On November 5th, voters will decide the fate of the more than three year battle over waterfront parcel 8 Washington Street in San Francisco’s renowned Financial District. A proposal to build a mixed-use, twelve story building has been approved by The Board of Supervisor’s, however local neighbors are putting up a fight. The grassroots group, “No Wall on the Northeast Waterfront” collected over 30,000 signatures in just 30 days to admit the controversial initiative onto the ballot. Now San Francisco residents will decide if they too oppose the elevated height restrictions and limited public access to waterfront property or if they will gladly accept the $11million affordable housing funds and the new ground-floor retail and restaurant scene on Embarcadero.
Simon Snellgrove’s Pacific Waterfront Partners LLC, the project’s owner, has paid $1.4 million to promote “Parks not parking lots”. Snellgrove has hired big hitters to star in his television and media advocacy campaigns, notably San Francisco’s favorite former Mayor Gavin Newsom and current Mayor Ed Lee, who publicly support the $350 million venture. The project’s proposal replaces The Bay Club at the Gateway and assigned parking lot and argues the transformation will open the waterfront to the public for recreational, leisure activities and economic growth.
Not to be left in the shadows, “No Wall on the Northeast Waterfront” has generated over 1,000 individual campaign donors and advocacy/political groups who reject the construction of the multi-million dollar 134 unit plan. “Do we want to see luxury condos along the waterfront like they have in Miami where really the access to the views of the bay are limited to those who can pay premium dollar?” said Michelle Myers from the Sierra Club. Neighboring residents Barbara & Richard Stewart have put their money where their mouth is, donating over $390,000 to prevent the passing of Measure B & Measure C.
Is this an age old battle between residents and developers or is this a new war where old and new money face-off? Irony lends average Joe voter to reveal the victor Wednesday morning.