bernal heights condo

Rendering: Lennar

In a surprise move, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously upheld an appeal for a more substantial environmental review of 1515 South Van Ness last week. Located in the Latino Cultural District in the city’s Bernal Heights neighborhood, the housing project, which will have only 25 percent on-site affordable housing, has been criticized for speeding up gentrification in the area.

The 157-unit development was originally approved by the San Francisco Planning Commission back in August, and prior to the presidential election earlier this month, it seemed certain that the appeal would fail. But a change in the political climate appears to have caused members of the Board of Supervisors to reconsider.

According to The San Francisco Business Times, Supervisor David Campos was put off by comments from Sonja Trauss of the San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation. Lobbying for the development’s smooth approval at a meeting last week, she compared activists concerned about the impact the project could have on the Latino Cultural District to supporters of President-Elect Donald Trump’s anti-immigration comments. 

“In Trump’s America, we’re already disturbed by nativism everywhere. We don’t like it. And when you come here to the Board of Supervisors and say that you don’t want new, different people in your neighborhood, you’re exactly the same as Americans all over the country that don’t want immigrants. It is the same attitude,” she said.

Campos called that line of thought “hateful, ignorant and divisive,” and said that while he had intended to vote against the appeal, he would instead vote in its favor. He added, “I think Sonja Trauss turned off not just me. They turned an entire board against them. This is someone who has no sensitivity and no concern on the impact that the project could have on the cultural district … you can be passionate, but not disrespectful.”

Activists who were there to oppose the project were shocked but thrilled, as Lennar will now have to submit an additional environmental study for it. As yet it’s not clear how long that will take to put together.

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