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Uncategorized The Agenda, Oct. 26-Nov. 1: Get out the vote

The Agenda, Oct. 26-Nov. 1: Get out the vote

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There are still a lot of ballots that haven’t been turned in, and this week will be crucial

48hillsvotecounts-2a

By Tim Redmond

OCTOBER 26, 2015 – City Hall doesn’t close down the week before an election, but nobody’s doing much. The Board of Supes has no major agenda items; the Planning Commission isn’t meeting.

But the hum of political activity has just moved to the streets, where two candidates and several ballot initiatives are scrambling to get every last vote to the polls by Nov. 3.

And there’s still time. The Department of Elections reports that of 254,000 vote-by-mail ballots issued, 33,708 have been returned citywide. That’s just 13 percent.

I’ve checked by district around the city, and the rate is pretty consistent, between 11 and 13 percent – except in District 3, where the biggest race of the city is taking place. In the Peskin v. Christensen race, 20,903 ballot were issued and 4,085 (19 percent) have been turned in.

So while the mail ballots dropped more than two weeks ago, a lot of people haven’t filled them out yet – and that means that the old-fashioned retail politics of knocking on doors, dropping slates, making phone calls, and working on getting out the vote is still a big deal and could determine the outcome of the election.

Most observers expect low turnout, maybe in the high 20s or low 30s, since there’s no national or statewide race and the mayor faces only limited, underfunded challengers. I think D3 will see bigger numbers than that — the two campaigns have spent more than a million dollars, and both have extensive field operations, and every possible voter is getting calls and mail.

So while it’s likely that upwards of 60 percent of the votes will be cast by mail, at least half of them are still pending. And in close races, the old-fashioned people like me who go to the polls on Election Day will make the difference.

So here’s what’s on The Agenda for this week: Pick the campaign of your choice (and a lot of them are working together) and hit the pavement. There’s so much at stake – and I’m not kidding when I tell you that in some cases, every single vote will count.

 

The merger between two regional planning agencies, which could have lasting impacts on how social-justice issues are discussed among groups that are trying to direct development in the Bay Area in the next 30 years, is coming up for a vote Wednesday/28.

Zelda Bronstein has been covering this for 48hills, and she reports that the San Jose Mercury News has come out against the idea, as have the Santa Clara County City Managers Association, the Oakland City Council (unanimous), the Alameda County Mayors Conference and the Contra Costa Mayors’ Conference.

And yet, Metropolitan Transportation Commission director Steve Heminger is plowing forward.

The meeting’s at 9:45am at the MetroCenter in Oakland. The consolidation is the e first item on the agenda.

 

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.

46 COMMENTS

  1. We’ve known since the 1960’s that taxpayer-subsidized, government-run,
    low income housing projects (aka ‘affordable housing’) have huge
    negative effects on society and are associated with crime, dependency,
    and poverty. If don’t think the government should be skewing the
    housing market, especially in the City where over-regulation and excess
    taxation have already caused a housing shortage. We need to abolish
    rent control and other anti-homeowner laws, which are the root of the
    problem and are keeping tens of thousands of housing units vacant.

  2. We’ve known since the 1960’s that taxpayer-subsidized, government-run, low income housing projects (aka ‘affordable housing’) have huge negative effects on society and are associated with crime, dependency, and poverty. If don’t think the government should be skewing the housing market, especially in the City where over-regulation and excess taxation have already caused a housing shortage. We need to abolish rent control and other anti-homeowner laws, which are the root of the problem and are keeping tens of thousands of housing units vacant. If we build any affordable housing, it should not be in our City where the cost of building housing is quite high. We should only build ‘affordable housing’ in areas with cheaper land and construction costs such as Oakland, Stockton, or Antioch.

  3. Wilma Pang the victor in District 3

    Peskin and Christensen voters are all going to choose Wilma Pang as their second ballot choice. And she is going to win the election.

    Remember, you heard it here first.

  4. That it requires compliance with minimal restrictions, 75 days is plenty, and invests members of the public with a private rights of action to make sure that these laws are enforced even when the government balks. There are thousands of law breakers out there, a prosecution or two does not change the fact that there is an ongoing crime spree.

  5. That covers the Planning regs that AAU has been ignoring for decades, sure. The city has, by contrast, sued for violating short-term rental restrictions, and gotten settlements and injunctions.

    What is it about F’s particular regulatory scheme that is so attractive it should be set in stone?

  6. “but no law is going to be created by politicians sucking at the teat of AirBnB investors.”

    Why all the privateer action against errant hosts – why not just go after the guys with the big bucks?

    So ABnB pays the TOT of $12M/yr. I guess that makes the market worth abt $80-90M annually. What is ABnB’s slice of that? Its about 12% (their “service fee”), so maybe $10M. My guess is that they’re spending large to try to avoid other political battles in the future. Using virtually all your gross earnings (not even profit) for the year on a political battle doesn’t make all that much sense.

  7. Sure, which is why the answer to politicians sucking at the teat of investors is, in a post-Citizens United world, to bribe them with generous publicly funded elections.

    A few million added city dollars to code enforcement would go a long way if the effort were run well. Unfortunately, this is the city that let AAU run wild.

  8. Status quo with no enforcement in unacceptable. The ‘election cycle’ press release about how a few owners have been fined was a cynical ploy. Fine AirBnB for any listing that doesn’t have a permit. Put the permit verification on AirBnB. Conduct an annual audit of their verification. There are many pretty easy ways of enforcement of laws, but no law is going to be created by politicians sucking at the teat of AirBnB investors.

  9. The right of private action is used in cases when the government has been corrupted to the extent that it cannot be counted on to enforce the law. If the government is not going to reconcile its own planning department’s recommendation that the law is unenforcible due to corrupt political constraint, then that is the poster circumstance for private right of action..

  10. It is always dumb to pass a bad law. Making its reversal require another trip to the ballot box takes that from dumb to addlepated. Props 13, 187 and 8 left a scar. Why revisit them?

    The simplest approach and probably still the best policy would have been not to compromise in the first place. There are good reasons to restrict short-term rentals. The city already forbade them without conditional use permits. A rollback to the status quo ante at the BOS sounds fine.

  11. The problem with enforcement by private parties with special penalties, as opposed to enforcement by a public agency, is that there are a number of perverse tactics that a private party can use to maximize profit under Prop F.

    A Prop F profit-maximizer would pursue the minor violations of the law, instead of letting them off with a warning. If a student posts an ad for sublet for the winter holiday on craigslist and leaves it up a week, the minimum penalty under Prop F is $1750 ($250×7). I think this penalty far exceeds the harm done to anybody. And that’s just the penalty for the ad, never mind the penalties for the sublet itself!

    A Prop F profit-maximizer can quietly hoard evidence and then sue for an entire year’s violations, instead of complaining right away to make the violations stop.

    A Prop F profit-maximizer can have his spouse, his children, and any housemate and any neighbor he can convince to file duplicate complaints for the same offense, since they can each earn at least $250 per violation per day under Prop F.

    I much prefer law enforcement by government agency instead of profit-motivated private law enforcement, because government agencies (should) be motivate by public welfare rather than motivated by squeezing every dollar out of the letter of the law. For-profit law enforcement should be a last resort.

  12. Again, California isn’t San Francisco. We voters in SF have reversed ourselves several times. The Giants ballpark and district supervisors (as opposed to city-wide supervisors) are just two examples that I can immediately think of.

    With AirBnB and its investors spending millions on candidates and at least $8 million on the campaign, the odds of having any second shot at this are slim.

    Why is it that flawed laws by the BOS don’t incite ANY reaction from you by potentially flawed laws by voters do?

  13. F can be fixed only by the voters, just like Prop 13. Prop 13 has been screwing the state for a generation. ‘Clout’ is no reason to pass a bad law that almost certainly will be permanent.

    Why not show clout and pass a good law, with an initiative publicly to fund elections in a way that marginalizes donors?

  14. I’ve been wondering if there is some law of physics that all cars must block the crosswalk when they are stopped at a signal or stop sign and the driver is texting.

  15. You are usually right about everything, but not now: F can be fixed by the voters. F is regulation of AirBnB.

    This is SF, not California. Passing F and/or I will show political clout, and any savvy organization or citizen can use them as examples to threaten the mayor/BOS if they are again voting against the will of San Franciscans.

  16. So, F is bad law that cannot be fixed. 100 years of California initiatives tell us passage does not make elected officials listen to residents not donors, but.. look, a methaphor!

    What is different about F so that, unlike all the other initiatives, elected officials will listen to residents not donors?

  17. Naw, they’ll be too busy filling out their ABnB paperwork to do ‘driveway enforcement’.

    And I actually think this is a good idea. Every day when I cross Oak St, cars are blocking the intersection. Purposefully it seems (enter on a Yellow when there’s no place to move??!).

    I’d settle for No-profit citizen enforcement – if it would get them to stop. For-profit enforcement is simply icing on the cake.

  18. It also gives the AirBnBers who have reached their 75-day cap something to do to augment their incomes the rest of the year.

    But I think this is greatly overstated.

  19. “I don’t have a problem with being a rat for profit.”

    (Still time to edit.)

    That said, and with the profit motive, it could be that your neighbor actually phones in the viol. (and collects the cash). Gr8 job for homeless, stay-at-home moms and unemployed.

  20. Anyone here planning to vote No on A? And if so, why? I think I might. Is it the only one that needs 2/3 vote and why? I assume it will pass but didn’t realize until yesterday it needs that much of a majority.

  21. A hundred years of initiatives failing to have that effect upon passage suggests the chances of F’s success are very low.

    Is that really the argument for F? Why not put an initiative on the ballot making San Francisco elections publicly funded instead?

  22. Unless one outcome of doing so is that our elected officials begin to listen to residents and not their large donors.

  23. And if F fails and Christensen is elected, there will be no further action taken to fix the existing law.

  24. No, most of those cities have laws with teeth.

    How are their laws stronger than ours? Under current law in San Francisco, the DA can put violators in jail. The Planning Department can sue violators for $1000/violation/day. San Francisco’s law already does have the same teeth that other cities’ do, as far as I know.

    as a pedestrian I wish I could photo a texting driver and send it to SFPD for them to issue a ticket by mai

    The question was whether private citizens should be able to profit when collecting evidence of violations. When you throw in the profit motive into enforcing a law, it is much more likely that there will be negative side effects.

    I agree that the new Office of Short-Term Rental Registry is not yet enforcing the law proactively, according to the Sept 30 Budget and Finance Committee meeting. But that means we should keep pressure on them to improve their enforcement, as Sup Campos did at that hearing. And we should amend the law to make it easier to file a valid complaint (under current law, you need to know the exact address of the Airbnb listing to complain). But if Prop F passes, we won’t be able to fix the law anymore, and new flaws will be added too.

  25. Prop A will be a waste of money like most bonds. Most of the money will be unaccounted for and disappear into the general fund. The amount of housing created will be miniscule at best.

  26. ‘F changes regulations’ doesn’t say anything like that. ‘To support regulation is not to support F’ merely states the obvious: regulations already exist. Supporting regulation does not require supporting F. Only supporting F’s particular regulatory scheme in essentially unmodifiable form does that.

    What is it about F’s particular regulatory scheme that is so attractive it should be set in stone?

  27. No, most of those cities have laws with teeth. Barcelona fined AirBnB $50,000. New York City sued to get AirBnB data (data which our officials claim is not needed). Asheville has $500 fines.

    Do I think F is good law? Nope.
    Do I think we will get anything better than what we have now from our elected officials? Hell no.

    Do I think prop F is better than what we have now? Hell yes.

    As for texting while driving, as a pedestrian I wish I could photo a texting driver and send it to SFPD for them to issue a ticket by mail. Because we will never have enough police to enforce existing laws.

  28. Do any of those cities outsource their enforcement to private citizens who will earn special civil penalties for suing? I don’t know of anyone else that has taken the approach that Prop F does of allowing private for-profit lawsuits to enforce the law.

    Any harmful activity could be drastically reduced if we allowed for-profit lawsuits, but that doesn’t mean it would be advisable to do so. Texting while driving is harmful and should be stopped. But should we stop it by allowing other citizens to collect evidence for up to a year and then sue for thousands of dollars? No, for obvious reasons, we depend on the police to do the policing.

  29. Nonsense. You can dislike F, but saying that it isn’t regulation is ridiculous.

    I support F because our elected leaders and appointed officials initially chose ignore that regulations were needed, chose not to demand all back taxes, chose to create regulations that were not enforceable – and continue to accept donations from AirBnB investors, donations that are clearly intended to influence how they vote.

  30. Good point. But it doesn’t stop Peskin and others from saying that “unscrupulous players come along and buy up hundreds of units and evict people to turn them into illegal hotels”.

    That’s already an extremely really low percentage play, even without Prop F. Think about the cost involved and the visibility raised to do something that won’t be allowed under current laws.

    It amazes (and scares) me that anyone believe anything that Peskin says.

    Oh yeah. I forgot. Ron Conway. That’s why we need to ignore Peskin’s lying. Makes sense.

  31. There are over 380,000 units in San Francisco. Four hundred new units are significant mostly for the four hundred households who find places to live that wouldn’t have before.

    There has been a real failing to invest in housing, especially in competently administered public housing. That failure has been national and regional. A few hundred units won’t change that.

    Prop A is a start, but it’s only a start, and a small one at that.

  32. Short-term rentals are regulated in San Francisco, too. F changes regulations, drastically in some cases (e.g., private right of action), using an initiative.

    To support regulation is not to support F.

  33. Are you going to tell me 400+ homes for families is insignificant? Really? And it doesn’t raise taxes, so what’s there to lose?

    And peopl here claim to be progressive.

    The BoS is totally useless until we get money out of politics. None of them seem to be doing anything productive to address the housing crisis.

  34. Regarding prop F, here is a partial list of cities where AirBnB rentals are banned or regulated:

    London (90 day max)
    Paris
    Barcelona
    Amsterdam
    New York
    Santa Monica
    San Francisco
    Tiburon
    Sausalito
    West Hollywood
    Anaheim
    Asheville North Carolina
    Richmond Virginia

  35. “Peskin vs. Christensen is just Greedy Landlords and property owners vs. Big Tech and Ed Lee.”

    You win the “most moronic comment” award for this.

  36. After all, Calvin Welch sits on the board of 48 Hills and Calvin’s minion Peter Cohen took a “wide stance” in watering Prop K down, removing metering, so that developers would deliver a big bag of heroin to the jonesing Council of Community Housing Organizations in the form of cash grants by funding the Prop A campaign.

    But Calvin need not worry. Unable to win a contested campaign since Prop M in the 1980s, Calvin has taken a “don’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach to politics, hitching CCHO’s wagon to terrible compromises with developers and neoliberals.

    And Calvin has convinced Tim to oppose Prop C, because the city funded nonprofits organizing their grasstroturf must proceed in secret and if need be, the same moneyed neoliberal interests that fund AirBnB and Uber’s grasstroturf, not to mention community “coalitions” such as SFBARF, HAC and SPUR get a free pass to spew corporate cash across the political landscape.

    Tim’s, really Calvin’s logic here, is that since nonprofits don’t want to pay the $2500 Ethics Fee, that corporate astroturf can run rampant leaving aside the fact that the nonprofits are wholly ineffective politically while the corporate astroturf ops are quite successful. To Calvin, Tim and Peter on the Vanguard of something, voters and residents don’t need to worry our pretty little heads about what they’re doing, who’s funding it and how they’re doing it, we just need to pay our taxes and vote for them.

    Whatever happened to VisionSF that the vanguard dispensed upon us? Was it just deployed, like so many other community congresses, forums and roundtables to gin up volunteer resources for these campaigns? Come January, I’d be surprised if there is any evidence of VisionSF remaining on the record.

  37. “Drastic”? A few hundred units?
    Peskin vs. Christensen is immaterial? It’s 6-5 vs. 5-6 on the board. It’s going to mean a lot more leverage for progressives if Peskin wins.
    Forget about everything else? So you’re telling people they shouldn’t vote?

  38. “drastically alter the affordable housing crisis”

    How many new units will this produce? And how many only ‘rehab’?

    $899k each for an “affordable” unit …

    I don’t think so.

  39. As far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty darn clear that one thing on the ballot is more important than everything else: Proposition A.

    Prop A does not raise taxes–it replaces an expiring bond with a new one. And it will increase the funding for affordable housing by $300 million. This has the ability to drastically alter the affordable housing crisis–but it requires 2/3s of voters’ approval to pass. So everyone should be going out and making sure EVERYONE knows to vote yes on A.

    Sadly, Tim Redmond *still* has not drawn attention to Prop A, because he’s too caught up in SF politics and partisanship to admit how crucial it is.

    Everything else on the ballot, as far as I’m concerned, is a waste of breath…maybe with exception to Prop F, whose passage could be groundbreaking for regulating short-term rentals. Peskin vs. Christensen is just Greedy Landlords and property owners vs. Big Tech and Ed Lee. Props B, D, and a number of other good ones are likely to pass. Prop I is a waste of everybody’s time, as it will result in lawsuits/blocking of projects by Plaza 16 no matter what happens.

    So everybody: hit the pavement for Prop A, and forget about everything else!

Comments are closed.

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