Mayor Ed Lee: Stalling on Fairmont Hotel was a ‘city mistake’ 

The owners of the Fairmont Hotel are getting another shot at converting its 23-story tower of hotel rooms into luxury, high-rise condominiums because The City made a “mistake” in the planning process, Mayor Ed Lee said Monday.

Lee was unable to comment on our story that already ran, but we caught up with him on Monday. 

“The extension introduced was simply to keep things in play because we have been, partly, as a city faulted with not doing the EIR in a timely manner,” Lee said in reference to the environmental impact report that was stalled on a 3-3 vote at the Planning Commission last October.

The commission had planned to take up the issue again after some questions were answered, but the Fairmont’s deadline to secure approval had come and gone on Nov. 1.

“I introduced that extension to make up for, I think, a city mistake,” Lee said. “At the same time, I have basically told the developer and I assured Mike Casey that if the workers don’t feel if this is something that will protect their jobs, then most likely they will not have any city support. It was not an indication, on my part at all, to support the project.”

Casey is the head of the hotel workers union and both Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and Lee are pushing for a meeting between the union and the owners of the hotel. So far, they have been “feeling each other out,” Lee said. 

But beyond the risk of losing jobs, there is also the argument that The City should keep its hotel rooms because of their importance to the local economy. That’s the argument former Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin made. Tourism is The City’s number one industry, after all.

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Brent Begin

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