I wrote on November 3 that in a historically low turnout election, highly motivated voters make the difference
. And on an issue where the passion was clearly on the No on B and C side, this motivation imbalance resulted in the surprisingly one-sided defeat (exceeding 60-40%) of 8 Washington. While the campaigns focused on the waterfront, I spoke to a number of generally pro-development voters who objected to the project getting a zoning change for greater height. They saw this as unfair, of one developer not playing by the rules. Whereas a far greater upzoning for the Rincon Tower did not prompt a ballot challenge, people felt differently about a project-specific rezoning for condos near the waterfront.
The large-margin of defeat for 8 Washington will be spun in many ways. Opponents of Mayor Lee will describe it as a voter rejection of his agenda, while those opposed to the Warriors arena/pavilion will claim that it reflects voter concern with that project (I'll say right now that tens of thousands more San Franciscans care far more about having Steph Curry and the Warriors playing in the city than they do about whether a condo project is built near the waterfront).
Some will blame Nimbyism, or the current concern about rising rents and evictions. I think, as noted above, that the spot-zoning component of the project made it vulnerable in a way that much larger developments that do not involve upzoning are not.
JK Dineen of the SF Business Times suggested in a post-election tweet that there is so much housing being built today in the city that voters did not care if a single project was stopped. And its also true that, with the city coffers strong, voters did not care enough about the $11 million for affordable housing and the increased tax revenue coming from the project.
Whatever the reasons, the site of 8 Washington will continue for the time being as a private tennis club and parking lot. And outside of the project sponsors who bet heavily and lost, the rest of San Francisco will proceed with little looking back on this longtime development battle near the waterfront.