For decades, San Franciscans have vehemently opposed projects along the waterfront that were bad ideas. Here we go again …
The latest waterfront project planned by a big national developer — Jamestown Properties, an $11 billion real estate firm based in Atlanta and New York City — is a proposed “mini-mall” and “upscale wine bar” on Pier 29. Really?
Opposition is rapidly growing, in part due to “terms” of the proposed contract awarding Jamestown a sweetheart deal of free rent for nearly four years — nearly a quarter — of a 15-year contract.
Pier 29 is the only place on the waterfront the voter-approved Waterfront Land Use Plan calls for as a recreation site for use by residents and families, and visitors and tourists. Pier 29 is across the street from Sansome and Chestnut streets at The Embarcadero. It’s north of the Ferry Building, south of Fisherman’s Wharf and just blocks from the Financial District.
It’s the same pier the Mills Corporation was prevented from building a shopping mall on during the early 2000s. It’s as if the Jamestown proposal is fungible — substitutable, albeit nearly two decades later — for the Mills proposal.
Don’t San Franciscans already have enough upscale wine bars from which to choose, ranging from the Financial District to North Beach, whole stretches along The Embarcadero and scattered in the Castro, Mission and Pacific Heights?
The Jamestown proposal seeks building a mini-mall to hawk tchotchke’s — souvenir trinkets — made in San Francisco. Don’t we already have Fisherman’s Wharf for that? Don’t we have enough mini-malls and strip-malls across The City? Do we need another mall on Port Authority of San Francisco property to provide it lucrative rental revenue?
San Francisco voters passed Proposition H — the Waterfront Land Use Plan — in 1990 to ensure development along the waterfront included a diverse mix of uses. That plan specifically stipulated on page 112 that Pier 29 should be dedicated to a “mixed-use recreation project” to provide such a venue on a scenic waterfront setting.
How many recreation spaces exist along the waterfront? None?
By contrast, consider the ridiculous Noe Valley Town Square project at 3861 24th St., which already had nearby recreational spaces for wealthy Noe Valley residents, including the Upper Noe Recreation Center and the Douglass Playground, both within walking distance of the proposed Town Square project.
But advocates of the Noe Valley Town Square — particularly former Supervisor Scott Wiener’s friend, Todd David, from the Parents PAC — needed to be politically rewarded. Wiener had appointed David to the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, where David proved to be disastrous, ruling in favor of miscreant city departments instead of supporting complainants alleging Sunshine Ordinance violations.
David wrongly claimed there were no parks or open space within a half-mile radius of the Noe Valley site. Wiener sponsored legislation for his friend Todd, and The City coughed up $4.2 million from the Recreation and Parks Department’s Open Space Fund to acquire a former parking lot to build the Town Square, which cost $7 million to buy and develop. Once funding was secured, David resigned from the task force in April 2015.
Shouldn’t the Open Space Fund provide funding for recreational opportunities along the waterfront for San Franciscans of all economic means, not just the already-wealthy in Noe Valley?
Join the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, the Sierra Club, the Sunset Parkside Education and Action Committee and the Telegraph Hill Dwellers Association — and I — opposing conversion of Pier 29 into a mini-mall and wine bar!
Contact the Board of Supervisors. Shouldn’t they already collectively know The City doesn’t need another wine bar or mall? Tell them this sweetheart deal is bad for the waterfront, bad for San Francisco.
Patrick Monette-Shaw is a columnist for the Westside Observer newspaper and a member of the Sierra Club.