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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Controversial 8 Washington Condo Project Slips Off Greased Skids -- For Now

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 5:59 AM

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A proposal to erect a 12-story tower housing 165 condos ranging in price from several million dollars up to $10 million -- or more -- has, at least for now, come derailed from an intriguingly fast track of pending approvals.

The 8 Washington project, whose developers describe it as a plan to erect some of the priciest condos the city has ever seen, was scheduled to go through a series of rapid-fire, back-to-back meetings. A joint session of the Recreation and Park Commission and Planning Commission originally set for today would have both reviewed the Environmental Impact Report and certified it -- among myriad other steps. Then a specially convened meeting of the Port Commission the very next day would do much the same. And then the State Lands Commission -- Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom presiding -- would approve a complex land swap necessitated by the Embarcadero project's waterfront setting.

That's the kind of bang-bang-bang scheduling it takes more than asking nicely to arrange. "There's only a few people in San Francisco who can put together something like that," intimates Brad Paul, a former deputy mayor of housing and one of the project's most outspoken critics.

But it was undone, at least for the short term, thanks to a classic snafu.  

The mandated public notice announcing the scheduled Jan. 19 meeting failed to run ahead of time in the Examiner. Sue Hestor, the lawyer for the group opposing the project, noticed. As a result, the meetings, carefully set up like dominoes, have been rearranged.

Today's scheduled hearing has been tentatively delayed to Feb. 9 -- but Board President David Chiu is planning to today request a week or two more of delays; he has to appoint a new planning commissioner to replace newly minted Supervisor Christina Olague, and he doesn't want that person's first meeting to require digesting a 5-inch stack of materials in a scant few days.

Hestor predicted she would derail this project -- and permanently -- as she did other attempts to develop that waterfront spot.

"I'm used to dealing with juiced projects and used to fighting them," she says. "And I'm pretty good at it. You'll notice the Transamerica Building didn't get a second tower."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" is a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly, which he has written for since 2007. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers... more


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