S.F. Planning Commission to size up high-rise

By John Wildermuth : sfgate – excerpt

Another high-rise is in the works for San Francisco’s waterfront, and you can bet there will be plenty of people out to complain when the City Planning Commission on Thursday looks at the plan for a 31-story, 186-unit residential tower at 75 Howard St., just off the Embarcadero.

No decisions will be made at the noon meeting at City Hall as the commission considers the draft environmental impact report on the project, which would replace an eight-level, 540-space parking garage at Howard and Steuart streets, but the meeting could give an indication of just how much pushback the project will face when the final EIR comes up for approval early next year.

The Paramount Group has already been told by planners that its project is too tall, blocks scenic vistas, contributes to unacceptable traffic congestion and casts too many shadows on public open spaces to meet the existing zoning rules for the site. To meet city code requirements, the developer would need to lop 13 stories off the high-rise

None of those are necessarily deal killers (although the tower’s 348-foot height is way above the existing 200-foot limit), but the question is just how much stomach city officials have for another high-profile fistfight over waterfront development.

There already are dueling measures on November’s ballot over the future of the 8 Washington development, which would put 134 luxury condos across the street from the Ferry Building, and the plan for the Warriors arena at Pier 30-32 is beyond controversial. Add that to the fact that the city’s landmark Transbay Tower project faced serious concerns about the impact of shadows on the city’s downtown and waterfront, and the question that arises is how much is too much?

Something will be built on the Howard Street site, since the garage, described charitably as “visually utilitarian” by planners, is sitting on one of the last sites in that part of downtown for high-rise development(more)

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