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Friday, June 18, 2021

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UncategorizedThe Agenda, April 20-April 26: Will the Planning Commission...

The Agenda, April 20-April 26: Will the Planning Commission side with Airbnb?

And why is City College moving so quickly to turn public property over to a private developer?

SFBARF guy tries to stop people from signing a petition to save the Flower Mart
SFBARF guy tries to stop people from signing a petition to save the Flower Mart

By Tim Redmond

APRIL 20, 2015 – I thought SFBARF, the group that wants to build housing everywhere, without any limits (or any apparent concern about the fact that the only private-market housing that’s getting built is luxury condos and high-end rentals) was all about residential development.  But apparently at least one member of the group wants lots more office space, too – even at the expense of the SF Flower Mart.

I was outside The Good Life grocery on Cortland yesterday and a guy was gathering signatures for the initiative to save the Flower Mart. An SFBARFer showed up with a hand-lettered sign and tried to discourage people from signing the petition. (The sign says, oddly, that if the developers can’t build at 6th and Brannan “they will build it here.” I just don’t see even Ed Lee’s Planning Commission approving a giant highrise office building in Bernal Heights.)

I asked him why SFBARF cared about building offices and he said he supports “prosperity” and that he’s against any new zoning limits.

Okay then.


The Planning Commission is going to take a new look at Airbnb this week – and I’m hearing lots of people say that the panel is under immense pressure from the mayor not to adopt the kind of restrictions that some planners say are needed to make any regulations enforceable.

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There are three items on the Agenda for Thursday/23. One is Sup. Jane Kim’s legislation that would bar any unit cleared by the Ellis Act to be used for short-term hotel rentals. Sups. David Campos, John Avalos, and Eric Mar have a bill that would mandate that Airbnb and other hosting platforms make sure that all rentals they list have the proper city permits. It would also force the hosting platforms to tell the city how many days a unit has been listed, and limit all STRs to 60 days a year.

Then, of course, there’s the ordinance introduced by the mayor and Sup. Mark Farrell, which would limit STRs to 120 days a year and create a new enforcement office – but would stop far short of what’s needed to make the law work.

So far, only a tiny fraction of the units that are used for STRs have bothered to register. Critics say the only way to change that is to make sure the platforms – that is, Airbnb – don’t list any unit that isn’t legal.

Airbnb hates that idea. The mayor, who is very close to Airbnb investor Ron Conway, won’t want the Planning Commission to adopt what Avalos, Campos, and Mar have proposed.

This will be one of those telling votes that will show the city whether the commissioners are listening to their own staff (and to logic and reason) or the  power of the Mayor’s Office.

And in the end, if the commission sides with Lee and Farrell, this will wind up on the ballot in November.


Tom Ammiano, the former Assemblymember who is part of the Tom and Tim Show podcast, says that a source in Sacramento told him Mayor Lee wants to delay the return of power to the elected City College Board for a while. Why? Perhaps because the special trustee, who can make decisions without Board approval, is in negotiations to lease the district’s building at 33 Gough to a developer for 99 years.

That’s a bit short of a formal sale, but in practical terms, it’s the same thing. It means the district is ready to give up an immensely valuable piece of real estate.

The board meeting agenda for Thursday/23 calls for a closed session to discuss “real property negotiations” for the Gough St. building. Earlier agendas used the word “sale.” Now it’s been edited out – but let’s remember, a long-term lease amounts to a transfer of public property.

If the elected board were making this decision, there would be protests, discussion – and accountability. As it is, the board won’t be running things until this summer at the earliest – and I’m told this deal is on the fast track.

Board member John Rizzo told me that he thinks if the district is going to turn one of its buildings over to a developer who can make a ton of money building luxury housing or tech offices, there ought to be space set aside for City College. “Let’s keep some of the space,” he said. “It could be classrooms, faculty housing, or student housing. We have homeless students; this could make a huge difference.”

But Rizzo and his colleagues at this point won’t get to vote. The school is still under a state-appointed czar. So the least the public can do is show up and say: Slow things down. This ought to be a decision for elected officials. It’s too important.

The meeting’s at 3pm in MUB 140 at the Ocean Avenue campus.


The Democratic County Central Committee is being asked to give an early endorsement to Mayor Ed Lee. I get it – nobody has formally challenged the mayor yet. But the filing deadline is a couple months away, and there’s still time for a candidate to emerge. An early endorsement would be one more way to discourage any possible contenders to consider entering the race.

At the same meeting, the panel will hear from Sup. Julie Christensen, who is facing a challenge from former DCCC Chair Aaron Peskin. There’s no endorsement in that race on the agenda – that will come later – but it will be fascinating to see what the committee members ask her and how she responds.

It’s Wednesday/22, 7pm, 450 Golden Gate.

Happy 4/20. Don’t drive anywhere near the Haight Street side of Golden Gate Park – roads will be closed, traffic will be a mess, and the cops will be everywhere. If you’re planning to enjoy the outdoors and the beauty of the day in that part of town, take the bus, walk, or ride a bike.





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. Bobby, you’re in the same category as Sam. “What everyone knows” is not a very good source or authority.

  2. Yep, Airbnb affects less than 2% of the housing units in SF, so it’s a huge crisis… It would be a complete non-issue if SF stepped up its efforts in building more, and increasing density on the west side.

  3. Sam, you gave a partial answer to one question and didn’t answer the others, demonstrating once again that you don’t know what you’re talking about when it comes to CCSF.

  4. CCSF has a disparate, irrational portfolio of properties that have no logical nexus or academic purpose. Most other tertiary educational institutions have one major campus and then satellite buildings not too far away.

    The main CCSF campus is in a low-rent part of the city that makes sense for it. I’d close most of the others and upgrade the value-add of that RE.

  5. How many properties does CCSF have? Which ones should be closed and in what order?

    What is the mechanism by which the money from these sales goes to the city? Does the city own these properties?

  6. Is it as tacky as, say, stopping people getting to and from work just because you care more about some issue than they do?

  7. And what is this plan to “solve” the alleged housing crisis?

    Surely the best solution is to build more homes and that is exactly what you are seeking to deter.

  8. I will be at the Planning Commission this Thursday to present city-wide neighbor input and support solutions that actually enable the Planning Department to efficiently collect necessary data for enforcement of regulations. Please take the survey and share it far and wide by this Wednesday (So far we have 73 responses): https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KPQSMT5

  9. Yeah, I think people like Tim look for scapegoats when they lack decent housing policies like, duh, build more homes.

    There is almost nobody in SF who, if they stopped doing Airbnb, would rent out a cheap home. But Tim doesn’t care about that inconvenient fact.

    And notice that he NEVER criticizes those who do short-term lets outside of Airbnb, like I do. Evidently Tim thinks i am doing everything rght

  10. The AirBNB obsession is hilarious. Hey Tim, Another outrage for you. Do you realize that AirBnB has crept into the Cuban market ahead of the multinational corporate hotel industry? They’re taking food off the table of the children of the executives and shareholders of Marriott International and Hilton Worldwide.

    It’s almost as if AirBnB were granting the means of production to the people, WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF SF PROGRESSIVES! When you’re done stopping AirBnB in San Francisco, Tim, the global hotel corporations need your help stopping them in Cuba.

  11. There should be a moratorium on the sale or leasing of any public land to private developers until our middle-class and working class housing crisis is solved.

  12. City College has far too many properties scattered about. It makes sense, and is in the best interests of CCSF, that some rationalization of their spaghetti campus system happens.

    And that money isn’t lost. It goes to the city. I thought you liked it when the city has more money?

    Oh, by the way, a 99 year lease is nothing like a sale. It’s just like renting for a long time. At the end of the lease, the property still belongs to the city.


  13. Picketing other people’s petitions is really tacky. You’d think they were collecting signatures for a baby-eating ballot proposition or something.
    You don’t like an initiative, get people to vote against it.

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