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Home Featured SF supes oppose Wiener real-estate bill

SF supes oppose Wiener real-estate bill

Breed sides with Wiener as debate shows clear differences among candidates for mayor

A coalition of neighborhood groups, tenants, and small businesses rallied recently against SB 827

The Board of Supes voted today to oppose State Senator Scott Wiener’s real-estate bill, SB 827, which would upzone most of San Francisco. 

The discussion over the bill became a debate about much larger housing issues – and demonstrated the sharp distinctions between political leaders who want to rely on the private market to solve housing problems and those who say that market has failed.

A coalition of neighborhood groups, tenants, and small businesses rallied against SB 827. Photo by Dan Raile

Peskin argued that the bill “fundamentally disrupts communities. We need to send a signal to Sen. Wiener and [co-sponsor] Assemblymember Phil Ting that the discussion needs to start here.” He called for a “full stop, let’s start this over.”

If the state wants to address housing, he said, the legislators could start by sending cities more money and repealing Costa-Hawkins and the Ellis Act.

Sup. Hillary Ronen went further, saying that “I don’t believe that increasing the supply of luxury housing will trickle down” and provide affordable units. “It’s never going to happen.”

And, she noted, the bill “gets rid of the entire discipline of city planning.”

Sup. Sandra Lee Fewer pointed out the bill would not provide funding for the public amenities, particularly the schools, that would be needed for all the new residents. “We are five schools short of what we need” with the existing approved new housing, she said.

Sup. Jane Kim said: “When you confer value to land, you are giving those landowners and developers money. This is a giveaway without asking anything back.” In her district, she said, she has sought to get some of that money back by demanding more affordable housing, parks, transit funding and other amenities.”

In the case of the recent Giants project, she said, by demanding that some of the new wealth the team received from upzoning be shared with the city, we got an agreement to build 40 percent affordable housing instead of 12 percent.

A local planning process, she said, allows for that.

“Government used to be in the business of building housing,” Kim said. “In 1980, Ronald Reagan decided that the private market should be responsible for building housing for all of us.” That’s been the policy ever since (through both Republican and Democratic administrations). The result: Homelessness and displacement.

Peskin argued that this sort of upzoning is going to run up land costs. The land on Haight and Stanyan, where a McDonald’s will be replaced with affordable housing, would have cost the city a lot more than $15 million if it were zoned at 85 feet.

Sup. London Breed, who yesterday refused to take a stand on the bill as she was being endorsed by Wiener (across from Leno’s Castro campaign headquarters), today said that she wouldn’t vote to oppose it. “The intent of the bill is to promote more housing near transit,” she said. “We aren’t doing enough to build housing and we aren’t doing it fast enough.”

Her position directly conflicts with what Ronen was saying and puts her on record supporting market-rate housing as a solution to the crisis.

It also has an impact on the mayor’s race: Kim and Mark Leno are opposing SB 827, and with Breed taking a public position in support of the bill’s basic idea and declining to oppose it, the three major candidates have a clear difference.

Peskin proposed amendments to the ordinance, which had been watered down in committee; he asked that the measure specifically put the city on record opposing SB 827. That amendment passed 7-4 with Breed, Ahsha Safai, Katy Tang, and Jeff Sheehy in opposition.

Then Breed said she would vote against the resolution and would work closely with Sen. Wiener to create more housing for San Francisco.

The final measure passed 8-3, with Katy Tang voting this time in favor.

So the San Francisco Board of Supes has taken a stand against SB 827, joining Los Angeles as a major city that doesn’t want to see the Wiener bill pass.

The vote came after a rally on the steps of City Hall by a broad coalition of neighborhood, tenant, housing, small business and community groups – disrupted repeatedly by a small group of Yimbys.

The coalition brought some 60 people to the event, with Sup. Aaron Peskin, Sup. Jane Kim, and former Mayor Art Agnos among the speakers. Also represented were leaders of community organizations from the Mission, Chinatown, Cow Hollow and Excelsior, the Sierra Club, the local chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, and tenant rights groups.

Things quickly devolved into cacophony as the outnumbered Yimbys chanted over every speaker who took the podium. In the merciful pauses between chants, speakers could be heard decrying the projected impacts of the bill. 

“I want to announce that we have the votes!” said Supervisor Peskin early in the proceedings. Yet chants continued unabated.

A small group of Yimbys tried to shout down the No on SB 827 rally. Photo by Dan Raile

“Look at these people and look at us, the people they are chanting over,” Shanti Singh of the DSA SF Housing Committee said from the podium. “Do you see any differences?” 

The Yimby delegation was overwhelmingly composed of young white men shouting over a diverse series of speakers at the podium. As Singh wrapped up her comments the Yimbys chanted “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, the status quo has got to go!” The larger group quickly countered with a chant of “You are the status quo!” 

Following is the letter that this unusual coalition sent the board:

We, the undersigned residents and organizations, represent communities across San Francisco— rich and poor, tenant and homeowner, newcomers and old-timers.  We stand together with others across the State of California to urge defeat of SB 827 (Wiener) in any form. 

This bill unilaterally removes the opportunity of residents in every part of this city to participate in basic decisions about land use, zoning, and the livability and sustainability of our communities.  It is fundamentally and irreparably flawed.

SB 827 forces a top-down, one-size-fits-all strategy that would destabilize the character of many of our neighborhoods, revoking power from our local elected representatives and planning departments, and silencing public input on new development — input that can and has resulted in more affordability, more jobs, and stronger communities.

In the name of ‘transit friendly housing’, SB 827 undermines the ability of San Francisco, the most transit friendly city in the state, to plan and support our publicly financed transit system and  it would discourage other cities from creating or expanding their own systems to avoid triggering SB 827.  In the name of affordability, it would reward real estate speculators with enormous windfalls and weakens our city’s ability to incentivize and create more affordable housing.  It would not require the actual building of a single affordable unit, but instead allows entitled projects to be bought and sold over and over again; making money for speculators and not producing critically needed housing.  And while it would include limited protections for tenants who are directly displaced by new market rate projects, it completely fails to address indirect displacement caused by rising real estate prices and higher rents.

Furthermore, SB 827 would incentivize the destruction of established commercial spaces and the displacement of neighborhood-serving businesses.  Such losses would accelerate the widespread cultural and economic displacement that many of our communities are already experiencing.

In addition to the direct and physical harm it would cause to our neighborhoods, SB 827 would more generally undermine our democratic processes and ability to protect the environment.

By overriding local planning and environmental requirements, SB 827 would also override our city’s efforts to be sustainable.  If the bill is adopted, new growth would be imposed by developers at almost any city location of their choosing, increasing demands on existing water and sewer systems, roads, utilities, schools, parks, and other public services and infrastructure. Such developments would be approved with minimal public review, without full disclosure or analysis of impacts, and without consideration of more sustainable and environmentally sound alternatives.

Advocates of SB 827 have created a false narrative.  The bill promises smart growth, but it would deliver the opposite.  It would require unplannedgrowth imposed by Sacramento at the behest of for-profit developers and real estate investors.  Yet contrary to the claims of those developers and their allies, there are better, more inclusive, and more sustainable alternatives when we are able to work together as a city. 

San Francisco has more housing density and more affordable housing per square mile than most cities in the country — not because of a mandate by Sacramento — but because of decades of action at a local level.  We have the most intensive public transit systems in the state —  not because of politicians in Sacramento — but because our residents vote to support and pay for it.  Through our own locally controlled planning process we have more than 60,000 fully approved new units of housing awaiting construction.  And we can do even more together.

Indeed, if it were not for restrictive laws imposed by politicians in Sacramento, San Francisco would have stronger protections for tenants against excessive rents and evictions, and we would require for-profit developers to build more inclusionary housing. 

Consensus building and local democracy can work if we are allowed to practice it.

For all these reasons, the assumptions, values, and logic of SB 827 are fundamentally flawed.  We therefore urge the Board of Supervisors to adopt a resolution to oppose SB 827.


ART AGNOS, Former Mayor


Gus Hernandez and Charles Dupigny, Co-Chairs


Mitchell Omerberg, Executive Director




Andrew Medina


Christin Evans, Owner



Vanessa Moses, Executive Director


Rev. Norman Fong, Executive Director


Alex Tom, Executive Director


George Wooding, President


Wing Hoo Leung, President


Gary Weiss, President


Lori Brooke, President



Tes Welborn, Coordinator


Carolyn Kenady, Chair


BECKY EVANS, Chair, SF Group, Sierra Club*


Larisa Pedroncelli and Kelly Scott Hill, Owners

FAYE LACANILAO, Communities United for Health and Justice*


Bob David, Director



Bruce Wolfe, President

MATT HANEY, School Board Commissioner


Roberto Eligio Alfaro, Executive Director


Fred Sherburn-Zimmer, Executive Director


Dr. Elizabeth Fromer Valenzuela, President


Nancy Wuerfel


ERIC MAR, Educator,  Former Supervisor



Jason Pelligrini, President


Luis Granados, Executive Director


Sam Ruiz, Executive Director


Ozzie Rohm, Co-founder




Charles Ferguson, Board President


Gary Gregerson, Board President

Kathleen Courtney, Chair Housing & Zoning


Calvin Welch, Board member


Deep Varma, Executive Director




SHANTI SINGH, SF Democratic Socialists of America, Steering Committee*


Eileen Boken, President


Judy Irving, President

*Affiliation for identification only

Additional reporting by Dan Raile






  1. I can see how you might think otherwise, since everyone says, “I support development…”

    “… just not THIS development, at THIS location, at THIS time.”

    You might have taken the beginning part a little too seriously.

  2. One of the greatest reasons to oppose new development in SF is so that the spillover of people displaced and priced out due to lack of housing will gentrify the hell out of Oakland and Richmond. Glad to see 48hills is in support of this second-hand gentrification

  3. The entire history of SF development politics. The ONLY political belief was that there shouldn’t be any new housing. We see the results of decades of that belief now, with only sites like 48hills trying to maintain that belief

  4. That’s not true at all. For decades the universal and only voice in public has been that we should not create any new housing, and certainly not any new housing near transit. That has been the publicly approved of stance across the economic spectrum in SF, and it has made SF the city it is today

  5. are you f***ing kidding me?

    The progs have been openly racist to breed this entire mayoral race, starting with ousting her because she couldn’t possibly be doing anything by herself, she needs to do it for her white puppet master ron conway.

    Its really rich to see the same progs complain about chiu bussing in his monolingual chinese base to the AEDM elections last year, including racist accusations on this very blog we’re posting on right now.

    I’m not saying that the “no platforming” of eldery chinese tenants was a good thing to do, what I am saying is that if there is a moral high ground somewhere in SF politics (doubtful to me at this point) the progs don’t have it.

  6. They’ll build as soon as prices get higher again (“recover” or “become less affordable”, depending on which section of the paper you read).

  7. “Our best landlords” who we continue to assault and disincenitivize (Pekin-Fewer push to eliminate O&M pass-thrus).

    At Peskins rate, he won’t need any new construction to push out the good LLs.

    Tenant protection are all well and good. But where do all the new ppl go who continue to come to the City?

  8. Oh stop with the hypocrisy. When loudmouth progressives scream and shout — which is what they do most of the time — 48Hills hails them as righteous truth-tellers. Complaining about “rudeness” would be hilarious if it wasn’t so obviously coming from a place of cluelessness and fear.

    Then again, Heart is one of the dimmest of the dim here. So no surprise.

  9. But this article is about yesterday’s demonstration at City Hall and the YIMBY goon squad that attended. What does Affordable Divis have to do with the fact that Trauss, LFT and a small group of YIMBYs became unhinged and shouted others down????

  10. Watson: it is quite remarkable that you attempt to divert from the YIMBYs’ reprehensible behavior st yesterday’s demonstration by attacking a group like Affordable Divis.

  11. Your attempt at depicting Affordable Divis as something other than a group of over 500 residents who organized because of London Breed’s rezoning—a HUGE giveaway to developers and speculators—is silly. YIMBYs aren’t big on truth.

  12. From the article you cited:
    After much discussion, the goals for these new developments were identified as follows:

    Stop displacement
    Keep Divisadero affordable
    Community notification and input
    Neighborhood-appropriate design
    Safety for pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders and kids
    Preserve and construct open space
    Improve transit service through the corridor
    Create ongoing community plan for addressing developments
    Reverse Supervisor Breed’s zoning of Divisadero as a Neighborhood Commercial Transit District

  13. Affordable Divis is basically Dean Preston’s failed candidacy for Supervisor, designed to oppose London Breed because reasons (constantly-shifting reasons).

  14. SB 827 may increase the incentive, but so what? Not one building will be demolished unless your local government decides that it is in the best interest of the City and County of San Francisco to do so.

    Look, I originally posted because Peskin was lying about SB 827 leading to communities being destroyed, which isn’t true because it can’t destroy anything without local approval.

    I think that it is wrong for elected officials to lie to the people, you apparently think that it is OK if the official is lying to support a cause that you believe in. So let’s just agree to disagree on that one and call it a night.

  15. > ‘Another reality is that it creates a huge incentive to sell because of the increased property value.’

    The bulldozer is coming for the Alouis building. The incentive to demolish it was dramatically increased by the transit corridor upzoning. SB 827 will further increase incentive. It’s a joke to pretend otherwise.

  16. OK, so the same planning department that we have now will have to approve any use of bulldozers or back hoes. SB 827 would not empower a single demolition.

    My point is that Peskin continues to lie and fear monger (and this is a clear example — if Sb 827 is approved bulldozers will start destroying our communities) I think it is a real problem for the city. You apparently disagree but I think we are better off when politicians tell the truth.

    Also, I think another problem with your feeble attempt to defend Peskin is that the buildings in your example would have to be zoned mixed use. I didin’t hear anything anywhere about SB 827 automatically converting business to housing zoning. And if they are mixed use then, yeah, they should have housing above them. SB 827 rocks!

  17. The planning department, obviously. Alouis and the Shell car wash already cashed out and had demo’s approved.

    The Shell is an appropriate spot, Alouis is not. SB 827 would be the second upzoning for Divisadero in 3 years.

  18. And who is going to approve the demolitions? Have you read SB 827?

    But just to be sure…you are saying that a building that is business only could be replaced by a building that is mixed use, with retail at street level and (cover your ears) HOUSING on top of it.

    You and Peskin may consider that to be “destroying our communities”. I realize that the concept of new condos or rentals at Divis/Grove may be abhorrent to you. And that is exactly why we need SB 827.

  19. Classic narcissist. Trauss isn’t responsible or accountable for her deeds or words. She should become a paid lobbyist…….for artificial lawns.

  20. Another reality is that it creates a huge incentive to sell because of the increased property value. Think of my local corridor — Divisadero. The corridor could quickly see more businesses selling and new condos at Divis/Grove, Divis/Hayes, and Divis/Fell. Our best landlords will sell.

    The previous businesses will be demolished to make room for mixed-use development. They will be taken down with a backhoe. The only lie is that it would be a bulldozer .. it will be a backhoe.

  21. The data is there from the last election, though I don’t know where to find it. What I’ve been told is that in the State Assembly race, Wiener won by 10 points in the Mission Bay/Soma area while Kim won by a narrow margin (can’t recall the number) in the Tenderloin.

  22. I haven’t been following Johnson much, but I get the feeling that she tries to be vague so she’ll be everything to everyone and get both Haney and Trauss’s #2 votes.

  23. “D6 has changed a lot in recent years, become more conservative because of all the newer development.”

    That’s my knee-jerk guess, too, but I wouldn’t bet on it until I see solid data. People who live in those towers also get to see the worst traffic in SF every single day.

  24. First, Peskin is a lot of things, but “progressive” is not one of them.

    Second, he’s never once told the truth. All NIMBYs seek to hide their true intentions. It’s a stock right wing tactic. Peskin is a racist little fuck and an outstanding symbol of all that is repulsive and deplorable about SF NIMBYs.

  25. Here’s Peskin right now on Twitter:

    We need the State to pass funding & tenant protections, not bulldoze our communities.

    In reality SB 827 explicitly defers to local demolition controls. In other words, no bulldozers that local governments don’t approve.

    So…do Progressives ever tell the truth? Do any of you wonder why your leaders feel the need to engage in fear mongering by spreading completely false information? Does it even make you wonder?


  26. You know more about RCV strategy, or lackthereof, than I do, so I won’t put any input into that.

    Regarding the Don thing, as weird as it is to discuss him, don’t you think he’s warming up to Kim only because she is pandering conservative by supporting those on the West Side of the city?

  27. It will be an interesting race. D6 has changed a lot in recent years, become more conservative because of all the newer development. Trauss and Haney are not the only candidates. Christine Johnson is also running and will be a strong candidate for the Libertarians who might not like Trauss’s antics. At the same time, tenants in the Tenderloin are starting to organize around landlord/tenant issues and could be a strong force if Haney can get out the vote.

    Maybe if Kim becomes mayor she should appoint Haney since the “moderates” don’t seem to have a problem with that. Just Kidding!

  28. It does not ignore the tenant and demolition window dressings disguised as “protections.”

  29. Wow!! straight from the playbook of the non-apology apology. I’m sorry if any of you misunderstood my offensive actions as offensive, and now I’m going to tell you why they were justified — because I’m right and you’re deluded.

  30. I believe the opposition was unanimous in LA. Shows just how right wing our so-called “moderates” really are.

  31. Sonja and Laura have been courting London .. I think they were riding the high of closing that deal. Of course it was Wiener who actually closed it for them, but either way it gives the yimbies more legitimacy.

    The alliance is going to hurt Breed, even though it came with a Wiener endorsement. Even Don Sebastopol is warming up to Kim.

    Even though this will help Breed secure some Leno second ranks, once he dumps his votes in round 6 Kim will still pick up those votes at a 3:1 clip compared with Breed.

    RCV is out the window. Leno blew it and should start planning his retirement. Kim wins by 4 points.

  32. Marina is 75-85% renter occupied; Telegraph Hill 66-87%; and Presidio Heights 53%, The rich homeowners there seem to be in the minority,

  33. 555 Washington was the precursor to 8 Washington. Why should planning grant a height variance to build another luxury condominium tower? If one can afford it, they can get a rental at 1 Rincon today — there’s availability.

    San Francisco is over twice as dense as Seattle. The Seattle units that are falling in price are the empty ones in the new slapstick luxury buildings. These are the same units that made Seattle the fasting growing market 5 years straight.

    Seattle’s growth was obviously not sustainable, but to their credit many more of their new units are available to renters (compared with SF). Seattle has a dozen high rises that are already in contractual agreement, the problem is these units aren’t popular and people would rather live in the old neighborhoods.

  34. As pro-new housing as I am I really wish she was not running. She says too many stupid things and opens herself up to attack way too easily. Her antics will not look good.

  35. Because San Francisco is never going to approach that same equilibrium level because of our world class nimbys. I mean, a few years back there was a proposed 38 story tower to be built on largely derelict space next to the Transamerica Pyramid. Shadow studies indicated that it would affect a small slice of Sue Bierman park (3 blocks east) for about a half hour in the late afternoon, a few weeks a year.

    So Aaron Peskin went on television saying that it would render the park “unusable”. Now that is talent. What Kevin Durant is to basketball, Aaron Peskin is to Nimbyism. And you need to counter that elite talent if you don’t want to be continually locked in this same expensive spiral.

    The fact that Peskin is so upset about SB 827 is the best possible indicator that it will be a strong positive for San Francisco housing.

    So they don’t elect people like Peskin in Seattle and now they have a situation where tenants can tell their landlords what to do with the rent increases, if they don’t want to spend the next six months trying to find a new tenant who also won’t pay exorbitant prices.

  36. Well look, I can’t counter reality. I know that. Like when Hillary Ronen says that market rate housing will never help affordability…that must be reality, otherwise it would be impossible to verbalize, right?

  37. I am a Yimby activist. People who already live in San Francisco are not entitled to make decisions about their city, we are. We are educated millennials who went to college in our 20s-30s and therefore know everything about life. We know what is best for you. You are all inbred idiots who need us to dote over you. Anyone who doesn’t agree with us needs to be sentenced to prison and have their heads crushed by elephant ass

  38. It might be true for the new developments, but D6 includes the Tenderloin, too.
    Even people who like her politics might not like her boorishness.
    What polls have you seen? I can’t find any.

  39. The letter opposing 827 ignores the actual text of the bill and the tenant and demolition protections therein. I can’t speak for others but I don’t take my political cues from rich homeowners in Presidio Heights, Telegraph Hill, and the Marina. The DSA keeps telling us that this alliance with wealthy homeowners will eventually bear fruit in the form of social housing or some other community housing solution but I have yet to see how that possibly plays out.

  40. Do you really think that full throated support of 827 is going to hurt Trauss in D6. It is the whitest, most male district with the most tech workers and tech companies. It is also the densest district that has built more new housing than the rest of the city combined. She’s leading in the polls that have been taken so far.

  41. Love it that Zhoosh countered with pure theory. Theory trumps reality every time for the zealots.

  42. Trauss is running for D6 supervisor in the fall. These videos are going to get a lot of circulation. Most people would try to behave better before running for elections, but like you say, not much self-control.

  43. “Greg Smith, CEO of developer Urban Visions, said he just turned down
    an offer to build a new high-rise because construction costs have risen
    so much and rents are no longer keeping pace.

    “New projects don’t make sense — they don’t pencil” out, Smith said.
    “Most banks are aware of that now and are very, very cautious about the
    amount of debt they’ll put on a property. There’s definitely a change
    that has occurred. Some fellow developers are stepping back and saying,
    ‘I’m not developing now.’ ”

    Wow! Zhoosh provided a valuable resource to corroborate what many of us have been saying — that developers will stop building once they see prices drop. And this is happening with a mere 2.9% drop!

  44. What a coincidence — I was just asking about this as you were posting, though it cut off before Charles began speaking. I think people will get the idea.

  45. Do you have the videos of them shouting over people — like the one I saw of them shouting over Charles from Affordable Divis, “Read the Bill!” I’ve seen that one — and would love to see one of them shouting over the leader of the Chinese group, Community Tenants Association. I was there, and experienced this first-hand, but don’t have a video. Not sure if anyone does. They shouted over everyone, so….

  46. In video clips Sonja Trauss is shown shoving the anti SB 827 people out of the way and hunkering down in the middle of their demonstration on the steps of City Hall while screaming and waving frantically; she was thankfully removed by a sheriff. Laura Foote Clark (in a yellow T shirt) was frantically screaming over the speakers and jumping up and down like she had lost her mind. Laura and Sonja and their gang of entitled rabid white male 20-30 something YIMBots are alienating people. They shouted over elders and people of color. The YIMBY way: shout any one with a different opinion down. I know kindergartners with more self control. Whatever happened to civil discourse and democracy?

  47. Paragraphs 1 and 2: So you don’t agree. At least you’re not accusing us all of being greedy homeowners.

    Paragraph 3: According to your article, King+Snohomish (Seattle + suburbs) rents dropped 2.9% from Q3’17 to Q4’17. Using the slightly different data of RentJungle, Seattle rents dropped 5% from 9/17 to 12/17. Yay! Over the same time, Palo Alto rents dropped 4.3%. Yay! And Berkeley dropped 6.5%. Yay!… Maybe SF should be more like Berkeley than Seattle?

  48. Lots of people don’t believe in evolution. Or climate change. Or the moon landing. Or Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone.

    Perhaps Hillary Ronen can give us the final word on those enduring questions as well and settle the debates once and for all. Why stop at supply and demand?

    Also, somebody needs to tell Seattle that they are hallucinating. They’ve built up their market rate inventory and have found that the additional units are giving renters more negotiating power over landlords. And even more new apartments are set to open in 2018, leading analysts to suggest the rental market will keep cooling. So Hillary needs to break the bad news to them that they are heretics.

  49. Good news, not just because this started, but also because the dialog has radically changed since a few years ago. Trickle-down supply-side housing economy was the only voice that was heard in public until recently. We desperately needed to hear things like “I don’t believe that increasing the supply of luxury housing will trickle down” for the last ten years. I’m glad that we’re finally hearing them now.

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