Dianne Feinstein and 8 Washington: The letters


Here's a fascinating little bit of history that relates to the 8 Washington project.

In 1984, the owners of Golden Gateway proposed to build a nine-story condo tower on the site, pretty close to where Simon Snellgove wants to build his ultra-luxury condos today. Dianne Feinstein was the mayor of San Francisco, and she didn't like the idea at all. In fact, she sent a letter to the Redevelopment Agency Commission, which at that time controlled the land, to say that condo development was inappropriate.

(Feinstein was remarkably open about the whole thing; Willie Brown would have made one phone call, gotten his way, and left no paper trail.)

The point she made in the letter (pdf here) was that the existing Golden Gateway project was approved in the first place largely because of the promise of open space and recreation facilities. Those facilities, contrary to what Snellgrove's team is saying, are in fact open to anyone who pays dues. "To tear up the present tennis courts to crowd a condominium tower on the site would be regrettable," she said.

Then in 2003, another plan reared its head -- developers wanted to build a $39 million condo and health-club facility on the Golden Gateway site. Again, Feinstein -- by that point a US senator -- weighed in with a letter of opposition. "Development of more residential units would create traffic noise and pollution and disregard the original understanding between City officials and area residents that open space and recreational amenities would be preserved."

Feinstein's opposition was notable: She rarely opposed any development of any sort, anywhere in the city. She allowed massive new waves of office construction and -- like Ed Lee today -- argued that cranes on the skyline were a sign of progress.

But this idea -- condos at the 8 Washington site -- was so beyond the pale that even the most pro-growth mayor in the city's history had to oppose it.

Feinstein hasn't said anything about the latest project. But she clearly doesn't actively support it; when the measure came up the the Democratic County Central Committee, her representative didn't vote.








Do some research. What's rarely remarked on is that when the Golden Gateway complex was built, it displaced a very active market and commercial neighborhood. It was not empty; there were also residents living there. The Golden Gateway was NOT built on sand dunes or marshland - it caused displacement. By contrast, the 8 Washington project displaces no one, unless you count some tennis courts.

Again, it's a simple question. Should the people of SF donate the value of SWL351 to the members of a private swimming and tennis club? How is that an equitable proposition? Do they really need the help? Is new luxury housing in a very luxurious neighborhood a worse outcome than the City being paid $140M (NPV) for the sale of public land?

Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

Yes, Golden Gateway was built under Redevelopment, which in the 1960s and 1970s displaced entire communities. It's horrible that Justin Herman -- who once famously said, about South of Market, that "this land is too valuable to let poor people park on it" -- has a plaza named after him.

Posted by tim on May. 31, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

That's why it's so ironic that the 8 Washington opponents are SO aggrieved and oppressed that new housing is being proposed in THEIR neighborhood. It's like they're being evicted, when, in fact, the reverse is true - their housing displaced the folks before them. Does this attitude not define the word "entitlement"? Again, the only thing 8 Washington displaces is tennis courts.

Posted by Guest on May. 31, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

"“In the long run it should be a good opportunity as the U.S. property market is gradually rebounding,” said Frank Chen, Shanghai-based head of China research at CBRE Group Inc. “It will help diversify the foreign reserves’ investment portfolio. Properties such as office building have stable yields, which match its investment strategies.”


China Said to Study U.S. Property Investments With Reserves

Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

"CBRE Group, Inc., a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Los Angeles, is the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm (in terms of 2012 revenue)."


You would think the CBRE wiki page would mention that their Chairman since 2001 is the husband of the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Am I right?

Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

Perhaps you're right about CBRE's chairman, though it eludes my grasp what that has to do with 8 Washington. Is there some connection? As far as anyone knows, they're not investors in the project. However, they're probably spot-on in their apparent interest in SF's real estate potential for the next few years.

Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2013 @ 5:59 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

Land values are a function of community growth, therefore they properly belong to the community. The issue here ought to begin from the premise that the annual land values of any and all land use belong to the community. That way the property rights of community are reserved without imposing constraints on the productive (building) efforts of individuals and groups of individuals working collectively.

Our objective as a community ought to be the elimination of private gain from public provision, but also the liberation of private provision from assessment of constraints. In short, given the public's aesthetic and engineering parameters, private interests ought not to be taxed for adding to community by building, but neither should private interests enjoy any portion of land values.

Posted by GuestGiesen on Aug. 08, 2013 @ 8:50 am