Planning Commission to Decide Whether to Recommend Certification of MRIC EIR

By David Greenwald : davisguard – excerpt

The Planning Commission this evening is scheduled to make a recommendation as to whether the Mace Ranch Innovation Center Final Environmental Impact Report document adequately analyzes “the potential environmental impacts of the project for the purposes of CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act], with the project description as set forth in the EIR.”

Staff is recommending certification with a clarification “that the environmentally superior alternative is the mixed-use alternative assuming the addition of a legally enforceable mechanism to ensure that at least 60 percent of the on-site units would be occupied by at least one MRIC employee can be provided.”

Back in early 2016, the council had rejected a request to make the mixed-use alternative the preferred option and, shortly thereafter, the MRIC’s applicant suspended but did not withdraw their application.

This is the second meeting before the Planning Commission in consideration of certification of the Final EIR for MRIC. It follows a May 24 meeting where staff presented the item and received feedback and questions from the commission and public.

Staff notes that this action “is limited to certification of the FEIR and is not an action on or approval of the project.”

The issue of certification absent an active project remains controversial.

Critics have argued, “The project has not been defined therefore the MRIC EIR should not be certified

the MRIC EIR is flawed, “The MRIC makes false assumptions…

MRIC in its ‘mixed-use’ alternative proposal wants its 850 residential units to be ‘vertical mixed-use’ which is a flawed City zoning category

Finally, they add that “one of the most serious issues is that the City would be compromising the welfare of the community by surrendering its leverage to negotiate with the Ramos developers if the City was to grant certification of the MRIC EIR now. The City needs to retain negotiating power to achieve the design, sustainability features, and timelines on if and when a project was ever to move forward for a vote by Davis citizens.”(more)

We have a few questions that need to be answered to better understand the CEQA process and how it relate to other development approvals.  How do government projects differ from private development projects?

 

Most of us are familiar with the CEQA Flowchart. We could use a little primer on the next steps. What happens after CEQA is approved? How does CEQA tie into the federal NEPA requirements and how may citizens be involved in that part of the process. We need to a chart for the next steps that involve the approval of the project. How and when does this fit in? Sometimes the Planning Commission approves all the steps at one time. Other times the approvals are split, such as they are with the Geary BRT that has been approved without the  project design. We need a chart that times these options into the ERI process. If anyone can help with that, let us know.

 

Rare Outer Sunset housing development may use new local density bonus

By Michael Barba : sfexaminer – excerpt

The architect behind a rare four-story housing development in the Outer Sunset said he is considering using the new density bonus program in San Francisco to build more units and a taller structure than currently planned.

Architect Kodor Baalbaki designed the plans for a mixed-use building with 18 residential units at Lawton Street and 42nd Avenue, the current site of a 76 gas station. Proposed in June, the plans include two below-market-rate units under Proposition C’s inclusionary housing requirements.

The project is likely raising eyebrows in the Sunset for proposing a building taller than the two-story houses that fill the neighborhood. The Outer Sunset has one of the highest numbers of single-family homes in San Francisco and has largely been untouched by new development as cranes tower elsewhere.

The project would be one of the first known developments to add more units and height through the new Home-SF density bonus program from Supervisor Katy Tang, who represents the Sunset District.

Home-SF, which went into effect last Thursday, allows certain developers to build two stories above height-limits and add more density in exchange for 30 percent on-site affordable housing.

While Baalbaki said using the density bonus is under consideration, there are still issues that need to be pencilled out, such as pricing, height and the number of affordable units on-site.

“I actually had a phone call from the office of Supervisor Katy Tang and we talked about it and I asked them for more information,” Baalbaki said. “I believe more information could clarify this issue and we are willing to technically find out if there is a way of making this happen.”… (more)

 

What a Dump! Movie Line as Sustainable Development

ninecountycoalition – excerpt

For the last five or so years the San Francisco Bay Area has emerged as a leading example of environmentally blessed “sustainable development.”  Strangely, environmentally blessed development includes residences and other structures built on waste dumps.  These dump sites are variously known as landfill (garbage), brownfield (toxic waste), and infill (“underdeveloped” for various reasons).

Dumpster Building is Not New

Building on dumping sites is not new.  For example, Treasure Island, Foster City, and parts of San Francisco’s financial and Marina districts are build on landfill.  What is new is labeling such development sustainable and environmentally desirable.

UPC has four major development projects in the pipeline.  Development Agreements for these projects are approved by the respective agencies. Schlage Lock Redevelopment in Visitacion Valley, a brownfield site, currently transitioning to a transit oriented development (TOD) including retail, office and housing project on a brownfield; Executive Park, a mixed-use/housing project near Candlestick Point in San Francisco, and the Sierra Point Hotel Project – at the Brisbane Marina.  The Brisbane Baylands, a 660-acre brownfield redevelopment project on a former landfill and railyard in Brisbane is currently going through the public approval process…Environmental sustainability is a core value that guides our projects – from conceptual design to property management.

UPC’s projects pale in comparison to Related Companies plan to build the “largest housing project ever proposed atop a landfill in the Bay Area, regulators say, and perhaps in the entire state.”  The $6.7 billion mixed-use project in the City of Santa Clara will contain 1,680 housing units.  And predictably the project is “sustainable:”  “Related is exploring a number of ways to incorporate the sustainability and environmental consciousness that defines the Bay Area.” The complex will be sitting on top of a foot-thick concrete barrier intended to protect residents, shoppers, and workers “from any kind of problem.”… (more)

As we know, problems with flood zones are often not disclosed, and may trigger lawsuits. How about that huge gas explosion that rocked the community of San Bruno a few years ago? Civil engineers we talked to are concerned that the gasses building up cannot be mitigated without an extensive system of escape valves, since there is no way to no where pockets of gas may develop as the biological waste breaks down. Who wants to live next to methane gas release valve anyway? Buyer beware.

The latest Silicon Valley housing idea: On a landfill

By Richard Scheinin : mercurynews – excerpt

Environmental watchdogs OK plan for 1,680 units at City Place

Are we this desperate for land that we need to build on a dump? Can’t wait to see the marketing materials and disclosure statements on this one. This is not the first I have heard about building on landfill. Major problems with shifting soil would seem particularly concerning in an earthquake zone. Maybe you can sell housing to non-natives, but, it may be hard to convince people to buy on landfill after watching the effects of Loma Prieta  on the Marina and other “filled areas” in San Francisco. CEQA is becoming a big toothless grin on the face of our state. I think Ruth Shikada’s comment sums it up rather well, ““But as long as we stay the course and continue to do the research and prepare the documents … then we’re going to see housing on that site.” In other words, we can afford to hire more consultants and attorneys than the pubic so we will win in the end. She left out the politicians who are busy cementing their power over the public this season in Sacramento. SB 35 is a developer’s wet dream.

SANTA CLARA — It’s not your typical site for a new housing development: a former landfill, containing an estimated 5.5 million tons of municipal waste dumped over a quarter century in the heart of this city.

But it’s looking more and more as if the Related Companies’ plan to build a $6.7 billion mixed-use complex with up to 1,680 units of housing across the street from Levi’s Stadium will come to fruition. The project represents the largest housing project ever proposed atop a landfill in the Bay Area, regulators say, and perhaps in the entire state.

Environmental overseers have accepted Related’s massive technical document, which includes elaborate safety systems to block the escape of combustible methane gas and other dangerous vapors, and to prevent groundwater contamination… (more)

Kushners face heated trial over suburban Jersey mall project

By Garance Burke and Bernard Condon, Associated Press : sfchronicle – excerpt

Days after a seaside reception for his father-in-law’s presidential campaign, Jared Kushner set out to pitch a deal to a small-town mayor: Kushner Cos. would transform an aging shopping mall into a live-work destination, bringing culture and commerce to a scraggy stretch of the Jersey Shore.

The mayor, a retired police officer, viewed it as a brilliant offer his town couldn’t refuse. But hundreds of Eatontown residents turned out in opposition, packing borough council meetings last year to protest the Monmouth Mall expansion as a giveaway to Kushner.

Kushner soon won approval to build 700 apartments atop his mall parking lot as part of a $300 million expansion deal — an agreement that now is the subject of a heated lawsuit set for trial Monday…

Plaintiffs in the mall suit are claiming town officials privately negotiated with the Kushners for half a year without telling the community, then rushed a vote on new zoning rules that benefited only Kushner’s company after the deal already had been rejected.

“People are mad. They’re mad at the mayor, and they’re mad at the backroom deals,” said plaintiff and longtime resident Sara Breslow… (more)

Sounds like familiar tactics used all over the country in “progressive” cities like San Francisco.

Local initiative right still under legislative assault

By : foxesandhounds – excerpt

Earlier this year I wrote of an assault on local democracy in the guise of an Assembly measure intending to force citizens to run a gauntlet of local planners and environmental analysis prior to gathering signatures for local ballot measures.

In the intervening three months the measure has been overhauled several times, approved by the entire Assembly and now awaiting action in the State Senate. In its newest form the bill isn’t as bad as when it was first introduced.

It’s worse…(more)

We don’t follow the reasoning behind this author’s statements, but do agree that this is a bad bill. If you have any reason to support it let us know.

 

My Word: Alameda needs moratorium on new development permits

Community Opinion by Eugenie P. Thomson, P.E. : eastbaytimes – excerpt

Catellus. Alameda Landing. Del Monte. The old Naval Air Station — Alameda Point. What do all these projects have in common? Level of service (LOS) is the only criteria the city of Alameda has ever used to evaluate the traffic impacts for these megaprojects — or any other project the city has pushed through, for that matter.

The LOS-based traffic studies for these development projects have all concluded that the traffic delays they produced would be grossly lower than the delays actually occurring on Alameda streets and morning peak traffic delays dropping at the West End by 2035. Yet now, with the Encinal Terminals project (589 new homes), the city has suddenly done an about-face:

“LOS has historically proven to be an inadequate measure in Alameda because residents experience delays (at) (sic) certain intersections, yet the LOS analysis indicates that the level of service at the intersection is adequate. The delay that is being experienced is the result of downstream congestion, not a result of the intersection design or the volume of cars moving through the intersection (source: Encinal Terminals DSEIR [pdf], page 250 or page 4.G-14).”

With those words, the city admitted that the traffic studies for the Encinal Terminals and all previous megaprojects are worthless. How strange is that? I’ve been raising this point for the past 20 years in a half-dozen or more letters to City Hall…

The people of Alameda are not anti-development. We simply want the facts, including honest projections of how a proposed development and the string of expected developments will affect the time it takes us to exit or enter the Island.

These projections must be realistic and market-based: How much housing will be added as a result of this project? How many jobs, and are those numbers realistic for an island without any earthquake-lifeline-caliber connections to the mainland? We want a good traffic plan, and we want to be assured the dollars exist to build out the traffic plan via public funding and developer fees and that future developments pay their fair share.

A formal and transparent risk analysis must be undertaken to review the city costs to support all the developments, the projections of job and housing growth, the costs associated with environmental and seismic risks, and the ways to finance the public infrastructure needed. This has been standard for major transportation capital programs like high-speed rail or BART extensions and is a requirement of funding; whoever provides the capital needs evidence and assurance that the projects will be successful.

As it stands, by the time we know the facts about a proposed project and who pays for what, the developers are long gone.

We need a moratorium on building permits for these new development projects until we have a clear understanding of all potential costs and traffic impacts. If you agree, speak up on the Encinal Terminals and Alameda Marina projects; these will soon go to council… (more)

 

Increase in cancer-causing compounds found in East Bay drinking water

ktvu – excerpt (includes video)

Photo by zrants

There is a high increase of cancer-causing compounds in East Bay drinking water.

East Bay Mud reported yesterday that the concentration of the contaminants is higher than its been in 20 years.

Lafayette and parts of the Berkeley hills are the most impacted areas, and are close to violating public health standards.

Water managers say the contaminant level is rising throughout the district. They add that the drought is partly to blame…

East Bay Mud says the water is safe to drink right now, but it is worried about people consuming it over a lifetime...(more)

Which genius at East Bay Mud said that? How can you determine a lifetime of consumption?

Officials Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter For Flint Water Crisis

The officials presided over a failure to maintain the safety of the city’s water supply, resulting in widespread lead poisoning among Flint children and 12 deaths connected to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

“People in Flint have died as a result of the decisions made by those responsible to protect the health and safety of families,” Schuette said during a press conference Wednesday… (more)

More hearings on Water Quality and Groundwater Safety concerns

Guest writer:

Dear Water Warriors,

If SF has plenty of water in storage*, why is the city blending?
The state may be requiring SF to do so but…why?
How much is DPW involved in this “blended” water project?
After all, pipes are repaired, re-routed by DPW…& if there is an “emergency,” aren’t there federal funds?**  Could this be part of OneBayArea Plan to support the 1 million people for our future city? But since we don’t have the $, do they need to mess with it and then “fix” it? Hate to think so…but really, why? See some detailed information about other city experiments with changing water sources in the links below:

“San Francisco Ordered to Stop Using Century-Old Water Rights” (KQED 6/26/2015)
https://ww2.kqed.org/science/2015/06/26/san-francisco-ordered-to-stop-using-century-old-water-rights/ according to Steve Ritchie: “We have plenty of water in storage.”

“Fight over senior water rights splashes into the Capitol” (SF Chronicle 3/21/16)
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Fight-over-senior-water-rights-splashes-into-the-6932476.php

Senior water rights data – California
http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/_data/ca_water_rights/

PBS link to “Poisoned Water” video about the Flint, Michigan, water crisis:
http://www.pbs.org/video/3001355667/

** Flint received $10 billion from the federal government to “fix” the water emergency problem (subsidies ran out, water rates increased): http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/senate-approves-bill-water-projects-millions-flint/

Flint said it was costing them too much for their water system so was this all just to get $$$? to be used like wherever the officials wanted? This is so weird.

There’s a bunch of other articles on Flint on the pbs website:
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/tag/flint-water-crisis/

Assembly passes bill to limit land-use ballot initiatives

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Chiu, Ting both vote for measure that raises the threshold for citizen initiatives on development to 55 percent.

A bill that would make it harder for local residents to pass ballot measures limiting development has passed the state Assembly with almost no opposition – and so far, with almost no discussion in San Francisco, where citizen initiatives have been a powerful tool against an industry that often controls City Hall.

AB 943, by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, was directly aimed at the growth-limiting Measure S in Los Angeles. But it could have sweeping impacts on cities and counties all over the state.

The measure would raise the threshold to 55 percent for any community-based ballot measure that would “reduce density or stop development or construction of any parcels located less than one mile from a transit stop.”

That’s all of San Francisco… (more)

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