SF Working To Verify Massive Number Of Signatures Calling For Tighter Waterfront Development Rules

More than 21,000 signatures were submitted to San Francisco’s Department of Elections today in support of a measure for the June ballot that would impose tighter restrictions on waterfront development, including a proposed basketball arena.

The initiative would require voter approval for any future waterfront development on city or Port of San Francisco property that would require an increase in existing height limits.

The proposal is being brought forth by the Sierra Club and the No Wall on the Waterfront coalition, which last year used the city’s referendum process to defeat a luxury waterfront condominium project that was planned at 8 Washington St.

The groups this afternoon submitted 21,067 signatures to the Department of Elections—more than twice the amount required by the city. The department now has 30 days to verify the signatures and determine whether the measure will go on the ballot.

The projects potentially impacted by the measure include a proposal to build a new 18,000-seat arena for the Golden State Warriors at Piers 30-32, located between the Bay Bridge and AT&T Park, as well as luxury condos across the street, coalition spokesman Jon Golinger said.

Golinger called the measure “a permanent tool to protect the waterfront.”

“It shouldn’t be about the bottom line, it should be about what’s best for San Francisco,” he said.

Mark Bittner, a resident in the city’s Telegraph Hill neighborhood, was among the members of the group that submitted the signatures today.

Bittner said proposals like the arena would clog up traffic that is already often problematic along the waterfront.
“The Embarcadero is just moving like molasses,” he said.

Becky Evans, chair of the San Francisco Bay chapter of the Sierra Club, said the waterfront traffic congestion creates increased car exhaust fumes, leading to higher rates of respiratory problems among neighborhoods like South Beach, where the arena would go.

Arena project spokesman Nathan Ballard said today that the project’s organizers do not yet have a position on the measure.

“We’re waiting to see if it qualifies, and if so, what implications it might have for our project,” Ballard said.

He said the arena plan has been delayed from its initial estimated opening date of 2017 because multiple overhauls of the arena’s design pushed back the project’s schedule to allow for state-mandated environmental review.

Golinger from the waterfront coalition said the June ballot measure is not just targeting the arena, but would also apply to other proposed waterfront developments, including the San Francisco Giants’ plans for the Mission Rock area at Pier 48 as well as plans for high-rises at Pier 70.

He said the voters’ response to the 8 Washington development, which was rejected by more than 60 percent of voters, shows “an overwhelming enthusiasm for protecting our waterfront.”

Golinger said, “We hope it will encourage more thoughtful development proposals.”

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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