Developments in Development: Decisions and Limbo

By Laura Wenus : missionlocal – excerpt

The nuns have won! It only took 20,000 signatures and three hours of testimony from 20 or so people, but the Sisters of the Fraternite Notre Dame will open a soup kitchen on Mission Street near 16th Street. This has been a drama unfolding over the course of a year or so, which you can follow via Mission Local stories starting from a self-help mogul buying their space for them to the first rumblings of opposition to fears of blight.

More advances in feeding people (though in this case not for free): A reader reports construction is advancing swiftly at the Grocery Outlet planned for the former DeLano’s market on South Van Ness Avenue between 23rd and 24th streets. This was approved ages ago, but it seems things are getting underway.

On the other hand, the city seems to be going through a bit of indecision…

the city is considering the impact of big housing projects on their surroundings, and two of those big projects now have to wait for the city to do so…(more)

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Developer allies again try to take over Sierra Club

By Tim Redmond : sierraclub – excerpt

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For years, the San Francisco chapter of the Sierra Club has been part of a progressive environmental movement. The Club has worked on clean energy, better transit, and sustainable development – and has opposed giant, out-of-control projects like the Wall on the Waterfront. It’s worked with tenant advocates on affordable housing. The influential Club slate card typically endorses the same candidates as the Milk Club, the Tenants Union, and the Bay Guardian.

But for the past couple of years, developers and their allies have been trying to take over the chapter and change its politics. They want a more growth-friendly board that will support market-rate housing development and big commercial projects – and they want the club’s endorsement to go to developer-friendly candidates.

That would be a huge blow to progressive politics in San Francisco.

Last year, a pro-development slate of candidates was defeated after its controversial members attracted critical media scrutiny. But now a well-funded funded new organization, the YIMBY Party, is running a slate of stealth candidates for the club’s Executive Committee.

While the individual candidates have been vague about their “urbanist” agenda, their sponsoring organization promotes an explicit platform of weakening environmental controls on real-estate development in the city.

The YIMBY Party was formed this year by Sonja Trauss, who previously created the SF Bay Area Renter Federation (SF BARF).  Trauss and her cohort have a simple solution to the housing crisis: Build more luxury housing.  Last year, Trauss told 48 Hills:

          New housing is expensive, because it’s new, and SF has tons of rich people. It’s appropriate to build new, expensive housing for rich people in expensive neighborhoods. Sierra Club (and No wall on the waterfront) are just rich people using their political capital to block housing in their fancy neighborhoods.

Trauss, whose crazy comments about the Mission helped delay construction of a big project on South Van Ness, is not running for the Sierra Club leadership this year. Nor is her former colleague, Donald Dewsnup, who has been charged with voter fraud.  Instead, Trauss’s new YIMBY Party is running a slate of lesser-known allies who all recently joined the Sierra Club with the express purpose of taking over the local chapter…

The YIMBY effort to take over the local Sierra Club is being countered by a volunteer effort of club members who seek to protect the club’s independence and progressive record. If you’re a Sierra Club member, you can get more information here.

Voting for the Sierra Club’s officers ends December 16…(more)

Dense development is a developer’s wet dream. People who want to retain their privacy, and views, and build solar powered self-efficient homes prefer lower, less dense housing with shade free roofs.

Build your dense cities connected to desert-array power grid systems, on higher, more stable ground, up near route 5 so you can step off the train onto your bicycle and whiz home after your commute from LA or Sacramento.

San Francisco has a history and a reputation to maintain. People who don’t like it should go build their urban vision concept somewhere else and make a history of their own.

395 housing units, one of biggest projects in Potrero Hill, wins final approval

By : bizjournals – excerpt

A 395-unit housing project, one of the biggest ever proposed in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood, won final approval at the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday in a contentious three-hour hearing. Opposition to the project underscored continued backlash against development in the area, which has seen a building boom with over 3,000 units approved or in the pipeline following the 2009 Eastern Neighborhoods Plan.

The Board of Supervisors voted 9-1 to uphold the environmental review of the project, comprised of two buildings at 901 16th St. and 1200 17th St., from developers Walden Development and the Prado Group. The Board rejected an environmental appeal from neighbors of the project who opposed its size and also alleged that the city didn’t properly study the project’s environmental impacts on the community. The decision affirmed a previous Planning Commission approval of the project.

Opponents of the project said it would exacerbate overcrowded streets with new residents’ cars, demolish 109,000 square feet of existing existing light industrial space that could potentially house artists and damage views and open space.

“The environmental review for this project is inadequate and fails to accurate analyze cumulative impacts,” said Alison Heath, a local resident and member of community group Grow Potrero Responsibly, who appealed the project, at the hearing.

Heath noted that as of February, 3,315 units have been approved or in the pipeline in the Potrero Hill and Showplace Square areas, which is more than the 2009 Eastern Neighborhoods Plan anticipated. But city planners have previously said that the level of growth matches what the city expected. She called for the city to reconsider the plan and provide more resources for infrastructure, particularly transit expansion. Other nearby projects include Related California’s 299-unit 1601 Mariposa St., which is approved, and Equity Residential (NYSE: EQR)’s 1010 16th St., which is completed, as well as Equity’s One Henry Adams and 801 Brannan in the neighboring Design District… (more)

But Supervisor Aaron Peskin, the lone vote rejecting the project’s environmental review, criticized the city’s Planning Department for not fully studying the project’s impact on the area and said the department had to do better in assessing future projects.

The meeting was also marked by an unusual moment between the developer and Supervisor Malia Cohen, who represents Portrero Hill and had worked on the project’s review for years. Cohen was ultimately recused from the vote following an exchange with developer Josh Smith of Walden Development, where she called for more concessions to fund the nearby Jackson Park… (more)

Tape of the meeting is highly enlightening and slightly disturbing. http://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=10&clip_id=25889

http://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=10&clip_id=25889
Planning staff explains some things about the PDR reduction plans around (4:08:39)

Statement on the basis for rezoning PDR to UMU: is this what Peter is referring to?

“Let’s take it back to the Eastern Neighborhood Plan rezoning. Adopted in 2008, after 10 years of community conversation. The the basis of the plan was to protect industrial space, PDR. The zoning at the time was from the 1950’s. It was mushy. It allowed office as a right. It allowed housing as a right. It allowed (4:08:56 ???) housing as conditional use. It allowed retail as a right. And there was a ton of land use conflicts going on as land uses were moving next to each other and causing conflict.

We recognized the need to protect PDR jobs, blue collar jobs,. We recognized the need for housing and community benefits. And housing in concentrated areas that you could provide the transit and the parks and the child care in consolidated ways rather than disparately over a large area.

And so the Eastern Neighborhoods plan was that compromise. Half of the land that was zoned industrially became zoned PDR. Much more restrictive. No office was allowed. No retail was allowed. No housing was allowed. And the other half was approved as urban mixed use which isa neighborhood that allowed PDR, allowed some office, allowed retail, and allowed housing as of right for the first time, and also generated from the housing use a higher percentage of affordable housing than required elsewhere in the city, and also generated code benefits throughout the Eastern Neighborhoods benefit fee that was brand new of which we generate over 50 million dollars to date revenue that would not have been generated without the plan.”

RELATED: Many stories on this one, from Pokeman to serious.

Slip of the tongue: The art of squeezing developers for community benefits is nothing new in politics, especially when today’s hot real estate market gives elected officials leverage to extract cash for everything from affordable housing to parks…

395 housing units, one of biggest projects in Potrero Hill, wins final approval A 395-unit housing project, one of the biggest ever proposed in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood, won final approval at the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday in a contentious three-hour hearing. Opposition to the project underscored continued backlash against development in the area, which has seen a building boom with over 3,000 units approved or in the pipeline following the 2009 Eastern Neighborhoods Plan
Heath noted that as of February, 3,315 units have been approved or in the pipeline in the Potrero Hill and Showplace Square areas, which is more than the 2009 Eastern Neighborhoods Plan anticipated. But city planners have previously said that the level of growth matches what the city expected. She called for the city to reconsider the plan and provide more resources for infrastructure, particularly transit expansion. Other nearby projects include Related California’s 299-unit 1601 Mariposa St., which is approved, and Equity Residential (NYSE: EQR)’s 1010 16th St., which is completed, as well as Equity’s One Henry Adams and 801 Brannan in the neighboring Design District…

Pay-to-play comment costs supervisor vote on Potrero Hill development 

San Francisco Bay: $12 parcel tax for wetlands has big financial backers

By Paul Rogers : eastbaytimes – excerpt

When environmentalists wade into political contests, they’re almost always outspent by big business.

But that’s not the case with Measure AA, a $12 annual parcel tax that will appear on the June 7 ballot in all nine Bay Area counties to fund wetlands restoration and flood control projects around San Francisco Bay’s shoreline.

Environmental groups have linked arms with big business this time around, in essence becoming part of the Goliath in the David vs. Goliath contest. The coalition is overpowering anti-tax groups in fundraising by a huge margin, according to campaign spending reports released Friday.

Through last week, the Yes on AA campaign had raised $2.3 million, while opponents have not formed a campaign committee and are relying on volunteer efforts. The yes campaign has hired heavyweight political consultants, conducted professional polling, sent out glossy mailers and begun airing ads on every major Bay Area TV station.

If approved by two-thirds of all the voters in the nine counties combined, the new tax would raise $500 million over the next 20 years to build levees and restore thousands of acres of wetlands and tidal marshes as a buffer to storm surges and floods in every Bay Area county… (more)

We hear that the $12 parcel tax is the first tax the SF Bay Authority plans on and they need billions of dollars. There are plans for a sales tax increase, a 10 cent per gallon gas tax increase, higher car license fees, and a number of other taxes and fees this non-elected, non-government entity wants to extract out of us in the name of cleaning the bay over the next few years.

For this and many other reasons we oppose this tax and hope that other people realize the gentrification effects that increasing taxes have on the area. Most people focus only on the rising costs of housing but, housing is only one element of the gentrification problem. We are looking at 100s of dollars of increased fees and taxes over the next few years. The opposition to this tax wants to limit the number of bodies that can tax us.

Warriors Delay Arena Construction in Wake of Mission Bay Alliance Legal Action

by potreroview – excerpt

The Golden State Warriors will delay construction of their Mission Bay arena by at least a year, hoping to move to San Francisco by the fall of 2019, said Warriors chief operating officer Rick Welts last month in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News. Welts’ announcement came after the Mission Bay Alliance filed a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) suit against the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure (OCII) and the City and County of San Francisco in Sacramento Superior Court in early January.  The Alliance filed a separate suit against the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in Alameda Superior Court late last year.

In the CEQA suit, the Alliance argues that OCII, the City, and numerous municipal agencies, including the San Francisco Planning Department and Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA), violated CEQA and the Mission Bay South Redevelopment Plan by not considering other locations for the arena and responding poorly to traffic, air quality, and noise concerns. In the suit against UCSF, the Alliance asserts that Chancellor Sam Hawgood acted illegally in reaching an agreement with the Warriors to provide land to the team. According to the Alliance, Hawgood signed a contract without approval from the UC Board of Regents that’ll pose serious health and safety dangers to Bay Area residents(more)

Appeal challenges proposed Warriors arena in Mission Bay

by Laura Dudnick : sfexaminer – excerpt

he Mission Bay Alliance appears to be the undefeated Warriors’ toughest opponent this season, at least off the court.

The group, led by former UC San Francisco officials, filed an appeal with The City late Friday challenging the certification of the final environmental impact report for the team’s proposed project in Mission Bay, which includes an 18,000-seat arena, offices and open space at an 11-acre site at Third and 16th streets.

The appeal highlights numerous concerns with the project, namely that events at the arena will create traffic gridlock that won’t be eased by some $60 million in transit improvements planned for the area. The project site is located across the street from UCSF’s three new hospitals, and just south of AT&T Park and the San Francisco Police Department’s new headquarters.

“We are appealing a city committee’s rubber-stamp approval of a disastrous project that will gridlock city streets, pollute Mission Bay neighborhoods, cost the taxpayers millions and threaten live-saving emergency care,” Bruce Spaulding, a consultant for the Mission Bay Alliance, said in a statement.

City agencies have signed off on numerous stages of the project this month, including the certification of its final EIR by the Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure, the Planning Commission’s approval for the two six- to 11-story office buildings and 546 parking spaces also planned for the site, and the Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance Committee that unanimously supported sending the project to the full board next month… (more)

Supes will decide on giant waterfront and SoMa projects

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

And the role of Sup. Jane Kim in cutting a deal on one of them is raising all sorts of questions

NOVEMBER 16, 2015 – Major development projects in the heart of Soma and along the waterfront will come before the Board of Supervisors Tuesday/17, and there’s a storm brewing over the role Sup. Jane Kim played in cutting a deal with one of the building groups.

It’s possible that one or both projects could be decided by a narrow margin, meaning the outcome would be different if they were delayed even a few weeks until Aaron Peskin replaces Sup. Julie Christensen.

The simpler of the two in procedural terms is 75 Howard. It’s currently a parking garage, which can hardly be called the best use of the property. The developer, however, wants to put a 220-foot building on the site, all market-rate housing (of course) – and the appellants have a lot of issues, but the biggest one is that the city has consistently moved away from upzoning the waterfront. And this building is at Howard and Steuart, right off the Embarcadero, and would cast a significant shadow on Rincon Park.

The Planning Commission certified an Environmental Impact Report that relied on a traffic study using baseline data from five years ago – and one that, the appellants argue, is so far out of date that it can’t adequately address the impact of the project. Dave Osgood, who filed the appeal on behalf of the Rincon Point Neighbors Association, also notes that the EIR didn’t consider seriously whether the project could go forward at the existing building’s height because, the report says, that wouldn’t be financially feasible… (more)

According to the appeal:

The FEIR, however, has provided no evidence to support this assertion – the FEIR simply asserts that the alternative would not have “sufficient economic viability to warrant construction of such a building.” While the City is correct that economic feasibility is not required to be discussed in an EIR, where the EIR rejects an alternative on the basis of financial feasibility the EIR should include sufficient analysis to support that conclusion.

There’s no law that requires private developers on private land who get no city subsidies to make public their finances, but it’s worth talking about.

The other, much more complex, project is the massive complex planned for Fifth and Mission, sponsored in part by Hearst Corp., which owns the Chronicle. The plan involves more than 800,000 square feet of office space, which would mean about 3,200 new workers. (That’s assuming 250 square feet per employee, which is probably high; tech companies often use 200 square feet or even less, which means more workers crammed into the office complex.).

It’s likely many of those workers will be people who move here from somewhere else.

The project will create about 600 housing units, not even enough for half the workforce.

So from the start, the plan would make the city’s housing crisis worse…

Editor: Citizens, and some at City Hall are asking:  What does affordable mean? Affordable to whom? and is there any net affordable being built, or are we merely trading in existing units, and residents for smaller units and new transient residents, who see their stay in SF as a step on the ladder of their career path?

Now here’s where it gets strange(more)

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