In our 'We Shall Overcome, Overthrow and Prevail' (Sept 20th) posting, we mentioned that the building was listed as a historical place over the summer and we faced a challenge involving the exterior façade.
First thing on Monday we went to City of San Francisco's Planning Department, along with an ASL interpreter, to plead for keeping the existing exterior facade. We explained our case - that we signed the lease in July and didn't plan on any changes to the exterior facade except replacing existing doors to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which was okay with us. It was the new doors that prompted us to select the Stefano Ferrara oven. We didn't plan on replacing the existing windows, except to repaint it from white to black to be consistent with the overall color scheme.
Ozzie at the Planning Department thought it over carefully, and told us she didn't see any reason why she should reject our proposal as the windows were already there, untouched. We quietly thought to ourselves, yeah yeah!!! Ozzie was very helpful. We were afraid, however, to jump to conclusion and end up being told we had to change the windows. We needed to go to several stations within the department before obtaining final approval on our proposal.
The Planning department verified, yes we could keep the existing windows. Then we paid a visit to Plan Review department on the 5th floor and Max at Plan Review agreed with our reasons, and put his seal of approval. Yes!! We still had several departments to go, and prayed that the rest of them had their own Ozzie and Max versions.
At the Building department, we reasoned with the guy behind the desk about keeping the existing windows. The guy reviewed the blue prints and hesitated. We looked at each other and in our minds, "oh no". He asked his supervisor to reexamine the blueprints. Some necessary information was missing so they couldn't approve the blueprints. This meant we could not proceed to other stations as we needed their approval first before moving on. Dang!
We went back to the Building department the next day with additional information on the blueprints. As I stepped in the Building department, I told myself that today was a brand new day and to please, please allow us to keep the existing windows.
We were called in and met a different guy at the counter. He glanced over, and said he had reviewed the original blue prints and was already familiar with our plans. He approved it. YES! Now we were brought to Mechanical department and the guy was very nice. He browsed through the pages and asked us that the windows were the only things that we wanted to keep. We told him yes and he didn't see any problem with that then put his seal of approval. YEAH! One More to Go! We walked into Fire department and waited for our turn to see the guy. We got called and the guy took his time reading through the original blue prints and new blue prints. The guy said the person who stamped the approval on the original blue prints was very new to the department and that guy wanted to review the new person's work. Inside my mind, why ME?? Please please tell me everything looks good. He took his pencil out and calculated the measurements (double checking the calculations on blue prints).
We waited patiently and kept thinking please please no more changes. He paused for a short while then looked up at us saying yeah that new person did an alright job. Wait, does that mean you approved the new proposal? The guy said Yes. It was a huge sign of relief!! We signed "THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!" to him. We made our way to the Payment department and even though we are keeping the same windows, we still have to pay the permit fee for that. Irony, is it? Nevertheless, we are so happy that keeping the existing windows saved us several thousand dollars and TIME. WHEW!!!
Up next is the chimney situation…the battle is not over.