The Tide That Took 8 Washington

Author: Owen Serra


Abstract: The 8 Washington case highlights an opposition coalition’s effective use of the planning theories of advocacy planning, framing, and the communal future to halt the development of a mixed-use luxury condominium project along San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway (see Appendix, Exhibits 1-4). The coalition, No Wall on the Waterfront, successfully lobbied with a referendum (Proposition C) to a Board of Supervisors vote granting a height exemption to the 8 Washington project. The rejection of Proposition C and a complementary developer-sponsored Proposition B stopped all plans to develop the project. The case involved multiple stakeholders in a high-profile decision that shaped the aesthetic, demographic, and socioeconomic makeup of the city.

Advocacy planning as elucidated by Paul Davidoff pertains to the 8 Washington case, as citizens supporting the “No Wall on the Waterfront” movement unified successfully in advocating for referenda on Propositions B and C (Davidoff, 1965). George Lakoff stresses the importance of framing issues in politics to command an issue (Lakoff, 2003). From the very name of the coalition to issue sound bites, No Wall on the Waterfront’s effective framing of their opposition to 8 Washington ensured their success. The theory of community future over present individualism, as defined by Dowell Myers, shaped the climate underlying the arguments of ‘No Wall on the Waterfront” (Myers, 2007). No Wall on the Waterfront focused its opposition to the negative communal effects of the 8 Washington project with the support of a diversity of interest groups and thousands of supporters.

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