Rachel Gordon, Chronicle Staff Writer Wednesday, May 5, 2010
The 52-year-old Masonic Center is located in one of San Francisco's most storied neighborhoods, shared by Grace Cathedral and Huntington Park.
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night approved plans to turn the Masonic Center on Nob Hill into a contemporary entertainment hall and allow more live evening shows, but not before imposing a series of new conditions to further address the neighbors' concerns about crime, noise and traffic.
At the request of Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, the maximum number of evening events allowed each year was pared back to 85, from the 95 approved by the city Planning Commission, but considerably more than the approximately 50 events that now take place.
The allowable capacity also was knocked back to 3,300 - roughly the same as now exists and 200 fewer than the Planning Commission had approved.
Supervisors backed additional mandates requiring venue operator Live Nation to reduce the number of late-night events and to get police to sign off on security plans for events that have had security problems in the past.
In all, 15 new conditions were added to the more than three dozen imposed by the Planning Commission last month. Those focused on such issues as trash pickup, truck deliveries and limits on alcohol sales, some of which were negotiated with neighbors to help blunt opposition.
"From my perspective, the best outcome that we have here is likely one that doesn't make anyone completely happy, but allows us to move forward with a win-win situation," said Chiu, whose district includes the Masonic auditorium.
Live Nation can live with the added conditions, said Lee Smith, the company's chairman for Northern California.
The board vote was 10-1, with Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier opposed.
The protracted land-use battle landed before the Board of Supervisors on an appeal by Nob Hill neighbors after the Planning Commission approved the controversial plan last month.
Despite the board's action Tuesday after a nearly four-hour hearing in which dozens of people from both sides testified, the fight is not over.
Opponents have already filed suit in Superior Court. They argue that the project warrants an environmental impact report, which supervisors and planners determined isn't needed.
Behind the plan are the Masons, who own the auditorium at California and Taylor streets, and Live Nation, which has managed the auditorium for the past 16 months but wants to ramp up use and update the facility to compete with other midsize settings, such as Oakland's Fox Theater. No changes would be made to the exterior of the 52-year-old building, located in the heart of one of San Francisco's most storied neighborhoods shared by Huntington Park, Grace Cathedral, the Mark Hopkins InterContinental and Fairmont hotels and some of the ritziest private housing in the city.