The Elbo Room, located at 647 Valencia Street, will soon be closing its doors. Photo by Meira Gebel.

Condo owners living near what’s now the Elbo Room have filed a request for Discretionary Review of condos slated to be built on top of the bar, concerned that the new construction would cast too much shadow on their rear yard, come too close to the property line, and threaten a Significant Tree.

The latter is defined as a tree that is within “10 feet of the public right-of-way” and also either 20 feet or greater in height, 15 feet or greater canopy width, 12 inches or greater diameter of trunk measured at 4.5 feet above grade.

“These trees are granted the same protections as street trees,” according to the city’s website. “and a permit is required before any significant tree can be removed.” Neighbors apparently want this one protected.

The project sponsors, in correspondence attached to the review request, argue that they are limited by the city’s designation of the Elbo Room building as historic. The latter requires that the condos be set back 15 feet from Valencia Street and make it tricky for the architect to accommodate the neighbors’ desires for  a more generous rear yard. They agreed to other requests including one to make the rear windows translucent to block the new residents’ views into the condo owners’ bedrooms.

Months of negotiation between the neighbors and the project sponsors have now led to a Discretionary Review request. This means the project will need to go before the Planning Commission, which will subject the design to additional scrutiny and may request design changes. With the Commission’s ever-full calendar, that could add months onto the project’s timeline.

Dennis Ring and Susan Rokisky-Ring, the property owners, have told neighbors that they plan to move into one of the condos to retire. Originally, their plans called for razing the Elbo Room building and building nine units of housing. Plans for the building were downsized to seven units to accommodate the existing facade of the bar, which for many years was the popular lesbian bar Amelia’s.  The Elbo Room has a lease through 2018 and is likely to relocate.

View from Valencia Street of the proposed development at 645 Valencia St. Design by Kerman Morris Architects.

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