Endorsements 2013

Stop the 8 Washington project! No, no, no on B, no on C, yes on A, re-elect Hererra. Our guide to the Nov. 5 elections


We're heading into a lackluster election on Nov. 5. The four incumbents on the ballot have no serious challengers and voter turnout could hit an all-time low. That's all the more reason to read up on the issues, show up at the polls, and exert an outsized influence on important questions concerning development standards and the fate of the city's waterfront, the cost of prescription drugs, and the long-term fiscal health of the city.




Note: This article has been corrected from an earlier version, which incorrectly stated that Prop A increases employee contributions to health benefits.

Throughout the United States, the long-term employee pension and health care obligations of government agencies have been used as wedge issues for anti-government activists to attack public employee unions, even in San Francisco. The fiscal concerns are real, but they're often exaggerated or manipulated for political reasons.

That's one reason why the consensus-based approach to the issue that San Francisco has undertaken in recent years has been so important, and why we endorse Prop. A, which safeguards the city's Retiree Health Care Trust Fund and helps solve this vexing problem.

Following up on the consensus pension reform measure Prop. B, which increased how much new city employees paid for lifetime health benefits, this year's Prop. A puts the fund into a lock-box to ensure it is there to fund the city's long-term retiree health care obligations, which are projected at $4.4 billion over the next 30 years.

"The core of it says you can't touch the assets until it's fully funded," Sup. Mark Farrell, who has taken a lead role on addressing the issue, told us. "The notion of playing political football with employee health care will be gone."

The measure has the support of the entire Board of Supervisors and the San Francisco Labor Council. Progressive Sup. David Campos strongly supports the measure and he told us, "I think it makes sense and is something that goes beyond political divides."

There are provisions that would allow the city to tap the fund in emergencies, but only after it is fully funded or if the mayor, controller, the Trust Board, and two-thirds of the Board of Supervisors signs off, a very high bar. So vote yes and let's put this distracting issue behind us.




Well-meaning people can arrive at different conclusions on the 8 Washington project, the waterfront luxury condo development that was approved by the Board of Supervisors last year and challenged with a referendum that became Prop. C. But Prop. B is simply the developer writing his own rules and exempting them from normal city review.

We oppose the 8 Washington project, as we explain in our next endorsement, but we can understand how even some progressive-minded people might think the developers' $11 million affordable housing and $4.8 million transit impact payments to the city are worth letting this project slide through.

But Prop. B is a different story, and it's something that those who believe in honesty, accountability, and good planning should oppose on principle, even if they support the underlying project. Contrary to the well-funded deceptions its backers are circulating, claiming this measure is about parks, Prop. B is nothing more than a developer and his attorneys preventing meaningful review and enforcement by the city of their vague and deceptive promises.


Posted by troll bump on Oct. 05, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

and waiting.

and waiting.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 05, 2013 @ 1:03 am

As I am sure you well know. To come up with actual citable records of which sight lines would be blocked and where, I would have to learn how to be a surveyor, get surveyor's equipment, and then go out and spend a huge portion of my life charting and recording where the blocked sight lines would be.

So to avoid of all that pointless work, I am instead simply pointing out the obvious fact that when a huge building is built where there wasn't a huge building before it is going to block some sight lines.

To argue otherwise (as you have ridiculously attempted to do) defies the laws of physics that run the universe.

But, as I noted, you already know all of this, and you are simply using the cheap debate tactic of calling for information to be cited that you know full well can't be cited without a gargantuan effort; all in hopes that you will fool people into thinking you have won the debate because your opponent cannot meet the essentially impossible and totally irrelevant task that you just cynically created for him.

Luckily, most SF Guardian readers are lot smarter than to be tricked by such nonsense.

The fact that you think such an idiotic tactic will work on them, shows that you yourself are a complete fool.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 05, 2013 @ 8:31 am

where a view of the water will be blocked by 8-Wash.

At least not at street level where the public can go. How do I know that? because I regularly walk around that area and you quite simply cannot see the water anyway from street-level.

So you don't need to hire a surveyor Eric. You just need to use your eyes and brain.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 05, 2013 @ 8:40 am

8 Washington’s developer argues that we must let him raise height limits on the northern waterfront for the first time in 50 years OR be stuck with that “ugly green fence and parking lot” forever. Its either his $5+ million condos or a wasteland. Really?

In 2011, Asian Neighborhood Design (AND) worked with local stakeholders to create “A Community Vision for the Northeast Waterfront” that calls for the same mix of ground floor shops/cafes on the 8 Washington site but without its 60% height increase or 400-car garage. The AND plan also includes the same parks 8 Washington purports to provide—most of which are there right now.

As for that “ugly parking lot” on the Embarcadero, it is owned and kept ugly by the Port, a financial partner in 8 Washington.

The “ugly green fence” is owned and kept ugly by another player in the 8 Washington deal, the man who owns 80% of the site now and gets to keep a third of it, the new $12 million private swim club, once the developer builds it for him. Clearly he’s had a financial interest in keeping the “ugly green fence” ugly to justify this project.

Hearing 8 Washington’s partners now rant about the “ugly fence and parking lot” as the main reason to let them build a wall of condos only the 1% can afford sounds a little like hearing Congressional Republicans feigning outrage at a government shutdown they themselves caused.

Once voters reject 8 Washington, a better alternative WILL be built there, one that includes active ground floor uses and parks without a precedent setting height increase or a 400-car below sea level garage. Several developers are interested in pursuing such a plan once the dust settles.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 20, 2013 @ 11:42 am


Posted by Just say No on B&C on Oct. 02, 2013 @ 7:25 am

Just follow the existing height limitations. Vote no on raising them to 130+ feet. If we wanted a wall, we would have rebuilt the Embarcadero Freeway!

Posted by Richmondman on Oct. 02, 2013 @ 10:05 am

The Golden Gate apartment building?

Heck, even the ferry building is probably more than 130 feet.

Pull them all down!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 02, 2013 @ 10:34 am

...the Golden Gateway Tower across Drumm Street is 230' high.

The other Embarcadero Center buildings range from about 400' to 570'; the Golden Gateway Towers, 230'-260'; One Maritime Builiding (aka Alcoa Building), 400'

Alec Bash

Posted by Guest on Oct. 02, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

street level. I defy Eric to cite a location where he can see the water from there.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 02, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

Of pretending that all we are talking about is immediate street level views when we are actually talking about views all throughout the city (and uphill from the site) is not one that I am going to play.

If you are going to be an effective troll, you are going to have to come up with a much better tactic than that.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 03, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Oct. 03, 2013 @ 5:08 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 03, 2013 @ 5:33 pm

on steroids

Posted by racer x on Oct. 03, 2013 @ 7:29 pm

oppose 8-Wash came from a couple of wealthy folks in Telegraph Hill.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 04, 2013 @ 7:07 am

and doesn't have anything to do with the fact that views will be blocked from all over the place, not just Telegraph Hill

it is also very interesting that you idiots have been claiming no one's views will be blocked

and now suddenly your are claiming that the opponents of 8 Washington are only a handful of people

whose views

will be


would you care to pull your heads out of your behinds now...?

Posted by racer x on Oct. 04, 2013 @ 7:27 am

direct view of the water will be blocked if 8-Wash is built as spec, and he deftly ducked, knowing of course that there are none.

To have your view blocked, you'd have to be living at a reasonable elevation quite close to 8-Wash and in a narrow angle line of sight.

That's probably a few million-dollar homes on Telegraph Hill.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 04, 2013 @ 7:57 am

(your responses have become too stupid to justify a response)

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Oct. 04, 2013 @ 8:24 am

I'll admit it's a concept, but vote for common sense and NOT ideology! There's enough of that in this country already!


Posted by Guest on Oct. 02, 2013 @ 10:18 am

Screw SF views, height restrictions, sustainable environments, livable cities and 99% of the people in SF. It's all about raking in the big bucks, baby!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 10:29 am

home, a job or the ability to do anything or go anywhere.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 10:45 am

My previous posts failed to mention the most compelling reason to oppose this. If the Bored of Supervisors support it, it must be screwed up!

Posted by Richmondman on Oct. 03, 2013 @ 12:24 pm

Oops! The "Raisin' hell and keepin' it fresh" paper missed me, the other "token opposition" in D4. Residents here are sick and tired of the revolving door and Parks Inc. I've already started to raise a little hell. Fresh? You decide. http://www.Murphy4supe.org

Posted by Guest on Oct. 03, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

Qualified Write-In Candidate. District 4 Board of Supervisors.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 03, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

""Throughout the United States, the long-term employee pension and health care obligations of government agencies have been used as wedge issues for anti-government activists to attack public employee unions.."",

Look, almost every single public agency in the United States has a vastly underfunded pension and health-care fund. This is largely because during the 1980s and 1990s when the stock market was going gang-busters and rising 10% annually, it was assumed that this rate of return would continue forever. So public sector unions got 7-8% guaranteed annual profit returns built into their pensions. Nobody has such largess anymore except for the very rich.

These guarantees are completely unsustainable, and they are the reason that Detroit, Stockton, San Bernardino California, and other cities have had to declare bankruptcy. It'll be happening in many other cities around the country unless public employees learn to cover some of their own pension/healthcare costs. In the case of BART employees, for example, they pay 0% into their pension fund, and yet they can retire at the age of 58 with as much as 70% of their annual pay. They need to pay something into their pension fund just like the rest of us do (paying 7.5% into Social Security).

I have tried 100 times to drill these facts home to Tim Redmond and others. But if you tell them the truth, you are merely accused of being a union-basher. I am a complete supporter of the union movement in the private sector. But in the public sector, unions have incredibly sweet, unsustainable deals, and they know it. And reform will be in their own interests. Because if they don't start paying into their own on pension funds they lose out completely, as police officers have done in San Bernardino.

And look, I would care less about these fats-cat pension payouts except for the fact that money that should be going to schools, hospitals, to road building, have to instead be paid into the retirement pot. Something has to be done.
So wake up and stop your lumpen, often repeated, often repeated often repeated, often repeated drivel.

Posted by Guest Lecturer on Oct. 04, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

are unsustainable and unaffordable. He only cares that "his side" gets something and, at least he thinks, the "otherside" is paying for it.

In practice, the other side isn't paying for it at all because they can decamp to Bermuda and laugh while the city burns. And it's his own people who will suffer.

But why let logic and the facts get in the way if an ideological hissy fit makes Steven feel better?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 04, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

That statement you quoted is true, and we also endorsed Prop. A to increase employee contributions to these costs. What's your point?

Posted by steven on Oct. 05, 2013 @ 8:30 am

Why should SF taxpayers pay both for their own pensions and for those who work for the city?

How do you justify that state of affairs?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 05, 2013 @ 8:37 am

Where does "7-8% annual profit return" come from? That doesn't sound right.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 8:22 am

In fact, no developer would take on a high-risk project for a single-figure ROI.

Moreover, Marcos doesn't even take time into account. A 8% return per year might just be acceptable if the risk isn't too high. But these projects can take a decade from start to finish. If you think I'm doing that for a lousy 8% ROI, think again. I need more like 80%.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 9:17 am

How did the pension funds come to be broke in the first place? The main reason has little or nothing to do with your so-called "guaranteed annual profits", but the fact that state and local government were not making their annual required contributions to the pension fund for decades. (If they had been, we wouldn't be in this mess.) As journalist Matt Taibbi points out, they were borrowing from the funds illegally. Then state and local governments compounded their negligence by entering into some bad interest-swap derivative deals with the big Wall Street banks. When the interest rates fell to historically low levels, the government raided the funds even more, then turned around and pointed the finger of blame at public workers, rather than own up to their own malfeasance. So, this is the true crux of the problem. It's the classic Wall Street confidence trick and people need to wake up to this.

The latest scheme is to place the funds into alternative investments like hedge funds, so that WS can further profit off worker pensions, while signing their death knell in the process. What Taibbi discovered with some good investigative digging are the facts which we need to wake up to: "In a lot of cases what I’m finding is that the fees that states are paying for these new hedge funds and these new types of alternatives investments are actually roughly equal to the cuts that they are taking from workers." This is a brazen attempt attempt to raid and bankrupt, not just pensions, but cities and the taxpayers' deep pockets. Of course, it's convenient for Wall Street, the GOP and politicians to turn public workers into convenient scapegoats for this massive transfer of our wealth to the banks and hedge funds, because it's such a great cover for what's really going on behind the scenes. But hey, wake up and smell the coffee! If you're sucking for the memes of unscrupulous pols like Schwarzenegger or Adachi with their anti-worker rhetoric, you're forgetting that these are merely the handmaidens of Wall Street and venture capitalists.


Posted by Guest Educator on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 11:28 am

Guest Educator, you make some good points here, and I agree with you entirely about the hedge hedges. That was a terrible boondoogle for many public agencies around the state.

But it was a classic example of "let's push our underfunded pension problem down the road" and let politicians in later generations deal with the mess. A classic example of this was Mayor Quan's recent give-away to her own police department. Everybody knows these underfunded pension problems are there, but nobody wants to deal with the issue.

Facts: Public employees have defined-benefit pension plans just like corporate CEOs. They promise 7-8% annual returns. And they are almost all terribly underfunded now.

And one way to deal with this morass is to start making employees pay some of their own costs (healthcare and pension). Its only fair.

Every dollar sucked from the General Fund into underfunded pensions is one more dollar taken away from schools, hospitals, roads, libraries.

Posted by Guest lecturer on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 6:35 am

Can you clarify the 7-8% annual returns thing? I'm not sure what you mean by that.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 9:16 am

to raised significantly, and the voters wouldn't agree to that.

The only alternative was to underfund the pension funds knowing that it will be somebody else;s watch when the shit hits the fan.

There is no way to save those pensions now, but politicians continue to kick the can down the road. In Oakland, Quan issues bonds to borrow the money to make the minimum payment each year into the pension fund. That is irresponsible and insane, but everyone allows it as long as it defers the cost and the pain.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 7:29 am

...re and re-read what I wrote.

Have you ever wondered why the right-winger Sup. Farrell crafted Prop A?

It is because he wants to draw attention to this issue. The public will see that $10 million is being put into the hugh underfunded pension pot (just a drop in the bucket, as Guest above noted) each year.

JQP is going to start asking: Why aren't city workers covering their own pension costs? Why is money that should go to schools, to hospitals, to services for the needy, being paid out to city workers who retire at age 58 on really nice pensions.

That's my point, Stephen.

The ball is now hereby in your court: (awaiting Stephen's response below).

Posted by Guest Lecturer on Oct. 05, 2013 @ 9:41 am

For him, it's just a matter of principle - city workers should get as much as possible, and hang the cost, because that is the ideological baggage that he carries.

And that backs Stevent into a corner on issues like this because even if 90% of SF'ers are outraged by the generosity and cost of these benefits, Steven has no room to wiggle here - his union paymasters would skin his hide if he ever had a moment of insight and saw how this could bankrupt the city as it already has for Detroit, Vallejo, Stockton and various other cities.

So you will just get the same sad knee-jerk defensive response from him, I am saddened to say.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 05, 2013 @ 9:50 am

It simply isn't possible to compensate City employees enough, Citizens!

Any spare cash you have should go to them.

Posted by Reality barrier! on Oct. 05, 2013 @ 10:13 am

"There are provisions that would allow the city to tap the fund in emergencies,"

LOL. Any bets how many months it will be before the first "emergency" raises its ugly head?

I guess the fund would last until the next round of labor negotiations with City employees, when the fund will be tapped to provide "emergency" pay increases.

Posted by Reality barrier! on Oct. 05, 2013 @ 11:52 am

The SF waterfront is such a wonderful part of the Bay. It's a place where we all can go to experience some of the unique qualities of this city. So of course, many people would want to live on the waterfront if they could. But not everyone can live there. And you can't build whatever you want there. There are height restrictions, and restrictions on parking spaces, and tons of other things, subject to lots and lots of review by lots of stakeholders. The process isn't pretty, but it has to be there so that a small group of self-interested people can't develop a property in a way that reduces our ability to enjoy the area. Sure, a property owner has the right to use their property. But the city belongs to all of us. The experience of enjoying the waterfront is a right. The ugly process that a property owner has to go through is necessary to protect that right.

So naturally the supporters of 8 Washington have brought us Propositions B and C, asking us to let them out of the ugly process.

Don't do it. Vote NO on Propositions B and C, and every other loophole requested by the few at the expense of the many.

Posted by Rocket on Oct. 07, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

you cannot see the Bay from anywhere around there anyway.

This is not like the proposed Warriors stadium, or the baseball park, which will be/are being built on the piers. This is set back from the waterfront at a similar distance to a whole host of much taller buildings from One Market to the vast Embarcadero Center.

So much misinformation here. The only place you can see the Bay is either right on the piers or up in the air.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 07, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

The conceptual images give an idea of how the project is situated on the waterfront and of how big it is. Deceptively, the campaign in favor of Proposition B is called "Open Up The Waterfront." That's what got me interested in the issue originally. I saw the campaign poster and thought I would like to support it. So I looked it up and found out what was really going on. The greenwashing campaign is so arrogant. Talk about misinformation.

Posted by Rocket on Oct. 07, 2013 @ 8:32 pm

high-level apartment does not mean that someone at the street level can see the water.

Walk there yourself and you will see there is no view to block. it's already blocked by other buildings that you never objected to.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 9:14 am

I wish reasonable height restrictions had been applied to those other tall buildings in the past. This time we get to vote and say that today's existing height restriction will be enforced. And the restriction is still quite tall. I would vote it even shorter if I could.

Also, using one tall building to justify another tall building makes height restrictions meaningless. One tower would justify another and another, until the only thing we could see on the waterfront would be a patch of blue sky directly overhead. No, we need to enforce the height restriction, regardless of the big buildings nearby -- or particularly because of the big buildings nearby. Those buildings demonstrate that the tower builders will just want more and more until something forces them to be reasonable.

Posted by Rocket on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 11:35 pm

If there are 500 foot buildings blocking your view of the Bay, then putting a 200 foot building inbetween them is irrelevant.

What makes more sense is to do exactly what we are doing, and clustering all the tall buildings in an area where the views are long gone anyway.

If you really don't like tall buildings, why do you live in an American city?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 09, 2013 @ 3:36 am

The ship hasn't sailed. The voters can easily reject some of the unreasonable aspects of the 8 Washington project, by voting no on B and C. Then the developers can still build if they play by the rules.

Living in an American city means that we all get to participate in a conversation about land use policy. We get to protect spaces like the waterfront that we think are precious. We can allow wonderful tall buildings where they are suitable, and we can prevent them where they are not appropriate.

Posted by Rocket on Oct. 10, 2013 @ 10:57 pm

OK, we all know that Prop B and C suck. This project is a thinly-veiled stalking horse for big developer interests.

But B and C are just symptoms of the problem. The heart of the matter lies more in these so-called "elections" that we're having for Assessor, Treasurer, and City Attorney. What is this, the Politburo, where you only get one candidate? Here, of course, that candidate is invariably the candidate of corporatocratic oligarchy, but the idea is the same. And if you don't like it, tough shit.

I'm sure that trollish shills will come out of the woodwork now and spew the usual facile talking point that it must mean that people are so satisfied with the job these guys are doing that nobody bothers to challenge them. Which of course is nonsense. It's not that there isn't anybody out there who can do a better job than Jose Cisneros, Dennis Herrera, or Carmen Chu (Carmen Chu??? Seriously???). Oh no, boys and girls.

It's just that our system is set up so that no one who challenged them could win. The media and the money (essentially two sides of the same beast) will all line up with the establishment, and anyone who challenges them will get squashed like a bug. And not only that, but it will be painful for the challenger. Running in an election requires turning your life upside down, and spending huge amounts of money if you hope to win. And if the establishment feels you're getting close, they smear your character all over the pages of official media. Who wants to go through that?

So sure, go ahead and run. It's a free country. We're not like those dictatorships where the government forces only one candidate. But the effect is the same. Folks, this is not how a healthy democracy functions.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 8:48 am

then the election is "stolen" or it's "fraud" or the system is rigged in some way.

It never occurs to Greg that his views are extreme and not very popular with the voters. And that is why he always is on the losing side.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 9:16 am

You could say the exact same thing if you were an establishment shill living in say Burma, Mubarak's Egypt, or any other place where they hold single-candidate "elections." In some ways, all you anti-progressive establishment shills have a very similar mentality. Here, you mindlessly repeat capitalist talking points; in another situation, you'd mindlessly repeat the talking points of a different ideology. I don't think the particular ideology behind the power is important for people like you. You're conservatives with a small "c," in that you're comfortable with the status quo and worship authority, whatever that authority may be.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 10:31 am

Your attemot at a distraction fails. You only like election results where you win. when you lose, instead of accepting that your view is a minority view, you look for someone or something to blame because you quite simply cannot believe or accept that your ideas might be wrong.

99% of Americans are to the right of you. What is so hard to understand about that?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 10:43 am

Because they "officially" let you run, unlike in one-party states, and the police don't come and beat you up if you register as a candidate? Ok, sure... although they'll do that too if they decide you're actually a threat to the power structure. But for now, we do "one-party state" with more finesse than these crude amateurs. So what? The result is the same. No real opposition to the status quo. In the case of the three offices on the ballot, not even any pretense of opposition. So according to you then, one-candidate elections are undemocratic in places like Burma and Egypt, but one-candidate elections are A-Ok in America, because we're um... different. Yeah, I forgot, we're exceptional.

That's why you're a troll, not because you disagree with me.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 08, 2013 @ 11:17 am

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