Sunshine and shadows - Page 2

How downtown tried to scuttle a law protecting city parks

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"The mayor made clear the importance of asking the supervisor to withdraw the measure," Winnicker wrote in an e-mail to us. "The mayor was clear that backroom deal-making should not be tolerated on the issue."

Chiu was somewhat aghast at the mayor's statements. "The context for all this is that the developers and their lawyers were trying to change the rules," he said.

Aaron Peskin, the former supervisor and longtime North Beach neighborhood activist, told us that the "hysteria around this is factually untrue. This isn't about stopping development — it's about making sure development doesn't have an adverse impact on the city's common space."

So now Chiu has agreed to hold off — but only if the key stakeholders (not just developers) have some input into how planning devises new shadow rules. And he's ready to go back to the ballot in November if the developers try to play games again.

That makes sense, Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, told us. "There should be a heavy burden of proof on the people who want new rules," he said. "And there should be a heavy burden of proof for anyone who wants a ballot measure."

In other words, Prop. K — as it is, as it's stood all these years — is working pretty well. And if the developers hadn't tried to sneak in some big changes, none of this would have happened in the first place.