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UncategorizedThe Agenda, June 8-14, 2015: A big week for...

The Agenda, June 8-14, 2015: A big week for housing

Will the supes fix the Airbnb law — and will a Google lawyer throw a disabled tenant out of her home?

The sheriff is slated to come at 6am Wed and throw a disabled tenant on the streets on behalf of a Google lawyer
The sheriff is slated to come at 6am Wed and throw a disabled tenant on the streets on behalf of a Google lawyer

By Tim Redmond

JUNE 8, 2015 – You can look forward to another heated Board of Supes meeting Tuesday/9 when an Airbnb reform measure comes up for a vote.

There’s plenty else on the agenda, too: The mayor will be there at 2pm to take a softball question from Sup. Julie Christensen on affordable housing. Three measures limiting sugar-sweetened beverages, by Sups. Eric Mar, Scott Wiener, and Malia Cohen are up for a vote, and lobbyists from the beverage industry have been all over City Hall to stop them. (The measure would ban ads for this stuff on city property, ban city departments from buying the crap, and requiring warning labels on all cans and bottles sold in the city.)

Avalos and Mar also have a measure mandating the disclosure of daily appointment calendars of all city officials, and Sup. London Breed has a measure that would streamline some disclosure requirements – a plan that many ethics advocates are dubious about.

Airbnb is probably the biggest single item, though, and it will be a showcase of the power of the tech industry and its lobbyists and friends, including the mayor.

Almost every tenant group, most of the landlord groups, the hotel workers union, and others are pushing for the reforms to a law that anyone with any sense can tell you simply isn’t working.

Airbnb has hired the lobbying firm Ground Floor Public Affairs, run by Alex Tourk, a former Gavin Newsom staffer.

Tourk was present at a fundraiser March 25 for Sup. Julie Christensen, where five member of the family of Ron Conway, a big investor in Airbnb, gave the maximum $500 to her campaign. The event was heavy with the tech industry (Sean and Alexandra Parker, Biz Stone, Stewart Alsop) and brought in $21,000.

(Neither Christensen nor her opponent Aaron Peskin will have to file full reports on campaign contributions for another month – but under city rules, lobbyists have to file reports every quarter. And since Tourk was listed on the invite (along with, he says, some 20 others), and is a registered lobbyist, he had to list every contribution and the source on his disclosure report for the first quarter of 2015)

Tourk told me that he only invited a handful of people, none of whom could make it, and “those who donated at the event were invited on another co-host’s behalf.” He did contribute $500.)

Christensen wasn’t on the board the last time Airbnb came up, so she has no record on the issue.

The mayor has his own competing Airbnb legislation, not at the board this week, which is much weaker.

The American Beverage Association has hired Sam Lauter, of the powerhouse firm Barnes Mosher Whitehurst Lauter, and according to filings with the Ethics Commission, he has already been to see Wiener, Christensen, and Sups. London Breed, Norman Yee, and Mark Farrell to discuss the soda regulations.


Google Lawyer Jack Halprin has been trying to evict all of the tenants at a house he owns on Guerrero Street, and while some are still in court fighting, Rebecca Bauknight, who is disabled, was unable to file the proper paperwork – and the sheriff is slated to drag her out of her studio apartment at 6am Wednesday/10.

From the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project:

Due to Becky’s disabilities, she has been unable to file necessary paperwork on time for a second hearing and motion to quash her eviction.

While  Halprin has appealed the rest of the tenants’
motion to quash their eviction, thus propelling all tenants at 812
Guerrero into an ongoing struggle to fight for their home, Becky is supposed to be dragged out of her studio apartment by Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi at 6am this coming Wednesday.

Becky’s neighbor Claudia Tirado surmises that if Becky is forced out of her home this Wednesday that she will have nowhere to go and will be forced to live on the streets. As she says, “Eviction processes are cruel enough to begin with, but evictions of people with disabilities are even worse.”

Unless Halprin rescinds the eviction notice, tenant advocates will be out in numbers to try to block the forced removal.


Port Commission Member Mel Murphy hasn’t shown up for a single commission meeting since City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a lawsuit against him, and while the mayor has called on him to resign, Murphy has refused.

On June 1, waterfront activist Jon Golinger formally asked the mayor to remove Murphy from office, on the grounds that, by failing to show up, he’s neglecting his official duties.

The mayor’s office response: “On April 21, 2015, Mel Murphy submitted a note from his doctor that excused him from attending Port Commission meeting for three months due to medical concerns.”


The idea of a moratorium on market-rate housing in the Mission isn’t that radical — in fact, it’s happened three times since 2000 — and gave the city a chance to do some planning without any disastrous consequences.

Tony Kelly, a longtime land-use activist who lives in Potrero Hill, explains in an Examiner oped:

The word “moratorium” may sound extreme, but the proposed Mission Moratorium of 2015 really isn’t that much different than the interim controls of 2001. If you’re opposed to interim controls, you’re really opposed to the entire notion of zoning and urban planning….

A new Mission Moratorium on market-rate housing doesn’t create new affordable housing by itself; neither did the other three. But history tells us that it can help in two ways. As an interim control, it would calm the current feeding frenzy of development in the Mission, while new proposals are created and approved to (finally) correct past planning errors, prevent evictions and build affordable housing. And like a picket line or a boycott, it is also a clear and unmistakable signal to City Hall that business-as-usual cannot continue at the Planning Department and in the City’s neighborhoods.



And why I hate Comcast, still and again: The human race survived before there was high-speed broadband and cable TV, and I should be able to survive for a few hours, too. Except that I run an online daily newspaper, and work from home a lot.

But the fact that my Comcast service was down for a few hours the other night isn’t really the issue. I could have gone to a café. I could have waited until morning to post a story or two. I could have turned off the computer and TV and read a good book, which is what I did. Life isn’t so bad without constant media.

What got me, though, and always gets me about our local cable and broadband monopoly, is that when things like this go wrong, you can’t communicate with anyone at Comcast.

When the service went down, I called the number on my bill, and was told by a machine that too many people were calling, and there was no way I would ever get through to a human. Instead, the robot told me, I should go to the Comcast web site to see if there were outages in my area.

Wait: My Internet service is down. That’s why I was calling. If I could have gone to the Comcast web site, this wouldn’t be an issue, right?

I could have used my smartphone – except that I live in Bernal, where cell phone service is often so bad that we care barely have a conversation, and the only way I can use my phone to get to a website is through my home wi-fi … which connects to Comcast.

I guess I shouldn’t complain: The last time I called another competing broadband operation, which serves a house my family owns on the East Coast, I was told it would cost $5 to speak to a human being.

And you know what? I am so sick of robots and computerized voice systems that I paid it.

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. That is not true. Some countries have higher minimum wages than the US , some have lower. Most of Europe has a higher minimum wage than the US, considering the strength of the euro against the dollar it is even higher. Many manufacturers have recently relocated to the US from Asia because of cheaper energy prices. Plus you factor in patent/intellectual property rights and you have even more issues. Canada has a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour

  2. Really ! Why do you think NOTHING is made or done in the US that can’t be done cheaper in another counrty anymore !

  3. If it were her home ( It’s CLEARLY NOT ) they would not be evicting her….It’s Halprins home.

  4. The minimum wage in Canada is 15.00 per hour and they have a low unemployment rate, the same is true of Belgium and many other European countries. France alone is not an example

  5. I’ll admit, I haven’t seen the mural. However, “100 times”? Such hyperbole. And thanks for the offer, but, no thanx.

    Anyway, it sounds like you’re saying Hyde is really uglier than the ‘eyesore’ Fox Pl, by 100x. since you seem to want to compare the two, than contrast them.

    Its hard for a mother to get an objective view of her baby’s beauty. Maybe we could do a Beauty Contest on Socketsite.

    I’ll agree with your anal. of the PO. Although the reality is that its in the red unless something changes; do you think Congress would assist?

  6. Production of housing in the city has most definitely not been consistent for the last 20 Years:


    As far as the “not that many rich people” comment. I mean to say that while demand for housing in SF is fairly inelastic, it is not by any means, infinite. Prices certainly could be lowered by a large increase in the housing stock. What that would look like in practice is pretty much a nightmare for progressives: something like 100,000 units in 10 years.

  7. Mary, I heard there is abundant affordable housing as much as 12%… though Campos’ moratorium would have ceased that for up to two years! Thank God we have some level headed Supervisors
    Now before you say the moratorium would’ve created 100% affordable housing… Campos was just pandering to the public. He knew it wouldn’t pass but he got credibility points and political cover for at least trying to do something.

  8. Physical post offices are mostly redundant these days. You can buy stamps online, use a private mailbox, and FedEx offices are a lot more efficient for most people.

    You can walk a few blocks to Fox Plaza. The exercise will do you good.

  9. USPS loses billions a year but Congress covers that loss, so it appears to break even. It is a dinosaur which is why people use FedEx etc.

    And nobody would want to bank there.

    We need to close this skeevy redundant location and put it to more productive use

  10. I understand that you prefer mob rule. I prefer democratic decision making. The planning commission is appointed by those we elect and has more standing and validity than a hateful envious mob.

  11. The number of housing units built each year for the last 20 years has been pretty consistent. As for your ‘not that many rich people’ claim, that’s just nonsense.

  12. That is the most idiotic things you’ve written. So we should move all post offices so they are equal distance from whatever?

    Here’s something you may want to consider: Any time YOU are talking about ‘justice’ you look like an idiot.

  13. This must be “Just say anything; maybe someone will take me seriously” Sam’s latest incarnation.

    “The first thing I want people to know is that the Postal Service receives no taxpayer dollars. Zero, none, nada. The Postal Service has been self-sufficient for many, many years.

    In this fiscal year, revenue is up in all aspects of the Postal Service First Class, packages and advertising. Overall, revenue for the USPS is up $1 billion from the same time last year.

    Why does everyone seem to think the Postal Service is losing money? Congress has a lot to do with it.

    The Postal Service is required to pay $5.5 billion annually to pre-fund retiree’s health care benefits for 75 years. So the Postal Service is paying for healthcare for future retiree’s that have not been born yet. I know this sounds preposterous and it would take way too long to explain here, so please Google “Postal Service pre-funding” and you will find numerous articles from well-respected news agencies on the topic.”


    And they would make even more money if we (the people) brought back postal banking.

  14. I don’t give a damn how far other people have to go; I care about MY P.O. Box and MY neighborhood. And stop making things up; thousands of people use General Delivery. As for “eyesore;’ lets start with so-called “modern” architecture.

  15. Actually, the mural on the walls are roughly 100 times as attractive as Fox Plaza. Maybe YOU need some “medicine?”
    The decision to close this Post Office, like all others, are made by human beings, and so they can be changed. “Ultimately,” it’s about someone making money to the detriment of the community.

  16. Mirk is toast and he knows it. Maybe but for BitchSlapGate he might have taken a stand against evictions and foreclosures. But he is still under probation and so one step out of line and a no-bail warrant is issued for his arrest, and subsequent ass-reaming by the inmates of 850.

    Mirk really is a prize tit.

  17. It cannot be inferred from the fact that the voters would like to have our signature waterfront preserved that the voters think it would be a great idea to build no new homes.

    Again, the Planning Commission is democratically appointed and you and your loud mob are not. And we cannot have a referendum on every new home

  18. In most circumstances rent rises are pegged to the rate of inflation and in most cities there are areas and buildings with rent control and without.
    I don’t speak in absolutes as every situation is different – saying something like “all landlords are wicked” or “tenants getting subsidies are looking for a handout” is never accurate.
    If there is no affordable housing in the area then the government and private industry should try to create sufficient housing for working class people. Google could easily afford to build luxury dormitories for its workers while affordable housing for tenants is being constructed

  19. Unless the voters decide to the contrary which they appear ready to do and have recently done. There is plenty of space between allowing developers and the Planning Department they buy to decide zoning and throwing it to the loud mob.

  20. I don’t know this particular person’s situation or whether she could find affordable housing. From what I read there is no affordable housing anymore in San Francisco. “Disabled” could mean anything – retarded, one leg, wheelchair bound , no family support, it is unclear why she was unable to manage her situation

  21. I wouldn’y bet on it. When the majority of people figure out just how extreme this measure is they won’t go for it.

  22. Rent control is nothing like minimum wage. You can make 300k a year and pay 700 bucks a month under this sceme. It makes no sense.

  23. Yeah, but it is their job to do planning, not yours. They are appointed by those we elect; you are not

  24. The Planning Department threatened to pass Eastern Neighborhoods and actually passed it. That was not a threat, that was a promise and the damage is being done.

  25. There have been less than 8,000 units built since 2010, whilst 45-50k people have moved here in the same span. We really need 10x that many units, but as long as restrictive zoning and obstructionism are par for the course here, the only thing profitable to build will be “luxury.” It confuses me why people think demand is infinite, it’s not. There are not that many rich people.

  26. Yeah Fox plaza is nowhere “nearby.” I wouldn’t call it an eyesore though, looks better than that ugly hexagon down the street at 1455 Market (Uber HQ maybe?)

  27. When I bought my prop, there wasn’t rent control. So, how do I fix that? Move the bldg???

    As for MinWage, I do believe there is a certain amt of jobs that get dropped. It may not seem like it here, but places like France, which have many more of these laws, suffer high unemployment (specially among youth) – due primarily to employers wishing to avoid the hassle of overpaid employees they can’t get rid of. Its good for existing employees, not good for people looking for jobs.

    How do you fix that?

  28. OTOH, he’s a lawyer, so … crocodile tears? :-0

    OTOH, “don’t rent to people” — my philosophy exactly.

  29. I don’t believe that. Rent control is a lot like minimum wage. Conservatives have been complaining for nearly 100 years that minimum wage laws reduce unemployment but that hasn’t happened.
    Again, this is largely about the laws in various cities and municipalities. Some cities have no rent control . Those are probably the best places to rent if you don’t want the hassles.

  30. Im sure protestors will try to sensationalize the issue but the landlord will probably call the police and they will eventually leave.
    If you are a landlord evicting someone disabled you are going to be demonized. If you don’t want the bad publicity don’t rent to people. I’m not crying any crocodile tears for the Google lawyer .

  31. But rent control is, in effect, privately supported welfare – and in many cases for ppl who don’t even need it!

  32. And yes, thats sad. It doesn’t mention her age, but being a senior Citizen myself, moving is getting to be one of my least favorite things. (Actually, its probably dealing with all the junk; but, developing new friends, new routines and just adapting grow less easy),

    There was one case about 15 yrs ago (Lola McKay) where a buyer bought wanting to TIC her 4U bldg. She was 85, paying …. $78/mth and had been there 40+yrs. I blame both sides for that fact that she died shortly after finally being evicted. I blame the buyer, who couldn’t wait a few years (or even structure a buyout for her – she had $60k in savings!) to let her age in place and pass naturally. (I think they got $200k for the remodeled unit). But I also blame the activists, who wanted a poster child for the housing crisis aka Dot-Com-Bomb. They urged her to keep fighting – ‘to the death’ if you will, instead of finding a solution that could work for both parties concerned.

  33. Sure, maybe the city should help her. The point here is that welfare should not be shoved onto private individuals.

  34. Its not terrible to evict someone if they have somewhere else suitable to go. But it is the responsibility of the city to at least assist in providing low income housing in such circumstances

  35. “eyesores”

    Compared to 101 Hyde? Back away from the medicine, jt

    The PO has been wanting to close 101 for more than a decade. I doubt it has anything to do with Lux or BMR housing. Whatever gets built there could contain a PO (if the price is right; but maybe not-even). Ultimately, though, its a decision on the regional USPS level.

    But whatever, the site could really use a good cleaning.

  36. This particular disabled tenant has had probably more than two years to develope a Plan B. If she in fact hasn’t, its sad, partly due to her situation (disability?), and partly due to activists urging her to fight on; while I imagine not doing much to help her find alt housing So this is hardly a sneak-attack by the person seeking to recover his prop.

    The fact that she(?) missed a relatively easy step to gain an extra amt of time is sad too (from her perspective anyway). I bet that, come Wed AM, there will be 50-100 protesters out front spending hours bewailing the actions of the LL. But it appears that not one of them could find an hour or two to help this poor soul with her paperwork.

    In some localities ownership may indeed be 95% of the law. In SF, its more like, 80%? 50%? 30%?

  37. I was simply trying to understand how you can simultaneously believe both that voters love Lee and that they hate his pro-development policies

    I was hoping you could explain that to me

  38. Yeah, because those who were going to buy those newly-built luxury condos are going to buy into some dump and displace longtime residents.

  39. The only one doing “more of the same” is the progressive side. Opposing growth, blocking development, adding more bureaucracy and making home construction more expensive… that’s been the core of the progressive playbook for 30 years.

  40. Did I write that most voters disapprove of Lee? Given your reading/comprehension issues, I’d say you are Sam/Phil/Ellis/Sybil. Welcome back, I guess.

  41. We should treat city residents in a similar manner, and not give more public service to some than others

  42. LOL. so regardless of the fact that Ed Lee is heading for an easy win, you think most voters disapprove of him?

  43. I agree. But I don’t agree what we have now is “planning.” We have an episodic variance epidemic and no clear long-term planning to grow San Francisco’s population. The infrastructure plans – where they exist – are a joke and there are many many many opportunities to build solid neighborhoods for the rich, middle class and poor, but no motivation to do so.

    If those in City Hall and City Planning don’t break away from moneyed interests, the voters will do that for them. That is why we see such widespread support for the moratorium and why, regardless of nobody running against Ed Lee, most polls agree that this city is headed in the wrong direction and that change is needed.

  44. We don’t have unfettered development here. The reality is that the moratorium would be much closer to “doing more of the same”, historically, than unfettered development would be.

  45. Planning has negative impacts on other people. Significant restrictions on development have consequences on both present and future residents of this city, whether you care to acknowledge them or not. Certainly 1980s and 1990s SF didn’t care to acknowledge it, which is a big reason we’re here now.

  46. Because developing more luxury housing, which we seen for a few years now, isn’t alleviating the problem. Doing more of the same and expecting a different outcome is insanity.

  47. Funny how the progressive left here is really quick to jump on the “stop development” part of that equation and never, ever, ever seems to be able to follow through on the “develop and implement a good plan” part.

  48. There are votes where there is no right or wrong. If a majority vote to have strict height limits on the waterfront – as we have 3 times now – is that right or wrong? You may disagree but it isn’t wrong.

  49. Now you’re just moving the goalposts. Is something right simply because the majority supports it, or not?

  50. Yes, defending the rights of the poor and middle class who are being displaced has no basis in justice. It’s just a hobby.

  51. You didn’t make an appeal to justice; you made an appeal to majority belief. In that regard, his comparison is perfectly apt.

  52. No, my ‘real goal’ is to stop the displacement of long-time residents while a good plan can be developed.

  53. Yeah, comparing racist policies to San Francisco’s war on the poor and middle class is apt. You just have the sides confused.

  54. Then there will be no development of any kind, which is in fact the real goal. So much for that “1.5 million people” line of yours.

  55. In a similar fashion, most Americans will profess a belief in building a border fence and closing the nation off to immigrants – and for very similar reasons. Thankfully, public officials, collectively, realize why this is a problem.

  56. And “most people” supported segregation in the South. I thought we already understood that majority rules doesn’t override basic Constitutional rights. What’s your point?

  57. No and as you say, it is a USPS decision. But the city should not allow any more market-rate development.

  58. But aside from that, is this even something the city has any control over? The USPS is downsizing throughout the country – do we expect that location going to be saved just because housing isn’t put there?

  59. I say accept the moratorium, because a prohibition is what we should be seeking.
    As we are in a severe drought, I’m designing a tear-collection apparatus for when all you libertarians and anti-progressives realize that most people support a moratorium. We can make you into useful human beings yet.

  60. Well, if other people have to struggle to get to a post office, we should make everyone struggle, right?

  61. Those two PO’s are probably closer than any other two PO’s in the city. Do you have any idea how far some people in the city have to travel to their nearest PO?

    There are POB’s there. Not many people use General Delivery any more. There are many private PO’s that will collect and hold mail for you.

    If that building is an eyesore then the best place to be is inside it, because that is the only place where you cannot see it.

  62. 1. “Nearby? To Turk and Taylor? It is not in the neighborhood. Try getting there in a wheelchair, or with a walker, or if you’re 90 years old.
    2. It has no P.O. boxes or general delivery.
    3. That building, and the rest of Fox Plaza, are one of the biggest eyesores in the City.

  63. That Post Office has always been a dump. What is wrong with the PO in the nearby Fox Plaza building?

  64. There is an old saying that property ownership is 90% of the law in the US, and in some areas it is probably closer to 95%. The people who wrote the laws and have upheld them are terrified that someone else would seize their property. On the other hand, different states, cities and municipalities have laws regarding landlord liability for damage. They can be quite complex, and in some cases up to whatever judge or jury is hearing the case. If you have lead paint in your house and someone suffers lead poisoning what is your liability? If you evict someone who has no where go go and that person dies are you partly responsible for the person’s death or guilty of involuntary manslaughter? There could be a few precedent setting cases in SF which could change the housing situation if landlords decide they don’t want to risk

  65. Dave 1021 is a well know SEIU 1021 paid troll. The more he rants about paid trolls the more you realize that he is a paid troll.

  66. I am talking about the unruly mob who tried to hijack the BofS meeting last week, and threatened DCCC members the week before.

    Nobody in the Planning Department ever threatened anyone.

  67. Aside from your assertion that anyone with an opinion different from yours is a paid troll, I find it hilarious that you consistently use hashtags in your posts, which, aside from it being a staple amongst teenagers, is an old-school programming reference. As loudly anti-tech as you are, it is a sort of delicious irony that you don’t know that.

  68. It will be interesting to see if Mirk has the spine to arrest any protester who seeks to stop a totally legal court-ordered eviction.

    Mirk personally escorting Erin to central booking would be a show I would pay to watch.

  69. You idiot, the nonprofit crowd fears the community as much as the developer crowd, that is why they punted to MEDA and Planning to “fix” the housing problem in the Mission that they supported in 2008.

  70. Maybe the real problem is your obsession with those who present diverse viewpoints and critical analysis. Perhaps you prefer censorship but most here do not.

  71. The word “crowd” there is the problem. “Planning by loud mob” would not be an improvement

  72. “A new Mission Moratorium on market-rate housing doesn’t create new
    affordable housing by itself; neither did the other three. But history
    tells us that it can help in two ways. As an interim control, it would
    calm the current feeding frenzy of development in the Mission, while new
    proposals are created and approved to (finally) correct past planning
    errors, prevent evictions and build affordable housing. And like a
    picket line or a boycott, it is also a clear and unmistakable signal to
    City Hall that business-as-usual cannot continue at the Planning
    Department and in the City’s neighborhoods.”

    last time i read Campos failed legislation, it called for no rezoning,
    just punted to the Planning Department and MEDA, those who planned us
    into this mess in 2008, to address the 13 parcels. The moratorium has
    become and end in and of itself
    by the crowd that sees delay as a win. But what is important is the
    payload attached to the moratorium. That needs to include a public
    process like western SOMA to address housing/affordability,
    transportation and impacts on small businesses, produce a plan and make
    sure that the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors cannot sweep
    that plan under the rug. I think we all know by now that the Mayor will
    threaten to cut off any nonprofit that supports such an approach.

  73. Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

    Eugene Victor Debs, Upon Being Convicted of Violating the Sedition Act

  74. Can you just ban the #paidwingnuttrolls once and for all? No one who actually reads the reporting on this site would be sad… and their cries of “censorship!” on another site (maybe back to SFGate?) would be MOST enjoyable!

  75. “The word “moratorium” may sound extreme, [instead of] interim controls.”


    More evidence that this whole measure is Drama rather than a rational or reasonable attempt to find solutions.

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