With Ballot Box Zoning Likely to Pass—What Next for San Francisco?

C.W. Nevius examines the consequences of Proposition B—on the ballot in San Francisco in June.
May 12, 2014, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Nickolay Stanev

Who put Art Agnos in charge?" asks C.W. Nevius in a recent column about the impending citywide vote on Proposition B, which would require an election for all projects exceeding the city's current 40-foot height limit along the waterfront. "It seems that if Proposition B passes next month, as most think it will, Agnos will become the unofficial potentate of the waterfront. Virtually every project developer will have to go to the former mayor…on bended knee to ask for a blessing."

"Agnos will tell you that this isn't going to be a problem, that projects just have to conform to existing height limits," writes Nevius. The problem? "That's not going to pencil out financially. As the analysis found, low-rise development on the land 'is not economically feasible.' So expect either an endless round of height-limit elections or a chilling effect on potential projects."

Nevius goes on to mention that Proposition B is a political third rail for local politicians—describing City Hall's take on the initiative as a vacuum.

Then there's the threat of legal action should Proposition B pass: "And even if it passes, there will almost certainly be a legal challenge. Waterfront land has been under the jurisdiction of the California State Lands Commission since 1850. The idea that a city is circumventing state authority will be fodder for a lawsuit."

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Published on Friday, May 9, 2014 in SFGate
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