The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to approve what will be one of the largest housing developments to grace the Portrero Hill neighborhood. The Business Times reports that the 9-to-1 vote in favor of the environmental review means the 395-unit housing project will go forward.
Tuesday's hearing was notable for reasons other than the vote itself, as according to the Chronicle Supervisor Malia Cohen was forced to recuse herself from voting following what, she assured everyone, was merely a bad joke.
At the public hearing, Cohen reportedly asked developer Josh Smith to pony up additional money for community benefits. Specifically, she said the pledged $1 million for the Friends of Jackson Park wasn't enough. “Look, I’m going to be a little up front — we need a little more,” the Chronicle reports her as telling Smith.
Smith quickly agreed to contribute an additional $800,000 to the park. Sensing, perhaps, that Smith was in a generous mood, Cohen then made another ask. “Whoa," she exclaimed. "I’m on a roll. Could I get a Mercedes, too?”
“I’m kidding," the paper reports her as hastily adding. "Bad joke. I know, Mister City Attorney.”
With the scandal of Kieth Jackson barely in our rear-view mirror, Deputy City Attorney Jon Givner appeared to agree that the joke, as it were, was most certainly in poor taste. Givner suggested Cohen recuse herself from the following vote as a result.
The development is to be located at 901 16th Street and 1200 17th Street, and, if it doesn't get held up in threatened litigation from neighborhood group Grow Potrero Responsibly and Save the Hill, will have 42 on-site affordable units. Developers will also pay around $9 million into the city's affordable housing fund.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin was the lone opposition vote.