We look at the key political issues and events coming up in the city this week
By Tim Redmond
MAY 11, 2015 – The Chron calls the idea of a moratorium on luxury housing “counterintuitive, some even say crazy,” but a story by Emily Green quotes at least one eminent urban theorist saying that it actually makes perfect sense:
“Moratoriums give cities time to breathe and think about environmental issues,” said Peter Dreier, a professor of urban and environmental policy at Occidental College in Los Angeles.
That’s pretty much all that Campos is asking for: Slow things down for a bit, and give the folks in the Mission (and at City Hall) time to figure out a better plan for the area. Because what’s going on now clearly isn’t working.
Campos will ask the Board of Supes Tuesday/12 to put the item formally on the agenda for a Committee of the Whole hearing. That means the full board, not just one committee (most likely Land Use) will hear testimony on the issue and vote on it – moving it forward more quickly than the typical process would allow.
I can’t imagine why any supes would object to hearing the issue that way; it’s typically done as a matter of courtesy to a colleague. But if we see three or four members oppose the process, that will be a sign of who is gearing up to block the moratorium, which needs nine votes to pass.
Nine is going to be hard – we already know Scott Wiener is against it, and Sup. Mark Farrell has spoken against the concept. If those two say No, Campos would need everyone else.
Whatever happens, if the process goes forward as Campos hopes, we’ll get every supervisor to listen to the case from the community, which will be out in force for the hearing, and take a stand for the record.
While I was writing this, two of my neighbors stopped by to talk to me. Chuck Bierwirth and his partner John have been Bernal Heights residents since the late 1970s, when they moved into a live-work studio on the hill. One of Chuck’s paintings, Blau Haus (Blue House, above) is going up on display at a local hangout called the Pinhole Café.
Our neighborhood blog, Bernalwood, which I read every day, took notice and ran a picture of Chuck and John hanging the painting, which, like all of Chuck’s work, is on a tarp.
Like so many SF neighborhoods, ours is its own small town and Bernalwood is where everyone goes for the latest news about our neighbors. I’ve always been friendly with the proprietor, Todd Lappin – although he and I have, to say the least, rather divergent views about the housing crisis.
In this case, the item about Blau Haus was posted right above Todd’s article that totally attacked the Campos moratorium proposal. Chuck wasn’t thrilled with the coincidental juxtaposition — he’s a big fan of Campos and a strong supporter of the legislation.
In fact, he wanted me to know the story behind the painting.
Chuck and John have always been renters, are part of the SF only because of rent control, and have never been able to afford to buy a house in this city – particularly in Bernal in the past few years, where real estate has been crazy. So at one point, Chuck went and took a picture of a house, and painted himself taking the picture. “I can’t buy a house, so the closest I can come is taking a picture of one,” he said.
Blau Haus is a reflection of the San Francisco Housing Blues. And the artist thinks Campos is on the right track and the folks who just want to see more and more luxury condos and $10,000 apartments crammed into the Eastern Neighborhoods are wrong.
Anyway, fun to see them, and there’s a show of Chuck’s work at Pinhole at 6pm June 6.
Remember when Mayor Ed Lee wanted the city treasurer to back off on taxing Airbnb because he had appointed a “task force” to study the “sharing economy?” The Business Times notes that the task force never met. Not once. And now we have the mess that is Airbnb and the short-term rental market.
(BTW, let’s remember that Ron Conway, Lee’s biggest supporter and current best pal, is a big investor in Airbnb and has a clear financial stake in San Francisco staying out of the company’s way.)
All of this will come up for discussion Thursday/14 at the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council’s meeting on The Sharing Economy and Housing Affordability. 7pm, Park Branch Library.
It’s a busy city: The same night, Urban IDEA holds a forum that takes a look not at the problems facing us but at how the community can win. “Unity in the Community: Coalition Success Stories” takes a look at case studies where grassroots organizing worked.
It’s a chance for activists to learn lessons from our successes – and also to remember that for all the things we complain about, the progressives have the ability to impact policy in positive ways. And we’ve done that, over an over.
The event is at 6pm, Bayanihan Community Center, 1010 Mission.
On Wednesday/13, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi kicks off his re-election campaign at an event hosted by SEIU 1021 President Roxanne Sanchez, former Sheriff Mike Hennessey, Officers for Justice President Yulanda Williams, and former Mayor Art Agnos and his wife Sherry Agnos.
5:30 to 7:30pm, Delancey St, 600 Embarcadero.
Mirkarimi, of course, is going to be attacked by Ron Conway and the mayor; it will be interesting to see who shows up to support him.
The Affordable Care Act, for all its flaws, has added millions of people to the ranks of the insured. How does that impact San Francisco General Hospital and the city’s community clinics?
Sup. John Avalos has asked for a hearing on the issue, and it will come up at the BOS Budget and Finance Committee Wednesday/13 at 1pm, Room 250 City Hall.
It’s Question Time at the Board of Supes this week, which means the mayor has to show up and take a (prewritten, prescreened) question or two, and give a (prewritten) answer.
The agenda for the Board meeting Tuesday/12 has Sup. Katy Tang asking what the mayor will do to make it easier for small businesses to open in the city. Simple setup, the mayor will give a lovely answer about how much he loves small business, and everyone will go about the day.
The question I would ask: Are you supporting the merchants and residents of the Mission who want a moratorium on luxury housing – and if not, what else can you offer to solve the planning and development problems of that neighborhood?
But then, that’s not on the agenda.