The Climate Change Agenda for the week

Plus: A critical vote on Soma's future and a conversation with Robert Kennedy Jr. -- that's what's happening this week

More than 30,000 people marched for climate justice in San Francisco Saturday – and that was just the start of a series of events designed to coincide with Gov. Jerry Brown’s Climate Summit.

While the politicians are making their public statements, the grassroots will be working to connect climate change and racial, economic, and social justice.

Marchers demanding real solutions to climate change kicked off a week of events. Photo by Sunshine Velasco, courtesy of 350.org

Here are the week’s events (thanks to Marie Choi for compiling the list)

Sunday/9:

9am – Intertribal Prayer, Teach-In, and Direct Action Training at the West Berkeley Shellmound – Save West Berkeley Shellmound and the Indigenous Bloc for RISE Days of Action will lay down prayers, offer songs, and learn about the struggle to protect this ancient burial/ ceremonial and village site of the Lisjan/Ohlone people.  A direct action training will follow the ceremony. 

1pm – Toxic Tours, Solutions Tours, and Art Builds.  Community groups are hosting tours in Richmond, Bayview Hunters Point SF, SF Chinatown, SF Excelsior, and East Oakland to share how people living in frontline communities are fighting big polluters and building community-led solutions to climate change. 

Monday/10

8am – RISE Against Climate Capitalism – Direct Action to Shut Down the Carbon Market Investors Meeting, 55 Cyril Magnon Street, San Francisco –  Idle No More and Indian People Organized for Action are holding a nonviolent direct action including prayer, teach-in and street mural painting outside of a carbon market investors meeting.  “People of the world are being led astray by polluting industries and elected officials promoting climate capitalist systems like carbon trading and carbon tax shell games. These systems… allow the fossil fuel industry to continue to harm Indigenous people and communities around the world from extraction to transport to refining.”

Tuesday/11

10am-8pm – Solidarity to Solutions Summit, Cesar Chavez Park in San Francisco – The Solidarity to Solutions Summit (#Sol2Sol Summit) will highlight frontline communities’ solutions that address the interlinked crises of climate, economic, and racial justice. Through cross-sector, solutionary strategy exchange, community leadership development, creative actions, and democratic popular assembly, we will provide direction on bold and transformative pathways for change and shift the narrative around false top-down market-driven solutions and techno-fixes. 

Thursday/13

7am-12pm – Stand with Communities, Not Corporations!, Jessie Square, 736 Mission Street, San Francisco.  This is taking place outside of the Global Climate Action Summit to protest “Jerry Brown’s promotion of continued fossil fuel production, carbon trading markets and other incentives to oil, gas and other polluting corporations, perpetuates climate change and decimates indigenous communities and working-class communities of color around the world.”

At some point, the Board of Supes is going to make a final decision on the Central Soma Plan, and it’s going to put Sup. Jane Kim in a difficult position.

Kim has been a supporter of the massive rezoning effort, which would create as many as 63,000 new jobs but housing for less than half that number of people.

Now Kim says she wants to increase the amount of housing, but she’s facing a structural problem: The city did an environmental impact report on the entire plan five years ago, and the EIR only analyzed a plan with a maximum of 8,300 housing units. So now the Planning Commission and the Supes can only approve a plan that fits in those parameters – unless they scrap the EIR and start the process over again.

Which could take another two years – but in the meantime, existing protections for blue-collar jobs would be in place along with limits on new office space.

The South of Market Community Action Network, which Kim has been close to in the past, is incensed by the plan and has filed an appeal of the EIR:

The new Central SoMa Plan is a rezoning of the South of Market that caters to private interests and highlights the ongoing struggle of working-class communities in San Francisco.… The likely result of this change in zoning is the displacement of existing PDR jobs, and increased land values which means increased rents for both residents and businesses. 

SOMCAN is joined by Central Soma Neighbors and the Yerba Buena Neighborhood Consortium.

The EIR appeal has been delayed by the board several times, as Kim has sought to increase the amount of housing in the zoning legislation. But she can’t go beyond what the EIR has analyzed.

There are lots of technical details in the appeal. Among other things, the YBNC notes that the EIR entirely dismissed any discussion of the fact that the addition of a small city to the existing Soma would create a serious demand for new public services:

In general, despite the projected daily population increase of 78,800 persons as a result of the Plan by 2040, the Initial Study concluded that the need for additional Police, Fire, and “other” public services would have a “less than significant impacts,” and thus this topic was excluded from technical and public evaluation in the DEIR.

This is a questionable assumption on its face – 78,800 people are the size of new city! And the Initial Study did not cite any technical analysis of the needs for Public Services for a daily population of this size, or lack thereof.

Also:

Despite their undeniable presence in the Plan Area in substantial numbers during the last 30 years, neither the Initial Study nor the Project DEIR specifically addressed the environmental issues related to the homeless population, and the resulting Public Services impacts. But the associated demand for public sanitation, health, shelter, and safety services is absolutely obvious to everyone today and is a major civic controversy.

From SOMCAN:

The area defined as the Central SoMa Plan Area is a neighborhood. While we are not opposed to further growth, we are opposed to Planning’s proposed transformation of this neighborhood into a new Financial District. The scale of development and the mix of commercial, office and high end luxury development described in the Plan are not conducive to a healthy neighborhood.

The DEIR is also negligent in assessing the new impacts of ride-hailing/ Transportation Network Company (TNC) services like Uber and Lyft. The references in the DEIR on pages IV.D-65 and IV.D-76 are completely inadequate. Their impact can in no way be equated with bicycles in terms of traffic or environmental impact. Their vehicles circle endlessly as they aim to be proximate to the next person who orders their services such as rides and food deliveries. As more office space and more residences are built in the Plan Area, the volume and impacts from these services will increase dramatically.

And

The DEIR upzones large swaths of Central SoMa. Upzoning of property increases the values of the underlying land, which leads to increased costs for residential and commercial tenancies and increased sale prices. Therefore existing residents or small businesses that are paying less than the new market rate will be forced out.

But the overall issue for the supes is deeper: Should they scrap the existing, out-of-date, area-plan EIR and start the process over again? Or should they accept what it pretty clearly a plan that will make the jobs-housing imbalance in the city much worse – with all the displacement impacts that involves – just because five years ago a flawed EIR was approved?

Kim has always supported increased density in her district, often demanding (and getting) in exchange high levels of affordable housing. The Central Soma Plan sets affordability levels at 33 percent.

But her own progressive constituents aren’t happy here.

SOMCAN’s appeal will finally be heard, it appears, Tuesday/11. The group is encouraging the public to show up and testify; the hearing begins at 3pm in the board chambers.

David Talbot, the author, activist, former Chronicle columnist, and progressive activist will be talking with environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.Wednesday/12.From Talbot:

I obviously have a LOT to talk about with Bobby, whom I’ve known for many years. Among our topics will be Bobby’s remarkably honest and insightful new memoir, American Values: Lessons I Learned from My Family, his recent prison visit with Sirhan B. Sirhan — the man convicted of assassinating his father; why he has come to doubt the official versions of both the JFK and RFK assassinations; and Bobby’s involvement in the recent landmark court decision against chemical giant Monsanto for failing to warn consumers about the carcinogenic dangers of its herbicide Roundup.

I’m sure that Kennedy will have a lot to say about Election 2018, the Trump apocalypse and other burning topics too.

You can buy books from both Kennedy and Talbot (I haven’t read the Kennedy book, but The Devil’s Chessboardis really, really good) and hear the discussion starting at 4:30pm.

McRoskey Mattress Factory, 3rd floor loft, 1687 Market Street, San Francisco. Donations $5/Tickets at the door.