By Tom Temprano
This Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting had to be the most cramped and uncomfortable place I’ve been in stuck for five hours since I was seated in a non-reclining middle seat on an SFO to JFK red eye two years ago.
I’ll start with my frustration over the vote on Supervisor David Campos’ Ellis Act relocation fee increase. His proposal, which would require the relocation costs paid by landlords compensate evicted tenants for the difference between their rent the market rate for their unit for two years, while major, should have been next to impossible to derail, given that nearly every non-Republican in this city has been forced, oftentimes against their will, to jump on the anti-Ellis Act bandwagon.
During the supervisors’ commentary, it even seemed as if Supervisor Scott Wiener was supportive of the legislation, and that this much-needed disincentive for would-be speculators to kick out long-term residents would get passed as quickly as it ought to.
But then Supervisor London Breed launched into what at first seemed like a well-intentioned defense of elderly African-American landlords who couldn’t afford the fees if they hoped to retire, but ultimately snowballed into enough of a hypothetical speculator defense mishmash that the legislation, which should have had the votes to pass, got continued for further nebulous hypothetical discussion.
Congratulations on the board bumbling desperately needed legislation on what should have boiled down to the straight-forward argument set forth by Supervisor Jane Kim: This legislation doesn’t prevent property owners from selling their property and making a profit – it prevents speculators from kicking tenants out of their homes to sell a property to make an even greater profit. It’s greed deterrent in a city that could use a whole lot less greed right now.
After that debacle, the ensuing hours-long tit-for-tat over the CEQA appeal of the SFMTA’s shuttle bus program, which I’ve spent plenty of time bemoaning ($1 DOLLAR!?), was pretty unbearable. Tim Redmond has already done a great job summarizing the numerous angles and arguments from the hearing – check his piece out for all the juiciest details. Despite the 8-2 vote, on which only Supervisors Campos and John Avalos came out on the side of a fair process, this hearing provided exactly what was missing from the entirety of the SFMTA’s process: an opportunity for real community input.
From 5pm until after 10pm at night, members of the community on both sides of the issue lined up and were given a chance to share their feelings on the buses that have become a symbol of a changing city here in SF, and the people who represent them were forced to listen. While closed-door negotiations and handshake deals may have forged this program, at least Tuesday’s meeting gave the public a long overdue opportunity to have their say.
This year I’ll be heading down to Ventura to celebrate my 10-year high school reunion, and while my schooldays seem ages ago, I remember many instance of bullying I was subjected to as an out gay student as if they were yesterday. I was a pretty brazen 16-year-old, donning glittery eye shadow and owning a notoriously loud mouth, but was fortunate to have supportive parents, friends and many teachers to make sure I got through relatively unscathed.
Unfortunately, ten years later and hundreds of miles north in the nation’s queer capital, LGBT students, particularly transgender students, in San Francisco face the same sort of bullying that their peers in far more conservative parts of the country are subject to. The School District has taken strong steps to address the issue, but there’s still work to be done.
San Franciscans are going to have an opportunity to elect a leader who can lead by historic example when they vote for the newest crop of members who will make up the Board of Education this fall. Jamie Rafael-Wolfe, a friend of mine, could become the first-ever transgender member of our city’s school board. Transgender students are some of the most marginalized voices in our school system and I hope that the voters see fit to give them a strong voice at the table.
I’m a sucker for a big-budget action flick, particularly an apocalyptic, so rather than seeing the new Muppets movie this past Sunday, I was goaded into an evening showing of the greatest end-of-days story of all time, Noah. Now, I’ll admit that my biblical knowledge is rusty at best, but I’m almost certain that in no verse, chapter or tome were angels trapped in the bodies of giant transformers responsible for building the arc. Unless, of course, Michael Bay wrote a sequel to the Bible and I missed it because it went straight to video.
The only thing more irritating than the Transformangels was the final 30 minutes of the film, when we had to watch Russell Crowe abuse his family and grapple with his inclination toward infanticide. If you have to watch a movie in theatres about someone with absolutely zero nurturing instincts, go with Miss Piggy instead.
TOM’S TOP TWO THINGS TO DO THIS WEEKEND
1) Oldies Night. Friday from 9pm-2am at the Knockout.
Don’t miss one of San Francisco’s sweatiest 60’s soul parties at it’s regular bi-weekly showing at the Knockout. This one is inexplicably marshmallow themed which makes me love lead DJ Primo even more. It is also the perfect pre-party to the following day’s Hard French/Honey Soundystem soul extravaganza.
2) SF Entertainment Commission Annual Nightlife Summit. Monday from 1pm-4pm at the San Francisco Public Library.
Granted this isn’t a weekend party, but it is a place that all the people that throw parties on the weekends (and weeks) out to be. The SF Entertainment Commission has worked hard to make this city the nightlife capital it is today and here’s your chance to affect and learn about the policy that makes the parties.