San Francisco Commercial Real Estate News: Legal Challenges to Waterfront Ballot Measure

Source: San Francisco Business Times
Reporter: Jahna Berry
Date: March 26, 2015

A lawsuit challenging a popular San Francisco ballot measure that requires voters to OK height increases for waterfront projects may proceed, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Poll: Can the state sink S.F.’s waterfront law?

Proposition B, which was passed overwhelmingly, requires voter approval for any new building on Port of San Francisco property that exceeds existing height limits, which generally range from 40 feet to 84 feet. The land encompasses a 7 ½ mile stretch of waterfront that is some of the city’s most desirable and expensive real estate.

In a lawsuit filed last July, the California State Lands Commission, which regulates much of the state’s waterfront land, argued that San Francisco voters shouldn’t get a say in development on port property, like Pier 70 or the Giants’ Mission Rock project. The commission said that the port is actually under the state’s control. Also, the port needs developers to build on its properties to close a $1.6 billion budget shortfall, the state argued, and Prop. B could halt that development.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera asked Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos to throw out the state’s lawsuit. He has argued that Prop. B doesn’t hurt development. Developer Forest City has already successfully won voter approval for a waterfront project at Pier 70, he argued.

On Wednesday, Judge Bolanos denied some of the state’s motions, but ruled it could present evidence of the law’s economic impact. The litigants could start arguing that part of the case in May.

Herrara lauded Bolanos’ ruling, which he said underscores that the city’s law doesn’t conflict with the Burton Act. The state has argued the 1969 act gives it controls of the port land.

Link to Article: SF Waterfrong