Opponents of 8 Washington development step up pressure

| August 30, 2012
Speaking out against the project: Opponents of the 8 Washington project speak on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • Speaking out against the project: Opponents of the 8 Washington project speak on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday.

Pressure is mounting on at least three supervisors to switch their votes in favor of allowing a 50-foot height increase for the 8 Washington St. luxury condo development.

Armed with a new voter poll, opponents of the contentious 134-unit development said supervisors who favored the development during its June approval are out of step with their constituents.

Jon Golinger, chairman of the influential Telegraph Hill Dwellers neighborhood group, gathered more than 30 people on the City Hall steps Wednesday morning to denounce the project and single out three left-leaning supervisors for not voting against it in June.

Golinger has forced the board to hold a “do-over vote” on the project’s height increase from 84 feet to 136 feet, after leading the effort to gather 31,000 signatures to place a referendum on the ballot. Under state law, the board must now vote again on the height increase, which it is expected to do Tuesday.

Opponents called specifically on supervisors Christina Olague, Eric Mar and Jane Kim to join supervisors David Chiu, David Campos and John Avalos in rejecting the project’s height increase. The development was approved in an 8-3 vote in June and the height increase was subsequently signed into law by Mayor Ed Lee.

Olague was the subject of particular emphasis as four of the candidates she will face in November’s election denounced her support of the development: London Breed, John Rizzo and Thea Selby showed up, as well as a representative for candidate Julian Davis.

Golinger said the poll of 400 voters conducted by David Binder Research last month showed that the effort would pass by 56 percent of the citywide vote at the ballot, with opposition to the height increase voiced by 70 percent of District 5 voters, represented by Olague; 58 percent of voters in District 6, represented by Kim; and 56 percent of voters in District 1, represented by Mar.

“Listen to the will of the people,” Golinger said. “Don’t give away our waterfront to the high-rise developers. We know that this will be just the first of many.”

The development’s critics fault the proposed project for changing the character of the waterfront; creating housing for the affluent when The City needs affordable housing; and disrupting the community of an existing fitness center, the Golden Gateway Tennis and Swim Club.

If the board upholds its June vote on Tuesday, then the referendum would appear on the November 2013 ballot or perhaps an earlier ballot if there is a special election.

Developer Simon Snellgrove’s spokesman P.J. Johnston sounded confident that the project’s support remains solid at the Board of Supervisors, saying that the “strengths of actual project” remain unchanged. He said the only thing that has changed is there was a signature drive well-funded by “two millionaires and one real estate giant.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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