Former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos came out swinging today against the proposed and Planning approved 8 Washington Street development. From Agnos’ open forum letter published in the Chronicle:
City leaders have been lamenting recently the continuing flight of families from San Francisco. Chronicle stories state a family earning $111,000 a year could afford only 23 percent of the houses for sale primarily in the city’s southern neighborhoods. Each year it gets worse. The response is civic hand wringing.
8 Washington, a project that combines public and private land, is a perfect place to begin a new policy by insisting that any residential development involving public land include middle-class family housing on the site. The current proposal is for a vertical gated community of luxury condos selling at $2.5 million to $7.5 million each. To get the best views, the developer is asking for the first height increase on northern waterfront in more than 40 years, from the current limit of 84 feet to 136 feet, as well as doubling the allowed bulk to make the project as wide as a football field.
The developer claims the project will meet the city requirement to fund 27 units of affordable housing — but somewhere else in the city, not on this partially city-owned lot. This deal also requires the city to continue to turn a blind eye to the loss of more than 100 rental apartments that have been converted to hotel use as corporate and vacation rentals. Those units are part of the Golden Gateway apartment complex, which is providing 80 percent of the 8 Washington site as a partner in the project. The result is that we accept an ongoing loss of affordable housing in order to aid in the development of luxury housing on the waterfront.
The alternative plan supported by Agnos and others, “a mix of hotels, restaurants, retail and a Downtown Transit & Bicycle Center on the Port of San Francisco’s remaining seawall lots, including 8 Washington.”
With respect to “the loss of more than 100 rental apartments that have been converted to hotel use as corporate and vacation rentals,” as we first reported earlier this week, an amendment to San Francisco Administrative Code Chapter 41 sponsored by Supervisor Chiu would “extend the restrictions against converting apartment units to short-term occupancies to tenants or guests of corporate entities that rent such apartments.”