Ballot Box Zoning Initiative Possible for San Francisco
After voters rejected a high-rise waterfront residential development called 8 Washington near San Francisco’s historic Ferry Building in the November citywide election, opponents of development projects along the city’s waterfront have gathered twice the necessary number of signatures to qualify a sweeping initiative for the city’s June election.
John Coté reports that the ballot initiative to require voter approval for waterfront projects exceeding existing height limits. Hanging in the current development balance are three major development plans: “the Golden State Warriors' proposal for an 18,000-seat arena complex, the San Francisco Giants' plan for an urban neighborhood on what is their main parking lot, and the development of the industrial Pier 70 area.”
“Proponents, including the San Francisco chapter of the Sierra Club and limited-growth activists who in November helped defeat a luxury condo development planned near the Ferry Building, say the measure is about protecting the waterfront from politically connected developers trying to skirt rules that voters required when they backed the creation of a comprehensive waterfront development plan in 1990.”
The legality of the forthcoming ballot initiative, however, remains in question, reports Coté. “The top lawyer for the State Lands Commission, the agency responsible for regulating use of waterfront and other state property, in January questioned the legality of the proposed measure as an infringement on state authority.” If it qualifies, the initiative is likely to provoke a lawsuit before it goes to the ballot.