Two views of the waterfront - Page 2

Controversial developments proposed for Port of San Francisco property trigger public debate about who should control the city's valuable edge


Despite being in control of some of the most valuable real estate along the West Coast, the Port of San Francisco remains in a perpetual financial pinch, due to its need to fix up crumbling piers and aging infrastructure. The Port is governed by a Waterfront Land Use Plan, outlining possible uses for each parcel, and it also conducted a survey to identify properties that could be developed to help generate revenue.

"The Port has a big capital need," Benson said, noting that many of the "piers and buildings were beyond their useful life when they were transferred to the city" from the state in 1968. Facing nearly $2 billion in capital needs, the Port's modus operandi is to seek out private developers to partner with on development projects for parcels under its ownership, in order to secure funding that would go toward backlogged improvements.

That didn't happen with the Warriors, however — the sports team approached the city out of the blue, and the project quickly won the fervent backing of Mayor Lee, who has appointment power over the five-member commission that governs the Port. At one point, Lee even claimed that this flashy sports arena would be his "legacy project."

To longtime grassroots activists who are deeply involved in how land-use decisions are made on valuable waterfront parcels, it looked to be yet another example of what Prop. B supporter Jennifer Clary called "kneejerk development" — out of sync with carefully thought out shoreline planning efforts.

"The Port gets jerked around by every mayor," said Clary, president of San Francisco Tomorrow, part of the coalition backing Prop. B. "Every mayor comes up with some stupid project." She ticked off a list of failed waterfront developments (such as Mills Mall, proposed for Piers 27-31; and a 50-story U.S. Steel Building that would have towered over the Ferry Building), only to have them voted down or halted by grassroots neighborhood activists who viewed them as inappropriate designs fueled by greed and greased by political connections.

Behind the objection to Prop. B, Clary added, "is that the mayor will have to think a little more" before backing projects of this nature.

Whether opponents of the Warriors Arena plan looked at it and saw a traffic nightmare, an inappropriate use of public land, or a bad financial deal for a city needing to contend with ever-growing pressures on its critical infrastructure, members of the coalition that's backing Prop. B feared the public would have little sway when it came to the final decision-making. A bid to restore that balance, by arming voters with veto power under the law, was the impetus behind Prop. B.

City Hall has ignored the will of regular folks who collectively own Port land along the shoreline, said Agnos, campaign consultant Jon Golinger, and Prop. B proponent and Sierra Club volunteer Becky Evans — listening only to the Mayor's Office and deep-pocketed developers who stand to make millions by building on extremely valuable land that's held in the public trust under California law.

"The people are putting the developers in touch with the values of this city, and what we want in this city," Agnos said, thumping his index finger on the table to emphasize the point. "Prop. B puts people in the room who have not been there, and now [developers] have to pay attention."


Voted out after one term, which hardly ever happens.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 10:25 pm

He wasn't really that bad back in the day.

Aside from Camp Agnos he was OK.

These days is he just a laughable ass-clown who takes orders from the SEIU, he's become the senile opinionated relative who thinks Pat Buchanan or Noam Chomsky has something to say.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 10:50 pm

Agnos sounds loony. "The spin doctors had their ass handed to 'em ... had their ass handed to 'em" What is he talking about? Who are these spin doctors.

Seems to me that the Warriors got a much better deal. They own the land for the new arena, which is going to make the value of the franchise increase. Meanwhile, San Francisco is left with two big crumbling piers. Way to go Art!

Posted by The Commish on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 12:15 pm

Prop B is a great idea. Let the voters decide!

Now let's implement it for all proposed bike lanes.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 1:29 pm

Don't be silly. Voters aren't smart enough to vote on bike lanes or public power. That's why we elect representatives.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 5:11 pm

Why does a group of "low-income allies" care about what happens in the most expensive rental neighborhood in the city?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 4:02 pm

Why does a group of "low-income allies" care about what happens in the most expensive rental neighborhood in the city? "Low-income idiots" is what the article should have said. Lame.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 4:06 pm

The real people in control of the waterfront right now are Richard and Barbara Stewart. Like the Koch brothers funding the tea party, these two gems are the funding behind NIMBY "renaissance" in San Francisco.

The best part though, is that the no anything anywhere ever era in SF is over.
The NIMBYs are all too old, and the newbies arent terrified of shadow.

Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2014 @ 12:23 pm

I guess that these neoliberals vote anyone off of the island who does not agree 100% with their extremist ideology, no matter how much money they have.

Posted by marcos on May. 01, 2014 @ 1:49 pm

What the hell are you babbling about?
Do you have Aspergers?

Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2014 @ 4:26 pm

Rich people can only throw their money around in politics if it benefits other rich people and nobody else. When rich people throw their money into politics and it benefits them as well as the non-rich, well, that's crazy NIMBY talk that requires those rich people be voted off of the island.

Posted by marcos on May. 02, 2014 @ 6:45 am

Not really a surprising coalition. The two types who have not much to gain from economic growth and more jobs in the city are wealthy retired people and those living on government support. They've got theirs so their only interest is in keeping things the way they are.

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2014 @ 9:51 am

who was shit-canned by the voters and then moved on to an appointed federal job overseeing a failed government agency.

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