Why the May 15 vote on 8 Washington matters


Brad Benson, the special projects director at the Port of San Francisco, took me on a tour of the 8 Washington project and gave me his pitch for why the city ought to allow a developer to put the most expensive condos in city history, housing for the top half of the top half of the top 1 percent, on a prime piece of waterfront land. He showed me the fence around the existing Golden Gateway Tennis and Swim Club (it's not terribly attractive) and I watched a powerpoint presentation on the glories of the project.

His argument: The Port has no money, and no easy way to get any money, to do the roughly $2 billion worth of maintenance needed on the its piers and property. Residential development on a few seawall lots is part of the Port's master plan and part of a waterfront plan that won approval of the Port Commission and the (mostly corrupt) Board of Supervisors in the 1990s.

The Port will eventually realize roughly $100 million from the deal. The city will get about $11 million for affordable housing. There will be new parks and open space, and a new, way fancier swimming pool and aquatic center. The tennis courts will be gone (Benson told me that tennis isn't the best use for that valuable land) but the club will shuttle tennis players to another facility South of Market.

Just an aside: This is often deried as a private club, and it is -- in the sense that you have to join and pay membership dues. It's open to anyone who wants to pay, much as the YMCA is. It's a bit more expensive than the Y, way more expensive than my gym (which has no tennis courts and a tiny two-lane lap pool) and a good bit less expensive than the high-end places lilke the Bay Club. It's not a recreation facility for poor people, by any means. It has relatively middle-class users, particularly the folks who live in rent-controlled apartments at Golden Gateway, who get a discount. It's not clear at this point if the club fees will go up when the fancy new version is unveiled, but I'd be shocked if the swim club attached to the priciest new housing in the city was affordable to the rest of us.

Now then: Back to the project. If you look at all the pretty architectural drawings and see all the amenities, like the new park and the wider sidewalks and the street-level retail and restaurants (ya think those will be a bit out of the normal person's price range? Ya think?), it all looks lovely. 

Money for the port. Money for the city's general fund. Affordable housing money. What's not to like?

Well, I told Benson, who used to work for Tom Ammiano is someone I've been friendly with for years, the same thing that I've told other city officials, including a few supervisors:

If this is the kind of housing we're building, if this is the population our housing policy caters to, if this is what San Francisco is going to become, then nothing else really matters.There will be no progressive movement in this city. There will be no crazy, wild culture. To quote Calvin Welch: "Who lives here, votes here." And the richer the city gets, the more conservative it gets.

And, frankly, the more boring it gets.

We're seeing that already. The 20,000 new (rich) residents of District 6 voted for Jane Kim, and they may continue to vote for her as long as she supports things like the Twitter tax break, but they wouldn't have voted for Chris Daly. And when Kim is termed out, the next D6 supervisor is likely to be  a lot more conservative. The wild SOMA culture is going to vanish. How many of these condo-dwellers will go to, or even tolerate, the How Weird Street Fair? How many will want to put an end to the Folsom Street Fair? 

Yeah, the rich who move into this city support same-sex marriage and like bicycle lanes on the streets. But they aren't going to push higher taxes. They aren't going to support politicians who have at their core a belief that narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor is the most important issue facing this city and this country today. They'd probably vote for Scott Wiener over David Campos for state Assembly. They'll blent the city's edge, make it just like so many other places in the world.

The city's own policy makes clear that 60 percent of all new housing should be below market-rate. Every new project for the rich that we approve skews the balance a little further away from housing for the majority of people who work in the city. Teachers, firefighters, hotel workers -- they can't afford this stuff. So they move further out of town, taking longer commutes, using more energy ... it's all wrong.

That's why the May 15 vote on this project matters. Not because most of us will ever swim or play tennis at the Golden Gateway club one way or the other. Not just because the new buildings are too tall. Not because 134 units of uber-rich condos at 8 Washington will gentrify the Mission. It matters because, day by day, wek by week, condo approval by condo approval, we're losing San Francisco.














You did this to yourself Tim. By blocking any and all high density development and allying yourself with the worst of the NIMBYs at THD, you caused a housing shortage that drove middle and working class people out of town.

You should have supported high rise condos downtown back in the 80s and 90s.

Now it is too late.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on May. 14, 2012 @ 10:54 pm

You did this to yourself Tim. By blocking any and all high density development and allying yourself with the worst of the NIMBYs at THD, you caused a housing shortage that drove middle and working class people out of town.

You should have supported high rise condos downtown back in the 80s and 90s.

Now it is too late.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on May. 14, 2012 @ 10:55 pm

Tim has come out of the closet and copped to his prejudices instead of trying to cloak them in his standard, tiresome rhetoric of taxation. Well done, Tim -- the first step is to admit you have a problem, and your problem is that you feel contempt for a class of people who have the temerity to be wealthier than you are. Personally, I've always found old liberal hippies unbearable in a mewling, navel-gazing sort of way, like children -- but children with one foot in the past and one in the grave. However, I never felt the need to restrict their choices in any way, because I primarily respect their freedom to live and think the way they see fit.

Can't imagine how you'd respond to a post stating, "I don't like black people, because..." or "I don't like poor people, because..."

But being a liberal means embracing hyprocrisy, no matter the cost even to one's own dignity. This column and your subsequent posts were the truest things you've ever written, and I thank you for showing me, as I've long suspected, that it was never the ideology; it was the hatred. You've done us a great service today.

Posted by Chromefields on May. 15, 2012 @ 6:47 am

has indeed taken an important step here. Raciam, sexism and anti-gay prejudice has all been successfully fought in the past, and it is to be confidently hoped that this new prejudice against the successful, as manifested by Tim and the self-styled "99 percent" will also be banished.

Divisiveness and intolerance and hate and envy have no place in our city.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 7:45 am

No Chromefields, most people are sick and tired of the wealthy and their apologists trampling on the rest of us. Overwhelmingly, rich people are born wealthy, have never had to work a real day in their lives and have a profound and unearned sense of entitlement.

The few that are decent stand out for their uniqueness and most of them were born poor or have otherwise experienced real hardship.

The rest of us in San Francisco -- and the whole world for that matter -- are sick of you playing The System to guarantee you make ever increasing piles of money while the rest of us are forced to live with crumbling infrastructure, failing schools, increasing unemployment and a polluted planet while you laugh all the way to the bank.

I think that I speak for an overwhelming majority of people when I say that your police, your courts and your laws hold no moral sway over me anymore. You have clearly bribed and corrupted the political system to your own enrichment. Then the Guillotine comes, don't expect me to do anything other than yawn and look the other way.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on May. 15, 2012 @ 8:26 am

Guillotine? What the EFF are you talking about?
Execution fantasies?

Posted by Greg on May. 15, 2012 @ 9:20 am

The problems facing our society are caused by more than just the 'rich people'.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 9:44 am

Crime, vandalism, over-crowding, homelessness, unemployed, drugs, excessive drain on social and medical services etc.

The rich are a net gain to the city, which is why every city tries to attract them.

If Tim really loves poor, boring people, he should move to the rural south. Plenty of them there.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 10:56 am

who fail or cannot succeed in a competitive marketplace.

Since Marx, it has always been necessary to make a bogeyman out of success because how can you have class warfare unless you first stereotype a class of people to hate?

As the saying goes, no poor person ever created a job.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 10:22 am

"I think that I speak for an overwhelming majority of people when I say that your police, your courts and your laws hold no moral sway over me anymore."

All you are doing is promoting class warfare. Sorry Red Revolution died out. Time to move one.

Posted by Dnative on May. 15, 2012 @ 11:42 am

The wealthy have been engaging in Class Warfare for decades. The rest of us are just finally starting to fight back.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on May. 15, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

You and Tim are projecting.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 2:57 pm

Of course not, you are wealthy. How much is that house you inherited worth?

Posted by Anon on May. 15, 2012 @ 9:10 pm

Leave the "cool/uncool" bullshit in high school.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 8:17 am

poverty-ridden man. The wealthy have the emans to travel, experience things that most of us cannot afford, and that makes them interesting.

It's the poor that invariably have little to say. SF cannot be frozen in time in the way Tim wants - it has always changed and always will change. Tim is just getting old and intolerant.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 10:24 am

Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount

5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

He said:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

Starting to feel like it with this dude laying some scripture on my ass.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

No, I posted that even I'm not the least bit religious. However, I can appreciate the spiritual beauty of that scripture, as exemplified by Christ who exhorted people to love and care for every being on this planet, not excluding "the least" among us. This has been an ethical and spiritual tenet of most regligious and spiritual traditions. I don't hate the rich. As far as I'm concerned, the only thing the wealthy lack -- aside from Warren Buffet & a few who think like him -- is a consciousness of their duty to care for their fellow man/ woman, including the less fortunate among us.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

Just look at all the foundations, donations and taxes they pay.

Dressing class warfare up in the scriptures doesn't change its true nature. Worry about what you have - not what others have.

Posted by Guest on May. 16, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

OK, if you don't like the Bible, how about something secular from the 17th century:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

-John Donne

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2012 @ 10:30 am

I don't "hate" anyone. I find some people to be boring and pretentious, but hate? Nah. What I feel for so many of the rich -- particularly those who inherited their money -- is pity. They don't know what real life is like.

Posted by tim on May. 15, 2012 @ 10:16 am

Meaning watching American Idol and eating a Stouffers microwave meal while screeching at the kids?

No thanks. Some of us actually like the gilded cage in which we live. Life isn't less "real" because we have money to make it easier or to smooth out the rough edges. It's quite real for us.

Posted by Troll II on May. 15, 2012 @ 10:32 am

is as subjective a notion as there is. And putting "hate" in quotes is an odd way to assure people you don't hate anyone. Everyone finds some people to be boring and pretentious, which is also subjective. I'm pretty certain that the dominant majority of wealthy Americans did not inherit their money, but made it.

In any case, it's refreshing to see you simply admit your prejudices, and amusing to see you attempt to justify them.

Hey, while you're up, could you take Glen Park Daddy out for a walk? He's scratching at the front door and I think he has to go.

Posted by Chromefields on May. 15, 2012 @ 10:54 am

Let's see:

Rich people are boring and evil
Blacks are drug-taking criminals
Left-wing journalists prey on envy and class warfare

Isn't this fun?

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 11:36 am

The overwhelming majority of wealthy Americans were born rich. Some of them might have gone from being born millionaires to making billions, but the fact that they were born with all the advantages in first place gave them the opportunity to make more. America has turned from the land of opportunity to the land of the aristocrat in two generations.

Don't think we haven't noticed.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on May. 15, 2012 @ 2:20 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

I'm surprised someone hasnt stepped in to muzzle you after the stuff you have said in this thread.

Who the heck are you to judge an entire class of people as "not knowing what real life is like?"

Posted by Greg on May. 15, 2012 @ 11:00 am

If he "invents" a few reasonable-sounding objections to 8-Wash as a pretext, while trying to hide his true, underlying prejudice, then we accuse him of hypocrisy and duplicity.

While if Tim faces up to his demons and admits his bias and a level of hate predicated on stereotyping classes of people, then he loses all credibility.

What is a SFBG editor to do, expecially when his boss has recently become one of the "One Percent" that he claims to be engaged in a war with?

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 11:07 am

You want to muzzle someone for disagreeing with you? What do you want, for the police to arrest Tim for upsetting your feelings?

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on May. 15, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

that someone on the elft is dismayed by the candor that Tim is showing in his distaste for the successful.

Personally, though, I find Tim's "coming out" on his prejudice to be disarmingly delightful and charming.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

pieces in SFBG, few people would think that your words were not hateful.

If you find rich people to be boring or worse, then you don't know the same rich people that I do. You don't get rich by having no qualities, skills, education or relevant qualities.

You need a new bogeyman. The super rich are relatively small in number and quite possibly don't even vote here. SF is changing because of the tens of thousands od knowledge workers who move here to find a combination of success and tolerance - not one to the exclusion of the other.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 10:53 am

That's wrong. A lot of people get rich by being born to the right parents. They can be stupid and utterly lacking in talent (Paris Hilton?) but they're still rich.

Posted by tim on May. 15, 2012 @ 2:16 pm

From that noted Marxist publication, the Wall Street Journal:

"The release of the latest Forbes 400 List of Americans is, once again, being billed as a triumph of self-made wealth.

Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison – all self-made – topped the list, once again. And Forbes heralds that fact that “a record 70% of the Forbes listers are self-made.”

Yet their announcement obscures the fact that half of the top 10 on the Forbes list have inherited all or some of their wealth, making America’s billboard chart of opportunity look increasingly like the the lucky sperm club.

The Walton Family fortune towers over all others on the list. Christy Walton has a listed worth of $24.5 billion, Jim Walton has a listed worth of $21.1 billion, Alice Walton has a listed worth of $20.9 billion, and Robson Walton has a listed worth of $20.5 billion.

Yet if the Waltons were counted as a single family fortune – like many others on the list – they would have $87 billion, making them the richest family in America. They would easily surpass Bill Gates at the top of the list, with $59 billion. As he and Mr. Buffett give away more of their fortunes to charity, the individual Waltons could well wind up cracking the top five.

Along with the Waltons, we have the Koch brothers. They inherited the predecessor to Koch Industries from their dad. To their credit, they grew their fortune into much larger businesses, while lots of people inherit businesses and ruin them. Still, it would be a stretch to say the Koch brothers are entirely “self made.”
Most rich people were born that way, did not work an honest day in their lives and do not even clean their own toilets or houses.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on May. 15, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

Boy, this board has gone off the deep end today.

I am not anti-development by any stretch of the imagination. But I'm not in favor of this project for the simple, selfish reason that I like the Golden Gateway athletic club.

Posted by The Commish on May. 15, 2012 @ 11:44 am

How many prime business cities do you know that give over real estate to not one but two open air swimming pools, not to mention any number of tennis courts?

It's great but at what cost? with the revenues that a development like this would bring in, you could build the most fabulous sports center anywhere in the city.

If you work downtown it must be great to nip over there for a swim, workout or game of tennis. But it's hardly an optimal use of high-value real estate.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

Your points are valid. But like I say, my views are driven entirely by my self-interest on this one. I do work in the financial district, and do use that athletic club. Not a tennis player, but having an open air lap pool right next to a dense financial district is pretty sweet.

Posted by The Commish on May. 15, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

My issue with Tim and the SFBG and this article is this- They are opposed to this- yet have no idea or suggestion as to what to do. They admit that the project looks nice. No one is losing their home over it, it is on prime real estate, yet, the best they can come up with is that the condos will be just for rich people and that rich people are boring.

Guess what, rich people pay taxes-in this case property taxes- transfer taxes when they buy and sell, sales taxes, etc. They buy things, that generate sales taxes. These are not taxes that your accountant can get you out of, these are funds that will go to the City. I guess it is too bad they are not the artists or others that Tim approves of. Maybe Tim would prefer people take a personality test prior to moving into SF so that we only get fun people living here?

Posted by Dnative on May. 15, 2012 @ 11:58 am

then introduce border controls. All would be immigrants would be subject to a "boredom test". To pass you would have to demonstrate knowledge of bad art, sexual deviancy, recreational drugs and proclaim the joys of diversity for everyone except affluent straight white males.

You would then have your passport stamped and be admitted. Welcome to TimWorld.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

Some of my friendly commenters have suggested I "need help" to get over my dislike of the very rich. Thanks for the suggestion. Maybe I have PTSD. My family, my city, my country and I have been subjected to brutal class warfare for more than a decade. It's ruined the economy, created widespread misery and unemployment, and left me with feelings of anger towards the people who devastated our nation and walked away without paying any price at all. I wonder if there's a therapist who specializes in class-warfare-related anxiety. Maybe medical marijuana would help.

Posted by tim on May. 15, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

I rather think that he will smugly and glibly tell you that those with shrewd skills and who work hard will reap rewards beyond any other country on earth.

And of course, while you conveniently blame the rich, as did Marx, those of a different political complexion will assert that this country has been ruined by the unions, welfare, high taxes, illegal immigrants, bloated government and the liberal media.

Somewhere in there is the real, balanced truth but it seems unlikely that you can blame it all on the Bruce's of this world. no matter how much you may resent his opportunistic success.

Who knows? - maybe Bruce will reside chez 8 Washingtom?

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

How do you know that class warfare created widespread unemployment?

Bill Gates once said that you were better off being an average guy in Cleveland than a genius in Shanghai. But technology has changed all that.

There was a time that you could get a job in a call center, until technology allowed people in India to do the same job. You could once be a toll taker on the Golden Gate Bridge, but not for very much longer. Bank teller? Don't need as many anymore. Have you tried getting a job in a bookstore lately? Can you even find a bookstore?

Technology has created unemployment for people who, for whatever reason, couldn't keep up. But you can't hold it back.

But maybe it helps if you have someone to blame.

Posted by Troll on May. 15, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

You must have been asleep when the financial crises happened. Rich people rigged the game, along with their bribed politicians, to make sure they walked away with billions and the rest of us cleaned up their mess.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on May. 15, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

Some of us saw the RE crash coming and positioned ourselevs accordingly. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

And now you are a multi-millionaire and don't want to pay any taxes.


Posted by GlenParkDaddy on May. 15, 2012 @ 7:25 pm

Because he completely agrees with me on taxing the rich. Even when it hurts his personal and business interests. He supported a split-role when it would have cost him a lot of money on the building. He supported an increase in the property transfer tax (which he is now paying). He supported the commercial rent tax, which would have cost him money. The list goes on forever.

Posted by tim on May. 15, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

or the building? You, Steven, Marke, Caitlin and all the rest work so hard every single day. You deserve some of those profits - I certainly hope he did. The workers should share in the profits collected by the owners - by the capitalist class.

Posted by Troll II on May. 15, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

Before you start adding up Bruce's profits, I highly recommend you check out what will soon be public records showing how much the mortgage on the building was at the time of sale.

Posted by tim on May. 15, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

building was sold for 1.8 million more than the mortgage.

Assuming bruce had substantial other assets from his propreitorship of SFBG, from rents from the other tenants of that building, and from his home and other investment, it would appear his net worth is probably 3 million or more, easily enoigh to catapult him into the one percent.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 2:55 pm

he knows full well that Sacramento and DC cannot pass higher taxes. He's sitting pretty on that 1.8 million gain. And that is taxed at only 15% federally, by the way, as opposed to the probable 28% you pay on your income.

And that's one of the joys of being rich. You can afford to pretend to be a champagne socialist and limousine liberal while still enjoying all the fruits of your exploitation of the working classes.

I saw a stockbrokers ad's today that proclaimed boldly "Join the one percent". When Occupy soundbites have entered mainstream, you just know the revolution has been postponed. Again.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

I agree with you, Tim, but I think SF is already lost. As an artist, I couldn't even dream living here, and haven't for some time. It's already gotten boring...just a playground for the rich. See ya on the cool side of the bay, Oaktown.

Posted by Guest on May. 15, 2012 @ 1:33 pm