By Tim Redmond
Wouldn’t it be crazy if Bevan Dufty, who has redeemed himself somewhat among progressives as the mayor’s homeless services coordinator, decided to run for District 8 supervisor against Scott Wiener – with the support of the left? It’s no secret that Dufty’s frustrated with Wiener, and that the progressives would love to see a candidate who had a chance of ousting the powerful incumbent. Tongues at City Hall are wagging …. Dufty got in a bit of a zinger at the recent gala luncheon of Equality California, when he announced that the LGBT group ought to be taking an active, immediate role in supporting David Campos against David Chiu for Assembly …. Now that the polls show that Tom Ammiano is the strongest candidate against Mayor Ed Lee, there’s another prospect floating around: What if Ammiano ran for the state Senate seat Mark Leno will have to vacate in 2016 – against Wiener?… Tony Kelly, who narrowly lost in District 10 to Malia Cohen, hasn’t announced that he’s running again, but I’d be shocked if he didn’t. Cohen hasn’t been great on land-use issues, the district’s going to be ground zero for the next wave of housing and development battles, and a lot of progressives who could have come on stronger for Kelly last time around are wishing they had, and ready to make amends …
THE DEFINING ISSUE for the next year in local politics will be evictions and displacement, much as gentrification and overdevelopment was when Willie Brown lost his power and almost all of his candidates were defeated in 2000. Mayor Ed Lee isn’t caught up in Brown’s arrogance; he was there back then and learned the lesson. So he’s talking about the Ellis Act and holding emergency meetings on housing and development and trying to do what Brown never had any interest in doing: He’s looking for some form of community consensus. …
And he needs to, because, as the SF BizTimes notes in last week’s cover story, the mayor’s legacy project, the Warriors’ arena, is among the projects that are in the crosshairs as neighborhood activists and angry renters join together to oppose pretty much anything that reeks of wealth and power. Gabriel Metcalf at SPUR is holding meetings, too, trying to figure out something that will undermine the anti-development politics in a city where the “jobs” agenda isn’t selling any more and residents care more about getting evicted than getting a paycheck…..
It appears the world of the technology and development titans are getting the message – the people of this city are in revolt – and are trying to figure out what to do. Here’s the palpable fear, from a BizTimes editorial:
More than a decade ago, in the throes before the dot-com boom turned to bust and dust. History, it seems, is repeating itself, as we detail this week.
Then as now, an influx of tech companies and well-heeled tech workforces wishing to live in the city laid bare San Francisco’s structural housing imbalance between supply and demand. Then as now, a residential and commercial real estate industry was eager to ride a lucrative wave of surging prices and rents. Both took far too little notice of the rising discontent around them. Rather, there was an implicit faith that a business-friendly mayor would be able to keep the backlash at bay.
We know how this turned out: The stew of anger over perceived displacement, unshared prosperity, the arrogance of the arrivistes and a government that didn’t seem to much care about it boiled over at the polls in November 2000. It swept into power Chris Daly, Aaron Peskin, and a similar cohort who wore on their sleeves a hostility to virtually anything associated with job growth and prosperity. They spent most of the next decade squelching development, harassing residential landlords, obstructing home ownership and turning the back of their hand to business any time the opportunity presented itself.
The horror. So what does the BizTimes suggest? Well, there’s this:
The time for grand gestures may have arrived: What if, just as a for instance, Twitter were to volunteer to forgo its Mid-Market tax break for a year to divert that money toward affordable housing? What if Google, whose interests have rippled from solar power to robotics, discovered in itself an equally serious interest in housing? How much would something like that change the debate?
Maybe a little. But the evictions would continue, and with them the backlash.
Is there another approach for the Hated Class? Probably nothing that will work, because there’s too much solidarity in the landlord/developer/tech VC class. But there’s a way the techies and the developers could make a huge impact: All they have to do is sign on with the tenant movement, bring along the Building Trades and raise about $50 million and go to Sacramento and make it clear that the Ellis Act and Costa Hawkins have to be repealed, either by the Legislature or by an exceptionally well-funded ballot measure. …. That would do more for the image of the tech industry than a thousand private-lunch strategy sessions.
Would the commercial real-estate and tech class stand up to the residential landlord class and make it possible for San Francisco to have effective rent control (including rent controls on vacant apartments) and eviction controls – if it meant ending the Housing Wars and securing San Francisco for future profits? Now THAT would be a legacy Ed Lee could be proud of.