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Board upholds support for 8 Washington plan

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“Over the past several weeks I have been cajoled, pressured and forewarned of dire electoral consequences if I did not change my vote on this project,” Chistina Olague said. “To say the least, this experience has been anything but pleasant. I sort of felt like a schoolgirl being bullied on the playground, but I think that maybe I succumbed to that type of bullying and pressure when I was 8. But at 51 it’s a different story.” - S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner File Photo
  • “Over the past several weeks I have been cajoled, pressured and forewarned of dire electoral consequences if I did not change my vote on this project,” Chistina Olague said. “To say the least, this experience has been anything but pleasant. I sort of felt like a schoolgirl being bullied on the playground, but I think that maybe I succumbed to that type of bullying and pressure when I was 8. But at 51 it’s a different story.”

Voters will decide the fate of the 8 Washington St. luxury condominium development after the Board of Supervisors declined on Tuesday to reverse its decision approving the project.

Following the June approval, opponents gathered enough signatures to place a referendum on the ballot, which under state law triggers a re-vote by the board.

On Tuesday, the board re-voted in favor of the development 8-3, with supervisors David Campos, John Avalos and board President David Chiu voting against it.

The coalition opposing the development, which includes the Telegraph Hill Dwellers neighborhood group and private fitness club members, held a rally last week calling on supervisors Christina Olague, Jane Kim and Eric Mar, the board’s more left-leaning elected officials, to change their votes and sink the 134-unit Simon Snellgrove luxury condo development. But the three did not budge.

District 5’s Olague, a Mayor Ed Lee appointee up for election in November, faced perhaps the strongest pressure with four of her November opponents showing up at last week’s rally to denounce her support.

“Over the past several weeks I have been cajoled, pressured and forewarned of dire electoral consequences if I did not change my vote on this project,” Olague said. “To say the least, this experience has been anything but pleasant. I sort of felt like a schoolgirl being bullied on the playground, but I think that maybe I succumbed to that type of bullying and pressure when I was 8. But at 51 it’s a different story.”

Supervisors who supported the development said the positives outweigh the negatives and noted that it will net The City $11 million in fees for affordable-housing development.

“I did not vote for this project simply because it would create jobs,” Supervisor Scott Wiener said. “I didn’t vote for it simply because it would give the Port money. And I certainly didn’t vote for it for any kind of side deal. I voted for this project because it is a good and appropriate project.

“A signature-gathering campaign that presents one side without the other does not, in my view, show that this is somehow the will of the voters,” Wiener added.

The development’s critics say it will change the character of the waterfront, create housing for the affluent and disrupt the existing Golden Gateway Tennis and Swim Club.

Voters will be asked in November 2013, or perhaps during an earlier special election, if The City should give the development a height increase from 84 feet to 136 feet.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com