A building permit for a controversial skyscraper in the US state of California has been denied after being delayed over a controversial environmental law.
The Building Permit Review Board (BPRB) rejected a permit for the luxury hotel at the centre of a fierce debate over how the state regulates development in the state, which saw the death of a man and the destruction of a popular park and playground.
The permit, which would have been for the construction of a highrise tower in the San Rafael district, was granted in September and set to go before the full board of the state’s building department later this year.
However, the decision was delayed due to an amendment to the state building code which states that “the use of a building permit, including the approval of a construction project, is a matter of public record”.
“The Board concluded that there is insufficient evidence to show that the proposed building is in the public interest and, therefore, that the Board cannot proceed with the approval,” it said in a statement.
It was also criticised by the California Association of Realtors, which said the building permit had been given to the developer “at a time when the Board was considering a number of other factors, including whether to pursue an application for a permit to construct a hotel in the city of San Rafael, which has a significant homeless population”.
The building permit was issued for the San Pablo hotel, which is currently under construction at a site near San Rafael.
The development has attracted widespread criticism because of the impact of the drought and lack of adequate fire protection.
“This is a case of the power of public records being used to thwart the public’s right to know the facts of a matter that is so important to the health and safety of California,” said the association’s vice-president, Robert M. Tisch.
It is not clear whether the decision to deny the permit was linked to the recent California law banning construction in areas of the Pacific coast with high levels of greenhouse gases.
“It could be a coincidence,” said Chris Anderson, a senior adviser to the environmental group Friends of the Earth.
But the ruling could have a ripple effect on other developments in California’s cities.
The California Supreme Court last month struck down a similar provision in the California Building Code, which allows permits to be issued for new construction in parts of the country with high greenhouse gas emissions.
“The court’s ruling in the case against the California law on the new building permits, issued under the new California Building code, is an important victory for the public and our economy,” said Sarah Hartmann, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Home Builders.
“We are excited to see the court’s decision in this case, which will help make California the first state in the nation to abolish these permits.”