Supes Vote Unanimously To Let 75 Howard High-Rise Move Forward

by Geri Koeppel : hoodline – excerpt

Barring any further legal battles, the proposed luxury condo and mixed-use high-rise at 75 Howard St. will move ahead, after a unanimous decision by the Board of Supervisors in the early morning hours of Wednesday. The board voted to reject an appeal to anenvironmental impact review (EIR) of the project, which was brought by many of the same opponents who fought the proposed 8 Washington condos and have been involved in other waterfront development debates.

75 Howard’s developer, Paramount Group, plans to build 133 units of luxury housing, 5,824 square feet of retail space and 102 below-ground parking spaces on the site of what’s currently an eight-story parking garage. Paramount originally proposed a 348-foot tower with 31 stories, but that was later cut to 290 feet, and now, 220 feet.

Earlier this week, Paramount also voluntarily increased its percentage of in-lieu affordable housing fees from $9.7 million (equivalent to the required 20 percent) to $15.7 million (roughly equivalent to 33 percent). The Chronicle reported all of the financial details on Tuesday; it pencils out to the equivalent of about 38 units of affordable housing, with the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Development overseeing the distribution of funds to its various affordable projects.

But despite the added contribution, opponents were not swayed, claiming that a shadow analysis and traffic studies were flawed. As we previously reported, they organized a group, Save Rincon Park, to fight the project, with local residents, office tenants, and Boulevard restaurant among the members. (Original materials about the project can be found on the Board of Supervisors’ site, including letters from the project sponsor and the appellant in last night/this morning’s hearing.)

The Planning Department voted 5-1 to approve the 75 Howard project on September 3rd; the Board of Supervisors doesn’t need to give its OK to the project as a whole, because there are no height or zoning changes needed. But that doesn’t mean opponents won’t consider further litigation, or, as in the case of 8 Washington, try to gather signatures for a ballot referendum against the project.


One of 75 Howard’s main opponents, David Osgood of the Rincon Point Neighbors Association, told us that any further action “remains to be determined,” but he’d support either course. “It’s hard to explain why all the supervisors are so out of touch with waterfront planning issues.”

“Everyone’s evaluating our options and we’ll see where we go from here,” said Jon Golinger, one of the main drivers behind the No Wall on the Waterfront campaign. That campaign led to a successful ballot initiative, requiring voters to approve any increase on height limits for developments on Port of San Francisco parcels. (It’s currently being battled in the courts.)…

One of opponents’ biggest objections to 75 Howard is that it will cast shadows on Rincon Park. They’ve asked for step-downs toward the waterfront to minimize the shadows, which they say will violate the Sunlight Ordinance. (The appellant letter from Rincon Point Neighbors Association suggests a “100-foot alternative.”) However, no changes have been made to the design; Clemens said in an email that any further changes will be worked out collaboratively with the Planning Department.

Danny Yadegar, legislative aide to District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, pointed out that any building higher than 100 feet tall will cast a shadow (the current garage is 91 feet). Also, he said the developer told Kim that the building’s design includes a 20-foot parapet of glass, which isn’t “as impactful” as if it were a solid mass…

He also said he tried tirelessly to get meetings with city decision-makers, but was mostly unsuccessful. “Developers can waltz into meetings with the mayor and supervisors; we can’t … There’s all the components of a corrupted planning process: Too much lobbyist access, secret negotiations, money, late-night meetings, flawed analysis.”

Yadegar, Kim’s aide, said roughly two people spoke against the project at the meeting, and six spoke for it. He said both the project sponsor and the appellant must agree to a continuance, and while Osgood requested it, Clemens declined… (more)


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