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With big money fueling the fire and the ballot measure battle over the development of 8 Washington Street heating up, San Francisco’s Department of Elections has just designated the “Open Up the Waterfront” initiative as Proposition B on this November’s ballot.

The “No Wall On The Waterfront” referendum, which opposes the approved upzoning for the development, will be Proposition C.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Mike

    The real question is whether 8 Washington is better than what is there now. Every time I walk past the existing ground floor parking lot, or the 10 ft. opaque fence that surrounds the private club on the lot, I find that an easy question to answer.
    The next question is whether what gets built there if Prop B *fails* is better than what’s there now. That’s a tougher question – squat buildings covering the entire footprint, no park, no opening up of the east/west streets to the waterfront.
    Yes on B, Yes on C.

  2. Posted by Futurist

    Build the project as designed. It’s low scale.
    There is a park included.

  3. Posted by Joel

    Mike, The only east-west street that intersects the project site is Jackson (which will be opened up as a pedestrian passage.)

  4. Posted by anonanon

    “There is a park included.”
    That may be one of the most ridiculous remarks in favor of this project that I’ve ever seen. If you had ever been to this part of town, you would have known that right on the other side of Washington St. there are several city blocks’ worth of parks and open space starting with the 5.3 acre Sue Bierman Park and including the Justin Herman Plaza and stretching all the way to the bocce courts near Hotel Vitale. Accross the street you have the piers and the Ferry Plaza. One short block to the west you have Sydney G. Walton Square, which is a very nice park. As is Levi’s Plaza a few blocks to the north although the park seems somewhat underutilized.
    There are certainly parts of town where additional park space would be a major positive, but this is not one of them.

  5. Posted by Futurist

    Your logic fails.
    There is a park included. FACT.
    There are other parks nearby. FACT.
    So, how in your mind is this park NOT a positive for the area? You’re deflecting the conversation by saying that other parts of the city could use a park. And what does that have to do with this park?
    Nothing.

  6. Posted by anonanon

    Another park would add very little benefit to the area, so if that is 50 percent of a two-sentence endorsement of the project, it’s probably a reflection of how much you understand that part of San Francisco. Maybe you should visit that area sometime in order to understand the park situation.
    As for how it would not be a positive, it would have to do with the impact on recreational facilities being used by thousands of people, mainly middle-class families, that would be impacted in order to build ultra-luxury condos for the one percenters.

  7. Posted by wc1

    “ultra-luxury condos for the one percenters”
    So it’s either that or do what you are proposing which is to protect the views of the one percenters.
    Id much rather the fence be torn down and the area opened up. That part of the Embarcadero is like walking along a freeway.
    It’s pretty much a given that any housing built on any waterfront anywhere in the world is going to be for the so called “one percenters”.

  8. Posted by Mwsf

    “As for how it would not be a positive, it would have to do with the impact on recreational facilities being used by thousands of people, mainly middle-class families, that would be impacted in order to build ultra-luxury condos for the one percenters.”
    The members only club is being rebuilt on the site – so how is this a negative impact?!
    The only things negatively impacted by this project are the views of the 1 %er neighbors, the asphalt parking lot and the chain link fence around the club.

  9. Posted by anonanon

    My concern is not with the Bay views of the one percenters, but with a recreational facility that has been of great use to a large number of middle-class families. As for “the fence be torn down and the area opened up” by building high-rises argument, yeah, surely we are all idiots!

  10. Posted by Futurist

    The park, even this small urban one, will be a positive asset to the surrounding community and others who may wish to use it.
    The big, existing fence/wall will come down, thankfully. The members only club will be re-built on the site.
    Nothing wrong with “ultra-luxury” condos. Lots of them already exist all over SF. Part of reality, and part of living here. The city is not just for middle class.
    Finally, this project is so small in scale, with regard to the entire waterfront context, and OTHER existing buildings, that it will have zero impact on the Embarcadero.
    It’s a good project, well thought out and well designed.

  11. Posted by James

    What happens if both measures are defeated? Would the city’s approval stand?

  12. Posted by NightOwl

    The politics of San Francisco are going to make it devour itself.

  13. Posted by Truethevote

    One percenter, a label overused and inane. The current avg. rent for a studio in SF gets you a house or 3br in other parts of the country. To live here is expensive, which means many sf residents fall under this category. These people that we are so comfortable maligning pay over 50% of the taxes collected. The dues for that club are 350 a mo per couple which does not sound middle class to me, but maybe I have lost 99 percent of my hearing ;)

  14. Posted by anon

    Having worked in this area forever, that proposed park will rarely be used since it will be in the shadows nearly all the time. Besides, it is the size of a tennis court.
    And let’s be clear. The project would block the views of $1,000/square foot owner occupied condominiums by building $2,500/square foot vacation condominiums. And replace a $200/month private club with a $500/a month private club.
    So let’s be clear, is this the best possible use of the location? Not by any stretch of the imagination. Why not just let Larry Ellison develop a medium-sized castle on the property?

  15. Posted by wc1

    “And replace a $200/month private club with a $500/a month private club.”
    Links/Source?
    Just curious as I was trying to find out the club’s costs earlier.

  16. Posted by mwsf

    “Besides, it is the size of a tennis court”
    The proposed park in the project is over 27,000 sq. feet which is 4X the size of a tennis court and does not even include the rebuilt private tennis club. This new park is also infinitely more public space than the 0 sq. ft that is there right now.
    “The project would block the views of $1,000/square foot owner occupied condominiums”
    That is so sad that a few million dollar condos will have their views blocked. That is what happens when you live right downtown in a major city!

  17. Posted by Futurist

    Exactly @ mwsf: well said.
    Fear mongering comments from others full of hyperbole and sometimes un-truths often distort the truth.
    The park WILL be used. It’s not the size of a tennis court. Some views will be blocked and views are not ALL protected by the Planning Code.

  18. Posted by lyqwyd

    Measure [C] is only about protecting some million dollar views, as the project can still be built even if the measure passes, just at a lower height. Remember, all it does is overturn the up-zoning.
    It’s a terrible use of the ballot process. It’s pathetic that there are some supervisors supporting this. According to their website supervisors Avalos, Breed, Chiu, and Campos are supporting this measure. I called and emailed my supervisor (Breed) to find out why they are supporting this and never got a response.
    The park and tennis club may be eliminated if measure [C] passes, as it makes the project less profitable for the developer at lower height, and they might do value engineering at that point. You may also wind up with a less attractive building, although it’s all speculation, they might still keep the park and club.
    If both measures fail the development proceeds as planned, if both win, then the one with more votes is victories. Yes on B, No on C if you think protecting views at the ballot box is a dumb idea.

  19. Posted by Mark

    Geez folks. Okay, I took some time off from this topic to think about it objectively, which can be tough living in a high priced city making a middle class income.
    The park is just a feeble (at best) gesture to push the project through. Will folks really be hanging out there? More likely, like any other public space downtown, transients will move in. The property as it stands today is less than open to the waterfront. If anything it adds yet another wall, albeit shorter, between the Embarcadero and the condo complex behind, which is a wall itself.
    Face it, the middle class has been pushed out of much of the city. The waterfront development projects will favor the wealthy, whether it’s year-round or vacation living. Therefore, why treat this area any different than the scores of projects favoring those the rich going up elsewhere in the city. Aw, it’s too bad a select few with views of the bay will lose it. It’s called development, not entitlement. Would their ire be directed toward the same construction if it was designed for lower or middle income folks?

  20. Posted by Futurist

    @ Mark: It’s likely this “high priced city” will remain that way. Low supply of new housing and high demand from higher incomes will keep housing expensive.
    But I never hear of “middle class” people wanting to move out to Portola, or Excelsior or Visitacion Valley, to name a few lower priced areas, and wanting to buy there and create a better neighborhood. They all seem to want Noe, Bernal, or Glen Park, etc, that is already very pricey.
    The middle class have not been “pushed out” of the city. They have, by their own choices, refused to carve out new urban neighborhoods and become pioneers in more affordable areas.
    Fact is many newer developments along the waterfront or parts of Mission Bay simply are expensive, and there are plenty of people who will buy there. Reality of SF.
    Massive development costs, entitlement costs,long delays in the permit process, construction labor costs, additional fees, etc. all contribute to expensive housing.

  21. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    I am continually amazed at those who try and block any kind of construction anywhere in The City and then moan and complain about how expensive housing is and how the middle class is being driven out.

  22. Posted by i eat bicyclists

    PLEASE PLEASE build it. definitely needed and much better than whats there now. Screw the hilldwellers

  23. Posted by anonanon

    “definitely needed”
    Definitely needed to combat the chronic shortage of $2000/sqft condos that is causing the city to be unaffordable for middle-class families.

  24. Posted by Dan

    $2000/SF condos are not “causing the city to be unaffordable for middle-class families.” There are only a few condos that sell for that much, and they are concentrated in neighborhoods that have not been home to many middle class families for many years. And building on the Embarcadero does not make existing middle class neighborhoods (e.g., the Excelsior and the Sunset) any less affordable to middle class families.

  25. Posted by NJ

    “Definitely needed” to replace the eyesore that is there now with something attractive.
    “Definitely needed” to build more housing, which the City needs at any level.
    “Definitely needed” to stick it to the d-bags who would colossally waste the City’s resources through a ballot measure to protect their view, veiled behind lies.
    “Definitely needed” to prevent a complete mockery of the seven-year planning process this property already went through. Of course, folks seem to forget that the owner originally proposed a lower building, and planning called for something taller.

  26. Posted by anonanon

    “”Definitely needed” to replace the eyesore that is there now with something attractive.”
    If you are on a quest to beautify the area, maybe you should start with tearing down the concrete slab Gateway apartment complex, which is way uglier than the recreational facility. BTW, good luck with that!
    “”Definitely needed” to build more housing, which the City needs at any level.”
    Yes, especially at the $2000/sqft level where the current shortages and lack of pipeline are hurting citizens of all classes and are causing problems with homeless people in the Tenderloin.
    “”Definitely needed” to stick it to the d-bags who would colossally waste the City’s resources through a ballot measure to protect their view, veiled behind lies.”
    Don’t think either Abraham Lincoln or Sir Winston Churchill could have put it any better than that.
    “”Definitely needed” to prevent a complete mockery of the seven-year planning process this property already went through. Of course, folks seem to forget that the owner originally proposed a lower building, and planning called for something taller.”
    That’s actually the perfect argument for this project, succinct and convincing.

  27. Posted by i eat bicyclists

    definitley needed to block the views of the jerks trying to stop progress and costing the tapayers money by being soulless and greedy. Unless the C wins a marketing war and it is unclear to voters, my guess is 80%+ of the city would vote for this project

  28. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    I am continually amazed at those who try and block any kind of construction anywhere in The City and then moan and complain about how expensive housing is and how the middle class is being driven out.

    Well, we should preface statements like this one (and the one I’m about to make below, as well) with the observation that no one has taken a poll on this and so we’re all just operating off of anecdotes.
    But I’d imagine that there are very, very few people who “try and block any kind of construction anywhere in The City and then moan and complain about how expensive housing is.”
    I’m guessing that the people complaining about how expensive housing is are not trying to block the project that Lennar just started last month building 12,000 new homes, 3.5 million ft.² of retail, office, and research and development space capped off with 300 acres worth of parkland in the former Hunters Point Shipyard and Candlestick Point area. That’s because it’s housing that’s needed and actually will address the problem of “how expensive housing is”.
    Building yet another luxury condo complex, when there is no shortage of luxury condos, just asks for community opposition. From those who like to complain about how expensive housing is and those who have other concerns.

  29. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    You must not read the Bay Guardian much then Brahma. They complain about Lennar all the time. Some of that is just being a guardian of public interest, but what about Chris Daly and the “Stop Lennar Action Movement”? They lionize this kind of foolishness.

  30. Posted by Marie Baker

    The rendering shown above does not depict the correct plan. I’ve done some research and the tennis and swim club that is there now just signed a 10 year lease. So the area in the above picture that looks like “open space” will actually be occupied by a swim and fitness center if the 8 Washington Project is approved.
    The park they mention will be a very small corner on the north most corner of the property. They plan on putting retail/restaurants there. So the “green” space will be significantly smaller than what is depicted.

  31. Posted by Marie Baker

    The rendering also misleads people by showing a lot of green in the center section. The fitness and swim club; which just signed a 10 year lease, will be housing two outdoor pools, a hot tub area and a fitness center. There will be no grass area included. Just a cement pool deck area plus fitness center that faces the edge along the Embarcadero. The only public space is the small northern-most corner that is shown. And that will house a cafe and other retail space.
    The 8 Washington Project stated they will add to the sidewalk and change it from 13 ft to 15 ft wide. Guess what? That sidewalk is already 15 ft wide.
    A parking lot is certainly an eye sore. Why not focus on getting the property owners of the lot and the club to add a lot of greenery/trees/shrubbery instead of a two huge condo buildings?

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