Tale of two parties: Voters reject 8 Washington project


From the Election Night victory party for opponents of the 8 Washington waterfront luxury condo project, the overwhelming defeat of developer-backed Propositions B and C seemed to go beyond just this project. It sounded and felt like a blow against Mayor Ed Lee's economic policies, the gentrification of the city, and the dominion that developers and power brokers have at City Hall.

"What started as a referendum on height limits on the waterfront has become a referendum on the mayor and City Hall," former Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin told the large and buoyant crowd, a message repeated again and again at the Nov. 5 gathering.

Former Mayor Art Agnos also cast the victory over 8 Washington as the people standing up against narrow economic and political interests that want to dictate what gets built on public land on the waterfront, driven by larger concerns about who controls San Francisco and who gets to live here.

"This is not the end, this is the beginning and it feels like a movement," Agnos told the crowd. "We'll have to tell the mayor that his legacy," a term Lee has used to describe the Warriors Arena he wants to build on Piers 30-32," is not going to be on our waterfront."

Campaign Manager Jon Golinger also described the victory in terms of a political awakening and turning point: "We are San Francisco and you just heard us roar!"

Campaign consultant Jim Stearns told the Guardian that he thought the measures would be defeated, but everyone was surprised by the wide margin — the initiative B lost by 25 percentage points, the referendum C was 33 points down — which he attributed to the "perfect storm" of opposition.

Stearns cited three factors that triggered the overwhelming defeat: recent populist outrage over the city's affordability crisis, concerns about waterfront height crossing ideological lines, and "a tone deaf City Hall that didn't want to hear there were any problems with the project."

Among the key project opponents who have sometimes stood in opposition to the city's progressives was former City Attorney Louise Renne, who blasted City Hall and called the Planning Department "utterly disgraceful," telling the crowd, "Get your rest, more to come, San Francisco."

Both progressive and political moderates often share a distrust of the close connections between powerful developers and the Mayor's Office, and that seemed to play out in this campaign and at the polls.

"San Francisco, this victory is for you," Renne said. "And to all those developers out there: Do not mess with our waterfront. We're not going to stand for it."

Meanwhile, it was a very different scene over at the Yes on B and C party.

Developer Simon Snellgrove, whose 8 Washington project was soundly rejected despite his spending almost $2 million on the campaign, was in no mood to comment. "I'm having a little private party tonight," he told us, "and I don't want to talk to the press."

Rose Pak, a consultant for the San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce who is well-known for her ties to powerful interests in the city, had a small circle of guests around her throughout the night and spent some time catching up with Snellgrove. Asked to comment, Pak said, "I don't know the Bay Guardian," and stopped making eye contact. At previous events, Pak has lectured Guardian reporters about what she sees as the paper's shortcomings.

"I think this project got caught up in a lot of other things," Jim Lazarus, the vice president for public policy at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, told us. "There was a lot of I think mistaken concern about the impact."

He criticized the focus on building heights and the idea that it was about something more than just a waterfront development project. But this was the outcome, he said, because "an unholy alliance of people got together to oppose the project."


The thing is an ugly round slab of aluminum slag plopped on the Bay like a hunk of scrap metal waste.

You developers and condo speculators, are not ruining our waterfront. That sucker is going down, bigtime.

Get a different design, and a suitable inland location, and then we'll happily fight along side workers for the project and the jobs.

But not on the Bay...

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 10:42 pm

:-) I agree

Posted by Guest Keith Kemp on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 8:19 am

You know, the one that thousands of families enjoy for much of the year?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 8:34 am

So take notice San Francisco voters by him saying : "an unholy alliance of people got together to oppose the project." He is saying that anyone who voted no on B & C is unholy . Why did he say unholy ?? Like maybe his projects were holy ?? Get out of here ya bum !! The people voted and your still sore .

Posted by Guest Keith Kemp on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 8:19 am

flawed and unrepresentative of the people, because they are bought, rigged etc.

Except of course the odd time when they win, and then it is an indicator of a sea change in the populace.

What a deluded bunch you are.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 8:54 am

Elections are nearly always flawed and manipulated, and the 8 Washington vote involved plenty of deception and manipulation by the developers. But sometimes progressive organizers do such a good job of overcoming the flaws and/or have so much support from the public, that the flaws and manipulations are overcome, and we win good policy, because no amount of corporate corruption can steal that particular vote.

So it is not a contradiction at all to say elections are deeply flawed, manipulated and corrupt, while also saying that when progressives win, it means that we have made, even that deeply flawed process, work.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

all elections are rigged but that sometimes (i.e. coincidentally the odd one that you win) the voices of truth and reason (that's you, of course) somehow magically manage to overcome all odds?

Where's your halo?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 12:38 pm
Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

are somehow invalid unless "progressives do a good job" and persuade the voters to vote the way they want them to..

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 5:46 pm
Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 12:51 am
Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 12:12 pm


he's got last word-itis

no matter how stupid his reply makes him look, he'll make another one anyway

because in his eyes, if he's the last one to post, he has "won" the "debate"

he's a fucking idiot

(please all, don't feed the trolls)

Posted by llkjsfo on Nov. 14, 2013 @ 10:50 pm

Is there a bigger scourge on SF than Peskin and Agnos?

I imagine they carry around jars of amber to pour on random things throughout the day to freeze them in time forever.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:02 am

so they make mischief, like a pair of errant truant schoolkids.

Posted by anon on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:59 am

grapes, fox

Posted by blkdjfgo on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 12:30 pm

So your snide throwaway isn't valid.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

before making such a hilariously inept and uneducated comment....

got education?

Posted by kjdfhk on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 1:04 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

I,m so happy to see prospector,s continue to make plan,s for our city without wanting to consult the people who live .here. I,m not sorry you did not get your way You should however keep your little spoiled childish temper tantrum,s in the candy aisle of your local grocery store.Want to do something constructive BUILD AFFORDABLE HOUSING! In the meantime , the Oompah Loompah is not
for sale.

Posted by Tory Antoni on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 5:32 pm

Looks like it's time for another episode of old timey troll hunting!
OK losers, let's hear some some more whining!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 5:51 pm

Hmm, yeah, OK. Why not? We got him banned from SFGate.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

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