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The Two Sues: Hand-to-Hand Combat in the NIMBY Trenches

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We all know that well-organized and -financed groups can stop a development project dead in in its tracks. Or dead in the water. In the case of Seawall Lot 351/8 Washington, both. Developer Simon Snellgrove has been trying for years to develop this choice site on the Embarcadero which, annoyingly, includes the tennis courts the Golden Gateway Club. One of his principal opponents is Telegraph Hill Dwellers, the anti-growth neighborhood group commonly associated with former Supervisor Aaron Peskin, which has been relentless in preserving North Beach and Telegraph Hill- and their views- from developers.

But who does the legal handiwork, skillfully crafting the elegant arguments and erecting the paper barriers for their clients? In the convoluted case of Golden Gateway, it's a double-barreled legal team: land use attorneys Sue Hestor and Susan Brandt-Hawley. Sue Hestor, probably San Francisco's best-known NIMBY lawyer, takes a kitchen sink approach to compiling objections, having once gone on record calling "dumpster diving" a conditional use issue. In addition to perfectly legit concerns like possibly-illegal transfer taxes in perpetuity, she recently protested to Ports about water displacement from the 8 Washington underground garage:

The really big bullet comes out with Brandt-Hawley's writ to stop 8 Washington, citing the California Supreme Court's decision, deliciously-named Save Tara in which a senior citizen housing project was halted for seven years while courts decided if West Hollywood had acted improperly by endorsing the project before doing an Environmental Impact Report. West Hollywood lost, did the EIR, and is now going ahead. In our case, did Ports acted improperly by endorsing developer Snellgrove's project before doing an EIR? Brandt-Hawley is based in Glen Ellen, owns a vineyard with her family, and has an enviable reputation for protecting historic public interests in California. We're not sure where the public interest lies in protecting someone's right to tennis, although memberships can be had at Golden Gate for under $150 a month, cheap to hit a ball around what are possibly the most beautifully-located courts in the world.
· Telegraph Hill Dwellers [Telegraph Hill Dwellers]
· President of Supes accused of harassing, threats [SFGate]
· FOGG letters [Friends of Golden Gateway]
· Sue Hestor Coverage [Curbed SF Archives]
· Susan Brandt-Hawley [Preservation Lawyers]
· Tennis Anyone? Nimbys Rage Over Turf on the Waterfront [Curbed SF Archives]