Showdown over a downtown highrise

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Do we really need another condo tower?

The battle over 555 Washington -- the too-big highrise that will house 248 luxury condos that San Francisco doesn't need -- is going on right now, and you can watch it on sfgtv. 

Supporters and opponents have been testifying for more than two hours. Sue Hestor mae one of the key points toward the end of the testimony: Does "new urbanism" say that we have to fight suburban sprawl by putting 400-foot buildings everywhere in San Francisco?

She also pointed out that the building has so much parking that the lines to get in and out of the underground garage will impact the only downtown fire station, a block away.

Already, Planning Commissioner Hisashi Sugaya is arguing that the EIR on the project is completely bogus and invalid (although he carefully avoiding saying he will vote against the project).

This is one of the major development battles of the year, and will demonstrate whether the Planning Commission and Recreation and Park Commission have the independence and integrity to reject a project the mayor and the Chamber of Commerce support.

 

UPDATE: The hearing ended in the strangest way. After more than two hours of testimony -- most of which showed the inadequacy of the EIR, which has to be certified as complete before a final vote on the project itself -- Sugaya moved NOT to certify the document. That motion failed, 3-2. At that point, the commission secretary said that the matter would be put off until March 18th.

The strange thing is that if the motion had been in reverse - a motion TO certify -- that also would have failed (either way, four yes votes were needed, and two commissioners weren't there). And then the matter would be over; the EIR would not be certified, and the developer and city planning dept. would have to go back and redo it. In this case, since a motion to reject failed, and there was no motion to accept, it's not clear where the EIR is.

Aaron Peskin, a foe of the project, told me just now that he doesn't see how the commission can legally continue the hearing. "There's nothing to continue," he said. "There's no certified EIR." That, in the end, will be up to the city attorney. I'll keep you posted. 

Comments

If its not needed, don't live there.

It's odd how much energy

Posted by glen matlock on Feb. 11, 2010 @ 2:06 pm

Love the evil rendering put up for this article. The TAPY "wings" start at floor 38 - which is higher than 400 feet - yet the rendering has 555 washington topping off about halfway up the wings.
Why is deception needed to further your point?
You guys are anachronisms, and not terribly smart ones either.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2010 @ 3:18 pm

There's no deception here -- that's the artists rendering that the architects submitted to the city. It's how the project sponsor is portraying the building.

Posted by Tim Redmond on Feb. 11, 2010 @ 6:55 pm

...that the Commission will, in accord with every known law, continue the hearing on March 18 at which time they will attempt to decide on the EIR again. If it is accepted they will then convene to talk about the project itself.

Peskin probably knew how there things work but his memory may be faulty at this point for a number of reasons.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2010 @ 5:18 am

I would say that, given the long term budget deficit, there is a possibility that we might actually need an additional source of tax revenue. Also, having 248 well heeled families spending their money locally might help.

It's fine for SFBG to thumb their nose at investment in the city; the rest of hurting and are being asked to accept less city services for higher fees every day and can use the help.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2010 @ 5:22 am

What I don't understand is how you can continue a hearing with no motion to continue. In fact, the project proponents sought a continuance early on and didn't get it.

Posted by tim on Feb. 12, 2010 @ 2:38 pm

Oh yes. Lets to decide this issue on a technical matter. I had been hoping that we could decide the issue based on the merits of what it could mean to San Francisco. But dropping it for a procedural reason makes much more sense.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2010 @ 9:35 pm

Guest wrote: "Also, having 248 well heeled families spending their money locally might help.'

Ah yes, the "trickle down" argument. We should be thankful --and dependent-- on the scarps thrown to us by the rich.

Posted by Guest Michael Worrall on Feb. 12, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

Guest Michael Worrall

"Let them live in cardboard boxes.."

Guest wrote: "Also, having 248 well heeled families spending their money locally might help.'

Ah yes, the "trickle down" argument. We should be thankful --and dependent-- on the scarps thrown to us by the rich.

------

I wonder, when the Guardian writers complain about cutting city government jobs taking money out of the economy, do you agree with that?

I just have to know, do think there is different kinds of money? Money spent by SEIU flunkies is red and the scraps thrown you by the rich are green?

Also when the Guardian complains that we should tax the rich more, do you agree, but you don't seem to want any of "the rich" around.

Posted by glen matlock on Feb. 13, 2010 @ 7:52 am

I told you I was a Socialist, to which you made some rather misinformed and/or ignorant comments about socialism. I am not very interested in having a discussion with you, as you have shown yourself only to be able to engage in ad hominems. I cannot recall you, or Lucerita, making any real arguments here; just parroting some pro-status qou line or mocking others.

I do not agree with a lot of what The Guardian editors believe and comment on, but I do like that they actually report on about what is going on here in San Francisco, unlike The Chronicle or The Examiner.

Posted by Guest Michael Worrall on Feb. 13, 2010 @ 8:39 pm

So Guest Michael Worrall, I'm just wondering, who is going to pay for the socialist agenda if you don't let the tax base expand?

Posted by glen matlock on Feb. 14, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

Tax base and socialism? I can only gather that you have no concept about socialism if you are going to equate those two together.

Posted by Guest Michael Worrall on Feb. 14, 2010 @ 2:04 pm

Are not the western European countries considered socialist? Maybe you refer to early century American socialists, Eugene V Debs etal, also not communists in the Marx sense These "hole and corner reformers" are not exactly Marxists, they would be the people that Marx branded utopians, not a complement by Marx. Marx loathed socialists.

I think what you refer to is communism. A constructed economic and political system that removes human nature from the equation, thus creating at best a government that can neither feed, cloth or house it's people, and at worst kills them off.

Posted by glen matlock on Feb. 15, 2010 @ 9:10 am

shadows abound in san francisco's financial district. the capitalists' buildings are so tall, they block out the sun. it's cold there most of the year. i try not to go too much...kinda depressing. buildings like this just make the urbanization more bleak, for everyone alive right now.

Posted by jean on Feb. 16, 2010 @ 3:39 pm

Some people actually died walking downtown once, just froze up the as soon as they stepped into some capitalist pig/phallus highrises shadow. Makes me horribly sad.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 16, 2010 @ 8:25 pm

I don't know why my fellow progressives are hyperventilating about this. It promotes urban density over suburban sprawl, will likely be occupied by a lot of folks who can walk to their gigs in the financial district instead of putting more cars on the road, is cheaper to provide municipal services to than their affluent counterparts living in far-flung McMansions, and will spin off substantial tax revenues to support the critical services we say we want. I don't hang out with a lot of high-end yuppies either and don't mind some good old-fashioned class warfare, but we shouldn't let our tastes in these regards get in the way of policy that actually supports a lot of stuff we want.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2010 @ 8:20 am

I don't know why my fellow progressives are hyperventilating about this. It promotes urban density over suburban sprawl, will likely be occupied by a lot of folks who can walk to their gigs in the financial district instead of putting more cars on the road, is cheaper to provide municipal services to than their affluent counterparts living in far-flung McMansions, and will spin off substantial tax revenues to support the critical services we say we want. I don't hang out with a lot of high-end yuppies either and don't mind some good old-fashioned class warfare, but we shouldn't let our tastes in these regards get in the way of policy that actually supports a lot of stuff we want.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2010 @ 8:20 am

Let's see, the progressives are always talking about proximity to transit and being green and limiting sprawl. Well, here's a way to stop 248 suburban tract homes from being built and everyone is whining about it.

Posted by Scott on Feb. 19, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

This project will NOT get any cars off the roads. There will be a massive amount of parking for it. If it were truly designed to get people out of cars, there wouldn't be any parking.

Furthermore, the type of people who will move into a monstrosity like this will mainly be those who want vacation condos in San Francisco. So building crap like this will cause even more use of fossil fuels, not less.

Finally, for those of you who say you want this because it will bring in revenue, I ask you this: Is money the most important thing in your life? Because if it is, we are on opposite sides, regardless of whether you're left, right, or in the middle. The quality of life is far more important than money, and I don't want our city being further destroyed by hideous monstrosities like this or by adding even more rich pigs.

San Francisco should concentrate on building low- and moderate-income housing, and concentrate on attracting and keeping artists, musicians, poets, political and social rabble rousers, etc. What we DON'T need is more rich jerks, we have far too many already.

Posted by Jeff Hoffman on Feb. 20, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

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