Anti-condo petition could spawn first successful referendum in 21 years
Halting the construction of 8 Washington, a waterfront development that would likely house the most expensive condos in city history, has blossomed into the progressive ur-issue.
And that figures to continue for quite some time.
Opponents of the tower, a group calling itself No Wall on the Waterfront, say they've amassed enough signatures to qualify a referendum, which could overturn the Board of Supervisors' decision allowing 8 Washington to proceed. Those signed petitions, as of around 9:45 this morning, were being loaded into a moving truck; they will be delivered to the clerk of the Board of Supervisors today and the condo foes are expected to make a triumphant City Hall announcement at around 4 p.m. this afternoon.
The referendum required 19,405 signatures to qualify. Condo opponents Sue Hestor and Aaron Peskin both confirmed that paid and volunteer signature-gatherers have collected more than 30,000; Peskin affirmed this while loading petitions into the van.
The referendum targets the supervisors' decision to "up-zone" the northern waterfront, which would allow 8 Washington to soar to 134 feet, well above the current limit of 84 feet.
The city has 30 days to confirm the condo opponents have gathered enough valid signatures. Assuming 19,405 signatures withstand scrutiny, the supes will be given an opportunity to reconsider their up-zoning decision. If the supes don't reverse course, then the matter will be placed before the people for a vote.
Considering the inherent delays, it appears the earliest San Francisco's voters could get a crack at this issue is November 2013 -- making for spectacular delays for the imperiled project and allowing 8 Washington to serve as a galvanizing progressive issue and litmus test for many moons to come.
Should the anti-8 Washington petition amass enough signatures to qualify, it would be the first city referendum to do so since a landlord-funded effort defeated progressive Mayor Art Agnos' vacancy control legislation in 1991.
"I am so thrilled," says land-use attorney Hestor, a longtime combatant of the 8 Washington project. While gathering signatures in the current effort, she collapsed in Dolores Park on July 7 and has been in and out of hospitals since. "I am still in the hospital," she continues. "But I got signatures from the doctors and the nurses."
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