Opponents of the 8 Washington St. luxury condo development are casting a shadow on the project by zeroing in on its precarious proximity to a city sewage line carrying 20 million gallons of human waste a day.
With about six months before voters will be asked to reject the development, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu — an opponent of the project, which is in his district — warned Thursday of a scenario in which millions of gallons of sewage spill out onto waterfront streets as a result of construction or an earthquake.
Chiu, along with Supervisor David Campos, also questioned why the Board of Supervisors was not informed of risks outlined in a $105,000 Feb. 22 engineering report conducted by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission about having a development within several feet of the sewage line. They suggested the report was purposely kept away from decision-makers during the approval process.
After quizzing staffers from both the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and Planning Department, Campos said, “There’s a little bit of finger-pointing going on from one department to another. The sad thing is at the end of the day the board did not know of the severity of this issue.”
Project supporters said Chiu was overstating the engineering concerns, which would be worked out, like every other development in San Francisco, through proper planning before final building permits are issued.
Chiu said he plans to call other hearings on the topic and bring more city staffers involved in the development planning before the committee.
“I do not have faith in the departments involved that there has been an adequate investigation of the issues here,” Chiu said. He also suggested city staffers were under pressure to move the project along, saying they are aware of these issues “but for whatever reason were either told or decided to keep that information to themselves at potential jeopardy and great risk to the public, and I have a problem with that.”
During construction, liability to pay for damage after a pipe rupture would be on the developer. Simon Snellgrove of the Pacific Waterfront Partners has long fought to build the 134-unit condo development, even hitting the streets himself to try to hamper the signature-gathering effort by the development’s opponents to place the referendum on the November ballot.
Once all the units are sold, damage liability would shift to the homeowners.
Snellgrove said the engineering issues are being worked out and he expects a finalized agreement in August.
“Our engineers and the PUC’s engineers will be agreeing on the safest method to do this,” Snellgrove said.