Perhaps, a real mayoral debate

Plus: the problem with the new ethics legislation and affordable housing in the Mission. That's The Agenda for Feb. 11-18

Tom Ammiano called me this morning to say he was going to dial 911. “I just realized I agree with Willie Brown,” he said.

Chron Editorial Page Editor John Diaz moderated the first debate, which was pretty moderate

That doesn’t happen often to me, either, but I get his point: Brown’s analysis of the mayor’s race reflects the problem we are seeing with this short-track sprint:

The real story behind all this is that there isn’t a cigarette paper’s worth of difference between the candidates on the major issues.

All are calling for more affordable housing. All are calling for compassionate but firm care for the homeless. All say auto break-ins have to stop and that traffic is terrible.

But none of them has a concrete answer for how they will do any of it.

That was my response to the first debate, where there was too much agreement and none of the candidates stood out.  It’s still the problem today.

Brown is, of course, wrong in his overall position: There are very significant differences between the candidates. Mayor Jane Kim or Mayor Mark Leno would take the city in a very different direction than Mayor London Breed (or, in her wildest imagination, Mayor Angela Alioto).

But the voters don’t know that yet – and the election comes closer every day.

We may see that change Wednesday/14, when the first forum organized by progressive groups takes place at the Women’s Building. The forum is hosted by he SF Progressive Alliance, The SF Latino Democratic Club, The Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, San Francisco Tomorrow, [email protected] Young Democrats of San Francisco, The SF Berniecrats, The SF Green Party, Progressive Democrats of America SF, South Beach D6 Democratic Club, SF For Democracy, and more.

Here’s the question I would ask, if I only got one: Do you believe that rapid growth has been good for San Francisco, and that job growth in the tech sector – encouraged as a key policy by the administration of Ed Lee — has had a net positive impact on the city’s economy, on social justice in the city, and on the quality of life for all residents?

I said “net positive impact.” Don’t tell me there are upsides and downsides; on balance, are we better off as a city then we were before Ed Lee too office and Ron Conway began calling the shots at City Hall? Yes or no. Don’t waffle.

The event starts at 6pm.

The Board of Supes Finance Committee once again takes up a huge complex set of campaign-finance and ethics reforms Thursday/15, and the supes are in a strange situation: If they don’t approve everything that the Ethics Commission has proposed, that commission has the ability to put the issue directly to the voters, as is.

The more I learn about this, the more frustrating it gets: Almost everyone on the progressive side of things agrees with 90 percent of the reforms, and those are the most important ones. (The reforms that we really need, dealing with independent expenditure committees, aren’t in the package, in part because of the US Supreme Court and in part because that doesn’t seem to be the priority of Ethics right now.)

But Ethics is insisting on a couple of elements that directly impact nonprofit organizations, many of which are doing important work in the community. 

The key issue is “behested contributions,” which means that a city official has asked some individual or group to give money to a nonprofit (or in some cases, a government agency). The problem is that big corporate donors can do a favor for, say, the mayor by supporting his or her favorite charities – but since it’s not a direct campaign contribution, the amount is unlimited.

Ethics wanted to ban the practice entirely, but wound up settling for a set of disclosure rules that are going to discourage some people from giving money to nonprofits.

As a working group for local charities notes, the legislation

dramatically expands current law in ways that would create major impediments for public officials who engage in charitable activities to support nonprofits in our community

The legislation as written says that anyone who in any way seeks to influence city policy can’t give money to a nonprofit at the behest of a public official without both the individual and the official filing a report.
That means, for example, that someone who goes before the Board of Supes to testify at a hearing in favor of Sanctuary City can’t give $1,000 to a nonprofit without filing forms – if a member of the board asks for the donation.

The city just enacted a similar provision, written by Sup. Aaron Peskin; it became law Jan. 1, 2018. It defines “interested party” as someone who has a financial stake in a public-policy decision, not just someone who (like a huge number of San Franciscans) testifies on some issue at a board or commission. From the nonprofits memo:

The broad definition of interested party will be impossible to track or enforce. It would apply to anybody who speaks at a hearing, calls or writes their legislator, participates in a public rally, or even signs a petition. It fails to draw a distinction between advocacy around a financial interest with personal gain versus the public expression of one’s opinions under the First Amendment. It would apply to people who speak only at a subcommittee hearing outside the public official’s presence, and speakers who exercise their right to testify anonymously.

The other issue is that the law, as proposed, would make it impossible for a lot of nonprofit board members or staff to serve on any city commission.

Board members (and I know this from serving on two nonprofit boards) are supposed to help raise money for the organizations. If you are also on a commission, and you call people and ask for money for your nonprofit, you start to fall into the area where this new legislation would put you in potential legal jeopardy.

The threshold for triggering that reporting process is $1,000. And both the donor and the official have to file the report. (48hills doesn’t get many $1,000 donations, and I’m not on any commission, but I can tell you that if I told those donors they would have to file a report, they would probably say: Well, then never mind.)

Again, from the memo:

These requirements are overly onerous, duplicative to the public official’s filing, create a disincentive to charitable giving, and imply to donors that their contributions are somehow suspect. This requirement will most surely result in a decline of charitable contributions by any potential donors defined as interested parties – which as we highlighted in the section above, would apply to a dramatically expanded group of people – with minimal benefit to the public. The proposal may also result in sanctions when a donor fails to file the required report, even if the public official fails to notify the donor of the reporting requirement. This new double-reporting standard just creates a set of potential traps for unwary donors who simply are willing to make a $1,000 donation to a local charitable organization.

In contrast, we are supportive of reasonable reporting requirements for recipients of major behested contributions ($100,000+). While this provision would impose additional compliance costs for those organizations, contributions of this magnitude are rare and large enough to justify additional scrutiny.

More tricky: I also know that some people like to give money to nonprofits anonymously. No commissioner who is also on a nonprofit board could ask for a contribution from someone who doesn’t want their name made public.

There are real issues with behested payments. When Mayor Ed Lee asked big corporations to chip in for the America’s Cup and the Super Bowl, he was in their debt. That should at least be reported.

And as Larry Bush, a member of Friends of Ethics and a supporter of the legislation, testified last week, the existing behested-payment filings don’t show any small nonprofits; they are all the big guys.

But that’s based on the state’s definition of behested payments, not the definition that would be in this law.

The nonprofit community – and most smaller nonprofits are not corrupt or creating conflicts of interests – is united against this part of the law. I don’t see why Ethics can’t, as Peskin asked at the last meeting, give the existing law a chance to work.

Meanwhile, Peskin is proposing that donors to independent expenditure committees – the superPACs that are the real source of political corruption in this city – be required to file economic interest statements. That’s a fascinating idea.

But overall, it seems as if the city could enact a strong, much-needed set of new ethics rules, with pretty much unanimous support, without attacking legit nonprofits.

But the supes aren’t in control here; Ethics can put this on the ballot anyway. And anti-corruption laws tend to pass pretty easily on the ballot in SF.

The hearing starts at 10am in the Board of Supes chamber.

The full board hears an appeal Tuesday/13 of the Community Plan Evaluation of a proposal to replace a laundromat on Mission Street with 55 units (or more) of market-rate housing.

The issue at hand is somewhat technical – does the project conform with the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, which means it doesn’t need further environmental review. But what’s really going on here is that the community has been pushing for the city to buy the site and develop 100 percent affordable housing – and the owner has set the price so high that the city can’t do it.

The legalities are difficult here: The supes probably can’t say that the developer has to sell to the city or he won’t get a permit. But it’s tempting.

That hearing starts sometime after 3pm.

  • Watson Ladd

    So let’s see: when a member of the Board of Sups holds up an affordable housing project to ask why their prefered non-profit wasn’t put in charge of it (after a competitive bidding process) that doesn’t raise any concerns on your part?

    Aaron Peskin is of course a landlord, and a major winner from SFs staggeringly high rents. He also supports policies that enrich himself at the expense of every working person in San Francisco. Funny how you never talk about that Tim.

    • The disagreement we have is this: I don’t believe that density in SF drives down property values. I think that Peskin’s policy proposals won’t enrich him. I also, as a homeowner, believe that I would see my property values rise if the Yimby agenda was implemented in my neighborhood. I actually want to see property values fall (although it would impact my wealth) and I think that slowing commercial office growth is the best way to do that. You need to understand that some of us are motivated by factors unrelated to our personal wealth.

      • Zhoosh

        I think he was asking about this:

        Aaron Peskin’s Power Play at 88 Broadway

        • Geek__Girl

          Navigation Centers tend to be temporary, and were supposedly intended to get people off of the streets. Granted, like everything else, it appears that the City has managed to derail this effort as well. Under Ed Lee, it was quickly turned into a program to funnel people into Homeward Bound, which I refer to at the “Thank God and Greyhound You’re Gone” program. It doesn’t work, it is cruel (they only give $10 a day to eat on, have major restrictions on what you can take, and you cannot take pets). And a lot of those shipped out, return to San Francisco.

          But you are objecting to a short term use, that will, hopefully under a decent mayor, help alleviate some of the problems with people being forced to live on the streets. That will not prevent the affordable housing being built eventually.

          • Watson Ladd

            Eventually. We have people who need that affordable housing now.

          • Don Sebastopol

            How low do rents need to go before you can afford to live in SF? And where in SF would you like to live?

          • Watson Ladd

            Don, housing markets are regional. If you add an inadequate number of units in some part of SF, the prices won’t fall in that part because you didn’t build enough and if they did people would move to that part.

            High prices in SF are driving up prices in the East bay, and sending people to Tracy in order to afford to live in the region. All of this because we decided building more homes is a terrible idea.

          • Geek__Girl

            Ah, excuses, excuses.

          • Zhoosh

            Eventually. We have people who need that affordable housing now

            Well it’s worse than that. It’s easy for @geek_girl to confidently state that affordable will be built eventually but someone capable of rational thought would not be nearly as confident. A lot of stars need to align perfectly for projects like that to come to fruition. There’s no guarantee that the financing will exist years from now. Peskin’s allies from Telegraph Hill are claiming that they need the parking lot left as is. There’s no guarantee that they won’t come up with a better story years from now.

          • Geek__Girl

            We also have people who need to be moved off of the streets.

          • Watson Ladd

            Yes, into permanent homes which don’t yet exist. I’m sure Aaron Peskin could have found another site for the navigation center as well if he tried.

      • Watson Ladd

        I don’t think density will drive down property values either. It will make it cheaper to live in SF. The current situation means Peskin doesn’t need to invest any cash to see high rents. Why do you care about making property values fall? What’s wrong with having a prosperous city?

        • Zhoosh

          It’s gotta drive down condo prices, since that’s what is being built when you say density. Nobody is talking about paving over Bernal Hill for a new cul-de-sac tract of homes.

          Next to the Old Ship Saloon a brand new market rate building is almost finished. It looks exactly like a much older building right next to it. That has GOT to have an effect on the existing building.

          • Don Sebastopol

            There was an article a couple of months ago that condos prices in SOMA had leveled off and dropped a little due to a rapid increase in supply. That may help some on the margins of being able to qualify for a mortgage, but did not really make SOMA any more affordable. Also, I would think if the price drops too much developers will stop building and the high prices would return.

          • Watson Ladd

            Why do developers build homes in Chicago then?

        • Y.

          “Why do you care about making property values fall?”

          Low property values equals affordable housing market.
          “Prosperous” is good when it benefits everyone.

          • Watson Ladd

            You can have expensive land and cheap housing if you put more housing on each piece of land, the very policy Tim is against.

          • Y.

            Nope. Land is priced according to how much profit it can generate. All else being the same, land that is zoned for 100′ will be more expensive than land zoned for 40′.

          • Watson Ladd

            It’s twice as expensive because you can put two 40′ buildings on the same place, and sell each one of them for the price of one 40′ building. Why do we care what land costs instead of what homes cost?

          • Y.

            You said at the top, “You can have expensive land and cheap housing if you put more housing on each piece of land”. I’m saying that you won’t, because the land would be priced to preclude cheap housing.

          • Watson Ladd

            You’re wrong. If you upzone a region housing prices will fall because the cost of supplying more housing will be less. Can you find a single economist who says this ain’t so?

          • Geek__Girl

            Ah, asking someone to prove a negative. How incredibly dishonest. Can you prove your claim with actual evidence? Or are you just, as usual, blowing smoke.

          • Watson Ladd

            https://www.trulia.com/blog/trends/rich-city-poor-city/ Or just ask the California legislature. Or any economist who has studied why California is so expensive.

          • Geek__Girl

            ROTFL!!!!! I ask for evidence, and you cite a blog on a real estate web site? Seriously? Then you follow up with a vague suggestion to ask the California legislature or any economist who has studied why California is so expensive… Wow, it would be much simpler to admit you made a false claim, and can’t back it up.

          • Watson Ladd

            Here are just a few of the people saying California is expensive because it doesn’t build.: Ed Glaser. Matt Yglesias, Obama’s economic advisors, Karen Chappell (who shows that market rate reduces displacement)

          • Geek__Girl

            Let’s see… Ed Glaser has nothing to do with economics, Yglesias is a blogger, and an idiot who put his foot in his mouth about Larry Nassar, (Hint: bloggers are not good people to cite), and I found nothing on Karen Chappell. Our of three names, only one actually shows up, and that one is a blogger. Seriously….you are either incompetent, or dishonest.

          • Watson Ladd

            I slightly misspelled those names: here is Karen Chapple’s work on displacement. http://www.urbandisplacement.org/sites/default/files/images/udp_research_brief_052316.pdf

            Here is Glaeser http://realestate.wharton.upenn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/802.pdf

            So who says new building will cause displacement?

          • Y.

            Zuk and Chapple’s paper (Table 1, column one) finds that the only significant determinants of rent are the percentage of low-income residents and the percentage of college-educated residents; in other words, income levels. Construction activity and density are insignificant factors.

          • Watson Ladd

            Stop lying. Table 1 has significance markers on the coefficients of new market rate housing built pre 2000, as well as indicating new construction reduces displacement. It’s true these effects are small, but that just indicates the amount we need.

          • Y.

            Lying? You sure I didn’t misread anything? Easy with the insults, unless that’s how you talk to people normally.

            Z&C correlate Median rent during 2009-2013 with the following factors:
            – Income-related: Nonwhite; college educated; low-income.
            – Development-related: Percentage of older buildings; housing density; number of market rate units built 1990-2000; number of market rate units built 2000-2013; proximity to rail transit.

            Density and nonwhite population don’t correlate significantly with rents.
            Recent construction (post 2000) correlates with higher rents. Older construction (pre-1950, 1990-2000) correlates with lower rents. Proximity to rail correlates with higher rents.

            (I looked at rents, as opposed to rent-burden and displacement, since it’s a simpler thing to model.)

            As the paper says (p. 4): “Yet market-rate development in the 2000s is associated with higher rents, which could be expected as areas with higher rents are more lucrative places for developers to build housing. Furthermore, development in both the 1990s and 2000s is positively associated with housing cost burden for low-income households. Thus, while filtering may eventually help lower rents decades later, these units may still not be affordable to low-income households.” That’s just what Redmond has been saying.

            The study recommends low-income housing as an effective solution, as opposed to market-rate. They explicitly contradict the State’s Legislative Analyst’s Office’s 2016 report which says that market-rate building will lower prices.

            Overall, there’s support for the opposite of the YIMBY idea that more construction and higher density will lower housing costs.

            This study won’t be the last word, but since you brought it up, I thought I’d take a look.

          • Watson Ladd

            The table you cited has significance markers on the significant inputs. You’re confusing effect sizes with significance, and completely ignoring Karen Chappel’s summary of her results http://www.urbandisplacement.org/research#section-84 which says market rate housing reduces rents in succeeding decades.

          • Y.

            I listed the significant inputs, those marked by three asterisks. The coefficients can’t be compared, because they are calculated based on different units (percentages, density per sq. km., housing units built).

            The quote is “Market-rate production is associated with higher housing cost burden for low-income households, but lower median rents in subsequent decades.” Roughly speaking, we need to wait a half a lifetime for present day buildings to get shabby enough to be affordable (and that doesn’t apply to 1 Rincon and its ilk, just like it doesn’t apply to the Fontana towers). What’s going to happen between now and then?

          • Y.

            That’s a different discussion. Remember, what started this all is when you said, “Why do you care about making property values fall?” and I said, “low property values equals affordable housing market.” We need property prices to fall, whether they are individual units or land, for them to be affordable.

            “If you upzone a region housing prices will fall because the cost of supplying more housing will be less.” How would the cost of supplying housing be less? Land prices will remain expensive, as you say. The cost of building will be slightly higher, because highrises cost more to build than lowrises.

          • Watson Ladd

            If you can pack 10 $500,000 units onto a lot, that’s $5 million worth of home that can be put on there. Even in SF single family lots rarely approach that value. The world we live in isn’t one where there is infinite demand for housing in SF: it’s one where we’ve constrained supply for decades.

          • Y.

            Why wouldn’t a developer build 10 $1,000,000 units on that lot instead of 10 $500,000 units?

            “it’s one where we’ve constrained supply for decades”: Vacancy rates have held steady for decades. The demand wasn’t there. They got low during the dot-com boom and during the current boom, but not otherwise.

          • Watson Ladd

            Because every other plot of land will also be selling 10 units. Competition decreases prices. Why don’t bakeries charge $20 a loaf?

            No, there was lots of demand, and vacancy rates have been low for decades. Had SF not downzoned in the 1970’s and later in the 1990’s, it would be a very different and more affordable city. At the time these downzonings were taking place the impact on affordability was known.

          • Y.

            Total SF vacancy rate (rental + sale), from the SF Housing Element Data and Needs Analysis:
            1970 4.89%
            1980 5.58%
            1990 6.97%
            2000 4.86%
            2008 10.2%

            The dip in 2000 was due to the dot-com boom. After the crash, many new residents left town again, and population dropped to pre-boom levels. Since then, 150,000 new residents have moved into town, and vacancy rates have dropped. But historically vacancy rates have been comfortable for renters and landlords, as the numbers and personal experience of those who were here then will tell.

            Construction rate had dropped between 1950 and 2000 not because of regulations, but because there was little demand for new housing.

          • Watson Ladd

            If there was little demand, why did prices rise and why was downzoning needed?

          • Y.

            Demand for luxury housing is a separate thing from overall demand. The height limit zoning was in reaction to projects such as the Fontana Towers near the wharf, which were (and are) luxury apartments with grand views, but blocking other people’s views. This was in the early 60s, when housing was cheap, and the city was still depopulating.
            Housing prices follow income.

            Nominal rents in SF have gone up with nominal average US salaries for decades, until the dot-com boom. Rents went up because folks were able to pay more.

          • Y.

            “Because every other plot of land will also be selling 10 units.”

            OK, again, we’re talking at cross purposes. You are talking the connection between vacancy rate and housing prices. Earlier you were talking about the connection between land prices and housing prices.

            But I’ll go along. Right now a small apartment costs a million and there are plenty of buyers (and hence a low vacancy rate). How many units, roughly, would it take to halve the price of housing in San Francisco?

          • NIMBY CLUB

            “The demand wasn’t there.”

            If that were true we wouldn’t have zoning to prevent people from building. Vacancy rates only tell you demand is fluctuating, not whether it’s high or low, etc.

          • Y.

            “If that were true we wouldn’t have zoning to prevent people from building.” Zoning could, for example, prevent luxury 20 story buildings in low-rise neighborhoods. There was and is a demand for luxury housing even when regular housing was available.

          • NIMBY CLUB

            In Cuba a brand new Kia Rio costs $68,000 USD on the open market. Would you say that is an economy car, or a luxury car?

          • Y.

            What?

          • NIMBY CLUB

            It’s a serious question.

            Cuba just started importing cars, they only allow 2000 in per year. A Kia Rio costs $68000, and I’m curious to know whether you consider it to be a luxury car or not in this context.

          • Y.

            It depends on the definition. If we define luxury as a (relatively) unnecessary thing that only (relatively) few can afford, then for Cuba the Rio is a luxury.

          • NIMBY CLUB

            Hard to pin down, right?

            If we define luxury as an “unnecessary thing,” one must decide what is necessary. Is it necessary to live in San Francisco? Oakland is just minutes away by train and significantly more affordable. Is it necessary to live alone? You can halve your living costs with a roommate.

            What about defining luxury as something “few can afford?” Here you must define affordable. By most definitions, most of the housing in San Francisco could be defined as luxury on a price basis. Sure, you can say rent controlled property is affordable, but it’s really just luxury housing made affordable by price controls.

            Would you consider any of these “luxury?”

            1. http://panoramiclivingsf.com/ ($3k/mo for new tenderloin studio)
            2. https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/apa/d/modern-studio-in-soma-yerba/6477706168.html
            3. https://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/apa/d/garden-view-studio-apartment/6482531387.html

          • Y.

            “Luxury” is not that hard to pin down; it’s just a shortcut for something you’re trying to say.

            What I was talking about were the Fontana towers. They were built at a time when anyone could find a place to live. The Fontana units were “luxury” because they gave a richer minority an extra thing, the views of the Bay. The same is true for newer SOMA highrises. They are expensive, even for the rank-and-file techies, because they offer the extra luxury of views and other modern amenities. They are not meant to alleviate the housing crisis, and they won’t.

          • NIMBY CLUB

            ” They are not meant to alleviate the housing crisis, and they won’t.”

            A few buildings are not going to solve a housing crisis, just like a day of rain will not solve a drought. Every building contributes to the supply, even luxury towers in Soma. They’re not going to be as effective as micro units or mid-rise buildings, but they still contribute.

            The concern of “The Fontana units were “luxury” because they gave a richer minority an extra thing, the views of the Bay” applies to any property that is upzoned. Anytime we increase the allowed building envelope of a parcel we are “giving” the owner of that land “an extra thing” as you call it, but we need to do that if we are going to make meaningful increases in the supply of housing. We can’t just say “we’re not upzoning because we don’t give handouts.” As soon as we decide to prioritize views or shadows, it becomes impossible to build anything without impacting someone’s else’s views or access to sunlight and nothing gets built.

            Trying to solve the problem with subsidized housing as we currently are is like trying to lower the price of the Kia Rio in Cuba with subsidies. You’re treating the symptom of high prices, without addressing the problem of short supply created by government policy. You can call the Rio a luxury car, but it’s really an economy car sold at luxury prices, just like most of the housing in San Francisco.

            As far as I’m concerned, the most equitable way to increase the allowable envelope of housing is to upzone everything evenly. This way we’re not giving a handful of lucrative entitlements to developers who have the financial resources to navigate the lengthy and political process of obtaining a variance.

          • Y.

            But this is not what we were talking about!

            You had said “If that were true [that there was no demand in the 60s and 70s] we wouldn’t have zoning to prevent people from building.” I explained that height limit regulations were put in place even when there was no housing shortage. Building at the time was not meant to provide mere housing, but to provide extra-expensive housing, which didn’t help SF at large, only a handful of very rich owners.

            I agree that subsidized housing is a stop-gap measure, and that the root causes should be addressed. What I think are the root causes is different than what you do.

          • NIMBY CLUB

            Ok back to that. You’re claiming “The demand wasn’t there,” and there was no need to build housing when the height limits went into effect, right?

            If we look at CPI adjusted rents for SF, you can see rents rose almost every year from the mid 1950’s to the mid 1980’s in real dollars:

            https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7319/26941938971_ea9415db14.jpg

            That means demand outstripped supply almost every year during a period you claim there was “no demand.” However low or absent you feel demand was, supply was lower.

            Note the data is logarithmic, which means the production shortfall has become worse every year starting back when the Fontana towers were approved. It was less noticeable at first, but the data clearly shows it was there (the behavior is much like compound interest).

          • NIMBY CLUB

            What I’m asking is how you define luxury. When it comes to housing is it the price? How about the size of the apartment? Or maybe the finishes?

          • Y.

            Price.

          • Watson Ladd

            20 story buildings on commercial lots don’t displace. Why wouldn’t we want to build them to accomodate people who want to move into SF?

          • Y.

            You asked why the zoning laws were put in place back in the day, even though demand was low, and I told you. That had nothing to do with displacement.

          • Don Sebastopol

            Where in SF are prices lower in higher density areas?

          • NIMBY CLUB

            “All else being the same”

            -That is true when we upzone one parcel in isolation, because “all else is the same.”

            -Upzone everything and all else is not the same.

          • Y.

            “All else being the same” meaning comparing parcels identical in size, location, etc., but differing only in zoned height.

        • Don Sebastopol

          Other than the Tenderloin, where in the City is higher density cheaper to live. Which neighborhoods?

          • Geek__Girl

            The Tenderloin is only affordable for those in subsidized housing. Even studios are pushing close to $2000 a month in run down buildings.

          • Don Sebastopol

            Comparatively affordable. Move up the hill and it goes up to $8000 a month.

          • Geek__Girl

            Yes, and you get quite a bit more for $8000. And in the Tenderloin, we are talking about places that would be overpriced at $500 a month, but techies who are desperate will pay four times as much as is reasonable.

        • Don Sebastopol

          Density will not make it any cheaper to live in SF. Where in SF is high density cheaper to live?

        • AhmadChalabisFoRealz

          Tim wants fewer buildings to be built and, thus, more construction workers out of work…though he never comes out and says that.

      • NIMBY CLUB

        When you say “ I don’t believe that density in SF drives down property values.”

        Do you mean the value of land? Or do you mean the value of building floor space?

        • Don Sebastopol

          I think it would be the price of the unit.

      • Don Sebastopol

        Areas with a majority of multiunit buildings with 10 or more units include Downtown and Chinatown but also include Alamo Square, Barbary Coast, Hayes Valley near Van Ness, Lakeshore, the Marina, Mission Bay Nob Hill, North Beach, Pacific Heights, Russian Hill, SOMA, Dogpatch, and South Beach. Where do you see lower property values?

    • Do Something Nice

      You may be surprised to learn that there are people who are not motivated by personal gain. Peskin continue to be maligned by people like you simply because you disagree.

      • Watson Ladd

        Peskin is endorsed both by landlords and tenants organizations, who have directly opposed interests. Who does he actually help?

        • Do Something Nice

          He actually helps tenants. You can do your own searching to find many articles about this, including individual cases as well as policy issues such as OMI evictions, AirBnB issues and others. And the landlord organization supported him because they saw that Christensen (aka the gaff factory) was going to lose.

          I actually engaged Peskin about helping a landlord who was struggling with a newer city ordinance that seemed like good law regarding high-rise apartment buildings but seemed punishing to owners of smaller buildings. Peskin responded immediately and assigned someone to help with the compliance, and the policy was modified a bit to make compliance a bit easier for small landlords.

          I’ve also seen him working with people who have been Ellised.

          • Watson Ladd

            Meanwhile Peskin is hell-bent on stopping the only policy that will reduce rents in SF, namely building more.

          • Do Something Nice

            What “only policy” are you talking about? And note that the the mini building boom of the last 5 years has not reduced rents.

          • Watson Ladd

            Moving the supply curve. We’ve had more building because prices are high. If we moved the supply curve prices would fall just like the have in Seattle, Philadelphia, and all other cities that build in response to demand.

          • Geek__Girl

            What a typical load of crap. Rents are fairly stable in both of those cities, They have gone up recently, and when they have gone down, it has not been at all significant. The average price in both is not really affordable. Even in Birmingham, Al, which has been building like crazy, rents are high. Building does not lower rents.

          • Y.

            …”just like the have in Seattle, Philadelphia, and all other cities that build in response to demand.”

            Today’s headline: Housing battle brews in booming Seattle as rents, home prices skyrocket (in brief, Seattle has been building like crazy, prices are the fastest rising of any US metro area, and they want to fix it by building even more.)

          • Watson Ladd

            Third paragraph of that article says there was a drop.

          • Y.

            Seattle home purchase prices have been going up and up. Rental prices have leveled off (relatively) since 2016 nationwide, including in Seattle and San Francisco.

          • Rosh HoshHosh

            You’re arguing with a rock.

          • Geek__Girl

            The more we have built, the more rents have risen.

          • Watson Ladd

            Because we’ve only gone along the same supply curve, instead of dropping the curve. Why do all the experts on housing economics agree with me, and not you?

          • Geek__Girl

            ROTFL! Okay, provide citations for these “experts.”

          • sfsquirrel

            Watson Ladd lives in a world of charts and graphs and is a true believer in the free market. He and the other YIMBYs can’t tell the difference between theory and reality. Who but they believes in a panacea?

          • Geek__Girl

            No kidding.

          • Watson Ladd

            The reality we live in is one where not building has worked so well to control rents.

          • Tony

            Bull.

  • Do Something Nice

    I would like to see a list of those ‘non-profits’ that are against transparency so I know which organizations to include in the mother of all boycotts.

  • Howard Epstein

    Willie Brown’s statement, “The real story behind all this is that there isn’t a cigarette paper’s worth of difference between the candidates on the major issues,” simply is not true. Republican candidate Richie Greenberg has offers a new vision for San Francisco. For years, the San Francisco voters have done the same thing over and over believing they will get a different outcome. They won’t. If any of the candidates other than Greenberg are elected mayor, San Franciscans will continue to be overwhelmed with dirty streets, out of control homelessness, out of control spending and tax increases, some of which will euphemistically be called fees, etc., etc., etc. See richiegreenberg.org

    • Geek__Girl

      He is an idiot. He repeats the regular lie that the homeless get massive handouts from the City. That is what is “simply NOT true.” He is just appealing to the lowest of the low on the issue of homelessness. Most of what the homeless actually get is required by Federal law (food stamps and medical care), or is provided by non-profits. The City provides a very small amount of money to those who are willing to work if able, about $76 max. So, what are these extravagant handouts he seems to believe in? I keep asking people to provide details, and they remain silent…

      • Tony

        If we gave handouts, it would be an improvement over what is being done now, and we could reduce bloated city headcount. Those are the real handouts…payments to homeless advocates and city employees who aren’t fixing anything.

        • Geek__Girl

          The only “homeless advocates” are the Coalition on Homelessness which gets NO public funding. It is a private non-profit. Now, there are a number of agencies that get quite a bit of City funding for providing services. Unfortunately, these services usually amount to providing information that pretty much boils down to “There is really not much help available.” They then refer people to other services that do the same thing, and refer them to other services, and so on. I agree, a lot of money is wasted, because a) the so-called moderates want to use the homeless for a political football, and b) the progressives have no real power because we have a strong mayor system. We do need a proper accounting of where the money goes, and require that the organizations receiving it are actually producing results.

      • Howard Epstein

        A lot of taxpayers’ money is spent on the homeless. From the June 1, 2017 SF Examiner: “That means the $275 million The City currently spends on myriad homeless services, from supportive housing to Navigation Centers, across multiple city departments increases to approximately $305 million next fiscal year in the mayor’s budget proposal.” BTW, what’s your real name.

    • Ragazzu

      “Republican candidate Richie Greenberg has offers a new vision for San Francisco.”

      Thanks, I really needed a laugh tonight.

      • Y.

        “Richie Greenback” would be even better.

    • Golly, a Republican with a new vision! Um … what’s new about it? That website is just the same old failed crap.

  • My thanks to Tim and 48Hills for surfacing the issue of “behest payments” and the wide-ranging pending Ethics reform (and also for seeking my input while researching the issue).
    One distinction that is often overlooked is that “behest payments” are not solely for charitable purposes. They also can be for legislative purposes, or educational institutions (think Academy of Art).
    Friends of Ethics research of actual Behest payments shows the overwhelming amount goes directly to the control of the city official who asked for the donation. Ed Lee obtained nearly $4 million to host, wine and dine mayors from around the nation. Undoubtedly a worthy program in concept, but one needs to ask why the funds weren’t contributed directly to the City where they would undergo a transparent process on the sources and spending (as are all contributions over $10,000 in regular order). Another million plus went for the costs of the City Hall Centennial Celebration. We found zero dollars going to nonprofits that provide human services to the needy, yet the image of orphans shivering on our streets is what may be imagined from the opponents of transparency.
    Back in the day, the SF Bay Guardian did a thoughtful investigation called “Friends in the Shadows” about entities like Friends of City Planning that accept contributions from those with interests before City Planning and then spend it for such purposes as lobbying for increased salaries for city planners. As the article reported, the Friends of City Planning board of directors is heavy with developers and lawyers for developers, as well as a few heads of nonprofits who testified against transparency (while, of course, not stating they were on the Board).
    “But do the special relationships these influential insiders hold with high-ranking city officials come into play when awarding a contract, issuing a permit, making a hiring decision, or determining whether a developer’s request for a rule exemption should be honored? Without more transparency, it’s tough to tell.”
    http://sfbgarchive.48hills.org/sfbgarchive/2013/10/08/FriendsInTheShadows/
    This new proposal pulls those deals from the shadows, which is exactly what some opponents don’t want.
    At the Board committee hearing, opponents of the transparency measures were practically giddy with excitement that Board members might buy their arguments, even stating this was what they hoped would happen. And of course there is a relationship of self-interest between some board members and specific nonprofits, most of which do not provide direct services to the needy (such as SPUR).
    The record of the past is what they hope to create now: exemption on top of exemption for nonprofits (they don’t have to register as lobbyists or disclose their contacts with city officials; exempt from permit consultant fees; exempt from conflict of interest violations when voting on projects that benefit their donors; exempt in this new proposal when the land use decision involves affordable housing, human services or education). On the flip side, when Ethics takes up issues based on its views of the merits, and not political alliances, the voters have approved Ethics point of view by as much as 80 percent against the complaint of the nonprofit opponents of transparency.
    No secret why Ethics needed independent authority to put an issue before the voters without the meat grinder of special interests and pay-to-play at City Hall.

  • This is sloppy reporting. If you want to compare and contrast differences, take the time to collect the dozen or so endorsement questionnaires already filled out by the Mayoral candidates. As a Mayoral candidate, I also have actionable initiatives to support affordable housing development, address the empty unit/storefront issue, and promote arts, culture, and crisis de-escalation as a way to address safety on our streets.

    In community,
    AFW

    As Mayor, my housing priorities will be to:

    Ensure that NO ONE is living on our streets without a safe organized place to belong in community that meets essential human needs. I have an actionable plan to transition 1,000 people off of the streets into community-integrated Transitional Villages in the least restrictive, most autonomous setting possible for each individual in a way that increases both individual and community well-being, health, and safety.

    Develop a comprehensive program through MOHCD that supports the activation of units that are being kept empty by 1) Creating a tenant pool lottery by expanding the DAHLIA system for SF workers who are currently paying more than 50% of their rent or having to live outside of the City, 2) Working with small property owners with vacant units to support tenant screening/management, property management, and building maintenance, and providing mediation support when necessary if property owners rent to SF workers at a maximum of 30% of income, and 3) Developing a vacancy tax/impact fee to the extent possible by local law and working with our state legislators if necessary.

    Re-introduce and promote David Chiu’s Right of First Refusal legislation – which CCHO was recently working on under the name of “Community Opportunity to Purchase Act” – to enable nonprofit housing providers to partner with the City’s Small Sites Program and Housing Accelerator Fund and acquire 5-25 unit properties before they can be put on the market. This will help prevent Ellis Act evictions.

    Develop a program through MOHCD to support the financing and construction of hundreds to thousands of ADU’s (additional dwelling units within the existing building envelop) specifically for SF’s workforce and families with SFUSD students at no more than 30% of income while simultaneously supporting small property owners and the building trades.

    Work with affordable housing developers, Department Heads, and interdepartmental staff to implement the MOHCD-facilitated working group recommendations for streamlining the permitting process in order to build the tens of thousands of projects that have already been entitled by the City.

In regards to my legacy, I want to be known as the Mayor that ended San Francisco’s encampment crisis in a way that strengthened our neighborhoods, culture and local economy, helped optimize our systems for permitting and building, created economic opportunities for marginalized communities to help build and maintain our City, and got us on track to reach our ABAG/RHNA goals for low-to-moderate income housing development through new financing mechanisms.

    I am currently the only Mayoral candidate who:

    1. Has championed a program for over two years that will finance and build thousands of ADU’s (additional dwelling units within the existing building envelop) specifically for SF’s workforce and families with SFUSD students at no more than 30% of income while simultaneously support small property owners and the building trades.

    2. Has an actionable plan to treat our multi-faceted encampment/mental health/addiction/housing shortage crisis as a manageable crisis in a way that strengthens community while providing necessary structure, integration, and codes of conduct.

    3. Has pledged to give back $200,000 of the Mayor’s salary to demonstrate a “tighten from the top” approach until every worker, including sub-contracted workers, earns a living wage with affordable housing and necessary benefits.

    4. Has pledged to create a new Mayoral appointment process for Commissions that involves the community organizations and unions in the nomination, screening, and selection.

    5. Has actively supported the creation of a public bank since John Avalos’ Mayoral campaign in 2011.

    6. Is publicly working on a feasible financing strategy that ensures that any height/density bonuses for development require at least 50% affordable housing stratified for 15% to 120%.

    7. Knows how to lead the “green boom” of cannabis businesses in a way that supports mindful consumption, holistic well-being, affordable access for medicinal to nursing homes, harm reduction programs, and hospitals, and create economic opportunities for local residents with high barriers to employment.

    8. Is pledging to work with my fellow candidates as part of a leadership team regardless of the outcome of the race, with an openness to developing a Vice Mayor position with one of my fellow candidates if elected.

    • RuMADorRuREALLYmad

      It’s sloppy reporting that there will be a debate held on Wednesday? In the same report where the reporter feels there is such a small margin in opinion over the major issues said debate will be eye opening. You people are fuckin weird.

      • Rosh HoshHosh

        Weiss gets real upset when Redmond doesn’t mention her. It’s talked about on her fb page. But hey, at least she didn’t have to take one on the chin like Alioto. Ouch!

        AFW’s campaign has gotten hilarious. She’s willing to work for .40 cents on the dollar and share a bunk bed in room 200.

  • Tony

    Here is the debate…
    “I’m the most liberal”
    “No, I am”

  • My thanks to Tim and 48Hills for surfacing the issue of “behest payments” and the wide-ranging pending Ethics reform (and also for seeking my input while researching the issue).

    One distinction that is often overlooked is that “behest payments” are not solely for charitable purposes. They also can be for legislative purposes, or educational institutions (think Academy of Art).

    Friends of Ethics research of actual Behest payments shows the overwhelming amount goes directly to the control of the city official who asked for the donation. Ed Lee obtained nearly $4 million to host, wine and dine mayors from around the nation. Undoubtedly a worthy program in concept, but one needs to ask why the funds weren’t contributed directly to the City where they would undergo a transparent process on the sources and spending (as are all contributions over $10,000 in regular order). Another million plus went for the costs of the City Hall Centennial Celebration. We found zero dollars going to nonprofits that provide human services to the needy, yet the image of orphans shivering on our streets is what may be imagined from the opponents of transparency.

    Back in the day, the SF Bay Guardian did a thoughtful investigation called “Friends in the Shadows” about entities like Friends of City Planning that accept contributions from those with interests before City Planning and then spend it for such purposes as lobbying for increased salaries for city planners. As the article reported, the Friends of City Planning board of directors is heavy with developers and lawyers for developers, as well as a few heads of nonprofits who testified against transparency (while, of course, not stating they were on the Board).

    “But do the special relationships these influential insiders hold with high-ranking city officials come into play when awarding a contract, issuing a permit, making a hiring decision, or determining whether a developer’s request for a rule exemption should be honored? Without more transparency, it’s tough to tell.”
    http://sfbgarchive.48hills….

    This new proposal pulls those deals from the shadows, which is exactly what some opponents don’t want.

    At the Board committee hearing, opponents of the transparency measures were practically giddy with excitement that Board members might buy their arguments, even stating this was what they hoped would happen. And of course there is a relationship of self-interest between some board members and specific nonprofits, most of which do not provide direct services to the needy (such as SPUR).

    The record of the past is what they hope to create now: exemption on top of exemption for nonprofits (they don’t have to register as lobbyists or disclose their contacts with city officials; exempt from permit consultant fees; exempt from conflict of interest violations when voting on projects that benefit their donors; exempt in this new proposal when the land use decision involves affordable housing, human services or education). On the flip side, when Ethics takes up issues based on its views of the merits, and not political alliances, the voters have approved Ethics point of view by as much as 80 percent against the complaint of the nonprofit opponents of transparency.

    No secret why Ethics needed independent authority to put an issue before the voters without the meat grinder of special interests and pay-to-play at City Hall.

  • PatrickMonkRn

    Send in the clowns.