Opponents of an ordinance that would allow a condo development to be built along San Francisco’s waterfront urged the Board of Supervisors Wednesday to repeal their approval of the plan at next week’s meeting, which would halt an approved ballot referendum on the issue.
Homeowners, tenants, environmentalists and political candidates spoke out on the City Hall steps late this morning with signs directed at specific supervisors to stop the “wall on the waterfront,” a slogan opponents are using to refer to the proposed development at 8 Washington St.
Plans for the 8 Washington project in the city’s Financial District, near the Ferry Building, were approved by the Board of Supervisors in June.
The condo plans, designed by locally-based San Francisco Waterfront Partners, have been approved to increase the maximum height allowable for a building at the site from 84 feet tall to 136 feet, according to Jon Golinger, president of neighborhood group Telegraph Hill Dwellers.
This prompted Golinger to head a campaign to create a referendum against the increased height limit.
By Aug. 1 more than 30,000 signatures were collected and a 520-page petition verified acceptable to overturn the board’s approval of the increased height limit, according to Golinger.
The referendum will be on the November 2013 ballot–however the Board of Supervisors has a chance to repeal their approval at next week’s meeting, the first since the August recess.
“We expect the supervisors to do a historic ‘do-over’ vote,” Golinger said today. “It’s not a done deal.”
Golinger’s campaign is focused on flipping votes from supervisors Jane Kim, Eric Mar and Christina Olague, who voted in June to support the ordinance modifying the building plans for the area.
A private poll the coalition conducted through David Binder Research in July asked 400 city residents in Districts 5, 6, and 1 if a height increase at the site should be allowed.
According to poll results, 70 percent of Olague’s constituents in District 5 oppose the plan while 20 percent support it; 58 percent in Kim’s District 6, where the project is located, oppose and only 8 percent support; and 56 percent from District 1, represented by Mar, oppose the building project and 19 percent support it.
“We are asking the supervisors to listen to the voters,” Golinger said.
District 6 resident Debra Benedict focused the discussion on how the new housing would be used.
“Our main issue is housing is being built in the middle of San Francisco that is not addressing the needs of San Francisco,” Benedict said.
She said she is worried about a lack of housing for seniors and low-income residents.
Arthur Feinstein, the conservation chair from the San Francisco group of the Sierra Club, addressed issues with shadows being cast upon Sue Bierman Park located along the Embarcadero at Washington Street, across from the project site.
Bierman, a former city supervisor for whom the park is named, was known for her push for land preservation.
Although the project is in District 6, District 5 supervisor candidates vying for a place on the board this fall spoke out against current supervisor Olague and the city’s support for the project, including candidate London Breed who has served on the redevelopment and fire commissions, among other positions in the city.
Breed said the city is backlogged on providing affordable housing units and “we need to protect the waterfront against this kind of development.”
Golinger, who would like to see the supervisors repeal their approval of the plans next week, would still be “thrilled” to put the referendum on next year’s ballot to give voters a chance to weigh in on the issue.
San Francisco Waterfront Partners, the developers of the 134-unit complex, say on their website for 8 Washington that there will be housing, retail and recreation spaces as part of the plan. The location is touted for its accessibility to public transit by bus, ferry or subway.
On the project website it states, “San Francisco Waterfront Partners has been working to develop a proposal that meets and exceeds the goals for the project site as identified in the Waterfront Land Use Plan,” which are stipulations set by the Port of San Francisco.
The website defends the height of the buildings at the complex, which ranges from 4 to 12 stories, with the building sloping down toward the Embarcadero.
According to the website, the apartments will “provide a flexible range of heights and massing that respond to the natural topography of the surrounding community and built environment.”
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News
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