Why Did La Urbana Close, Anyway? (Or, why can’t online “journalists” do basic research?)

I’ve seen several times on a certain local news website claims that La Urbana’s closure was “sudden”, “mysterious”, or “unexplained”.

Reading about it yet again, it strikes your reluctant neighborhood activist that I hadn’t posted about it here, because I had basically gotten fed up with the situation and wasn’t involved in it anymore by that point, and so hadn’t given a thought to the site. But, since certain “journalists” apparently have difficulty getting to city hall and doing actual research, I thought I’d do them the public service of posting the facts here.

In August of 2016, the SF Planning Department ordered La Urbana to cease operating with their garage doors open, an illegal violation of San Francisco Planning Code Section 703.2(b)(2)(B) and Planning Code Section 703.5(a)(2), which require enclosed restaurant dining rooms to be soundproofed and for all noise to inaudible from outside the premises. (To those who wonder why some restaurants are allowed outdoor seating areas, such as the one at 4050 Meats right across the street from La Urbana, the answer is that the permitting process is different for unenclosed dining. The Planning Department had earlier determined that La Urbana’s garage barroom constituted an “enclosed” space. “Unenclosed” dining areas require a public comment period before granting a conditional use permit, which wasn’t required for La Urbana’s garage bar.)

For the research-impaired journalists among you, here are the relevant excerpts from those ordinances:

SF Planning Code Section 703.2(b)(2)(B): No use, even though listed as a permitted use, shall be permitted in a Neighborhood Commercial District which, by reason of its nature or manner of operation, creates conditions that are hazardous, noxious, or offensive through the emission of odor, fumes, smoke, cinders, dust, gas, vibration, glare, refuse, water-carried waste, or excessive noise.

SF Planning Code Section 703.5(a)(2): When located within an enclosed space, the premises shall be adequately soundproofed or insulated for noise

La Urbana repeatedly refused to obey the Planning Department’s orders, and on September 29, Planning issued them a Notice of Violation for operating with their garage doors open, instituting fines of $250/day for every day they didn’t comply:

Notice of Violation - 661 Divisadero Street - 2016-009661ENF

my precious

A PDF of the full Notice of Violation is available here.

In an appeal hearing on November 2, Zoning Administrator Scott Sanchez ordered La Urbana to hire an acoustical consultant to give them a cost estimate for measures to soundproof the garage.

On November 13, La Urbana shut down.

You figure it out. Some “mystery”.

Why they didn’t just shut the garage doors, I have no idea.



As an afterword, the Planning Department has expressed to local residents their active interest in making sure that future uses of the property do not include a nightly illegal open-air screaming clusterfuck. Further discussions between neighbors, the Planning Department, the realtors, and the owner’s representatives have already taken place.

About Author: GroveResidents.org
A community point of contact for issues & discussions related to the rights of tenants and homeowners on and around Grove Street in the Popeye's Gulch neighborhood of San Francisco, CA