Judge Throws Out Environmental Approvals of 8 Washington Project

A judge’s ruling this week in San Francisco Superior Court has set aside all city approvals of the controversial 8 Washington project, project opponents said today.

The 8 Washington project was controversial among some San Francisco residents because of the project’s height and the potential for increased building heights along the San Francisco waterfront. Voters rejected measures in 2013 that would have allowed the 134-unit project in the city’s Financial District north of the Ferry Building to go forward.

Despite the ballot-box defeat, however, groups including Neighbors to Preserve the Waterfront, Friends of Golden Gateway and San Franciscans for Reasonable Growth filed a legal challenge to the project because they said the developer still planned to move ahead with a revised project at reduced heights using existing environmental approvals.

The decision Wednesday by The Honorable A. James Robertson II means those environmental approvals are no longer valid, project opponents said today. The judge handed down the decision after hearings in December 2014 and last month.

The judge said the environmental approvals are invalid because the city failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act when it approved an environmental impact report (EIR) based on 2007 traffic data.

The developers and the city must prepare and certify an EIR “that addresses the deficiencies in the judgment, including analysis of traffic-related environmental impacts based on current traffic data,” before actions can be taken to consider approving the project, the judge said.

Friends of Golden Gate representative Lee Radner said in a statement that 8 Washington is a “failed project” and the San Francisco Port Commission should “take a fresh look at the best way to allow everyone to enjoy this prime part of the San Francisco waterfront.”

Other parties that petitioned the court include Neighbors to Preserve the Waterfront, San Franciscans for Reasonable Growth and Ferry Building Investors. All groups said the EIR was inadequate.

“The court grants the petitions in part because the EIR is inadequate as a matter of law in its analysis of the project’s traffic-related impacts,” Robertson said in his decision.

Attempts to reach Pacific Waterfront Developers, LLC and San Francisco Waterfront Developers, LLC, the developers of the project, or their attorneys, were unsuccessful this evening.

Keith Burbank, Bay City News

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