Transamerica condos: the mystery continues


I’m not going to actually suggest that anyone watch all four hours-plus of the Planning Commission hearing last week on the highrise condo tower at 555 Washington. But if you’ve got the time, it’s a fascinating video.

And here’s what’s most interesting: A lot of the discussion revolved around what Commissioner Michael Antonini said was a need to continue the item to a later date. That’s because three of the commissioners -- the ones appointed by the Board of Supervisors -- were dubious about the project’s environmental impact report, so it would take all four of the mayoral appointees to let the project go forward. But Commissioner Gwyneth Borden couldn’t make the meeting. Antonini went ballistic at one point, and stormed out of the room, saying that it was disrespectful to Borden not to grant a continuance.
That struck Commission Vice-President Christina Olague as kind of odd. “I was taken aback by the accusations that we were somehow being insensitive,” she told me. “To my knowledge, Commissioner Borden never made any request for a continuance. There was nothing in writing and she never communicated it to me.”

But then the strangeness started to happen. Commissioner Hisashi Sugaya moved not to certify the environmental impact report on the project. That motion was defeated, 3-2, with Antonini off in a huff somewhere and Borden absent.

Now, normally, in these situations, the president looks for a substitute motion. In this case, a motion to approve the DEIR could have been made, and that, too, would have been defeated. Once the motion to approve went down, the DEIR would be scuttled and the developer would have to start again.

But instead, the commission secretary simply announced that the matter would be continued to March 18. And a week later, I’m still trying to figure out how that was possible.

After all, the commission had decided -- openly, in public -- NOT to accept a continuance. Then all of a sudden, without a vote of the body, Antonini got his way. The DEIR will be heard again, presumably with the mayor’s fourth vote present.

This is a major project, and I’m not going to argue that it’s fate should hang on an issue of procedure. But nobody has been able to explain to me how a matter gets continued without a vote to continue. The best I can figure is that without any motion on the floor, and no action pending, the secretary had no choice but to continue the matter.

“It all happened so fast,” Olague said. “I want to go back and review everything to see exactly what ocurred.”

Attorney Sue Hestor, who opposes the project, told me that after the lengthy list of serious flaws with the DEIR, which were presented in great detail at the hearing, it will be hard for the commissioners to certify the document. But the pressure from the Mayor’s Office is intense -- Michael Yarne, the mayor’s Economic and Workforce Development advisor, was at the meeting, cornering commissioners outside. And four of the members serve at the mayor’s pleasure.



"All members present shall vote for or against each question brought to a vote unless a member is excused from voting by a conflict of interest or a motion adopted by a majority of the members present.
A motion that receives less than four votes is a failed motion resulting in disapproval of the action requested to be taken by the Commission unless a substitute motion for a continuance or other action is adopted."

Except that Antonini didn't vote and wasn't excused. So the motion did not fail, and there was no disapproval of the action requested = to NOT certify the EIR.

The public hearing was closed before the Commissioners began to deliberate.

What happens next? Borden is allowed to vote on the motion to NOT certify. No substitute motion was made, or vote taken, to continue.

Posted by Dweeb on Feb. 17, 2010 @ 9:08 pm

I just have to laugh every time I read something like "That’s because three of the commissioners -- the ones appointed by the Board of Supervisors -- were dubious about the project’s environmental impact report,"

After all the progressive whining about the EIR bike injunction, they don't seem to have a problem using it to their own advantage.

This is why progressives are comical children.

Posted by glen matlock on Feb. 18, 2010 @ 10:12 am

I don't pretend to understand all of the parliamentary procedures. But if there is a problem they will convene on March 18 and ask their City Attorney about what steps they need to take to continue the hearing on the EIR.

So, sorry. The project won't be defeated on a technicality. But, after hearing all of the less than persuasive talk about the 4 foot shadow that will appear at the edge of Sue Bierman Park during the equinox (seriously..this is the only appears for a few days in March and September) I understand why the opposition is hoping for a technical mishap.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 18, 2010 @ 8:01 pm

Going on over this project. 4 feet of shadow! How much of a shadow does the Cellular antenna Brugman is getting paid to host on the SFBG roof cast during the equinox?
Pathetic. This is what the sole of SF is based on??

Posted by Guest on Feb. 18, 2010 @ 9:24 pm

"Antonini went ballistic at one point, and stormed out of the room,"

Tim...the meeting was videotaped. Anyone who wants to can view it to see how distorted your statement is. Go back and look at it yourself.

Do you ever watch Fox News, Tim? They are less biased than you are. Just so you know.

Seriously, do you classify yourself as a journalist or as some type of blogger/pundit? Because you go pretty far over any reasonable guideline of objective reporting. There is a tape to prove it this time.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 18, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

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