8 Washington foes trying to take fight to ballot box 

click to enlarge Threat: The proposed development at 8 Washington St. could be under threat if critics gather enough signatures to put the controversial project to a referendum. - COURTESY RENDERING
  • Courtesy Rendering
  • Threat: The proposed development at 8 Washington St. could be under threat if critics gather enough signatures to put the controversial project to a referendum.

The City Hall battle over a condo development at 8 Washington St. has moved into the streets, as opponents hope to collect enough signatures by Thursday to place a referendum on the project before voters.

“We are getting very close,” said Jon Golinger, who is leading the campaign, which includes support from Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and former Board President Aaron Peskin.

The 134-unit waterfront luxury condo development, which is in Chiu’s district, was approved by the board last month in an 8-3 vote despite sharp neighborhood criticism for its multimillion-dollar housing units, a height increase from 84 feet to 136 feet, and the end of tennis courts at the private Golden Gateway Tennis and Swim Club.

Opponents need 19,405 valid signatures and hope to secure 28,000 by the deadline to ensure success. Golinger said they have 300 signature gatherers out — half paid and the other half volunteers.

Meanwhile developer Simon Snellgrove of Pacific Waterfront Partners isn’t just sitting back watching. He is out and about talking to residents about his project. And fliers are being circulated around signature gatherers that say things such as “Petition = Loss of Jobs, Housing, Public Parks and Open Space” and “Public Parks not Private Courts!”

While Golinger has complained about the behavior of the flier distributors, the developer’s camp is equally unhappy with the signature gatherers.

“It’s unfortunate these opponents have chosen to so aggressively mislead the public,” said development spokesman PJ Johnston. Among the issues is the very campaign slogan itself: “No Wall on the Waterfront.” Johnston griped, “It’s not a wall on the waterfront.”

If enough signatures are collected, the Board of Supervisors will be required to vote again on the project. If the project was passed again, it would go before voters this November. However, if it misses this year’s filing deadlines, it would appear on the November 2013 ballot, and in the meantime the project would remain stalled.

Chiu said at a recent rally that he  “was profoundly disappointed” that Mayor Ed Lee signed into law the board’s approval of legislation allowing for the height increase.

“This is about making sure that neighborhoods can have a say against developers,” Chiu said. “This about making sure that we stay San Francisco and don’t become Manhattan.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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