists” in Seattle, Portland, Berkeley, and a space at 3150 18th Street in the Mission.

In January, the Department of Public Health warned massage therapists, acupuncture clinics, and tattoo artists in the building that ActivSpace was not zoned for such businesses and asked them to vacate within 40 days.

Mission Local notes that, although ActivSpace has been active in the space for a decade, in 2017 the city changed zoning rules around massage outlets in an effort to drive out shady sex-work scams posing as spas.

That puts ActivSpace’s clients on the wrong side of the rules governing PDR—i.e., production, distribution, and repair—zoning.

Introducing her amnesty measure, Ronen said that “closing nearly 100 small businesses on the same block, all at once, would be an economic crisis for the Mission,” noting that the violating businesses are “very small, owner-operated enterprises, and most of them are health and personal services.”

Under the supervisor’s legislation, renters in the building would be designated “legal nonconforming use” and exempt from penalty or eviction on zoning grounds.

Businesses hoping to stay in the building will have to obtain permits from the Department of Public Health. Paperwork is due within 30 days to be spared the ax.

Ronen’s amnesty measure will have to go through committee and several votes before the March 3 deadline.

ActivSpace’s website now warns, “We can no longer lease space to massage therapists due to zoning usage restrictions.”