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SAN FRANCISCO-Proposition L, which strictly regulates where and how much office space is allowed in San Francisco, now trails by 938 votes, 50.2% to 49.8%, with 10,000 ballots left to be counted, according to updated results from the Department of Elections Web site this morning. Early last Wednesday morning, before a record number of absentee votes had been counted, the ballot measure had a healthy lead and news agencies everywhere declared it approved.

Proposition L includes bans or moratoriums on office construction in the Mission District, south of Market, Potrero Hill and Bayview-Hunters Point. The measure also limits office development in the city to 950,000-sf per year with exemptions for the Presidio, Pier 70 and the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. It is backed in part by activists concerned about dot-com office space increasing area rents and displacing artists and nonprofit groups from affordable spaces.

Elections Department spokeswoman Christiane Hayashi tells GlobeSt.com that election workers have been working almost nonstop since last Tuesday, counting more than 83,000 absentee ballots, sorting through ballots turned in at the wrong polling place and recreating other ballots that were unreadable by the computerized ballot machine for one reason or another. Official daily updates are scheduled for 4 p.m., with a preliminary final result expected before Wednesday, says Hayashi. The election should be officially certified several days after that, but doesn’t have to be until Dec. 5. Regardless, interested parties have five days to ask for a recount once the election has been certified.

If a recount is requested it would take place during a runoff election for the county Board of Supervisors, which would mean little break for election workers in the near future. For that reason, Hayashi is hoping the county’s result verification procedures are enough to satisfy all interested parties. “We think the certified results will be very accurate,” she tells GlobeSt. If it continues to be defeated, the request won’t come from Mayor Willie Brown and his business community companions who spent more than $2 million to see it defeated because they believe it could cripple the local economy by not allowing workspace exemptions for new or expanding companies. The mayor’s alternative ballot measure, which provided such exemptions, was defeated 61% to 39%.

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