Having been granted a Preliminary Mitigated Negative Declaration (PMND) by Planning last month, which establishes that that its development “would not have a significant effect on the environment as proposed” and obviates the need for a more extensive, and costly, environmental review, the plans for the proposed tower to rise up to 200 feet in height on the site of San Francisco’s aging Fire Station 13 were poised to be approved.

As we noted at the time, “if the project is approved, funded and survives any neighborhood challenges, the tentative timeline for the development now calls for breaking ground at the end of this year.”

And shortly thereafter, a formal appeal of the PMND for the proposed 530 Sansome Street tower was filed by the owners of the three-story brick “Cort Furniture” building at 447 Battery Street. From the appeal:

“The PMND violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because the Planning Department did not provide adequate notice of the availability of the PMND; the project description is not accurate, stable, or finite; the project will have significant adverse environmental impacts to potential historic resources; and the PMND inappropriately defers mitigation until some future time.”

“While the proposed project will likely have many significant environmental impacts that were not adequately addressed in the PMND, the PMND largely ignores the significant impacts the project will have on the potential historic resource at 447 Battery Street. The PMND not only recognizes that construction of the project may cause direct structural damage to the potential historic building at 447 Battery, but the PMND does not even discuss how the project may impair the significance of a historic resource by causing impacts to its immediate surroundings. The project would completely alter the surrounding development pattern, substantially reduce light and increase shadows, and potentially block views of the building at 447 Battery. None of these potential impacts was mitigated or even identified in the PMND. While we do not concede that the building at 447 Battery Street is in fact a historic resource, the potential impacts must still be fully evaluated under CEQA. The project will clearly have an adverse environmental impact on a potential historic resource, and therefore the Planning Department must prepare an EIR rather than a mitigated negative declaration for the project.”

And yes, plans for a 15-story addition to rise atop the potential historic building at 447 Battery, which the project team had originally proposed demolish, are in the works.

We’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Notcom

    No: irony will be when 530 appeals 440.
    Maybe a compromise: turn 440 into a firehouse ?? It already has the layout for it.

  2. Posted by Miraloma Man

    Unbelievable. The mendacity.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      Very believable. It will be even more believable if/when their opposition is taken seriously.

  3. Posted by Alai

    Ok, that’s funny. It’s Schrödinger’s historic building!

  4. Posted by Bluntcard

    They should change their name to Karen Furniture.

  5. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    Funny, but so what? It’s all much ado about nothing because there’s no near-to-medium term market for 40,000 ft.² of new office space in a city with 11.7 Salesforce Towers, or 693 Salesforce Tower floors, worth of vacant office space (that’s nearly 16 million ft.² of vacant office space) right now.

    Even if there were no appeal of the PMND filed, they realistically were not going to break ground at the end of this year. And now they have an excuse for not doing so.

  6. Posted by Dave (Seattle dude)

    This begs the question – does SF need another major hotel? Prior to the pandemic plans for a 54 story hotel/condo tower were abandoned (part of the Oceanwide project) while a major hotel proposed for 2nd/Folsom is in limbo and the hotel/condo tower on Howard is basically defunct.

    Post pandemic business travel will likely take a hit as virtual meetings replace a chunk of that market. This will put a cap on demand for additional hotel rooms. The biggest threat to this project is not the appeal but the question of viability. It likely doesn’t get built.

    • Posted by Kyle S.

      :groan:

      SF absolutely needs more hotels. Rooms would go for $500 a night around major conferences like WWDC and Dreamforce. WWDC may have moved south, but Dreamforce hasn’t left, so hotel prices have plenty of room to fall.

      • Posted by Dave (Seattle dude)

        Not familiar with the WWDC conference. What does the acronym stand for? BTW, Moscone lost a major medical conference that was supposed to occur this fall.

        • Posted by AY

          It’s Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

          • Posted by Dave (Seattel dude)

            Thanks. I’m guessing the loss of WWDC is even bigger than the loss of the Rheumatology convention that was set for the fall – thousands of room booking gone in the latter’s case. .

        • Posted by Sierrajeff

          srsly?! You’ve been on here for years running jeremiads against SF’s future, and you’re not even familiar with what WWDC was?

        • Posted by Juan

          The only reason why it was canceled was because due to the coronavirus and how to state had plans for its layout. Dreamforce will continue this year.

  7. Posted by Jimmy the Kid

    CEQA is one of the greatest scams ever perpetrated on our society. It’s sole purpose is to delay, stop.or extract value from the developer. If its intent was to truly help environmental quality, it would not be constructed the way it is.The state needs to repeal CEQA and replace it with something workable.

    • Posted by UnlivableCity

      I would counter that a healthy (or should I say unhealthy) percentage of developers have such a startling commingling of mendacity, poor taste, zero interest in any long term affects in the location, greed and lowest common denominator thinking that CEQA is required to mitigate the rubber stamp planning departments now largely under developer control. It is unfortunate that good developers couldn’t get a sort of CEQA vaccine passports for their upstanding work.

      • Posted by Brian M

        Can both of you be correct? I would say yes.

  8. Posted by Robert

    The reasons stated in Cort Furniture’s appeal letter seem appropriately addressed by a Mitigated Negative Declaration and an appropriately crafted Agreement to Implement Mitigation Measure M-NO-3, Protection of Adjacent Buildings/Structures and Vibration Monitoring During Construction. Shadows and views don’t seem like an appropriate reason to call for an EIR at this location.

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