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Saturday, July 2, 2022

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Home News + Politics Will SF supes oppose Wiener’s real-estate bill?

Will SF supes oppose Wiener’s real-estate bill?

Plus: a contentious joint meeting over ethics reform. That's The Agenda for April 2-April 9

The Wiener bill would upzone 96 percent of San Francisco

THE AGENDA The Board of Supes will vote Tuesday/3 on a watered-down resolution kinda, sorta, opposing state Sen. Scott Wiener’s latest real-estate bill, SB 827.

Sup. Aaron Peskin proposed that the board put the city on record seeking the defeat of the bill, which would allow developers to build massive amounts of new luxury housing without giving cities any ability to recapture the vast new wealth that would be bestowed on property owners.

The Wiener bill would upzone 96 percent of San Francisco

But in committee, Peskin accepted an amendment by Sup. Katy Tang, so the bill now just calls for the bill to be amended.

The list of amendments that the bill would need to be acceptable to Peskin and a lot of other opponents is so extensive that it might not be possible for Wiener to get there. Wiener would have to give cities some extraordinary taxing authority to make sure that the property owners whose land would double, triple, quadruple or more in value with the massive upzoning would have to share with the city. He’d have to figure out a way to encourage cities to expand transit – even thought that would automatically trigger upzoning. He’d have to replace somehow the community imput that has created far better development with more community benefits. I suspect he’s not going to do that.

The supes will also hold a joint meeting with the Ethics Commission and consider two versions of a law that would tighten a lot of campaign-finance rules – and create problems for local nonprofits.

Most of the legislation has widespread support – except for a few provision that would actually impact small donors:

The challenge in this legislation, several supervisors and members of the public noted, is to find a way to tighten the rules without discouraging small donors, driving more money to superPACs, and harming nonprofits that are already going to be scrambling under a Trump tax plan that removes a major incentive for people to donate to charities.

“The idea that everyone who gives $15 has to sign an affidavit that they understand the law, people will say no,” Peskin noted.

It’s not a new problem: When the laws around campaign finance get more complicated, the big donors and the well-funded candidates do just fine; they can pay for legal help. If the rules don’t make sense in the real world of campaigns, then they have the opposite effect of what’s intended.

Then there’s the nonprofit issue. As we noted:

One of the areas that has created the most conflict is the concept of “behested payments.” There’s plenty of room for abuse: Mayor Lee, for example, asked a lot of big players to give money to his pet causes (the Super Bowl, the America’s Cup) and that could give them access and influence at City Hall.

At the same time, local officials sometimes show up at fundraisers for legitimate community-based organizations and ask the crowd to kick in money.

It’s one of those gray areas that exist in a world where it’s impossible to do real campaign-finance reform (which would require overturning Buckley v Valeo and Citizens United and allowing limits on all political spending and full public financing of campaigns).

The supes have already passed new rules on disclosure of behested contributions; they have had, as Peskin noted, “31 days to work.”

Calvin Welch, a longtime housing advocate, told the committee that “there is a theory among some Ethics Commission members that at the very heart of public corruption in San Francisco is nonprofits.”

Kathie Lowry, who is on the board of Larkin Street Youth Centers, said that often public officials come to the group’s fundraisers and exhort the people in attendance to chip in money. Under the new rules, if fewer than 50 people are present, the official and all the donors would need to file reports.

Nonprofits that do social service work are going to have a tough year anyway: By some accounts, the Turmp tax bill, which increases the standard deduction, will reduce dramatically the number of people who will donate to charities and get a tax write-off. As much as $20 billion in charitable giving could be at risk.

Larry Bush, a member of Friends of Ethics, said that of $25 million in behested payments his group has tracked, “almost none went to nonprofits that provide human services.” The money went to things like the Super Bowl and America’s Cup committees.

Ben Becker, a member of the SF Berniecrats, said that “no citizens who are not affiliated with a nonprofit spoke against this. In SF, one hand washes the other.”

Which gets into some of the real tricky business here. There are nonprofits – and there are nonprofits, just as there are corporations – and there are corporations.

The Ethics Commission has the ability, with four of the five members in agreement, to place a measure directly on the ballot. It’s too late for June, but this could be an issue in November – unless the supes and the Ethics Commission can figure out a way to resolve the issues.

Peskin has a version of the legislation that is a bit easier on behested payments; the Ethics Commission version is also before the board.

The San Francisco Police Commission meets Wednesday/4, and on the agenda is a resolution by the Youth Commission that directly takes on the criminal justice system and urges dramatic reforms in the way the city deals with Transitional Aged Youth.

I’m not so sure the Police Commission will go along with this, but at least the Youth Commission is raising the issues.


  1. You associate with sociopaths. Who cares what you think with that logic.

    Are you building anything? I guess you’re a parasite too. If purchasing from a developer makes one a parasite, then where does that leave your astroturf mission? Check yourself in.

  2. Actually, all I’ve heard from NIMBYs is that the number of evil of development is that developers make money, as if they built your home for free out of the kindness of their heart. And obviously ruined the neighborhood that existed before you arrived.

  3. Sad, Tyro. All YIMBYS talk about and argue about is the real estate industry making money, so your selective amnesia due to the conversation not using the term “recapture” is bogus. Brainwashed YIMBYS are too stupid to understand what they’re giving up that needs to be “recaptured”.

    “The only thing SB827 takes away from SF is it’s right to oppose development. ”

    Has anyone told you that you’re ill informed? The law no longer does that.

  4. Just because one wants to live in SF does not entitle them to live in SF. There are lots of places to live outside of SF.

    The quality of life that lower density living provides is more light, more air, less noise, less traffic, less pollution, and less crime. It is not who arrives but the kind of housing that arrives. But the who arrive includes families with school age children which also adds to the quality of life. Fewer single family homes means fewer families and fewer children. Families with children also need a place to live.

    The quality of life in SF is both better and worse since I arrived out of my mother’s womb. As a child we left our front door unlocked. Today we have an iron gate. But I no longer need to drive to North Beach for a cappuccino; I can now walk to get one.

  5. Where has telling a developer than they cannot build housing for people with a commercial demand to live somewhere not worked? You are all but standing in front of bulldozers to stop “undesirables” in search of shelter from moving into your neighborhood.

    People want housing and you’re trying to stop them. It’s acually a design of someone with a defective soul, particularly given that you yourself are wholly dependent on commercial development to live

  6. What’s crazy is your belief that by opposing the public from having a place to live that the quality of life of your neighborhood would be ruined. What makes the quality of life so much better now than when before you arrived? For all we know, the development and arrival of you and your family made the quality of life of the neighborhood much worse than it was before

  7. Where has housing as a right worked before? It has always meant government deciding how much space you can have and where you can live. How about a studio in Fresno for you.

  8. No one is prevented from benefiting from what I have. New people are moving into my neighborhood all the time; younger families with children. Destroy the quality of life in my neighborhood and no one will benefit.

  9. It is true that no one wants to see their property values fall. But as some have said this proposal will increase property values. Decreasing the supply of single-family homes will increase their value. They will be less affordable.

  10. Ah so you’re implying collusion then. That the bakers are all banding together and holding the flour, water and yeast hostage. Not a bad analogy. The biggest difference I see here though isn’t so much the emphasis on labor laws or hygiene regulations but more like “You can only make X amount of loaves per day” coming from local neighbors.

    People are buying these loaves of bread for $30 a piece and for each baker lucky enough to sell at that price there are tons of smaller bakers wishing they could get in on the action and sell $20 loaves, and $10 loaves, and so on. But the smaller bakers can’t even get any play because of all of the opposition; huge chunks of the public are so jaded against the baker they don’t want more despite the fact they provide a needed product. Again, supply and demand. The bread hostage situation wouldn’t last long if competition were allowed to enter and undercut them.

    It would be one thing if the net amount of units added to the region were commensurate with population growth, but it just isn’t. I’m fine with developer’s hardships like having to subsidize housing, pay their construction crews good wages in a safe environment, pay taxes, etc. I’m not fine with arbitrary opposition out of spite or revenge because they’re supposedly the enemy in this situation. I don’t think they’re the savior either, but we do need homes built and that’s just reality. We can strike a balance between them profiting and the public benefiting. Anyway thanks for the thoughtful reply.

  11. No one stopped developers from building the place you live in and wouldn’t have otherwise, so why are you trying to stop developers from building homes for other people?

    The fact that we dont have worked cooperatives of people building their own homes pretty much shows me that all their anti-development arguments are bullshit.

  12. You can’t have limited equity if there are no places for people to live in and have limited equity of in the first place. The problem objection SF residents have is not about the ownership structure of new construction, but the existence of new construction and new residents. We don’t have to wonder what anti-SB827 people support- what they support is what they have supported: limited to no development, and preservation of empty lots and other underutilized buildings on the premise that they are “historic” as a means of shutting people out of the city.

  13. While I don’t necessarily think government should be enforcing “housing as a right” in a coercive sense, opposition to constructing housing for other people should be regarded as a direct attack on the rights of others. Those who do so should generally be regarded as malefactors, demanding that the government stop developers from doing something that the objectors themselves benefited from.

  14. More like, “We’re going to sell loaves of bread for $30 each. If you don’t bother us with labor laws and hygiene regulations, maybe the price will go down. If it doesn’t, don’t look at our books, because that’s private information, and why shouldn’t we make a profit.”

  15. To be clear, LECs make a ton of sense, but they don’t solve the issue of more people than housing.

  16. “So yes, the cheaper housing is, the less profit they make. ”

    Well yeah, obviously. And we all want cheaper housing, sure. But why does cheaper housing have to come specifically from their bottom line? It can’t come from removing the costly hurdles and frivolous delays? Being forced to provide subsidized housing is a hardship but it’s a fair hardship and seems to strike a good balance (the idea at least).

    The SF planning commission believes that SB827 would eventually lead to more affordable housing. The whole watch-dog style obsession with the developer’s profits, like they are the enemy and we cannot give them any concessions, or something, really has no play in the discussion. I look at places like the Sunset and can easily see room for a ton more housing. Oh, but that’s moot because the evil developers will thrive and I don’t want them to be successful.

    Again, going back to the groceries/food analogy. Are we to deny food and starve out of spite of the supplier? “I know this loaf of bread would keep me alive another day, but I can’t stand the idea of putting money in the greedy baker’s pockets”

  17. LECs still mean lottery and do not guarantee low cost housing for all, just those who get in.

  18. That depends upon your definition of “serving SF better”? If you SFGov, they of course want the taxes and fees and property assessment taxes that all the building generates. They want the money.

    If you mean the people of this City & County, they’re going to get hosed no matter what and be told they’re lucky, and to stop complaining.

  19. Thanks for the honest answer. My take on this is that although I wouldn’t dispense with rent control, it – in effect – it does both subsidize as well as entrap renters. As rents rise, many – though not all – literally cannot afford to move. One can be a beneficiary of something as still be opposed to it, or at least understand the argument. It also isn’t “Means-tested” either.

    So for instance, a rent-controlled occupant whose lived in SF for years shouldn’t be opposed to *any development* solely because they’re a beneficiary of rent control? Human thoughts aren’t that linear, the fact of current development being larger (to may, far worse) than development in the past.

    Unfortunately, this city is a magnet for those telling others how to be, live, work, think etc., while preaching a very tolerant or open view. There’s plenty of people of various political stripes who would like to turn The City into their own personal Jonestown.

  20. Ok, lets decommodify housing. How would you distribute housing fairly assuming everyone is entitled? Unlike healthcare, the quality of housing varies based on location and size/age of unit, etc.

  21. Sorry, I still have not started drinking, and I probably won’t have a beer until tomorrow evening. So, are you thinking that a bunch of worker cooperatives will be building apartments in SF then all those workers will share equally in the profits?

  22. If you’re trying to stop other people from having food when you have a steady supply grants to you decades ago and spoon fed to you every day that you don’t grow yourself and then try to sell to others at exhorbitant prices that you did nothing to earn, then , yeah, I think you shouldn’t be talking.

  23. The city has had no interest in recapturing that increased value before, so why do they care now? They had 40 years to address these issues and were content to oppose development because they thought that was the best way to deal with the issue. You can’t simpmy make up excuses about what you WOULD do if SB827 was passed. We already know what you would be doing without SB827 because it is what you were doing. The party is coming to an end. The best way to deal is to remember the good times you had, not to try to negotiate your way out of the bill that has come due.

  24. In much the same way if they oppose development. They have something they only have become someone else created an apartment for them to live in, and they want to prevent other people from living in or owning property in a city that they themselves are unable to afford to live in themselves. They’re against the very development that out a roof over their head and believe only that they have the right to stop other people from living in the city by dint of a very fortunate accidents of theirs that occurred decades ago.

  25. Where was the effort to “recapture” money made from development and invest it in the city? Nowhere. The city was simply content to oppose development. If they were interested in encouraging development and extracting money from developers to reinvest, they would have done so. You can’t complain that you’re going to lose something you never wanted in the first place.

    The only thing SB827 takes away from SF is it’s right to oppose development. That’s perfectly reasonable, since they did not use those rights responsibly or for the benefit of the public. And not only that, but those who are opposed to SB827 can’t simply be satisfied with the results of their opposition to development over the past 40 years. Be happy it created the supposed paradise of affordable housing you believe your policies supported.

  26. And the problem is that YOU would not have been able to afford SF were it not for the development that created a place for you to live in the first place. So you’re basically benefiting from what is essentially a totally unearned benefit that you are trying to prevent others from having.

  27. It’s almosy invariably true. They’d be unable to live where they are without developers to build them a house. They have literally contributed nothing to the city in terms of providing a place to live, not even for their own selves, but they get indignant and start claiming developers shouldn’t build anything for other people to live in. They’re parasites who live off SF’s economy and try to keep other people who actually contribute to SF’s economy from living or building there, thinking they can live off the housing that other people created for them to live in.

  28. Actually, one of the things homeowners complain about when it comes to a proposed development is the impact on their property values.

  29. “Obviously no one cared how much money developers made before SB827” <— Twice as dumb. Are you under the impression developers have been donating title to the city?

  30. The problem with housing as a right is that it would mean that the government could tell you where to live and how much space you can have.

  31. The new house on the street becomes an older house on the street every year. All the older houses were once new houses. If you have a fixed rate mortgage and your career advances you pay a lower percent of your income as the years roll by.

  32. Existing homeowners are not obsessed with high property values. No one has a right to live in SF. You do have a right to live anywhere you can afford to live. Sorry you can’t afford SF. You have my sympathies,

  33. I never said developers were bad. Homeowners in my experience are more concerned with quality of life not property values.

    There is a human need for shelter, but that shelter does not need to be in San Francisco. I doubt anyone forced you to move to SF or to stay.

    You can live anywhere you can afford to live. I can’t afford Seacliff or Pacific Heights. There are SF neighborhoods that are comparatively more affordable like the Bayview.

    I am sorry if you can’t afford to live in SF, but there are many very nice places to live with a lower cost of living. Leaving SF is not a death sentence.

  34. Developers claim hardship every time the city pushes for more affordable housing, and spend millions in political money to fight such increases, and yet they are not required to prove it (unlike the folks who apply for affordable units). So yes, the cheaper housing is, the less profit they make. That’s why we have opposing objectives.

  35. I still do not understand the fixation around how much money the developers will make. It reeks of jealousy.

    Do you know the profit margins of every product you buy? Do you grill the cashier at Safeway about how enriched the higher ups at Albertson’s become every time you shop?

    You or any other group deciding how much money they should make is stupid. No one will ever agree on how much money is “enough” or “too much” concerning private developments. That’s why they use the word private. They’ll make what the market can bear and not a cent more. The city can and should collect their taxes on it. The same way anything else works. We’re in desperate need of housing so there is obviously a ton of money to be made.

  36. Forgive me, I have not started drinking yet today, so I’m having a hard time following your argument. So, basically, if I don’t grow my own food, I should not complain if the only lettuce available is $10 a head?

  37. If a person who has lived in their house for decades and decades, using it for its intended purpose as a place to live a stable life, and needs to sell because, say, they need to move to an expensive assisted living facility, I don’t begrudge their choice to sell at market rate. Many do so because other options are terrible.

    This is not to say that I think this is a good thing — as healthcare and housing should be treated as human rights, not commodities. One should not have to sell one high to afford the other.

    The above scenario is just an individualized solution within a morally bankrupt system that is available to relatively few of us. And the crazy thing is that instead of arguing against this morally bankrupt system, you argue to make it worse by making it even easier to treat land and housing as a commodity with no accountability to communities.

  38. Looks like you’re confusing SB 35 (which prohibited extra fees for ministerial approval) with SB 827 (which as of the 3/1/2018 draft allows value recapture up to the standard set by AB 1505, Gov. Code 65850.01). As long as the inclusionary housing ordinance is not designed to reduce housing production, it is allowed.

  39. You’re wrong, San.

    SB827 as written gives the city no ability to capture increased value from upzoning and would prohibit the city from mandating higher affordable housing levels, or raising transit impact fees, or providing other benefits.

  40. Good. Height limits and setbacks are primarily used to prevent any new development. If development occurred at a steady pace instead of using height limits and setbacks to block new construction, than they wouldn’t have been affected by SB827. Instead they impeded the ability of the city to provide shelter for people, and so the towns need to be stripped of that ability to use those tools.

    Enjoy the setbacks and height limits that already exist in current development over the past 40 years. You had a good run

  41. Homeowners, in my experience, tend to be parasites. They don’t build anything, they don’t make anything. They sit around taking up space and make huge demands of anyone else who would build or live in their neighborhood which they themselves only live in because someone else built their house for them. And then they turn around and say, sure you can live next door to me, it only if you pay a couple million bucks to buy the home near me that I didn’t build either.

    So tell me, if developers are so bad, whatexactly have you done, other than gotten a subsidized mortgage loan to buy a home than a developer built back when prices were low?

    Maybe you should make yourself useful instead of throwing a tantrum whenever someone builds places for people to live and getting in the way of the human need for shelter, something you only have due to no actual work you did to create it

  42. No. I meant existing homeowners and landlords, who are obsessed with having ultra high property values and opposing any construction for new residents to ensure their property values are as high as possible.

    Thy said, anyone who prefers to live in a tent, RV, or constructed their own home by hand and encourages more people to build their own homes by hand are perfectly allowed to be upset with developers for providing a service that they themselves didn’t need. But my assumption is that you depended on a developer to put a roof over your wad but seem to be adamantly opposed to allowing other people the same right of shelter that. You enjoy unless they shell out a million to pay you to live in your current home

  43. Most of San Francisco was built before the widespread adoption of height limits, setback requirements, etc. Most of our neighborhoods couldn’t have been built under San Francisco’s current laws.

    Which is serving San Francisco better? The mostly large-scale development that’s occurred over the last few decades, under the current regime of highly restrictive and complex regulations and restrictions; or the small, incremental development of hundreds of thousands of units that occurred earlier in the 20th century, when land-use regulations were looser, “zoning” wasn’t a thing yet, and the largest developers just generally weren’t protected by a draconian legal process and other artificial barriers to entry created by their friends in government? You tell me.

  44. Who cares?

    Obviously no one cared how much money developers made before SB827 because there was no effort to recapture any of their wealth and invest it in the city, preferring simply to oppose construction.

    So why does it matter than SB827 will prevent cities from doing what they have never done before?

    I really don’t get the objection here. You have no interest in “capturing” the wealth of developers, because you have never done it and simply prefer fornthere to be no development. The complaint is that SB827 will prevent cities from capturing that wealth for themselves, but yet they didn’t before. So they’re not interested in doing so in the first place, so they lose nothing from SB827

  45. You said existing homeowners. Did you intend to say commercial property owners?

    I was responding to individual home or unit owners, not commercial property owners.

    Wouldn’t commercial property owners be doing this now? Where are they be investing their money

  46. If that’s the case then we should also be looking at the huge profits made by anyone who sells a home, new or used. A boomer who bought their house for $100k and sells it for $1M is gouging, right?

  47. Isn’t enough not building any. As for ‘wealth extraction or whatever the hell you are talking about, you are delusional if you think that SB827 isn’t about concentrating wealth in developers.

  48. And how much wealth has the city managed to extract out of that which SB827 would prevent? None. Instead they just allowed existing landowners to become wealthier.

    Also, SF has a population of more than 850,000 people. 39,000 units over ten years is barely noticeable. That’s 10 percent of total units (~390,000) over 10 years. Less than 1% per year

  49. It does fairly amazing things for you if you’re a landlord or take out a home equity loan to invest the money elsewhere

  50. It would be fine with me if there were more owner occupied units but that is not true. The percent of renters was 62.5% in 2010 and 63.2% in 2016, basically unchanged.

  51. It affects height limits, setback requirements and other issues. It allows developers to dictate where high-density builds should go and they will select those projects based upon their profit, not what is good for San Francisco.

  52. I believe she featured that endorsement prior to their debates, or endorsing. Conway ties or not, she’s a mainstream candidate being endorsed by racists in San Francisco.

  53. SB 827 does not override existing inclusionary rules and does not exempt projects from impact fees or other forms of value capture. Even with Prop 13 new projects will generate significantly more revenue for the city, state, and particularly the school district. In SF we already link transportation funding to population growth so the more housing that gets built the more money we will spend on Muni etc. There are legitimate reasons to oppose this bill, a lack of value capture and transportation funding are not. The bill only affects zoning. It does not change the permitting, demolition, or project specific community input process beyond zoning.

  54. London Breed: proud darling of Ron Conway, YIMBYs and real estate speculators and developers. The number of San Francisco residents who are renters has dropped, and that’s fine with London. She has done nothing to strengthen tenant protections or to fight the epidemic of speculator driven evictions. Time and time again, London Breed sides with realtors, developers and speculators. Don’t believe the hype or the “bold” speeches! YIMBYs do the same: they talk about trickle down housing for the unhoused but do nothing to protect existing affordable housing or tenants.

  55. Yes, it is one big conspiracy. Better stay in your bunker until the housing crisis is over. Don’t forget your tin-foil hat.

  56. I don’t like this call for amendments, however extensive. That opens the door to passing the bill with a few amendments and calling it a compromise.

  57. The NIMBYs are wondering how we can extract more cash out of new residents even though they pay very high property taxes. The one new house on my street pays about as much tax as a dozen long term households.

  58. What will the YIMBY and Scott Weiner anointed candidate London Breed do we wonder? Pretty safe to say: she’s going for the YIMBY vote.

  59. San Francisco gained 37,000 new housing units in less than 10 years, with no major improvement to infrastructure. Maybe this isn’t enough but saying that we haven’t allowed ANY construction is a lie.

  60. allow developers to build massive amounts of new luxury housing without giving cities any ability to recapture the vast new wealth

    If capturing the wealth given to these property owners were desired by cities, they would have done so over the ensuing decades. Cities have proven that they actually will not allow any construction regardless of whether there is the option to “capture” that wealth and are perfectly happy to allow existing homeowners to enrich themselves with the massive increase in home values they’ve benefited from due to lack of available housing.

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