The 75-unit housing project proposed on the site of a “historic” laundromat at 2918 Mission St. was quietly approved last October — without appeals from its fierce opposition, and without any gloating from its outspoken and controversial developer, Robert Tillman.
After this and other local publications reported heavily on the project, which had been juggled between the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors — including the historical studies, the shadow studies, the lawsuit filed by Tillman — the project was fully entitled last year without a peep from anyone. The five-year battle ended in anticlimax.
“I just want to sell my property, get the best price for it, and move on,” Tillman told Mission Local on Monday. “I don’t think a lot of people had a terrible motivation to crow.”
But last week, the project site that sits on Mission Street between 25th and 26th was thrust into the spotlight again: The developer of the proposed 330-unit development at 16th and Mission made a “best and final offer” to give Tillman’s entitled site — along with the stalled 117-unit project at 2675 Folsom — to the city for affordable housing development, in exchange for approval.
Wait, Tillman’s project was approved? For anyone who was wondering, here’s how it happened:
Last October, deputy city attorneys met in closed session with the Planning Commission regarding Tillman’s June lawsuit, which alleged that the Board of Supervisors illegally delayed his project. It is unclear what was discussed in the Oct. 4 meeting (the Commission would have to vote to disclose the meeting’s details) — but a week later, the Planning Commission voted 4-3 to push the project through.
Technically, the project’s main opposition — the community group Calle 24 — had a month to appeal, which would have triggered a vote by the Board of Supervisors.
The two prior times this matter went before the supes, Supervisor Hillary Ronen first delayed a vote on a project pending a study of whether the laundromat building was a historic resource (it turned out not to be), and then later kicked it back to the Planning Commission to assess further shadow studies.
Yet after the Commission’s Oct. 11 approval, Mission community groups, which have a reputation for not backing down — on anything — did not appeal.
“It was a strategic decision, the basis of which I am not at liberty to disclose,” said Scott Weaver, a lawyer with Calle 24.
Ronen suggested the appellants had no other avenues after the environmental review — known as CEQA — was exhausted. “My guess is there was no appeal filed because the shadow study report came back and did not seem to indicate that there was much impact on the adjacent schools,” she said, “and there wasn’t much else under CEQA that could be studied on the project.”
A building permit was issued in November, very shortly after the appeals period closed. And, on Jan. 11, after it was clear there would be no more opposition, Tillman dropped his lawsuit against the city.
So here we are: The land of one controversial developer might get purchased by an even more controversial developer, which said it would give the land to the city in exchange for building its controversial project at 1979 Mission St.
And if a 100-percent affordable housing development were ever to rise on the site one day, that would be, well, very ironic. “If they can get an overall deal, I’d do that,” Tillman said of Maximus’s offer to community groups. “If that’s what everybody wants.”
But just how possible that is — and whether anyone wants it — remains to be seen.