Community Rights To Challenge Development
In 2010, two proposed ordinances were put forward in San Francisco City Hall that would have drastically weakened the rights of residents, neighborhoods, and environmental watchdogs to challenge corporate developer projects.
The first, written by the San Francisco Planning
Department staff, would have gutted the ability of
residents and neighborhoods opposing a developer
construction project to force that project through a
public 'Discretionary Review' hearing of the Planning
Commission. Instead, the ordinance would have given
Planning Department staff sweeping powers behind close
doors, to selectively prevent such public review at
their own discretion.
The second ordinance, introduced by then District 2
Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier and her chief aide Bill
Barnes, would have severely hamstrung the ability of
environmental and other organizers to challenge
developer projects based on possible breaches of the
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). This
cynical legislation would have fast tracked
environmental review of development, giving
neighborhoods and environmental advocates less time to
raise environmental challenges, and would have thrown a
minefield of other bureaucratic obstacles in the path of
local CEQA review.
Throughout 2010, Our City joined in an alliance with
other neighborhood and environmental organizations to
say loudly and clearly to City Hall decision makers,
that we would not tolerate any weakening of public and
environmental review of developer projects.
By early 2011, the alliance succeeded in halting both
of the proposed destructive measures before they could
reach the Board of Supervisors.