North Beach garage proposal denied 

A plan to build a six-car garage in a North Beach building with a history of tenant evictions was dealt a blow Tuesday.

The owners of the 1907 three-story building at 424 Francisco St. want to raise the building 2 feet and build a six-car basement garage.

The Planning Department determined the project would not require an environmental impact review, which is required under state law when a project could have a significant impact on its surroundings. The reviews are lengthy and costly.

But the determination was appealed by the influential Telegraph Hill Dwellers and Chinatown Community Development Center. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted 7-3 in support of the appeal. Supervisors Carmen Chu, Sean Elsbernd and Michela Alioto-Pier voted to reject the appeal. Supervisor Sophie Maxwell was absent.

"This project may have potential significant impacts on the environment," Board of Supervisors President David Chiu said.

The building was at the center of the controversial eviction of low-income seniors in 2003 — part of a trend in the area.

The appellants argued that the project should undergo the environmental review to address the "cumulative effect" of added parking in the area. "Within the past six years, there have been at least 17 documented garage addition permits within one mile that have been associated with the Ellis Act eviction of up to 81 units of rental housing," the appeal said.

Legislation was approved by the board earlier this year that imposed restrictions on the construction of garages in situations like this, but the law may have come too late to apply to this specific proposal. Whether it would remains under review by the Planning Department.

"We’re not the previous owners that did the eviction. I am just a software engineer, not a real estate developer," said Wilson Yu, co-owner of the building. "We’re no evil people. We work hard to achieve our owners’ dream. This is not fair. The law says we can have a garage."

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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