The process for reviewing projects is twofold; environmental review and land use review. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and Federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires local jurisdictions to assess potential environmental impacts of land use decisions while the land use review process is guided by requirements of the San Francisco Planning Code.
The City’s project approvals include an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that complies with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that complies with the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). These two requirements are combined into a joint document, which outlines the potential significant impacts of the development and proposes alternatives and/or mitigation measures.
The EIR analyzed the issues listed below:
- Agriculture and Forest Resources
- Air Quality
- Biological Resources
- Cultural and Paleontological Resources
- Geology, Soils, and Mineral Resources
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Hazards and Hazardous Materials
- Hydrology and Water Quality
- Land Use
- Population and Housing
- Public Services
- Transportation and Circulation
- Utilities and Service Systems
- Wind and Shadow
The EIR/EIS is “critical path” in that none of the other necessary approvals can be considered until the San Francisco Planning Commission certifies a Final EIR/EIS. After the Draft EIR/EIS is published, the following will occur:
- A 45-60 day public comment period when written comments can be submitted to the Planning Department;
- A public hearing at the Planning Commission will be held during the 45-day period when oral comments can be provided;
- Planning staff, environmental consultant, and developer must provide a written response to each and every comment received from the public; and
- After the responses to comments are published, a public hearing is held at the Planning Commission to consider the responses to comments and certify that the Final EIR/EIS provides accurate information about the potential environmental effects of the project.
The final EIR/EIS is complete and was approved by the San Francisco Planning Department on December 10, 2016. The project is currently awaiting the Notice of Determiniation from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Land Use Approvals
Other necessary approvals include a Special Use District (SUD). The SUD will amend the Planning Code to establish density, parking, setbacks, and other zoning requirements. In addition, it will establish a permit review and approval process for individual development blocks. The SUD must be approved by the Board of Supervisors (BOS), and it will incorporate a Design Standards and Guidelines (DSG) document by reference. The DSG establishes development controls and guidelines, especially street layout and design, parks and open space, infrastructure improvements, and building height/bulk controls, and it also articulates a sustainability plan.
The Development Agreement (DA) is an agreement between the City and BRIDGE Housing that will vest development rights for a period long enough to complete the phased project as well as outlining the developer’s obligations.
Planning Department staff will make a recommendation to the Planning Commission as to whether or not to approve the project. The Planning Commission will consider this recommendation but is not bound by it. After action by the Planning Commission, both the DA and SUD will be heard at the BOS Land Use Committee and the full BOS meeting following certification of the EIR/EIS.
Assuming the entitlements process proceeds relatively smoothly, the project should be fully entitled by the middle of 2016.