CFAH

8 Washington Rendering circa 2012

The motion to officially rescind the City’s certification of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the waylaid 8 Washington Street development (a.k.a. “The Wall on the Waterfront“) is in the works in order to comply with orders from the San Francisco Superior Court.

Approved by San Francisco’s Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors in 2012, the planned development of 134 condos at 8 Washington was blocked by voters in 2013.  And then earlier this year, Superior Court Judge James Robertson ruled that the project’s previously approved EIR relied on old and incomplete data with respect to traffic and parking and ordered that all past approvals and certified reports for the project be set aside.

As approved, the 8 Washington project included an increase in the height limit for the rear of the parcel, from 8-stories to 12-stories on one corner, in exchange for lower heights along the Embarcadero, a trade-off which Planning Department, with input from the community, had requested.  It was specifically this increase in height which ballot Measure C then blocked.

The 8 Washington Street parcel remains zoned for building up to 8-stories in height.  And as we first reported last year, the development team led by Pacific Waterfront Partners has been planning to re-submit code compliant plans for an 8-story development on the site.  But as a plugged-in reader succinctly reported when Measure C passed:

“It’s no done deal that the developer can just build an 84′ project [on the site]. The project was entitled as designed. It would have to go thru years of redesign, a new [Environmental Impact Report], [and] hearings at every commission that previously approved the prior plan.

The project was initially designed as an 84′ project. After 17 months of “community planning” workshops, the community and the Planning Department convinced the developer to step the height up in the back and down in the front. The same people who put [Measure] C on the ballot opposed the 84′ project and would probably put that on the ballot, this time saying it should be 40′.

Whether the developer or their financial partners (CalSTRS) are up for [another battle] remains to be seen. And what other developer would walk into this now? We may have another 10 or 15 years of parking lot and fenced club.”

Seeking to ensure that Pacific Waterfront Partners would, in fact, be waylaid and have to start from scratch, the aforementioned people behind Measure C preemptively filed the suit to overturn the previous approvals and groundwork for the development.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Orland

    Ashamed to be a San Franciscan.

  2. Posted by Sierrajeff

    Please please please build up to 8 stories all along The Embarcadero, just so we anti-Prop 8 types can shout “I TOLD YOU SO” whenever some Telegraph Hill-type bemoans how they loom over the street.

  3. Posted by Futurist

    What a stupid little small minded city we are.

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      it is sad when a few superwealthy people can dupe the anti-“luxury” crowd against their own interstes into supporting such a stupid proposition. Money can buy anything i guess. another win for the uber wealthy in the fight against the upper middle class. And the uber wealthy seems to ahve the lower middle class doing their dirty work

      • Posted by Gil

        Republicans and Democrats really are the same.

  4. Posted by ElitistPig

    If it’s already zoned for 84′, they should be allowed to build 84′.

  5. Posted by jamesjr

    What a waste. A beautiful project crushed by the parochial views of the Telegraph Hill crowd, Art Agnos and a few view-protector NIMBYs.

    • Posted by MarinaBoy

      I agree sad to see a parking lot and chain link fence on the site vs. what was suggested!

    • Posted by Orland

      No, you can’t overlook the hand the people (at least, the voting electorate) of San Francisco had in this miserable episode.

  6. Posted by Aaron Goodman

    wrong, see the story about the prior waterfront battles, and Jack Morrison, and the efforts to protect the bay, waterfront, and the beauty of it all for ALL of us, is what is the reason. We can develop sites without ruining the overall idea that the waterfront and views, have a reason… that for PUBLIC enjoyment, That the developer proponents would not negotiate a better solution, is why we should all realize how corrupt the city is again…

    • Posted by Gil

      Chain link fences and paved parking lots.

      Only as Twin Pines Mobile Home Park & Tackle Shop can such beauty be found,

    • Posted by Brian M

      So a bunch of parking lots, rotting piers, and chain link fenced off parcels protects the waterfront?

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        Don’t forget the private tennis and swimming club! I bet tourists feel that it really improves the waterfront when they get to see the rear end of a private compound like that.

    • Posted by Ivoryhouse

      The Tennis club provides a pretty good wall (unless you have a Telegraph Hill view I guess)

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      You clearly drank the kool-aid and have no clue. The proposition killed a 12-story building to save the views from a 22-story concrete monstrosity (and nestled against the even taller Embarcadero Center) – and in the process incentivized any future developer to build up to the full 84′ along The Embarcadero, instead of *lower* as the 8 Washington developer proposed. So the effect of any future development, after the proposition, will be to *increase* the height of buildings along The Embarcadero.

      See also: “cutting off your nose to spite your face”

    • Posted by Orland

      You’re really pushing the Kool-Aide, aren’t you.

  7. Posted by Bay Guy

    It appears that those who live here want to acquire a “big city” look without being a “big city”. The rendering looks just fine to me!

  8. Posted by Pablito

    Projects should be allowed to be built what they are zoned for by right. Development would be a lot less contentious in this town if people just got to follow the rules as written – and followed the rules as written – and quit trying to game the system on Every single project every single day….

    • Posted by anon

      That, and how about remove the 1907-era zoning and height restrictions to allow building more than just a few stories on top of what has become some of the most desirable real estate in the entire world?

      It’s the 21st century, San Francisco hasn’t been a quaint sea-side town for 166 years, and locals still refuse to acknowledge that a defining feature of big cities is that they contain big buildings.

  9. Posted by G

    @Aaron Goodman how is this site in any way shape or form accessible for public enjoyment as it sits now? Its a parking lot and private club. How does it pose any risk to the health of the bay. If you are going to bemoan totally legitimate projects like this you lose your ability to ever complain about the high cost of living here. Period.

    • Posted by d-b

      The Bay Club Golden Gateway is about as private as the YMCA. For similar monthly dues anyone can walk off the street and enjoy this facility.

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        by that reasoning the Bohemian Club is a public amenity, since if I can pay the 5-digit annual fee, I’m welcome to join.

      • Posted by Bertie Anglis

        Not true. To join the Bay Club at the Gateway (including tennis access), it’s a $1,000 activation fee and $260/month. To join the Presidio YMCA (which has tennis courts), it’s a $99 activation fee and $74/month.

        • Posted by frog

          Who the hell pays a 1000 dollar activation fee? Unless their paperwork is written by hand, on leather, by monks, that’s pure profit.

          To misquote Graucho Marx: I wouldn’t be a part of any club I could afford.

    • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

      One example – I can see right over the current tennis/swim club from my office for an unobstructed view of the bay. Quite awesome. The proposed building would block a bit of that view.

      Also, I swim at this club quite often, and would miss the pool. So I can’t say this all breaks my heart.

      More universally, the battle is between those who want the waterfront to remain free of obstructions to views and/or access, and those who want to build and thereby obstruct views and/or access. I recognize pros and cons in both viewpoints (those who note only pros or only cons as to either are being insincere). The SF voters appear to be firmly in the “no obstructions” camp for a variety of reasons. Ultimately, that’s what matters.

      • Posted by moto mayhem

        the battle is to protect the views of the uberwealthy so that the mere upper middle class won’t be able to move in here. and the uber wealthy have convinced the middle and low middle to fight with them. Its pure idiocy

      • Posted by Orland

        The voters had no idea what they were voting for. This development would have been absolutely inconsequential except for a very few (you included) as a view-blocker for the populace as a whole with the pier-heads immediately across from it and would have constituted a much better use than the mess there now and for decades past. There is no “good side” to that miserably embarrassing exercise of the franchise and an excellent example as to why such issues do not belong subject to initiatives.

        • Posted by frog

          A friend of mine at Google was totally anti the wall on the waterfront and even talked about it while drunk at a party once. His other interests are being anti-gentrification while living in the Mission, being pro-bike while not owning one, and lots of drugs at Burning Man year-round decompression parties.

    • Posted by soccermom

      Bobby Dobbs is right. The pool at the tennis club is awesome.

  10. Posted by jsimms3

    I just don’t understand how a voter in Park Merced or Visitacion Valley can have that much authority over a piece of privately owned land in the clear opposite side of the city.

    We have a Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors, and other layers of bureaucracy that already far exceed what can be found in most cities, and on top of that, add the entire voting population as a layer since anything can be voted on by ballot!

    What’s more moronic is that there was community input over YEARS on this design to begin with. It’s not like developers greased palms and Planners bent over and wham, tomorrow you get a partial upzone. There was a lot of give and take. A lot of process. A pension fund for friggin teachers spent millions on the dirt, the entitlements, and the design. THEY’RE the losers more than anyone here. I wonder how many teachers voted against this, but have pensions with CALSTRs? How ironic! LoL

    But back to topic at hand…this was a fair process involving an insane amount of community input. The people that would supposedly be “impacted” were involved! THEN they turn around and stab the developers in the back after costing the developers added millions and years to their privately financed (by a public pension nonetheless) deal?

    Democracy really really sucks folks. Just keep that in mind. *Nothing * gets done or built. That’s good for some, bad for most.

    • Posted by kbbl

      The commenters here really should splinter off a “Death of Socrates” reading group.

      • Posted by Can't Think of Cool Name

        But with beer

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      One of the most frustrating aspects of the proposition fight, for me, was the way the political class refused to stand up for this project (and, by extension, the legitimacy of the overall planning process). And the developer and CalSTERs could have done a far, far better job explaining the project to the public. If there’s any asterisk on my unbridled anger at the outcome, it’s that the pro-8 Washington side really dropped the ball on their side.

  11. Posted by soccermom

    The developers should have the right to build once they have their project approved and not subject to referendum do-overs.

    That said, when the critics assert that this is a for-rich-people, by-rich-people project that will benefit the eventual owners with sweet views and wildly valuable places at the marginal loss of openness on the waterfront, the critics are right.

    Buy single family homes if you can.

  12. Posted by anon

    Funny thing is that if the Port and Simon Snellgrove agreed to build lower than the zoned height limit this project would be a slam dunk. But greed will keep this parcel from being built for a decade or more.

  13. Posted by Sam

    Progressive Nimbyism continues to rule the city to the detriment of the working class. The wealthy progressive nimbyists of Telegraph Hill definitely know how to manipulate the opinions in the city.

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