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News + PoliticsThe truth about the Flower Mart petitions

The truth about the Flower Mart petitions

There is, as of today, no “deal” to save this San Francisco institution. 

A rally to save the Flower Mart. Vendors are working with the developer -- but there is no "deal"
A rally to save the Flower Mart. Vendors are working with the developer — but there is no “deal”

By Zelda Bronstein

APRIL 22, 2015 — On Monday, April 20, Jon Schwark, a member of the one-eyed (we-can-build-our-way-out-of-the-affordability-crisis) San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation (SFBARF), posted a broadside on the organization’s blog under the headline “SFBARF Stands Against Deceptive Ballot Box Zoning Push.”

Schwark was apparently offended by 48 hills editor Tim Redmond’s report of his Sunday encounter in Bernal Heights with Dan, a BARFer who was trying to keep people from signing the petition to put the Flower Mart initiative on the ballot in November by claiming (among other things) that if the measure passes, big-time office developers will build on Cortland Avenue. Redmond demurred: “I just don’t see even Ed Lee’s Planning Commission approving a giant highrise office building in Bernal Heights.”

Schwark told a different story: “[A]ccording to Dan,” he wrote, “the signature collector was telling people that their signature would save the San Francisco Flower Mart” by making permanent the current 40-foot height limit at the market’s present location at 6th and Brannan, thereby preventing the construction of the soaring tech tower that has been proposed for the site by the property owner, the L.A.-based REIT, Kilroy Development.

Where’s the deception? Schwark:

The Flower Market HAS ALREADY BEEN SAVED. In fact, at a public community meeting a couple of months ago I heard directly from Steve Wertheim, the head planner on Central SoMa, that the city viewed expanded development on the as site contingent on the flower market plan staying real.

Schwark fumed: “No mention was made [by the signature collector] of the plan to include space for [the Flower Mart] in the new development.”

File the above under: A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing.

Yes, the city has told Kilroy that without space for the Flower Mart, its office high-rise is a non-starter.

But there is no “flower market plan.” That’s why the signature said nothing about such a plan: it doesn’t exist.

The three parties who have been negotiating the terms that would incorporate the Mart into the Kilroy project—Kilroy, the San Francisco Flower Mart Tenants Association, and the market’s new master tenant, the San Francisco Flower Mart LLC—have yet to reach an agreement.

As 48 hills has reported, the flower vendors are asking for guaranteed affordable rents, a ground floor location for the mart, and en masse relocation during construction.

The Planning Department has not been involved in the negotiations. On Monday afternoon, florist and San Francisco Small Business Commissioner Kathleen Dooley told me that the city’s planners have never offered the tenants any assistance.

On Monday afternoon I also spoke to former Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, who, along with former Mayor Art Agnos, has been leading the movement to save the Flower Mart. I asked Peskin, who’s participated in the talks, where things stand. “Negotiations have progressed,” he said, “and a deal is close,” but nothing final has been approved.

If and when a deal has been reached and a contract signed by all three parties, the initiative campaign will end (the deadline for submitting signatures for validation to the city is July 6).

Until then, anyone who says that signing the petition to put the initiative on the ballot will help save the Mart is telling the truth.

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  1. BTW, getting back to this. It is now almost time for the election. The ballot measure fizzled, and the flower market was saved. As I said. I guess in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king 😉

  2. The voters support some subset of what I support, and if you oppose that because you hate the voters, then it is good enough for me right now.

    Apparently Campos and his sinecures hate the voters as well, as there does not appear to be any legislation to this effect forthcoming.

    David has powered down to sleep mode.

  3. Voters support a 1 year moratorium on market rate housing in the Mission until there can be a plan developed to protect against displacement and provide more affordable housing. I support that, you oppose it because you hate the voters.

  4. I think there are plenty of places to build lots and lots of lux housing, how about pacific heights, the presidio, and the marina? there are plenty of ugly built in the 60’s apartment buildings in the marina alone that should be torn down and high rise condos built. so much space in the presidio tear it down build millionaire condos there.

  5. mor·a·to·ri·um
    noun: moratorium; plural noun: moratoria; plural noun: moratoriums
    a temporary prohibition of an activity.

  6. Fair enough. But foghorn was claiming that there was 2/3 support for a city-wide ban. And he said nothing about that being for just one year.

    So you may be right that there is significant local support for a temporary and very local moratorium. But to go from there to suggesting that 2/3 of the city voters never want to build another market-rate home anywhere in the city is, frankly, ludicrous.

  7. Here is that evidence:

    “Sixty-five percent of city voters polled said they’d support a ballot measure to halt “new project approvals in the Mission District for one year” while a plan to help businesses and nonprofits from being displaced is crafted, according to a survey of 602 likely voters conducted by David Binder and Associates in February.”


  8. David Binder, whose firm produced the Mission moratorium result, also does the annual CityBeat poll [PDF]. The top issue facing San Francisco, per the poll, is rent. 70% found the availability of housing to be getting worse, and 60% support expediting the construction permit process.

    Those are not the results of a city that supports ceasing building. Those are the results of a city that wants a lot more housing.

    How does dense, urban development cause all benefits to accrue to elites, while suburban sprawl does the opposite?

  9. OK, here is where we may disagree: I believe the city or a partially-government-funded non-profit should purchase a proposed site and rent it to the flower vendors. If we agree that the city is enriched economically and/or culturally by a flower mart, and its absence would be harmful we should just acknowledge that and find a way to pay for it. Note: Even though my grandfather owned a few flower shops, I’m not sure that the Flower Mart passes the ‘enriches economically and/or culturally’ test. But given the reaction by people, maybe it does.

    Regardless, what is missing is a robust and detailed master plan for issues like this. Also missing is any creativity to solve problems.

    In Barcelona, the city needed a piece of land that had been used for a very rag-tag flea market for decades (mercado Encants). Instead of just evicting everyone, they built a new flea market, installed an upper-level food court and it is now a destination for many, including tourists. It is a success story. The city is actually making money on this, something that they didn’t expect.

    I think that housing and the flower mart are incompatible, but there are other mixed-use solutions that could be a win for everyone. .

    But not in this environment where we have a creativity void combined with profiteer-bought city policies that only allow us to solve the “problem” of the lack of luxury housing.

  10. foghorn apparently believes that, if no new homes are built, that white male tech workers will not do what marcos did i.e. outbid, and therefore displace, poorer residents of color from the Mission.

  11. Where is your evidence that 2/3 of voters oppose building new homes?

    2/3 of the voters support Lee and he wants to build lots of new homes

  12. Disagree with two-thirds of the voters at your political peril.

    But then again, your Jerry Brown-like approach to GHG emissions focusing on the minor contribution of sprawl commutes to GHG emissions shows where you’re coming from.

    All benefits accrue to the elites, all costs are borne by the people.

  13. explain to me how a moratorium on housing in the mission will do anything but accelerate displacement there. You think that people will stop wanting to live there because some lame duck supervisor who was elected with less than 10k votes (15% of the population of the mission) thinks its a good idea?

  14. Except that there is 2/3 support amongst the electorate for putting the brakes on market rate development.

    Stop the presses! The libertarians and sinecures who play progressives on SFGTV both oppose a moratorium on market rate housing in the Mission that the voters support!

  15. The solutions were revealed by polling, 2/3 of San Franciscans support a moratorium on market rate housing. The district Supervisor said he’d be right on it….three months ago.

    It it not like there is language that can be posted on a comment section that will prefigure reality and cause the sinecures to put their own direct interests on hold and act. That is magical thinking.

    Yet the people who get paid to act like they pretend to care about the Mission sit on their hands and get paid while their constituencies dwindle, they get paid and we never seem to get to the community empowerment portion of the program.

    The Flower Mart, Waterfront, they qualify. The Mission gets ignored.

  16. For once I agree with Gary. The Flower Mart should go elsewhere – somewhere with more space and better access. Somewhere off Bayshore or 3rd street seems perfect.

  17. My preference is that the city find a suitable place to move the flower mart. I’m assuming that like other flower marts, this one has a lot of business starting at 4am, and that seems incompatible for a mix-use complex.

  18. I do appreciate the fact that the progressive sinecures are paying attention to the waterfront and fucking Flower Mart of all places, how many jobs there, but are abandoning the Mission as a free fire condo zone, not to mention the 1900 jobs in the so-called “Central Corridor.” Being seen as going through the motions on symbolic edge cases the margins….

  19. People selling flowers should legally be guaranteed affordable rent forever in San Francisco. Where do I sign?

  20. Here’s the source of the retch:


    The term “Market Urbanism” refers to the synthesis of free-market economics
    and ethics, with an appreciation of the urban way of life and its
    benefits to society. Believe it or not, free-markets and urbanism go
    well together – take a read…

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