Proposed 5-story condo would cast shadow over Zeitgeist's beer garden

- The owners of a landmark bar in San Francisco's Mission District say the construction of a proposed five-story condo building with commercial ground space would scare customers away.

Patrons of Zeitgeist Bar, which recently acquired "legacy business" status, say a new nearby development would "steal their sunshine."

With more 60 beers on tap, Zeitgeist, on the corner of Valencia and Duboce, has been a draw for beer lovers for 40 years.

"This backyard is fantastic," said Jordan LaMarshe, "Besides going to the park, it's one of the few places in the city you can hang out in."

But a proposed five-story building would literally cast a shadow over the typically sun-drenched beer garden, threatening the bar's bottom line.

"The shadow would cast across our beer garden during our happy hour and we would not receive the same amount of sun between March and October which is our peak season," said Angela Scott, with Zeitgeist.

Owners worry that a sun-less beer garden will translate to chilly customers who may choose to sip their brew elsewhere.
Reporter: "Would you not come here?"
Jordan LaMarshe: "Probably not."
Laura Szatkowski is a regular who sat in a sunny patch today to enjoy a beer. She said the Mission is known for its sun and without it, she and her boyfriend might chose to go to another bar.

"It does get pretty cold really early in the winter," she said, "so I think not having any sunlight would affect that... it would affect our decision."
Bar managers said that without the sun, the Zeitgiest would most likely experience a 30 percent drop in sales.

At Oil Changers, an oil change outfit across the street where the proposed building would go, workers are on edge.

"I would lose my job," said a man named Pete, who did not want to use his full name or show his face on camera. He told KTVU that he worried that the site has been contaminated by the oil underground. "It would take a lot of years to get cleaned up," said Pete.

Zeitgeist bar owners say don't want to stop the development but they'd like the developer to consider a less stories in the building or a re-design to create a less aggressive shadow.

"They have been unwilling to discuss compromise," said Scott.

The 198 Valencia project would provide 28 units of housing and was granted a Market and Octavia Plan-based exemption from a full environmental review this summer.

Although the development has been in the works since 2013, Zeitgeist owners say they only learned about the impact the shadow would have thanks to a recent shadow analysis completed in accordance with San Francisco's Prop K or the "Sunshine Ordinance."

The law restricts buildings that cast shadows on public spaces such as parks. Zeitgeist is adjacent to SoMa West Dog Park.

Zeitgeist's owners have filed for a discretionary review hearing of the project which will be held at City Hall January 12th. KTVU reached out to the developer and the City's Planning Department but had not heard back as of airtime of this story.

Zeitgiest owners say they simply want their workers to keep their jobs and for patrons to continue to socialize and drink on the sunny side of the street. They say they understand that the city needs housing and that the developer is invested in his project, but they say the city needs to understand what their business offers to the community and to the people who will ultimately live in the condos.

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