Condo tower could live or die in Tuesday vote 

The fate of the 400-foot-tall planned development project near the landmark Transamerica Pyramid in North Beach could very well hinge on Tuesday’s vote by the Board of Supervisors.

The corkscrew-shaped condo tower development, rising 38 stories with 248 residential units, has turned into one of the most politically charged and controversial proposals in recent years. The developer has scheduled a 2013 completion date.

The board votes Tuesday on two appeals of the final environmental impact report completed for the development that argue the document is insufficient. An analysis of a development’s effect on its surroundings and recommendations for mitigating those impacts is required under state law. The appeals were filed by San Franciscans for Reasonable Growth and the Telegraph Hill Dwellers, which say the report fails to adequately address such effects as traffic or shadowing effects.

An upheld appeal would require the developer to go back to do more analysis, a usually a lengthy and costly process. Developer AEGON USA Realty Advisors sent a letter recently to the Board of Supervisors president that said the project will become too costly if the board upholds the appeal.

Among the more controversial elements of the development that has fueled opposition are that it would cast shadows, that it is a taller building than the parcel was zoned for, and that high-end condos were never envisioned for that area.

The board acts as a quasi-judicial body when voting on  appeals and is not allowed to prejudge the merits of the case beforehand. Board members are limited in what they can say.

Board President David Chiu said the board will determine whether the final environmental impact report “comports with state  environmental law."

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