Enemies of new development along the bayside waterfront won their first big battle with the defeat of propositions B and C in November's local election. Bolstered by that victory, they just brought a proposed ballot initiative to the Department of Elections aimed at killing the Golden State Warriors Arena project at Piers 30-32, as well as every other new condo and commercial project slated for waterfront-adjacent properties.
It's called The Waterfront Height Limit Right-to-Vote Act, and you can see the full, three-page text of it here, courtesy of SF Weekly and the SFGov site. Basically it says that any developer looking to build anything on Port property or City property along the waterfront will have to take it to a full public vote if they wish to alter existing height limits for the lot on which they're building.
Measure sponsor Becky Evans, who says she speaks for much of the coalition that backed the No on B&C campaign, told Tim Redmond, "This is not aimed at any one project. There have been developers asking to change the rules, and we want to say that they can’t do it without the voters approving."
It pretty clearly is aimed at the Arena, however, and Redmond notes that the deep-pocketed developers there have known all along that they'd probably have to get the project approved by the public in one way or another (they already shortened the height of the thing in preparation for this fight), and are prepared to fund a campaign to do so. Other developers, though, may get scared off if this thing pushes through like perhaps the folks behind this already controversial project at 75 Howard, which may or may not qualify as "waterfront."
The measure still needs sign-off from the City Attorney, and then its backers will have to gather 15,000 signatures to support it Redmond says they'll have to do so by the second week of February, but the Weekly's Joe Eskanazi thinks they have 180 days. We at SFist can not bear to study the Department of Elections' rules for long enough to figure out which one of them is correct.
If the battle over 8 Washington was a proxy fight, testing the will of a motivated cabal and an anxious, boom-wary populace against the influence of our pro-development mayor, then it will be interesting to see how a more broad-based anti-development campaign like this will fare in a mid-term election year. I personally know plenty of people who either didn't vote in November's election or didn't feel too passionately either way about whether 8 Washington got built, but a project like the Warriors' Arena with the potential to be a striking, large-capacity concert venue, is likely to bring out many more pro-development, anti-NIMBY votes. This isn't the same city that passed the so-called "sunlight ordinance" in 1984 that set the height limits that caused San Francisco to have one of the most boring skylines in the country.
Also, there are a fair number of people, I would guess, who think that voting on every single potential development project is a huge waste of time, money, and government resources.
In any event, this is just the first salvo in what's sure to be a loud and protracted fight. Pull up a chair, if you have the patience.