Developer hires crew to block signature gathering

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Developer Simon Snellgrove and his hired crew seeks to block petition signing at Fort Mason

The developer of 8 Washington has taken an unusual if not unprecedented step to prevent a referendum on his waterfront condo project from succeeding: He's hired a crew of people to surround signature-gatherers and try to drive away anyone who might sign a petition to put the project before voters.

[UPDATE: Sup. Sean Elsbernd called to let me know that this isn't unprecedented -- he says opponents of his Muni reform initiative, including bus drivers, also tried to discourage people from signing petitions. ]

The pro-condo team, whose members were paid a reported $20 an hour, were visible July 14, 15 and 16 at Fort Mason Center, at the Safeway on Church and Market, at Dolores Park, at Duboce Park and elsewhere in the city, according to accounts from signature gatherers and from Guardian staffers.

The team, usually made up of several people, typically surrounds the signature gatherer, waves signs talking about jobs and parks, and loudly seeks to disuade passers-by from signing the referendum petition.

There is, of course, nothing illegal about two sides of a political debate expressing their First Amendment rights on the sidewalk. Some of the people gathering signatures for the referendum are getting paid, too.

But I can't think of another time when crews were hired to convince people not to sign a petition.

It's gotten serious enough the Simon Snellgrove, the developer behind 8 Washington, was out himself. He appeared in Dolores Park after the Mime Troupe performance, where Brad Paul, a foe of the project, saw him debate with a signature gatherer who was leaving the area. He was also at Fort Mason, where, according to one account, a person gathering signatures confronted him and complained that his workers were harassing her.

"That's their job," Snellgrove reportedly said.

I couldn't reach Snellgrove at his office. But Jon Golinger, the campaign manager for the stop 8 Washington effort, said the tactic was a sign of desperation. "They are worried about a public vote on this," Golinger told me.

 

Comments

signing petitions - I myself have done it several times in trying to head off anti-gay ballot measures. Paying people to do so? Unusual. But this is not at all unprecedented.

I happen to know opponents of 8 Washington are not following the law in their signature gathering campaign - they're giving false information and not displaying the entire body of the decision they're attempting to halt. I intend to file a lawsuit when they turn in signatures. I've learned from Sue Hestor - sue, sue, SUE.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 4:59 pm
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Liar.

Posted by Troll 3 on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 7:10 pm

LEARN from me.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 8:24 pm
bs

So you're willing to file a lawsuit over a public policy issue but unwilling to identify yourself in this forum? Coward.

Posted by steven on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 10:36 am
Yep

Exactly. Watch and see Steven - playing fast and lose with the hallowed rules of our petition process is a violation of the law and two wrongs don't make a right. Suing is also a legitimate way of stopping political developments with which one disagrees - your pal Sue Hestor knows a thing or two about that.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. And with the myriad of reported violations by opponents of this project, many recorded on video, your goose is cooked.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

Sig gatherer here. (Volunteer)

Can't wait to come back and read this blog post after we qualify. And we're going to qualify.

I'll love love LOVE watching you people try and "cook our goose."

IT'S BALLOT TIME BITCHESSSS.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 3:21 pm
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No, I learned how to lie when I was three.

I stopped being proud of it before I was seven.

Posted by Troll 3 on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 10:39 am

The US Constitution is quite clear about this...the people have the right to assembly IF, and ONLY IF, they are advancing Progressive values. The pro 8 Washington people are not and therefore they do NOT have that same right.

Why wasn't the police called to have them carted away to jail for trying to enjoy the same rights as the Progressives?

Posted by Troll on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

Better trolling needed.

Try again.

Posted by Orlando Chavez Jr on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 7:11 pm

OK, look at that picture and caption:

"Developer Simon Snellgrove and his hired crew seeks to block petition signing at Fort Mason".

I mean...just look at those thugs! Where did Snellgrove find such an intimidating bunch? San Quentin perhaps?

Really, some late night show should use that. Kudos to Tim and the SFBG staff once again. This place is what the Onion wishes it could be.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

Getting scared?

Didn't think they could do it, did you? No one's successfully referrended in a generation.

Man, you guys should be terrified of the voters on this one. And so you are.

"Luxury condo"

Lol

Posted by Proggy boy on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

The SFBG loves to vilify "Simon Snellgrove" as the developer and beneficiary of vast profits at the public's expense. Did you know who will actually "profit" from 8 Washington (assuming that it can make any money after providing millions to the Port for pier rehabilitation, millions to build affordable housing within a one mile radius of the site, millions to rebuild the Golden Gateway club, and millions to build and maintain a new waterfront public park and green walkways)?

Retired California public school teachers!

Posted by Guest Grace on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 6:13 am

Not all those working to dissuade people from signing the petitions were paid. Quite a few were volunteers who happen to believe that killing the 8 Washington project would not only be an incredibly stupid use of valuable land, it would be a financial disaster for San Francisco, especially the Port.

Hmmmm. Let's see: protect an ugly surface parking lot on the waterfront or use the land to get many tens of millions in payments to the City, including $11M for affordable housing??? Wow! Tough question!

SF is maybe the only city where that question would even be asked.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

"Not all those working to dissuade people from signing the petitions were paid."

Liar.

Hmmmm. Let's see: erect an ugly wall on waterfront for the rich, or leave the space open for the people to actually be able to see Coit Tower and the rest of San Francisco from the Ferry Builiding.

Wow! Tough question!

A developer is the only one who would even be ask that question.

Posted by Troll 3 on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 7:43 pm

>leave the space open for the people to actually be able to see Coit Tower and the rest of San Francisco from the Ferry Builiding."

You're right. If it means that I can't see Coit Tower from the Ferry Building after I buy my $3 Blue Bottle Coffee then I'l sign that petition. To hell with the port revenue. And the real estate revenue. Who cares about $11 million in affordable housing.

Idiot.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 8:03 pm

You actually think the city is getting a good bargain.

11 million in AH? In exchange they get 40 million and the San Francisco freaking waterfront?

I'd like to do business with deep thinkers like you. I have a large, orange bridge. Goes to Marin. Can I interest you in buying it?

Posted by Troll 3 on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 8:19 pm

I didn't say it was a good bargain, moron, I said that it was $11 million. You have a plan to replace it? Maybe you could get a job after school. Or maybe donate your $3 a signature money from EOP.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

You don't think it's a good bargain, but you're willing to make the rest of us take it?

Ace negotiation skillz there, Iacocca.

Posted by Zingbat McGillicutty on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

Affordable housing? That's a joke!

Posted by Dahlia on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

Luxury Housing for the 1% sounds like they're getting a bit rough.

Used to be, if you bought your politicians, that was the end of it. Now they have to block petitioners too?

It's hard out there for a pimp.

Posted by hortensio on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 7:38 pm

>"Didn't think they could do it, did you? No one's successfully referrended in a generation."

Did what? Get a table manned at Ft Mason. But it must be nice to get all that money from the big corporate real estate interest, EOP.

>"Man, you guys should be terrified of the voters on this one. And so you are."

Dream on, Proggy Boy. It will be much easier for you that way.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 7:46 pm

You said "big corporate real estate interest"

Dude. That's some awesome cognitive dissonance you got goin on.

http://www.pacificwaterfront.com/services

Posted by Proggy boy on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

i think it's odd...after all, a petition doesn't vote up or down. yes, it's the only way to reverse 8 washington, but still: it's only getting it on the ballot for voters to decide—a democratic process (even if you believe the supervisors should have had the last say).

so trying to impede this process seems...undemocratic. overkill. if the project's so great, the voters will know what to do, right?

Posted by Daniele E. on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 8:34 pm

Yes but you certainly can't expect the people who have been fighting for the building for years to roll over and play dead. Would you? 12 story buildings don't normally go before the voters.

To quote Sue Hestor: "Snellgrove isn't finished paying for this yet".

Posted by Troll on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 8:55 pm

I hope if it gets on the ballot, that all the subtleties surrounding the issues 8 washington brings up will be highlighted well. it's definitely a complex issue...i'm still learning myself. one thing i'm starting to get is nothing is necessarily what it seems on the surface.

that said, i hope these same complexities can be put in succinct, simple ways for the voters to weigh and understand. that would be worth it.

Posted by Daniele E. on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 9:33 pm

The problem is that the family living in the Sunset has much better things to worry about. Whether the space across from the Ferry Building is a parking lot/tennis club or a 12 story building doesn't affect them at all. So lets say that they vote 50/50.

Meanwhile the 1% millionaires in the surrounding condos and up on Telegraph Hill care a lot and are mobilized. And in this case flush with money from Equity Office Properties which does indeed want the spot to remain a parking lot so that people can drive to their high end Ferry Building stores located on top of a Bart station and the F Line.

Ironic that Progressives have no problem joining forces with the typical people that they rail against.

That being said we'll see how the signature tally comes out. Hiring paid gatherers helps but doesn't guarantee success.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 7:54 am

The turnout in the D3 precincts at Golden Gateway is amongst the most conservative in the City but the turnout is spotty at best.

Since Calvin Welch and the nonprofiteers were bought out during the Feinstein regime with cash money and then they screwed the neighborhoods on policy matters, progressives have added neighborhood folks to the ranks of the unworthy.

This has driven the neighborhoods into a cohabitation with downtown and marginalized progressives.

At some point at this rate, San Francisco progressivism is going to be reduced to the archetypal disabled homeless blatino transgender lesbian ex-con immigrant with HIV. Then progressivism will vanish as a political force. Poof!

Posted by marcos on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 8:20 am

The great thing is that the family living in the Sunset is that they worry about development too. Whether the space across from the Beach Chalet is turned into astroturf or the introduction of formula chain retail. So lets say that they vote 50/50.

Meanwhile the 1% millionaires who develop condos care a lot and are mobilized. And in this case flush with money from Pacific Waterfront Properties which does indeed want the spot to be build higher than the freaking Embarcadero Freeway ever was, so they can create a 136 foot wall that obstructs everything in front of and behind it.

Ironic that Moderates can't see this isn't about Progressives, but that it's about neighborhoods vs. Downtown.

That being said we'll see how the signature tally comes out. Hiring paid petition blockers helps stymie democracy, but doesn't guarantee success.

Posted by Troll 3 on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 9:06 am

In fact, I support more democracy. Every single decision in SF should be up for a vote. Lets get rid of the board of supervisors and just let the voters decide every single decision. It isnt real unless it goes to a vote.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 9:50 am

>"they can create a 136 foot wall that obstructs everything in front of and behind it."

Dude, save the misleading rhetoric for your $3 a signature job that the parking lot pays you for.

You just sound goofy when you say that there is going to be a 13 story high 'wall' built on the Embarcadero.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 10:04 am

Right, I gather signatures. And in my spare time, I comment on websites.

Because your logic that signature gatherers are hired hands who don't care about the given cause is totally congruent with the fact that, here I am, caring about the given cause.

You sound goofy when you try to contradict the EIR and former mayor and the Chronicle and the developer himself when you say it's not 135 feet high.

Google "up zoning."

We'll wait.

Posted by Troll 3 on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 10:38 am

Look up the difference between 'wall' and 'building', Shakespeare.

But I'll admit it -- the part of 8 Washington that is 136 feet high does block the view of a much taller building behind it.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 10:48 am

Here's the developer-friendly streetswiki discussion on street wall. The goal is to subsume the individual beneath the power of the edifice, to make sure that the architect, in the service of the ruling class, expresses and affirms dominance over. The piece was clearly written by someone who has never walked down one of San Francisco's "street wall deprived" Neighborhood Commerical Districts:

http://streetswiki.wikispaces.com/Street+Wall

A street wall is the part of a building that faces the street, but it generally refers to how and where several buildings line up to define a proper walking environment. At the most basic level, buildings should be set back an equal distance so that facades are even for as far as a pedestrian can see. An ideal street wall offers a sense of formality and includes a continuous variety of first floor businesses.

A well-defined street wall is considered essential for walkable neighborhoods because it forms a protected and uninterrupted pedestrian zone. The Washington DC planning department, for instance, recommends "a continuous and active street wall of development” to improve walkability.

Purpose of a Street Wall
A street wall helps to promote walking over automobile use by fostering a feeling of safety. Because the upper floors of urban buildings define an enclosed visual space for the pedestrian, they expand the view down the street and convey that one can walk for miles. The solid upper floors also help to focus all street activity on the building’s “permeable” first floor (retail, restaurants and services), which attracts “eyes on the street”. Furthermore, formal architectural design can add sophistication to a neighborhood, inspiring respectful behavior in urban settings.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 11:04 am

Thank you, Marcos (if that is you) but as you can see from the pictures the 136 foot part of 8 Washington is thinner and it isn't even on the Embarcadero. It is behind the lower part of 8 Wash and slopes up to the 22 story Golden Gateway behind it.

The petitioners have no problem calling it a 136 foot wall and they aren't doing so to maintain architectural decorum. They do it to mislead potential signers.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 11:33 am

I oppose all upzoning without significant concessions and specifically oppose spot upzoning such as 8 Washington.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 11:47 am

I also oppose all new construction, but that's besides the point.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

If you're going to parody marcos, at least do it well. You're getting tedious otherwise.

Posted by Zingbat McGillicutty on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

Do I have to write a marcos gibberish generator so that they. an spoof me properly?

Posted by marcos on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 1:01 pm

I agree, we should make each and every developer pay for a campaign to prove to the voters that their latest fly-by-night get-rich-quick development scheme is in our interests.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 10:09 am

Including all "ly-by-night get-rich-quick development" which is owned by "non profit" developers.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 10:19 am

This post: "Posted by marcos on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 10:19 am" is a deceptive, hijacked post.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 10:37 am

This post: "Posted by marcos on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 10:37 am" is a deceptive, hijacked post

Posted by marcos on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 11:08 am

You want to install a new dishwasher? Let the voters decide! Want to put new siding on your house? San Francisco's voters know best!

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 10:38 am

Hey that's a pretty great false choice there, excluded middle, something something, oh look a bird

Posted by Troll 3 on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 10:41 am

Why even have representative democracy at all, if " these same complexities can be put in succinct, simple ways for the voters to weigh and understand"?

The point is, these issues are complex, and no amount of dumbing down to the level of 99% vs. 1% will help make them actually an less so.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

Looks like this crowd has finally regained its fighting spirit if they're eliciting this kind of reaction from the developers. Let's see if they can execute for a change. Lee can always offer CCHO $20m in affordable housing dollars to call off the dogs and they will.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 9:03 pm

Opposition pay signature takers for a fee for each signature collected, that's a fact. There may be a few "volunteers".

Let see...if the project does not get through, then no affordable housing fee, and we're left with a parking lot, and club for the 1% wealthy tennis players and the existing 1% condo owners keep their view. No construction jobs. No forward movement on waterfront. Not in my back yard.

Only in SF.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 6:14 am

Developers are making many many tens of millions off our waterfront, that's a fact. There may be a few "volunteers".

Let see...if the project does not get through, then we'll make a special exemption, only for rich people, 1% condo owners and the 1% developers rake in the cash. No community recreation.

Backward movement on waterfront. Giving away the store.

Only in SF.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 7:46 am

I personally cannot sleep at night knowing that there is an eyesore of a tennis court and recreation facility behind unsightly fencing right on the waterfront.

Indeed, the notion that one iota of land us not being developed to its "highest and best use" causes not just insomnia but nausea.

The presence of a vacant lot where there could be luxury condos gives me vertigo, I cannot remain standing for the lost opportunity costs of it all.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 8:00 am

Of course you cant! I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that you have housing, and that you actively seek to prevent other people from enjoying that same luxury.
Sorry buddy, the fact that developing a parcel which contains a private exercise club and outdoor swimming pools offends your delicate sensibilities regarding perceived open space is not a valid reason to oppose.

You do realize you are spouting the same support terms as the Telegraph hill dwellers and the owners of the embarcadero center. I hadnt realized the swells hang out with you in the dungeons of SOMA.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 8:52 am