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UncategorizedBallot measures and D3 race could be referendum on...

Ballot measures and D3 race could be referendum on the mayor

Ed Lee has no major opponents — but the voters can weigh in on his policies

Mission community leaders Roberto Hernandez and Gabriel Medina announce they have filed enough signatures to likely get the Mission Moratorium on the ballot
Mission community leaders Roberto Hernandez and Gabriel Medina announce they have filed enough signatures to likely get the Mission Moratorium on the ballot

By Tim Redmond

JULY 7, 2015 – The fall election came into more clear focus this afternoon as the supporters of five ballot initiatives filed what are likely to be enough signatures to put the measures on the ballot.

And while Mayor Ed Lee has no major opponents in his campaign for re-election, two of the ballot measures – and the District Three race – will serve in part as referendums on his policies.

The biggest news: The Mission Moratorium, which many argued would never be able to qualify for the ballot in such a short period of time, delivered more than 15,000 signatures collected in just 19 days.

Much of the work was done by volunteers; campaign leaders told me they spent roughly $10,000, which at $2 a signature would have accounted for only a third of the names.

The city has to verify that 9,700 signatures are valid.

The measures everyone knew were likely to qualify were the proposal by the Giants to develop a parking lot near AT&T Park; a measure by PG&E’s allies that seeks to undermine the city’s clean power program; A proposal to limit short-term rentals by companies like Airbnb; and a proposal by SF State professor and political consultant David Lee that would mandate more video coverage of city meetings and allow online comments.

“We were told it couldn’t be done,” Roberto Hernandez, who helped organize the Mission Moratorium effort, said at a press conference at the Department of Elections. “But we did it in 19 days. Added Gabriel Medina: “People are sick and tired of the displacement of hard-working families … if we can’t protect the Mission, we can’t protect any neighborhood.”

Earlier in the day, Share Better SF submitted 15,983 signatures (generally speaking, 15,000 is enough to guarantee that the measure will qualify) for a law that will tighten up the rules for short-term rentals.

“Last week, the City announced that it had sent violation notices for 70 illegal Airbnb rentals,” said Doug Engmann, former president of the San Francisco Planning Commission. “That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands of units that are illegally rented as hotel rooms every night of the week. Every independent analyst that’s examined the issue reached the same conclusion – any limits on Airbnb rentals are unenforceable unless the City 1) has access to rental data and 2) allows companies to advertise only registered units. Our measure provides the tools necessary for effective enforcement of the law, eliminates incentives for evictions, and protects affordable housing.”

The Mission Moratorium might have won nine votes at the Board of Supervisors, but the mayor strongly opposed it, and instead it received only seven, two short of the super-majority needed for these types of zoning controls.

The mayor strongly supported the original Airbnb bill by then-Sup. David Chiu that by many accounts has been a failure for the city (but quite lucrative for the short-term rental company).

So on those two key policy issues, the voters will get to decide if they support what the mayor is doing, or if they see the city going in the wrong direction.

Both are central to the debate over San Francisco’s future: The mayor has staked the city’s soul on increasing tech jobs and supporting tech companies, although the impacts have been felt all over town. The failure of the city to plan – that is, to make sure there was enough affordable housing, or money to pay for it, before City Hall attracted tens of thousands of new, high-paid workers – has made San Francisco a national case study in urban planning.

If voters approve the Airbnb measure, it will be a direct rejection of one of Lee’s signature policies (and one of his biggest backers, Ron Conway, an Airbnb investor). If the entire city agrees that we need to slow down development in the Mission, it will be a statement that the mayor is letting too much happen, too fast.

Meanwhile, the D3 race is quickly becoming a citywide concern.

Both candidates, Sup. Julie Christensen and former Sup. Aaron Peskin, have been raising money; as of Christensen had raised $159,000 and Peskin $167,000. The money is coming in not just from D3 but from all over the city – because people on both sides realize that this race could tip the balance of power on the Board of Supervisors.

Right now we’re seeing a lot of 6-5 votes, with the moderate-to-conservative bloc in control. If Peskin replaced Christensen, that balance would flip – and there would potentially be a board majority more willing to challenge the policies and priorities of the Lee Administration.

Both sides are not only aware of this, they’re pushing the argument.

District elections are in part about district issues, and both candidates are working hard to be the voice of the residents, small businesses, and neighborhood groups. But the overall politics of the city, and the policies of the mayor, are going to be a big part of this race.

So no real high-profile mayoral debate – but a lot of proxy issues that will let San Franciscans weigh on the direction of the city.

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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53 COMMENTS

  1. Holy Shit! 48Hills really is Calvin “The Lenin of the Haight” Welch’s propaganda organ.

    From the Chronicle:

    Members of the San Francisco Human Services Network, an association
    of 80 nonprofits, as well as progressive political operatives have met a
    couple of times recently to figure out how to join forces and persuade
    voters to back all four progressive ballot measures as a sort of
    referendum on the sweeping changes in San Francisco under Lee’s
    leadership.

    Longtime housing activist Calvin Welch, a key backer
    of the Airbnb ballot measure, said the four measures taken together at
    least allow the city to have an important debate and that they can serve
    as “the equivalent of the mayor’s race” in that regard.

    “There’s a hunger for people for talking about these issues,” Welch
    said. “This administration not only buries issues under the rug, it then
    busies itself to stomp on the lumps.”

    http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Backers-see-ballot-measures-Peskin-as-referendum-6378881.php?t=562a3a5e63&cmpid=fb-premium

  2. It is not about morals, it is about a narcissistic individual who thinks nothing of breaking up families to gratify his desires.

  3. I keep hearing about “white” privilege, but rent control privilege takes the cake here. Sure, keep others out , make it impossible for others to have homes in the Mission, just for your own personal selfish benefit.

  4. Want to know something funny? Only 2 people gave the maximum to Gonzalez in that campaign, which was $750. I am one of them, my roommate was the other.

  5. If memory serves, it was something like 52.5% – 47.5%, not bad for being outspent 10:1.

  6. The Mission needed affordable housing in 2008 when Eastern Neighborhoods was passed. The only people allowed at the table for EN were developers and the nonprofits who were empowered to speak on all residents’ behalf.

    Yes we need more affordable housing and it appears that 490 South Van Ness is a good start. But we need for more eyes to be on the problem because it is not in the best interests of San Franciscans for those with direct economic interests in the outcomes of a policy to be the only ones permitted at the table when that policy is hammered out behind closed doors.

    We need affordable housing and we don’t need corruption.

  7. More Fox News scrolling feed… if you bothered to do any research, you’d discover that polling shows Lee’s favorables a mile wide and an inch deep.

  8. The funders for the moratorium will soon be public knowledge, for any of the trolls with enough intelligence who are willing to go to the SF Ethics website for the campaign finance reports.

  9. Chompie, the PGE ballot initiative which as a troll you may support was dishonest in all respects. First, it was a deceptive ploy to keep the PGE monopoly in place as much as possible given the resurgence of Clean Power SF. Second, there were ZERO volunteers, paid crews were brought in from LA and out of state to gather sigs from low information voters, selling the initiative as “clean energy.”

    I know this because I talked to the circulators set up at a BART station. Word on the street was they were having trouble getting the required 15K sighs so PGE upped the per sig payout from $2 to $4 and finally to $6.

    On the other hand, the moratorium was circulated primarily by volunteers and if it passes it WILL hold available Mission sites for affordable housing. So there was no “disingenuousness” on the moratorium side and lots on the PGE side.

  10. It’s not about a second bite on the apple for nonprofits. Its about what the Mission needs, affordable housing. If for-profit developers want to build affordable, that’s fine. Kim got the Giants to up the ante to 40% affordable in a for-profit context. So apparently, the numbers are there, if they make LESS profit.

  11. What a stupid comment! No one is saying janitors need to live in Pacific Heights. We are saying that it’s not okay to turn ALL of SF into an gated community for the affluent. It is environmentally indefensible to push out the service workers to Vallejo, Stockton and beyond who will then commute into the city in beater cars to cook the food, wash the babies asses and cut the trees for the rich.

  12. The conservative troll POV:

    Gentrification = Progress
    Brown, Black & Poor People = Natives to be Replaced by Better Stock
    Socioeconomic Cleansing = Good for Bottom Line

    The Mission POV:
    Gentrification = Invasion
    Techies = Upper Income Invaders with Weaponized Money
    Socioeconomic Cleansing = Bad, Bad, Bad

  13. Would certainly serve notice if the mayor failed to get the 50%+1 needed to get elected on the first draw of the ranked choice ballots.

  14. But it wasn’t a high turnout election and 15,000 votes as a percentage was significant

    Ammiano is getting too old to run.

  15. Few politicians are personally attractive. You overlook that and support the ones who can get your agenda done, and the Gavinator has been effective

  16. Peskin is the number one reason that housing is expensive in San Francisco. He and his wife blocked any development of the waterfront at all. He created the Historical Preservation Committee, which blocks the development of needed housing. He tried to expand the shadows ordinance to make it harder to build anywhere in San Francisco. He calls himself an environmentalist while forcing people to live far from their jobs in San Francisco and endure long commutes. He is a hypocrite.

  17. They were very disingenuous in the way they asked people for signatures for the moratorium. One woman asked me if I would sign for more affordable housing in the Mission. That is NOT what the ballot iniciative is.

  18. Ammiano might be able to beat Wiener on inertia alone but I don’t think that he’s up to beating Lee.

    Gonzalez lost by 15,000 votes. Most “progressive leaders” are hooked into the loser nonprofits and won’t buck the socialization.

  19. This moratorium as crafted represents the very least that the nonprofits can do to appear to challenge the mayor while remaining firmly wed to the condo growth regime. All we’ve got here is negotiating the terms of surrender, stretching out the maturity of those bonds, with a hefty chunk of cash being thrown the way of those who provide such a political fig leaf for the neoliberals.

    That’s their MO, figuring out the least palatable measure that will pass the voters for their benefit.

  20. The nonprofiteers know that they don’t have what it takes to play and win. Their paramount goal is to protect their claims on the General Fund. So winning for them has noting to do with winning elections.

    Since they hold most San Franciscans in contempt, they won’t and can’t form alliances and coalitions with the rest of us.

    So they fold candidate campaign tent on behalf of the rest of us and cling to their Own Good Thing while their “community” dwindles.

  21. Yeah, I look forward to Tim’s hard-hitting reporting about where the money came from for the moratorium signature drive.

    Oh yeah, forgot… disclosure is for other people.

  22. No. These have nothing to do with the mayor, Tim’s spin notwithstanding.

    These measures are referendums on San Francisco progressives.

  23. Yes, Lee is wildly popular and Tom etc are too scared to run against him. A loss when you are well into your 70’s is humiliating

    Gonzo vs Newsome wasn’t that close – Gavin got 10% more votes

  24. Reducing politics to celebrity gossip doesn’t become someone who wishes to be taken seriously as a political commentator

  25. Really…if the Mayor was as unpopular with the masses as Progressives say he is then why not challenge him, money and all. How about a former President of the BOS? Why not try? Because you are scared? Poor little Aaron.

    If Peskin knew how to make and keep the city affordable then he should have done so when he was President of the BOS with broad support.

    Are we supposed to expect different results this time around?

  26. Nobody said that low-paid service workers don’t have a place here. In fact affluent places typically need a lot of them. The point is more that they don’t need to live in the affluent areas where they work. Just because a janitor works in Pacific Heights doesn’t mean that he has to live there.

  27. Despite the fact that Ed Lee is the most hated man in San Francisco, for some mysterious reason not one serious person is running against him.

  28. Everything is for sale. The moratorium camp had to buy a third of their signatures. This is the world we live in.

  29. Bullshit. Gonzalez came within 15,000 votes of winning after Newsom out spent him 10:1.

    Daly beat Rob Black after Black out spent him by a similar margin.

    Peskin will beat Christensen even though Conway spends wildly on her behalf and against Peskin.

    Money for a campaign is not an issue when there is popular mobilization.

    No, those who depend on City funding know that if they strike at the King and fail to kill the King, that they will themselves be cut off of royal largess.

    This is One Big Round of self censored corruption.

  30. Did I miss the printing part of this exercise?

    Running uncritical press releases from one’s friends is hardly journalism.

  31. To Newsom’s cocaine adultery (with his Chief of Staff’s wife) add the toxic waste dumping in our beautiful parks. It’s Newsom’s donors who make up City Fields Foundation, the group that has stubbornly insisted on installing acres of toxic, outdated tire rubble turf in the soccer fields… and trying to call it a “gift”.

  32. Your tiny-ness is showing. Competition is what makes democracy work. NO ONE is challenging Lee because it would mean certain bankruptcy and financial disaster… with Ronnie Con’s endless money available to Lee so he can continue being the puppet for Airbnb. Of course, Aaron would make a great mayor, flaws and all… because he isn’t for sale to the highest bidder.
    How many people were wiling to take themselves and their families into certain financial ruin to run against Lee? This town has been bought by Airbnb… a complete disgrace to democracy everywhere.

  33. sffogie… When you put your own money and life on the line to do what Tim is doing with 48 hills, then you can print whatever you think. No one is forcing you to read his pieces… which deliver badly needed info that the mainstream press won’t touch because they are bought off by their corporate advertisers which control City Hall with their backroom deals. Bless you Tim!

  34. “Progress” has never been about inequality or discrimination. To make an urban area work, there needs to be all sorts of people doing many different things/jobs. This creates multiple economic groups. The city can’t discriminate against any one group….but to many of us Lee has and he seems to support just the upper income group. This isn’t “progress” as you claim but it is the root of the war that is going on in the city and it will make SF a less interesting place to live.

  35. Just a minor correction: “The mayor has staked the city’s soul on increasing tech jobs and
    supporting tech companies…”

    No. It should be, The mayor has staked PAYING THE CITY’S BILLS on increasing tech jobs and
    supporting tech companies.

    Understandable mistake though. Paying bills is such a foreign concept to the city’s left. To them, it’s all about feelings, some warm and fuzzy, others screeching and hysterical. The money is supposed to just fall off the trees (i.e., the rich), although some trees need more shaking than others, in their view.

  36. These mayors successively smothered and co-opted whatever neighborhood politics existed so all that is left over is what the nonprofits they fund tell us is possible.

    It appears that the candidates that “progressives” have on deck at this point for next year, one who submitted this moratorium initiative that gives the Mayor, Planning, MOH, MOEWD and, of course, the nonprofit “stakeholders” a second bite at the Mission rezoning apple, means nonprofit and labor have more smothering in store for us .

  37. If this were still the Guardian, then Tim and team would have pored through the legislation, figured out all of its faults, and written something like “this legislation is a good idea, but is wrong here, here and here, but we need it, so vote for it.”

    Of course “is wrong here, here and here” would make it onto opposition campaign literature.

    Not to worry, 48hills is risks not hitting the Guardian’s low journalistic standards.

    A simple reprint of a press release with no opposing views or critical thought is what 48hills provides these days.

  38. I’m also concerned about Peskin’s return but am more optimistic. You’re right; many people have no idea who the candidates are so I’m not sure how many have a positive impression of the supervisor from 8 years ago.

    I live in D3 and notice that most people who do recognize Peskin’s name have a viscerally negative reaction when they hear it. There is all the angry dwarf and drunk dialing fodder.

    I agree, the notion that he is fighting for affordability is a sham. He is running to maintain a BOS seat for the landed gentry on Telegraph Hill.

    Also, if he is so concerned about the state of the city then why isn’t he challenging Lee for Mayor? He has the resume to do so and nobody else has stepped up.

    It supports the notion that he truly is a “tiny” man.

  39. True, but then “Magick” is hardly a serious name either, and so not intended to be taken seriously. She might as well call herself Moonbeam, Harvest or Sunshine.

  40. You can;t blame Tim from trying to pluck victory from the jaws of defeat.

    Some of the cited votes will go Tim’s way and then Tim will claim that Lee is unpopular even though Lee will probably be re-elected with 70% of the vote.

    People see what they need to see to feel less irrelevant. Yet nothing here will stop the new build (at least everywhere but the Mission), the cranes, the new jobs, the economic expansion.

    Progressives are fighting progress – always a doomed scenario.

  41. As much as I would like to say otherwise, I would say there is no chance that Peskin is not re-elected to the board. I’d venture to say that a large percentage of SF voters have no idea who a candidate is or what a particular candidate stands for, but they will recognize a name, and vote accordingly. Peskin is the living embodiment of an anachronism, and has never really left the board. He still continues to wield an amazing amount of power for someone who isn’t even an elected official.

    I have to laugh at his campaign slogan “for an affordable city” – this from the guy who recently personally intervened to cancel an affordable housing project downwind from his telegraph hill throne -Seawall 322-1. I cant wait to hear how he will make SF affordable by preserving it forever in amber.

  42. Tim, If we can get 15,000 signatures in 19 days, then we can elect a
    candidate of conscience like Amy Farah Weiss as Mayor. You are
    supporting the lie that money and manipulation of the public is the only
    way elections are won. Look what happened in RIchmond, Chevron failed to buy the mayor or the council.
    If our votes are not for sale then the majority of the people in the city would elect a new mayor.
    Start
    talking up the other candidates and suggest that the way to get money
    out of politics is to have an educated electorate that can’t be bought.
    The kids at Lowell school did an excellent musical called “City NOT for sale”
    Come on TIm, you’re a great writer, make it so! With Respect, Magick

  43. you may not remember some former mayors of SF so here’s a puzzle

    Agnos
    Jordan
    Brown
    Newsom

    matrix program
    fbi investigation
    cocaine adultery
    freeway unpopularity

    join the dots

  44. Um…. not to be pedantic, but we do have a referendum on the mayor: it’s call a mayoral election. If anything the fact that no one of standing sees him as vulnerable is a ‘referendum’ on Lee.

    You really can only say that X is referendum on Y when it’s an off year and Y isn’t running for office. In that case voters can be said to voting for or against something as a proxy for Y. Always a dubious claim — but an unsupportable one when voters can vote directly.

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