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News + PoliticsThe Agenda, Oct. 5-12: The election starts now

The Agenda, Oct. 5-12: The election starts now

Absentee ballots are on the way; we offer some help. Plus: VisionSF packs the house, your editor debates housing policy … and will Ed Lee veto part of Eviction 2.0?

Cleve Jones gives an inspiring speech to activists at the VisionSF kickoff
Cleve Jones gives an inspiring speech to activists at the VisionSF kickoff

By Tim Redmond

OCTOBER 5, 2015 – The local political campaigns will be in full gear this week, because it’s pretty much Election Day.

Absentee ballots arrive in the mail starting Oct. 6, and since more than half, probably far more than half, of the people who vote will vote by mail, the net few days are crucial. Most people who use mail-in ballots vote pretty quickly after the packet arrives (although some wait and turn it in on the final Election Day.)

I’m not a permanent absentee – I tend to vote the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, just because I’ve always done it that way and there’s something festive about going to the polls and seeing (I hope) a lot of my neighbors and getting the little red “I voted” sticker. So my mailbox has been rather empty – just a couple of (weak) No on F mailers and the DCCC slate card.

(On the No on F: Clearly, with $8 million or more to spend, the campaign team has done extensive polling and focus-group work to try every possible message, and the one that seems to work best is this nonsense about people spying on each other. First, there’s already a private right of action in the law – in other words, whatever they are allegedly worried about, it should already be happening. And seriously: Does anyone in San Francisco need a pair of binoculars to see what their neighbors are doing?)

We don’t do endorsements at 48hills, but lots of other groups do, and it’s not hard to figure out where your friends and allies are on the issues. There are some screwy ones – the local Democratic Party has been hijacked by the Board of Realtors and Airbnb, so unless you are on board with those operations, you might want to keep in mind who is paying for that slate.

And I don’t personally agree with every endorsement position that every group in the general progressive universe has taken, but again: If you don’t know how you feel about some of the measures, there’s certainly a consensus among most of the left groups in town on the housing agenda.

If you’re looking for advice from tenant and affordable housing groups, the SF Tenants Union and the Council of Community Housing Organizations both have slate cards. From the environmentalists, the Sierra Club suggestions are here. Here’s the League of Pissed-Off Voters. SEIU Local 1021 is one of the most progressive unions in town; it’s slate is here. The Harvey Milk Club is always the left wing of the queer movement, and you can see what that club suggests here. AFT 2121 represents the teachers at City College; check out its endorsements here.

If you’re of the right-wing conservative bent, here’s what the San Francisco Republican Party thinks. The SF Police Officers Association seems to think its still 2014. If you’re into big business, here’s the SF Chamber of Commerce slate. The Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth represents business interests and the most conservative labor groups (including the POA); if that’s your thing, you can find the group’s recommendations here.

Those are just a sample of the citywide groups; if I left yours off, let me know and I’ll try to update.

The point is, there’s plenty of advice out there if you’re confused, and since this will be a very low-turnout election, every single vote counts. If your ballot just arrived in the mail, fill it out. If not, be sure to show up Nov. 3. There’s so much on the line.


VisionSF had its kickoff event Saturday, and the Brava Theater was packed. Hard to get 200-plus people out on a Saturday afternoon, up against Hardly Strictly Bluegrass on a nice sunny day, but the turnout showed how much political unrest and even anger is out there is a city that’s under more pressure than I’ve ever seen.

Author David Talbot, who was one of the founders of the group, noted that “San Francisco, the city of dreamers, rebels, artists, has become a city of greed.” Sara Shortt, director of the Housing Rights Committee, noted that the city “has become a company town, with luxury housing popping up like cancer.” The reason that there are several housing measure on the ballot, she said, is “because we couldn’t make the change at City Hall.”

David Campos asks how we can build housing for the working class without building housing for the working class
David Campos asks how we can build housing for the working class without building housing for the working class

Sup. David Campos spoke about the attitude of “supply-side economics” at City Hall and noted that the dominant idea was “you build housing for the middle class and poor people by not building housing for the middle class and poor people.”

Perhaps the most dramatic moment came from Cleve Jones, long time activist and City Hall aide to Harvey Milk, who recalled the tragic day when Milk was shot. “I thought it was over,” he said. “Everything we had worked for, it was over.

“But then the sun went down, and at Castro and Market, people just gathered with candles, and we marched in silence to the Civic Center. And we filled the plaza, and I looked around at all those lights and thought, this isn’t over. It’s just begun.”

Inspiring words for tough times. Now if all of us can just get off our asses and vote …


So far, the Yes on I campaign, which is pushing the 18-month breather on luxury housing in the Mission, has operated entirely on individual donations coming in the door. But this week, on Thursday/8, the group holds it’s one and only fundraiser – “Latin Legends of Rock” at the Roccapulco Dance Club, 3140 Mission. The event features some 20 bands, including Leo Rosales of Malo and the Latin Rock All Stars, John Calloway, John Santos, Marcus Lopez Mission Varrio Project, Dr. Loco and DJ Bobby A, and more.

And all for just $20. The fun starts at 6pm.


And speaking of fun: You can come and watch the editor of 48hills, who is me, debate and discuss housing policy and the fall ballot measures with Kim Mai Cutler of TechChrunch and Cory Weinberg of the SF Business Times Wednesday/7. The moderator will be KPFA’s Brian Edwards-Tiekert.

Kim-Mai is the one who wrote the much-discussed story about the roots of the local housing crisis that featured burrowing owls and vomiting anarchists. I have a different perspective (although I agree with her that it’s crazy that Mountain View and Cupertino and the Silicon Valley cities can get the tax money from huge tech offices without ever building any housing at all.)

Should be fun and lively. It’s at the Bayanian Center at 6th and Mission, 6pm.


The guessing game over whether Mayor Ed Lewill dare to veto e part of the anti-eviction legislation that passed with just seven votes is still on; he hasn’t acted on the bill yet. He has until October 9 to sign or veto; if he does noting, it becomes law without his signature. We will be reporting on it when it happens, but you can also follow the fate of the measure here.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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  1. Costs caused by development and incurred by existing residents should be covered by highly profitable development. But affordable housing advocates should not be affordable housing developers who become dependent upon luxury condo development for their meal tickets.

  2. Look, nobody wants to call for housing project and fill them up with the middle class. But waiting for 8 units to get posted in a luxury condo building is the stupidest possible strategy to any housing crises known to man. Lee’s plan is equally as idiotic, treating development like it’s Al Gore’s airplane, and saying if you fly, you got to put money in the kitty to help the world, is a con. It’s sanctioned payoffs. Even if the housing manifests, it’s still not a direct approach to the problem.

    I’m not even sure developers should be responsible to solve said problem. Let’s judge these plans on their locations, and merits, not some blackmail meets subsidy song and dance, and some 80/20% like we’re talking about burgers.

  3. I think that the nonprofits have put all of their eggs in the inclusionary and in-lieu basket for their own self interests such that they have become dependent upon luxury condos for their meal tickets. Luxury inclusionary can play a role, but the side effects of such an approach for everyone else are burdensome and onerous. Of course, none of the nonprofiteers live anywhere near where this is going on so it is no skin off of their asses, only a paycheck jack.

  4. I think we’ve lost perspective of what the low cost units in market rate developments was about, and the limitations of what it can do.

  5. Developers must provide higher amounts of affordable housing such that the overall annual take is constant but the production of some luxury condo projects does not pencil out.

  6. Affordable production is a scam.

    As is the Mayor’s affordable offset plans.

    The idea that any developer is going to set aside a chunk in their luxury condos to raffle off to anyone making less than 80-120k is affordable, is the biggest scam of our times.

  7. Prop I stops luxury condo construction, affordable production can continue.

    We need more affordable housing produced by luxury condos than the Mission Area Plan, developed during the depths of the finance crash, calls for.

  8. I’ve been here long enough to remember all of Peskin’s reign. He’s a Tammany hall politician, a drunk, a d1ck, and a misogynist. I laughed when I got that flier with Michaela Alioto-Pier saying she supported Peskin. I recall as a supervisor that she went to the press complaining that she often felt threatened by Peskin:

    “She’s a whiny brat, and she has been a whiny brat ever since she arrived at the Board of Supervisors” – and now shes endorsing him?? – that is some kind of power.

  9. Its very strange to me that someone would be so emotionally invested in not building new housing. So much bile – what is it really about? Its a new handle, or created in the last two weeks. Many of the screeds specifically complain about Supervisor Farrell, recs and park, and Russian hill. Almost every single post complains about growth, or “rich people” – very very curious.

  10. Agreed, real progressives support minimum quotas for each race and class so that integration is enforced everywhere. Diversity is more important than freedom.

    Let’s ban first class on flights as well!

  11. I am firmly committed to full class integration in the city in all of its neighborhoods and housing developments.

  12. Yes! In fact, let’s build all luxury in SOMA and the Mission, and put affordable housing projects (for those who don’t need quick access to Silicon Valley) in the Marina and West of Twin Peaks.

  13. You’re right about Chiu…he followed other interests/influences after maybe about 2 years.

    If I’m not mistaken, term limits were changed in 2012. It was snuck in with some legislation. Classic Peskin. Plus, ranked choice, district elections too? Jackpot.

    BOS is at it’s worst when it’s used as a stepping stone, but worse than worst, is treating the position like the entitlement of an aristocracy.

  14. The funny thing is that when you compare the DCCC slate to the Harvey Milk, SEIU1021, & the CCHO’s, they are practically identical, with the exception of Props F & I, but yeah, they are TOTALLY SCREWY (and at least they had the guts to take a stand on every proposition, unlike some other groups). And this just in!!: The Chamber of Commerce’s slate ain’t all that different either, by why let facts get in the way of the Us vs. Them mentality

  15. Prop I will not make it any harder to evict a longtime tenant or any easier to build affordable housing. “Pause for a plan” is a really catchy slogan, but we already did that when we took 7 years to put together the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan. People have been demanding construction moratoria in the Mission since the early 2000s. They have had time to think of a plan that will halt displacement, so, where is it? What will Prop I really accomplish? Which neighborhoods will have moratoria on the ballot next year?

    Also, it makes zero sense to imply that building housing is useless because prices continue to rise. The climate continues to warm, even though we’ve built a lot of solar panels. That doesn’t mean solar panels are useless.

  16. The doom and gloom that the build build build crowd is spouting is ridiculous.

    The area included in the pause for a plan/stop and think Proposition I is at most a few square miles, or about 6% of the city. The Mission District and nearby neighborhoods such as Hayes Valley, Upper Market, SoMa, and Potrero Hill (bottom of north slope) have gotten plenty of new construction – you know the kind that is “guaranteed” to keep the neighborhood affordable because that’s how supply and demand work to make for a happy and just world.

    Pausing construction in a small area of the city, an area with few remaining buildable parcels, will have no effect on construction elsewhere (except possibly to speed it up and lower costs as resources would be shifted).

    The SFBARFers and Ed Lee and Scott Wiener and Mark Farrell and the rest of them should be thrilled by that potential. Shifting development elsewhere will certainly make it possible to build vastly more market rate luxury condos. Once the Mission’s parcels are built on, multinational development corporations will have to move onto other neighborhoods.

    Those who oppose Prop I are unwilling to point out that there are lots of areas in the city that have space for more tall ugly deluxe condos. I’m thinking of such low-density areas such as Chestnut Street between roughly Fillmore and Baker, Union Street from Van Ness to Steiner, Cole Street between Carl and Parnassus, the low-densisty stretches of Fillmore and Divisidero that aren’t included in London Breed’s transit corridor/increased density zones (by which I mean the parts of those streets that aren’t historically African-American residential and commercial areas), and the Inner Sunset area around 9th and Irving.

    The biggest plum of all is the full city block bounded by Hyde, Bay, Larkin and Francisco Streets. Think of how much market rate housing could be built there, especially if the Board of Supervisors up zones it to a 400 foot height limit. How many deluxe condos could be built then? Think how rents will plummet elsewhere once we have a thousand or more condos on Russian Hill, many of which will have “world-class” views.

    Of course, that easy solution one be taken because Russian Hill residents have fought off multiple attempts over the years to develop the site. They – along with Supervisor Mark Farrell – want the Recreation and Parks Department to pay fair market value for this large tract of surplus property so it can be turned into useable open space rather than housing. “Fair market value” for a full city block
    on Russian Hill could easily devour the majority of Recreation and Parks’
    annual budget. Of course, Supervisor Farrell is happy to support unwanted
    market-rate residential development in relatively impoverished and
    disenfranchised neighborhoods that are not in his district, insisting that
    building more luxury housing is the only way to reduce housing costs in San Francisco, so it is entirely nonsensical (one might say idiotic) to “save” this large area from development, especially given the huge cost.

    Don’t get me wrong. I like parks. I like them a lot. But when fool self-serving
    hypocrites like Farrell refuse to even consider building on prime real estate
    just because his precious constituents really would rather not have any of the
    downside of construction and increased density, it becomes quite clear that
    they care nothing about improving (or even maintaining) the livability of the
    city or respecting the needs of people outside their district who don’t have
    enough money or the right first language or the correct skin color.

  17. >”This idea that you can put in a puppet successor…”

    Which is what Chiu was supposed to be before he grew a pair. Peskin famously camped out in Chiu’s office during the 555 Washington fight. Chiu soon thereafter got rid of Peskin loyalist David Nayola as his L.A. and charted his own path.

    Character matters and Peskin’s is obviously highly flawed. We don’t want to be represented by a person like him.

    The term limits law should be revisited. My guess is that nobody anticipated somebody as pathetic as Peskin. His contemporaries are running for Governor and US Senator. His successor is on Sacramento.

    Peskin is happy with a trajectory that puts him in the same position as he was in 16 years ago. Because he lacks the “infrastructure” to challenge for Mayor.

  18. i wish I still lived there and could vote. I hate the way the Mayor is treating my old stomping ground.

  19. I agree. Put the bulk of the station under Columbus and the entrance to the station in the Pagoda site.

  20. There’s no reason why the site can’t be both a subway station underground, and housing above. It’s done all the time; the two are not mutually exclusive.

  21. Kudos to you for also providing some moderate and conservative slates as well.

    Assuming of course that you not compelled to do that in order to keep your non-political, non-profit status.

  22. Is Peskin a Progressive?

    I don’t believe so.

    In general terms, he was bad for the City, and things are too dire to play around.

    Sorry to the revisionists, but he was far from beloved by liberals by the time he left office.

    I think he fundamentally misunderstood his role while a Supervisor.

    I think the reputation as a bully is well earned, and the biggest criticism of all, is that we should never return to the days of people talking about “What Aaron wants…” as if one elected official’s desires hold the weight of a dictator. This idea that you can put in a puppet successor then come back in 4 years, wiping the slate clean from people with short memories, or better yet, a new voter block that wasn’t around when he was in office, is something I oppose.

    He was termed out. He shouldn’t be able to run. It’s an abuse of power.

  23. Out of curiosity, why don’t you like Peskin?
    (I know some people don’t like him because they don’t like progressives in general, or just on a personal level. I don’t know if that’s your take.)

  24. 100% about the Pagoda push.

    I was indifferent to Christensen…I’m in the camp that isn’t fooled by Peskin and remember him negatively….so all she had to do was keep cool…but woah, boy…this last month…yikes.

  25. I’m not happy about Prop. K, and I don’t see how it’s getting so much progressive support. It raises the level of income for the developing city surplus property to 150% of median area income, which is pushing close to market-rate housing. Worse, it allows for property which has not been transferred to the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development to be developed with a 30–33% affordable requirement. To me that looks like a nice loophole for transferring city property to market-rate housing developers.

  26. I’m waiting for the bogus issue that Lee will “strongly” support to allow Julie Christensen to not support, so she can loudly proclaim that she isn’t a ‘rubber stamp’ for Lee. The timing and tone of the press about the Pagoda Theater site becoming condos, instead of an unfunded future North Beach subway stop reeked of election politics.

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