8 Washington opponents try to torpedo counter-initiative

You sir are hereby accused of circulating a petition with fatal legal flaws!

Opponents of 8 Washington, a hotly contested development project that would erect 134 new condos priced at $5 million apiece and up along the San Francisco waterfront, are seeking to thwart a counter-initiative developers have launched to solicit voter approval for the project on the November ballot.

In a July 1 letter from The Sutton Law Firm to Hanson Bridgett LLP, a firm representing the project proponents, political lawyer and fixer Jim Sutton highlights “fatal legal flaws” he claims would invalidate each and every signature collected in support of the 8 Washington initiative. It’s likely a precursor to a lawsuit. Apparently, Sutton got involved through his connection with former City Attorney Louise Renne, who opposes the 8 Washington plan.

Organized under No Wall on the Northeast Waterfront, opponents circulated petitions of their own earlier this year to challenge San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ approval of 8 Washington, asking voters to weigh in on the Board’s waiver of building height limit restrictions. Polling has indicated they'll succeed (a win in their case is a majority of “no” votes), effectively sinking the project. That prompted 8 Washington proponents to generate their own counter-initiative.

Sutton’s letter demands that 8 Washington proponents not submit the initiative to the Department of Elections for signature verification, unless they first re-circulate the petitions. Of course, that would torpedo the whole endeavor, since there’s no way proponents could gather enough signatures in time for the imminent filing deadline.

The aforementioned “fatal legal flaws,” meanwhile, seem to illustrate why high-powered attorneys like Sutton rake in the big bucks. Apparently, the initiative proponents neglected to attach a few maps detailing the height limit increases, in violation of a requirement that proponents present the “full text” of a proposal to voters. And then there’s this:

Whether it’s a photocopying error or an attempt at obfuscation, the map on the left (circulated by the pro-development camp) makes it impossible to read the height limit increase. (The map on the right was circulated by opponents.) This seemingly minute detail matters, according to No Wall on the Northeast Waterfront spokesperson Jon Golinger, because “the whole point of this is the height increase.”

David Beltran, a spokesperson for the pro- 8 Washington folks, responded to a Guardian request for comment by saying, “Our opponents are offering up yet another baseless claim.” He called it a distraction “from having to justify why they are asking our City to give up new parks, jobs, and housing and millions of dollars in city benefits that includes $11 million for new affordable housing—to protect an asphalt parking lot and private club,” referencing a recreational center that’s served a predominantly middle class clientele for years that would be razed to make way for 8 Washington.

Beltran also attached a complaint Hanson Bridgett had filed with the San Francisco Ethics Commission, charging that No Wall on the Northeast Waterfront had failed to meet campaign filing deadlines, and urging city officials to “immediately investigate the delay” and impose fines of $5,000 per violation.


Very democratic of "progressives"

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 11:43 pm

Because allowing one uber wealthy elderly white couple that resides in golden gateway to fund over three quarters of the cost of the ballot initiative that would protect their living room view is inherently democratic.

Posted by Maldita fondada on Jul. 04, 2013 @ 8:08 am

Are suggesting that the view of one wealthy couple is less of a direct economic interest than making nine figures profit off of spot zoning for higher rise luxury condos?

Its about fucking time that someone had the resources and inclination to do something about this. For all of the radical caterwauling on the part of poverty nonprofits, it turns out that is all posturing to sell out to developers. It is the wealthy white couple from Golden Gateway who is taking the fight to the developers.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 04, 2013 @ 8:49 am
Posted by Guest on Jul. 04, 2013 @ 9:39 am

Not surprising to hear someone who owns property valued at over 600k defending the views of an uber wealthy white couple.
Funny just who ends up being the 1% in San Francisco!

Posted by Maldita fondada on Jul. 06, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

Left unmentioned is the fact that the signature collectors are paid $2 to $3 a signature and routinely lied to people. :(

Posted by Distorted Petitioning Process on Jul. 04, 2013 @ 11:21 am

this whole battle seems like rich telegraph hill dwellers fighting rich condo developers. I'm not sure why I should even care who wins

Posted by Kris G on Jul. 04, 2013 @ 9:53 pm

I am a bit confused over which group of millionaires I am supposed to support . Why
is it bad to build over priced condos in front of existing over priced condos.

I think an excellent compromise would be to piss in both their pots and build public housing.

Posted by SJG on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 6:58 am

The 8 Washington project will not only impact people living on Telegraph Hill. It will also wall off Telegraph Hill from everyone walking/biking/driving along the Embarcadero. It'll be like a 130 foot high brick wall sitting in front of the beautiful slopes and lovely homes on Telegraph Hill. Wouldn't you rather enjoy that scenery than have your gaze stopped by windows and bricks? And don't forget, this is just the beginning. If the developers of this building have their way, there goes the rest of the Embarcadero. Please, don't fence me in.

Posted by Guest JB on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 10:40 am
Posted by Guest on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

This one might be the most ridiculous statement yet, and that's saying a lot:

"It will also wall off Telegraph Hill from everyone walking/biking/driving along the Embarcadero. "

OMG. It is 2/3 of a mile away from Coit Tower. Obviously the writer lives on Telegraph Hill....those people REALLY have no probelm lying when it comes to protecting their precious million dollar views.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

OMG. The only infant crying "waa, poor me!" is the wealthy out-of-town developer who claims he can only build his 134 $5-10 million luxury condos at 8 Washington Street if the voters change the law to lift the height limits on the waterfront. Just say NO!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

Nobody is changing any law -- that is one of the many lies from the official playbook of the Telegraph Hill Lying Machine.

The height restrictions were voted on in 1980. Ronald Reagan's first year as President. At the time they also installed provisions for granting exceptions, knowing that they couldn't anticipate every future situation.

When one of these exceptions is sought using the legally prescribed methods Telegraph Hill regularly describes them as being outside the law.

Just one of the many lies that Telegraph Hill likes to spread. They have no shame (and absolutely no integrity) when it comes to defending their views.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 8:27 pm

Take a look at the monstrosities called Fontana east and west at aquatic park. These ugly obelisks built in the 60's inspired the citizens of San Francisco to impose a 40 foot height limit along the shoreline of the bay. We tore down a freeway because it was an ugly wall on the waterfront. Giving any developer a variance on this limit opens the whole waterfront up for more of the same. The only people who would want this are the developers (who will simply walk away afterwards with the cash) and those who can afford 5 million to obtain a condo that blocks every one else's view so that they can have theirs. There are plenty of other places to build such condos. I say no to this. Read the initiative carefully and you will see that the open space promised by these developers is not even open to the public. No, no, no!

Posted by Guest CC on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

I think this comment page is rigged. What happened to my comment? I'm not typing this over and over. Just vote no on this monstrosity. The developers only care about one thing, the dough they will walk away with. We have a 40' height limit inspired by the ugly Fontana east and west. Take a look at them by Aquatic park and see if you want more of the same.

Posted by Guest CC on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 7:04 pm

works, then why would we want to listen to your views on architecture?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 06, 2013 @ 2:27 am

This comment page is rigged. Forget it.

Posted by Guest CC on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 7:05 pm

So the public park space is the size of two tennis courts and no one will use. And the rest of the space is multi-million dollar condos and probably the most expensive private sports club in the City. Really, who supports this, aside from the developers?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 7:30 pm

The only people who support 8 Washington are people who hate San Francisco and San Franciscans.

Posted by anon on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 7:45 pm

I want us to get all those tax revenues and the 11 million for affordable housing.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 06, 2013 @ 2:26 am

Yeah. The truth is that over half the space is open to the public.

And the private sports club would be run by the same people that run it now. Who already charge more than most people (outside of Telegraph Hill) can afford.

But hey...if you're from Telegraph Hill then just keep lying....be proud of what you do best.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 8:32 pm

Who wants POPS anyway, rent a cops crawling all over the place?

Posted by anon on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 8:53 pm

Yes, the voters voted for height limits and yes the authorities regularly ignore the wishes of the voters. Voting against this project sends a message to the power brokers and political wags that the voters are tired of having their wishes ignored. A vote against the 8 Washington project is a vote to protect the waterfront and keep it open to the public.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 8:05 pm

Democracy can be over-done, with farcical results.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 06, 2013 @ 2:25 am

I am pro 8 Washington - I don't see why people on this blog demonize developers in almost every urban planning post. There are commentators out there who assume ALL new development is like a rash. You live in an urban place, at the center of a major world economy. Not all new housing is going to be public housing, and actually, one of the major reason housing costs are so high in SF is because it takes 2 or 3 development cycles to build a project. If we continue to permit new buildings at the same rate, Seattle will have a bigger population than SF in ten years. Housed in some really nice multifamily buildings with new shared amenity spaces.

People need some perspective on the regional question. Its actually not about somebody's right to a view of the waterfront. We have no City or State obligation to protect private views. Rather, 8 Washington is adjacent to employment, In the city's densest, most central, transit supported and desirable neighborhoods.

We are a city, we need to build new housing, cities and neighborhoods change and evolve over time. Their development feeds our city with incentives - I am not afraid of tall buildings. What I am afraid of is that the city will stall out and residential housing supply will trickle to an end, and the cost of housing in SF will only go up.

That parking lot is not worth preserving, and a smaller building makes no justifiable economic sense.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 09, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

People who can afford 8 Washington don't need to "work" like the little people. Their money "works" for them.

If they do actually go to an office, they will not be taking Muni unless there is a direct F Line connection.

Does anyone really give a rat's ass if Seattle has a larger population than San Francisco in ten years time?

Posted by anon on Jul. 09, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

Because we know what the future owners of a property which doesn't even exist yet will be doing.

Who cares if SF withers and dies due to its own bass ackward housing policies. In SF we only care about the lowest common denominator! The sooner that the entire city reflects the lowest common denominator the better!
Smash the state!

Posted by Rhinna Sante on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 11:40 am

This idiotic project should be kaput. The true fact (according to the official record) is that everyone coming by the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero waterfront would no longer be able to see Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill since the view angle will be gone. No amount of bullying, lying, or spinning by the rogue developer's operatives can change this fact—and they fully admit it. When they try to finesse it otherwise, we shouldn't be fooled.

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