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Residents say possible office site is toxic

John Geluardi Daily Planet Staff
Tuesday November 14, 2000

Neighbors of an office complex proposed at Cedar and Fourth streets say the site may be contaminated and the development would increase traffic more than 12 times the current volume. 

They are appealing a July 27, 7-0-1, Zoning Adjustments Board decision to approve the project. Board member Gene Poshman abstained and Rose Pietras  

was absent.  

The ZAB based its findings on an environmental report that concluded there would be no adverse environmental impacts that would result from the proposed project. 

At tonight’s public hearing, neighbors of 1608 Fourth St., a former aeronautic paint factory, are expected to argue that the site is highly toxic and that the Planning Department has not done enough to investigate possible health risks. 

Development plans call for two buildings. One would consist of three stories of parking and one floor of offices. The other would be just three floors of office space. There would be 450 parking spaces and 95,000 square feet of office space. 

While there was an environmental study done on the site, there was no Environmental Impact Report performed. An EIR is a more thorough examination of environmental conditions of proposed developments. 

Rhiannon, a neighbor who opposes the development, said the site was “capped” by the city after underground storage tanks were removed in 1994. The city was concerned that the soil underneath the paint factory, which had operated on the site since 1920, was so toxic it was prudent to cover it with six inches of reinforced concrete. 

“Now, they’re going to be digging it all up to put in the garages,” Rhiannon said.  

She said the city is ignoring its own staff. “The Planning Department has ignored a letter from the city’s Toxics Management Division, which warned about the risks.” 

The developer for the site, Peter Meier of SPI Management of San Francisco, said the site hasn’t been used for 3-5 years and that there’s no evidence of toxins. “I believe we’ve conducted comprehensive tests and submitted that information to the city.” 

Rhiannon said neighbors are also concerned about increased traffic to the buildings. “Right now Virginia Street has a usage rate of about 200 cars a day, once the garage is built it will go up to 2,895 cars a day,” she said. 

Officials from the Planning and Development Department did not return calls from the Daily Planet.