Class conflict in San Francisco often comes down to rich versus poor. But discussion of the proposed 8 Washington development — which would replace the Golden Gateway Tennis & Swim club with new pools, parks and luxury condos — is shaping up to be a case of rich versus richer.
The development is being opposed by a bevy of neighborhood groups, partly on grounds that it “doesn’t fit” and represents another setback for The City’s already-ailing middle class.
“It’s an assault on an established middle-income community,” said Sue Hestor, an attorney representing the opposing groups.
Not that simple, replies PJ Johnston, a spokesman for developer Simon Snellgrove. Johnston said the current project — which has undergone six years and many millions of dollars in planning and studies — is being cynically fought by “the usual” anti-development “NIMBYs.”
“It’s a preposterous criticism coming from people who live in $2 million condos,” Johnston said of antagonism from the nearby residents of the Gateway Commons.
Johnston said the case for class exclusion is also curious, considering neighborhood groups have found accord with high-powered attorneys working for the nearby Ferry Building’s management company, which is worried about the project reducing parking and crippling access to its farmers market and other shopping areas.
The plan was delayed for the fourth time Thursday, when the Planning Commission had been set to consider the project’s key environmental report.
One of the company’s attorneys wrote a letter to The City Wednesday alerting officials to a public noticing issue that ended up delaying the proceedings.
Chuck Finnie, a spokesman for the management company, said the Ferry Building’s 2003 revamp came with a contractual promise from the Port of San Francisco that nearby parking would be made available. But 8 Washington could violate that agreement, he said, because a parking lot would be taken out to make way for the new condos and plans for new underground parking could change.
Hestor said 200 planned underground parking spaces come dangerously close to the water table and even if constructed might still result in increased congestion on The Embarcadero.
“If everything that is on the waterfront is high-end housing, it is going to be heavily parked,” Hestor said. “It’s highly susceptible to gridlock.”
Board of Supervisors President David Chiu has long been a critic of the development, especially the 136-foot height on the taller of two planned condo complexes.
“As a City, we should be very skeptical about allowing the first height increase on the waterfront in almost a half century to build a massive parking garage and luxury condos that don’t address our housing needs,” Chiu said.
Mayor Ed Lee has yet to take a position on the project. If approved by the Planning Commission and Recreation and Park Commission on the rescheduled hearing date of March 22, the environmental planning document for the project would likely go before the Board of Supervisors in April.
165 residential units
29,000 square feet of public open space
20,000 square feet of retail and restaurants
38,000-square-foot recreation center (with indoor and outdoor pools)
255 underground public parking spaces, including 165 residential spaces
81 bicycle parking spaces
SOURCE: San Francisco Waterfront Partners, LLC