Voters will be asked in November if the site of the Hunters Point Shipyard and Candlestick Point, above, can be exempt from a restriction on developing office space. (Mike Koozmin/2015 S.F. Examiner)

Voters could waive SF’s new office limit for Shipyard, Candlestick Point development

San Francisco voters will be asked in November whether to exempt a major development project in The City’s southeast from an annual cap on new office space.

The redevelopment of the Hunters Point Shipyard and Candlestick Point by developer FivePoint is expected to bring online 330 acres of public parks and open space, up to 10,500 homes, up to 885,000 square feet of retail and entertainment and up to 5.15 million square feet of office space.

However, San Francisco’s Planning Code since 1986 has restricted the amount of office space constructed in The City at no more than 950,000 square feet each year. Through Proposition O on the Nov. 8 ballot, developers of the Shipyard and Candlestick Point are seeking an exemption from that annual limit.

Prop. O would amend the Planning Code to exclude new office space within the Shipyard and Candlestick Point project from the 950,000-square-foot annual cap.

“Why I’m supporting this and why I think this is important for San Francisco, for the Bayview, is because … we need a way of knowing that this project will be able to move forward when everything is ready,” said Sophie Maxwell, a former city supervisor.

Supporters of Prop. O said the planned office construction will help pay for public amenities like parks and affordable housing at the development site, and requiring FivePoint to develop office space within The City’s 950,000 square foot annual limit could significantly delay the community benefits promised to residents of the Bayview.

But Calvin Welch, who opposes Prop. O, questioned the need for so much office space in The City.

“San Francisco has never exceeded since 1986 a million square feet of commercial office space a year,” he said. “Why would we want [millions]? What’s the demand? The best guess of guys in the industry is they want to market it as a tech park.”

Welch added that circumventing the annual new office space limit could also lead to displacement in the surrounding neighborhoods amid The City’s ongoing housing crisis, a claim that supporters of Prop. O quickly refuted.

“It will not [lead to] displacement because people will be working and living there, and hopefully the people who already live there will be working there,” Maxwell said. “So they have housing.”

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