8 Washington Street Development-Initiative, Proposition B (November 2013)

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Proposition B and Proposition C

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An 8 Washington Street Development-Initiative, Proposition B ballot question was on the November 5, 2013 election ballot for voters in the city of San Francisco in San Francisco County, which is in California. It was defeated.

Both Proposition B and Proposition C, which was also defeated, were related to the proposed development on the 8 Washington Street Site. If both measures had passed and conflicting portions were found within the measures, then the proposition which had received less "yes" votes would have been disregarded in part or in whole.[1]

The project, if Proposition B had passed, would have developed the 8 Washington Street waterfront area. This would have involved tearing out the fence and parking lot currently in place and adding high-rise condos, restaurants, a playground, sidewalks and other developments.[1]

Proposition C was a referendum attempt by opponents to the 8 Washington Street Development. Those who collected signatures to have Proposition C put on the ballot were hoping electors would vote "no", thus preventing a height limit increasing ordinance approved by the board of supervisors. This height limit increase was essential to the development project proposed by Proposition B.[1]

Election results

San Francisco Prop B
Defeatedd No68,65162.47%
Yes 41,247 37.53%
These unofficial, final results are from the San Francisco elections office.

BallotMeasureFinal badge.png
This ballot measure article has preliminary election results. Certified election results will be added as soon as they are made available by the state or county election office. The following totals are as of percent of precincts reporting.

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Proposition B:

Shall the City allow a development project at the 8 Washington Street Site that would include new housing, retail and recreational facilities, and open space, and would increase the legal building height limits on a portion of the Site?[1][2]


See also: Ballotpedia's article on Proposition C

Supporters for Proposition B and C, as well as their arguments, were the same.

Proponents hoped for a yes vote on Proposition C, which would reaffirm the city ordinance raising the height limit for buildings along the waterfront. They also hoped for a yes vote on Proposition B, which would approve the plan to redevelop the waterfront area. Both measures were defeated.



  • San Francisco Housing Action Coalition
  • San Francisco Firefighters
  • San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
  • San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council
  • Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth
  • Waterfront for All
  • Bay Cities Metal Trades Council
  • A New San Francisco Majority
  • Laborers International Union 261


  • Mayor Ed Lee
  • Former Mayor Gavin Newsom
  • Supervisor Mark Farrell
  • Supervisor Scott Wiener
  • Supervisor Katy Tang
  • Will Travis, former Executive Director of the Bay
  • Mark Buell, Parks Commission President
  • Rodney Fong, Planning Commission President
  • Isabel Wade, founder of Neighborhood Parks Council
  • Alec Bash, Retired City Planner and Grassroots Activist
  • Tim Colen, Housing Advocate and Executive Director of the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition
  • Michael Theriault, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the San Francisco Building & Construction Trades Council
  • Mark Buell, San Francisco Recreation and Parks Commission President
  • Allan Low, Recreation and Parks Commission Vice President
  • Thomas P. Harrison, Recreation and Parks Commissioner
  • Jim Lazarus, Former Recreation and Parks Commissioner
  • Mike Sullivan, Former Recreation and Parks Commissioner
  • Ellen Joslin Johnck, Former Executive Director of Bay Planning Coalition and SF Historic Preservation Commissioner
  • Will Travis, SF Bay Conservation and Development Commission, Director

Arguments in favor


Proponents of Propositions B and C argued that the development plan authorized by the proposals:[1]

  • included improvement of the property in question with added accessibility, parks, playgrounds, widened sidewalks, open views, affordable housing, and up to 250 temporary new jobs and 140 permanent new jobs, with $100 million injected into San Francisco's economy.
  • was part of a larger plan for the revitalization of the waterfront, produced over seven years by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the San Francisco Planning Commission, the Port Commission and the State Lands Commission through planning and over a hundred meetings.
  • would have removed the current eyesore of asphalt parking lots and massive chain link fences.


See also: Ballotpedia's article on Proposition C

Opponents for Proposition B and C, as well as their arguments, were the same.

Those who disapproved of Proposition B initiated Proposition C, calling into question the building height increasing ordinance. They hoped that if Proposition B were approved, voters would reject Proposition C, essentially shutting down the project anyway. Both measures, however, were defeated.



  • State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano
  • Board of Supervisors President David Chiu
  • Supervisor John Avalos
  • Supervisor David Campos
  • Former Mayor Art Agnos
  • Former City Attorney Louise Renne
  • Former Board of Supervisors President Harry Britt
  • Former Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez
  • Former Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin
  • Former Board of Supervisors President Quentin L. Kopp
  • Former Supervisor Sophie Maxwell
  • Former Supervisor Jake McGoldrick
  • Former San Francisco Planning Department Director Allan Jacobs
  • Former San Francisco Board of Appeals Chair Kendall Goh
  • Matt Haney, Member, San Francisco Board of Education
  • Kim-Shree Maufus, Member, San Francisco Board of Education
  • John Rizzo, President, San Francisco Community College Board of Trustees
  • Steve Ngo, Member, San Francisco Community College Board of Trustees
  • Chris Jackson, Member, San Francisco Community College Board of Trustees
  • Rafael Mandelman, Member, San Francisco Community College Board of Trustees
  • Angela Chan, San Francisco Police Commissioner*
  • Petra DeJesus, San Francisco Police Commissioner*
  • Warren Mar, Vice-President, San Francisco Building Inspection Commission
  • Debra Walker, Member, San Francisco Building Inspection Commission
  • Eileen Hansen, Former Member, San Francisco Ethics Commission
  • Matt Dorsey, Member, San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee
  • Kelly Dwyer, Member, San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee
  • Hene Kelly, Member, San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee
  • Trevor McNeil, Member, San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee
  • Carole Migden, Member, San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee
  • Leah Pimentel, Member, San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee
  • Alix Rosenthal, Member, San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee
  • Christopher L. Bowman, Member, San Francisco Republican County Central Committee
  • Stephanie Jeong, Member, San Francisco Republican County Central Committee
  • Joan Leone, Member, San Francisco Republican County Central Committee
  • Dana Walsh, Member, San Francisco Republican County Central Committee
  • Mike DeNunzio, Former Member, San Francisco Republican County Central Committee
  • Harold M. Hoogasian, Former Member, San Francisco Republican County Central Committee[4]


  • Affordable Housing Alliance
  • AIDS Housing Alliance SF
  • Aquatic Park Neighbors
  • Barbary Coast Neighborhood Association
  • Bernal Heights Democratic Club
  • Castro/Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association
  • Central City Democrats
  • Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods
  • District 3 Democratic Club
  • District 8 Democratic Club
  • District 11 Democratic Club
  • Eastern Neighborhoods United Front
  • FDR Democratic Club
  • Friends of Golden Gateway
  • Golden Gateway Commons Homeowners Association
  • Golden Gateway Tenants Association
  • Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club
  • Housing Rights Committee
  • India Basin Neighborhood Association
  • League of Women Voters of San Francisco
  • Middle Polk Neighborhood Association
  • Midtown Terrace Homeowners Association
  • North Mission Neighbors
  • Pacific Heights Residents Association
  • Potrero Boosters Neighborhood Association
  • Potrero Hill Democratic Club
  • Richmond Community Association
  • Richmond District Democratic Club
  • Rincon Center Tenants Association
  • Rincon Point Neighbors Association
  • Russian Hill Improvement Association
  • San Franciscans for Reasonable Growth
  • San Francisco Bay Guardian
  • San Francisco Beautiful
  • San Francisco Democratic Party
  • San Francisco Examiner
  • San Francisco Gray Panthers
  • San Francisco Green Party
  • San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters
  • San Francisco Tenants Union
  • San Francisco Tomorrow
  • Senior & Disability Action
  • Sierra Club
  • South Beach Democratic Club
  • Sunset-Parkside Education Action Committee
  • Telegraph Hill Dwellers
  • Tenants Together
  • Twin Peaks Council
  • Twin Peaks Open Space Conservancy[4][5]


  • Wendy Aragon, Vice President, Richmond District Democratic Club
  • Tommi Avicolli Mecca, Affordable Housing Advocate
  • Brian Basinger, AIDS Housing Alliance SF
  • Alan Beach-Nelson, President, Castro/Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association
  • The Right Reverend Otis Charles
  • Joni Eisen, President, Potrero Hill Democratic Club
  • Mari Eliza, Eastern Neighborhoods United Front (ENUF)
  • Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Co-Founder, City Lights Booksellers & Publishers
  • Milo Hanke, Past President, San Francisco Beautiful
  • Judith Hoyem, Planning Chair, Castro/Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association
  • Jack Jensen, President, Chronicle Books
  • Bruce Keene, President, Russian Hill Improvement Association
  • Tony Kelly, President, Potrero Boosters Neighborhood Association
  • Phyllis Lyon, LGBT Civil Rights Pioneer
  • Brian McWilliams, Former SF Port Commissioner & President of the International Workers Longshoremen's Union (ILWU)
  • Jane Morrison, Former Women's Chair, California Democratic Party*
  • Amy Meyer, Founder, People for a Golden Gate National Recreation Area
  • Dave Osgood, President, Rincon Center Tenants Association
  • Dean Preston, Executive Director, Tenants Together
  • Thea Selby, President, Lower Haight Merchant + Neighbor Association
  • Gary Weiss, President, Corbett Heights Neighbors
  • Calvin Welch, Director, San Francisco Information Clearinghouse
  • Howard Wong, Former Board Member, San Francisco Planning & Urban Research (SPUR)

Arguments against

Opponents to Propositions B and C argued that the proposed plan for the waterfront development was harmful in the following ways:[1][5]

  • It provided opportunities, through raising the waterfront height limits, for big businesses to build massive buildings blocking off the waterfront instead of revitalizing it.
  • Its campaign was deceptive because it did not even mention the raising of these height limits but focused instead on a park and increased jobs.
  • It proposed a play ground that was only a campaign trick as it was, in fact, smaller than a tennis court.
  • It touted "affordable housing" but intended to build condos costing an average of $5 million each, with no actual affordable housing in the plans.
  • It would have included a lot of private space with gated and "member only" areas and not the public recreation promised by the Yes on B campaign.
  • It could have caused huge sewage spills from broken sewage lines.
  • By introducing very expensive condos, it would have increased housing costs for the entire area
  • Two thirds of the "park areas" created by the development would have been private, not public.
  • The high density residences it proposed were out of place and scale with the neighborhoods of San Francisco.
  • The proposal would have essentially undone the effort to remove the Embarcadero Freeway, which was done to increase open space. The proposed building height increase would have allowed buildings that would be twice the height of the old Embarcadero Freeway.

The San Francisco Examiner editorial board argued for a "no" vote on Props. B and C, saying that even if the specific development proposed was a good one, the provisions within the propositions could allow for and create a precedent for an alternative planning process, potentially giving developers a chance to bypass the public discussion that is important for preserving and protecting San Francisco. The editorial board urged voters to reject the "ballot-box planning" found in Propositions B and C.[6]

Media endorsements


  • The San Francisco Chronicle: The editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "A vote for Props. B and C would be an affirmation of a rigorous, inclusive, exhaustive planning process. Vote yes on B and C."[7][8]


  • The San Francisco Examiner: The Examiner released an editorial urging voters to reject Proposition B and Proposition C. The editorial board wrote:
"Prop. B especially goes too far in setting the stage for an alternative planning process that could be used by future projects to bypass too much of the discussion in which the public can take part.
Props. B and C could approve a housing project that The San Francisco Examiner has supported. But the long-range damage done by the measures’ ballot-box planning is too great of a risk for this city in the long run, wiping out the benefits of this one project.
We urge a no vote on Propositions B and C."[6]


The voter pamphlet provided the following analysis and summary for Proposition B:

The way it is now

The site proposed for development as 8 Washington Street is 3.2 acres bounded by the Embarcadero, Washington Street and Drumm Street (the Site). Approximately 80% of the Site is owned by Golden Gateway Center and used as walkways and a privately operated tennis and swim facility. The remaining 20% is a public parking lot under the jurisdiction of the City and County of San Francisco’s Port Commission.

In 2012 the Board of Supervisors (the Board) approved a development project for the Site involving construction of two mixed-use buildings containing 134 residential units, ground floor restaurants and retail, a privately operated fitness and swim facility, a public park and open spaces, and underground public and private parking.

In approving the development project, the Board also adopted an Ordinance to increase the legal building height limits on a portion of the project. Then a referendum (Proposition C) qualified for the ballot requiring that the Ordinance be submitted to the voters. Later, this initiative (Proposition B) dealing with the same Site qualified for the ballot.[1][2]

A diagram showing the waterfront area location and planned developments

The proposal

Proposition B would create a special use district known as the 8 Washington Parks, Public Access and Housing District. The district would require the 8 Washington Street Site project to include:

  • two buildings housing a total of between 121 and 141 residential units;
  • an increase in the legal building height limits on an approximately half-acre portion (16% of the Site) along Drumm Street from 84 feet to 92 feet in one section and from 84 feet to 136 feet in another;
  • a privately operated fitness and swim facility, with a two-story height limit;
  • a height limit of 6 stories for the residential building along the Embarcadero;
  • payment by the developer to the affordable housing fund of the City and County of San Francisco as required by law;
  • a public park, open space, walkways and sidewalks on at least 20% of the Site;
  • new and expanded pedestrian access to the waterfront and enhanced bicycle and pedestrian safety;
  • ground floor retail and cafés;
  • underground private and public automobile and bicycle parking; and
  • increased revenue for the Port and the City.

A “YES” Vote Means: If you vote “yes,” you want to approve the 8 Washington Street Site development project, which includes new housing, retail and recreational facilities and open space. It would also increase the building height limits on a portion of the Site.

A “NO” Vote Means: If you vote “no,” you do not want to approve the 8 Washington Street Site development project.[1][2]

Controller's statement

City Controller Ben Rosenfield wrote the following about Proposition B:

Should the proposed ordinance be approved by the voters and the proposed project at 8 Washington Street be built as currently approved, in my opinion, it would result in near-term tax revenues of approximately $4 million which can be used by the City for any public purpose, approximately $11 million in fee payments to fund affordable housing and approximately $4.8 million in fee payments to fund transit improvements. The Port of San Francisco would receive approximately $3 million in near-term revenues from the sale of a seawall lot for the project, as well as a percentage of property sales. In addition, the developer would construct a public park and improve public utilities and infrastructure.

The ordinance provides for the establishment of a special use district on a 3.2-acre site on the northern waterfront and other approvals required for construction of the development referred to as 8 Washington Street. As noted above, the financial terms benefitting the City and the Port in the proposed project include an affordable housing fund contribution, transit impact development fees, and a percentage of property sales to be paid directly to the Port.

Estimated future revenues that would be generated by the project would vary depending on market conditions and other factors, but certainly the assessed value of the area would increase and result in significant additional property tax and sales tax revenues to the City and the Port. Over the long-term life (sixty-six years) of the project, tax revenues, added property value and park and open space improvements accruing to the City and the Port are projected at more than $350 million, valued at approximately $82 million in today’s dollars.

The above amounts do not include potential operating and infrastructure costs for other City departments. This statement does not address the potential impacts of the project on businesses, private property or the local economy.[1][2]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing local ballot measures in California

On July 12, 2013, the Department of Elections certified that the initiative petition calling for Proposition B to be placed on the ballot had a sufficient number of valid signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot. 9,702 signatures were required to place an initiative ordinance on the ballot. The campaign to collect signatures was lead by Waterfront for All, organized by David Beltran.[1]

This threshold of 9,702 is equal to 5% of the total number of people who voted for Mayor in 2011. A random check of the signatures submitted by the proponents of the initiative petition prior to the July 8, 2013, submission deadline showed that the total number of valid signatures was greater than the number required.[1]

Similar measure

See also

External links

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