At yesterday's board meeting, the Supervisors upheld their decision to approve the 136-foot-tall and strikingly bland 8 Washington project. The vote broke down to the same 8-3 split that initially approved the height increase for the project, which opponents say will create a wall along the waterfront across from the Ferry Building. Now a referendum that could kill the project will go before city voters on the next citywide ballot in November 2013.
Supervisor David Chiu, whose district includes the swath of S.F. Port land that could potentially become the less-than-inspired Skidmore, Owens & Merrill development, tried to convince the supporting Supervisors to change their votes on the project. Chiu has been hoping to avoid a costly campaign between a notorious NIMBY group in his district — the Telegraph Hill Dwellers, who sponsored the referendum — and the developer represented by Willie Brown's former press secretary P.J. Johnston. Supervisors Avalos and Campos also voted against the project.
According to Supervisor Wiener and other supporting Supes, however, the 31,000 voters who signed the petition to put the referendum on the ballot only heard the opposition railing against the "wall on the waterfront. So, a citywide vote is necessary in order for the rest of us to hear both sides of the matter. This is, of course, at odds with reports from the Bay Guardian in July claiming developer Simon Snellgrove hired
crews of astroturfers to discourage folks from signing the petitions on the street.
Adding to the kerfuffle over the development is appointed D5 supervisor Christina Olague's testimony that opponents of the project have been threatening her with "dire electoral consequences" if she continues to support the project. "At times, I felt like a schoolgirl being bullied on the playground," Olague explained yesterday. Despite all that, Olague says she still hasn't heard a compelling enough reason to shut down the project.
According to Johnston, "the people opposing this have no interest in height limits; they just want to kill the project." That may be true for the Telegraph Hill Dwellers, who have a history of opposing literally anything in their line of sight, but as we've mentioned before, our beef with the development is that it is just boring us to death.