More intentional drama is being generated over the implausible 50-story condo tower a developer is proposing to build in the Sunset District. After City Hall rejected it for the umpteenth time last month, the developer is now suing the city.
It has been difficult to take seriously a proposal to build a 580-foot condo tower in the Sunset, a neighborhood that is otherwise mostly one- or two-level single family homes. But the developer claiming they would go through with this 646-unit project right across from the SF Zoo keeps producing rendering after rendering, only to be repeatedly told the proposal is completely out of whack with the neighborhood’s zoning. The latest of these repudiations was a July 26 Board of Appeals meeting, where that board voted unanimously to reject the plans again according to The Frisc.
So now, the developer, 2700 Sloat Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of Reno-based CH Planning, is suing the city of San Francisco for rejecting the project, according to the Chronicle. The lawsuit, which you can read online, was filed Tuesday.
“The State of California is in the midst of a historic housing crisis — a crisis that has largely been brought on by NIMBYs and their enablers in local governments who continue to thwart the will of the Legislature and find ways to unlawfully interfere with the production of housing,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit claims that the developer should be able to build this 50-story behemoth under the California’s Density Bonus Law (DBL), which allows developers to exceed regulation limits if they add more affordable housing. That state law has led to some really terrific affordable housing projects to be approved, but this one goes way beyond the density bonuses afforded under state law.
The lawsuit is defiant over the latest City Hall rejection. “It is a new regulation issued unlawfully and in violation of recent state legislation intentionally and admittedly designed to limit the size of residential buildings to give the City’'s Planning Department additional discretion to deny or limit the size of housing developments,” the lawsuit says.
The project at 2700 Sloat Boulevard had originally been proposed in 2020 as an eight-story tower with 213 residential units, and then resubmitted again in 2021 as a 12-story building with 400 units. That the developer is bulking it up to unrealistic levels, rather than negotiating, does not indicate good faith.
“It kind of defies logic that you could take a site that has a 100-foot height limit, apply a 50% bonus to it and somehow get a 560-foot tower,” SF Planning Department director Rich Hillis told the Chronicle. “We think they’re wrong in their interpretation of what’s allowed under the zoning.”
We have noted before that developer CH Planning’s primary consultant John Hickey has done time in federal prison for defrauding investors, and has a history of proposing improbably large projects that never get close to breaking ground.
This seems more just another protest move — or negotiating tactic? — designed to antagonize and troll SF City Hall, decrying that it is difficult to approve and build housing here (which it is!), but then gumming up the works with more frivolous litigation that will take resources away from the city's ability to approve more realistic projects.
Image: Solomon Cordwell Buenz