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News + PoliticsDevelopmentThe SoMa project that created a furor in the Assembly race is...

The SoMa project that created a furor in the Assembly race is back again

Planning is trying again on 469 Stevenson, but the EIR appeal didn't delay a project that isn't going to be built any time soon anyway. Oh, and Yimby Law just lost.

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The 469 Stevenson Project, which has created huge controversy, played a big role in Matt Haney’s election to the State Assembly, and spurred a lawsuit by Yimby Law, is back before the San Francisco Planning Commission.

The commission is going to begin to review a new Environmental Impact Report on the project December 8. That means, despite all the whining from the Yimbys and the likes of Haney, that the Board of Supes never “killed” or “took a wrecking ball” to the project. The supes just said the EIR wasn’t adequate and sent it back for revisions.

The Yimbys are making a fuss, but it’s unlikely this will be built anytime soon anyway.

That’s what a CEQA appeal is.

So the developer and the city have apparently done with, or are working on, those revisions, and are offering a new EIR, which could resolve all the issues that convinced the supes to approve the appeal.

At the same time, a judge October 21 essentially tossed out the entire Yimby Law case against the city, ruling that the suit had no merit. Judge Cynthia Ming-mei Lee approved a demurrer motion, saying that Yimby Law had no case because the supes have every right to decide whether a project has an adequate EIR.

That’s an important decision, limiting the impact of the new state laws that seek to override environmental review of housing development.

And now this will all come back again, and it will be just as silly:

The developer, Build Inc., is never going to construct this project. It has no financing, no clear deep-pocket investor, and makes no sense in the current market.

At best, this is an opportunity for a local developer to get an entitlement, and then sell it to a big international operation.

This is not, and was never, about housing for the San Francisco workforce. It was, and is, about a speculative real-estate venture that, if it ever got built, would cause serious damage to the low-income community on Sixth Street.

Beyond the legal wrangling, that’s the real issue: Dropping a luxury housing complex into a vulnerable community is going to lead to displacement. And the number of people who currently work in SF who are displaced and forced out of town will probably exceed the number of new units occupied by (richer, whiter) San Francisco workers.

That’s not “smart growth.” That’s a failure of urban planning.

But the Planning Commission and the Board of Supes can’t decide to reject this project because it will lead to displacement. They can only rule on the EIR.

And despite all the politics and lawsuits, a new EIR might be approved in just a couple of months. Then the real delay—the fact that there is no financing for this project—will take over.

At that point, I wonder if Haney and the Yimbys will admit that the supes did nothing, absolutely nothing, that would actively slow down this project.

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Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

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