Planetizen - Urban Planning News, Jobs, and Education

San Francisco Waterfront Heights Lawsuit Moves Forward

The lawsuit would not restrict heights—just the opposite. Back in June, San Francisco voters overwhelmingly backed Proposition B to restrict building heights along the waterfront. The State Lands Commission sued.
March 27, 2015, 12pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments

As noted here on June 4, 2014 after Proposition B passed with more than 59 percent of the vote, "(t)he measure will require voter approval for any new building on Port of San Francisco property to exceed existing height limits, which typically range from 40 to 80 feet but can be as low as zero and as high as 105 feet."

The following month, the (California) State Lands Commission sued to overturn the citizens' initiative, "arguing that the lands belong to the state and are managed by the Port Commission, not the city and its voters," as we then noted.

"According to the Lands Commission suit, the shoreline consists of tidelands that California obtained as state property when it became a state in 1850. The state transferred the land to the city in a 1968 law that specified it would be managed by the autonomous Port Commission and not by city officials or voters, the suit said."

On Wednesday, March 25, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos denied the city’s request that the lawsuit be thrown out," writes J.K. DineenSan Francisco Chronicle Metro reporter. "Bolanos did dismiss one of the state’s claims, but allowed portions of the lawsuit to proceed." However, the height restrictions remain in effect while the case goes forward.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera said that he was pleased that the court dismissed the state’s claim that Prop. B conflicts with the City Charter.

This ruling upholds the power of San Francisco and its voters over building heights on the city’s waterfront, and is in keeping with over 45 years of land use regulation in San Francisco,” he said.

However, "Tim Colen, executive director of the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, which supports the nullification of Prop. B," was pleased with Bolanos' ruling as well. The "ruling gives us optimism that Prop. B might not withstand legal scrutiny and may no longer be a barrier to building thousands of homes at all levels of affordability on San Francisco’s Port property," he said. [See press release.]

In 2007, the Lands Commission nullified plans of the Port of San Francisco because it had too much commercial development, reported SF Gate.

Hat tip to MTC Headlines.

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, March 26, 2015 in San Francisco Chroncile
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email