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Home News + Politics The Agenda, Jan 23-30: Trump and the media, SROs and Central SoMa

The Agenda, Jan 23-30: Trump and the media, SROs and Central SoMa

We look at the crucial issues and decisions of the week ahead

This building at 1515 South Van Ness has created an uproar over the Eastern Neighborhoods EIR

You have to give the New York Times credit: The front-page headline Sunday/21 reads “Slamming media, Trump advances two falsehoods.” The story makes clear that the president lied, repeatedly, on his first day in office.

Nothing of that natural in the Chron. No headlines saying that Trump lied. But everyone should be ready to start saying that, because it’s going to happen just about every day from here on out.

This building at 1515 South Van Ness has created an uproar over the Eastern Neighborhoods EIR
This building at 1515 South Van Ness has created an uproar over the Eastern Neighborhoods EIR

The entire national news media needs to be in solidarity, since there hasn’t been since Nixon a president so openly hostile to the press, and Trump so far appears to be far worse than Nixon.

So far, the White House press corps has been more interested in competition than in solidarity. Next time Trump singles out one reporter and refuses to answer their questions, it’s up to the rest to say: Wait, we want to hear that question answered. Wait, why won’t you deal with this issue? Instead of moving on and letting Trump choose the next reporter and the next question.

It’s strange, though: I heard someone on CNN talking about the old saw that you should never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel. But that’s really old. The mainstream news media has done so much damage to itself over the years that I wonder how much of the public is willing to stand behind journalists in a war against Trump. Kind of scary.


Sup. Aaron Peskin has introduced legislation to tighten up the loopholes that allow the owners of SRO hotels to convert them to tourist use. He’s got the support of the Mission SRO Collaborative, the Chinatown SRO Collaborative, the Central City SRO Collaborative, the Tenants Union, and the Hotel Workers Union.

It’s a common-sense bill to address a clear problem: There’s more money in renting to tourists than allowing long-term tenants to stay in housing that was designed for, and is protected as a use for, low-income San Francisco residents.

So now we will see how this new Board of Supes operates. This ought to be one of those bills that passes with about 10 votes. Yet we have a hostile Land Use Committee and a 6-5 majority that is friendly with the real-estate industry.

Peskin doesn’t like to lose, and I suspect he has done his homework and will get the votes. The mayor cannot possibly veto this bill. I mean, can he?

There will be a rally Monday/23 at noon in the North Light Court at City Hall, and the measure will come before Land Use at 1:30.


The future of central Soma will be up for discussion Thursday/26 when the Planning Commission holds a hearing on the draft environmental impact report for the Central Soma Plan. The plan is mostly about allowing more office development in the area roughly bounded by Second Street, Sixth Street, Townsend, and Folsom.

Expect a huge turnout and a lot of comments and challenges to the DIER. This is a crucial area of the city, where industrial space has been illegally converted to offices, where tech offices are encroaching on everything, and where some low-income areas are facing displacement.

I have a larger issue: These area plans create a situation where it’s no longer possible to challenge a single project’s environmental impacts. And they project out impacts for a future that we don’t have a clue about.

The Eastern Neighborhoods Plan was written and approved before there was the Twitter Tax Break, when there were no Google Buses, when Uber and Lyft didn’t exist. And now the Planning Department says that new projects in that area that threaten existing vulnerable communities can’t be challenged.

The commission meets at noon in Room 400, City Hall.


  1. I also have a problem with changes to the General Plan now that we know the City Authorities will use the General Plan to trump any CEQA challenges no matter how valid, such as the data the are basing their studies on is old, invalid data. No General Plan alterations should go through unless they are thoroughly vetted by a wide range of the public. This is a serious challenge to public controls of their neighborhoods and cities.

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