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News + Politics Pro-development group seeks to take over local Sierra...

Pro-development group seeks to take over local Sierra Club

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Move could change the politics of one  of SF’s environmental stalwarts

48hillssierraclub

By Tim Redmond

OCTOBER 6, 2015 — A group that wants more market-rate housing development pretty much any cost is trying to gets its allies elected to the local Sierra Club board to force the organization to be more supportive of highrise condo projects, including on the waterfront.

The pro-growth advocates are taking advantage of the open, democratic process of the venerable environmental group, which allows anyone who pays a $15 membership fee by Tuesday/6 to vote in the upcoming board elections.

This isn’t the first time interests that want to change the club’s politics have tried to sign up new members and take over senior positions – in the 1990s, a group tried led by the former governor of Colorado tried to get seats on the national board to force the environmentalists into taking a strong anti-immigration stance.

This is a much smaller effort, but it has its own ambitious goal – to drive an organization that has been part of the progressive movement in San Francisco in recent years to take a more pro-development stance.

Among the leaders in the effort: Donald Dewsnup, a licensed real-estate agent who does interior design and serves on the Government Affairs Committee of the Board of Realtors and Sonja Trauss, founder of SFBARF, which argues that if only enough housing is built to turn San Francisco into another Hong Kong, eventually prices will come down.

The battle is getting played out mostly on Google groups and facebook, where Trauss and Dewsnup, who has filed as a candidate for the Executive Board, are making their pitch: If enough people sign up and join, the politics of the club can be shifted.

It won’t take many; as Trauss pointed out in a recent post, some 116 new members have signed up under the pro-growth banner:

116 in all so far! I didn’t have a number in mind to start. There are 3000 sierra club members in the san francisco group. How many of them vote in these elections? The bike coalition has 7,000 members, and even with the controversy, about 900 voted in their last election, so, maybe that is a good proxy for voter turn out? 13% of 3000 is 390, which puts our 100 people at like 25% of the likely voters. … As soon as the group confirms the candidate nominations, it’ll be time to make a slate card and start campaigning. The Sierra club election isn’t until the end of November, so real campaigning will start after the SF election.

In other words, as Sierra Club political leader John Rizzo points out, a relatively small number of new members can have a serious impact.

The Sierra Club slate in San Francisco is influential; this time around, the club endorsed challenger Aaron Peskin over Sup. Julie Christensen and is supporting the tighter limits on Airbnb and the Mission Moratorium. The SFBARFers are all in for Christensen and oppose the moratorium.

I asked Trauss what she was up to, and she told me that she’s particularly upset that the Sierra Club opposed height increases at 75 Howard. In fact, the club has been part of the broad-based progressive coalition that has fought to keep the waterfront from becoming Miami Beach.

She wrote to me:

New housing is expensive, because it’s new, and SF has tons of rich people. It’s appropriate to build new, expensive housing for rich people in expensive neighborhoods. Sierra Club (and No wall on the waterfront) are just rich people using their political capital to block housing in their fancy neighborhoods.

If that’s what you think, fine. If you disagree, it’s easy to join the Sierra Club online, and even a few more memberships could keep a part of SF’s progressive movement from becoming another developer front.

The link is here. Just scroll down and click “join.”

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.

307 COMMENTS

  1. Cities that build above 5 stories most often have well developed transit systems in place first. The IRT ran out to an empty Bronx before the higher rise apartment buildings went up. The Twin Peaks and Yerba Buena tunnels were bored before the west side of San Francisco was developed. Today it is just upzone and build and let existing residents suffer for the lack of infrastructure.

  2. I oppose 75 Howard and it is nowhere near my back yard, although I understand that they have identified a prodigious subsurface reservoir of amber on the parcel.

  3. If you want to live in a city as dense as Dhaka Bangladesh, why not move to Dhaka Bangladesh?

    Nobody moved to California to live in Bangladesh. That is what Mississippi is for.

  4. But there is no evidence that either of these two things are true.

    Religious claims of the free marketeers is not evidence.

  5. Yes, because can vary much more rapidly and extremely than supply which is practically inelastic relative to demand which is practically infinite.

  6. First of all, love your work.

    But advocating for building more housing is not an analogue of “trickle down economics.” This is about supply for a good (housing) and demand. Trickle down economics, by contrast, is not about the supply of a good. It is about the nebulous idea that prosperity will trickle down to the poor when the rich get richer in income and/or wealth. Trickle down economics cannot be represented, at all, on the kind of simple supply/demand curve that is the foundation of all of microeconomics and is taught in every first semester microeconomics course in America. Here is one showing both an increase in supply and an increase in demand.

  7. So restrict abentee ownership as a condition of development, or heavily tax absentee ownership as NYC has proposed to do. There are other actual solutions besides simply refusing to let things be built.

  8. Excellent work not even reading my comment, which included the idea of making there be restrictions on absentee ownership. Some condo founding documents restrict the ability of an owner to rent out the condo; that could be incorporated as a requirement in a development process. Or like New York, SF could propose to heavily tax absentee owners, in order to discourage that behavior.

  9. You know, when I bring an umbrella, it seems to rain. I guess if I just stop bringing my umbrella around, the rain will go away! Correlation isn’t causation. Prices are continuing to go up because so long as the number of jobs outnumbers the number of houses, prices will keep going up, regardless of whether you’re adding housing or not. The question isn’t are you adding housing, the question is HOW MUCH are you adding. And SF has built about half the housing it needed to have to keep up with its population growth in the last two decades.

  10. Except that real environmentalism is about the environment and is precisely about caring about living things that aren’t human. Are you saying we should pump millions more tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere just so people can appreciate the absence of a couple more floors on top of a building? Really?? Seems like a selfish and human-centered view to me very much disconnected from what’s good for the rest of the creatures on earth. Wonder if all those skeleton-thin polar bears in the Arctic would agree with your assessment.

    When Roosevelt and Muir talked about preserving the natural experience, they were talking about preserving open spaces and preserving real wildlife. They weren’t talking about preserving the views of the urban rich.

  11. I think that’s true. But I still think it’s important for us to do our part and especially so if we can model development styles that encourage carless living while still maintaining a high quality of life. If we can make it look good, China and India are more likely to emulate that rather than taking a detour into 1950s America. But even outside the issue of global warming, we know that emissions contribute to asthma and possibly cancer. That’s very localized, so curbing emissions still helps us locally.

  12. Except they did start their own group and it’s so influential that this blog can’t stop writing about it. Anyway, there’s nothing sleazy or underhanded about joining a group, asking others to join a group, or trying to vote in leadership of a group so long as you’re following that very group’s own rules. There is no “hijacking” wherein all rules are being followed and all actions are in plain view for all to see. Which everyone is doing. What is sleazy, however, is a group that claims to be “environmentalist” but isn’t in compliance with its own charter and which values the views of rich people in their penthouses above the actual environmental damage caused by displacing people into the suburbs.

  13. If you’re against 75 Howard you are a NIMBY. That displaces nobody, except maybe the views of some rich people.

  14. I’ve lived in San Francisco all my life, and I have to say that the current argument about housing smacks less of informed citizens debating how to improve our City and more of the same propaganda than is fueling the nation elections. Not because of any “NIMBY-ism” on the part of the Liberals in S.F., but because of the fast-talking, big money smoothness of the monied class. The developers and their client say they want affordable housing, so do they build it? No. They lobby for astronomically expensive housing, coupled with “Below Market” housing – which is only ridiculously expensive. If they were actually interested in build housing affordable for working families that’s what they would build. But instead they use an argument that should have been relegated to the garbage decades ago, but will live as long as there are Rich folks pushing it, and working folks dumb enough to buy it: Trickle Down. That’s all this is, Trickle Down Housing, the idea that if we build more housing for the Rich there will, somehow, magically be more affordable housing for the rest of us. It didn’t work with the economy as a whole, and it won’t work with housing, as it presupposes that there is a small, limited number of wealthy folks interested in buying in S.F., and that once they have bought the top places the prices on the other places will drop. But there is no evidence that either of these two things are true. There are plenty of well-off and temporarily rich tech folks willing to pay top dollar for any space in The City, so prices have no reason to drop. No, the whole argument is just Trickle Down Housing, and we – the folks not at the top – are once again getting trickled down on. Until these developers and their cronies in City Hall commit to building actually affordable housing FIRST, housing with a with a maximum income requirement that ensures that working families can afford them without a six-figure income, all their talk about NIMBY-ism is just a smokescreen for the same old greed we’ve seen at work on the national level, and that has repeatedly almost wrecked out nation. Trickle Down Housing – that’s what it is, and that’s what we should call it.

  15. Your claim that shadows cast by building has nothing to do with environmentalism is a example of how much (wind) tunnel vision you have. Yes we could build more housing in taller structures on corridors like Geary Blvd…but the focus has been on luxury waterfront apartments, mostly for absentee foreign nationals.

    And registering with a political party, in California, means absolutely zero…z-e-r-o …don’t use that as a bonafide.

  16. “There are a lot of liberals like me who are completely sick and tired of environmentalism and social justice causes being hijacked by a bunch of selfish, elitist, NIMBY already-haves.”

    Sorry, man, that statement smacks of disingenuousness. Makes the whole post sound like propaganda.

  17. There is no San Francisco “temporary” policy. Things get passed, then people forget about them and they become the way things have always been.

  18. Yes, let’s freeze office building development in San Francisco. And the south bay as well. And then in Portland, Austin, Seattle, Houston, Boulder, etc where companies will expand more instead. Which they already are doing and the residents there are already complaining about.

  19. Here for your viewing pleasure are Matthew Yglesias’ two original articles on SF housing costs and the need for more density, mentioned in one of my posts below:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/04/11/san_francisco_zoning_needs_more_density_and_tall_buildings.html

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/11/25/bay_area_zoning_if_you_want_to_talk_housing_you_have_to_talk_zoning.html

    Here is a review of and link to his book, The Rent is Too Damn High: http://www.samefacts.com/2012/03/everything-else/the-rent-is-too-damn-high-unlike-the-price-of-matt-yglesiass-new-book/

  20. Housing is less expensive in the suburbs near transit than in the city where everyone wants to live. Let’s build in the outer boroughs.

  21. Housing prices, not costs, will continue to shoot up no matter what discretionary policy choices are made so long as demand is sustained.

  22. Considering I am a socialist, I find that laughable. I could be talking about a 9-story government housing project and my point would be the same.

  23. This may be true, or it may not be, but the practical result will be that we kill upzoning in the city because there’s “plenty of capacity” along the BART lines, and the municipalities along the BART lines will kill upzoning because they have even less of a desire to make housing affordable than SF does, and why should they do anything when SF isn’t doing anything, and so nothing will happen. And housing costs will continue to shoot up.

  24. Thanks for posting this. I actually did live in Hong Kong and it seems so strange that all the anti-dev folks puts it on blast. It’s an incredible place.

  25. I think there’s a strong argument to be made that it can encourage waste. In short, it encourages major spending now, to be paid for over many years, instead of gradual spending over many years. As a result, the projects are built bigger, faster, and more expensive, with less attention paid to the details, and a higher likelihood that they turn out to be white elephants or have other major problems in the long run.

  26. It sounds like its time to sponsor a ballot initiative that (1) allows every single-family zoned area to allow apartments, and (2) increases all the 40 ft height areas to 65 ft areas.

    65 ft hardly sounds like Hong Kong. Paris, maybe. But definitely not Hong Kong (I’ve lived there).

  27. the irony of this post is truly impressive, you’re one of, if not THE, ugliest poster on this website.
    go take your meds, I believe you said?

  28. Ellis act evicting landlord, if you don’t have anything to contribute to the discussion, shut up. Enough with your personal attacks.

  29. Eric,

    Given how much you like to accuse SFBARF of being a front group, I’m a little surprised at how hard it is to get information on your group, the ‘nonprofit’ Our City San Francisco.

    I’ve been able to figure out that your boss is a lawyer and owner of a North Beach apartment building, and that your group has been opposing new housing throughout the city. But I haven’t been able to find your Form 990s, annual reports, or any information on your board, major funders, or management.

    So: who are your major donors? Who is on your board? Do you receive funding from existing SF landlords, and if so, who and how much?

  30. I think the simple answer is that long-term rent-controlled tenants–who are also the most connected and motivated tenants, and the most likely to be members of tenants rights’ groups–are also members of the “already haves”, and act accordingly.

  31. There are no “legitimate concerns” to the construction of a 9 story building. If you’re worried about traffic, advocate for a better public transit system instead of yelling about buildings.

  32. The East Bay does not have more housing than it needs. Rents in Oakland are skyrocketing faster than pretty much any other city in the country as population grows but developers ignore the city entirely.

  33. Room in our urban core has been essentially frozen. We have added a paltry amount of new housing in comparison to suburban areas. Freezing the capacity of cities forces the suburbs to grow.

    When the local chapter of the Sierra club argues that a couple minutes a day of lost sunlight in an urban, man-made park, or a blocked view from a distance of the bay, is worse for the environment than hundreds more people living a suburban environment, it cannot be accurately said that they support infill growth.

  34. The group has already been co-opted. Us environmentalists who recognize the impact of freezing development near transit, and pushing it further out into previously undeveloped open space to the East, forcing residents there to use their cars, are hoping to take it back from the pro-sprawl hands it currently rests in.

  35. Yes, someone who opposes a 9-story building in a low-rise neighborhood is a NIMBY. Do they have any legitimate concerns? Perhaps, but if they fail to analyze the impacts on everyone else who doesn’t live in their neighborhood of NOT building that 9-story building, and if they fail to comprehend what would happen if every neighborhood made the same exact choice, then they are a NIMBY through and through.

  36. I am super-excited that I got a like from Bob Loblaw! Please immediately direct me to The Bob Boblaw Law Blog!

  37. Sure – many jobs are being created outside of sf, and many of those people want to live in sf for the same reasons you live there and I lived there for 21 years until a few months ago. So yes, for sure other cities need to be pressed to build more housing. But it sounds like we can also agree then that SF should at least build enough housing to accommodate the jobs that are in fact being created there??

  38. Local Developers and builders have been in the City for 30 years. They desire to build buildings with 30% affordable housing. Also the local builders and local developers have the financial means to build affordable housing not SF taxpayers.

  39. Most of the jobs are not in San Francisco. The folks who work in SF are being forced out of the city so they are now commuting in, while most new residents are commuting out. Everyone, including the Director of the Planning Department, admits the plan to build near jobs is not panning out as planned. The number of commuters has increased. The homes need to be built near the jobs, and that is not in San Francisco.

  40. Technicality CEQA-defined “environmental harms” like “not enough parking”, “too much construction noise”, and “blocking the view of downtown from Potrero Hill” aren’t to be taken as anything but a smokescreen for NIMBYism. That is what we intend to change.

  41. I had a hard time finding your substative points, which were drowned by personal rants about people’s motivations, homeowners, liberals, NIMBYs, whatever.

    This reply is the same. I had to read halfway down it, about laughing landlords, wealthy families, car crashes, “people like me”, etc., to get to a half sentence mentioning “supply and demand”. That seems to be your main substantive argument. So you think building more will lower prices? Fine. Write a few sentences about it. People have been talking about it at this very site for a while now, and there are some well-reasoned arguments as to why building more might or might not lower prices. Personally I think they won’t, for what I believe are good reasons. Perhaps you have good reasons to believe they will, but you’ll have to get the message across with more nuts and bolts detail than “basic, first-semester microeconomics principles of supply and demand” and with no personal invective.

  42. I would like to congratulate Tim Redmond for being a wealthy SF homeowner worth 1.3M. That Tim is quite the wealthy guy. I guess if have lived in SF back in the day like him I would be a wealthy SF homeowner too but moving to SF from Seattle for a better quality of life 3 years ago I am a bit late in the game renting with two other roommates $3,500 each sharing the same bathroom and kitchen in home that was built in the 1920’s that has not been remodeled for decades. Harvey Milk is my personal hero because he was a Harry S. Truman Democrat. Harvey Milk complained the left was all tugging at him to be more left/ socialist than the middle liberal he was. Harvey Milk also worked on Wall Street and was so successful being a broker his own boss was jealous before moving to the West Coast. Like myself Harvey moved to SF for a better quality of life. I love being published but I also love being interviewed one on one with journalists. I am happy to have an one on one interview with Tim anytime.

  43. To be more specific, non-partisan organizations estimate that between 2010 and 2025, even with the new building that has gone up or is expected to go up, there is expected to be a unmet demand in the Bay Area for over 6,000 for-sale housing units, and unmet demand for between 22,000 and 25,000 total units (including rental units). That is massive, and those are conservative estimates. This is because, sebra, demand has not remained constant, and because on a relative basis the amount being constructed is pretty small. Here is a California state report on these issues, throughout California. http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2015/finance/housing-costs/housing-costs.aspx

  44. No, of course they haven’t gone down – have you seen the numbers about new jobs in sf over the last few years versus new homes built? Lots of jobs, far (far) fewer homes. And yes, “views and lifestyles” are critical – much more so than providing homes for people (rolling eyes).

  45. First of all…oligarchy? Second, you don’t respond to my substantive points. Third, I am a lot more concerned about the landed, property-owning nobility, and the “corporations” that own the existing apartment buildings, acting in their self interest. How come people like you rarely talk about those corporations? Developers are just such a super easy target for people who lack the ability to contextualize. They make the news. They’re like airplane crashes. But for every evil “corporation” developer in SF, there are literally hundreds of legacy rentier corporations and wealthy families who quietly sit by cashing the absurd rent checks of SF tenants, and laughing at people like you. They’re the vastly more common car crashes that rarely make the news. For every rich person you are worried about moving in, there are many more who already own and have for years, and who are laughing at people like you as their home values rise, because they absolutely understand basic, first-semester microeconomics principles of supply and demand. You, in short, are the one working for the “oligarchy” — you know, something closer to the actual meaning of the word — the groups that actually are the inter-connected oligarchical market-controlling hierarchy of legacy, existing SF. The only question is whether or not you are even aware of it, and/or whether you are a part of it.

    I certainly think, and I think the SFBARF people would agree, that there needs to be ongoing protections for lower income people. But that does not mean SF should be turned into a museum city that is only for the very rich and a curated group of the very poor. That is the path it is on. There is mathematically no room in your vision of SF for a middle class; there is simply no mathematical way for a middle class to survive in SF at all without significantly more supply. Those are the people your preferred policies have been and are already pushing out into the suburbs.

  46. Totally disagree with sentiments of a hostile takeover. I’m a member of SFBARF and the issue is simple: there is a clear rationale for more housing in urban areas, from an environmental perspective, since pushing people out to the suburbs creates urban sprawl which necessarily requires more land developed. San Francisco is already highly developed, so the environmental cost of more development is quite negligible. SFBARF is asking members who agree with this perspective to join Sierra club and make this view known.

  47. Name one market rate development that the SF Chapter of the Sierra Club has supported in the last 10 years.

  48. Can you make an argument without name calling, without painting everyone who doesn’t agree with you with a broad brush of selfish motivation, and without telling people what they think?

    I will tell you, painting with a broad brush, that all big developers are looking at the bottom line first and foremost. You don’t get to develop billions of dollars any other way. You don’t get investors any other way. That means build as much as you can as long as you cause prices to drop; that means developing as many luxury apartments and as many one-bedrooms as you can; that means fighting tooth and nail any to lower affordable housing requirements to a pittance, and then offering 25% affordable housing as a sign of your largesse.

    What Us Liberals think is that developers and other corporations profit from pushing lower income people out of the city, to the sprawling suburbs if need be, and bringing in as many rich people as they can, so as to increase their profit. Any city policy that doesn’t acknowledge this and try to counter it is working for the oligarchy, not for the people it should be representing.

  49. What is the point of increasing the transfer tax on properties under $5m, while decreasing it on properties over $10m?

  50. Gary is an ideas guy. He rarely knows how to achieve anything. He just enjoys throwing ideas out and getting them shot down in flames

  51. The first is illegal at the city level so it’s a non-starter

    The second would kill flipping, which you might like, but it wont produce much revenue anyway, and certainly not enough to build affordable homes

    Your idea is not fully formed

  52. A 2% financial transaction tax on speculative trades and a much higher one on speculative property flipping, ought to do nicely.. 😉

  53. Why didn’t you put your idea on the ballot so that we have a real choice?

    A will probably fail, so will we see your idea in 2016?

  54. There is a strong argument for government debt spending in the current, zero-rate, great-recession economy. It is, at least while this lasts, almost certainly a net benefit to borrow to spend.

  55. I don’t think it matters either way because people are aware and they still burn energy like it’s 1970

  56. False assumption. And the idea is to reject a bad ballot measure, so that the people who put it there will wise up and give us a -good- one in the next election 😉

  57. What libertarians really don’t like is excessive government lending. They want expenditure all from taxes so that the voters can reject them if it means too many taxes

    Your position is quite libertarian

  58. Again, your idea is not on the ballot, so why would we reject one that is on the ballot in favor of your idea that would never get on the ballot anyway?

  59. Sure, which is marginalia in a policy discussion. How widespread realization was could the topic in a discussion of attitudes.

  60. Because you have offered no specifics on exactly who you will tax, and how much you will tax them

    You are asking us to approve an unfunded idea that isn’t even on the ballot, and vote down a real measure with real funding that is on the ballot

  61. If government could live off only taxes and not run a deficit, I’d be a happy man. but every government everywhere runs deficit spending because it means they can spend more than earn

    You almost sound like a libertarian

  62. Again. Why are you assuming that this badly needed housing cannot be built sensibly without boneheaded bond financing which does nothing but waste money?

  63. But the choice between us is either build them or bot build them

    The choice isn’t between build them and adopt Brooksie’s plan.

  64. The same 2/3rds vote required for tax increases is also required for Prop A. So let’s just avoid wasting taxpayer money on interest, and give them a housing fund to vote for that saves them that interest.

  65. How high are you willing to go?

    didn’t you once say that you thought the downtown towers looked beautiful?

  66. wcw, I always agreed with you that sprawl is bad for environment. My disagreement with you was that widespread realization came only much later than you claimed

  67. Because people need places to live, and because rates are not just low, they are super, duper, multi-decade low, subsidized by the federal tax break. It’s the best time for municipalities to borrow to fund infrastructure in the past half century.

    Housing further, unlike truly public infrastructure like parks and bridges, produces income. Even below market rent housing will end up covering its interest, and if it didn’t, so what? Parks don’t cover the interest payments on bonds either.

  68. Because, as it stands now, the state effectively ties your hands on property and income tax increases, a sales tax is regressive, and rates are actually so low that it could well be in line with inflation as things continue to pick up.

  69. Well, except that it isn’t high interest at all – in fact, it’s really, _really_ low interest right now. Probably the lowest it will ever get.

  70. Who cares? Focus on the topic, not on one dropped word after dozens of obsessive, irrelevant, off-topic comments.

    The topic is development, and that by the ’70s it should have been clear that to promote sprawl is to damage the environment.

    The main way sprawl damages the environment is with sprawl: it replaces natural space with asphalt and buildings. Sprawl promotes inefficient lifestyles which pollute more, including carbon pollution. Warming from carbon was in the scientific mainstream by the 1960s. If not, who cares? That’s marginalia.

    What is the point of seizing on that piece of marginalia as if it were the main topic? The main topic is development and sprawl.

  71. It is the interest that is the problem. If we get rid of interest financing, property taxes can be lower and/or more can be spent on housing.

    Building housing with bonds is like buying necessities with a high interest credit card.

  72. How can floating a municipal bond, interest for which is subsidized by a federal tax break, during a period when interest rates are at multi-decade lows possibly be a massive waste?

  73. Errr, Roseville and Davis are about the same distance from Sacto, and traffic blows in each direction. You brought up the ridiculous argument that everyone out there is telecommuting and how blissful it is. But go on acting like an internet toughguy, it is your modus operandi.

  74. The difference is that that straight fees and taxes for the general fund don’t have to be paid back with interest (the latter which is a massive waste of the public’s money).

  75. Ah, true, I guess that one was allowed to slide through. That’s something. Not enough, IMHO, but something.

  76. Nope. I’m rejecting a bad policy for building homes that will lead to the mayor massively wasting public bond funds (while manipulating their use to promote more luxury housing for people who don’t need it) at the expense of middle and low income residents who will never see the promised housing..

  77. The SFMTA stats have never been good, but they aren’t markedly worse recently than in the past. Where can we document significantly worse performance the past few years?

  78. A property bond does raise taxes so that distinction is moot

    And we all already charge a boatload of fees. The issue is whether that can be raised further without killing the goose that lays our golden eggs

  79. It’s a huge difference.

    “X was clear to most people” is a fact that can be verified or refuted

    “X should have been clear to most people” is a value judgement based on your own opinion

  80. But if those infill development cannot be high, then there will be far too few of them to house the new folks

  81. To infill development in San Francisco that is not poorly designed. What we are on about is denying bad infill so that -good- infill will be built instead.

  82. Wait, it was clear? Before you said it “should have been clear? Which is it?

    I wasn’t an adult in the 1970’s so cannot say but I am doubtful that most people were worried back then

  83. High rises may block a few views, but housing San Francisco at the density of Davis would occupy an addition 80 square miles.

    Doesn’t urbanizing 130 square miles for every San Francisco size population cut people off from nature more than urbanizing 50 and leaving the other 80 undeveloped?

  84. So, Brooks, where will all the people live who are projected to move to SF in the next couple of decades, if we do not up-zone?

  85. Obviously it is necessary because those homes will not otherwise be built

    Are you Moslem by any chance? They are religiously opposed to interest

  86. Well, then. I am again at a loss to think of any infill
    development in recent years the Sierra Club has actually been
    _supportive_ of, in spite of this:

    “As population grows, rising housing costs push lower-income residents out into the suburbs, creating sprawl that puts pressure on our open spaces and wildlife and increases car time. We can fight that trend by building compact communities that are walkable, bikeable, and served by a robust public transit system.”
    http://www.sierraclub.org/san-francisco-bay/transportation-and-compact-growth

    Which brings us back to where we were.

  87. Right, the topic is development, in particular that by the ’70s it was clear that to promote sprawl is to damage the environment.

    The main way sprawl damages the environment is with sprawl: it replaces natural space with asphalt and buildings. Sprawl promotes inefficient lifestyles which pollute more, including carbon pollution. Warming from carbon was in the scientific mainstream by the 1960s. If not, who cares? That’s marginalia.

    What is the point of seizing on that piece of marginalia as if it were the main topic? The main topic is development and sprawl.

  88. There is no contradiction. I am for F and I and opposed to A, the latter for the reasons I already stated.

  89. We recognize the dire need for affordable housing. But an interest based bond that leaves far too much discretion to the mayor on the spending of that bond, is a bad way to build it.

  90. No. Sierra Club was also founded to preserve the experience of the aesthetic beauty of, and connection to, the natural world. So if we allow large high rises to block out and ruin aesthetic views that keep people connected with and appreciating the natural world around them, we then alienate urban dwellers from nature, both harming their personal life experience and leading them to not understand the importance of preserving, protecting, and restoring nature.

  91. I know. I said so. Eric and I agree. If people like me AND the greens are voting no on A, it will never reach the 2/3 requirement

    Our reasons are different, however, and I think his “war on interest” is a tad strange

  92. Stop. You are voting against Prop A as well, so don’t be a hypocrite and castigate others for doing so.

  93. Wait, so you are opposed to issuing bonds because they pay interest? Really?

    I am “No on A” as well, so am glad you are too, but because I hate taxes

  94. Yes. That’s an easy one. Bonds like this are penny wise and pound foolish. Yes Prop A will build more housing in the near term, but once those long term bonds used to build it are paid back with interest, the city will wind up with a net -loss- of funds with which to build housing.

    We should pay for housing construction like this through direct fees and taxes that don’t have to be paid back with interest.

  95. So you would be supportive of highrise development along the waterfront so long as it didn’t come with greater parking requirements? Because I suspect a lot of more aggressively pro-development folks would be happy to see that go as well. But that doesn’t seem to be consistent with what I’ve seen from the Sierra Club.

  96. I ignored other energy users, like industry for instance

    Topic here is development. The idea of global warming was not mainstream until the 1990’s and, even then, many people didn’t change their lifestyle

    For instance, I’m concerned about global warming but I am not giving up my household’s three cars nor our foreign flights. It’s not gonna happen

  97. False. When too much parking is included, especially near freeway ramps, homes close to downtown with excess parking bring in residents and families that drive more, not less.

  98. More homes close to downtown don’t add much to driving

    If you want to oppose cars then you do not have to oppose homes

  99. The future is unwritten and probably will not remember either of us.
    By the way, I am very pro density and pro development, for the most part.
    I just don’t like sleazy tactics.
    Do the proponents of this hijacking lack sufficient imagination and vision to start their own group? Nope….going to try and FOOL voters with a subverted, co opted imprimatur.
    Right from the NeoCon playbook.
    The future, indeed.

  100. Nope. Features such as increased auto emissions because of opening up far too much car parking capacity thereby leading new residents to drive far more instead of taking transit (transit which the infill is supposed to support).

    This same dynamic on badly designed new ‘infill’ development also creates more traffic congestion further increasing emissions.

  101. It’s the other way about. When RE prices rise that attracts more development because it becomes more profitable.

    You are drawing the wrong correlaton

  102. Eric, you’re an officer in the Green Party, if I’m not mistaken (correct me if I’m wrong). Could you explain how the party, ostensibly supportive of infill development, can possibly endorse a NO position on Proposition A, the housing bond?

  103. But they haven’t gone down have they? And now, the developers are poised to go into the as-yet-untouched neighborhoods and gentrify them. Oh, I am sorry, improve them. The Marina, Cow Hollow, Richmond and the Sunset may not want those improvements that threaten their views and lifestyles any more than the folks in Eastern Neighborhoods, SOMA and North Beach do. Figure out how to fill up those empty units if you want more housing.

  104. Yes, the left is at least as racist as the right, only their targets are whites and the model minority. They hate Asians for not being victims that need white liberals to save them

  105. Yes, the dirty secret is that this is really all about preserving the skewed voting demographics of the city. If Sf becomesmore like ohter cities, the progressive gravy train will be derailed

  106. Contrary to your completely false propaganda, the
    local Sierra Club group -supports- infill development (only opposing it when it has features that will create environmental harms that would outweigh and cancel out the infill benefits).

  107. The simple answer to John’s completely false propaganda is that the local Sierra Club group -supports- infill development (only opposing it when it has features that will create environmental harms that would outweigh and cancel out the infill benefits).

  108. If it wasn’t ever so apparent, progressives seem to have a distrust for Asians, probably since a) Asian immigrants don’t fall under prog dogma and paternalism, b) Asians politicos keep kicking their asses and c) even the Asian progs don’t bow down to the White male progs.

    Using Hong Kong as a slippery slope bogeyman for what San Francisco could be is just a coded way for feeding into this sentiment.

    Also, notice that Tim often uses overseas Chinese money as the reason building more housing doesn’t work?

  109. Thanks for this crucial article Tim.

    Also note all, that once you sign up and get your ballot, vote *only* for
    the 5 *Nominated* candidates and not for ‘Petition’ candidates. The
    SFBARF/Developer candidates will be solely ‘Petition’ candidates.

    Eric Brooks

  110. I’ve been involved (both via my time and my money) in campaigns for carbon taxation in the past, and I’m on board with his plan.

    Yeah. We are the future. 🙂

  111. And you think you are being so clever. Even the guys doing underhanded shit like this have no class or finesse any longer. You are the future, Jon.
    HAHAHAHaAAHA!

  112. What is it with the progressive hard on for the idea of turning SF into Hong Kong? Two posts in two days and the only mention oh HK comes from prog mouths.

  113. No, the topic is from wcw ↷ NoeValleyJim • 5 hours ago, that it was not the ’70s but the ’40s when you could be anti-development and pro-environment. Oboed ↷ wcw • 3 hours ago is barely relevant marginalia, of no interest in itself.

  114. Sebra, let’s demolish tons of homes, that should really make prices go down, by your logic! Genius!

  115. Amazing how the usual suspects have basically just ignored “the dumb money'” post.
    I’ve never before seen a more complete calling out and refutation of progressive SF values – and its met with almost total silence. Quite telling.

  116. New housing usually accommodates people with financial resources (always has, btw). These aren’t the people likely to vote the SFBG/Redmond agenda.

  117. It happens for a variety of reasons, but space is one. Also cost, also greater women’s rights. I don’t think people are fully sure of all of the reasons. But it has long been true that people in dense urban areas tend to have fewer children, and that families tend to have fewer children once they move to one.

  118. Increased carbon emission is neither the major nor the only way sprawl damages the environment. Why focus on them like a poorly trained dog with a bad case of OCD?

  119. I agree that they should. But new rentals in SF are market rent and the tenant lobbyists and activists appear to hate any market rate housing and the people who can afford it.

    It’s really more about demographics and ideology than logic and common sense

  120. Interesting. So people living in close proximity breed less? Perhaps because they don’t have the space for kids?

  121. Sure, but ‘why,’ is the question. Why wouldn’t tenants want to get behind building more apartment buildings?

  122. “should have been clear) not equal to “the idea was mainstream”

    In the end, most people say they care but don’t want to give up their two cars, their overseas flights or their A/C.

  123. Actually, denser urbanization tends to reduce population growth, so it actually helps solve population issues as well.

  124. To be fair to Gary, I have no problem with people voting selfishly. Where it becomes a problem is when a NIMBY also claims that NIMBYism makes housing more affordable. That is the cardinal error that Welch, Redmond etc make.

    Gary at least in theory wants to see more new build, even if he rarely sees a project that he likes.

  125. wcw ↷ NoeValleyJim • 5 hours ago
    1940s, maybe. By the ’70s it should have been pretty clear that to promote sprawl is to damage the environment.

    That is from five hours ago. If instead of destroying the world CO2 emissions sliced, diced and polished your shoes, it would still have been true: by the ’70s it should have been pretty clear that to promote sprawl is to damage the environment.

  126. “should have been pretty clear” is not the same as “was accepted as mainstream”.

    I’d put “mainstream” as the 1990’s and, even then, we carried on building sprawls, suburbs and highways. Judged by our behavior, it’s still not “mainstream” because we play lip service to global warming but do not act accordingly

  127. New build is already usually in condo form. If it is not, it’s probably built as a rent building. It is near impossible to condo convert a building with more than 6 units anyway

  128. Nobody is skirting any law. I rent long-term and the person I rent to may or may not do short-term lets. If they do, that’s their issue not mine.

  129. I misspoke, what I’m talking about really is condo conversions under the Subdivision Map Act. What I am meaning to say is that the developers could, and would, give away their right to convert the apartments to condominiums for a certain period of time, thus forwarding the interests of people who want to or have to rent for their entire lives. I see no reason why tenant activists should not support such development, which would bring down prices and put all of the risk on developers. So substitute Ellis Act for SMA in my post above.

  130. Some vendors collect the sales tax and others do not. Generally if they do it is because they have a physical presence in CA. That is the defining issue with whether or not they need to collect

  131. Ellis eviction landlord who uses intermediaries to skirt laws, avoid taxes and fees and to reduce the housing stock and thereby making it more expensive to rent here: As jhayes362 wrote about you, in concept, my “failing to pay a tax on a cup of coffee purchased in Oregon is just as bad as him evading thousands of dollars in fees and taxes.”

  132. So what? By the ’70s it should have been pretty clear that to promote sprawl is to damage the environment, full stop.

    The idea that global warming is the only reason to prefer cities is risible. Sprawl is ugly and inhuman on its face.

  133. In my experience Internet retailers (the ones I deal with) commonly collect sales tax. As I read your language a stay in a hotel in Oregon would not count because it’s consumed there and not here.

  134. So you never visit the other 49 states? Never spend money there? Never order anything other than from Amazon? And before 4 years ago did you never use Amazen?

    Dude, I really dont care except that you keep droning on about others avoiding taxes but get all defensive when the tables are turned

  135. Yes, everyone knows that and nobody does that

    CA FTB knows as well and does nothing about it, just like the city did nothing about collecting TOT taxeson private homes until very recently.

  136. Ellis eviction landlord wrote: “Most out-of-state vendors still don’t collect CA sales taxes meaning that you have to volunteer them. You don’t, which makes you (and everyone else) a tax cheat.”

    I don’t know who you are paying to spy on me, but you should demand a refund. I don’t make out of state purchases. I do occasionally use Amazon and taxes are always included on the final bill. I usually have no idea WHERE the vendor is located. Given the recent revelations about Amazon employment practices, I’m considering using another service, but there’s no hurry as I don’t buy that much stuff.

  137. Ellis evictions would not apply to a new building anyway because post-1979 construction is exempt from rent control

    You just give a 60-day “no cause” notice to leave

  138. No, my point is that we all cheat a little on taxes and society generally turns a blind eye unless it is evasion of a significant scale

    Up to about 2 years ago nobody thought or knew that a hotel tax was payable if you share your home for less than 30 days. That would have been considered bizarre. And if some did not pay it (almost nobody did) so what?

  139. Fine, but then why don’t they support new development of apartment buildings? They could even advocate that such buildings only get approved if the developers contracted not to use the Ellis Act for a certain amount of time, or, if it’s legal, to contract around it entirely. THAT would actually reduce their rents by creating more supply for apartments. They’re landlords will only raise their rents.

    Instead, they seem to act as pitchfork-wielding serfs who advocate on behalf of their millionaire and multi-multi-millionaire landlords. At least they don’t advocate that their noble landlords be given the right of prima nocta, but economically their advocacy is just as destructive to their lives. The Ellis Act issues are making them irrational and insane, in other words. They have chosen to ally themselves with the landed gentry of their city, rather than pick out a negotiated path that will actually help them in the long term.

  140. Lots of transit has been added – it’s just not all buses which are slow anyway. Examples

    Central Subway
    The K/T “streetcar to nowhere”
    F train extension
    OAK BART extension
    SFO/Milbrae BART extension
    Various new ferry lines

    Plus bikes lanes, bus lanes etc

  141. Gary, I’ve been down this road before with $am. He lacks a sense of proportionality. As far as he’s concerned, your failing to pay a tax on a cup of coffee purchased in Oregon is just as bad as him evading thousands of dollars in fees and taxes.

  142. Something being “featured” doesn’t make it mainstream. A US president hearing about it for the first time doesnt make it mainstream.

    Your problem is that you are using a very weird use of the word “mainstream”

    Analyse how often “global warming” is used in publications and plot that over time for the last 50 years. It will be an upward sloping line. At some point it became “mainstream” but not when it first started!

    And “climate change” is actually the newer ter, Some prefer it because climate change will cause some places to become colder, e.g. by moving the gulf stream

  143. Those nine story buildings have to go somewhere because of population growth. NIMBYism is saying you want the building just not near you. If everyone says that then we have a de facto city-wide moratorium.

    Saying you dont want a tower on your block isn’t much different than saying you dont want it anywhere. You just pretend that you do

  144. No, because tech is an occupation and many different types of people work in tech. That tells you little about their behavior

    But “NIMBY” is a classification based on behavior.

  145. Every US city is high-rise at its core and low-rise further out. There is no valid argument that it should be the other way about

  146. Why not instead compare SF to the East Bay, which has far more housing than it needs, and houses hundreds of thousands of SF workers?

  147. You’re talking macro level while bus service is declining. How many new buses have been added since our population increased by 30,000?

  148. If you’ve posted here thousands of times (and you have) and a regular reader cannot recall you ever taking an anti-NIMBY stance, then that has significance.

    Amazon started collecting CA sales tax only because they wanted a physical presence here for same-day delivery, and not because they have to. Most out-of-state vendors still don’t collect CA sales taxes meaning that you have to volunteer them. You don’t, which makes you (and everyone else) a tax cheat.

    If your place in Spain is not rented out and not empty, then either you live there or someone else does, and if someone else does then it’s not really “yours”. And if they are living for free then they should be taxed on the imputed rent, and you are complicit in their evasion.

    I am current on all my taxes, other than arguably some TOT from years ago when this was a non-issue just like sales tax on out-of-state purchases still is. I now do lets of over 30 days or use an intermediary who bears that risk.

  149. If it’s a single-family house neighborhood, then yes, obviously legitimate, because it’s a fundamental change to the neighborhood type.

    But if the neighborhood is three or four-story apartments or condos or something, then no, it’s not legitimate at all. It’s absurd. If we had historically treated such people as having legitimate concerns, no cities would exist in their current form at all. We would all be living in four-story brownstones and, carried to its extreme anyway, the first ten-story “skyscrapers” in places like downtown Chicago would never even have been built at all.

    Also, “all,” in your hypo, would not be a modest nine-story building, but would instead be a fifty-story condominium tower. The very idea that a nine-story building would be “all,” instead of already being a significant compromise, just highlights the absurdity.

    There are a lot of people in SF, and you appear to be one, who want to turn it into a beautiful but hoary museum, like central Paris, where nobody without generational money, wild new wealth, or a long-term legacy of ownership, can actually afford to live there, period, except for a negligible amount of affordable housing that gets doled out while not remotely meeting demand, and doing nothing at all to help middle-income young families, but which makes the “liberal” elites feel awfully better about themselves as they contemplate the most tax-efficient manner of passing on their hugely-appreciated multi-million dollar properties to their children, while reveling in the “history” of the city they “preserved” and wondering what exactly a middle class is.

    That is the path San Francisco is heading down.

  150. SFMTA’s fiscal 2016 budget will represent inflation adjusted growth of roughly 2.4% per year from fiscal 2006. San Francisco population, meanwhile, will have grown around 1% per year.

    What’s missing?

  151. Just as those who rant about ‘tech workers’ are wrong and are missing what’s really the problem, those who shriek NIMBYs are doing the same.

  152. Never mind. I can’t explain ethics on a blog. If you don’t understand by now, it is probably a lost cause. Dogma in the extreme always has a bad outcome, whether it is based in religion, politics or whatever, and “any means to an end” as a policy or plan should cause concern.

    But it’s not too late to do something about your website. I did a screen grab to use as an example of everything wrong all on one page.

    I’m surprised you haven’t been sued for causing seizures.

  153. Versus HK Island, which is 80% forest, with skyscrapers in between. It’s actually lovely. Most people whining about it have never been there.

  154. Making it purely selfish, I don’t want more people if it means my lousy bus service is going to further degrade.

    And this is easy to fix: Invest in transit ahead of development in San Francisco. Transit problem solved.

  155. So someone living in a low-rise neighborhood who objects to a 9-story building being built next door is a NIMBY and has no legitimate concerns?

    That’s the problem with SF. It is a all or nothing kind of place.

  156. No we cannot stop “the NIMBY crap,” because that’s what it is, by and large, and to the extent it is not, I acknowledge that. Liberals control SF and have a long time. So I don’t care what Republicans have advocated. What they have advocated is not relevant to the last two decades of the political history of SF. Also, at least when Republicans advocate policies that favor only the wealthy, while throwing a bone to a few chosen poor, they’re not being hypocritical. That’s just what they do.

  157. “Pretty much everyone has figured out that if building more dwelling units were the solution, some prices should have leveled off or gone down by now.”

    We keep building solar panels, but the climate continues to warm. Should we stop?

  158. The original suit was threatened by the developer. Trauss or SFBARF could be the nominal plaintiff. Once it’s filed we’ll know more.

  159. Facts first: Santa Clara has not refused to develop; SF has developed less housing lately. San Mateo trails both.

    Transit next: transit is a big deal, and the entire region needs to improve it. What is the argument for ceasing to develop cities so that the marginal commute becomes a sixty-mile drive?

  160. Walking distance to BART? And, who is funding the lawsuit? Winning this one could be expensive in upscale Lafayette.

  161. What was the overall impact from those new units to the infrastructure and public services in Santa Clara County?

    On some routes, even 5 more people waiting for a bus in SF is pushing the system beyond capacity.

  162. SFBARF has been pushing for smaller Bay Area towns to upzone as well, and are behind an effort to sue Lafayette for restricting development. Progressives in SF wouldn’t notice this, since most of them are all talk when it comes to holding the local suburbs accountable for density.

  163. From 2010 to 2013, in terms of percentage of existing housing stock, Santa Clara County added over 50% more units than San Francisco.

  164. Can we stop with the NIMBY crap? Not everyone who opposes development is a NIMBY. There are genuine concerns regarding the urban landscape that San Francisco will become and of course, there is no leadership, vision or even a solid plan to guide us through the process.

    I think this started with the building of the Fontana in the 1960s, and while it is quite common to place the blame on liberals, Caspar Weinberger and other Republicans have opposed building-up in San Francisco.

    The same people that wanted the Fontana towers and Royal Tower on Russian Hill, wanted the Embarcadero Freeway, the elevated freeway to circle the waterfront, and a parking garage under Washington Square. The people responsible for those projects and ideas created the ‘no growth’ sentiment in San Francisco.

  165. The local Sierra Club needs to understand how out of sync they are with both the stated goals of the national organization, and the views of many residents who sympathize with those goals.

  166. There is plenty of capacity for upzoning to SF’s 45′ density along the suburban BART lines, no need for high rise luxury condos in SF nor low rise sprawl in the exurbs.

  167. I’d put Sonja Trauss in the same category. But she lacks the history that Dewsnup has and appears to be considerably smarter. After all, she managed to get herself into the Washington Post and is fronting an organization that appears to depend largely on big business contributions (not membership fees) for its support. An astroturf organization perhaps? What Dewsnup and Trauss have in common in this enterprise is a background that says nothing about the environment.

    Interesting also is that this pair is pushing a binary argument that allows no nuance or subtlety. Either you are for tall residential towers everywhere or you are for urban sprawl. Either you are for high-rises on the waterfront or you are for urban sprawl. Either you are for development in SF — anywhere, anytime, and under any conditions — or you are for urban sprawl. And of course, right wingers in this space have jumped on the bandwagon.

    Never mind that San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, a source of our job growth, have refused to approve the kind of development that Trauss (an Oakland resident) wants here. SF under Ed Lee is easier picking.

  168. That’s not the point. It is unethical for one organization to incite new membership into another organization in order to change that organization’s objectives.

    I’m not at all in agreement with the Sierra Club on this. But SFBARF is really stooping low on this.

    And no rectums were in anyway harmed by the production of this comment.

  169. I’ve already posted below, but I just want to put one more of my own here. I truly believe that San Francisco liberals have lost their minds. I am a Democrat, two-time voter for Obama, believer in climate science, pro-gay, think Obamacare is great, etc. I think San Francisco home owners, who purport to be “liberal” are actually just NIMBYs who want their city for themselves, LOVE that their home values keep skyrocketing, don’t want development that might mitigate or change that trend, and, ironically for liberals, do not trust government to handle increased traffic and people when and if it comes, by creating more transit options, etc., using tax money from those new residents. They have allied themselves with genuine advocates for the poor who are, legitimately, concerned about Ellis Act evictions, to make themselves look good.

    Noted liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias has been a leader in trying to get liberals away from their anti-development stances, with a focus on SF. Numerous liberal and left-leaning economists are realizing that the 60s-era thinking typified in the original post above is about as stale as pizza-rat’s pizza. It could not be more clear that the economic potential of SF and the Bay Area, one of the great economic engines in our country, is being stifled by the NIMBY policies of existing already-have-it homeowners. It could not be more clear that economic growth and price rises drive the construction of new buildings, not the other way around. It could not be more clear that the best thing for our environment is to concentrate development in our cities, which in addition to being the economic engines of our country, are best equipped to mitigate environmental harms, and are where living requires less resources and less of a carbon footprint. It could not be more clear that worry about shadows from buildings has nothing to do with actual environmentalism. It could not be more clear that construction in SF and the Bay Area has not kept pace with non-partisan, including governmental, estimates for demand for housing over time.

    Also, it could not be more clear that advocating for building more housing is not an analogue of “trickle down economics.” This is about supply for a good (housing) and demand. Trickle down economics is not about the supply of a good. It is about the nebulous idea that prosperity will trickle down to the poor when the rich get richer. Trickle down economics cannot be represented, at all, on the kind of simple supply/demand curve that is the foundation of all of microeconomics and is taught in every first semester microeconomics course in America. So if any of you think that building more housing to bring down prices is a form of “trickle down economics,” you must also think that when smartphone companies started using Android to make vastly cheaper versions of iPhones that basically do the same thing, thus satisfying demand, that was “trickle down economics,” too. It’s nonsense.

    There are a lot of liberals like me who are completely sick and tired of environmentalism and social justice causes being hijacked by a bunch of selfish, elitist, NIMBY already-haves. The evil in SF is generally not the developers of new housing; it’s the existing legacy owners of housing who never want anything built that could possibly change anything and that might stop their home values from continuing to skyrocket. I very much sympathize with ACTUAL social justice people who are concerned about Ellis Act evictions and about a lack of affordable housing, but such issues can be mitigated by good-faith negotiation, as with the 5th and Mission development, which will have two 100 percent affordable buildings and 212 below-market units.

    Another smart thing to do would be to allow more condominiums, but ban or limit the ability to own them as non-residents. Something does have to be done to make units actually owned by actual San Franciscans. But that can be done by conditioning their development on that. New York is moving in this direction, and has been for awhile. There is no point in building more condos if a bunch of rich Russians are just going to buy them and leave them empty as an investment, obviously.

    San Francisco is an embarrassment. It’s embarrassing to see modest four story buildings killed because of “height concerns.” It’s embarrassing to see how much people fight even against greater densification near BART stops. It’s embarrassing even to look at a BART stop that has nothing but a few short, old buildings near it. And it’s not just SF. I blame the whole Bay Area. The whole place is chock-a-block full of fake liberals who just want to block anything new and want their home values to go up, and moreover, there are multiple nearby cities that “vote Democratic” but which nevertheless try to do everything possible to prevent even affordable housing from being built there. It makes me want to scream.

  170. Well if you can’t recall something, that means it doesn’t exists, right?

    For the record: I continue to support some mid and highrise developments and San Francisco. I don’t cheat on taxes. I do order things on-line and taxes are always paid (Amazon did started doing this about 4 years ago). I don’t have an ’empty’ place in Spain. I have no rental income. 100% of my income is reported each year to the IRS and California.

    I am not a wealthy man and I believe that everyone should pay their fair share. And it seems to me that the time and effort invested by those who do cheat on their taxes – especially by those who are not filthy rich – is not worth it.

  171. I didn’t realize the local chapter of the Sierra Club was only for progressives. Is that in the bylaws or are you pulling stuff out of your rectum??

  172. Funny you use the earth is flat example considering religious conservatives are the ones who have promulgated all of the following: (a) the earth is flat, (b) dinosaurs and man co-existed, and (c) global warming doesn’t exist. Ironic actually.

  173. The phrase used to be ‘climate change’. Not only did a 1965 government report feature it, but so did newspaper headlines that decade. Family Feud survey answers don’t change that.

    Factual errors about the history of mainstream science and global warming aside, it is uncontroversial to assert that by the ’70s it was clear that sprawl damages the environment, at a minimum directly by replacing plants with asphalt.

  174. The real cognitive dissonance in the local left, in my view, is in trying to reconcile a belief that one is a firm progressive and a guardian of the interests of the general public with their preference for policies that inevitably make urban housing a privilege for the few.

  175. I wasn’t alive then. But nice try.

    The point was that more people back then believed in segregation than believed in global warming. Mainstream my ass.

  176. “If you had said “global warming” at a segregationist BBQ in 1964, you would have gotten some funny looks.”

    Sounds like you are speaking from experience.

  177. Mainstream means when most people are talking about it, and not just one specific group of specialists.

    If you had said “global warming” at a segregationist BBQ in 1964, you would have gotten some funny looks.

    The oil scare in the early 1970’s did more to put energy consumption on the agenda than alleged concern about the environment.

  178. If the President’s Science Advisory Committee is not mainstream, then the word mainstream has lost all meaning.

    Doublespeak is destructive. Please, don’t indulge in it.

  179. Not mainstream. The phrase had not entered common currency then. Sure, some people made claims but then some people make claims the earth is flat.

    It’s really only the last 20-25 years that people have been getting all wet about it. We were building new freeways locally well into the 1990’s, like 85.

  180. So you leave a place empty in Spain? Exactly the same complaint you make about some property owners in SF. Hypocrite.

    I cannot recall one specific development that you have supported here. You’re a NIMBY pretending that you are not.

    And a tax cheat,

  181. I have no rental income. Back the your false claim that I’m against all development, you are wrong. I have actually questioned why some of the new residential buildings and planned buildings are not higher, such as those on Van Ness.

    But don’t let the truth stop you from misrepresenting me.

  182. Like I said, maybe you never travel and never buy online. But that is unlikely. And you are being so defensive about this that there must be truth in it.

    Oh, and the rents you get from that place in Spain? Do the IRS know about that?

    Tax cheat.

  183. Ah, I see Ellis eviction landlord. You are GUESSING that I am making out-of-state purchases, and that I am not paying taxes on those purchases.

    Which is very different from your boasting several times on this blog about having used the Ellis Act to evict people from their homes, as well as limiting your rental units to ‘short term’ to avoid rent control, fees, etc.

  184. Unless you never leave the state, and never order anything online, then you spend money out of state, on which CA sales tax is due which you do not pay

    Tax cheat.

  185. The local left is suffering from cognitive dissonance over the growth dilemma. They want to be seen as opposing development but they also want to see affordable housing. The same disconnect affects Redmond, Welch and all the other NIMBY cronies.

    But then the left always splits into warring fragments, which is a big part of why they always fail.

  186. LOL, are you claiming that you do not know that you are supposed to declare your out-of-state purchases every year on your CA tax return so that you can pay the sales tax?

    You are a tax cheat.

    One lousy eviction in the context of having had more than 100 tenants is minor.

    But when you attack me, readers can see you are trying to deflect from my points because you cannot refute them. So keep it up, tax cheat.

  187. Although there are references to “peak oil” back in the 1970’s, that was more out of concern for supply and the volatile politics of the Mid-East, than a general concern about the environment.

    The whole fashion of global warming came about later. I’m not a denier but I think that China and India are adding to much pollution that it hardly matters what we do. They are adding hundreds of millions of cars and factories, while we dick about at the margins.

  188. Out-of-state purchases – what the hell are you blathering about?

    Kudos to you for “Ellis evicting” only once. You’re a saint.

  189. The dirty secret is that the left lobbies too. SEIU may well be the single best-funded lobbyist in the city, tirelessly working to remove money from your wallet and place it in the pockets of their workers

  190. Gee, why would a high growth business want to see homes built for their growing number of workers?

    Hmm, tough one. I don’t know, maybe to reduce evictions and displacement, ya think?

  191. jhayes is of the view that if an entity is not left-wing, it has been bought, corrupted or infiltrated. It never occurs to him that most voters are not left-wing

  192. Yea, it’s amazing how just because construction has gone up and prices have gone up, some people think that’s a correlation

    The reality is that higher prices drive more construction and not the other way about. When prices fell in 2008-9, construction starts dropped as well. But building nothing does not drive down prices, else we should start demolishing homes.

  193. Why are so always so damn rude every time someone disagrees with you. Do you think that stops people disagreeing with you? I’m pretty sure you don’t do that in real life, so why here?

    Clean up your act.

  194. Gary, you don’t pay CA sales tax on your out-of-state purchases so you are a “tax cheat” as well.

    I’ve only been involved in one Ellis Eviction, with others, and without understanding why that particular Ellis Act eviction was done, you are in no position to credibly criticize.

    You should address the points rather than throw out insults. And you routinely oppose developments and support the moratorium. So it is a clear nonsense for you tot ry and claim that you are pro-growth.

    You’re a NIMBY regressive.

  195. Gabriel Medina, the anti-development head of MEDA, also opposes Prop C. Perhaps you could ask him.

  196. Go ahead and Google “Donal Dewsnup” and read up about his past in Seattle as an interior designer. The man is a con man of the highest order. There’s a reason he’s worked for at least three brokerages in the last year and a half.

  197. there are more examples of densely populated cities that are harmful to the environment than not

    The ‘Blame the exurbs’ paper compares emissions in Halifax, where the core is barely denser than a typical East Bay suburb.

    Davis is a nice place to live. To house San Francisco at the same density would take 80 additional square miles. How could developing 80 square miles of vacant land to house San Francisco possibly be better for the environment?

  198. This is not the first attempt at a hostile takeover by pro-development/business forces. The DCCC and the Noe Valley Democratic Club went through the same thing. There may be others.

    The question in my mind is whether the developer ticket will address anything besides higher density and “sprawl”? Are there other environmental issues they really care about? What are these issues and what are the solutions they support?

  199. My understanding of this effort is that the local Sierra Club is being anti-environmental–their policies are encouraging sprawl throughout the rest of the Bay Area.

    The SF Sierra Club needs to get back on track with its mission statement. This piece totally takes the situation out of context.

  200. The irony is that Gary keeps saying he wants SF to have 1.5 million but he opposes every development that is mooted.

    An amazing cognitive balancing act.

  201. Also, why did they accept a large ‘donation’ from the tech industry? And why are they urging voters to vote against the AirBnB measure, proposition F?

    And why does their website look like it was designed by a 90 year old on acid: http://www.sfbarf.org/

  202. really, the folks in Davis or Roseville don’t regularly commute into Sacto? Check the traffic report some time.
    and there are no efforts to recycle and reduce the carbon footprint in SF? Guess the whole Waste Management/Recology kerfuffle has just been an illusion
    So, go ahead an continue to resist all development. Lets see how that effects “all residents.” Let’s see who’s happy then. Good plan of attack.

  203. Why does SF Barf have their offices on the site of the huge development planned for VanNess and Market?

  204. First, I didn’t compare a dense urban core to sprawl. And my point is that there are many factors to consider, such as public health, not just the environment.

    But it seems that a well managed suburb or suburban hybrid where everyone telecommutes, is encouraged to bike or use public transportation etc, such as Davis, California is preferable to a large city where there are no efforts to recycle, reduce the “carbon footprint” and contain pollution.

  205. Halifax’s urban core is barely denser than Richmond or Berkeley, and less than one-fifth as dense as San Francisco. As a result, its per capita emissions are on par with its suburbs, because household size is smaller in the city. That’s not an argument for less urban density, it’s an argument for more.

    Which densely populated cities exactly are more harmful to the environment than suburban sprawl housing the same people?

  206. You forgot to include employment growth in your argument. I see you are now calling it a “pause” instead of moratorium, which tested poorly with your focus groups.

  207. Dense, urban housing should be what the Sierra Club is fighting for. The inverse is exurban sprawl, which every environmentalist knows is the greater evil. Or people could just stop procreating, but that’s as likely to happen as Campos letting his natural hair color show.

  208. Instead of attempting to co-opt a group, why not focus on your group’s message?

    Or is it that you all think that you are ‘right’ about everything so any tactic, regardless of ethical issues, is justified?

  209. This doesn’t really explain the difference between the positions of the National Sierra Club organization (based in SF, moving to Oakland, and against sprawl) and the highly aggressive NIMBY SF local group (the one we at SFBARF are trying to change). If you DO support the Renters Federation’s goal of getting the local chapter of the Sierra Club back on mission, join for $15 at the link above, then go to our form (here or you can link to it on our Facebook page.) https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1UgWtoOhaqum2blMkVHMLFhpFB4HvZammQNZkPUENN1U/viewform

    When you sign up there, we will send you a slate card. I suppose if you disagree with us, you could just vote the opposite way.

    Whichever side you think you support after reading this editorial, we encourage you to Join the Sierra Club, and listen to the issues at the local level, and see who you actually support. Your $15 goes to the National organization anyway, and we are happy that our activism has helped them raise funds and attention.

  210. Which densely populated cities exactly are more harmful to the environment than suburban sprawl housing the same number of people?

  211. 1940s, maybe. By the ’70s it should have been pretty clear that to promote sprawl is to damage the environment.

    To oppose development from the left or left-center is baffling in any decade. Opposition to change is reactionary by definition.

  212. Your assumption that development has driven housing costs upward is incorrect. Housing costs in sf were going up before the building “boom” of 1998-today. If anything, sf has woefully underbuilt and prices would be even higher without the additional housing stock. Imagine every high rise dweller looking for homes in north beach, Hayes valley, portrero hill, or – good forbid – the mission.

  213. Thank you for being honest about what this is all really about: protecting the “economic interests” of existing “home owners.” What a spectacular legacy for the San Francisco Sierra Club!

  214. The problem is that it’s not all about the environment. Can densely populated cities be better for the environment? Yes, but there are more examples of densely populated cities that are harmful to the environment than not.

    But do densely populated cities negatively affect health and happiness? I believe that most often, they do.

    Given the lack of vision, lack of thoughtful planning and lack of political backbone, if nothing changes in San Francisco except the density, SF will become a more of a hellhole.

    Like riding your bike to work? How do you think it is going to be when the population doubles and city officials think that ‘adequate bicycle infrastructure’ is paint.

    Like our barely warms summers? Wait until the sunny parts of the city are all shrouded by midrise and highrise buildings and it is windy as fuck.

    Like spending time at a neighborhood park? Go visit Dolores Park on any Sunday a get back to me. That is where we are headed with the zeal to build to accommodate the current worker demographic.

    I support increasing the population of San Francisco, but until the city leaders can develop a detailed and realistic plan that takes into consideration all residents, health, happiness, the environment, the regional role of SF and other issues, I won’t be support pro-development anything.

    Barcelona is a city that is smaller in area than San Francisco and has double SF’s population and it works quite well, because they understand urban planning. What we have here is still the wild west and a bunch of jokers who think they are planners.

  215. If anyone in the Sierra Club can explain to me how it helps the environment to thwart greater density in an already-urbanized core, thus forcing people into longer commutes, thus failing to leverage environmentally-friendly city mass-transit options, and thus creating an incentive to cover more undeveloped ex-urban land with development, I would be deLIGHTed to hear the explanation.

    When the Sierra Club gets into the business of blocking urban-core development, it is basically no longer an environmental organization at all.

  216. It’s just so weird that the SF Sierra Club should be a “progressive” organization instead of an environmental organization. Building densely prevents sprawl and so helps the environment, but the whole appeal here is to keep control of the SF Sierra Club so it can endorse environmentally damaging causes. There’s not even a veneer of environmentalism, just anti-building politics.

  217. Assuming everyone who disagrees with you is rich and entitled is really stretching it.
    Since the dense building started the prices have gone up, not down. Pretty much everyone has figured out that if building more dwelling units were the solution, some prices should have leveled off or gone down by now.
    That is why people want to pause the development and work out another plan. When building heights were limited property values were stable. When the height limits were lifted, property values got out of control. The land values have less to do with supply and demand, and more to do with limiting what you can build on the property when zoning laws are enforced.
    When the laws are upheld, and you buy a PDR zoned building, you have no expectation of turning it into anything more lucrative than what it is. When the zoning laws are ignored, you are inclined to break the law and rent to other users who will pay more. That is want is happening now and that is why we need to pause for the plan.

  218. Back in the 70s, you could be anti-development and pro-environment, with the idea that San Francisco did not need anymore housing. To be anti-development now, with what we know about global warming and resource depletion, is just to be stuck in the past or even worse, out for your own self-interest, at the cost of future generations.

  219. I used to be a member of the Sierra Club and I was in favor of urban infill development over suburban sprawl. Then the NIMBYs took over and I quit my membership. I have rejoined in an attempt to wrest the Sierra Club from the selfish anti-environmentalists.

  220. I would like to take this moment to thank the Sierra Club for protecting the economic interests of home owners throughout the Bay Area from irresponsible addition of housing to existing neighborhoods.

  221. So, you think Tim Redmond has been working at the Bay Guardian for decades, then started 48 Hills, just because of his “self interest”?

  222. “In the 1990s, a group tried led by the former governor of Colorado tried to get seats on the national board to force the environmentalists into taking a strong anti-immigration stance.”

    It would appear they succeeded no?

  223. If you’re going to write a shitty and painfully biased attempt at a hit piece, at least get the names of the people you emailed correct.

  224. Of course, the FB post you linked explained the logic of SFBARF’S effort much more elegantly:

    “Many housing activists (like me!) are working to realign the regressive local chapter with the national organization’s goals to “build compact communities that are walkable, bikeable, and served by a robust public transit system.” Right now, the local Sierra Club membership embraces WILDLY misguided policies that push development to the suburbs and preserve a pastoral, village-like landscape in San Francisco. Sounds nice, but the problem is that these exact same romantic “small village” policies encourage suburban, auto-dependent sprawl elsewhere, deemphasize the need for regional transportation funding and planning, and make it a hell of a lot harder to build and maintain water- and carbon-efficient infrastructure.”

    I mean, you could be anti-housing and anti-growth out of self-interest, even at the expense of the climate, as Tim is. If that’s what you think, fine. If you disagree, it’s easy enough to join the SFBARF folks.

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