September 5, 2012

8 Washington Approval Upheld But Now On Hold Until 2013 Election

8 Washinton Revised Rendering: North

Returning from their summer recess yesterday, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted to uphold their previous approval for the proposed 8 Washington Street project. As such, the qualified referendum to quash the development of 8 Washington as approved, or at the very least limit its height to 84 feet, will now head for the ballot box.

With the August 10 deadline for adding new measures to this November's ballot having since passed, however, the referendum which was financed by neighbors whose views would be blocked will land on the November 2013 ballot save a costly special election. In the meantime, any physical work on the project will remain on hold until after the public votes.

As we noted last month, should the upzoning be overturned at the ballot box, the project might still be viable at 84 feet, but don't expect anyone to admit to such right now.

8 Washington Watch: Development Approved! [SocketSite]
8 Washington Stalled As Anti-Development Referendum Is Qualified [SocketSite]
8 Washington Opponents Deliver On Anti-Development Threat [SocketSite]
The Money And Motivation Behind The Anti-8 Washington Measure [SocketSite]
The 8 Washington Development Website: New And Improved! [SocketSite]

First Published: September 5, 2012 9:15 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

I'm not sure how i feel about their decision to uphold. I think its great that they wont be bullied by the 1% who financed the signature campaign, but I worry that this will become a defacto referendum on all development period.

make no mistake, the people who financed this feel that they shouldnt have to deal with any new construction, anywhere, ever.

Posted by: Joe at September 5, 2012 9:49 AM

David Chiu = lap dog of Tele Hill Dwellers. Sat and chatted with Chiu on the 12 a few years back. What a dope.

Posted by: oa at September 5, 2012 10:06 AM

I think it's fantastic that this could be a referendum on development. Why not let the people decide one way or the other. Looking at the supervisors vote it is pretty clear that they are ignoring the will of the people and being swayed somehow by a handful of developers. I'd bet that the votes were purchased in the form of campaign contributions, donations, etc.

And the whole thing about the 1% is hilarious. Replace a swim and tennis club which most people can afford with multi-million dollar condominiums that only the top 0.5% can afford.

Posted by: anon at September 5, 2012 11:48 AM

"And the whole thing about the 1% is hilarious. Replace a swim and tennis club which most people can afford with multi-million dollar condominiums that only the top 0.5% can afford."

Don't you mean to say replace a pool with a much bigger pool and replace the tennis courts with a park. Because that is what's proposed.

Posted by: spakry*b at September 5, 2012 12:09 PM

I see what have a prop 8 supporter @11:48 - will of the people!

The "people" in SF are not educated on what works for urban architecture, or for the city. The "people" are mostly operating on nostalgic and provincial ideas of what SF should be world without end.
Half of the money for this ballot proposition came from ONE SINGLE couple in golden gateway who would lose their view. I personally dont believe that ballot propositions should be bought, but clearly Anon @ 11:48 does.

Posted by: Joe at September 5, 2012 12:15 PM

LOL, anon has no idea about the cost of membership the Golden Gateway.

Posted by: EH at September 5, 2012 12:28 PM

"The "people" in SF are not educated on what works for urban architecture, or for the city. The "people" are mostly operating on nostalgic and provincial ideas of what SF should be world without end."

Hear, Hear!

If "the people" want to preserve their views, tennis club or anything else on this property, they are free to buy the land themselves. Well, at least until another NIMBY group comes in and files an appeal...

Posted by: picasso1986 at September 5, 2012 12:32 PM

Yea, the dumb (not educated) people of SF have only been the movers and shakers to get this city where it is today, a world destination. The Urban architects have conceptualized that sunken plaza thing around the Powell Street BART station. How about the "Urban oases" of the Mission Street BART stations. Some of the Urban Archs may not be "educated" as much as you the panderers to the 1% seem to think.

Posted by: contrarian at September 5, 2012 12:52 PM

NYC, Chicago, London, Paris, hell even LA are world destinations.

SF is my city, but it is an extremely small player on the world stage overall. When you are talking about urban architecture we are even smaller. Everything here is design by provincial committee with process elevated above everything including results.

The movers and shakers that got us BART are not the same people who spend all of their time and energy preventing any change whatsoever.

Posted by: Joe at September 5, 2012 1:18 PM

Contrarian,

You cannot blame "urban architects" for the mess surrounding the BART stations, or any other public facility, i.e. the Civic Center library.

The blame lies squarely on the "homeless advocate conglomerate" which never really want to solve the problem.

Posted by: Jackson at September 5, 2012 1:21 PM

Yes, SF is a provencial town, it almost always has been since it is confined as a pennisula. The average resident has enjoyed it being less than a "World Stage" which the Archs would like to develop with their big city ideas. And now so many people immediately fall into lock step with the "more density, higher now, tear it down, build it" crowd. And then anyone who wants to slow down the process is hit with the NIMBY label.

Posted by: contrarian at September 5, 2012 1:55 PM

^^^
Nothing in what you just said has anything to do with 8 Washington.

big city ideas: it's 134 units.
tear it down: what the surface parking?
build it higher: it's 5 stories at the embarcadero it could be 8.
slow down the process: this has taken 7 years already.

Posted by: sparky*b at September 5, 2012 2:28 PM

It has everything to do with the liveability of SF as a whole

Posted by: contrarian at September 5, 2012 2:40 PM

"LOL, anon has no idea about the cost of membership the Golden Gateway."

Actually, I'm guessing that anon has a membership at GG. The membership by the way is about 2 bills a month, so it's pricey, but it's also probably not the same crowd who is going to drop $2M to live in this proposed development. With that said, I'm personally for rezoning it if it means more tax revenues and more public park space. It will suck to see the club get ruined though, as this would essentially make it much smaller (and sans tennis).

Posted by: Lance at September 5, 2012 2:57 PM

It has everything to do with the liveability of SF as a whole

Surface parking lots are not livable. Period. They are hideous and should be banned.

Posted by: anonymouse at September 5, 2012 3:24 PM

"It has everything to do with the liveability of SF as a whole"

This project is probably the 25th largest development in the city. It is not of the size to effect the liveability of the city of SF at all.

Posted by: sparky*b at September 5, 2012 3:31 PM

I am anon 11:48, and I certanly never have been a member of the club club nor live in the area (though I work a couple of blocks away). A couple hundred bucks (less if you just want to swim) is not that much for monthly dues. Broke 23-year olds spend that much every weekend going out to bars and clubs.

"Surface parking lots are not livable. Period. They are hideous and should be banned."

Well drugged out, public defacating, crime perpatrating bums make the city less livable and are hideous and should be banned. But this is SF. A lot of 'should be' doesn't happen.

Posted by: anon at September 5, 2012 3:34 PM

I personally don't understand the zoning here or around Gough and Geary

The area already has mid-rises. Forcing new adjacent construction to be 4 stories is not good planning it is about winning the argument about growth

Mid-rises here please.

Posted by: Zig at September 5, 2012 3:48 PM

It seems to me that the folks on the pro-growth, pro-development side of the debate (and in particular, actual property developers) realize that most San Franciscans don't want another Manhattan but built on the West Coast.

They realize that this has been voted on or discussed to death in various public policy venues over the years, and the yet-another-Manhattan side of the argument lost and keeps losing. They're not politically unsavvy.

So they don't come out and just say that they think San Franciscans are wrong about a decision that's already been decided and that current city policies are detrimental to their ability to do what they want to do.

Instead, they say things like S.F. residents "are mostly operating on nostalgic and provincial ideas of what SF should be" and things like that.

What's going on, though, is just that the pro-growth side (and it's really not even all pro-growth folks) has a DIFFERENT "idea of what SF should be" and they want current residents to accept their idea(s) uncritically, because they are being promulgated by people "educated on what works for urban architecture".

And I also think trying to cut off honest debate by bringing up Prop. 8 is really reprehensible rhetorical technique.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at September 5, 2012 4:07 PM

Eight stories replacing a current surface parking lot is "another Manhattan on the west coast"?

Um, ok.

Posted by: anon at September 5, 2012 4:10 PM

I'm not really sure we are "world class" or it even matters. Certainly; Paris, London, NY and Rome are world class.

Does it really matter if we define ourselves that way? Prob not. We are small, unique, (mostly) liveable, walkable and a destination.

Don't blame the "urban archs" for the Bart plazas: blame it on our ultra liberal openness and even "acceptance and tolerance" of the homeless, the drug addicts and the perpetual crazies for making these plazas total dumps. When we begin to solve those social problems, and they are big, complex ones, we will begin to have amazing, clean, humane open spaces for all of us to enjoy.

BTW: surface parking lots are not a big deal: they are slowly going away to be replace with residential and commercial construction, adding more value to the city tax rolls.

Posted by: futurist at September 5, 2012 4:33 PM

Cute retort, anon, but my comment above wasn't specific to this project but aimed at people who think developers should somehow dictate urban planning policy because they know best.

I support the conversion of surface level parking lots to housing since surface level parking lots are not the highest best use of land, and I've said so in past threads.

As far as the drugged out, public defacating, crime perpetrating bums, when I read the column today about the Mayor proposing to forcibly treat chronic inebriates, it made my day. We're moving in the right direction.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at September 5, 2012 4:48 PM

BTW: surface parking lots are not a big deal: they are slowly going away to be replace with residential and commercial construction, adding more value to the city tax rolls.

Not if contrarian has his way! And of course, anyone who wants them to go away must want SF to become Manhattan!

Posted by: anon at September 5, 2012 5:00 PM

I support the conversion of surface level parking lots to housing since surface level parking lots are not the highest best use of land, and I've said so in past threads.

But you don't support the actual highest use, because you heard somewhere that one developer somewhere in the city couldn't get financing, so clearly that must be the reason that more building isn't happening (rather than the process being exceptionally cumbersome). It's all because of lack of financing lol.

That's the same reasoning that I used in 2007 to say that we weren't in a real estate bubble - I know an unemployed guy in Phoenix who couldn't get a million dollar loan! No bubble!

Posted by: anon at September 5, 2012 5:04 PM

Futurist. I was responding to the feeling I get when I read (Joe @ 1215)

"The "people" in SF are not educated on what works for urban architecture"

and that Urban Archs are not infallible and that the process should be moved ahead deliberately without the blind reliance on the various experts.

I thought such professionals looked ahead to see what their designs might engender (note -- I do not expect prescience)

Posted by: contrarian at September 5, 2012 5:07 PM

Brahma,

In regards to "It seems to me that the folks on the pro-growth, pro-development side of the debate (and in particular, actual property developers) realize that most San Franciscans don't want another Manhattan but..."

I think you have it wrong. Nobody went against city policy here. They went through all the right channels and got appoval. It is the petition that went over that to stop a fairly small project. There may be Manhattanizion going on, but those projects aren't getting stopped those are getting built.

My issue is with the system. 7 years to get appoval and then this and it won't get voted on until Novemver 2013.

Posted by: sparky*b at September 5, 2012 5:15 PM

"The "people" in SF are not educated on what works for urban architecture, or for the city."

Well, 95% of the population does not understand the intracacies of public finance. Guess they should not be allowed to vote. Lets just let government decide for us since they are so much smarter than we are. And we'll just trust that there is no money (in one form or another) changing hands behind the scenes to obtain outcomes in favor of certain interests.

Posted by: anon at September 5, 2012 5:29 PM

We don't vote on the budget or how to invest the pension fund, we only vote to give more money and who we want to make decisions for us. We trust our city officials to make plenty of choices for us, this should have been one of them.

Posted by: sparky*b at September 5, 2012 5:40 PM

Do some of you really not understand the concept of representative democracy? Should we throw that out and have a city-wide vote on each and every new development project?

Posted by: R at September 5, 2012 6:33 PM

I think there is something somewhere about the rights of the minority, and checks and balances. There are a lot of individuals who now feel that so many of the projects, (taxes, pension fund "reforms",the Villancourt Fountain, etc) are just shoved down our uneducated throats by the so called experts, that any avenue of expressing our truly felt concerns is legitimate, and it is not just NIMBYism

Posted by: contrarian at September 5, 2012 7:06 PM

Only in SF is a proposal for an eight story building immediately in front of twenty + story buildings and next to 42 story buildings considered Manhttanization.
What do you people want ? A Thomas kinkaide painting on the waterfront?
I have no doubt that if it was proposed that SF that every single project be put to popular vote that it would pass easily.
I don't see most San Franciscans being savvy enough to understand why that might be a problem, and the myopia here is beyond epidemic. Let's not even discuss how things less than 50 years old are considered historic resources.
Now you can make sure that store that you bought ice cream in as a child but went out of business 16 years ago is maintained as a memory in perpetuity

Posted by: Bob at September 5, 2012 7:23 PM

Again. My comment at 4:07 PM wasn't specific to this project, but at the implicit attitude that developers know best and everyone else should just shut up and let them develop things the way they see fit, because everyone else isn't "educated on what works for urban architecture".

I'm not equating 8 Washington and and of itself with Manhattanization. I am saying that if we let developers do whatever the hell they want to do because they know best as to what works (read: maximize their own revenue), Manhattanization is likely to result, in my opinion, and that isn't what San Franciscans want. That's a point larger than the 8 Washington proposal.

If real estate developers are hell bent on producing another Manhattan (because Manhattanization is "what works for urban architecture") here, they should cowboy up, pony up their own dollars for their own (set of) ballot initiatives and be prepared to sell that conclusion to the public so it can work its way into driving revisions to area plans, etc. Because, as I understand it, the current public policy isn't built around that underlying assumption.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at September 5, 2012 7:54 PM

Have you been to Manhattan? The city added 170k units In the last eight years. SF probably hasn't added that much housing in the last 50 years.

Not to mention that manhattan is cleaner than SF, more vibrant, has less homeless, has massively better transit, and is more diverse.

Have you considered that a greedy developer built the housing you currently occupy?

Posted by: Joe at September 5, 2012 8:11 PM

Wow where to begin.
"What do you people want ? A Thomas kinkaide painting on the waterfront?". Look at the picture at the top of this thread. the lighting the sofntess, that is a Kinkade type of presentation.

How about a gritty, less than perfect waterfront, like in the Play, one that provides some texture, instead of a soft lit developers money money making dream.

This isn't about Manhattan. This is about SF, the city and culture that has impressed Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Kipling and among many others, Herb Caen.

And to paraphrase previous SS posts by others in the opposite context, if you like Manhatan go there.

Posted by: contrarian at September 5, 2012 8:33 PM

Brahma all you offer seems to be shout after shout of opinion lately. "San Franciscans are like this/feel like this" "manhattanization is the likely outcome here " (scare quotes around "that's what works..." really? LoL) "hubris in neighborhoods" and "entrenched denizen trumps newbie" and opinion after opinion without much, if any, references. It all amounts to a quirky personal path that you've crafted, and you don't make an adequate case for being able to speak for others at all much lately. Is it too much to ask for actual defensible arguments if youre going to post so very much?

Posted by: Anon1 at September 5, 2012 8:34 PM

I invite anyone using the technique to dispense with the incredibly fake "manhattanization" meme at any moment, for the sake of obtaining credibility. The fiasco in question has nothing to do with that stale, decades dead, media term.

Posted by: Anon1 at September 5, 2012 8:47 PM

The quotes around "what works for urban architecture" was because an earlier commenter wrote:

The "people" in SF are not educated on what works for urban architecture, or for the city.
Emphasis added for you, Anon1.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at September 5, 2012 9:26 PM

Joe at 8:11 PM, the fact that Manhattan is growing isn't in dispute here. Nor is their relative level of homeless population, etc.

If developers (and I should have written earlier that I have no information that San Francisco Waterfront Partners wants to do this, so my comments aren't directed specifically at them or the 8 Washington project) want to make the case that San Francisco should be more like Manhattan, for whatever reason, they should do so explicitly.

Sure, I've been to Manhattan and it offers many wonderful things. If developers want to re-litigate what Anon1 refers to as a "stale, decades dead, media term", then by all means they should do so. But be direct about it.

They shouldn't go around saying that developers know best, should be allowed to do whatever they want, because developers "are educated on what works best for urban architecture" and everyone else (which is to say, those who oppose them) is in thrall to nostalgic and provincial ideas.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at September 5, 2012 9:40 PM

But you went beyond that and actually said "manhattanization is what works." real magnanimous stuff, that.

Posted by: Anon1 at September 5, 2012 9:41 PM

Re: what Anon1 refers to as a "stale, decades dead, media term" and a request for references at 8:34 PM (that last part not just about the term 'manhattanization', but in general, granted). From one of the threads that wound up being about shadows being cast over public parks:

Big deal — this ain't Waikiki. Not like the area would otherwise be bathed in resplendent sunlight year-round, allowing Soma residents to bask in Sol's warming glow. Let's manhattanize already.
Posted by: Legacy Dude at October 5, 2011 11:42 AM

Emphasis added. So I'm not just pulling what Anon1 refers to as the "manhattanization" meme out of thin air, I got it from reading the paper, watching planning commission meetings and from some of the crowd here.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at September 5, 2012 10:06 PM

• From John King:Our city could use a little 'Manhattanization', first sentence:

For San Franciscans of a certain age and/or mind-set, "Manhattanization" is synonymous with everything bad in urban life.

That was in The Chronicle, August 10, 2010.

• On October 24, 2010: Sue Hestor pushes fight against Manhattanization. 'Nuff said.

• On December 4, 2011: Condominium located in SOMA near historically industrial area:

It's all about creating cachet…"It's kind of the Manhattanization of San Francisco," he explained.

• On June 19, 2011: S.F. losing kids as parents seek schools, homes:

City Hall policies lately have been geared toward benefiting mostly highly skilled, professional industries, she said, like the payroll tax cuts for biotech companies and for companies moving into Mid-Market including Twitter.

"Some might call it the Manhattanization of San Francisco, that it isn't able to support a thriving, working-class community," she said.

I could post more, but the socketsite spam filter would flag it.

Um, "stale, decades dead, media term"? Says you?

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at September 5, 2012 10:34 PM

All of those references are not so subtly mocking the term...it seems that you're missing that part?

Posted by: anon at September 6, 2012 7:59 AM

None of those cites (but thanks for displaying the old Vrahma still lives) disavows the fact that it is a stale and decades old term. The first one is King being a little tongue in cheek, the others misused, especially the mid-market malaprop, and yeah, stake and old and media-only it remains.

Posted by: Anon1 at September 6, 2012 7:59 AM

What's with all the strawmen? Who is suggesting that developers have free reign to build whatever, wherever? No one. This project has gone through a lengthy process of review, input and finally approval. There are already plenty of controls in place. What some of us are complaining about is the ability of one wealthy couple to derail the whole thing at the 11th hour by abusing the system in a way that only someone with incredible means can do. That is utterly distasteful to me. And that's all this is about. Not Manhattanization or any other diversionary discussions.

Posted by: Turin at September 6, 2012 9:17 AM

It may in fact be decades old, but the fact that it is still in use means that it isn't "stale", Anon1. People are still using it, even a little tongue in cheek, granted, because people around here know what it refers to.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at September 6, 2012 10:40 AM

You don't seem to. You used it incorrectly above. It refers to a certain anti movement, decades in the past. And nothing changed the fact that even if tongue in cheek, actine which you didn't employ, it doesn't belong here in an 8 Washington thread.

Posted by: Anon1 at September 6, 2012 11:06 AM

I do understand what it refers to, and so do all those cited above, including those using it a little tongue in cheek. You disagree. Leave it at that, okay?

And it's not "old and media only" because it comes up at the PC all the time. And the commissioners know what it means, even if it refers to a decades-old movement.

You said that it was stale and dead and I showed that it's an actively-used term and now you just don't want to admit you were wrong about it being stale and dead. It's in active use.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at September 6, 2012 3:52 PM

No, you really didn't. You did a search for "manhattanization" on sfgate and you delivered the results flatly without vetting. Now you're trying to stand in principle based upon occurrence, with a term that doesn't even belong to start with. I made my point, and you kept talking. Now I'm done .

Posted by: Anon1 at September 6, 2012 9:36 PM

Yea

Posted by: contrarian at September 7, 2012 6:56 AM

Who currently owns the space that will be developed?

Posted by: sfresident at September 7, 2012 10:19 PM

Read an interesting article that says Marcia Smolens "a lobbyist with close ties to Willie Brown" is behind this project. That alone in my book is reason enough to let the citizens decide about this luxury condo project (which by the IS NOT needed). ANYTHING w/ ties to slick Willie is odious in my book

Posted by: sfjohn at September 9, 2012 7:18 AM

How is this project "NOT needed"? Shouldn't the market decide? I see a project that will generate a lot of money towards the cash-strapped city's financial base.

Posted by: Fishchum at September 9, 2012 7:37 AM

"odious" ? Odious is unleashing minions via filthy lucre ... Children whose bosses likely didn't know the endgames of their Mission canvassing -- for a development on the Embarcadero. Seriously, it would only be another two levels up that accountability would begin, it was just young people getting other young people to sign something about "not blocking our Bay views with 'rich people's condos'' or similar. Paid for by a rich person, gaming the entire city .This whole thing is preposterous. So save your silly little passing snap judgments, "sfjohn." Willie brown? That's your objection? Good grief. This fiasco, in a just world, would result in sea change.

Posted by: Anon1 at September 9, 2012 9:53 AM

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