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Thursday, February 22, 2024

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City HallThe AgendaThe greedy landlords who want to undermine the future of City College

The greedy landlords who want to undermine the future of City College

Plus: Saving low-income housing in the Western Addition, fighting toxics at Hunters Point, and can we stop algae blooms in the Bay? That's The Agenda for Oct. 17-24


You have to wonder what kind of organization or industry would oppose Proposition O, which raises parcel taxes just a little bit to keep City College, one of San Francisco’s most important institutions, operating at the level that the city expects and deserves.

You have to wonder just who would be greedy enough to put up more money than it would cost them in taxes for quite some time just ot squeeze City College even further, and make life more difficult and opportunities more slender for working-class students, immigrants, and seniors.

Who could be against funding City College? Well, the landlords

But the answers are right in the Ethics Commission filings: It’s the landlords. Specifically, it’s the California Apartment Association, the San Francisco Apartment Association, Trinity Properties, Golden Gateway, and a bunch of other big real-estate operations that have together raised more than $300,000 to attack the measure.

I haven’t seen the mailers yet, but they are on their way, and I’m sure they’ll all be about wasteful government spending and high taxes. The reality is that most property owners would pay at most a couple hundred dollars a year to save the school. The big folks would pay in the thousands or tens of thousands, but they are making, and have long made, huge profits off the tenants of San Francisco.

And now it’s clear they care so little about the community that they are going to attack the future of City College.

That kind of greed is a sick, sick thing.

Mayor London Breed will appear before the supes at Question Time Tuesday/18, and nobody submitted any questions. Let me guess: She will spend her time talking about crime and promoting the political fortunes of her District Attorney, Brooke Jenkins.

The supes will also consider a resolution responding to the explosive Civil Grand Jury report on contamination risks at the Hunters Point shipyard development site. The mayor has insisted that there’s no problem here, that the risk of groundwater rise spreading the contaminants that the Navy insists are safe in the soil is fully under control.

But Sup. Shamann Walton wants a new short-term monitoring committee to study the issue, and is calling on the mayor to fund new positions in the Health Department to keep an eye on what the Navy is doing.

That resolution would set up a direct confrontation with Breed, who has refused to support any new monitoring at the shipyard. But I don’t see how any of the supes can oppose this.

Sup. Dean Preston has been working with the residents of Midtown Park Apartments for several years now to keep the units affordable and prevent displacement. It’s a long saga, but the units were originally built in 1968 as replacement housing for people displaced by redevelopment. The residents were told that they were able to manage the place themselves, and eventually would be able to buy their units.

But the ownership model never happened, and in 2016, the new manager, Mercy Housing, changed the rules and ended tenant self-rule. Rents also started to rise, because Mercy said the site wasn’t eligible for rent control.

Preston managed to get rent control imposed on the complex, and now is moving to set up a working group to study future options, including some form of ownership and stability, for the site.

It’s complicated: Midtown was funded with public money, and if the units are simply turned over the existing owners, they could be sold at market rate and would no longer be affordable. But plenty of other models, including limited-equity and land-trust approaches, and the task force can look at all of them.

The Rules Committee will consider the measure to take the preliminary steps for a task force Monday/17.

It turns out that the initial data wasn’t entirely accurate: There are as many as 58,000 vacant apartments in San Francisco, almost as many as the state wants to see built. With a vacant-units tax on the ballot, the budget and legislative analyst will present the new data to the Government Audit and Oversight Committee Thursday/20.

The deadly algae bloom that hit San Francisco Bay this summer has its roots in part in the wastewater discharges from local sewage treatment plants. It’s going to be a regional issue; San Francisco has a plant at Hunters Point, but more than a dozen other local agencies also use the Bay as the depository for treated waste, which can still contain enough nitrogen to make the algae grow rapidly.

Sup. Aaron Peskin wants to know what the city can do the address what could be a major future issue. He’s holding a hearing on the issue at the Land Use and Transportation Committee Monday/17.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.


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