Building windows

David Cincotta, JMBM land use lawyer, obtains approval for first major project under San Francisco’s “Market & Octavia Plan”

JMBM government and land use attorney David Cincotta navigated a new high rise development through the minefields of the permit approval process for the recently-adopted Market & Octavia Plan in San Francisco. After considerable opposition and appeals from both labor unions and local neighborhood groups, the Board of Supervisors rejected all appeals in November and the project may now move forward.

The Market & Buchanan project will include approximately 108 condos (15% of which are designated as affordable housing), three ground floor commercial spaces, and parking. The unique building, designed by Bernardo Fort-Brescia of Arquitectonica, will replace a shuttered gas station.

Following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the Central Freeway that had sliced through the Market & Octavia neighborhood was removed, opening up the surrounding landscape. Residents became even more concerned that the unique elements of their neighborhood remained intact, and the following two decades were marked by ongoing battles over growth.

After seven years of planning, the Market & Octavia Plan was adopted by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in May 2008. It includes the general area within a short walking distance of Market Street between the Van Ness Avenue and Church Street Muni stations, and along the new Octavia Boulevard which was developed on the former Central Freeway right-of-way.

As the first major development to be approved under the Plan, the Market & Buchanan project was considered by some to be the “test case” for the new Plan and received a high level of scrutiny from the Planning Department and local neighbors. After many volatile community meetings, an exciting design was finally agreed upon by the developer, the Planning Department and neighborhood leaders. An appeal of the environmental review process by the S. F. Building Trades Council was another road block along the way.

“We understood the political process that created the plan; we knew the actual details of the plan, and we were able to maximize the development while responding to the neighborhood’s concerns,” said Cincotta.
Acknowledging that it is a difficult time to overcome the controversies and pitfalls involved in gaining approval for a new development, Cincotta said that having savvy and experienced members on his team was key to its success. “With a smart, sensitive client as the developer and an internationally-renowned talent as the architect, the final design was truly a better project as a result of the creativity of everyone involved.”

The project will break ground in Spring or Summer of 2010, after the site undergoes environmental remediation.

JMBM Government, Land Use and Environmental lawyer, David Cincotta, is based in the Firm’s San Francisco office. He specializes in obtaining land use entitlements for large commercial, mixed-use and residential developments in San Francisco and throughout Northern California. For more information, contact David at 415.984.9687 or

To view a PDF of this article, click here.
To see the complete Development Rights Winter 2010 Newsletter, click here.