8 Washington condo project could threaten major sewer line

Courtesy RenderingThe 8 Washington St. project would be constructed over a main sewer line

Courtesy RenderingThe 8 Washington St. project would be constructed over a main sewer line

Engineers studying the 8 Washington St. project have raised concerns about how construction along the proposed waterfront development could adversely affect a sewer line that carries a quarter of The City’s wastewater.

Yet despite such objections, which were raised by project opponents during Tuesday’s meeting of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, that body voted to deal with such concerns at some point in the future, since the project is still in the approval process.

The 8 Washington St. development would transform a 3.2-acre site that currently houses a health club and a parking lot into housing units, restaurants and retail, plus a rebuilt health club and an underground parking structure.

But beneath the proposed project is one of The City’s major sewer lines, according to SFPUC spokesman Tyrone Jue. It runs through commission property and through a plot owned by the Port of San Francisco. Because the condo project could affect that sewer line, it needs a sign-off from the commission.

Engineers working on the project have suggested that the development could damage the sewer line.

 “The primary concern for damage to the existing SFPUC wastewater assets is from construction-induced ground movements to include excavation, dewatering, basal instability, and pile driving,” stated a Feb. 22 draft technical report from William Bergeson, an engineer with the engineering and design firm AECOM.

PJ Johnston, a spokesman for developer San Francisco Waterfront Partners, said the project’s design team is already making “considerable strides in addressing these concerns.”

But vocal project critic Aaron Peskin, a former president of the Board of Supervisors, told commissioners,  “I think you have a duty to investigate. I don’t think it will slow anything down.”

In the end, the commission recommended to the Board of Supervisors that when lawmakers negotiate an easement deal with the developers, language is inserted stating that the project must go back to the commission to make sure the project will not negatively affect the critical utilities.

Commission General Manager Harlan Kelley said talks with the developers are ongoing.

“We have been in conversations about how we would like to protect our infrastructure,” Kelley said.

He said the approval by the commission will allow the agency to help protect the infrastructure as the design process moves ahead.

Johnston vowed that developers would resolve all these concerns.

“The bottom line is nothing will get built until all seismic and other safety concerns are adequately addressed,” he said.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, whose district includes the proposed development site, called on Tuesday for a hearing about the matter.


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