San Franciscans are going to get a chance to vote on the most expensive condos in the city's history and the future of development on the waterfront as soon as this November.
Opponents of the 8 Washington project turned in 31,721 signatures to the Department of Elections July 19, and since only about 19,000 have to be valid, it's a safe bet the referendum will qualify.
That means no work can be done on the development until after the election -- and since the deadlines are tight and it's possible the DOE won't get its counting and verifying done in time for November, 2012, the whole thing could be on hold until 2013.
It's going to be a bitter and expensive campaign: Developer Simon Snellgrove tried to keep this off the ballot -- and, since he has about $200 million riding on the outcome, he's going to spend what it takes to win. The Stop the Wall on the Waterfront folks aren't going to be able to match Snellgrove by any stretch, but they've raised some money and they'll be able to run an effective campaign.
And we can have an important public debate: Should the city continue to build housing for the very rich when it can't keep up with its existing affordable-housing requirements? And what will happen to San Francisco if the people who work here can't afford to live here and the people who live here don't work here (or in many cases, don't work at all because they're stinking rich)?
Is $11 million in affordable housing money enough for a project that will make a $200 million profit?
Gonna be a good one.