Lawsuit filed challenging San Francisco’s new Central SoMa zoning plan

A nonprofit housing group has filed the first of what is expected to be several lawsuits challenging the rezoning of San Francisco’s Central South of Market area, suits that could significantly delay the development of more than 6 million square feet of office space and thousands of housing units.

In the lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court on Monday, the Yerba Buena Neighborhood Consortium, the legal arm of the affordable housing group Todco, argues that the plan’s environmental study was inadequate because it didn’t take into account the impact the neighborhood changes would have on public services such as police, fire and recreation…

The deadline for filing a legal challenge to the plan’s environmental study is Thursday, and as many as three other lawsuits could be coming…

Even if there were no lawsuits, the realities of the time required for approvals and permitting in San Francisco means it’s unlikely that any construction would start before 2020. Elberling added that delays beyond that could be avoided if the city agrees to community demands.

“It’s up to the city. If the city wanted to work with us and address the problems, it would be finished this year,” he said. “If we resolve the problems this year, we could drop our lawsuit.”… (more)

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In 2018, San Francisco made choices. In 2019, we’ll deal with them.

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

It’s difficult to come up with a valediction for 2018, an overstuffed year that was to San Francisco political developments what Buca di Beppo is to portion size and sensible interior decor.

n short, there was so much loaded onto our plates that, by the time we were halfway through with one course, we’d forgotten what came only just before. There was just too much to get through; it left us all feeling a bit sick…

We made our decisions. In the coming year, for good or ill, we will live with them…

The board of supervisors likely hasn’t had this much potential leverage and power since 2001, following a progressive sweep of Mayor Willie Brown’s handpicked slate. It remains to be seen how this board will govern and what issues our legislators will take up, but this much seems clear — a majority of them owe Mayor Breed nothing…(more)

SF to developer who tore down landmark house: Rebuild it exactly as it was

By : sfchronicle – excerpt

A property owner who illegally demolished a 1936 Twin Peaks house designed by a renowned modernist must rebuild an exact replica of the home rather than the much larger structure the property owner had proposed replacing it with, the City Planning Commission ruled this week.

In a unanimous 5-0 vote late Thursday night, the commission also ordered that the property owner — Ross Johnston, through his 49 Hopkins LLC — include a sidewalk plaque telling the story of the original house designed by architect Richard Neutra, the demolition and the replica…

The case attracted attention because Neutra is considered one of the most important modern architects and because it highlighted the trend of speculators illegally razing modest homes with the intention of replacing them with mega-homes…

The decision comes a few days after Supervisor Aaron Peskin introduced legislation designed to crack down on illegal demolitions. That bill, the Housing Preservation and Expansion Reform Act, increases fines for illegal demolitions and requires a conditional use authorization for any home expansion that increases the square footage by more than 10 percent.

Peskin said that he was “very impressed” by the Planning Commission’s vote.

“The fact that it was a unanimous vote should send a message to everyone that is playing fast and loose that the game is over,” said Peskin… (more)

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Man Who Demolished Landmark House Ordered to Build Replica (with images)

SF keeps losing affordable housing

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Plus: The future of a municipal bank, Free City College forever .. and look at which public officials are supporting the Yimbys. That’s The Agenda for Dec. 9-16

The latest Housing Balance Report comes before the Board of Supes Land Use and Transportation Committee Monday/10 and the news is as bleak as ever: In the past ten years, San Francisco has built 6,577 affordable housing units – and lost 4,263, mostly to evictions and Tenancy in Common conversions.

That means every time the city creates two affordable units, it loses one…

The report, which you can read here, is just the latest evidence of the failure of city housing policy. San Francisco is, of course, limited by state law – the city can’t ban Ellis Act evictions or impose rent controls on vacant apartments. Instead of fighting to change those things, our state legislators are pushing to mandate more market-rate housing… (more)

Trauss Trounced in YIMBY Litmus Test

By Ida Mojadad : sfweekly – excerpt

“If you want to build a movement, you have to include everyone,” said Matt Haney, who overwhelmingly won the seat of District 6 supervisor, of YIMBYs.

Sonja Trauss, the face of the YIMBY Action, handily lost the election to become District 6 supervisors on Tuesday after more than a year of vying to enact aggressive pro-development policies in City Hall.

Despite what some political insiders surmised at the establishment-heavy John’s Grill Election Day luncheon, Trauss did not win in a squeaker — far from it. With full-throated support from her fellow YIMBYs for more than a year of her campaign, Trauss captured just over 2,500 votes, or nearly 18 percent as of Wednesday afternoon….

Until the sentiment that YIMBYs are of the people, by the people takes hold in District 6, Trauss ought not to be so surprised by the abysmal results.. (more)

Trash plan confuses SF supes, so they give themselves more time to digest it

By : sfchronicle – excerpt

A number of last minute amendments to complicated waste management legislation held up the Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance Committee for about three hours Thursday as the members tried to understand what was before them… (more)

Here we have a bad idea generating confusing over a confusing problem. Trash is really simple. The more humans and animals you have, the more trash you generate. Now that China is cutting us out of their recycle business, we have a lot more trash to deal with. The solution to less trash is less humans and animals.

 

Canary in a Coal Mine

brisbane411 – excerpt

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For the first time in our state’s history, state legislators are threatening to pass targeted legislation to strip a single city of its authority over its own land. This is not just a threat to the City of Brisbane. It’s a threat to every city in California. Brisbane is the canary in the coal mine.

State legislators hijacked the public review process for a proposed mixed-use development on the Brisbane Baylands. Their highly questionable rationale for taking this drastic action is the contention even little cities are responsible for the crisis in affordable housing. In fact, corporate job creations, State policies, income inequality, and builders focused on the high end of housing construction are more responsible. Small communities like Brisbane have not been responsible for any of these phenomena. In fact, Brisbane has supported a high rate of housing development. Its reluctance to move rapidly on development in the Baylands has to do with the land itself – its status as an unregulated, unremediated contaminated landfill.

However, when the Taiwanese landowner/developer decided that Brisbane wasn’t moving fast enough or might not approve all the planned housing (triple the amount of the total housing units currently in Brisbane), it orchestrated a media campaign that falsely claimed that Brisbane was planning to build a huge commercial development without any housing. Legislators trying to enhance their reputations on the housing issue used the fabricated Brisbane story and crafted targeted legislation that was used to threaten the Brisbane City Council to change its General Plan, before the deliberations were complete, or be forced by this legislation to rubber stamp the developer’s project with minimal oversight.

The 660-acre “Baylands” was originally part of San Francisco Bay. Southern Pacific and San Francisco filled it in for their needs, railroad equipment maintenance and garbage dumping. Consequently, the landfill has 3 former Superfund sites that, to date, have not been remediated. Some of the many adverse environmental impacts called out in the EIR include serious health and safety risks from the highly toxic landfill, the unstable land that is a liquefaction zone between two major earthquake faults, no contracted water resources, severe traffic congestion from a lack of funding for roads or public transportation, the lack of sufficient resources to provide required public services such as fire, police and public works infrastructure and ongoing maintenance, and more.

Our neighborhoods look and feel the way they do because local leaders are empowered to make decisions that serve the best interests of the people who live there. When our right to determine our future is taken away, a core part of our democracy goes with it. Yet, there’s something more insidious at play here.

Remove all local planning controls and you open up historically low-income neighborhoods to gentrifying development at market rates. Entire communities are displaced. State legislators, beneficiaries of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from developers, are all too eager to repay their donors in kind.

The proposed legislation that eviscerates Brisbane’s right to self-governance is the logical endpoint of a state government committed to development at all costs. California law requires local jurisdictions to have General Plans that focus on sustainability, healthy communities, and quality of life. The proposed legislation disregards all three. Never have we seen a land grab this blatant or this bold.

What happens in Brisbane will be repeated in cities across the state. Strip our local government of its power and you’ve taken away our voice. Take the canary out of the coal mine and there’s no warning for what comes next… (more)

Read the proposed legislation here.

Brisbane is a small community just south of San Francisco, where the Global Climate Action Summit is taking place. Citizens of both cities have tried for decades to warn about the contaminated land at Hunter’ Point, Brisbane Baylands, and other areas around the bay where soil from the contaminated area was moved prior to proper testing.

Some studies unveiled at the Global Climate Action Summit do not support the state’s current plan to build dense housing on contaminated land at sea level. We could see some shifts in attitudes in Sacramento as voters go to the polls in November. We the story below and comment on the source.

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