Gordon Chin, a founder and former director of the Chinatown Community Development Center, notes in his book Building Community, Chinatown Style, that for Rose Pak, “all politics are personal.”

Rose Pak and John Avalos talk outside the Election Night party for David Campos for Assembly
Rose Pak and John Avalos talk outside the Election Night party for David Campos for Assembly

“Politics is all about relationships and honest communication,” he notes, “which in Rose’s case can be somewhat blunt.”

That’s a gentle way of saying it. Pak, who died Sunday, never kept her opinions to herself, and never held back when she was unhappy with someone.

Take, for example, David Chiu. “To know David Chiu is not to trust him,” she told me, repeatedly, when she worked with David Campos for state Assembly. Campos and Pak were often on the opposite side of issues, but that didn’t matter –she said Campos was always honest with her.

She didn’t trust former state Sen. Leland Yee, either. “Leland Yee is the most corrupt politician I have ever met,” she told me when Yee was running for mayor (turns out she was more right than many of us believed).

Me? Sometimes I was okay. Sometimes she said I was a fool for opposing big development projects, including the Wall on the Waterfront. “Let them build it and then take their money,” she said, always looking for a way to get resources into Chinatown.

For better or for worse, Pak is the main reason Ed Lee is mayor of San Francisco. When Lee took what was supposed to be a “caretaker” job, he told me very clearly that there was absolutely no way he would run for a full term. That was the agreement with the supervisors who appointed him, he said, and he meant to stick to it.

Then Pak and Willie Brown went to see him and suggested (as Pak told me later) that if Lee didn’t run, Leland Yee might win. Lee flipped 180 degrees and entered the race. “I couldn’t say no to Willie and Rose” he explained.

He apparently did say no to her soon after, when he refused to appoint her friend Cindy Wu to the District 3 supe seat that opened up with Chiu, despite her best efforts, went to Sacramento. She immediately denounced the decision and worked tirelessly to defeat the mayor’s candidate, Julie Christensen, and put Aaron Peskin back in office.

Pak, Chin writes, was all about Chinatown — about “Chinatown’s place in history, and commitment to improving Chinatown today, and a passion for protecting Chinatown’s future.”

Calvin Welch, who sometimes worked with Pak and sometimes was on the other side on issues, told me that she was a political contradiction: “Inside Chinatown, she was left-wing – she was very pro tenant, very anti any kind of development that would hurt Chinatown. Outside Chinatown, she was much more pro-development.” In fact, outside Chinatown she often clashed with progressives.

On the other hand, Welch told me that Pak “pretty much singlehandedly brought Chinatown voters into supporting Prop. M,” the landmark 1986 growth control measure.

She pulled strings, she cut deals, she raised money (although many who have heard her insistent pitches would use other terms), and while she didn’t like the term “powerbroker,” it was entirely accurate.

Campos told me that “we always hit if off because from her perspective I was fighting for the underdog, and so was she. Whatever power she asserted was to help people.”

And since politics abhors a power vacuum, there will be some interesting shakeups in Chinatown politics in the months and years to come.

 

It’s a good thing nobody pays attention to the Chronicle’s endorsements, since the paper’s choices for the Board of Supes races are just embarrassing. Except for Aaron Peskin, who got the nod in part because he is running essentially unopposed, the lineup completely excludes the progressives, even when the moderate candidate is really weak. Ahsha Safai? Nato Green has an excellent piece noting that he has “a distinguished record of not doing much.” (Except helping screw up the Housing Authority):

When Safai ran for supervisor in 2008, he claimed to have “saved St. Luke’s Hospital” on his doorhangers, when, in fact, he made no effort. In 2007, Sutter Health revealed plans to close St. Luke’s Hospital. On behalf of the California Nurses Association, I was involved in building a broad labor-community coalition that worked with practically everyone in San Francisco but Safai to save St. Luke’s.

In 2010, Safai was appointed to the Housing Authority Commission by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom. The commission is responsible for fiscal and operational oversight of the agency and accountability for the director. Safai and four other commissioners so failed in these basic oversight functions that Mayor Lee replaced them before their terms ended.

Josh Arce? Joel Engardio?

Oh well. As I said, nobody listens to the Chron anyway.

 

It’s going to be busy day Thursday/22. In the morning, Peskin launches his first wave of assaults on the city planning and building inspection bureaucracy with a special Government Oversight and Audit Committee hearing on “building standards in seismic safety zones,” which, of course, includes the Millenium Leaning Tower.

Peskin has been all over the news in the past week talking about how he senses something fishy in the way the city approved and allowed people to move into a huge luxury condo complex that has been sinking and tilting since it opened. The tower was anchored in landfill, not bedrock; that saved the developer money but all of that savings will likely vanish as the costs of litigation pile up.

Meanwhile, you want to be living next door to a tilting building in an earthquake?

The Beast on Bryant project that won at the Board of Supes is very different from what the developer first offered
The Beast on Bryant project that won at the Board of Supes is very different from what the developer first offered

Then on to the Planning Commission, which will hear a report on what’s been happening in the Eastern Neighborhoods since an area plan was adopted in 2009.

This is critical: Last week, the Board of Supes approved the Beast on Bryant, a massive housing development in the Mission, saying it doesn’t need environmental review since a full environmental impact report was already done on the area plan.

That’s the law in California: You a major area plan, analyze the impacts of the projected development, and any project that fits the parameters of the plan can move forward without further review.

But the Mission in 2009 is very different from the Mission in 2016 – and there are changes well beyond what the planners and environmental reviewers could have predicted. As Spike Kahn, the lead opponent of the project, noted, there were no Google buses in 2009. The profound housing crisis, the radical displacement wave, the cannibalizing of arts space and PDR space … the EIR couldn’t have predicted all of that.

In fact, as Peskin has pointed out in past hearings, many parts of the EN have already reached the amount of new market-rate housing the EIR predicted. Sup. Malia Cohen asked the question that was on everyone’s mind: How can we get rid of the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan and do a new one?

That, for better or for worse, is a years-long project. It’s also why a lot of Mission residents have asked for a moratorium on market-rate housing while all of these impacts are studied. The majority of the supes have refused to do that.

The report that the planners will hear is pretty devastating: In just the past four years, nearly 1 million square feet of PDR space – that is, space for blue-collar jobs and artists – has been converted to “other uses,” mostly office. Office jobs in the area went from 26,000 to 45,000.

Future projects will lead to the loss of another 1.3 million square feet of PDR space. The planners don’t seem overly concerned; it’s as if that part of San Francisco is just history.

The commission will have two new members this week, Myrna Melgar (appointee of Board President London Breed and Joel Koppel, appointee of the mayor. Melgar has been part of Eastern Neighborhoods community politics for a long time, and gets the issues. We will see about Koppel.

We will also see whether anyone on the commission is ready to say that the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan is way out of date and needs to be changed, quickly, where there are still some Eastern Neighborhoods left to protect.

 

About the Beast on Bryant: Campos, who voted in favor of the project, said it had “come a very long way,” and that’s absolutely true. It’s a lesson the city planners don’t seem to get: No developer ever comes forward with their best offer at first. What Nick Podell initially proposed, and the city was prepared to grant, was a terrible project. After extensive community organizing and opposition, he eventually agreed to a project that is nowhere near as bad and includes a lot more affordable housing and the preservation of some PDR and arts space.

Which leads me to the question I always ask: Why doesn’t the Planning Department demand these kinds of concessions before allowing these projects to go forward? It would save all of us a lot of time.

Peskin said at the hearing that the department pretty much does the will of the developers, which is, sadly, too often true, and something the commission, too often, just sits back and allows.

I still think this project will be a displacement bomb, and that the affordable housing it creates will not make up for the impacts on the surrounding area. Development of market-rate housing creates by itself more demand than even 40 percent affordable deals can provide. I fear the existing residents of the northeast Mission will be worse off with this project than they were before Podell bought the property and decided to develop it.

 

And then it’s back to D5, where there will be a rare direct two-hour debate between incumbent London Breed and challenger Dean Preston. This is one of the most progressive, left-leaning districts in the city, and Breed has often been with the moderates on the board. Preston is a tenant lawyer and tenant organizer. There are some very clear differences between their policy approaches, and it will be fascinating to see how they play out in a wide-open debate. 6:30 pm, St Mary’s Cathedral, 111 Gough, lower level. Doors open at 6.

 

 

  • Pavlo Al

    and here Jane Kim’s campaign goes down the drain.

    • seriously

      That’s really why Kim was crying outside Pak’s apartment house, while Lee was thinking one boss down, one too go.

      • Porfirio666

        Kabuki tears. Putting on a show to be seen mourning for the godmother.

        • Y.

          Got any more cheesy Asian stereotypes to add? Don’t be shy.

          • Porfirio666

            Um, Y? That’s usually an Italian stereotype.

            But it applies to all “power brokers”, doesn’t it?

      • Y.

        That’s just rude.

        • seriously

          She cussed like a sailor, she publicly dissed politicians, is in a photograph holding a bat to wack someone with a smirk on her face. Please, Lee ordered flags at half mass, I bet his one other boss ordered him to do so! BTW, who will be sporting the costly “celebration” of her life, spent fighting for Asian women, RUDE, lets hot go there Y.

          • Y.

            “That’s really why Kim was crying outside Pak’s apartment house”—putting down someone crying when someone they knew died is pretty low, even for comment boards. Dish out the dirt on people who’s done wrong, by all means, but don’t picket funerals.

          • seriously

            Honey, you have no idea the “putting down” when I was crying by all these fools hiding, behind doors of a club and City Hall as I “celebrated” my daughters murder, due to the code of thugs. The oldest one, ran into him last week, pathetic at 82, can’t see, yet has young White woman on his arm, Kim’s next!

    • Y.

      Kim will be fine.

    • Geek__Girl

      Wishful thinking….

  • Foginacan

    Pak died? Shouldn’t that be it’s own headline?

    • JEng

      It’s shocking. I wish it wasn’t true nor that she was shut up permanently. Leland Yee gogt a slap on the wrist probably because he is KMT.

  • Pingback: SF Elections 2016()

  • Porfirio666

    The Boss Tweed of SF has passed on.

    Never elected to any office, but a “power broker” who had politicians running to the airport to kiss her ring when she returned to town.

    • jhayes362

      We still have never elected power brokers, but big money, not neighborhood organizing, is their forte. I’m thinking of Ron Conway, but there are probably many others.

      • Geek__Girl

        Ron Conway simply throws money at whatever he wants. And if he says jump, Ed Lee says “How high?” If he says **** Lee drops his pants and says “How much?”

    • Y.

      That’s over the top. Boss Tweed was not just a power broker. He ruled New York and stole the equivalent of billions of dollars. Pak was a well-connected vote broker, but didn’t have that much power.

      • Porfirio666

        “Vote broker”

        Love your terminology. So, anyone who plays personal blood-sport politics is a “vote broker.”

        • Y.

          A vote broker is someone who has a large voting block who follows them. It’s not a euphemism, it’s a precise term.

          • Porfirio666

            You could use the term for an elected official.

            But for someone who wields power through threats and has never been elected to any office whatsoever…”power broker” is appropriate.

  • Porfirio666

    David Chiu: Not to be trusted because he refused to kiss the ring and do her bidding. Can’t say the same for Peskin, Avalos, Kim et al.

  • jhayes362

    Calling the Chronicle’s Board of Supervisors endorsements “embarrassing” is an understatement. Setting aside Peskin, who is essentially unopposed, all of the Chronicle’s candidates would promote the pro-market rate development policies of Ed Lee, whose popularity in this town right now is questionable. The endorsements also lacked depth and perspective, for example, phrases from the Arce endorsement look like they came from an Arce press release.

    The treatment Sunday of the Board of Supervisors race, and the Chronicle’s earlier reflexive opposition to government reform measures on the city ballot, suggest the Chronicle is retreating more and more from substantive coverage of how San Francisco is governed and managed. It’s like walking by a car wreck: nothing to see here folks, just keep moving.

  • Y.

    Can’t say that the beast would make surrounding houses more expensive. It will drive up demand for lower-income housing, as you say. It will also use up land which could be used for low-income housing, which is always getting kicked up ahead to be built someplace else in the indefinite future.

    • Andy M

      I don’t think using this land for entirely affordable housing was really a realistic possibility. The land is privately owned, the city can limit the kind of use, but it’s basically impossible for the city to limit the price without buying the land from the owner. All our affordable housing money comes from development fees, curtailing market rate development means curtailing our ability to build affordable housing. I’m not saying that system shouldn’t change, but that kind of seismic shift wouldn’t happen in time for this particular property.

      Tim didn’t report on this, but there is an entirely affordable housing complex going in down road, which has encountered some minor opposition due to height/sun concerns http://missionlocal.org/2016/09/an-affordable-housing-project-nearly-all-like/

      • Y.

        The BOS could have voted it down, or conditioned their vote on the maximum percentage of affordable that would still be profitable. They are taking shy baby steps in that direction. I don’t see why they shouldn’t be more aggressive about it.

        • Andy M

          I’m pretty skeptical that approach is legally feasible on a lot by lot/project by project basis. Eventually someone is going to sue saying that it’s an illegal taking and will probably win.The project met the requirements of the Eastern Neighborhoods plan (I think). Saying this developer must meet some new higher requirement is unfair when other developers under the same plan/rules did not face the same burden.

          The BOS is fairly free to unofficially slow the whole thing down, but I think they would have faced a legal challenge had they officially voted against this project/imposed additional requirements, which is why the vote was unanimous.

          If the city pushes to hard and ends up in litigation (and loses), then they’ve lost they’re leverage to demand any concessions above the legal minimum.

  • Cathy Mosbrucker

    What day is the debate between Preston and Breed?

    • debutante

      This Thursday sept 22 @ St, Mary’s 1111 Goughh @ Geary, Lower Level. Doors open @ 6. Be there or be square.

  • Geek__Girl

    When I first heard about Rose Pak, when she was pushing Lee to run after he promised he wouldn’t, I had a very poor opinion of her. But over time, I realized she was not so bad. It is sad to see her pass. Lee has been a very poor excuse for a mayor, having sold out to Ron Conway, and other monied interests.

    • Porfirio666

      Yes, I and Tiny Tim too also approve of certain Pak viewpoints (A good, B bad):
      A. Blocking new construction in Chinatown: GOOD! GOOD!
      B. Supporting mega-construction projects in the rest of the city: BAD!BAD!

    • curiousKulak

      My understanding is that she’s the whole reason for the Chinatown Subway boondoggle thats almost guaranteed to be slower than walking.

      She was V tenacious, which can be a good thing. But can also result in ill outcomes.

      Don’t think I’ll personally miss her, but apparently she did good by a lot of people (new immigrants getting subsidized housing, etc)

  • Andy M

    On the Mission Moratorium: the current Board of Supervisors should have a majority of members who supported it and could pass a version of it if they wanted to. I’m guessing the reason they don’t want to do that is because it’s politically unpopular in a year where there’s a high stakes election.

    I continue to be chagrined by the fact that the author ignores the fact that most of the displacement is due to the demand for apartments from higher-income folks. People in the region need apartments and there are too few buildings in places that allow apartments and too many areas that prohibit apartments. The 40 ft height limits and RH-1 zoning in huge areas of the city (and region) is strangling it.

    • Foginacan

      Displacement is due to higher rents, but don’t equate that with higher income folks. Don’t we all know low level professionals with multiple roommates?

      The struggles of displacement aren’t there for you to exploit for your zoning reform dreams.

      Support for the moratorium was almost 50/50. BOS are all angling to get their fingers in the pockets of builders, why would they vote for the moratorium?

      • Andy M

        Zoning is and has been mostly a tool of segregation and exclusion. I’m happy to dream of its reform. Displacement is a good reason to demand reform, not a form of exploitation.

        This building didn’t cause displacement. There are very very few new buildings in the Mission. The displacement in the Mission occurred bc folks who need apartments can pay more than the current residents and too few apartments exist.

        Every renter I know (high income or low), myself included, feels terribly insecure in their housing. I’m not blaming higher income folks for being here. They came for the jobs. I’m blaming the region’s unwillingness to construct more apartment buildings.

        • Foginacan

          “Zoning is and has been mostly a tool of segregation and exclusion.”

          Such as the policies of the San Francisco Planning & Urban Research Association?

          We do not have redlining in San Francisco.

          The mental midget who came to the conclusion that evoking segregation was a great canned talking point for condo loft advocates – they should be fired.

          It’s an absolute con to offer up one of the prime vehicles of gentrification/displacement as the remedy. You’re better than that.

          Rents in the Mission are bulletproof, irregardless of vacancy rates. Those getting displaced from market rate housing, or thrown back into the market rate pool, cannot afford market rate housing irregardless of how much of it you offer them. All you do when adding to the inventory in the Mission is allow more people to live in their first choice neighborhood, and accelerate the process of erasing the pre-existing community.

          • Andy M

            Obviously you and I see the facts on the ground and come to very different conclusions. I think you need to work on engaging people without insulting them. To that end this will be my last response.

            Wealthier people get to live in their first choice neighborhood whether we add housing or not. The choice is whether all of them move into into existing housing or or just some of them move into existing housing. I would prefer the later.

            But this choice is only true because 2/3 of San Francisco is zoned for single family housing. Were that not the case, The apartment buildings we need could be built all over the city. The zoning that prevents apartment development was put in place to prevent the the kind of people who need to live in apartments from living in these neighborhoods. In that regard zoning is the primary tool for segregation and exclusion. That doesn’t mean it has to be used that way, just that it was. The Tenderloin has had great success using zoning to provide housing access to low-income people. The rest of the city (Pacific Heights, Telegraph, Bernal, Potrero, West of Twin Peaks, etc.) was zoned pretty explicitly to “preserve neighborhood character.” That character being primarily white and higher income. Look at the composition of our neighborhoods, it has been and continues to be horribly racially segregated.

            Displacement and gentrification has happened in the Mission with very little development. They don’t cause gentrification, they follow the gentrification that is already happening. In that regard opposing individual projects is the equivalent of charging windmills.

          • Foginacan

            I think you’re oblivious to the insult implicated by your own posts.

            The arrogance of your race baiting to shill for condos, is inexcusable. The character of Potrero, West of Twin Peaks, and Bernal is not “primarily white and higher income”. You deserve to get insulted for that. Have you no shame? On a personal level, you have to be a bad person to voice the such a lie. You can’t even fathom how deeply offensive you are.

            People can only move into available housing. Adding availability of new housing doesn’t detour interest in the currently existing stock or create protections.

            Stop mistaking the apartment developments you desire with what shill groups claim we need. The zoning contributes to the living conditions which have made the City what it is. You are on the wrong side of this fight, opposing the communities fighting to stay put in the Mission.

          • Andy M
          • Foginacan

            Are you in Seattle and forget what comments section you’re posting in all of a sudden? Maybe you’re using links you found on the homogenized YIMBY Twitter crowd, I have no idea – I just know that looking at West of Twin Peaks, Bernal, or Potrero on the map and coming up with the bullshit you just said, needs to stop. You’re not just wrong, with a difference of opinion, you’re a bad person for saying it.

          • Andy M

            I won’t make assumptions about whether or not you’re good or bad. However, I do think the policies for which you advocate have demonstrably negative consequences and perpetuate historic racial injustice. The jury isn’t really out on this issues anymore. I provided links to a lot of the most recent research and studies, but I can’t make you change your thinking. Too bad we can’t come to an understanding

          • Foginacan

            Considering you’re perpetrating the horrible lie that communities full of people of color like West of Twin Peaks and Bernal are/were all white or segregated, and the truth is low/fixed income communities are the opposition to the policies you’re advocating – stop your exploitive talk about racial injustice. You are the injustice.

          • Y.

            Zoning was used as a tool for segregation in the past. But how is that relevant to the present? Here and now you have working class Latinos fighting for zoning against high-density buildings which would be mostly populated by the well-to do.

            “Neighborhood character” has, no doubt, been used by some people who wanted to continue living in a segegated (i.e. White) neighborhood. But it did and does mean other things as well: density, degree of mixing of residential and commercial, height, architecture. Some people prefer Alamo Square, some prefer Mission Bay, others prefer Sunnyvale. For some people the built environment they live in matters a lot, even aside from arguments as to which urban style is an objectively better design. All this has nothing to do with segregation.

          • Andy M

            San Francisco neighborhoods were forged in an era of segregation, which persists to this day (https://www.wired.com/2013/08/how-segregated-is-your-city-this-eye-opening-map-shows-you/)

            2/3 of the city’s land is zoned in a way that academics describe as “exclusionary” such that it’s very difficult for the kind of housing that would serve the less wealthy to get built. The explicit purpose of exclusionary zoning was segregation and that zoning has never been reformed.

            We have a lot of people in SF who need apartment-style housing, but out exclusionary zoning prevents that housing from being built in most of the city. As a result we have renters fighting renters for the small amount of existing supply, which is leading to displacement.

            My basic point is that many of our communities were forged in an era of segregation and that has never been undone. When folks talk about preserving character, whether they mean to or not, they’re breathing new life into those segregationist forces. Like I said, zoning doesn’t have to be exclusionary (see the Tenderloin) but it was mostly used to ill effect here in SF. Because that still exists, it leaves those who need rental apartments scrambling for what little exists.

          • Y.

            I really don’t understand you. The Victorians of the Mission and the Western Addition were built in an era of segregation, as were the bungalows of the Sunset. By the late 20th century all of them were non-White majority neighborhoods.
            You are arguing as a fact that zoning is what’s keeping housing prices high and therefore keeping the less-affluent out. That, I doubt. Even if all of the Sunset District were rezoned to 100′ residential, developers would not (and probably could not) build so much that they’d end up with a big surplus of empty units, nor would they build so much that prices would be permanently depressed.
            Add: about exclusionary housing, you could say that almost all new high-rise construction is exclusionary in a sense. It all comes with high-priced amenities and expensive maintenance, sometimes mandated by the style of construction. I would guess i is more expensive to buy and pay maintenece on a SOMA condo that on a Sunset detached house.

          • Andy M

            Just a few things: the Mission, Western Addition and Sunset all changed due to white flight. Instead of integrating, the newly suburban whites again doubled down on exclusionary zoning.

            There are a few cities that have managed to overbuild enough such that there prices are stabilizing (I’ve read recently about Seattle, DC, and Denver). San Francisco condo prices are similarly starting to stagnate. You’re right that it’s tough to get the market to produce housing such that prices decline, but I believe we can get enough housing such that prices essentially flatten.

            I don’t mean to suggest that eliminating exclusionary zoning is some magic bullet, but I believe it is necessary. Like you pointed out, it getting rid of it doesn’t prevent expensive housing from being built, but having it does prohibit cheap housing from
            being built.

            Even if the city wanted (and had the funds) to build subsidized apartments, it couldn’t do it in most parts of the city because of the existing zoning.

            Conversely, SOMA has lots of expensive condos that in turn funded new affordable housing, many times onsite. As Jane Kim likes to toute, her district has produced 30% affordable housing.

            That doesn’t happen in West Portal, Sunset, Bernal, Potero, etc. They don’t grow and keep getting more expensive, which means that the semi-affluent people who wouldn’t have moved there need to turn there attention to the more affordable neighborhoods which how our existing populations get displaced.

            If you’re interested in my whole diatribe, it’s here: https://lordofthefails.com/2015/05/08/if-the-development-is-an-unstoppable-force-and-the-mission-is-an-immovable-object/

            And here:https://lordofthefails.com/2016/06/09/fighting-a-war-on-two-fronts-gentrification-and-displacement/

          • Y.

            Thanks for the links. I’ll read them. In the meantime, I’ll say, there is no “exclusionary zoning” in San Francisco at present the way there was in 1950. There are economic forces pushing low-income folks out, but if you’re saying that people in “West Portal, Sunset, Bernal, Potrero” etc. are opposed to upzoning because they don’t want poor people or minorities to move in, you’re just wrong.
            The statement that “there are a few cities that have managed to overbuild enough such that there prices are stabilizing” is half-correct. Rents, at least, have plateaued this year all over the country, from build-happy Seattle to build-averse Palo Alto. They’ve been going up in high-vacancy Chicago and Detroit. If you want to show that a price slowdown in some city is caused by overbuilding, you should show how to tell apart price changes due to overbuilding from those due to other economic effects, such as changes in demand.

          • Andy M

            Exclusionary zoning isn’t about motive, it’s about effect. People don’t have to explicitly say I don’t want poor or minorities for the zoning to be exclusionary. Nevertheless, that zoning has the effect of keeping those people out, which is most definitely happening in all of those neighborhoods. If the zoning and built environment in most of those neighborhoods hasn’t really changed since the 50s, so how could it not still be exclusionary, especially given the city’s segregation

            SF obviously has an inclusionary zoning policy, but that can only be implemented in areas that are zoned for new housing developments with 10+ units. That means there’s a very small part of the city that actually produces new affordable housing.

            As for what the residents say, every time someone puts shadows, views, parking, or “wind tunnels” over new housing they’re saying that they value those things more than they value inclusion. We all have to make choices about what to prioritize. Anyone who puts minor inconveniences ahead of someone else getting a home is in effect saying they don’t want anyone new, which disproportionately impacts the poor and minorities.

            These are some recent examples: http://missionlocal.org/2016/05/neighbors-of-mission-district-affordable-housing-cry-too-tall/

            http://www.marinatimes.com/aug10/op_transitionalhousing.html

            I think your to quick to dismiss the impact of new supply on rent prices. Demand in every city can’t decline at the same time. Those people have to go somewhere. In DC, they added a ton of new housing. Even so, slowing demand coupled with additional supply would be great for renters and I hope it happens.

            http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/29640/dc-added-record-housing-in-2015-thats-slowing-down-price-increases/

          • Y.

            “Zoning has the effect of keeping those people out”: nope. Price is the direct thing keeping poor people out. The connection between zoning and price is one step removed, and, I believe, unjustified. There is no innate connection between buiding density and exclusion. Towers can be luxury or tenements. Single family houses can be Seacliff or Vallejo.

            “Every time someone puts shadows, views, parking, or “wind tunnels” over new housing they’re saying that they value those things more than they value inclusion”—no, they don’t! What kind of unwarranted generalization is this? You gave two examples. The Mission example is relevant. In the Marina example, from what I read, they are asking for a modification to the youth housing. But for each building like this, you have 20 buildings like the Beast, or Rincon Center, or 16th & Mission, who are there to be cash cows for the developers, while minimizing any benefit to the community.

            “saying they don’t want anyone new, which disproportionately impacts the poor and minorities”—In general, no. Opposing a building holding 85% market-rate units disproportionately affects those who can afford these units.

            For DC, SF or anywhere else, all I ever hear is either “prices are going up, so we must build more”, or “prices have stopped going up, it’s a sign we’re finally building enough”, with the arguments alternating depending on current conditions. You could substitute “pray” for “build” as effectively.

          • Andy M

            We’ll just have to agree to disagree. The connection between zoning and price is well established.

            http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/11/zoning-laws-and-the-rise-of-economic-inequality/417360/

            https://journals.law.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/stanford-law-policy-review/print/2014/01/mangin_25_stan._l._poly_rev_91.pdf

            As is the relationship between modern zoning, segregation, and racial/economic inequality.

            http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/resseger/files/resseger_jmp_11_25.pdf

            http://www.citylab.com/housing/2016/01/how-zoning-restrictions-make-segregation-worse/422352/

            Equating Seacliff and Vallejo is really absurd. Vallejo is 30+ miles from San Francisco and 70 from San Jose. Obviously proximity to employment is going to impact price.

            Denying market rate housing in rich neighborhoods, means the people who would have lived there need to look elsewhere. So they go to lower-income neighborhoods, which is how they end up outbidding those residents.

            That isn’t an unwarranted generalization. Every time a new project goes forward residents have a choice to make. The act of opposing housing supports segregation. We are all complicit in this realize. People need to realize that putting “sunlight” over housing is an exercise of privilege that only those with housing security can exert, and the consequence is that others will not be able to enjoy the same housing security.

            You are biased against market rate housing, which is probably a position I cannot dissuade you from. All housing is beneficial and most people who live in SF entered their housing at the market rate (this includes rent controlled units). Ag The Beast and others are only “cash cows” because we’ve restricted supply throughout the region such that only the wealthiest can afford it. Again, I don’t think the Mission should have to shoulder all the development, which is why I argue for zoning changes in the rest of the city.

            As far as cash cows go, the biggest beneficiaries of the current housing crunch have not been developers, but landlords and current homeowners, many have seen 500+% increase on their initial investment.

            http://www.trulia.com/blog/trends/rich-city-poor-city/

            Frankly, I’m always boggled that people think housing development increases prices.Prices in San Francisco skyrocketed as an influx of new residents came here for jobs while housing development was stagnant. It’s only just now that we have a lot of new units entering the market at the same time and are finally seeing some relief.

            If we execute the vision of those who would deny market rate housing development, the people who would have occupied it will move into existing housing stock (which is what’s been happening and is the very definition of displacement), there won’t be a single low-income person left in the city.

            On the issue of citing my sources. I have provided a lot of evidence for why I believe what I believe and you haven’t provided a single source for any of your challenges.

          • Foginacan

            “Prices in San Francisco skyrocketed as an influx of new residents came here for jobs while housing development was stagnant.”

            Price skyrocketed before your arrival and interest in the City began, long before 2008 and onward.

          • Y.

            Thanks for keeping the discussion going.

            1. Sources. For pricing trends I have used Rent Jungle for rentals, and any of a number of sites (e.g. Trulia) for sales.
            Otherwise my main position is a lack of studies. Plenty of studies, as you say, correlating supply or zoning to pricing, but none that I know which rigorously compare whether demand changes or supply changes are what determines prices. I believe that at least in places like present-day SF, it’s the demand that determines pricing (i.e. what people are willing to pay), and that the housing vacancy rate does not affect it, and that therefore building more will not make housing more affordable.

            2. “the biggest beneficiaries of the current housing crunch have not been developers, but landlords and current homeowners”. In aggregate, people who’ve bought their houses long ago have made a lot of profit. That is true. However they are for the most part living in those houses. They cannot spend that profit unless they move away. The developers, on the other hand, are 100% profit-driven. That is their business. I am not begrudging anyone for having money. I am saying that big business—developers in this case—are the ones spending far more money on political influence, are far more successful at it, and are motivated to contribute as little as possible to the communities in which they build.

            3. “If we execute the vision of those who would deny market rate housing development, the people who would have occupied it will move into existing housing stock”—they will do that anyway. there’s plenty of people to be moved in. If we build enough for all the CEOs, the corporate lawyers will compete for what’s around. If we build enough for the corporate lawyers, middle managers will be in competition. If we build enough for the middle managers, programmers will be competing for what’s left. By the time we build enough for all the programmers, the lowliest techies making $100K/yr, we could start thinking about where to house the nurses and the teachers—except by then hundreds of thousands more 6-figure employees will have been hired.

          • Foginacan

            He doesn’t know the areas he’s naming include the most desegregated areas, including ones once full of upper middle class Black owned properties and another full of working class Asian immigrants.

          • Foginacan

            “Instead of integrating, the newly suburban whites again doubled down on exclusionary zoning.”

            Flat out bullshit. You moved here 3 years ago but many of us were here, and lived it. You couldn’t be more arrogant or wrong.

          • Foginacan

            “2/3 of the city’s land is zoned in a way that academics describe as “exclusionary””

            Foolish. 2/3 of the city’s land is now populated by families of all ethnicities. Picking on those communities is what’s racially motivated.

          • Don Sebastopol

            Zoning that prevents apartment development is a tool for segregation and exclusion? There are single family areas that have a very low percent of Whites: Vis Valley, Silver Terrace, Ingleside, Little Hollywood, Outer Mission, Crocker Amazon, Ocean View, Portola, Excelsior, Parkside, Outer Sunset. And there are areas with a very high percent of Whites that have apartments: Marina, Russian Hill, Pacific Heights, Cole Valley, Noe Valley, Eureka Valley, Haight Asbury, Mission Dolores, Hayes Valley, Russian Hill, North Beach. Most of the Richmond and Sunset is less than 50% White.

          • Don Sebastopol

            What is happening in the Mission is more replacement than displacement. Since 2010 there has been a decrease in the employed Latino population in the Mission. At the same time there has been an increase in the employed Latino population in the more affluent owner occupied single family west of twin peaks area, and an increase of Latinos in the gentrified area west of Valencia. The total number increase of Latinos in these two areas is greater than the number decrease in the Mission. Also, there has been an increase in employer African Americans in the Mission since 2010.

          • Don Sebastopol

            Displacement or replacement? People move all the time.

          • Foginacan

            We’re downplaying the circumstances of displacement now? It’s evident we’re discussing numbers of people who do not want to be replaced, and aren’t consenting to moving of their own first choice.

          • Don Sebastopol

            What numbers? In the Mission/Bernal zip code there were 40 Ellis or Owner move evictions last year 0.25% of all rentals. And we don’t know how many of them had to leave the Mission. Overall less than 1% of reasons for moving are because of evictions. I think the average time someone has lived in the Mission is 6 or 7 years. I would guess the prices discouraged some from moving to the Mission, however.

          • Foginacan

            You don’t believe displacement exists in the Mission?

            Evictions are down, and you’re countering the eviction map people, but what you’re not doing is debunking the great myth of gentrification, and displacement, or whatever it is you think.

          • Don Sebastopol

            I am saying the changes we see are more a matter of replacement than displacement. “Displacement” exists but not to the large degree advertised. Displacement is a small percent of the reasons for moving. And we don’t know the demographics of those “displaced.” For low income minorities there are studies showing less mobility in gentrifying areas compared to non-gentrifying areas. People want to stay in gentrifying areas and are willing to pay higher rents to remain, and gentrification brings jobs. At some point the prices may be to much and they move. But they are more likely to move from non-gentrifying areas. I have no doubt that rising prices keep lower income people from moving in. But that is not displacement. The eviction map people look at cumulative change over time. If you divide what ever measure the have by the number of years, the rates give a different picture. The Change has not been all that fast. At some point the cumulative change becomes more noticeable.

          • Foginacan

            When you’re done debunking displacement you can work on unraveling the faked Moon landing.

            Evictions are down, displacement is not, and we have no way to measure it’s effects. Describing this as a natural process of “replacement” is reads like a cheap attempt to sanitize what we all know is happening. Change has been fast, in addition to the cumulative changes, many of which are unnoticeable to newcomers who would love to think they merely “replaced” someone without consequences.

          • Don Sebastopol

            Show me the data. There is no need to sanitize something that does not need it. Change is constant. Gentrification is preferable to urban decay.

          • Foginacan

            The Mission was never in danger of urban decay so you need to find a better excuse for why you’re openly defending gentrification as you simultaneously deny a thriving populace getting displaced.

          • Don Sebastopol

            The Mission has been “gentrifying” for 40 years. The point was change is constant and one direction is better than the other. What thriving populace is getting “displaced.” What evidence is there of that?

          • Foginacan

            The Mission has not been gentrifying for 40 years, the Chicano community was growing in the 70’s, and the Lesbian and Feminist community, along with the crowd hanging out at Piccolo’s and the rest, were paced by new immigrants, many from Central America. You wouldn’t have driven down Mission Street in the 80’s unless you had to, so you have no place surveying it’s demographic history today. Denying the displacement is shameful.

          • Don Sebastopol

            Gentrification started west of Valencia in the 1970’s and worked its way east. There were pioneers east of Valencia in the 1970’s. There were also pioneers in the 1960’s I knew some of them. The numbers or percent was not all that noticeable. It was far from reaching a critical mass, but it was gentrification. There was a problem with gay bashing in the 1970’s and 1980’s so it was noticeable to some. I also recall news stories in the 1980’s about Latinos being displaced by gentrification. Then it was gays and “artists.”

            Regarding Latinos, they are following a typical migration pattern most ethnic groups experience. There is some “displacement” but most of what you see is replacement. More than 90% who move out of the Mission were not “displaced.”

            To maintain an ethnic community, you need a fresh supply of new blood. I am assuming the rising prices have had an effect on new migrants coming to the Mission, and social service agencies that serve them, but that is not the same thing as displacement.

            The Latino population has been increasing Citywide while the Mission Latino population has been in decline. Citywide, the largest percent increase in the Latino population, 64%, was from 1950 to 1960. There was also a large increase, 35% from 1960 to 1970. I recall all the new Taquerias and Central American restaurants opening up. The rate of increase has been dropping from 21% 1970 to 1980 to 11% from 2000 to 2010.

            If you look at the employed population in the Mission, between 2010 and 2014 the decline in the number employed Latinos was 264 or a 4.7% decline. At the same time there was an increase west of Valencia, (Mission Dolores and lower Noe Valley), of 154, 13% increase; and an increase upper middle class single family owner occupied area West of Twin Peaks, (Forest Hill, Forest Hill Extension, Miraloma Park, West Portal, Balboa & Ingleside Terraces), of 133 or 14%. So the increase in the number of Latinos in those two relatively affluent areas exceeds the decrease in the Mission.

            My grandmother lived in Bernal and I have been going to the Mission since the 1940’s. There was the foundation for a Latino community back then that attracted new migrants to the area. I also worked that the Mission Army Sears store in the early 1960’s. I have personally experienced the changes.

          • Foginacan

            I think you’re mistaking a decline in the Mission for a decline in the City. We’re talking about cultural enclaves, where statistics aren’t always telling. Been to Dios De Los Muertos lately?

            You’re more than a bit off on your timeline. A white high school teacher moving into the Mission in the 70’s isn’t exactly the gentrification we’re talking about. Theater Artaud, The Mime Troupe, again not gentrification, as they cherished and and nurtured the Chicano populations, and Latins, later on. There were still Italians and Irish holding down the Mission for most of the 70’s. The difference is we’re talking about working class peoples being pushed out, and displaced.

            You’re right that many people moved from the Mission into other areas, but new groups of immigrants replaced them, and the communities showed greater division.

          • Don Sebastopol

            There was an increase the Latino population citywide at the same time there was a decline in the Mission. The Latino population is still increasing citywide but at a slower rate.
            Cultural enclaves require a steady supply of new blood. Just like Italian and Irish cultural enclaves they eventually assimilate and are replaced. I can recall when the Excelsior was mostly Italian. My parents were married and I was christened at the Norwegian Lutheran Church at 19th and Dolores. The Swedish social clubs met above Du Nord Café. The Scandinavian cultural enclave in Upper Market has disappeared. So will the Latino enclave.

            Working class and Latino are not necessarily the same issue. A teacher moving to the Mission in the 1970’s does represent gentrification. By 1970 most working class jobs had left San Francisco and middle-class jobs left soon after. As young educated people flocked to SF, employers with high paying jobs followed. That too was mostly replacement not “displacement.”
            Keeping the few remaining blue collar jobs in the City will be a struggle. Condos are replacing manufacturing, etc.

          • Foginacan

            An increase in a city demographic does not answer a communities displacement concerns in one area.

            There’s a difference between Scandinavian communities dwindling and Chicano/Latin communities being marginalized, as they’re vocally asking to stay, and want to remain in place.

            Working class jobs didn’t leave the City by 1970. That’s patently absurd. The shipyards ran until the mid 70’s, when they were privatized and still operational another decade after that.

            Young educated people flocking to San Francisco – that’s recent.

            I agree manufacturing will be limited, as it moves to South City, but I disagree with your limited concept of what the working class means.

          • Don Sebastopol

            Because some are vocal does not mean most want to stay. Most who leave, chose to leave for a variety of reasons and were not displaced.
            I think the average Mission resident has been there 6 or 7 years. There are some in my neighborhood who were raised in the Mission. They went to college and were upwardly mobile. For some, their parents also moved out of he Mission as their incomes grew. What you may see in the future is some upper middle-class Hispanics moving back to the Mission because it has become gentrified but still has a Latino flavor
            .
            Most working class jobs were gone by the 1970’s. Some such as shipyard and Slage lock left soon after. Defense related industries were closing everywhere. I was in the workforce development business during the stagflation of the 1970’s. I recall job riots. I think I found some old newspaper stories from he mid-70’s where Eunice Elton with the Mayor’s Office of Employment and Training commenting on the decline of working class jobs; that most were gone by 1970. I will try to find it.

            The baby boomers that came to SF in the 1960’s were on average better educated and talented than those already here. I recall 30 years ago many waiters were law school graduates or MBAs waiting break into the job market. It was that talent pool that attracted employers with high-paying jobs. I recall non-profit agencies able to get highly skilled workers for what the could afford to pay.

            Most would define working-class as blue collar, but I would also include white collar clerical processing jobs such as those Fireman’s Fund had. Much of the blue collar workers were skilled blue collar and paid union wages. So they were by some definitions also middle-class.

          • curiousKulak

            It seems to me that in the re/dis-placement debate, that one must factor in the reluctantance to want to move caused by the DECREASE in housing costs for those that choose to remain. Prop 13 & RC have the effect of keeping people in place – even when other factors might urge them to move.

            Don – many of the good-paying working class jobs moved – and those employed went with them. The Boomers came in the 70s & 80s when the population was at it lowest since pre-WW2. They outbid families wanting those 3 & 4 BR apts by combining as ‘roommates’ to pay higher rents than a single wage-earner could afford. Do you remember a court or legis decision to declare non-family residents sharing space in a flat OK? Late 60’s maybe?

          • Don Sebastopol

            Yes I understand the RC and Prop 13 keeps people in place who might would otherwise move. I believe that has the effect of keeping market prices higher. I also know those who moved out of the City but maintain their City homes as a pied-a-terre. That includes some who purchased BMR units.

            Not only did working class jobs leave but so did middleclass jobs leave. Over the years some of my neighbors moved when their jobs moved; Fireman’s Fund, BofA, Chevron, Pac Bell, and others. Those close to retirement or with and employed spouse in the City stayed. Those that did sell their SF house could afford a newer larger home with more land. They found better schools, better weather, and less crime. Many are happy they moved.

            Young people started to come to SF in the 1960’s and have not stopped coming. SF has the highest percent of young adults compared to most other cities. I recall they shared homes that could have housed families and created a demand for in-law units. I recall the law that up to 5 unrelated individuals could share a single family home. Building condos on the East Side has helped making more homes available for families with children on the West Side. Some of those in-law units are now being incorporated into the main house for families with children. A little more development could help even more, assuming young people continue to come. Millennials are aging. As their incomes and families grow I assume they will be looking for single family homes.

          • Foginacan

            The middle class haven’t left just yet.

          • Don Sebastopol

            I agree the middle class is still with us. But the long-term trend has been toward the upper middle class. No one is arguing absolutes.

          • Foginacan

            “Prop 13 & RC have the effect of keeping people in place”

            Why do people use this to present as a negative argument? It’s not. Moving is disruptive, it stops communities from forming, and forms an instability that does not benefit anyone. Keeping people in their homes is the benefit of those laws. The trade of is when it’s time to move, there are challenges adjusting, but that’s preferable to a forced financial move.

          • Foginacan

            You sound like you’re rationalizing what’s happening. You’re assuming people want to leave. Some do, but more don’t and more don’t want to see the identity of an ethnic enclave change – and we’re not just talking Chicano/Latin. The Mission is losing the Italian and Irishness that was left over too.

            You’re incorrect about working class jobs and your timeline. In the case of the shipyards, you’re verifiably wrong. Plenty of union jobs, plenty of hard laborers, plenty of lower income families still living modest middle class lives.

          • Don Sebastopol

            Want to leave may be the wrong choice of words. It is choose to leave for a variety of reasons including finding desirable or suitable housing at a price one is able or willing to pay. But that is not the same thing as “displacement.” I am sure many would like to stay. Many, including lower-income, are willing to pay more to stay because gentrification improves the neighborhood, and are able to stay because of the jobs gentrification provides. See curiousKulak’s below regarding Rent Control and the movement of working class jobs.

            The shipyard jobs are no more and the navy housing was turned into public housing. Defense related jobs left the Bay Area and military bases have closed. I don’t know of anyone who would argue that is not true.
            Regarding Working class jobs, they have disappeared over time and have been replaced by other jobs. It is not an absolute, it is a trend over time. Manufacturing jobs have been declining over the years. They are still here but in much lower numbers and as a percent of total jobs. Look at this blog to see the discussions about maintaining PDR zoning. Fifty years ago South of Market was mostly PDR and today it is Financial District South.

            Lower income and middleclass families are still with us. But again it is not an absolute but a trend over time. The whole discussion on this blog involves gentrification and the loss of the working and middleclass. Over the years lower-skilled lower-paid jobs have been replaced by higher-skilled higher-paid jobs. Those with higher paid jobs can pay more for rent. Employers with jobs for high school graduates have been leaving the City and are being replaced by employers with jobs for college graduates. That is clearly a trend.

          • Foginacan

            Your timeline is still off, and there are people out there who want to stay in the Mission, and have been in the City for more than one generation, finding it a challenge as gentrification has creeped into their area. You mentioned the corridor near Army, and that’s a fine example of what I mean. I don’t think we should discredit that the fight at hand is a large group of people who will not find their lives bettered, it will be total upheaval for them. It really doesn’t matter if it’s part of a trend or not especially if astroturf groups are pretending they’re going to fight for their equitable rights, like SPUR did.

        • Don Sebastopol

          Feeling insecure is the issue. How long have you lived in the Mission?

    • Don Sebastopol

      Displacement or replacement? There were very few Ellis and Owner Move-in evictions last year. I think the average resident has been there 6 or 7 years. People move all the time.

      • Andy M

        I would expand the definition of displacement to include people who move out of their existing home and are unable to secure similar housing in the same area and as a result have to move to a new area (sometimes in the same city, sometimes outside) due to price increases.

        • Don Sebastopol

          I would think the reason for moving would be the definition. Less than 1% move because they are evicted. For low-income 10% move for cheaper housing and 4% for less crime. For high-income 17% move for better housing.

      • curiousKulak

        I know this is not a San Francisco-only problem. But it is exasperated by rent control and Prop 13. I wonder if studies have been done of other cities; and if dis/replacement is lesser.

        When peoples costs are artificially depressed, that changes the dis/replace equation. People certainly move for different reasons – job, marriage partner, family issues, weather, crime, commute etc. But when you make it harder to move – due to low costs to stay – that stagnation impacts other people who want/need to move in.

        The reason I came to SF 40+ yrs ago is still here (and will likely continue). I could stay under current circumstances, but might consider a move if not for Prop 13 (and RC). While almost exclusive a source 40 yrs ago, SF is but one of a number of sources now, and many other places are cheaper (if not as solidly sourced as SF). But those favorable numbers just add to the incentive to not move. That, plus the water here is pretty damn good!

        • Don Sebastopol

          I do recall reading studies that RC causes hording. That without it many would move and that would increase the supply and reduce the market price. Maybe something similar happens with Prop 13 although one can downsize and keep their Prop 13 taxes. In both cases there are some who maintain their SF home or unit as a pied-a-terre they would otherwise not be able to afford.

  • seriously

    When will that apartment be available, I’m ready to Pak.

  • Karl Young

    Hey Tim, whaddya mean: “It’s a good thing nobody pays attention to the Chronicle’s endorsements…” – anti slate cards can be as useful as slate cards.

  • John

    She was a terrible, evil person.

  • AhmadChalabisFoRealz

    Peskin initially approved Millennium Tower. Spread the word. And All Praise.

    • Do Something Nice

      He did, based upon the EIR, which doesn’t include any details about the engineering and anchoring the building in bedrock.

      The BOS do not routinely examine every aspect of how a structure is going to built, and they shouldn’t have to.

      • jhayes362

        This is true, and the Chronicle playing this up based on “people are talking” (you know, the Donald Trump basis for facts) shows just how much our daily rag is slipping.

  • seriously

    We can all bitch here, but I think I am going to follow Kamala’s lead, f•¤k Willie, Pak my designer bags, dawn my Vera Wang and become his worse nightmare!

  • goblue72

    Thank god nobody takes 48Hills endorsements seriously.

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