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News + PoliticsThe Agenda, Dec. 7-13: The jail drama, tamales and...

The Agenda, Dec. 7-13: The jail drama, tamales and global capital …

… and the supes hear how the Super Bowl party will screw up your life

Protesters fighting a new jail locked themselves together with PVC pipe last week
Protesters fighting a new jail locked themselves together with PVC pipe last week

By Tim Redmond

DECEMBER 9, 2015 – All the drama over whether Aaron Peskin will get back from Nepal, where fuel shortages are grounding airlines, in time for a key vote on a new jail, appears to be overblown. At last week’s meeting, Mark Farrell, the chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, moved that that item be sent to the full board for Dec. 15, by which time, barring something highly unusual happening, Peskin will be safely in office.

It may be a moot question anyway: Even without Peskin, I’m not sure this expensive plan had six votes. “I think we have four solid votes,” one jail supporter told me. “But one of those is Julie Christensen” and she won’t be there when the item comes up.


I’ve read all the sad comments about the closure of Roosevelt’s Tamale Parlor, which was a part of 24th Street for as long as I’ve lived in the city (34 years) and part of the Mission since the 1920s. It makes me sad, too – in the old days when the Bay Guardian was on 19th and York, Roosevelt’s was our get-away-from-the-office lunch spot, where the staff of an alt-weekly that was still small and struggling could afford to sit down and eat.

In this case, Roosevelt’s isn’t being forced out by a rent increase; the place just can’t find employees who can afford to live in the city on the wages that an inexpensive community restaurant can pay.

“If you want to hire a line cook, you’re talking at least $16 an hour,” Presbrey said. “I get it. Our staff members don’t want to work 15 hours a day and then commute on a train for an hour back and forth. No one wants to live like that. But the result is that the cost of living here is killing our ability to hire staff.”

That’s another cost of the tech boom: Housing prices are killing small businesses. And it causes me to ask again: Are we, as a city and a community, better off today than we were before the mayor decided that San Francisco should be Tech Central?

Soon, we may see storefronts going the way of Vancouver, BC, where all kinds of places are empty – despite a strong economy. Why? The Stranger reports that global investors in real estate there (as here) don’t care about making income off their property; they care about its value increasing. Global Capital sets unreasonable rents, and cares little about vacancies or what they do to small businesses, communities, and the livability of a city.

What is happening in Vancouver is we have the most overpriced real estate in the world. Our average house price is 11 times the average annual income. Hong Kong, where much of the capital originates, it is 12. Your city, Seattle, is 6. Paris is 5. So, we are overpriced, and that applies to retail rents as well. That’s why Vancouver has become a really tough place to make a go of it if you are a shop owner. A lot of the money that came from overseas raised rents expecting the returns you get in Hong Kong. But that has only killed a lot of businesses. As a consequence, we have priced ourselves out of reality. For example, there is no book store here anymore. None. Zero. We have become all about global money, and it has little to do with the rest of the city and what it needs.

As to why global capital prefers empty spaces to a reduction of rent, Boddy said:

They are not there to get rent. They are there for the rising value of the real estate. That’s happening with our houses.

And it’s why in SF there are so many market-rate housing units that are vacant most of the year, and why building more of them won’t help San Francisco’s housing crisis one bit.


There are two hot items at the Land Use and Transportation Committee meeting Monday/9: Bicycles and the Super Bowl.

Sups. Malia Cohen and Jane Kim have asked for a hearing on the

anticipated neighborhood impacts, job opportunities, transportation issues, and safety plans for the events associated with Super Bowl 50, including specifics regarding any Market Street closure and possible removal of Muni overhead wires, as well as these impacts on transportation and commute times, pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

The Super Bowl Overlords have decided that they won’t force the city to remove the overhead Muni wires, but the party for mostly rich people who go to these events (real football fans can’t afford tickets, and watch on TV) will have a decided impact on those of us who live here.

I would add another issue: How many illegal short-term rentals will be added for this marketing extravaganza, and how will they impact local tenants?
The committee will also hear legislation that would essentially stop the police from issuing tickets to bicycle riders who treat stop signs as yield signs. It’s got wide support (six cosponsors, so it will pass) but the mayor hasn’t given any signals on where he stands.


There were some who said that the Twitter tax break and the “revitalization” of mid-Market would never impact low-cost SRO housing in the Tenderloin. That, it turns out, was absolutely wrong. Private SROs are being upgraded to appeal to a higher-end clientele – and that contributes to homelessness.

I will leave that article, by a supporter of the Twitter tax break, with no further comment.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Tim Redmond
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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