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Thursday, October 28, 2021

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UncategorizedAt 16th and Mission, collective housing must go --...

At 16th and Mission, collective housing must go — but tech offices can stay?

Mission landlord wants to evict Station 40 — but he’s got a tech office in the same building, which is not zoned for office use

It's not a yoga studio, which would be legal at 3030 16th St. It's a tech office -- and that's a different story
It’s not a yoga studio, which would be legal at 3030 16th St. It’s a tech office — and that’s a different story

By Tim Redmond

MARCH 12, 2015 — Walk a few feet up 16th Street from Mission, and there’s a door with a sign reading “Station 40.” It has a makeshift bell: You have to pull on a rope, and an old-fashioned clanger rings manually on the second floor.

The stairs are a bit dilapidated, and the walls are covered with political posters. At the top is a large, comfortable open space with a kitchen, couches, a movie screen and a table that seats most of the 12 people who are living there. The tenants built it all — and now they’re facing eviction. The property owner says their lease doesn’t allow residential use.

Next door, there’s a gate with a more traditional electronic bell, and through the bars, you can see a clean, modern staircase with nice lighting. There is no sign on the door, no marking to show the occupants. A logo for an old Yoga studio is painted on the wall — but it’s not a studio any more.  It’s a tech office.

That’s right: There’s a tech office on the second floor of a building at 16th and Mission. The company is called Assembly, and from the windows of Station 40 you can see the workers sitting outside on an interior balcony on a sunny day.

It’s about as deep an historic and political irony as you can get in the Mission in 2015: A landlord wants to evict a collective household on the grounds that people aren’t supposed to be living in the space that they have lived in for a decade – while in the same building, he has rented space to a tech company that, under city zoning rules, clearly isn’t supposed to be there.

The building at 3030 16th Street is zoned Neighborhood Commercial. You can see that on the city’s zoning map. And NC districts don’t allow general office space.

Here’s how Gina Simi, a spokesperson for the Planning Department, puts it:

All office uses permitted in NC districts are service-based (i.e. medical service, financial service, professional service, etc.). General office space, which provides no service and is not open to the public, is not permitted in any NC districts at this time, with the lone exception of Administrative Service. However, that use is only permitted by CU, and only in certain NC districts.

In other words:  a yoga studio was fine. A chiropracter’s office might be okay. But not a tech office.

“All office use in Neighborhood Commercial is supposed to be neighborhood-serving,” Sue Hestor, a lawyer and one of the city’s leading experts on land use, told me. “If it’s not open to the public it’s not allowed.”

The building is owned by Jolish Limited Partnership, which records show is owned by Ahuva and Emanuel Jolish. The Jolish family, which includes son Barak and his wife Taly, own a considerable amount of property in the Mission.

The family owns not only 3030 16th but a building that is contiguous; at one point, the properties, described as rented to “commercial tenants,” was listed for sale. The description called it a “prime residential development site” with $400,000 a year in gross income. “Ground zero for the vibrant Mission District,” the listing said.

Barak and Taly Jolish are part owners of Urban Putt, an indoor mini-golf place on South Van Ness. The family owns a building on Castro Street, a couple of parcels on 24th Street, and the building on 9th Avenue that used to house Craiglist.

In other words, they aren’t small-time landlords depending on one building for survival. This is, by all outward appearances, a wealthy family.

Emanuel Jolish isn’t a big player in local politics. City records show that over the past decade, he’s given money to Gavin Newsom for Mayor, Rob Black for Supervisor, and Ross Mirkarimi for Sheriff. Mirkarimi told me he has no idea who Jolish is.

I have had an exchange of emails with Jolish, who at first agreed to meet with me to discuss the eviction and his plans for the building but then told me that after talking to his lawyer he would have nothing to say.

“It is too bad because I have so much to share with you,” he said.

When I sent a final email asking him to explain why there was a tech office in his building, he called and told me that he wouldn’t talk about that. Instead, he asked me to be “a positive person” and help look for a solution.

“I am willing to mediate,” he said. “We have been talking since last September.” I asked him why he served an eviction notice on the tenants, and he said he couldn’t discuss it. I asked him if he would consider selling the building to the SF Land Trust and he said he was open to any “solution.”

I asked if there was a solution that would allow the current tenants to stay, and he told me that he had an open mind.

I asked again: Am I wrong, or is there a tech office in a place that is zoned for residences and neighborhood services? He told me I wasn’t being positive.

Cindy Milstein, one of the members of Station 40, told me that Jolish had met with the group last year and offered a one-year lease that would specifically not allow residential use. Then his son, Barak, sent them a legal document that would have allowed an immediate eviction after one year, with no right to protest. There was no way the tenants were going to sign that.

The old: this is what the space looked like when Station 40 rented it more than a decade ago
The old: this is what the space looked like when Station 40 rented it more than a decade ago

The new: This is what it looks like today
The new: This is what it looks like today

I recently visited Station 40 and sat down with a few of the residents. The place felt like old home to me: I’ve been involved in left/radical politics for as long as I’ve been in San Francisco, and when I arrived in 1982, there were lots of places like this.

The original residents moved in more than a decade ago, and took over a badly trashed space. They cleaned it up, installed kitchen facilities, built out bedrooms, put in plumbing, and turned in, over time, into a nice, habitable place.

The members of the collective work in the Mission; several are part of the Rainbow Grocery Collective. They are multi-ethnic and gender-queer. There’s a shelf full of anarchist literature. Food Not Bombs cooks in the well-appointed and spacious kitchen.

They all chip in for rent and food. The meet once a week to talk politics and space management. Many have been there for years. It’s not just a house; it’s a family.
“You can be who you are here,” Milstein told me.

In fact, the thing they most fear from the eviction is getting split up. There’s nowhere in San Francisco that people who work in the retail and service industry and pay between $185 a month (for a loft) to $600 a month (for a private room) could possible find a new communal space like this.

“We won’t even be able to stay in the region,” Milstein told me.

No: If Station 40 is evicted, it will be gone, its members scattered to the four winds. “What, I’m going to work at Rainbow and commute from Stockton?” one member asked.

The place got its name from an old Post Office that used to be on the site. It’s not just a residence, it’s a community space; political events and meetings are held there all the time.

I suspect that the landlord was happy to get the rent in the past for a space that wasn’t worth much. But now that a major developer is planning a huge gentrifying project across the street, the land values are going up.

Like so many similar spaces in the city, Station 40 would no doubt have some work to do to bring the place up to current building codes for residences. But that’s not impossible at all: When you see what the tenants have already done, and how committed they are to the place, improvements aren’t likely to be a problem.

And the place is zoned for residential use. Which makes the idea of the tenants staying less problematic legally than the continued use of another part of the building as tech offices.

A nice clean kitchen an homage to an old post office
A nice clean kitchen an homage to an old post office


About Assembly: When the Station 40 folks told me there was a tech office next door, I was curious. I didn’t think local zoning allowed that, and when I checked, it turns out I was right.

But I wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing something, so I went to the Assembly website and looked for an address or a phone number. Tech companies are, in general, terrible about dealing with the news media, and this one is no exception: there is no phone number, no contact person, only a random “contact us” email that was never answered.

All I wanted to know is the company’s address.

But I am, of course, an investigative reporter, so I rode my bike to 16th and Mission and rang the bell. A young man wearing an “Assembly” T-shirt answered. He didn’t open the door; we talked through the gate.

I asked if that was the office of Assembly. He confirmed that it was. I asked what floor the company was on; he confirmed it was the second floor. I asked what kind of lease they had, how many workers, what the space was like. He told me he couldn’t answer those questions.

Fair enough; he apparently wasn’t a company officer or spokesperson. I left my card and asked if someone could call or email me. Nobody did.

For the record: This can’t be a “neighborhood-serving” business. Nobody in the neighborhood would have any way to know where to find it – and the staff won’t even open the gate to talk to a reporter.


There used to be space for places like Station 40 in San Francisco. They were part of the city’s radical underground anti-authoritarian culture. It’s really sad to think that they have to leave to make way for our money-driven future.

Jolish says he wants to negotiate, and there’s an excellent option on the table. The San Francisco Community Land Trust and the Mission Economic Development Agency have told Jolish they want to buy the building and use it for affordable housing. The current tenants could stay (all of them would qualify for below-market-rate dwellings); maybe Station 40 could be part of the project. And MEDA and the Land Trust could create at least 100more low-income units.

Jolish told me that he’d met with them, and “we had a positive discussion.” So let’s take a page from Emanuel Jolish and think positive.

I suspect the only way that’s going to work, though, is if he withdraws the eviction papers and agrees to let Station 40 stay, as it is, while all of this is worked out, and accepts that the end game has to involve the collective, as residential tenants, for the long term.

That’s not so hard. Shouldn’t be, anyway.


Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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  1. The trend is that Asians are moving in and displacing blacks and Latinos. And the old anti-Asian racist screeds are making their rounds again, but this time dressed up in blackface. Disgusting.

  2. Gary, you’ve admitted that you and your husband/partner are successful and part of that success is because you live in a rent controlled apt. It’s allowed you to retire early and your partner and you to own a place in Spain. You are the epitome of success. So, would you also place yourself in “We need special jails for people you call successful.” ? Really?

  3. White privilege? It’s better to be non-white in America these days, because that gives you a card to play

  4. The gays in the Castro ARE white. The Castro is the most white neighborhood in SF.

    The only differences between the displacers and the displacees are sexual orientation and affluence – the gays were more affluent.

    But it was a white-on-white displacement.

  5. I tried to look at SF Streets blog but it’s awful. It’s owned by a far left nut who writes a lot of grants so he can get big bucks and also asks for donations, a total hates capitalism but is a zillionaire hypocrite just like SFist. I’m also wondering if Batey (SFA) is a trust funder like Rebecca Solnit & her activist (user of women) brother is (David Solnit).

    Link below is to the sfstreets owner


  6. Rentier he does a great job of searing criticism of the left. Popcorn? I agree with a lot of what he says too. The left sux & is sucking our town dry. The critics of the left even when they are from the left are worth listening to.

  7. I definitely want the market to have it’s way with losers like Sonja Trauss, who moved here only 3 years ago from Philly. She needs to go back where she came from. Same with Erin. Both are back east losers who are famewhores.

  8. ” It was initially a working-class Irish neighborhood until a combination of factory jobs loss and the migration of gays into The Castro radically changed the neighborhood in the 1960s.”


    I can’t believe some idiot on this thread keeps saying it wasn’t Irish. I had family in the Eureka Valley/Castro area.

    Stop it, you’re just a johnny-come-lately who doesn’t want to admit that you displaced my family from there! But you did! And, IDC either, really.

    Eventually the Castro LGBTQ will be displaced too, there’s not enough younger people that can afford to live in SF. That is the way it goes. The Castro will change too. Everything in SF does.

  9. Before anyone can pretend that Station 40 has been some kind of bastion of resistance to gentrification in the Mission…

    The self-styled “anticapitalist community events and organizing space” Station 40 is located on 16th Street near Mission Street, across 16th from the BART Plaza, at the virtual ground zero of today’s tech-boom-fueled galloping ruin of San Francisco’s once predominantly working class Mission District. Over an almost two year long period, from 2010 and 2011 and into 2012, I tried to get the “crew” at this self-styled “anti-capitalist” subcultural identity space to either let me organize or themselves organize a meeting about the then-accelerating gentrification of SF’s Mission District. In a fight against gentrification timing is everything and trying to get something rolling at an early point was going to be crucial. The Station 40 people hemmed and hawed and eventually Station 40’s perpetually sanctimonious Cindy Milstein told me to my face that the Station 40 “crew” were not interested in hosting or organizing a meeting about the gentrification of San Francisco’s Mission District.

    “We’ve hosted and/or organized hundreds of anticapitalist-oriented events, including fund-raisers, critical discussions, film screenings and performances, assemblies, book releases, art shows and workshops, and indie media projects, contributing to the rebel spirit of the Bay Area,” says Station 40’s Hanna Quevedo, in a statement that can be seen here:
    https://www.indybay.org/ newsitems/2015/03/02/18769420. php

    “Hundreds of meetings” at Station 40 — but not a single public meeting at Station 40 about the main impact that the capitalist system was having on the neighborhood where Station 40 is physically situated. By public meeting, I meant a discussion open to working and low-income people in the neighborhood at large, with the location and date of the meeting on flyers posted on walls and phone poles that are impossible to miss throughout the neighborhood, and not just another navel-gazing subculture event attended by the usual ruck and run of sluggish scenesters and passive consumers of spiky dogmas.

    Now Station 40 has been served with an eviction notice by the landlord of the property, and Station 40 is falling victim to the larger social forces that the Station 40 people were too self-absorbed, timid, or a-political to help oppose at a much earlier phase of the problem. Boo-hoo-hoo: as ye sow, so shall ye weep. For a sustained period of several years the people at Station 40 were indifferent to the escalating negative changes in the neighborhood while continually proclaiming themselves to be uncompromising enemies of the capitalist system. Station 40 was a safe space for people who like to pose as dangerous subversives without being willing to inconvenience themselves in any way. And now, in various public statements, people involved with Station 40 and their friends are engaged in shameless lying about their wholly imaginary resistance to gentrification, and, of course, all this is in the context of what great rebels against the social order they fantasize themselves to be.

    It is an objective and undeniable fact that from 2010 through mid-2013 the Station 40 crowd were unwilling to host or organize even a single public meeting that would be open to working class grown-ups in the neighborhood at large. A few slumming hipsters hiding in an alternative scene rabbit warren and slurping forties while grumbling about the yuppies is not a credible real world response to the problem. And a handful of the exact same extremely small number of people who always show up at easily ignored housing protests in San Francisco showing up at a press conference for Station 40 on the BART Plaza on March 2nd doesn’t constitute any real outpouring of community support. Rather it drives home the fact that Station 40 has been an irrelevant and easily ignored left-liberal fringe phenomena.

    No one can pretend that the Station 40 crowd helped defend the overall working class character of San Francisco’s Mission District. Working people and renters in the Mission owe the scenesters at Station 40 the same indifference that Station 40 has shown the Mission District. This “anticapitalist” social center has had a long-term passively parasitic relationship to the Mission and the disappearance of Station 40 will not be a loss for working people and renters in San Francisco’s Mission District.

  10. It gets worse too, Rich Lieberman’s 415Media blog…what a mess. And the guy is a sensitive, closeted loon.

  11. Yes, it’s capitalist. It certainly socialist, yet. The AirBnB bs the BoS wants and is getting is bs, the high taxes are socialist. The Democrats aren’t even democrats anymore, they’re socialists, and that is why there is going to be and IS a giant push back against the left in SF and it’s going to continue until we finally kill the beast, right here, in the heart of the beast. And my family has waited a LONG TIME for this. It’s like we’ve been under siege from the soviets.

  12. “Propelled by the great migration to the suburbs during the 1950s”

    Uh huh. They jumped, they were not pushed.

    Homesteading is not building a neighborhood, it is homesteading sporadic homes around farms.

  13. I don’t take seriously losers who can’t make it in San Francisco, even with white privilege, to remedy matters for others who are at risk.

  14. 48’s target constituency is the fifty-plus boomer ex-hippie liberals. Marke writes like he is 17 years old. Problem right there.

    Batey is beyond clueless but I guess she gets paid enough that she has long since given up on any credibility she thought she might one day have.

  15. Thankfully Marke isn’t writing much for 48 anymore. Marke is the epitome of censorious, and if he gets his way this place will die just as SFist & ML have floundered and are dying, or become like SFAppeal – no readers at all. I don’t understand how all 3 are afloat, but I think that ML gets some kind of money from UCB, SFist get the VC money of the IST empire, and that is funded by his Angel Investors, and SFAppeal gets money by advertisers allegedly but I seriously doubt it now. Literally no one reads it and Eve Batey still works for SFist, so who knows how long SFA will last or even Batey’s stint in SF.

  16. If you don’t own it it’s not yours to begin with. That’s capitalism. You are renting. Renters are not owner of their homes. Possibly the SFBA. And an old hippie you are welcome to stay but the city of SF is changing. Change or get evicted.

  17. Noelle, we have the system that the majority want. Unfettered capitalism is no more possible than unfettered communism. But the fact that people generally try and flee communist nations and migrate to capitalist nations should tell you all you need to know

  18. True, Guest. I think the two worst local sites for anal-retentive over-moderation are SFist and SFstreetsblog. Both ideological dead-ends.

    Hoodline and Bold Italic are barely moderated at all, but not really political.

    SFBG (under Redmond) and 48Hills strike a delicate balance, removing spam and egregious hate speech but otherwise letting things flow.

    Although I’ve noticed some odd things going on with “security” here, and suspect Marke is testing some things out. Easily circumvented though – he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed.

  19. I don’t understand why both little d and jim don’t depart for the echo chambers that have been listed previously.

    As it is, Socketsite gets a LOT of hits because the commenters have a free-for-all there. It’s pretty highly rated as a site because there is no moderation (a la hoodline) and it’s not an echo chamber.

  20. Yes, displaced by crime. Because no one wants to live around gangbangers shooting each other. Thankfully, the trustfunder left is being priced out as well as the gangbangers.


    “Propelled by the great migration to the suburbs during the 1950s, a new group of of migrants were attracted by the Victorian houses of the Eureka Valley: white-collar gay men and gay couples with money. In the late In the late 1960s and into the 1970s this gay influx gave the blue-collar Eureka Valley neighborhood, in the vicinity of Castro and 18th streets, a new social identity.”

    Same link as above!

  22. Jesse, crimes correlates near perfectly with the percentage of blacks and Hispanics in an area.

    So yes, it is common for white flight to be driven by increasing crime rates brought about by adverse demographic changes

  23. “That is capitalism” is the most pathetic justification for forcing people out of their home. We don’t have unfettered captialism in this country, and we should not.

  24. “displaced by crime” ahahahaha this is the funniest thing I’ve read all week. I would say heard, but I watched Billy Madison last night, so this is the funniest thing I’ve read.

    “displaced by crime” hahahahah, you are missing so many steps in between that it’s laughable.

    No one was “displaced” by crime. You’re confusing symptom with chronology and causation. Stop being an apologist for a racism-based conception of law and order.

  25. He who pedantically nitpicks semantics instead of engaging the topic is admitting that he has lost that debate

  26. LOL, Guest, you don’t like the characterization of the people in the Castro before gays, as straights?

  27. poor straight whites, who were then displaced by more affluent gay whites.

    Source for this unsubstantiated assertion?

  28. His point stands – Eureka Valley was built by poor straight whites, who were then displaced by more affluent gay whites.

    Not sure why you dragged Christianity into things

  29. The Irish did not build the Castro. Eureka Valley was built in before the Irish showed up. But thanks for playing the straight white Christian male white victim game!

  30. The Irish white flighted from the inner cities in San Francisco just like white people white flighted in every American city during the post-WWII era when the suburbs and freeway system were developed.

    They jumped, they were not pushed.

  31. agreed – it really is sad and pathetic when one considers the larger picture: this social universe of the 48Hills trollers and their triumphalism when they believe they have decimated someone is at best humorous

  32. The homeless nonprofits are the only ones concerned about the Plaza. J

    Jack Davis was smart to focus on the homeless in his whisper campaign because whenever the issue is homelessness, voters vote conservative.

    He was simply goading the progressive homeless nonprofits to lead with their glass jaws.

    And true to form, they are taking the bait.

    But the community has other priorities and those priorities are eclipsing the same tired old losing approaches. Stay tuned.

  33. So you admit that you just lied, thanks.

    The US is not a capitalist society. The Demopublicans and Republicrats alike are in the pockets of the warmongers and banksters. There are no viable options to vote against either because the two parties rig political to their exclusive benefit–illegal restraint of trade in politics is what it amounts to.

  34. Gary, there are hundreds of thousands of successful people in SF. If you have a professional career or small business, and own your own home, life is good in SF.

    If you are a bad artist, a self-absorbed activist or somene with low-value skills, maybe not so much

  35. Yes, Run, Daniele has a double standard. It’s very common among progressives, for whom “white = bad” but “non-white = good”

    Racism is always ugly.

  36. Success based upon what – making the 10-20 wealthiest individuals more wealthy at the expense low/moderate income people and their homes?

    Nope. We need special jails for people you call successful.

  37. I guess it’s ok that when Latinos moved into the mission, crime skyrocketed, accelerating white flight to the burbs. It’s guess it’s not ok when whites move back and try to rebuild the dump the mission has become.

  38. Another SRO dweller like Joseph/Trollkiller.

    But that lifestyle gives them plenty of free time for activism. aren’t we all lucky?

  39. My point was that the city sometimes enforces zoning and sometimes does not, according to ideology. There is no consistency. It’s all opportunism

  40. Daniele, is it OK when more affluent whites are displaced by the increased crime of blacks and Hispanics in inner city areas? That has happened across the nation as well as in SF.

    We are not slightly reversing that trend. Problem?

  41. If Jim hasn’t figured out how to type in lower case yet, then scrolling is clearly too advanced a function.

  42. Yeah, I told Lydia exactly what would happen at ML if she instituted those policies, and she she denied there would be any problem. And now it is in the toilet just like I said.

    As for dabston, he’s just a control freak who is too lazy to skip over posts he doesnt like. So I ignore him.

  43. And yeah, local mission now totally blows. Idiots had a good thing going too, then stopped the comments. Stoopids!!

  44. …and now you don’t talk so loud, about having to scrounge up your last meal….how does it feel….


  45. “Some losers are more pathetic than others.”
    Boy, those are some pretty sage words given the pervasive coverage here.
    And as for millennials, I say bring it. Me love me some millennials!

  46. Plus, she could easily commute from Oakland to a Rainbow Groceries job in SF on BART. See how easy that was? It’s called problem, meet solution.

  47. IKR because that worked so good for Mission Local? No one goes to ML anymore, look at the ratings

    & it’s really working well for sfist

    Here’s the SFAppeal site rankings, hover on the red where it says it’s declined over 36,000+ positions.

    Little “d” those sites need you, desperately. They really do. They will welcome you with open arms. Meanwhile the adults here will continue to pontificate. Good luck.

  48. The Irish built the Castro, Daniele. And they were working class and yes they were displaced by LGBTQ and LGBTQ were wealthier and yes they were targeted. Ask them. There’s tons of Irish people that live here still that have been here since then. Some that went to a school around there (not Douglas, now Harvey Milk) still meet. They were displaced.

  49. To answer your question: Change happens, and that’s OK. Let’s take the LGBTQ in the Castro. Here’s what wikipedia has to say on the subject:

    The Castro gradually became a working-class Irish neighborhood in the 1930s and remained so until the mid-1960s.
    The U.S. military dishonorably discharged thousands of gay servicemen from the Pacific theater in San Francisco during World War II (early 1940s) because of their sexuality. Many settled in the bay area, San Francisco and Sausalito. In San Francisco an established gay community had began in numerous areas including Polk Street, the Tenderloin and south of Market Street. The 1950s saw large amounts of families moving out to the suburbs in what became known as the “White flight”, leaving open large amounts of real estate and creating attractive locations for gay purchasers. By 1963, the Castro’s first gay bar was opened called the “Missouri Mule”.

    But when it’s systematic targeting of people of lesser means and an obvious money-driven agenda, I guess it’s not OK, by me anyway. You?

  50. So it was not ok that Latinos displaced the Irish & Italians in the Mission? It was not ok that LGBTQ displaced the Irish & Swedes in the Castro? It was not ok that rich white trustfunders (way before tech) displaced Latinos in the Mission district? It was not ok that LGBTQ & hippies displaced African Americans in the Haight & around USF? It was not ok that wealthy white trustfunders displaced the irish working class in the Inner Sunset? It was not ok that Asians displaced the Irish in the Richmond and Sunset? ???


  51. Here’s my suggestion regarding how this site should handle the bought-and-paid-for trolls: first, the “comments” section isn’t posted with the main post – you have to access it through a link. Taking its place with the post is a “letters to the editor” section – you can draw these from the “comments” and/or from responses specifically submitted. These “letters” will be edited for clarity and length, if necessary, just like the “letters to the editor” were back in the old days. The “comments” section would go on pretty much as it does now, though you could also start aggressively weeding out the trolls – none of your actual readers would mind. I’d also start a separate paid “advertising” section in the “comments” section, just for the hell of it – maybe it will piss off some of the trolls. I’m sure they;ll start the “free speech” whining when none of their comments appear in the “letters to the editor” section, but again, none of your actual readers will care – in fact, looking for those whines would be an incentive to click on the “comments” link! 🙂

  52. “the community land trust is a democratic organization accountable to and run by the residents and neighbors”

    That hppie utopian kumbaya idealism…lol Clue, the 60s are over.

  53. It’s fine to have Tech in San Francisco, but let’s do it sustainably. Just as capitalism has bred over-consumption to the detriment of the environment, so it breeds an over-valuing of monied interests. It’s not okay to disregard long-term tenants, and the powers that be need to be reminded of this. Greed is another unfortunate by-product of this system we’ve inherited. But since we created the system, we will put in place the measures needed to keep it working for everyone and expect their enforcement.

  54. SFist awaits you Jim. They do not allow anyone but an echo chamber & they have declining people reading them. There’s also SFAppeal. Echo chambers on both sites. Also on the right is a scroll bar. I realize it is hard for seniors in SF to use technology without caps, but the scroll bar is on the right and allows you to scroll right past people that offend your leftwing ideology and sensibility.


  56. I don’t know how you got the idea that the plaza will be “destroyed” – BART owns the plaza and will continue to do so after the project is constructed. In fact, the developer is adding setbacks along the plaza property line, so the plaza will actually get larger.

  57. Zoning matters. The city seems pretty incompetent to do much about it, except in really egregious cases and even then, after amazing amounts of prodding. Viz AAU, which has been dragging on forever.

  58. I definitely don’t have Asperger’s (but so what if brilliant people do?!) and I’m not a LL.

  59. Guest 10:12 I love social security and medicare. Doesn’t mean I’m not pro-Tech, & anti-the left in SF.

  60. I don’t find such labels to be helpful.

    But those who advocate for more housing are not restricted to those who live here already. Indeed, many who do live here want to see less new build as that inflates the value of their own RE holdings.

    marcos, for instance, is on record with that kind of hypocrisy.

  61. It is capitalist enough for most Americans.

    Te fact that voters want the government to provide a strong national defense and aggressive law enforcement does not mean that we want socialism.

  62. The market has decided that Sonja from SFBARF has been a failure and the market in its disinterested wisdom has consigned her to Oakland. Yet Sonja wants for government to intervene to abrogate the property rights of existing property owners so that developers can build out denser exclusive luxury housing.

    Pot, kettle, black!

  63. You are entitled to believe that Prop 13 is bad. Most voters think you are wrong. But i know you love lost causes.

  64. Guest9:56, property ownership is property ownership is property ownership. Creating another favored class of property owners does no appeal.

    Voters absolutely would vote to repeal Prop 13, if they understood that it would make the tax burden in California substantially more fair. A simple accrual against title would handle Aunt Millie.

    Homeowner subsidies dwarf those dealt to landlords and speculators. If you don’t touch homeowner subsidies, you don’t raise much.

    No individual contributes to gentrification. Gentrification happens first, before anyone moves, usually when crime declines. The first groups to respond tend to be young people and artists. By the time affluent households arrive, you’re two or three levels into the cycle.

    What transformed neighborhoods from working class to affluent in San Francisco? One, lead abatement, two, deindustrialization.

    As for SPUR, an group with ‘urban renewal’ in its name should disband. Ugh.

  65. Yes it is true, we live in a capitalist society and landlords have the right to their propreties even though they should follow the laws. Nevertheless there are still some human rights, moral conducts to follow as a member of society especially when it come to people’s dwellings and homes. One day you may not be living on the sunny side of the street and your self-rightous, selfish mentality won’t help you when you are down on your luck.

  66. Disagree. Prop 13 tax revenues have increased by an average of 7% annually since 1978. That exceeds the rate of inflation and should easily be enough to protect public spending from inflation.

    The real problem is that spending has grown even faster.

    The difference has been funded by more borrowing, and by increasing other taxes to compensate.

    CA has the highest rates of income and sales tax in the nation. They might be lower but for Prop 13, but one way or the other, the government gets its money.

    Prop 13 is massively popular, by the way. You appear to specialize in supporting policies that have zero chance of happening, like abolishing prop 13 and mortgage interest deductibility.

    I find that very odd for someone who wants to achieve change. But of course you just want to theorize. That’s all part of your rich white male privilege and I encourage you to enjoy it

  67. That taxation is the only way to fund spending is not controversial. Borrowing is a tax: tax is paid in future periods as you pay coupons and principal. Asset sales are a tax: it is paid in future periods as you replace income and directly pay higher fees (private owners charge more). Fees just gives taxes a different name.

    As for subsidies, money is fungible. Every dollar I save on income tax is the functional equivalent of receiving nontaxable income. Claiming these are not subsidies reminds me of Warren Buffet’s plaint about stock options: ‘When a company gives something of value to its employees in return for their services, it is clearly a compensation expense.’

    If the government gives something of value to homeowners, it is clearly a subsidy. The government gives tax breaks to homeowners the tune of nearly a trillion dollars over the next five years. That, my friend, is real money.

    Spending that amount on housing strikes me as a good idea, and rightly popular with citizens. Spending it primarily to line the pocketbooks of homeowners with high incomes strikes me as a bad idea, and probably much less popular.

  68. Most Americans want anything that they think will give them free money on someone else’s dime.

    That doesn’t mean they dont believe in free markets. They do.

  69. What is the difference between someone wanting to move here and someone wanting to stay here?

    Both want cheaper homes.

  70. Speaking of BARF, isn’t Sonja yet another loser who has failed to achieve residence in San Francisco and is now demanding a government handout to developers in the hopes that her failures can be rectified by government action which might allow her loser ass to live in San Francisco? Some losers are more pathetic than others.

  71. Wrong. Taxation is different from spending. The relationship is more that taxation is one way to fund spending. Borrowing is another, as are asset sales, fees etc.

    Again, home ownership is not directly subsidized at all. Rather a couple of the costs of buying a home are allowable for tax deductions, because the voters have supported that.

    Why do you not support what the voters want? Do you know better than the rest of us?

  72. By lumping landlords and homeowners together you let the least worthy groups (landlords and speculators) hide under the skirts of granny and grandpa. Voters will never agree to remove G & G from their homes or agree to increase their own property taxes. Politics (The Art of the Possible) and economic policy are not some hypothetical games played in a graduate studies program or local bar; they significantly affect people’s lives.

    Homeowners, tenants and future homeowners would benefit significantly from removing the very expensive tax subsidies given to landlords and property speculators. Complete that task and then see where the property situation lies, which likely will be much different from the one we find today.

    You remind me of the many “socialists” found in SF, especially in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like the Mission, Inner Sunset and Western Addition. They talk a great game about preferring socialism. In actuality, they were major contributors to the gentrification and displacement by being relatively affluent and college-educated households who helped transform the neighborhoods from working class to affluent.

    How many times have sections of cities seen the following routine: low-income neighborhoods infiltrated by artists and dive-bar owners, followed by the young urban seekers (often from affluent white families), quickly followed by professional and higher educated households? How many thousands of millionaires were created by speculators who bought property at the beginning of the cycle and sold near the end? Too many to count, yet you want to lump them with the homeowners who may have a low Prop 13 tax tax basis but also relatively low income. You should get a job with SPUR – your thinking and strategy perfectly aligns with theirs.

  73. Government spending is taxation. The only question is how to allocate the cost. Taxes cannot decline when spending increases, although borrowing can shift taxation to future periods.

    The property tax deduction and capital gains exclusions will cost $300 billion over the next five years, and the mortgage interest deduction will cost $400 billion more. How do those not subsidize homeowners? They put cash in homeowner pockets, as if they were direct payments.

    In re: ownership rates, please see https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/jhouse/v21y2012i3p195-210.html

    ‘..no relationship exists between the [mortgage interest deduction] and home ownership.

  74. So the city should ignore zoning if that preserves homes, as Kim is trying to do with a building on Market Street?

    But enforce zoning in this case because it preserves homes?

    In other words, zoning doesn’t matter except when it does?

  75. Very little is being demolished to build these homes, because there is very little there to start off with.

  76. guest, good luck with your “war on jobs”, given that SF voters consistently say that jobs are their number one priority for the mayor

  77. Guest, depreciation is a zero-sum game. It merely defers the tax – not avoid it.

    The other tax breaks you mention are either available for all property owners, or for all businesses.

    Good luck with your mission to change federal tax law.

  78. Taxes and spending are two separate things. Taxes can decline while spending remains the same, simply by borrowing more. In fact, that is what all governments do.

    There is no subsidy for homeownership. There is a subsidy for interest paid as part of buying a primary home. But one third of homes bought in SF are bought for cash, so the deduction is immaterial there.

    All the studies I have seen show a massive effect effect on ownership rates, but you can try to convince me.

  79. There is no inconsistency at all. Most people I know see public safety and law enforcement as easily the most important function of local government, just as national defense is the most important function of our federal government.

    “Redistribution” isn’t a government function at all. It’s an ideology.

    While regulation is not a service – it is merely a tool.

    Apples and oranges.

  80. I can’t wait to see the evicted. They’ve enjoyed their rent-controlled existence long enough, but now their time is up. Get them out!

  81. I usually disagree with Tim’s posts but this one is on the mark with regard to the tech office and the zoning laws. City should start fining the landlord. The free market system has rules, we all understand zoning. If folks are “displaced” because they can’t afford an area, I’m fine with that. If you intentionally flout the zoning laws, you should be fined–heavily.

  82. The mortgage deduction will cost $400 billion over the next five years, the property tax deduction and capital gains exclusions over $300 billion more. Deferrals on like-kind exchanges will cost $100 billion, so that’s in the conversation, unlike depreciation subsidies, under $25 billion, or the low-income credits you left out, $40 billion.

    Housing subsidies go to homeowners.

    The deductibility of interest is big, but it’s not a property subsidy: it applies to all business. Step-up basis isn’t a property subsidy, either, but it is big: with the gains carryover on gifts and charitable deductions, that one will cost over $500 billion the next five years.

    Still less than the mortgage deduction, the property tax deduction and gains exclusions.

    If I could wave a wand, I’d eliminate all of these.

    Build new housing and improve transit?

    Yes, please.

    As for Prop 13, of course the largest part of the subsidy is to business and the truly wealthy who stash properties in family corporations and the like. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t eliminate if for everybody.

    If someone whose housing model is Red Vienna from the early 20th century and who wants to (deep breath) eliminate all interest deductibility, step-up basis, the charitable deduction, gains tax breaks and Prop 13 comes across as a shill for rentiers, then you must be quite a radical.

    What’s to the left of Rotes Wien?

  83. Guest-Sam and the rest of the Asperger landlords who troll 48Hills LOVE the government… in the form of the bureaucracies and the organized violence of social control.

    Landlords love the courts, the DAs, the police and sheriffs who protect their property rights from the rabble they exploit.

    But when the government redistributes, the LLs howl. And when government attempts to regulate, likewise. Suddenly the LLs are purist “libertarians.”

    If by some magic or catastrophe we suddenly lost the State; if suddenly the LLs had no courts, cops and sheriffs to enforce their claims of ownership and their right to exploit (collect rent), then…?

    Brick by brick by brick the LLs on 48Hills attempt to create a social universe and reality where their triumphalism reigns.

    F*** the LLs!

  84. That tax expenditures are spending is sufficiently uncontroversial that the Federal government produces an annual report estimating them:

    Current subsidies for homeowners do two things. In rationing areas like San Francisco, they drive up sales prices. In building areas like Dallas, they drive up house sizes.

    All the studies I have seen show no effect on ownership rates, but you can try to convince me.

  85. Walnit Creek,

    You always target homeowners for their mortgage deduction and Prop 13 benefit but never mention the hundreds of billions of tax subsidies given to the landlord class. These multi-billion dollar subsidies (phony depreciation, interest write-offs, tax-free exchanges, tax basis “step-up”) could be easily redirected to building new housing and transit improvements within the existing urban footprint instead of lining the pockets of the millionaire landlord class. Alas, the largest landlords are often big backers of the Democratic Party, which is about the only political game in town and in the state.

    Most homeowners move every 7-9 years, which means Prop 13 isn’t that big of a deal compared to the landlord class that often keeps their properties within the family for generations. This is where the biggest Prop 13 subsidy lies, not with older mom and pop homeowners who are scraping by on increasingly limited retirement income and Social Security.

    You come across as a shill for the landlord class, who already dominate the comments on 48 Hills (Spam. 4th Gen and SF Rentier among others.) Nice work, Whiner.

  86. It sure is a longwinded post over a situation that is basically very simple: The tech investors display all the arrogance of new money and expect to get their way in any and every dispute with the city at large. But the city under the Lee administration wants only to make nice to the techies, as long as this doesn’t get so blatant as to pose a threat to Lee’s reelection chances. I lived many years ago in a crappy SRO on Mission between 15th and 16th, just across the street from Lee’s new all-in-one temporary shelter for the homeless. The Bart 16th St plaza is not the most glamorous gathering place in the city but it is where many of the residents of that neighborhood spend a lot of time. It could certainly stand some sprucing up, maybe a little stage in the northeast corner for small performances and a bathroom, obviously, that would be well-maintained and free. Destroying the plaza entirely for the sake of a fancy condo project with a few crumbs tossed to the peasants in the form of “below market rate housing” (hah!) is just not going to happen. This is the heart of the North Mission, with all it’s diversity, poverty and serious problems of living poor. It should be fixed up and improved as a neighborhood gathering place, not demolished. Demolishment is only for placating those who hate the down and out and only to benefit the rich and powerful. If this isn’t class warfare what is?

  87. Welcome to Ed Lee’s new city where there’s only room for highly paid tech workers and their even higher paid professional advisors. Ed Lee will try to add a few hundred “affordable housing” units each year, but even many of those units can (will) be taken by people who don’t even currently live in the city (courtesy of the Supreme’s Court’s ruling about the “right to travel” or some such similar legal theory). And don’t forget the many rules at the affordable housing complexes that will make most libertarians and anarchists scream “paternalism.”

    The big cities got a break for a couple of decades as the boomers mostly lived in suburbs and Gen X had low numbers, but the New Millennials represent a huge population bubble and they want to live in the big cities near the biggest employers. Old people (over 40) need to realize their time is over in the big cities unless they happen to own their housing unit, in which case they get a ringside seat watching the young and upwardly mobile kick out the old foggies from their homes. It’s a highly entertaining drama.

    Jobs, jobs, jobs = displacement, gentrification and evictions. Ed Lee is a master marketer who learned how to focus on the smell of the sizzling steak, but conveniently forgets to mention the clogged arteries and premature heart attacks. Ed Lee’s handlers deserve extra raises for their brilliant marketing campaign that has increased the wealth of the landlord class by a few billion dollars of “free” land value. All the landlords need to do to cash in on this generous largess is to get rid of the oldsters and embrace the New Millennials.

    Join BARF and become part of a growing movement to displace people from their homes and create a city that welcomes the wealthy, powerful and chosen few.

  88. Whiner, a tax break isn’t public spending at all. And you can only give large tax breaks to people who pay a lot of tax, by definition.

    We give tax breaks for property ownership because the voters want to encourage homeownership, and not eternal subsidies for renting.

  89. Sadly, the most public spending on housing these days subsidizes property ownership, mostly of the well-off. The mortgage interest and property tax deductions and the capital gains exclusion alone cost $140 billion a year, to say nothing of Prop 13.

    The best affordable housing program is abundance. It’d be interesting to spend all that money on building, instead of subsidizing Muffy’s next trip to Aruba.

  90. Irene, this nation has a proud history of mobility to seek more opportunity or a better life. Given that the SF Bay Area is one of the most expensive places to live on the planet, it doesn’t always make sense for people on low incomes to live here.

    There isn’t enough money on the planet to allow everyone to live where they think they would like to live

  91. Yes, Oakland is full of unused and under-used former industrial space. These people would be much happier there

  92. The “free marketeers” are almost everyone in the United States. The number of Amercans who wants socialized everything is trivial.

    In fact, many of the people overseas who are clamoring to come to America are doing so to escape the very socialism that you advocate. While communist nations had to build walls and fences to stop people from leaving.

  93. The free marketeers are much like the marxist/leninists, they believe that sacrifice must be made according to the dictates of scripture so that at some point in the future, the historical imperative will make things better.

    Things do not get better according to some one-size fits-all theory. Things get better when we make them better. The community land trust is a democratic organization accountable to and run by the residents and neighbors, the antithesis of bureaucrats.

    Both far left and far right hold the people in contempt and do what they can to forestall democracy because they are united in their hatred for and distrust of the people.

  94. People have to move when their affordability goes down. There are tons of seniors that move out of their expensive to maintain places every day, and they move out of SF, even out of CA. It is up to them to move.

  95. I don’t live in Oakland, but isn’t anybody concerned with affordable housing anymore? I own my own home, but I have had at least two friends who worked all their life but had no retirement and one is homeless now (I just found out today) and the other lost his job and after living in the same apartment for over 30 years was put out was too proud to ask for help and was living in the streets for just one winter until he was found and lost a leg as a result. Housing is a real problem and needs to be addressed in this country.

  96. things like this will only give benefits to a few people rather than people who have money

    Whew, thank god! You really did have me going there. Well done!

  97. I would rather the market decide. We live in a capitalist society and things like this will only give benefits to a few people rather than people who have money The government is nothing but regulation, strangulation, kafkaesque forms and should not be in the housing business at all.

  98. Station 40: The owners don’t want your business anymore. Go rent another warehouse in Oakland. Good Bye.

  99. The SF Land Trust is government money. It will take this out of the hands of the people and give it over the a big unfriendly bureacrats & suits who steal our tax dollars and it will be a who you know place in order to live there

    Quite the cognitive contortion, up there with “Keep government out of my Medicare.”

    It’s not in the hands of “the people” now, it’s in the hands of private owners. And how is “who you know” any worse than “what the market will bear?”

    I notice you manage to throw in an utterly irrelevant ad hominem but fail to come up with any defense of zoning law violations. (Protip- Keep rolling with the “meddling gummint bureaucrats” motif. Key phrase: Property Rights!)

    Whoever you’re shilling for deserves a refund.

  100. “A landlord wants to evict a collective household on the grounds that people aren’t supposed to be living in the space that they have lived in for a decade – while in the same building, he has rented space to a tech company that, under city zoning rules, clearly isn’t supposed to be there.”

    LL’s are there to make money, not be benevolent keepers of SF held in amber. The residential tenants can not pay what the tech company can pay. That is capitalism. That’s the way things go in a capitalist society.

    “Barak and Taly Jolish are part owners of Urban Putt, an indoor mini-golf place on South Van Ness. The family owns a building on Castro Street, a couple of parcels on 24th Street, and the building on 9th Avenue that used to house Craiglist.

    In other words, they aren’t small-time landlords depending on one building for survival. This is, by all outward appearances, a wealthy family.”

    The author/journalist is also a wealthy family with property. Kind of a moot point that there are families that own properties and have them to create wealth. Again, in a capitalist society, which we live in, that is one of the healthy aspects.

    ““I am willing to mediate,” he said. “We have been talking since last September.” I asked him why he served an eviction notice on the tenants, and he said he couldn’t discuss it. I asked him if he would consider selling the building to the SF Land Trust and he said he was open to any “solution.””

    The SF Land Trust is government money. It will take this out of the hands of the people and give it over the a big unfriendly bureacrats & suits who steal our tax dollars and it will be a who you know place in order to live there, just like say the Japanese Co-Op near Japantown.

    “The San Francisco Community Land Trust is supported by local, state, and federal public resources as well as several private donors and hundreds of grassroots supporters. “

    The SFLT is our tax dollars.

    “There used to be space for places like Station 40 in San Francisco. They were part of the city’s radical underground anti-authoritarian culture. It’s really sad to think that they have to leave to make way for our money-driven future.”

    Time moves on.

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