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Vote NO on Propositions B & C on November 5th!

This November 5th, San Francisco voters will decide on Propositions B & C, two ballot measures regarding the proposed development at 8 Washington along the Embarcadero.  The San Francisco League of Conservation Voters urges you to vote NO on both measures B & C for environmental reasons.In short, the proposed project will build 134 luxury condominiums in a high-rise near the Embarcadero Center buildings downtown, across from the waterfront itself.  The development will be built on what is currently a private tennis club & a parking lot.  If either of the two measures pass, the development will go forward.Proposition B was placed on the ballot by the developer and will give the developer the entirety of the deal they seek, without discretionary review by the City’s planning department.Proposition C was placed on the ballot by opponents of the development and is a referendum on the exception that has been granted for this project to be taller than the currently allowed height limits for waterfront construction.  A “yes” vote would mean that the exception will stand, and a “no” vote would mean the exception would be rescinded.

Proponents argue that the new space will enhance civic life by opening more street space, ground floor retail & some park space to the public, and that the project will contribute significantly to the City’s affordable housing fund.

Meanwhile, those who oppose the development focus on the increase in the height limits and characterize it as a “wall on the waterfront” that must be stopped.

While these buildings are significantly higher than the currently allowed height limits for the waterfront, we don’t believe they are out of place in the context, given that the highest parts are set away from the water, and are not nearly as high as the nearby Embarcadero Center buildings. Building higher, if done carefully, will allow us to build more densely.  And if San Francisco really wants to address our continuing housing crisis, we will need to build more densely, especially in transit rich areas such as downtown.

That being said, we find this project’s transit & transportation effects to be the most problematic part, and therefore, we oppose the development.

The project includes one parking space for every condo & an additional 200 spaces above and beyond those. We feel strongly that projects in San Francisco’s most transit rich neighborhood do not need one parking space for every unit., This approach to parking violates our Transit First Policy: by building so much parking we encourage people to drive when there are many better options nearby.  More parking will lead to additional cars in our already heavily congested downtown, which will badly impact Muni, create more air and carbon pollution, and reduce the quality of life for everyone.Please Vote NO on both Propositions B & C this November 5th!

 

 

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Here are some pro & con args we’ve read  & found informative:
NO: San Francisco Bay Guardian
YES: San Francisco Chronicle

Why is the de Young Fighting Park Access?

All around the world, popular museums are situated in public parks with wonderful results for both the museums and the parks.

But here in San Francisco, the venerable de Young Museum is waging an intense and irrational battle to prevent more San Francisco families and visitors from enjoying Golden Gate Park — even at the expense of its own reputation and financial well-being. Our organizations are baffled.

The museum’s leadership is doggedly fighting a community proposal called Healthy Saturdays, which would extend the popular Sunday recreational space in the Park to Saturdays on a six-month trial basis.

Why would the de Young fight this when its own figures show that museum attendance increases on car-free Sundays in the Park?

Why, when a recent City study (available at www.goldengatepark.org) shows that car-free space does not significantly affect parking availability or traffic in the neighborhoods, and doubles Park usage, boosts local business, and helps drive traffic to (and pay off debt for) the de Young’s unfilled 800-car garage?

Why, last Spring, did the de Young spend thousands to send misleading letters to its members, falsely claiming that Healthy Saturdays would “severely compromise” access.  Dozens of disgruntled de Young members pointed out that the letter did not mention that the garage is accessible from outside the Park, and that visitors have front-door, drop-off access every day. (See a copy of the letter at www.goldengatepark.org)

And how much of its members’ donations are being spent on the de Young’s high-powered lobbying & PR firm to attack Healthy Saturdays?

All of the highjinks and mistruths are especially baffling given the de Young’s past endorsement of the concept. In 2000 the museum supported and funded Proposition G, which called for car-free Saturdays just like Sundays after the garage was opened, which it now is. According to their ballot argument, de Young leaders wrote that the Saturday proposal “Ensures access to the de Young Museum for all San Franciscans including families with children, seniors and the disabled; (and) ensures the maximum enjoyment and minimum inconvenience to Park users.”

Why?

At times the de Young has claimed that it is fighting out of concern for disabled access, but their tactics suggest otherwise. Why did they not actively support Supervisor Jake McGoldrick’s legislation, which passed unanimously last year, to add more accessible parking, drop-off zones, and a free accessible tram in the Park on Sundays? (These same accessibility improvements are included in McGoldrick’s proposal for the Healthy Saturdays trial.)

And why are museum leaders suggesting that the car-free space be moved out to the West end of the Park, far from transit, the parking garage, and local businesses? The de Young’s chief fundraiser DeDe Wilsey has even offered to pay for “improvements” such as concession stands and bathrooms out there. (Let them eat cake…or at least have access to hot dogs and a port-o-potty.)

Finally, if the de Young were working in good faith to improve its own attendance and revenue (we all want a successful de Young Museum), why would this partially publicly-funded museum deny city officials’ requests to make their attendance figures public, relenting only after a Guardian reporter filed a Freedom of Information Act request? The figures, when they were begrudgingly shared last year, showed a boost in de Young attendance on car-free days – which of course brings us back to our original question:

Why is the de Young fighting so intensely against its own interests and those of Golden Gate Park visitors?

For 40 years, more people have enjoyed the car-free portion of JFK Drive on Sundays than any other part of the Park. Why is a six-month-trial to expand this popular program so threatening to the de Young?

By Amandeep Jawa, League of Conservation Voters; Rick Galbreath, Sierra Club, SF; and Leah Shahum, SF Bicycle Coalition. For more info., see www.goldengatepark.org

In Cities are the Preservation of the World

Check out this great GRIST article on why cities are great for the environment. We here at SFLCV are believers already. We helped develop this calculator comparing density versus sprawl, and their impacts on the environment.