Will the saga of the Beast on Bryant ever end? Opponents of the proposed 300-plus unit housing development at 2000-2070 Bryant Street tried to scuttle the project in a four hour offensive at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.
When the supes unanimously bounced the appeal, activists turned right around and brought a second appeal 24 hours later. That one failed, too, but in between the two hearings the rumblings of a lawsuit manifested, suggesting a pivot from City Hall to the courts.
Two things are clear: One, any hope that city planning and legislative bodies’ general approval of the present version of the Beast (after four tries, the Planning Commission finally had it out over the proposal in June, approving 5-2 in a meeting that lasted 11 hours) represented a homestretch were naive at best.
Two, developer Nick Podell really, really, wants this building. Most people would have thrown in the towel by now and moved to Vegas, where you can probably get permits for a building like this out of the vending machines.
Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors bid took aim at the project’s CEQA status—the bane of developers across California. Testimony lasted so long that public comment had to be split into two phases, one for those in favor of the project and one for those opposed.
One Beast critic employed the phrase "cultural genocide," making this the second San Francisco development proposal this year to be compared to ethnic cleansing.
Despite the impassioned pleas, city lawmakers rejected the appeal 11-0, with even Mission representative and affordable housing champion David Campos saying that the CEQA critique lacked merit and that, for better or worse, the neighborhood needed the Beast’s promised affordable housing units.
Undeterred, a second appeal popped up at Wednesday’s Board of Appeals meeting. This confrontation lasted only an hour, but still included reference to police brutality, the death of Alex Nieto, and the destruction of Manila Town and the Fillmore.
"Tenants are afraid," Alicia Sandoval of the Housing Rights Committee testified to the board. "They’re being forced out, and where are they going to go? Places like this? The Mission doesn’t need any more market-rate housing. We need 100 percent affordable housing. Don’t allow this beast to stomp on our homes."
(The actual appeal cited more technical elements of the project, such as the cumulative impact of so many nearby developments, fear that needed setbacks will reduce the number of affordable units, and the design of the alley parting the two buildings, which appellants called a "dark hole.")
In a seeming replay of the previous day’s findings, the Board turned away the appeal 5-0.
But don’t even contemplate the idea that it’s over yet. Mission landlord and affordable housing advocate Spike Kahn told the San Francisco Business Times on Tuesday that if attempts to poach the Beast at a legislative level fail, activists might be willing to sue.
- Board of Supervisors, 9/13 [SF Gov TV]
- Board of Appeals, 9/14 [SF Gov TV]
- Beast on Bryant Approved [Curbed SF]
- Housing Law Held Up [Mission Local]
- Activists Plan To Sue Mission Housing Projects [SF Business Times]