Environmental advocates, Russian bathhouse challenge India Basin development

Environmental advocates and a Russian bathhouse have filed appeals of a massive India Basin development project in Hunters Point that are set to be heard by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors next week.

The proposed 38-acre development at 700 Innes Ave. by Build Inc. would include construction of 1,575 new homes, including two 14-story towers along the India Basin shoreline and a new public park.

The appeals, brought separately by Greenaction, an environmental justice group, and Archimedes Banya, a neighborhood bathhouse, cite known issues with pollution and contamination at the site and nearby.

“The EIR concluded that there would be significant, harmful, and illegal levels of air pollution both during construction and operations that cannot be mitigated or avoided,” said Bradley Angel, executive director of Greenaction. “If you have an impact that is significant and cannot be mitigated, you have to turn down the project – unless you use a loophole called ‘Statement of Overriding Consideration,’” he said, which the Planning Commission has invoked in this case.

SEE RELATED: India Basin plans move ahead despite opposition from Russian bath house

Angel said that building expensive housing – even with some “so-called” affordable housing included – does not qualify as a primary overriding consideration.

“It is shocking and unacceptable that the City and County would approve any project that would add significant and unhealthy amounts of air pollution to Bayview Hunters Point, claiming that other ‘benefits’ are ‘overriding,’” Greenaction said in a written statement.

The project is located adjacent to the Hunters Point Shipyard, where the discovery of radioactive material near an area where new homes have been built was announced just last week.

Even after the discovery was made public, “Build Inc. has refused to test for radioactivity,” Angel said.

The original development plan also called for new school and 60,000 sq. ft. of commercial retail space, which the community hoped would be used to bring a grocery store and much-needed retail to the Hunters Point neighborhood, according to a written statement from Archimedes Banya, but that these features were removed after the EIR was prepared.

“This is a total bait and switch,” said Bayview resident James Fahey, in a written statement. “Now we have no school, no stores, and radioactive waste has been discovered next to the site. This is not the same project described in the EIR.”

The appeals are scheduled to be heard by the Land Use and Transportation Committee on Monday before being heard by the full board on Tuesday.

A Build Inc. spokesperson said the company would not be able to comment Friday.

-By Michael Toren, Special to the S.F. Examiner

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