The one percent on the waterfront

The 8 Washington plan would build apartments for the $450,000 salary set


EDITORIAL While Mayor Ed Lee struggles with the OccupySF encampment, another, very different group has its eyes on the city's waterfront. On the edges of the ground where protesters are talking about the one percent of Americans that control the vast majority of the nation's wealth, two major development projects aimed entirely at that very wealthy sliver are starting to move forward.

At 8 Washington and 75 Howard, developers want to build a total of 365 condominiums aimed at people with incomes that place them in the top sliver of the richest Americans. It will be a key test for the Ed Lee administration: Will he evict the Occupy protesters and allow the One Percent to claim choice property on the waterfront?

The 8 Washington project calls for 165 of what developer Simon Snellgrove says will be the most expensive condos ever built in San Francisco. The 12-story building, sitting on the edge of the Embarcadero, would include units selling for as much as $10 million, and even the low-end places would go for $2.5 million or more.

At 75 Howard, the Paramount Group and Morgan Stanley want to demolish a parking garage and erect a 284-foot tower with units that the San Francisco Business Times predicts would sell for at least $1,000 a square foot.

Just to be clear what we're talking about here, a $2.5 million condo, according to real estate experts, would require that a buyer have $625,000 cash to put down and an income of more than $450,000 a year. Either that or millions in spare cash to plunk down.

That, needless to say, is not the majority of the working people in San Francisco.

There's no conceivable planning or housing-policy rationale for either of these projects. They offer nothing that the city needs; there is absolutely no shortage of housing for people with that kind of income. In fact, allowing these two projects to proceed would directly violate the city's own General Plan and every regional planning proposal for San Francisco's housing mix. The General Plan states that some 60 percent of all the new housing built in San Francisco should be below market rate. Environmental sanity suggests that the city ought to be building housing for people who work here — high housing costs have driven thousands of local workers to live in the East Bay or further out, leading to long, energy-intensive commutes. And the more of this ultra-luxury housing the city builds, the more the housing balance gets disrupted — and the more rapidly San Francisco becomes a city of, by and for the One Percent.

The two projects have powerful support — among other things, Lee's friend and ally Rose Pak is promoting 8 Washington, as is lobbyist Marcia Smolens. If Lee has any scrap of independence he'll make it clear that both of these projects are dead on arrival.


The State Lands Commission should hold a public hearing in San Francisco before approving the proposed sale of publicly-owned Seawall Lot 351 for the construction of the 8 Washington Project's private residential high-rise towers on the waterfront.

And State Lands Commission Chairman Gavin Newsom should recuse himself from voting on this project to avoid questions about the impartiality of the Commission's decision. The 8 Washington/Seawall Lot 351 Project was initiated by Newsom's Mayoral Administration and is being strongly backed by his political appointees.

Read a new letter to the State Lands Commission making those requests here:

Posted by Jon on Nov. 22, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

Continuously amazed by the telegraph hill dwellers - sfbg partnership seen here. How much is Tim getting paid by the THD and Peskin to proselytize on this project

Posted by Guest on Nov. 22, 2011 @ 10:17 pm

Nada - but the developer pushing the 8 Washington Project has spent a whopping $125,000 on lobbying City Hall this year, see here:

Posted by Jon on Nov. 23, 2011 @ 9:51 am

It seems like most of the 8 Washington rhetoric on these comment sections come from consultants paid by Simon Snellgrove:

HMS gets paid 15K per month

PJ Johnston gets paid 5K per month

Rose Pak gets paid, but doesn’t register

Willie Brown gets paid, but doesn’t register

Mary Murphy gets paid, but doesn’t register

Posted by The Other Guest on Nov. 23, 2011 @ 9:43 am

The city if SF is filled to the brim with: union, non profit, neighborhood, racialist, "environmental" and various other special interest lobbyists who have access that the average tax payer will never hope to match.

Posted by guest on Nov. 23, 2011 @ 10:46 am

How much do the THD lobbyists get paid?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 23, 2011 @ 10:41 am

...but I wager it's a lot more than you or me!!

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Nov. 25, 2011 @ 9:55 pm

some apartments in central London just sold for ten times that amount per square feet.

Every city vies to house these wealthy folks because it's good for the local economy. We should be attracting as many of them as we can. They help pay for services for the poor which would otherwise have to be stopped.

Please suspebd your envy for long enough to see how the rich aren't people to hate and drive out. You need them far more than they need you.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 26, 2011 @ 2:06 am

you don't want them to live here no matter how much money they make, do you, loser...

Posted by anonymous on Nov. 26, 2011 @ 4:22 am

Many of them make good money and don't need your loony support.

Posted by matlock on Nov. 26, 2011 @ 6:19 am

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