San Francisco has also been successful in revitalizing our waterfront — adding new transit, development and open space from Pier 39 to the Bayview. Once the site of the Embarcadero Freeway, San Francisco’s northern waterfront is now one of the most iconic — and visited — parts of our city thanks in part to the thorough planning and review process currently in place in our city.
Unfortunately, continued progress on affordability and waterfront revitalization are now at risk because of Proposition B, the ballot-box planning measure on the June ballot. Drafted by a small group of zero-growth activists, Prop. B will take the decision-making authority away from state and local bodies and require the public to vote on all new projects on Port property along San Francisco’s waterfront that exceed height limits established decades ago. Before the site was changed to Mission Bay, Prop. B put the Warriors arena at risk and continues to target long-planned projects such as Mission Rock and the Pier 70 renovation.
If passed, this measure will have significant negative impacts on the Port and our city. First and foremost, Prop. B will stop or delay up to 3,000 new homes already in the pipeline and threaten several thousand more in the future. The loss of the currently planned projects equates to $124 million in lost revenue for affordable housing and almost $8.5 billion to repair Port infrastructure. The measure will keep acres of unused Port property empty, producing no jobs or much-needed revenue.
According to current laws, projects approved by voters are exempt from environmental reviews and do not require developer-funded contributions to transit, parks, housing and schools. As a result, Prop. B may put important environmental protections and community benefits at risk. As a city that prides itself on its inclusive and extensive planning process, this measure is simply out of touch with our planning sensibilities.
Finally, Prop. B will slow our city’s waterfront renaissance and set a dangerous precedent for ballot-box planning across the city. Prop. B will not only produce a flood of immediate ballot measures — and political campaigns — for projects on Port property, it may result in similar policies spreading across the city. Do voters really want to weigh in on every housing development in neighborhoods across in The City?
San Francisco is in the midst of an affordability crisis. Prop. B will delay — and possibly stop — the progress we are making to create new housing, parks and transit along our waterfront. Our city can’t afford to let this happen. This June, vote NO on Prop. B.
Bob Linscheid is president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce.