SoMa, Tenderloin Activists Suing San Francisco Over 5M Project Approvals

Photo: Forest City
By Brittany Hopkins - Published on January 07, 2016.

Less than two months after the Board of Supervisors approved the controversial 5M Project, which will redevelop four acres of land owned by the Hearst Corporation in SoMa, a group of South of Market and Tenderloin-based activists have filed a lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco to challenge that decision.

In a press release issued this morning, the activists' attorney, Rachel Mansfield-Howlett of Provencher & Flatt, LLP, stated that the lawsuit contests the validity of the project's environmental review. 

“The EIR failed to divulge the severity of the project’s impacts, and did not consider feasible alternatives and mitigation measures that would lessen traffic impacts, provide for much-needed open space and avoid shading City Parks,” she said. 

The petitioners behind the lawsuit are the South of Market Community Action Network (SOMCAN), Save Our SoMa (SOS) and Friends of Boeddeker Park. The three coalitions' appeals of the 5M Project, based on the same grounds, were rejected by the Board of Supervisors before the project was approved in November. (The vote was 8-3, with supervisors John Avalos, David Campos and Eric Mar dissenting.)

According to the three groups, the EIR did not study the traffic congestion and shadow impacts the four-acre project will cause on streets and city parks in SoMa and the Tenderloin. The lawsuit also contests the Special Use District created to allow Forest City to build above the area's existing height limits, echoing the outpouring of opposition heard at the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors hearings about the 5M Project. 

"By this approval, the city wiped out years of neighborhood planning efforts that were initiated to protect families, youth and seniors," said Angelica Cabande, executive director of SOMCAN. "Instead of abiding by established planning and code provisions, the city implemented special legislation that gave the Hearst Corporation millions of dollars in added land value by rezoning their properties in a way that completely ignored community efforts.” 

Despite the agreement District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim struck with Forest City to include 40 percent affordable housing in the project before it went to the Board of Supervisors for its final decision, Cabande asserts that the project includes zero affordable housing on or offsite—pointing to an op-ed published in the Examiner as proof of those claims.

We've reached out to Forest City and Supervisor Kim for comment on the lawsuit, and will update if and when they respond.

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