Whoa. The Supes had the gloves on yesterday with lots of fighting amongst themselves and with the public. The meeting lasted til almost 11pm, so we’d be a little testy too. Let’s get down to the projects.
First up, the Green Building Requirements in the Planning Code were updated to include the design, construction, and operation of City buildings. It passed unanimously (one of the few unanimous votes of the day).
The s**t hit the fan with a CEQA and Conditional Use appeal for 3151-55 Scott Street - the former Edward II hotel proposed for conversion into “24 affordable group housing units for transitional age youth (i.e., youth transitioning out of foster care because they have turned 18 years old). The Cow Hollow Association, with the support of the other four surrounding neighborhood associations, was the appellant, citing an issue with “transparency, consistency, and process”. All the arguments revolved around CEQA and Planning Code process issues, so it was pretty dry and stiff, but the rep for the appellant barely got a word out before Weiner interrupted his presentation. The Supe questioned over "pre-commitment” - whether funding to the project before it got environmental review is in violation to CEQA. “I can see this getting out of hand. What if someone says something nice about a project in the paper, is that pre-commitment?”
After being flustered, the appellant got back on track and to their real point - they think there’s a disconnect between the project as presented to the community and reality. The project is supposed to be for kids transitioning out of foster care, but the application doesn’t specify that, and some worry it could turn into another Bridge Hotel. Apparently every single neighborhood group and merchant group that borders it is in opposition. Reps from the planning department then went into review of why all the complaints were wrong. Watch the hearing video and you’ll have basically earned an advanced degree in environmental review.
The Supes shot down the CEQA appeal with no discussion, but Sup. Farrell gave a heartfelt speech about the kids that will live there before the Conditional Use vote, which passed without Farrell’s support. He chastised the “5-10% on either side of the aisle which represent the extremes [in every debate here at city hall]” for making it about the type of tenants (“What’s it going to be like for the kids that live there?” he asked”), but acknowledged that there was a problem with the process and said the whole project should start over. We just hope they keep the turrets.
Phew. Ok, moving on to...another CEQA appeal. 1171 Sansome Street involves the subdivision of an existing undeveloped lot and was determined to be exempt from environmental review. The attorney for the appellant testified that the site was super steep and had problems with landslides. Since the project sponsor disclosed the plan for future development on the lower lot, there is a need to stabilize the upper lot first, which you couldn’t enforce if its subdivided and sold to different owners. The Supes agreed unanimously, and the project now has to go through additional environmental review.