February 19, 2014
High-Rise Wars: New Tower Appealed By Neighboring High-Rise HOA
As we first reported this past December, while the demolition permits to raze the buildings at 340 and 360 Fremont Street in order to clear the way for the approved 40-story residential tower to rise on the site were issued, the permit to build the tower was appealed and suspended. And now, the approved demolition permits have been appealed as well.
The appellant behind all of the appeals is the HOA for The Metropolitan, the adjacent two-towered development along First Street which rises up to 27-stories with Bay views, views which will be blocked by the 340 Fremont Street tower as noted back in 2006.
San Francisco's Board of Appeals is slated to hear the HOA's arguments this evening.
UPDATE: The appeals were denied and the demolition of the existing buildings at 340 and 360 Fremont should soon commence with construction for the 400-foot tower to follow.
∙ Demo Approved But Permit To Build 40-Story Tower Suspended [SocketSite]
∙ Neighborhood Scoop: 340 Fremont's Refined Design And Parking [SocketSite]
First Published: February 19, 2014 10:30 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
Aw, bless. They think they're important enough to get a project killed. No, you have to be Telegraph Hill-caliber money for that.
Posted by: extra at February 19, 2014 11:12 AM
This entire process is just so infuriating. Didn't our mayor recently say he was going to try to streamline building housing? Is that something that can be actually accomplished, or would it require an impossible to pass ballot initiative. To be honest though, I can't see most people in the city being against a project like this. Already a wealthy area, a lot of new housing, who would care?
Posted by: Sam at February 19, 2014 11:53 AM
Tis good times to be in real estate law. It would be interesting to see a cost/benefit analysis of RE cases filed in the last two decades. Any case that resolved in no change (even if the plaintiff was compensated out of court) is pure cost. It would be enlightening to know for example that $200M spent on shadow ordinance litigation resulted in the protection of a few hundred square feet of parkland from about two hours per year of shade.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at February 19, 2014 12:23 PM
What a crock of bs coming from The Metropolitan.
Do they realize that THEIR buildings also block views?
The developer of this new project needs to sue them to shut up.
Posted by: Futurist at February 19, 2014 12:30 PM
Thank you Futurist. Well said
Posted by: markk at February 19, 2014 12:42 PM
Assuming they lose, the Metropolitan HOA ought to be billed for the cost of responding to frivolous appeals.
Posted by: Snark17 at February 19, 2014 1:17 PM
Any chance it will be televised, or online at least?
Posted by: woolie at February 19, 2014 1:32 PM
I hope they do not kill this project the additional housing within walking distance of downtown jobs would be a great thing.
Posted by: Joseph A at February 19, 2014 1:59 PM
Gee, I guess nobody saw this coming....lol.
Got to love those special folks who want special favors from special people.
Got to wonder if the board of appeals will have a copy of the sellers disclosures on hand for tonight's hearing?
Posted by: Keepitup at February 19, 2014 2:00 PM
In SF, it doesn't matter who is right or wrong, it just matters who makes the biggest fuss. And there is going to be an unprecedented level of fuss this year. Grab your popcorn.
Posted by: anon at February 19, 2014 2:01 PM
I got no dog in this fight, but it seems like what's fair is straightforward -
People at the Metropolitan paid a high price for their nice views. If the parcel in question was already zoned for a 40 story building, they have no grounds to complain.
BUT, if it was zoned for something much lower in height, and the Politicos later changed the zoning, effectively telling the Metropolitan folks that "Hey, we need more housing. Sorry it'll knock a half million off of the value of your home, but it's for the greater good, you see..." if I owned a condo in the Metropolitan, I'd sue the hell out of everyone.
Posted by: jeremy at February 19, 2014 2:14 PM
Oh it does matter who is right and wrong.
That's one of the cultural/ideological issues in SF today: No one wants to talk right/wrong for fear of offending "some" group or thought.
Examples: It's wrong that we have so many homeless on our streets and that WE cannot solve it. It's wrong that that Tenderloin is such a cesspool and WE cannot solve it.
And it's wrong that an entity such as The Metropolitan CAN file an appeal against another project that meets ALL legal planning and building code requirements. It's wrong that their complaint is about blocking VIEWS from their building.
There really is right and wrong.
Posted by: Futurist at February 19, 2014 2:14 PM
Posted by: seriously at February 19, 2014 2:26 PM
I disagree jeremy. Cities should expect to grow regardless of the current zoning. SF can no longer sprawl into greenfield so the only other option is to go up. It is OK to complain and perhaps sue but the expectation that nothing changes is unrealistic. Change is inevitable and no-one should count on any place being frozen in time.
I do agree on your point on the zoning of the parcel at the time that the Metro was built. If zoning would have allowed a 40 story building then the complaint should immediately be thrown out.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at February 19, 2014 2:49 PM
The Met has a fair amount of second homes and weekend places (pied a terrors). I bet many of the permanent residents are renters anyway. So my guess is that this is being driven by 1-2 busybodies with too much time on their hands, which is usually the case in SF in these types of frivolous situations. Ridiculous.
Hopefully this is quickly dismissed before any more time is wasted on it. The rich people who currently don't live at their units in the Met can buy a condo on a higher floor in the new building and not live in that, thus preserving the views they seldom look at.
Posted by: Legacy Dude at February 19, 2014 2:51 PM
The appeal will be rejected. As for all of you "I would sue" types....sure you can sue about anything, but a view protection cause of action would be dismissed as there is no legal authority to file such a case. Additionally, I am sure the CEQA statute of limitations has passed, so there is effectively no more bullets in the chamber for the whiny Metropolitan residences. Shame on them.
Posted by: Grubber2 at February 19, 2014 2:59 PM
@Milkshake - that's a valid disagreement, but I'd retort -
If the height limits were increased on the parcel AFTER I'd hypothetically bought my Metropolitan condo with killer views - I've lost money and the owner of the parcel has gained a windfall with the increase (perhaps by greasing a few palms along the way?). It seems fair that if one person makes a windfall profit - but at the expense of others - compensation is called for.
Posted by: jeremy at February 19, 2014 2:59 PM
One of the best things about this project is that it would - at least from one direction - block view of the Metropolitan, which is imo a butt-ugly, cheap-looking building.
Posted by: steve at February 19, 2014 3:05 PM
Ha, following your thought process to its logical conclusion leads to absurdity.
Which is why, as stated above, there is no cause of action for what you describe.
Posted by: Sam at February 19, 2014 3:26 PM
Sam - jeremy makes a good case for not implementing upzoning one parcel at a time. It is too easy to exploit for profit.
Instead upzoning should be done as periodic (as in every decade or two) over large swaths of the city. That's a normal planning cycle and allows the city to come together on decisions regarding growth without backroom deals.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at February 19, 2014 3:43 PM
When the rincon hill plan and this tower were finally zoned in 2006 the metropolitan was already built. I followed the RH plan process fairly closely and do not recall any objections to the up zoning of these and several other RH parcels. The up-zoning was from 225 foot height to 400 foot height if I recall.
I doubt the Met suit is over views blocked, it would be a naive legal claim, but probably over excavation, foundation, underpinning etc., perhaps seismic. But tall buildings get built adjacent to other structures, tall and short, all the time and there is a standard code and protocol for doing so. Can't imagine the claim has any real teeth, or duration. but it will be costly.
Posted by: Louis at February 19, 2014 3:48 PM
The Board of Appeals hearing will be broadcast on SFGTV2 tonight at 5 PM. It can be streamed from the CIty website to your computer.
Posted by: d-b at February 19, 2014 4:08 PM
340 Fremont is doing a favor to Metropolitan, concealing that ugly piece of pseudo-architecture.
Posted by: Cody at February 19, 2014 4:12 PM
@Milkshake - Bingo! A perfectly fair and rational approach.
Which is why it will never happen in SF.
Posted by: jeremy at February 19, 2014 4:12 PM
Sorry, but multi-million dollar views are not guaranteed for anybody.
Posted by: Mark at February 19, 2014 5:10 PM
If anyone paid a nickel for their view from the Metropolitan, they were complete fools. They cheaply bought a high rise condo in a very unfinished crappy neighborhood of low rise mostly vacant or underutilized industrial buildings, and they thought the parcels all around them were not going to develop to a height at least as high as their building? Of course they are. And once the new building is as tall as yours it doesn't matter how much taller it is - you have already lost your view. There is nothing shady or illicit or even bad planning about this. This is called how cities develop. And actually, being in a completed new neighborhood of high rise condos will ultimately raise property values above the slummy neighborhood the Metropolitan residents bought into.
Posted by: Jim at February 19, 2014 6:46 PM
Permit appeals denied.
Posted by: joe at February 19, 2014 7:56 PM
Just caught the tail end of it; the appeals were denied and the permitted work may continue. The [Metropolitan] HOA made their arguments on seismic safety grounds, basically saying the new building should meet standards their own building does not meet.
Posted by: woolie at February 19, 2014 7:58 PM
Another day, another frivioulous wrench thrown into the housing machinery to slow the inevitable.
This is a city. There is high demand for housing. Towers are going to be built.
Posted by: sfresident at February 19, 2014 8:09 PM
I viewed the Met when it was built. If I remember I had to go out into the hallway to change my mind because the units were so small.
I looked at several floor plans and decided the PPSF was way to high for the quality and size of the units.
I think the only reason the place sold quickly was lack of inventory at the time.
The loss of view argument was tried at 260 2nd street to try and stop the new Tishman 400 foot office tower at Howard and 2nd. The appeal went down in flames......just like this appeal should...if it's base on loss of views only.
If it's about foundations then the developer can mitigate to ensure the Met's needs are taking care of. And if it is about foundations I would think the adjoining PG&E substation located next door would be more concerned. How about those EMF's radiating out of the substation??? Anyone raising any issues there??
Anybody watch the hearing? Was the item postponed or did they deny the appeal to stop the demo?
Posted by: Keepitup at February 19, 2014 8:12 PM
appeal rejected 4-0
Posted by: foobar at February 20, 2014 7:24 AM
Good news for the mexican museum project?
Posted by: diverj at February 20, 2014 11:06 AM
i do not think there are any coat-tails for the "mexican museum" project 706 Mission street because the real claim there relates to the park shadow ban vis yerba buena and/or union square - and whatever you think of that argument - it has a lot more teeth in san francisco law than blocking a personal view from a window.
Posted by: louis at February 20, 2014 11:22 AM
Speaking of obnoxious citizens and frivolous litigation, what's the latest on the mixed-use development which would incorporate the Mexican Museum on Jessie Square?
Posted by: Orland at February 21, 2014 4:44 AM