February 21, 2014

Impact Of Waterfront Ballot Initiative Slated For Widespread Review

Sponsored by Supervisor Wiener, the Port of San Francisco, Planning Department, City Administrator, Controller, Office of Economic and Workforce Development, Municipal Transportation Agency, and Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development will all have a chance to report on the impact of adopting the Waterfront Height Limit Right to Vote Act with respect to the City's future housing, transportation, and open space needs.

The reports may include analysis of:

(1) Any fiscal impacts of the Initiative, should it pass, on the City at large as well as the Port specifically, including the Port’s ability to fund required capital improvements;
(2) The consistency of the measure with the City’s General Plan, including Housing Element goals for meeting the City's housing needs;
(3) Any impacts on the City’s ability to meet its housing production goals, including affordable housing and generation of impact fees for affordable housing;
(4) Whether individual affordable housing projects seeking a height increase would have to be placed on the ballot, and if so, the impact of that requirement on the cost of producing affordable housing;
(5) The effect of the Initiative on the use of land; its impact on the availability, location, and affordability of housing, and the ability of the City to meet its fair share of regional housing needs;
(6) The impact of the Initiative on the cost of and funding for infrastructure of all types, including, but not limited to, transportation, schools, parks, sewers, and open space;
(7) The impact of the Initiative on the City’s ability to attract and retain business and employment;
(8) A description of waterfront development projects currently in the planning process that could be affected by the Initiative, including a history of community planning processes and state legislation relating to those projects;
(9) A list of past projects that would have had to be placed on the ballot had the Initiative been in place at the time;
(10) The impact of the Initiative on planned waterfront development projects, including the impact of a voter approval requirement on the nature, design, and costs of such projects (including impacts on the cost of producing housing and affordable housing) and on the community planning process, and;
(11) The consistency of the measure with the City’s obligations under the Burton Act and related law;
(12) Other subjects that the Departments deem relevant to a full analysis and understanding of the Initiative.

Assuming Wiener's resolution authorizing the review is adopted by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors next week, the departments will be asked to produce their reports by March 7.

And per the terms of the resolution, the reports "shall include only objective, impartial information and analysis, shall not recommend changes to the Initiative, and shall not make a recommendation as to whether the voters should adopt the Initiative."

First Published: February 21, 2014 8:45 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

This has to be a huge waste of City staff time.

Posted by: d-b at February 21, 2014 8:52 AM

we should appeal to form a panel to study if this is indeed a waste of city time.

Posted by: seriously at February 21, 2014 9:09 AM

First we should have a city wide vote on if we ask to form a panel to study if it is a waste of time.

Posted by: Rillion at February 21, 2014 9:17 AM

Much better to have objective study than emotional driven ballot. We need a lot more of this.

Posted by: Wai Yip Tung at February 21, 2014 9:57 AM

Agree w/Wai Yip Tung.

A lot of these factors will be moot to the backers (such as housing towers above the limit having to go to voters - that's exactly what the proponents want so that factoid won't sway them). But that might give undecided voters pause. And the list of existing buildings that would have had to have gone to the voters for approval (which presumably includes iconic structures such as the Ferry Building and Embarcadero Center) could be really interesting to see.

Posted by: Sierrajeff at February 21, 2014 10:34 AM

After a quick look-see over the 12 points, I'm willing to bet the point that will be the focus of the outcome of the review will be #3. Knowing that the affordable housing fund lost $11 million with the 8 Washington project canceled, it will be interesting to see how much more money potentially allocated to that fund via currently planned development will now in question if this resolution passes.

Not that the other 11 points aren't important, I think the topic of "affordable housing" is top of mind for a lot of people and more easy for the voters to grasp than the other points. This could be where the political battle is fought...

Posted by: Can't think of Cool Name at February 21, 2014 10:37 AM

Sadly, this is a complete waste of time. The chance of this ballot initiative failing is less than 1%.

Posted by: Greg at February 21, 2014 10:42 AM

@Can't think of Cool Name,

I cannot emphasize the lost of affording housing fund more. At about 250k per subsidized unit, this amount to the lost of 50 affording house unit, or the equivalent to one third of rent control unit lost by Ellis Act for the entire San Francisco in a year.

People are so swayed by stupid freeway picture composed by opponent. They should have look more careful in the facts and what they have actually done.

Posted by: Wai Yip Tung at February 21, 2014 11:03 AM

Greg, I agree. I think our only hope now is if the State Lands Commission manages to secure an injunction on the initiative.

Posted by: Joel at February 21, 2014 11:49 AM

All housing should be market rate. will lower price for all and will lead to more housing

any rich homeowner supporting a ballot initiative to stop their view from being blocked should be lashed in public.

Posted by: wolf of market street at February 21, 2014 12:00 PM

It's absurd to think that if housing is not built on The Embacardero that it won't be built at all. Utter nonsense!

Posted by: anon at February 21, 2014 12:21 PM

We also need to conduct an environmental review of this study.

Posted by: g at February 21, 2014 12:27 PM

There are only a few specific individuals in the city who are actively pursuing this 'no-new-construction-anywhere-ever' agenda.
Really, less than 10 people, almost all of whom live on or around Telegraph Hill.

Unless something is done to stop them, their agenda *will* succeed.

I suggest we make them an offer they can't refuse...

Posted by: anon at February 21, 2014 12:55 PM

Let us pray that improving MUNI and mass public transit is on an agenda somewhere. The thought of 50,000 new housing units in SF and that same old horrifying unbearable lousy hideous muni system is enough to make you want to jump out of your lux high rise condo...

Posted by: 4oceans at February 21, 2014 1:05 PM

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