Wednesday, July 16, 2014

State Lands Commission sues San Francisco for passing high rise limits

Measure B passed by San Francisco Voters would prohibit skyscrapers like this from lining the waterfront

Editor's Note:  This is just another example of the disgusting overreach by the government into local affairs.  Plan Bay Area similarly claims that it will not interfere with local planning but uses financial incentives and penalties to "encourage" local jurisdictions to comply.
The State Lands Commission filed suit Tuesday to overturn San Francisco's voter-approved limits on high-rise buildings along the city's waterfront, arguing that the lands belong to the state and are managed by the Port Commission, not the city and its voters.                         

Proposition B, which requires voter approval for any shoreline development that exceeds current height limits, "targets state-owned tide and submerged lands over which the Legislature has expressly precluded the right of local initiative," state lawyers said in papers filed in San Francisco Superior Court. They also said Prop. B's curbs on development would drain the Port Commission of badly needed revenue. Prop. B, sponsored by the Sierra Club's San Francisco chapter and other supporters of limited growth, passed with a 59 percent majority on June 3. Developers sought to remove the measure from the ballot in a suit filed in February with arguments similar to those in Tuesday's state lawsuit. Superior Court Judge Marla Miller allowed the vote to proceed, ruling in March that the developers had not clearly shown that Prop. B was invalid. She cited numerous past local ballot measures, some developer-sponsored, that sought to regulate San Francisco waterfront lands. The developers' suit is still alive and may be consolidated with the new state lawsuit. The San Francisco Giants, who plan a high-rise neighborhood in an area that is now the main parking lot for AT&T Park, helped to bankroll the February suit but have now withdrawn their support. City Attorney Dennis Herrera said Tuesday that he would strongly defend Prop. B in court. The Lands Commission suit is "a radical departure in law and practice from land-use decision-making in San Francisco and elsewhere," which for decades has involved city voters and elected leaders, he said. The Lands Commission consists of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, state Controller John Chiang and state Finance Director Michael Cohen. Jon Golinger, who ran the Prop. B campaign, referred to the commission Tuesday as a "rogue state agency trying to make a power play." According to the Lands Commission suit, the shoreline consists of tidelands that California obtained as state property when it became a state in 1850. The state transferred the land to the city in a 1968 law that specified it would be managed by the autonomous Port Commission and not by city officials or voters, the suit said. Prop. B's supporters, however, say the land has been managed much differently since at least 1990, when voters banned hotels on the city's piers and placed a moratorium on waterfront construction until the city adopted a comprehensive development plan. That plan, later adopted by both the Board of Supervisors and the Port Commission, contained the height limits that vary from one site to another. Prop. B holds those limits in place unless voters approve an exception for a specific project. Backers of a proposed residential and commercial development on Pier 70 have already submitted signatures for a November measure to raise the limit on their site from 40 to 90 feet.

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