Height of building that would house Mexican Museum still at issue 

Appeals and ballot fights hang over hearings this week for a project at 706 Mission St. that would construct new condos and retail, along with a permanent home for the Mexican Museum.

To move forward, however, the Board of Supervisors needs to approve a special-use district for the project that would, among other things, increase the height limit allowed for the residential tower to 480 feet, with 30 more feet allowed atop the building for mechanical equipment.

But opponents of the project, specifically Friends of Yerba Buena Gardens, which is largely made up of several dozen residents who live in the nearby Four Seasons, say the project will violate the 1984 voter-approved Proposition K law about casting shadows on public parks.

The group said it's not opposed to the project at Mission and Third streets, it just wants a shorter building. If the project does not meet guidelines, which opponents say would keep the tower at 351 feet tall, they are threatening to take the issue to the ballot box.

"We think that this is something that can be easily achieved," Adam Alberti, a spokesman for the Four Seasons residents, said of the shorter building.

But developer Millennium Partners pointed out that the proposed height limit already has been lowered, and anything less than 480 feet will make the project financially infeasible.

"We remain willing to discuss the concerns of Four Seasons condo owners who still oppose the project," Sean Jeffries, a principal at Millennium Partners, said in a statement. "But we're also committed to providing San Francisco with a permanent home for the Mexican Museum."

The Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee delayed a vote on the project last week in order to give both sides more time to negotiate and potentially avoid the ballot measure and litigation, which all three supervisors on the committee — Scott Wiener, Jane Kim and David Chiu — said they hoped would happen.

"I think the ballot measure is extreme and horrific public policy," Wiener said.

But former board President Aaron Peskin, who is not directly involved in the dispute, said the matter is about city policy that needs to be upheld. He said increasing the allowed building size is giving something to the developer while taking away from the public.

The board committee is scheduled to hear the special-use district issue again today, and the full board could take up the matter Tuesday.

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