Exclusive: How SF sidestepped state law on developing toxic sites

By Cynthia Dizikes : sfchronicle – excerpt

Contaminated gas stations, vehicle repair shops and parking garages have become prized development commodities in San Francisco in recent years as the city struggles with a crushing housing shortage.

But city officials have repeatedly stymied public oversight when assessing whether these chemical-tainted properties are safe for hundreds of new homes by allowing developers to bypass environmental reviews required under state law, a Chronicle investigation has found.

The California Environmental Quality Act prohibits certain exemptions for the tens of thousands of properties on a statewide roster of hazardous-waste sites called the Cortese list. “Categorical” exemptions are only supposed to go to projects with no significant impact on the environment or human health. The prohibition was designed to protect the public, construction workers and future occupants from exposure to dangerous substances, environmental lawyers said… (more)


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