January 17, 2017

No on B and C in San Francisco–no wall on the waterfront

Correction (Oct. 7, 2013): the previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Measure B would raise height limits along the whole northern waterfront. Measure B would raise height limits just at 8 Washington Street on the Embarcadero, but would set a bad precedent and open the door for other developers to ask for more height increases along the whole northern waterfront.


The Sierra Club urges San Francisco voters to vote no on Measures B and C.

Measures B and C would put San Francisco Bay at risk for massive pollution, create shadows on a park, and use taxpayer dollars to subsidize ultra-luxury housing for billionaires–on public land.

Approval of either of these measures would allow a luxury-condo project on the San Francisco waterfront at 8 Washington Street and exempt it from numerous zoning restrictions—including the height limit that we worked decades to establish for keeping the waterfront open for public use. The project would be twice as high as the Embarcadero Freeway, which previously occupied the site, and would exceed the zoned height limit by 52 feet.  Measure B would set a bad precedent and open the door for other developers to ask for height increases along the whole northern waterfront.

Last year the Board of Supervisors voted to approve 8 Washington–but volunteers rallied, gathering 31,000 signatures in 30 days, to place the issue on the ballot as a referendum, which is now Measure C. To confuse the issue, the project developer gathered signatures on an initiative to “open up the waterfront”, which is now Measure B.

The project would put San Francisco Bay at risk by building too close to a major sewer line that moves 20 million gallons of sewage a day. Engineers have testified that the project could cause the sewer to rupture in an earthquake and flood the neighborhood and the Bay with sewage.

The project would sit on public land–land that should be used for recreation. Further, the city would have to spend an estimated $5 million to upgrade the city-owned portion to keep Bay water from seeping in.

The supporters of the measures are developer-backed groups hoping to open up the waterfront to high-rise construction. Their campaign makes the outrageous claim that 8 Washington would create parks–when in fact it would destroy a public recreation center and replace it with a recreation space mostly for private use. The project would also decrease recreational opportunities on the public waterfront.

The developer also describes the project as creating affordable housing. In fact, there is no affordable housing in the proposed building, and the condos would sell for up to $8 million each.

Ironically, 8 Washington project would create shadows on a park named after Sue Bierman, the freeway-fighter who stopped the city from building freeways through Golden Gate Park. Sue Bierman Park was created after the Embarcadero Freeway was torn down.

The San Francisco Democratic Party, other environmental groups, and housing-advocacy groups all agree with the Sierra Club that Measures B and C are a bad deal for San Francisco and the environment.


The No on B and C campaign has volunteer opportunities for you:

  • every Saturday, 10 am, mobilizations for precinct-walking;
  • every Tuesday and Thursday, 5:30 – 8:30 pm, phone-banking.

Both take place at 15 Columbus Ave. in San Francisco. To get involved, contact (415)894-7008 or No8WashingtonWall@gmail.com.

And vote no on B and C!