The proposed 27-story residential tower that gained notoriety when the SF Board of Supervisors rejected it last year is back with a revised plan that went before the Planning Commission Thursday, and it generated shockingly little discussion or debate.
It seemed like we were in for some big-time drama at the San Francisco Planning Commission meeting Thursday, as the commission was set to discuss the latest version of a proposed 27-story residential tower at 469 Stevenson Street. That project gained notoriety when the Board of Supervisors rejected the plan in October 2021 over displacement and structural soundness concerns.
The supes’ rejection of the original proposed project continues to generate controversy and lawsuits. And early in Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting that would discuss the latest revised version of the project, it appeared there was more high drama on the horizon in some form of bombshell secret letter.
“We were copied in a letter by HDC on the matter of 469 Stevenson,” said commissioner Kathrin Moore, apparently referring to the California Department of Housing & Community Development, and sounding none too happy about the contents of this letter. “While I am supportive of them obviously looking over our shoulders, this particular letter struck me as somewhat inappropriate, as it was insinuating to tell us what to do."
She added, "I felt that a state agency even raising an implicit threat was not particularly well-sitting with me.”
Damn! But this letter was not included in the commission materials posted on the new plans, which are a 700-page draft review from the developer Build, Inc. Nor was this letter discussed further when the 469 Stevenson item came up on the Planning Commission agenda. In fact, there was not much discussion at all.
There was a standard department staff presentation on the new plan. There was also a standard public comment session, with the predictable assortment of YIMBY activists complaining about the supervisors’ rejection of the previous plan, and neighborhood group representatives complaining about gentrification. But the commission itself had basically no discussion of the plan at all.
“Are there any comments from commissioners?” asked commissioner Rachael Tanner, once the public comment was over. Her question was met with silence. “Alright, that’ll do it,” she said, and they moved on to the next agenda item.
The Chronicle correctly wonders if the project will ever get built, for reasons not even related to the previous rejection. “It likely won’t get built anytime soon,” the Chronicle says. “Economic conditions are making most market-rate projects infeasible, meaning the parking lot will likely remain an underused site downtown for the foreseeable future, underscoring the continuing difficulty of building housing in San Francisco.”
I don’t know if the lack of discussion is a good sign or a bad sign for this new version of the project. And we’ll certainly follow up on this mysterious letter Commissioner Moore referenced. But for now, it does not appear there is much organized opposition the current proposed residential tower. It’s just that some are wondering whether the will to build this thing will materialize, either.
Image: Google Street View