Don't let developer wall off the waterfront 

click to enlarge Two ballot measures on the 8 Washington St. project have ignited a firestorm. - COURTESY RENDERING
  • courtesy Rendering
  • Two ballot measures on the 8 Washington St. project have ignited a firestorm.

"8 Washington St. squabble pits rich against richer," The City, Sunday

Joel Engardio's column about the ballot-box battle over Propositions B and C asks what the fight is all about but never answers the question.

We are all fortunate that a generation of San Franciscans before us fought hard to write into the law reasonable height limits along our waterfront to prevent a wall of tall towers from springing up and dividing The City from the Bay. But now developer Simon Snellgrove is spending millions on false and deceptive ads promising "parks" and "neighborhood housing" when what Props. B and C actually do is repeal waterfront height limits and allow tall ultra-luxury condo towers to be built on public land at 8 Washington St., permanently walling off the public waterfront.

The reason the San Francisco Democratic Party, San Francisco Republican leaders, Sierra Club, Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, Affordable Housing Alliance and Board of Supervisors President David Chiu all are saying NO to B and C is this: when the Embarcadero Freeway that blocked off the Bay for decades was torn down, we finally got rid of that wall on the waterfront. Why on earth would we want another one?

Jon Golinger, Campaign director of No on B&C,

San Francisco

Free-market fallacies

After giving a sneering "Tina Fey eye roll" to opposing viewpoints, Joel Engardio concludes his column about the 8 Washington St. project with, "Maybe a little free-market capitalism isn't bad for San Francisco after all."

The problem is that the issue isn't, or at least shouldn't be, solely one of free-market capitalism, assuming that one even believes 8 Washington exemplifies it. The issue behind the opposition to the project is based at least in part on whether economic considerations are the sole, or necessarily even the primary, determinant of social value and civic worth.

The simple fact is that real estate developers are concerned solely with taking their profits and scurrying back to wherever they came from. San Francisco's permanent residents must then live with the aftermath for the rest of their lives.

If San Francisco residents oppose a real estate development, that's their right. Or to paraphrase the column, maybe a little participatory democracy isn't bad for San Francisco after all.

Riley B. VanDyke,

San Francisco

Zoning's slippery slope

The Joel Engardio column overlooks the key issue of spot zoning at 8 Washington St. The developer has the existing right to build to a height of 84 feet under present zoning.

But that isn't good enough for him. He wants to build a 12-story tower across from our Ferry Building.

If the public, at our November election, grants the developer his height increase, you will see a wall of high rises from the Ferry Building to Fisherman's Wharf, because neighboring property owners will be entitled to the same treatment. Here comes Miami!

Daniel C. Murphy,

San Francisco

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