8 Washington project clears Planning Commission

A major waterfront luxury condominium project was approved Thursday by the Planning Commission, which heard vociferous arguments for and against the so-called 8 Washington plans for more than seven hours.

Opponents argued that adding 134 new multimillion-dollar condos to The City’s cherished Embarcadero would create a “wall of wealth” that locks out everyone but the extremely rich. But proponents noted that the project opens up new public parks and streets, and called the area underused.

Plus, they said, the area is already surrounded by the wall of the Golden Gateway Tennis & Swim Club, which would be largely replaced by the development.

Commissioners approved the project’s environmental impact report by a vote of 4-2. Commissioner Kathrin Moore was absent.

The site has been the subject of four other failed project proposals throughout the past decade and the latest action there is expected to be appealed by opponent groups. They lamented that the condo buildings — 134 feet at their tallest — would obstruct views and represent first waterfront height increase in 50 years. They also said the biggest losers in the project are middle-income residents — an argument that gained traction with Planning Commissioner Cindy Wu.

“Really, the question of who gets to live in The City is a big one for me,” Wu said.

But Commissioner Mike Antonini said it’s unreasonable to expect affordable housing to be built on some of San Francisco’s most prime property.

“There’s a place for everything,” Antonini said, adding that tax revenue generated by the project would help the ailing budget of the Port of San Francisco, which owns a small part of the project site. “The money doesn’t come from the sky. It has to come from somewhere.”

If appealed, the project’s environmental document would be ultimately approved or denied by the Board of Supervisors. Board President David Chiu, a critical vote, has been a long-standing opponent of the plans.


Project specs

134 residential units
29,000 square feet of public open space
38,000-square-foot recreation center (with indoor and outdoor pools)
255 underground public parking spaces

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