Even Worse Than Duke

San Francisco Takes NIMBYism to a New Level

A few years ago, an episode of South Park saw Cartman attempting to rescue Kyle in San Francisco from a SMUG  alert. It was, as it is so often, ahead of its time:

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously rejected a 63-unit apartment complex, including 15 below-market-rate units, because it would cast an evening shadow on a South of Market park.

The proposal was to replace several smaller buildings at 1052-1060 Folsom St. and 190-194 Russ St. with an apartment complex that would shade a portion of Victoria Manalo Draves Park, a 2-acre open space next to Bessie Carmichael School, a public K-8. The project will now return to the Planning Commission for further review.

“We absolutely need more housing and affordable housing,” said Supervisor Matt Haney, whose district includes the park. But “this isn’t a meaningless shadow on someone’s backyard. This is a shadow that falls on the only multiuse public park in SoMa.”

The shadow would impact the northeastern portion of the park, which has a basketball court, children’s play area, benches and a grass section often used by dog walkers. The shadow wouldn’t reach the southern half of the park, where the baseball field and batting cages are. On the longest day of the year, June 21, a shadow would be cast for 100 minutes, starting between 5:46 and 6 p.m. It would cover an additional 18.24% of the park, above the 30% of the park covered at that time by existing shading.

The 10-0 vote — Supervisor Ahsha Safaí recused himself because of a possible conflict of interest — came after hours of impassioned public comment on how the shadow would impact the SoMa neighborhood, which has the lowest amount of open space in the city.

Because, you know, shadows.

So on allegedly environmental grounds, the city by the Bay will force working-people to commute longer and longer distances. I hope that San Francisco can figure its way out of this: perhaps the developer can increase the amount of affordable units to 50%, making it eligible for administrative/ministerial streamlining under SB 35 (Wiener). And it would be nice to hear from Senator Wiener himself, who is fighting a hard battle against NIMBYism and represents this area.

In any event, if you want to know why in California the state is assuming more and more control over local land use, here is Exhibit the Millionth.

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Reader Comments

6 Replies to “Even Worse Than Duke”

        1. Oh gosh! Was this the piece you sent me awhile ago and I promised to read, and then was a slug and didn’t? I am so sorry!

          I’ll read it now. Really. I promise.

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About Jonathan

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic – Land Use, the Environment and Loc…

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