Setting aside for a moment the absurdity of having the entire city vote on a single development project that upset a group of neighbors, we bring you the news that you've maybe already heard about Measures B and C. They died. Big time.
62% voted No on B, and 67% voted No on C.
Yesterday's election was a boon for the anti-shadow, anti-condo folks, especially given that only about 22% of registered voters cast ballots. But there was clearly some interest and passion for the issue of 8 Washington, because with 56,000 ballots cast by mail and about 40,000 cast in polling stations, we'd call that an impressive turnout given that there were no state or federal candidates or state initiatives to vote on, and most of the local candidates ran unopposed. It was basically a one-issue election, and that issue was this single, 12-story building that some Telegraph Hill and Embarcadero-adjacent residents really don't want there.
Former supervisor Aaron Peskin was one of the leaders of the more than seven-year battle against the developer Simon Snellgrove and Pacific Waterfront Partners, and last night he hosted a victory party for his friends and Telegraph Hill neighbors in shutting down this "wall on the waterfront," as the No on B&C campaign called it.
Opponents of 8 Washington ran a swift campaign, first gaining 31,000 signatures in support of their referendum (Prop C) against the Board of Supervisors' 2012 decision to approve the project and its height-limit exception. 8 out of 11 supes voted yes on the project and its height of 136 feet, granting an exception in an area that, while it has nearby residential towers that are much taller, has an 84-foot height limit. Plans called for luxury condos, some selling for $5 million, with sweeping waterfront views, as well as new ground-floor retail and restaurants.
The developer's biggest error, probably, was launching his own separate Proposition B, which created a special use district for his property and stretched rules even further. Had he not done this and caused voters to go "huh?" about this this whole thing, Prop C might have passed, although strong arguments were made by environmentalists and others about the potential impact of the project.
8 Washington is presumably not dead given Snellgrove's investment of money and time up to this point. He still has an agreement to purchase the property belonging to the swim and tennis club and use the surface parking lot belonging to the Port, and yesterday's vote basically means he'll have to come back with a smaller, but likely very similar project, and take it back through Planning.
So, in short, there will most likely still be luxury condos there, just not as many of them, and a few people between the 7th and 12th floors of the buildings behind this one won't have their views obstructed. But it is a symbolic victory in this time of rising rents and rampant development that San Franciscans still dislike this sort of thing.
The 22-percent voter turnout was apparently disappointing to some, but thankfully we won't have to do this again since last year's Prop D assures us that the offices of treasurer, assessor, and city attorney will have a one-time-only, shortened two-year term, and will join the races for mayor, sheriff, and district attorney in the 2015 election, getting them off this weird midterm cycle. The city's turnout for the last mayoral election was 42%, and it was 72% for the 2012 presidential race.