Democratic party rejects bid to make waterfront development more democratic (UPDATED)

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu opposed developer Simon Snellgrove's 8 Washington project, has no position on Prop B.

Note: This story has been updated (see below).

The governing body of the San Francisco Democratic Party voted Wed/12 to oppose a controversial June ballot measure concerning waterfront height limits, despite voting last year to support a strikingly similar measure on the November ballot.

By a slim 13-to-12 vote, the Democratic County Central Committee voted to oppose Proposition B, which would require city officials to get voter approval before approving new building projects that are taller than what’s legally sanctioned under a comprehensive waterfront plan.

The vote breakdown was surprising to some because until recently, the DCCC was known as a progressive stronghold in San Francisco politics. Its slate cards are distributed to Democrats throughout San Francisco, and Democrats make up the vast majority of city voters.

Now, under the leadership of a chair who is employed as a lobbyist for the San Francisco Association of Realtors, the DCCC has aligned itself with powerful real-estate developers hoping to build along the city’s waterfront. 

District 8 Sup. Scott Wiener came under scrutiny recently because he called for a formal evaluation on the impact of Prop. B after developers who oppose the measure sent emails urging him to do so. Wiener, who emphasized at the time that he merely sought an “impartial analysis” of the measure, voted against Prop. B.

Also opposing Prop. B were Assmeblymember Phil Ting, Attorney General Kamala Harris, and Bevan Dufty, a former District 8 supervisor who now leads the mayor’s initiatives on homelessness. 

Twelve members voted to endorse the measure, including Sups. John Avalos, David Campos, Eric Mar, and Malia Cohen, as well as California Sen. Mark Leno and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano. 

But the threshold for this vote to pass or fail was much lower than usual, because so many DCCC members simply refused to take a stand one way or the other.

Prop. B comes on the heels of voters’ rejection last November of Props. B and C, dueling initiatives which concerned the fate of a controversial luxury high-rise tower, the 8 Washington project. 

Although that project won Board of Supervisors approval, opponents brought a referendum to the ballot to ask voters to decide whether to uphold or reject a building height increase that went above the established limit.

The rejection of 8 Washington at the ballot was interpreted as a politically significant turning point, because voters flushed a luxury condo tower down the tubes at a time when the housing affordability crisis was getting into full swing. Soon after that victory, 8 Washington opponents returned to file paperwork for a new referendum on the ballot, to require voter approval for all waterfront height-limit increases.

San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu – who not only opposed 8 Washington but helped gather signatures for the referendum to challenge it – did not take a position on the waterfront height limit measure. Chiu’s decision to abstain sets him apart from Campos, his opponent in the upcoming Assembly race. Had Chiu voted to endorse Prop. B, its opponents would not have had the votes to get the upper hand.

UPDATE: Chiu said he still hasn't formed an opinion on the measure, and that he's waiting on a pending city analysis and the outcome of a lawsuit challenging it. 

"There's been very little analysis and it could take money away from affordable housing and cost the city money fighting a lawsuit," he said, citing the money that developers would be spending on political campaigns as the potential source of affordable housing money. 

"I am open to supporting the measure, as someone who passionate about waterfront development," he added, citing the lead role he took in opposing the 8 Washington project. (End of update.)

Others who abstained (or did so by proxy) included Alix Rosenthal (who is working as a consultant on the waterfront Warriors arena project), Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Jackie Speier, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi. California Sen. Leland Yee – whose representative at the meeting, John Rizzo, reportedly did not show up to cast Yee’s vote – was reportedly also planning to abstain.

Jon Golinger, who is leading the Prop. B campaign to require voter approval for waterfront height-limit increases, said he wasn’t terribly concerned about the DCCC vote, since early polling was favorable to his campaign. But he found it telling that the same cast of characters who had opposed 8 Washington were now voting to oppose a measure that would have extended voters’ will on 8 Washington to all waterfront development proposals.

“The key difference,” between Prop. B and last November's 8 Washington vote, he told the Bay Guardian, “is that there are more big money interests that have something to lose here.”


Posted by guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 7:35 pm

David Chiu is owned by developers.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 7:56 pm

The same goes for the D8 supervisor who "listens to" and works for his conservative base, and only them.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 8:15 pm

Shared progressive values my ass.

Speaking of asses, this will come back to bite him in his.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 8:48 pm

Alix Rosenthal has proven herself to be a non-progressive sell out. I now question all the sell outs who are supporting David Chui and his developer driven agenda.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2014 @ 5:04 pm

This is just progressives whining that they do not have 100% power.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2014 @ 5:56 pm

Bevan Dufty was a former supervisor in D8, not D6. He and Alix Rosenthal bought former rent-controlled apartments, which should be noted in the article since it shows their bias to Ed Lee's and Willie Brown's "New San Francisco," where money and power are far more important than integrity, empathy and social justice. Their actions shout loud and clear, "who cares about rent-controlled housing?"

The link to "lobbyist to SF Realtors" doesn't work.

I'd like to hear the reasons from people who abstained such as Chiu and Rizzo. The other "no" votes and abstentions from the other politicians wen't unexpected since they are part and parcel why the country is bankrupt, housing prices and rents are through the roof, and the vast economic divide between the have-lots and have-little in SF, CA and the US has never been higher. These so-called Democrats make the libertarian strain of the Republican Party seem like mainstream radicals.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 8:29 pm

So while she was beneath him for a while she's now ABOVE criticism at the SFBG.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 8:42 pm

That's both crass and untrue. I made love with my longtime sweetie Alix Rosenthal many times over our years-long romantic relationship. And years later, we're still close friends, which is why I recused myself from covering the Warriors or their waterfront plans when Alix got the job a month or so ago. I communicated to Rebecca, our news editor and the writer of this post, that she and our reporter, Joe, were free to cover these issues however and whenever they want (I didn't read this piece before publication and I won't read others on this issue if Alix remains the team's representative). Rebecca can answer for herself, but her treatment of Alix's role in this sounded fair to me. 

Posted by steven on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 9:48 pm

for us Steven. It now all makes sense.

Joking aside your explanation sounds plausible.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 10:02 pm

Point being that Yet Another Progocialite Operator who got a leg up from progressive political energy turns around and, while not screwing Steven anymore, screws those who gave her a leg up.

Why should anyone volunteer any resources or time to manipulative climbers masquerading as representing community interests when they're just going to take the money and run right over us?

Again, if the SFBG is going to continue to posit itself as the voice of progressive San Francisco, then they're going to need to be covering their "progressive" friends whose ambition and economic interest lead them to corrupt "the movement" which is all but dead in the water.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 5:22 am

disgusting. Why do I want to hear about you making love with anyone.
There just really is no boundaries with the SFBG - go ahead and air all your laundry.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 9:18 am

even though at this point he is just a balding fat middle-aged bore.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 9:30 am

He's definitely not fat and while he is middle-aged he's aging well and taking care of himself.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 9:55 am

Can anyone point out any other legitimate news reporter who will actively engage people in the comments on his own article, including giving out details of his sexual relationships?


Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 10:28 am
Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 11:27 am

The anti-Steven right-wing trolls have shown their blatant ageism again. Steven's chronological age has zero to do with anything.

Some people choose to be "old" at 25 (the trolls would be included in that), while other resent being labeled "old" regardless of their chronological age. Aside from a medical problem, "old" is really a mindset, a way of thinking instilled in the sheeple (i.e. trolls) in part by a fucked up society.

Just as some people die at age 30 (in their mindset) even though they don't actually die until much later.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 7:40 pm

I would think you would appreciate hearing about Steven making love with someone, rather than trying to come off as Mr/Ms Shriveled-Up Prude. It would save you having to go out and buy another cheap romantic novel just yet...your only contact with romance.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 7:51 pm

I love how Democratic Party supporters are always railing against Republicans and their big-business supporters, while the DP is owned and controlled by much more powerful and destructive real estate lobby, banks, landlords and Wall Street. At least businesses produce goods and services that we can decide to either buy or not, whereas the oppressive Democratic Party machines in SF, LA, Chicago, DC and New York produce nothing other than higher rents, fat developer profits and unaffordable housing except for the elites who can afford $1 million minimum to live in these DP controlled cities.

Anyone who votes for Democrats is as much a part of the problem as voters who support Republicans.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 9:23 pm

"Anyone who votes for Democrats is as much a part of the problem as voters who support Republicans."

Agreed. At least 2 people (you and me) understand that after all this time. I can't stand D or R (one right-wing Big Business Corporatist bourgeois elite party with two names). And it looks like the local party is now trying to emulate the useless and irrelevant misnamed "Democratic" Party at the national level. Considering what this city is becoming (the opposite of what it was), I guess it's expected. Ugh.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 10:15 pm

voted for sit lie.

Then Tim Redmond wrote a blog hazzaing Ammiano for trying to pass a state law that would ban sit lie.

Yes, more democracy is what progressives want.

Posted by guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 9:16 pm

and tyranny of the majority. It's one thing to democratically decide on the kind of city planning you'd like to see. It's quite another to vote away the basic human rights of a minority group.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 9:35 pm

So when the voters vote the way you want Greg, it's "the will of the people" and the "people have spoken". But when they go against you it's "tyranny of the majority". Thanks for the clarification.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 8:43 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 9:43 pm

Then it is all deep thinking, ................ today.

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Posted by cherry on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 11:33 pm

There can be such a thing as too much democracy.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 6:20 am

I can tell that SFBG doesn't matter anymore when all the comments are from progressives hating on other progressives (see the thread about Alix... You guys are so sexist and disgusting).

I believe that direct democracy is a good thing, as do most of us in the California Democratic Party, yet this measure does nothing to change anyone's right to vote. As 8 Washington proved, if our representatives approve something that a large enough group of people oppose, it will end up on the ballot. This measure simply tilts responsibility for good planning and making tough decisions away from our elected officials and puts it on voters - which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but is definitely a free pass for the very people we pay to do this work. Again, this measure doesn't grant any rights and is basically redundant since most of these projects end up on the ballot anyway. This is just a cynical attempt by Golinger and Peskin to remain relevant after the 8 Washington campaign, which they constantly remind us about. This isn't about anything other than political power and aspirations of a small and wealthy group of NIMBYs.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 9:07 am

SFBG's agenda is transparent. They do not want to see ANY new buildings go up unless they are built by the city or for a union or non-profit..

So the more obstacles thatc an be put in the way of buildings for homes or jobs, the better for nihilist NIMBY nattering nabobs of negativity.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 9:28 am

As spoken by one of the nattering nabobs of negativity.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 11:16 pm

People just want to see the rules followed along the waterfront.

This measure is a great protest vote but that's all it really is. I mean, it gives voters a say in waterfront development but reactions to these kinds of developments are directly correlated to the economic cycle.

The genius of this measure is that is meant to simply give us a say in these developments, likely in multiple votes over several years. Then again, the idiocy of this measure is that big developments that seem scary in boom times are seen as life savers come the bust.

When this measure passes, we might see one of the big players try to run get their project approved by the voters. The Warriors team is full of bluff and bravado even after having been schooled for the past year by a bunch of progressive has-beens and wannabes.

(Golinger the author of the opposing arguments? Everyone on the Warriors and Giants payroll should be fucking ashamed. Everyone who's ever worked a city campaign knows what happens when no electeds sign the official opposing argument and what did these genius' do? They submitted two arguements to Golinger's nearly two dozen. Unbelievable. Total Apple Dumpling Gang.)

But the smart money will just wait it out. Ever wonder why so many projects were practically shovel ready when the housing and commercial real estate market rebounded? Smart money got their entitlements in the bust, held on, and then secured credit on the boom's upswing.

So the arrogant, the flush, and the Angelenos, will flail and fight and fluster and spend. The big, smart money will do like the rest of us. Hold tight, plot, plan and profit where we can, and wait for the bust and the opportunities it brings.

Posted by Becky Bayside on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 9:57 am

BS, the "people" are essentially a self selected group who want to freeze the city in amber. A group obsessed with control, who have an extremely narrow view that is profoundly detrimental to the health of SF the city.

Posted by Becky Backside on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 10:31 am

Anyone who hasn't visited SF in 10 years who drives down 2nd, 3rd and 4th streets will hardly think that SF is a city frozen in time. In fact, they'll think that the so-called liberals that control the city (actually controlled by developers and shills like SPUR and Livable City) have the worst taste possible and really crappy planning skills to allow the walls of monstrosities built all over the SOMA and Upper Market area.

By the way, we're still waiting to see the chart showing the number of housing units built in SF over the last 15 years compared to the units built in the few dozen cities that circle the bay. The meme that SF is dragging its feet on building housing compared to other cities in the region is pure bunk, especially when most of the jobs are located 50 miles away.

Why not focus your efforts on comparing how many housing units have been built recently in SF and compare that number to the units built in Mountain View, Los Altos, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Palo Alto, Hayward, Burlingame, Menlo Park, San Leandro and San Mateo? I guess because it would destroy whatever stupid argument you're trying to make. And why not focus your efforts on finding out how many of the thousands of units units built in SF over the past 15 years zoned for ownership are actually owned by investors, including corporate speculators?

When you're successful getting neighboring Bay Area cities to reach even 1/2 of the density levels of SF you can come back and lecture us about how "people" are keeping the city "frozen in amber." You're a tool, Becky. You're either just not smart enough to figure it out yet, or you're one of the many progressive shills for the crappy developers the city has entrusted to build all of the recent ugly housing projects. You don't happen to work for the SF Planning Department, do you? Because when I think of stupid planning and ugly buildings that's the group that comes to mind.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 10:11 pm

Still waiting on these tens of thousands of new units to arrest the increase or even push down the price of housing....

Posted by marcos on Mar. 15, 2014 @ 7:57 am

demand exceeds supply, then new homes are needed.

There are 20,000 units planned and that will help affordability, even if values and rents continue to go up.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2014 @ 8:07 am

How many units came on the market over the last five years? It was way less than 10,000.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Mar. 18, 2014 @ 1:37 pm

There are 20,000 in various stages of planning and construction

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2014 @ 1:58 pm

Let's see what happens to rental prices as these come on line.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Mar. 18, 2014 @ 3:35 pm

because it is at all reasonable for any other city in the bay area to suddenly go through the growth and infrastructure that SF took over 100 years to develop - just because you have a knee jerk reaction to a CITY adding housing commensurate with its requirements.
more people commute into SF for work than commute to SJ for tech jobs - so who bears the burden?

Posted by Becky Backside on Mar. 15, 2014 @ 9:33 am

build enough homes for the workers it needs

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2014 @ 10:08 am

You did in fact put The City in amber for 25 years, driving housing prices through the roof and then had your coalition literally disappear on you.

You priced the middle class out of The City and are now out of power, probably permanently.

It could have been differently, but you smugly thought that your slim majority was an unstoppable juggernaut and refused to even allow the modest amount of workforce housing that would have kept a workable Progressive and Liberal coalition around.

Instead you teamed up with the worst of the NIMBYs, people like THD and made The City unlivable for anyone but the wealthy.

Now you get to sit out of power and watch other people attempt to clean up the messes you made.

And you only have yourself to blame.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2014 @ 1:41 pm

do I see grubby dirt poor people almost everywhere i go?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2014 @ 1:59 pm

at the moment. From what I've seen, they are more aligned with the majority of City voters than what you imply. Maybe you are the one doing the self selecting and maybe you are the one who's views don't represent the majority of the City. I guess we'll find out in June.

Be angry or frustrated or annoyed but it's crazy to still think that this is a few trouble-makers who want to freeze the city in time. Where you been the past six months?

Posted by Becky Bayside on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 12:07 pm

Get over yourself. The fact that you have the time and opportunity to fight this stuff tells me that you are not the average citizen.
Dianne Feinstein said once you could get people in SF to sign a petition for an overhead sewer on market street. You have a billionaire couple in the golden gateway who is essentially financing the entire NIMBY renaissance in SF - so lets not pretend there is some groundswell of support behind you of the common man.

SF is making headlines all across the world as one of the most expensive cities in the world precisely because we build almost no housing. Income disparity in the city is extreme - again because we build almost no housing.
SF will grow. period. end of story.

Posted by Becky Backside on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 12:47 pm

Except when Ed Lie wins the election being funded by Conway and SPUR's backers, it is a groundswell of popular support for moderation.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 15, 2014 @ 7:58 am

discounted just because he ran a superior campaign. 60% support in the "runoff" is a de facto landslide, and a firm endorsement for the pro-jobs, pro-growth platform that he ran on.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2014 @ 8:09 am

The left discounts that because the alternative is accepting that their viewpoint is a minority one, which it clearly is not. And in fact the demographic changes happening in SF make it less likely that the left will win serious power.

That is the real reason the left opposes market-rate housing. It tips the balance further against them electorally. What we will see is Oakland becoming more liberal and SF becoming more moderate. Works for me.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2014 @ 8:39 am

I don't agree with you at all. We are turning this city to the right and making it conservative, and let's be very frank and open about that. We Lee supporters *MUST* stop this nonsense of trying to disguise our conservative agenda by using lame and washed-out words such as "moderate." Why are you ashamed of our real conservative agenda? As a strong conservative, I think we should be very outspoken and open about our conservative agenda and stop pretending for it to be something that it's not.

We conservatives have nothing to be ashamed of or to hide. You remind me of a closet case conservative as you cower behind the word "moderate." Grow a spine! You are ashamed of who you are and what you really want to happen to this city. You are an embarrassment to people such as myself and other good conservatives who are not ashamed of what we want for this city and this mayor. Think about it.

We wealthy conservatives are for young heterosexual whites only, young heterosexual white techies only, no homeless people, million-dollar plus luxury designer condos, million-dollar plus luxury designer condos, million-dollar plus luxury designer condos, million-dollar plus luxury designer condos, million-dollar plus luxury designer condos, million-dollar plus luxury designer condos, million-dollar plus luxury designer condos, million-dollar plus luxury designer condos, million-dollar plus luxury designer condos, million-dollar plus luxury designer condos, million-dollar plus luxury designer condos, million-dollar plus luxury designer condos, million-dollar plus luxury designer condos, million-dollar plus luxury designer condos, million-dollar plus luxury designer condos, million-dollar plus luxury designer condos, million-dollar plus luxury designer condos, million-dollar plus luxury designer condos (I can't say it enough!) on every inch of this city, and more for us wealthy conservative elite.

Our shit does not stink, we are above reproach and we might even be a bit omnipotent.

Posted by Proud Conservative Michael on Mar. 15, 2014 @ 5:03 pm

left by almost any standard.

Only 10% of SF'ers are registered Republicans

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2014 @ 5:55 pm

How is the appreciation on 32 Adair, Marcos?

Over three quarters of a million? And you work in tech? And the median income in your neighborhood is 32k? ok, just making sure.

Posted by Becky Backside on Mar. 15, 2014 @ 9:35 am

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