Like many cities, SF asks fancy property developers to create "public spaces" in their buildings to make up for parks and other public sites they displace, and these are usually a joke, hidden away far in the buildings' depths and deliberately hidden from the public.
Now, a proposed amendment to the municipal code will allow those developers to do away with the pretense of public access altogether, by paying a nominal fee in lieu of creating these absurd "parks" within or atop their buildings.
While not widely publicized, over 12,000 square feet of public open space was constructed in the form of two sunny terraces off the fourth and sixth floors of the 31-story Intercontinental Hotel at 888 Howard Street, a condition of the development's approval and the result of a 1980s-era city policy which requires new South of Market commercial buildings to provide such privately owned public open spaces.
Next month, a proposed amendment could be adopted which would allow developers to pay an in lieu fee rather than provide any on-site public open space in their buildings.
And assuming the amendment will be adopted, the owners of the Intercontinental have requested a retroactive amendment to the conditions of their building's approval, an amendment which would allow the Intercontinental to privatize their two public terraces in exchange for a fee.