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Supes reject environmental appeals, approve India Basin housing development

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The Board of Supervisors has approved a project at India Basin that will include more than 1,500 units of housing. (Cindy Chew/S.F. Examiner)

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a more than 1,500 unit housing development with parkland and commercial space in India Basin Tuesday after rejecting appeals of the project.

The board voted 10-1 to reject the two appeals of the environmental impact report, challenging its adequacy under the California Environmental Quality Act. Supervisor Sandra Fewer, the lone dissenting vote, had suggested further review was needed to examine other measures to address air quality concerns.

The 38-acre India Basin project at 700 Innes Ave. and 900 Innes Ave. will include 1,575 housing units and 200,000 square feet of commercial space for a grocery store and childcare space. Twenty-five percent of the units would be offered at below market rates.

The Build, Inc. mix-used development of buildings ranging from 20 feet to 160 feet on the waterfront will also include an 8-acre waterfront park.

Mayor London Breed praised the project approval in a statement, and Rec and Park head Phil Ginsburg said the deal will result in “one of the most important park projects in modern San Francisco history.”

The appeals were filed by Bradley Angel, of Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, and Archimedes Banya, a bathhouse site near the development. During the appeal hearing, Angel suggested he would sue over the decision, which could slow down the project.

Appellants argued The City was discounting their health concerns.

Marie Harrison, a member of Greenaction and a Bayview resident, told the board, “You keep ignoring the health risk for our community and people like myself who are already sick. Are we supposed to be discounted?”

Supervisor Malia Cohen said that “the public comment really reflects the uneasiness that exists in the Bayview community when it comes to development, when it comes to environmental injustices.”

But, she said, the “CEQA evaluation is thorough. The project will undoubtedly be a benefit to the community.”

Jill Fox, a 26-year resident of Innes Avenue, supported the development. “We are going to suffer some short term air quality issues during construction just like every other construction project that has ever happened in the history of humankind, but our long term gains here.”

Among them, she said, “We are going to have the most beautiful park on the east side of town. We are going to have the Crissy Field of the south.”

Two weeks ago, the board postponed a vote on the appeals after the Bay Area Air Quality Management District raised concerns about the EIR at the last minute.

But Greg Nudd, the deputy air pollution control officer with BAAQMD, said, “We believe the EIR reduces the projects localized air pollutants impacts as much a feasible.” He added, “We believe the project is sufficiently health protective.”

Angel said that they would support the project if The City could eliminate the health impacts from the construction work, otherwise “this project is going to be tied up for a long time.”

He added, “Let’s work together to get a grocery store but not at the expense of people’s ability to breathe.”

Build Inc. founder Lou Vasquez, said, “We will do whatever we can to minimize the impact this project has on air quality.”

He added that “building housing in close proximity to jobs and businesses as the India Basin project does, reduces the main source of pollution in San Francisco, automobile traffic.”

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