Major '8 Washington' Opponent Backs Peskin's D3 Supervisor Bid

The race is on: Former two-time supervisor Aaron Peskin announced March 30th that he's running again for the District 3 Board of Supervisors seat, and he's already seeing neighborhood support—particularly from those who applaud his help fighting the controversial 8 Washington luxury condo development.

Longtime waterfront preservationist and outspoken 8 Washington opponent Lee Radner announced Monday he'll collect signatures to show support for Peskin's bid on Nov. 3rd.

Anyone can pay $500 and run for the Board of Supervisors, but he or she can collect signatures in lieu of a filing fee from March 31 to May 26. Each valid signature is worth 50 cents, so if candidates round up 500 1,000 signatures, it's free—and allows them to flex some muscle.

"What we're trying to do is get 1,000 by mid-April to show power," Radner said, adding that volunteers are canvassing the district from Chinatown to North Beach to the FiDi with petitions.

Radner, who lives in the Gateway Apartments and Townhomes, started collecting signatures at the Coffee Roaster, 536 Davis St. just north of Jackson Street, from 3-3:30pm Monday, and will continue at the same time and place today, Thursday and Friday.

"I’ve known Aaron now 14 years and I’ve worked with him in his previous campaigns," Radner said, "and I’ve walked the neighborhood with him in his previous campaign. I like what he stands for."

Aaron Peskin. (Photo: Aaron Peskin/Facebook)

Radner is running the petition drive supporting Peskin as an individual, but he's the chair of Friends of Golden Gateway (FOGG), a nonprofit group committed to "saving the outdoor community recreation center the Bay Club at the Gateway and views from the Embarcadero to the hills,” as he put it.

He's also been active in No Wall on the Waterfront, an advocacy group influential in opposing certain waterfront developments, including 8 Washington.

Peskin has been a critic of 8 Washington along with other developments, including a shopping mall proposed for Pier 29. And he helped get height limits rezoned for Broadway and the Embarcadero to 40 feet. But he also supported the Exploratorium's move to Pier 15, and has worked on behalf of renters, including helping to make water and electricity "pass-throughs" to tenants more fair, he said.

Radner was not happy when Mayor Lee appointed Julie Christensen in January to serve out the remainder of a term after sitting District 3 Supervisor and Board of Supervisors President David Chiu was sworn in to the State Assembly on Dec. 1st.

Shortly after Christensen's appointment in January, No Wall sent an email—also posted on its website—claiming that Christensen was "closely tied to backers of 8 Washington luxury condos."

Plans for the proposed 8 Washington development (via 8washington.com)

Radner has been pushing Christensen to clarify her position on 8 Washington and on last November's Proposition B, which requires voters to approve any development along the waterfront that exceeds height limits.

At the annual membership meeting of the Golden Gateway Tenants Association on Feb. 21st, Christensen said, “Asking someone to take a position on 8 Washington is like watching a car accident and asking someone to take sides.”

But Radner wants a more firm answer. "I can’t believe a candidate can't take a stand," he said. "I would have more respect for her if she said 'I was for the 8 Washington project, and I’m still for it.'"

Irene Glassgold, a neighbor who signed the Peskin petition on Monday, said, "Her answer at the meeting was a cop-out." She added, "Aaron was the absolute best supervisor you could ever have. He was a dream supervisor ... That he's running again is the greatest thing that could ever happen to me."

Irene Glassgold and Lee Radner. Photo: Geri Koeppel/Hoodline

Christensen, when reached Tuesday, said she is "trying to figure out if we can do things in a better way" with 8 Washington. "We have some opportunities to do this right," she said. "Blocking things is one approach, and I think some of us would like to see things being more cooperative and things people agree are good for the district."

She added, "I have my marching orders from my constituency [on 8 Washington] and they're absolutely clear."

Peskin said he's running because he wants to take a stand for the little guy.

"I felt I could no longer sit on the sidelines as rents have skyrocketed; as evictions have skyrocketed," Peskin said, adding there were 2,000 evictions last year in the city and median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is more than $3,500 a month. "I think there should be some decisive action to address it," he said. "I believe I have the track record and experience to start to grapple with those issues."

Specifically, he wants to extend rent control to buildings built after 1979 and require affordable nonprofit art space be included in new developments, among other ideas.

Christensen said, "The month I was appointed, I started looking at new opportunities for infill in the neighborhood. We have a large senior population who are finding it difficult to do the hills and stairs. They would like to stay in the district and I'd like to find ways to help them."

She also said she was working on affordable and middle-class housing "not only for new buildings, but for the protection and rehabilitation of existing buildings ... We have tons of teachers, city workers. They're stuck because they don't qualify for the low-income subsidies the government has, and they're not wealthy enough to get by in the city on their own."

She added that projects she's helped shepherd, including the renovations to Joe DiMaggio Playground and the new North Beach Branch Library, are "good for everyone, but it's especially important to the middle class."

Incidentally, Peskin and Christensen are both Telegraph Hill residents and longtime allies until recently.

"I was delighted that Julie supported me in the two campaigns I ran in 2000 and 2004 both as a volunteer and with financial contributions," Peskin said.

But lately, the two have been pitted against each other in the media and neighborhood scuttlebutt, with Christensen being "pro-development" and Peskin as "anti-development."

That's not fair, Peskin said: "I don’t think it’s as clear cut as 'for' and 'against.' I think it’s more complicated than that." As one example, Peskin has been painted—as recently as March 30th in an SFGate article—as opposing the North Beach Branch Library, while Christensen championed it. He said, "That is an urban myth. I’ve never been shy in standing up for what I believe in. I never opposed the library publicly or privately."

In fact, he said, “I got the land for library and introduced and passed the legislation that funded the library. It’s not about 'for development' or 'against development.' It’s about discerning what’s appropriate development.” He added, "Ultimately I think it was an issue about design."

In any event, as Radner said, "It's going to be an interesting summer."

Lee Radner and Donald M. Campbell. Photo: Geri Koeppel/Hoodline

Never miss a story.

Subscribe today to get Hoodline delivered straight to your inbox.