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More Thoughts on 430 Main / 429 Beale Proposed 84-foot condo development

2nd UPDATE (March 20, 2009) – This hearing is likely to be rescheduled to April 9, 2009 – great news for BayCrest residents!

UPDATE – Please continue to write your letters, but note that there is at least one request for this item to be continued for a later meeting date to give Rincon Hill residents more time to become aware and to review the documents submitted to the Planning Department.

After speaking with Ben Fu and Rick Cooper at the Planning Department yesterday, it sounds like the staff will be recommending that the Planning Commission approve the exceptions from the planning code for Case Nos. 2007.1121XV with the half-baked (in my opinion) reasoning that the property owner can’t possibly meet the open space and dwelling unit exposure “requirements” in such a SMALL PIECE OF LAND. Like I said in my first post on this item yesterday, there should be NO EXCEPTIONS, in my personal opinion, to the Planning Code in Rincon Hill. The Rincon Hill Plan clearly lays out the requirements for open space and so on, and everybody should be proposing projects that can meet those requirements – otherwise, don’t propose the project if the land you have to work with is too small to build a compliant project.

The irony is that this proposed building would take away the one side of BayCrest’s courtyard that provides a 45 degree angle opening to the sky – and new Rincon Hill buildings, unless an exception is granted, are required to provide such an opening to all sides of the courtyard for any new developments. So, screw the condos built before 2005’s Rincon Hill Plan went into effect if they lose their 45 degree angle of open sky to provide natural light to residents facing the courtyard? That’s just wrong.

This sunlight/45 degree angle opening to the sky for neighboring buildings will not be considered directly by the Planning Department staff in their report. Bridgeview, Portside, and especially BayCrest Towers rely on the space between the bottom of the Bay Bridge and the next highest building below the bridge to get their sunlight. Throw up a 84 foot building running from Main to Beale Street, and the building will virtually eliminate natural light for the units facing the courtyard at BayCrest (of which mine is one of them on the 2nd floor, I’ll disclose) and take away sunshine from quite a few Bridgeview and Portside residents too. What happens when natural light is cut off besides the aesthetic impact?

In my case, I imagine I’ll have to run my heater more often because the sun won’t be warming my little 432 square foot studio through my unit’s single window like it used to. In addition to running my heater more often, I’ll have to turn my light bulbs on for longer periods of time. That translates into more electricity being used, adding to the carbon dioxide emissions … and here I thought San Francisco was trying to be the “greenest” City.

If it weren’t for the Rincon Hill Plan (a good thing, I thought), a full environmental impact review would be performed in any other neighborhood for a 84-foot, 113-unit condo project that would cause the sunlight and shadowing impacts on residences of BayCrest Towers, Portside, and Bridgeview … especially BayCrest’s recreational open space because the proposed building would wall it off.

I was told by the Planners that the best chance Portside, Baycrest, and Bridgeview residents would have to at least get some considerations for the environmental impacts on sunlight and shadowing is for as MANY people from those buildings as possible to show up at the 1:30 p.m. meeting of the Planning Commission at City Hall on Thursday, March 26th April 9th (new date) in Room 400 to look the Planning Commissioners in the eyes and tell them about these impacts and ask that the plan be denied or redesigned so that BayCrest’s courtyard isn’t walled in and Portside and Bridgeview residents aren’t “canyoned” into their units either.

Second to showing up at the meeting is writing a letter to Ben Fu, Planning Department, 1650 Mission Street, 4th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103, that references Case Nos. 2007.1121XV ( 430 Main / 429 Beale ) and talking about how you believe the project would impact you from a sunlight, shadowing, traffic, recreation, air quality, and/or other manner(s) … send photos to show the small space between the Bay Bridge and the next highest building that depict the small slice of sunshine you get as is.

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