November 5, 2013
The Polls Are Open In San Francisco And It's Time To Vote
Perhaps you've already mailed your ballot or cast an early vote at City Hall, but if not, the polls are now open in San Francisco and it's time to vote.
Local Ballot Measures B and C are the two that we'll be tracking, with Yes votes on the two measures supporting the development of 8 Washington Street as rendered above and the "Open Up the Waterfront" initiative, while No votes on the two measures will overturn the increased building height limits for the development, the initiative of the "No Wall On The Waterfront" folks.
As always, we're more concerned with whether you vote versus which way you do. You have until 8pm today to make your vote count.
First Published: November 5, 2013 7:00 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
I was at a party last week and chatted with some people who are serious anti-8-Washington activists. They claimed that polls show that the initiatives that would allow for the development will likely lose by a wide margin in spite of the megadollars the developer has spent on TV ads.
One indication of that may be the ever-pragmatic Willie Brown's column in yesterday's Chronicle where he praised the advertising of the No Wall campaign. My theory is that he got retained by the developer to facilitate getting the project through the political process, saw the writing on the wall in terms of poll numbers, and, fearing that he may fail to deliver the goods, conveniently decided to attribute a potential loss to the brilliance of the other side's advertisements.
Posted by: anonanon at November 5, 2013 8:11 AM
I voted weeks ago. I think this is going to pass in a squeaker. No one spends the kind of money the pro B and C crowd does without polling first: they must have known that it was close. I suspect your anti-8 activist friends were engaging in some serious wishful thinking.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at November 5, 2013 8:27 AM
I'm obviously very much for B and C passing, but I'm rather pessimistic. You have uber-rich greedy THD/condo owners being puppet masters, and fooling the gullible into essentially preserving views and tennis clubs for the wealthy. We will see what happens.
Posted by: JWS at November 5, 2013 8:33 AM
Well I was ALSO at a party and chatted myself with some people who are also seriously anti-8. However -- calling people in a fairly expensive and well funded on both sides fight over condo's "activists," while probably a spot on assessment of activism sf-style these days -- that I would not go so far as to do.
Anyhoohoo, they had long moved on from the more typical dull paranoias about the former Mayor illustrated above, and had managed to extend their mania out into the bay, around and under a bridge (cringing no doubt that it is named for WB) and on down to the gently lapping shores of SOMA.
Where the there are walls planned both on the waterfront and in the water itself. Here's a scenario: we drop a few more billion to finish the new cheapened terminus (sort of the plastic i-phone version of the original), throw up some ugly high rise condos and then a big gleaming white commode of a arena all in a site line running the spine of SOMA. And then no one shows. No high speed rail. No warriors. God knows no one planning to drive a car. And no condo owners because they are all Chinese billionaires jailed following the 2015 Chinese economic collapse.
I voted no on 8 because it just has to lose, or the dominoes will be heard falling all the way to Peking.
Posted by: $AN FRANCI$CO at November 5, 2013 8:33 AM
People with signs for no on B in front of city hall this morning. Not sure what kind of impact that has, but it was unfortunate not to see any opposition.
Posted by: taco taco at November 5, 2013 8:40 AM
I am a supporter of B and C, but I predict the "anti" forces are going to win because they successfully pitched the battle as one of class warfare. ARE YOU FOR RICH PEOPLE TAKING OVER THE WATERFRONT? Ignore the fact that rich people are now using a private club with 12' opaque walls facing the street; or that the Port is desperate for money to fix piers falling into the Bay, or that $11M of funding for affordable housing will be lost; or that we'll lose a nice park that would have been built. And especially ignore the fact that if B and C fail, the developer will STILL build there, but it will be an ugly squat building taking up the entire footprint of the parcel, with no amenities and no park.
Posted by: Mike at November 5, 2013 8:52 AM
But I thought SF had nothing but rich people left, so B and C should pass, right? Cause that's all I ever hear about the city anymore.
Posted by: sf at November 5, 2013 9:07 AM
Regardless of the merits or issues with 8 washington, I am opposed to c because one single NIMBY couple basically funded the entire thing.
Posted by: Joe at November 5, 2013 9:19 AM
Does anyone know what will happen if one passes and the other doesn't?
Posted by: Luke at November 5, 2013 9:31 AM
I saw two old dudes get into it at the Noe Valley Farmers market. The pro-development guy had a scale model which really showed up the anti-development guy. He was just yelling "who is paying you!"
I used to care about stuff like this but now just laugh at this dysfunctional city and say a prayer for our anglo-celtic ancestors
Posted by: Zig at November 5, 2013 9:37 AM
Also B and C are going down unless Ed Lee can get the village people in Chinatown to turn out in record numbers
Posted by: zig at November 5, 2013 9:40 AM
My household ended up a wash on the issue. One vote for, one vote against, and one person shredded his ballot because he didn't care about anything on it.
Considering the two people that voted didn't bother voting for any of the candidates running unopposed, there really wasn't much point in any of us voting. I guess there was some symbolic thing about prescription drugs and whatever A was, can't even remember what it was about. I most likely voted no on A, which is what I do whenever I don't care enough to read up on an issue.
My view starts off at "No, I don't support people voting on every issue, why should this issue be decided by me?" Ironically that is why I ended up voting yes on B/C, since in that case a yes vote was a vote to have let the board do its job.
Posted by: Rillion at November 5, 2013 9:47 AM
If B and C are shot down, outside of it being used as leverage against the Warriors arena, are there other implications? I wonder based on some of the other threads on this site with a lot of people commenting that some currently planned construction in the West SOMA plan are felt to be undersized. The thought is that those properties should increase in size to accommodate more people and drive better mass transit solutions.
That would mean asking for variances in heights currently in place in the West SOMA plan. Does this mean any time that there might be a possible reason to consider a variance, it has to go to a city-wide vote, based on precedence of the 8 Washington B/C initiative? Anybody?
Posted by: Can't think of Cool Name at November 5, 2013 10:00 AM
Let's say both B and C fail today. Can the developer still build this, minus the height increase, without having to get everything reapproved (assuming they are willing to make less money)?
Or does overturning the height exemption kill the whole thing forcing another multiyear rigamarole of approvals?
Posted by: JL at November 5, 2013 10:20 AM
The funny thing about building to the zoning height is aesthetically this is a much uglier outcome because there will be no step down so you have a few older era buildings surrounded by squat boxes
Too dumb to even discuss with the opponents who are against the development for any reason other than their views (I get that at least).
Posted by: zig at November 5, 2013 10:31 AM
I'm more upset about the western SOMA plan than a mid-rise of luxury condos near the waterfront that will obstruct views of some other luxury condos. I'm also more upset over the lack of affordable housing for middle class folks.
SF is a playground for the rich and I've given up believing otherwise.
Posted by: Mark at November 5, 2013 10:31 AM
Yes, the developer can still build up to the allowed height, which is why the ballot measures preventing the BOS approved heights are so incredibly ridiculous, the ONLY thing the measure does is protect the views of some condos in an already existing giant wall on the waterfront.
As Zig said the development is going to be worse less attractive (and probably with less public benefit) if the height is reduced.
Posted by: lyqwyd at November 5, 2013 10:51 AM
I hope they build lots of low income housing on this block if it loses. Serves them right. If they want a class war, well, they can have one, right at their doorsteps.
Posted by: sf at November 5, 2013 10:59 AM
I see the no on B and C as more of the rich people in this argument. The Condo development and tax revs help all of SF. The lack of it helps super rich preserve their views and keep their tennis courts
Posted by: Moto mayhem at November 5, 2013 11:01 AM
@zig who says "Also B and C are going down unless Ed Lee can get the village people in Chinatown to turn out in record numbers." Apart from this being an incredibly racist remark, you and others should consider that there are many of us living in the city who are tired of it becoming a developers' playground and would like to retain some of its San Francisco-ness. You don't have to be rich or stupid to feel this way. Many who vote no on B and C today will be doing it symbolically to say no to unleashed development.
Posted by: Oceangoer at November 5, 2013 11:15 AM
How exactly is a yes on B & C "unleashed development"? This project is lower in height than it's surrounding buildings, located on the west side of the Embarcadero, thus not affecting the open space on the eastern side. I really just don't understand people sometimes.
With regard to future development, any developer would still have to get Planning Dept. approval on a height variance, correct? I still think there are checks on place to prevent another Fontana Towers-type situation.
Posted by: Fishchum at November 5, 2013 11:21 AM
As pointed out by Moto Mayhem, San Francisco has huge pension payouts looming and increasing the real estate tax basis through growth is the only way out.
The developers of 8 Washington have gone through the SF Planning Commission, the resulting appeal, and a positive vote by Board of Supervisors only to be blocked by a certain extremely wealthy couple at the Golden Gateway complex funding the opposition, due to the blocking of their view.
Posted by: Jackson at November 5, 2013 11:23 AM
So years of permitting and a full approval by the board of supervisors is unleashed development? What does leashed development look like? Fifteen years of approvals and full vote from every San Franciscan for each and every development proposal?
Posted by: anon at November 5, 2013 11:24 AM
"You don't have to be rich or stupid to feel this way. Many who vote no on B and C today will be doing it symbolically to say no to unleashed development."
Well, it certainly isn't smart to make a nonsense statement vote that really only protects some million dollar views and a private tennis club, at the cost of a park and significant tax revenue...
Posted by: lyqwyd at November 5, 2013 12:04 PM
I'll never live in this development, but I think it's good for the city and I cast my vote in favor of B & C. SPUR has a good analysis advocating this: http://www.spur.org/files/voter-guides/SPUR_November_2013_Voter_Guide.pdf
Posted by: Gordon at November 5, 2013 12:15 PM
This is a referendum on unchecked growth in the city, like it or not. Your average citizen from other parts of SF does not attend public planning meetings or follow BOS votes on exemptions from zoning laws. How many of you readers know about this development five years ago? Probably close to none.
When something like this gets on the ballot, the average citizen get upset because it means that SF is becoming more and more a playground for the wealthy and not for them. People like the old SF and don't want it to become a giant sanitized Times Square.
And if the development actually got built to the zoned height limits (not a stepped design), the value per foot would be destroyed because only the units on the Embarcadero would have views. I'm guessing the project would not pencil out by any stretch of the imagination. That is why Simon Snellgrove is desperate and about to burn $2 million in advertising for a lost cause. Lol. Nice try.
Posted by: anon at November 5, 2013 1:30 PM
LOL - this is the funniest thing I have seen all day.
unchecked development in SF, hilarious!!!
Posted by: Joe at November 5, 2013 1:33 PM
I too was at a party in Presidio Heights and the argument was: "If they build $5 million condos it'll cut into the market in OUR neighborhood. If someone has $5 million to spend, let them spend it on MY house." Weird but true.
Posted by: Jane at November 5, 2013 1:46 PM
I too was at a party, but no one cared about this project. After a wild scrum around the keg, people on all sides of matter were able to come together around their disgust over treatment of the SF coastline by Ed Lee. NOT the bay, but the actual real live beach -- Ocean Beach. You won't believe how incredible pissed off people still are over the astroturf and highrise lighted sports stadium proposal at the west end of GG Park spearheaded by Lee et al.
Maybe if this project fails they can install their toxic astroturf and stadium lights on the bay???
Posted by: 4oceans at November 5, 2013 2:05 PM
Had they not pushed for a height exception this building would already be built - along with the slice of public park everyone is excited about. Sf Residents do not want the height limits extended and particularly do not want it to happen on the waterfront.
We will see how sf residents feel about the two tall condos and one hotel that the warriors are planning to place across the street from their twelve story entertainment center in the water.
Btw - anyone happen to be on the embarcadero at 10:45 am today? Bumper to bumper - and no giants game or warriors arena. This is an issue that will not go away.
Posted by: Grace at November 5, 2013 2:28 PM
Pro-Tip: If you're using the Embarcadero to get from Point A to Point B, you're doing it wrong.
Posted by: Fishchum at November 5, 2013 2:38 PM
Fishchum- Grace is obviously an out of town tea party fascist 1% white dog hating breeder clean cut rich fox news asian east coast transplant redneck from alabama midwest yokel elitist car driving republican san jose marin county anti waterfront pro development phallic skyscraper loving new yorker manhattanite!!
Posted by: sf at November 5, 2013 2:47 PM
^ My impression of a "Tolerant San Franciscan."
Posted by: sf at November 5, 2013 2:48 PM
A friend showed me the "pissed-off voter guide" he got outside of BART today. It was comical: No on all of the ballot issues, and no endorsements because "all of the candidates are bad." Real helpful advice.
Posted by: Adam at November 5, 2013 2:54 PM
The only people angry about the beach chalet fields are people who never used the fields. They were treacherous. Thank goodness that finally went through.
Posted by: Truth at November 5, 2013 3:23 PM
"Highrise lighted sports stadium"???
I guess nobody at that party had any common sense or any facts. Glad I don't go to that kind of parties.
Posted by: formidable doer of the nasty at November 5, 2013 5:04 PM
Ha, I bike on embarcadero to make all of those people in cars feel more anxiety about bikes moving faster than them. Hopefully it slows them down too because no sane person who is trying to get somewhere drives down embarcadero.
Need I point out that the same people who are voting against upzoning said development are the same people who are complaining about Ellis act evictions. The only way to reduce demand on your unit is to allow more units to be built.
Posted by: RobBob at November 5, 2013 5:25 PM
The developer did not want to exceed the height limit - they had designed a fully compliant 85' project when David Chiu insisted they go thru a new neighborhood planning process that took 17 months. The community and the Planning Department said to step it up in the back and down in the front to transition from the 250' Golden Gateway Center. With much misgiving, the developer did what the City forced him to do. It doesn't provide any more units than the original plan, and provided a convenient excuse for the NIMBYs to kill the project, after none of their other arguments were working. It wouldn't be built by now if it were 85', but the developer would have had a better shot at winning the popular vote.
Posted by: Jim at November 5, 2013 5:26 PM
Grace needs to revisit history. The developer did not want to exceed the height limit for the site. They proposed a fully compliant project.
Then the BOS forced them to go through a neighborhood outreach process that came up with the new plan of tiered heights. Now after that, the neighbors are throwing a fit about the height that they FORCED the developer to adjust to.
Ridiculous. And ridiculous that folks like Grace have been duped into believing a fabricated story.
Posted by: anon at November 5, 2013 5:54 PM
8 Washington is the perfect site for subsidized housing project, not millionaire's condos.
Posted by: Tenants Union: No on B/C at November 5, 2013 6:31 PM
Posted by: SocketSite at November 5, 2013 8:44 PM