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Edge of Sixxteen: ‘Sleazy, salacious’ party goes out with a bang at 20

DJs Omar and Jenny of Sixxteen—back when you could smoke inside bars!

PARTY RADAR DJ duo Jenny and Omar have been such an important part of the our scene for so long, that even though Jenny moved away a while ago and Omar has become a big-time promoter and DJ (playing with legendary indie and Britpop bands and co-producing the incredible, 28-year-old Popscene party), they’re still at the heart of SF’s wild rock club nightlife.

Now, after 20 years, their insanely fun jam Sixxteen is calling it quits on its anniversary (Fri/19)—but you know it’s going to be a glorious bang. 

When it launched in 1998, their club Sixxteen was quite an anomaly on the scene, offering out-of-control, campy rock respite from the serious techno and drum ‘n bass that was de rigueur at both underground and mainstream parties, and the washes of bland pop-house drowning the gay bars. This was where metal-heads could compare denim cut-offs, drag queens could live their Lita Ford fantasies, and cute Pulp-via-Smiths fans could show off their tour buttons. (In its attraction for all genders and styles bent on partying to the end of the night—or at least the end of consciousness—it resembled another, earlier classic club, Baby Judy’s.)

Where else could you hear Hole, The Dead Boys, Van Halen, New York Dolls, and local acts like Bikini Kill and the Donnas (and a slew of live bands) all smashed together in a glorious, ahistorical racket of rebellion? The club later morphed into an annual, must-attend Halloween party tradition, but it managed to keep up the same crazy energy, and surprise guest appearances. I talked to Jenny and Omar—who are so melded as the Sixxteen DJs that they answered as one—about the party and its rocking, rolling history.   

48 HILLS What compelled you to start Sixxteen, and what was the scene like then? 

SIXXTEEN We wanted to dance to Rock ‘n Roll and there wasn’t a club that played what we wanted to hear. It honestly started out as innocent as that. There were bars and people’s houses where we could go to nerd out to Dutch Glam and hear Patti Smith, ac/dc or The Misfits, but no room to dance. Once we got the chance to throw the party, we wanted to do away with the misconception that punks, rockers, metal heads, mods, drag queens, and club kids could not get along under one roof. We turned haters into lovers and fighters into dancers.

We had no real idea that others would respond to it the way they did. It was sleazy, sweaty, debaucherous and everything we wanted it to be. A place to get lost, make out with a stranger and do everything in excess. Once the word got out that everyone was having a  good time, bands like the Murder City Devils, Drunk Horse, Vue, Black Cat Music and BRMC hit us up to play. One of our fondest and scariest memoies is of the Murder City Devils setting their drums ablaze in the middle of the Cat Club. We’ve come to realize that feeling simultaneous fondness and fear is succinctly Sixxteen.

Headbanging at Sixxteen

48H What changes have you observed over the nightlife scene in the past two decades? 

SIXXTEEN We can say with the utmost certainty that we could never do now what we did back then. There is no way we could get away with all the fun we had… haha. We have some great stories, let’s just say that. When we started, there were more artists and musicians hanging around who needed a place to let loose. No internet and no social media meant that if you wanted to meet someone with the same music or fashion sense, you had to socialize with them in person. Also, once people caught wind that Motörhead, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Blondie would hang at Sixxteen, they showed up in droves for a guaranteed good time. 

Posted by Jill Reiter on Tuesday, October 16, 2018

48H Why are you ending Sixxteen, and what can we expect at the final party? Will there be a rock ‘n roll funeral?

SIXXTEEN We think the 20-year mark is as good a place  as any to celebrate the party, the friendships, the amazing and lasting support we’ve had from our patrons, as well as a great stumbling-off point to ride out in a spectacular manner as ungracefully as possible. This is very much a celebration of the wonderful eccentrics that made the nightlife thrive, so we’re not expecting to spend too much time grieving because we will be rocking out to some maximum rock n roll at maximum volume!

Fri/19, 9pm-3am, $10
Cat Club, SF. 
More info here

Cops opposing reform come in big for Trauss, Johnson, and Ho

The San Francisco Police Officers Association, which most mainstream San Francisco elected officials are running away from as fast as they can, because of stuff like this, has just dropped $100,000 into the District 4 and District 6 campaigns.

The police union, which has actively resisted reforms in the department and has been a major factor in slowing progress on use of force issues, put $50,000 into an independent expenditure campaign supporting Jessica Ho in D4 and another $50,000 into an IE backing Christine Johnson and Sonja Trauss in D6.

That just the latest in the big money pouring into those districts, much of it coming from big real-estate interests. The donations are hidden through groups like “San Franciscans for Change (D6)” and “Safe & Clean Sunset, (D4)” but records on file with the Ethics Commission show that the hundreds of thousands of dollars backing Ho, Trauss and Johnson comes from some of the biggest development interests in the city.

If you track back committees like “Progress San Francisco” and “SF Forward,” which have largely funded the D6 and D4 committees, you find that a lot of that money has come from the heir to a real-estate fortune who is also supporting efforts to keep the GOP in control in Congressand the Committee on Jobs Government  Reform Fund.

The Committee on Jobs money comes from the heirs to the Don Fisher (GAP) fortune (and the senior Fisher was a big GOP donor), along with Comcast, Allied Universal (a Pennsylvania security company) and Hathaway Dinwiddie, a giant construction company that has at least four projects currently in San Francisco.

Hathaway alone put up $100,000. Among its projects is the construction of a Marriott hotel in Mission Bay. Marriott workers are on strike.

Matt Haney, who is running in D6 and is under attack from the big money, told me he is “not surprised that we see this big money from people who want to avoid accountability and oversight, like big developers and the POA.”

He said that “most elected officials have tried to stay away from the POA, but it seems Christine and Sonja have aligned with the POA. These interests are trying to buy this election and avoid accountability.”

It’s remarkable, Haney said, that the pro-Trauss and Johnson group is called “San Franciscans for Change” since it’s funded by the people who have been calling the shots in San Francisco for years.

All of this hidden money might be a lot easier to discover in the future if a proposed “Sunlight on the Dark Money” measure makes it to the ballot and passes.

Tom Ammiano and Peter Keane are pushing a new measure to shine some light on dark money in SF politics

Jon Golinger, along with former Sup. Tom Ammiano and former Ethics Commissioner Peter Keane, filed the measure last week. It would require that committees like “San Franciscans for Change” reveal the actual names of the actual biggest donors who are paying for their literature and ads.

In the future, mailers from that group would have to say, for example, that major funding came from the POA and Hathaway Dinwiddie.

The measure is headed for the November, 2019 ballot.

A doctor’s plea: When treatment and cure isn’t enough

It's going to cost money to address homelessness seriously

What do you do as a physician when you have all of the best medicines in the world, but can’t treat a patient’s disease simply because they don’t have a place to call home?

This was the question I struggled with as I entered Ms. Anderson’s hospital room. Ms. Anderson was a San Francisco native and shipyard worker for the majority of her adult life before she was laid off over thirty years ago. Due to a work injury, she couldn’t find another job and lost her home, living on the streets for the past three decades. Like the overwhelming majority of homeless in San Franciscans, she was formerly housed in San Francisco.  

I had met Ms. Anderson two weeks earlier when she came into the Emergency Department with a broken hip. We admitted her into the hospital for a work-up and ultimately found that she had a new diagnosis of a cancer called lymphoma. Because of her memory impairment, we had the same heartbreaking conversation multiple times, with her desperately asking for treatment for her potentially curable cancer, because without it she would surely die.

The good news was that her type of cancer had relatively good outcomes if treated promptly with chemotherapy. However, chemotherapy often meant severe side effects like frequent vomiting, nausea, and sometimes even urinary and bowel incontinence that anyone would find difficult to manage in a home, let alone while homeless without stable access to a bathroom. Treatment also required frequent appointments to monitor disease progress, and we weren’t sure if she could manage these successfully with her memory impairment.

Because of this, I came to give the news that treating her cancer might not be possible. While sharing this, I held back tears, knowing that if she had had a home, treatment wouldn’t be a question of if but when.

In the course of one year in San Francisco, more than 21,000 people will experience homelessness like Ms. Anderson. However, as a city where homelessness is repeatedly cited as the number one issue for its citizens, San Francisco only spends about 3 percent of its $11 billion dollar budget on homelessness. Proposition C on the upcoming November ballot, titled Our City Our Home, is a voter-initiated ballot that would raise approximately $300 million to increase funding towards solving homelessness.

Prop C would have helped someone like Ms. Anderson, because it would help keep people in their homes or help get our sickest patients off the streets and into stable housing. With Prop C, we would have enough money to provide eviction prevention assistance and keep thousands of families housed each year. The funds would be raised by a 0.5 percent gross receipts tax on businesses that make more than $50 million dollars a year, which is a small tax compared to the 14 percent federal tax cut these companies recently received from the Trump administration. More than 100 San Francisco organizations already support Prop C, including physicians, educators, social workers, and many small businesses.

Opponents of Prop C argue why spend more on homelessness when San Francisco already spends so much? But when faced with the dire situations like those of Ms. Anderson, it becomes not an issue of economics but a matter of human conscience. San Francisco’s citizens currently have a meaningful opportunity to help the fight against homelessness for the first time in over a decade by supporting Prop C, because it is a bill that values care for all human life, no matter the situation. I hope like me others will vote Yes on Prop C this November, because a San Francisco that believes in helping people like Ms. Anderson is the San Francisco I want to live in.

Dr. Leslie Suen is an Internal Medicine Primary Care resident physician at UCSF and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. She previously has worked for the SF Department of Public Health to improve delivery of healthcare services to homeless communities. The opinions expressed are entirely her own. 

Medical Professionals for Prop. C will be holding a press conference Wednesday/17 at SF General Hospital, Info is here.

Screen Grabs: SF Shorts, Beautiful Boy, Filipino Cine Festival…

'Namibia' is part of SF Shorts at the Roxie, playing Sun/20

SCREEN GRABS While the SF Greek and Arab Film Festivals continue for their second, final weekends (see last week’s column for more details), it’s otherwise a pretty uneventful week at the movies. There are various Halloween-related one-offs at local theaters, plus of course the new Halloween, which reboots that now-40-year-old franchise for the 90th time, complete with a returned Jamie Lee Curtis.

There’s horror of a different type in An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn, which opens exclusively at the Alamo Drafthouse on Friday. Writer-director Jim Hosking made of a splash with his 2016 debut feature The Greasy Strangler, an awesomely annoying exercise in juvenile scatology that acquired a cult following among those it didn’t simply repel. This latest comedy of childish geek humor, over-the-top mugging and bad 70s clothes is a little easier to take, thanks in large part to a cast of slumming quality professionals (Aubrey Plaza, Emile Hirsch, Jermaine Clement, Craig Robinson). But if you hated Greasy, you won’t like this one, either. 

Elsewhere (all opening Friday unless otherwise noted):

There have been and will be better movies this year, but there’s unlikely to be a mainstream film that more precisely taps the sociopolitical zeitgeist than former MadTV cast member Ike Barinholtz’s feature debut as writer-director. It’s that by now hoary conceit of “Holiday family reunion that goes dysfunctionally awry.” Except here interracial couple Chris (Barinholtz) and Kai (Tiffany Haddish) are reeling from a fictive near-future event quite plausible in Trumpish times: The POTUS has asked every American to sign an oath of loyalty specifically to him, promising no harm will come to those who refuse. 

That’s a promise already broken by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, and Chris’ brother Pat (Jon Barinholtz) brings his rabidly right-wing, nationalist girlfriend Abby (Meredith Hagner) to the family celebration. Things don’t truly get out of hand, however, until two agents (John Cho, Billy Magnussen) of the “Citizens’ Protection Unit”—a suspiciously Gestapo-like civilian “division of Homeland Security” with murky legal/policing powers—show up. This farcical black comedy is uneven, its energy and invention sometimes flagging. But it works for the most part, and captures the tenor of an era when “divisive” politics have grown bad enough to break up friendships, families, and quite possibly our status as a democratic republic. At area theaters.

This is one of two awards-bait movies this season about affluent families coping with a drug-addicted son, and much the better among them. (Ben Is Back, with Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges, will hit theaters in a few weeks.) 

Based on Bay Area writer David Sheff’s same-titled memoir, it has Steve Carell as the Marin-based journalist horrified as his child by a first marriage, Nic (Timothee Chalamet), descends into a seemingly hopeless revolving door of expensive rehab treatments and bottom-hitting relapses. Nic will take anything, though crystal meth proves perhaps his particular downfall. When in the grip of it, he’ll do anything, including stealing from his own increasingly wary family. 

Belgian director Felix Van Groeningen’s home-turf hits The Broken Circle Breakdown and Belgica didn’t do much for me. But this English-language debut is very strong, handling the addiction issues sans excess melodrama or hand-wringing. Carrell is excellent, while Chalamet here truly earns the acclaim that was thrown a little too easily his way for last year’s overrated Call Me By Your Name. At area theaters. 

Asger (Jakob Cedergren) is a cocky beat cop who doesn’t take this night’s duty manning the 911 phone bank very seriously. Indeed, he seems a bit of a flippant jerk—until he gets a call from a woman who manages to communicate that she’s been abducted. She’s in a car driven by her apparently angry, possibly violent spouse. The situation only grows more grave the more details Asger manages to glean from her. Soon it becomes obvious that there’s a life-or-death crisis going on here, dependent on his ability to figure her whereabouts before it’s too late.

Danish writer-director Gustav Moller’s first feature never leaves the couple rooms where Asger works his shift—we don’t catch even a glimpse of the events he’s desperately trying to suss out long-distance. But that seeming recipe for stagey claustrophobia doesn’t stop this from being a gripping thriller. There are some startling yet credible twists, and Cedergren’s performance gradually reveals complex layers in a character who at first seems anything but complicated, or sympathetic. Opera Plaza. More info here

Though the Bay Area-originating Cinematografo fest is still a couple weeks off, fans of Filipino cinema can begin engorging now, thanks to the 25th edition of this traveling showcase. The nine acclaimed recent features on tap at the Roxie this weekend run a gamut from fact-inspired tales of indigenous ways ground under by military and environmental plunder (Tu Pug Imatuy) to romantic comedy (Meet Me in St. Gallen) to teen drama (2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten). Fri/19-Sun/21, Roxie. More info here

Meanwhile, the San Francisco International Festival of Short Films is marking its 13th year with an overlapping three days at the Roxie. Six distinct, thematically curated programs collect shorts from 25 countries, including Serbia, South Korea, Poland, New Zealand, Russia, Brazil, United Arab Emirates and of course the U.S. They’ll encompass documentary, animation, comedy, social commentary and much more, with each bill guaranteeing a diverse full meal of art and entertainment. Thurs/18-Sat/20, Roxie. More info here

This week’s Other Cinema program features two brand-new films by longtime Mission-based SF filmmaker Greta Snider, plus a revival of her 1998 B&W personal documentary Portland, in which she and some friends go “riding the rails” retro-hobo style to that northern city—or at least try to. Continuing a geographic theme will be additional works by Lana Caplan, Brea Weinreb, Matt McCormick, while Alex Coppola DJ’s accompaniment for a selection of mid-20th century travelogue clips. Sat/20, Artists Television Access.

You might think the San Francisco in which Deadheads were ubiquitous is long gone—unless you go to the Hardly Strictly Festival, which last month once again proved that Jerry-atrics of all ages aren’t gone, they (and their T-shirts) simply hibernate most of the year. Still, it used to be that this 1977 concert film was on every rep-house calendar ever (it probably paid a healthy section of the late Red Vic Movie House’s rent), yet the Balboa’s revival this week probably represents its biggest local exposure in aeons.

J. Garcia aka “God” himself spent two years editing hundreds of hours of footage shot by his and co-director Leon Gast’s crew during a five-day 1974 run at SF’s Winterland. Those gigs were originally expected to be the band’s swan song, although of course things didn’t turn out that way. Instead, the film helped sustain and expand their audience, aided by the appeal of Gary Guiterrez’s psychedelic animations featuring their mascot “Uncle Sam skeleton.” The Movie also provides a gander at the unique fan culture they fostered, a decade before “Touch of Grey” incongruously brought fraternity bros and other squares (at least briefly) into the fold. Tues/16, Thurs/18, Fri/19, Balboa. More info here

Supes want to crack down on massage businesses

Candace Combs, who runs In-Symmetry Spa, says the new rules damage small businesses.

The Board of Supes Land Use Committee approved stricter rules for massage establishments despite opposition from both therapeutic massage businesses and sex-worker advocates who said it would further drive sex trafficking underground.

The new rules, sponsored by Sup. Katy Tang, would, among other things, bar anyone who has been convicted of a prostitution-related crime from ever working in the massage industry.

The new rules would impose design guidelines and other regulations on therapeutic massage establishments that some say would be difficult to follow.

Candace Combs, who runs In-Symmetry Spa, says the new rules damage small businesses.

Overall, speakers at the hearing suggested, there are two basic flaws in the new rules: They assume that massage parlors are fronts for prostitution – and they assume that consensual prostitution is a bad thing.

At the hearing, a representative of St. James Infirmary, a health clinic run by and for sex workers, said that the law would prevent former sex workers from getting jobs. “We believe that massage practitioners will be hurt, but it will not affect human trafficking,” she said. “It will just drive the trade deeper underground.”

Rachel West, of the US Prostitutes Collective, said that the city has been cracking down on massage parlors for years, “and it hasn’t gone away.”

West said she was “concerned about the dire impacts on women, who may be mothers working to support their families.”

She said many sex workers are immigrants, “and why are the supervisors further attacking these immigrants? Will this force deportations?”

The therapeutic massage community has problems with the bill, too. Candace Combs, who runs In-Symmetry Spa, said the regulations have rendered her business worthless. “With the land-use issues alone, I can’t ever sell it,” she said.

What’s happening with this legislation is that land-use is being used as a tool to block sex work — and it’s spilling over to make it difficult to open a legal theraputic massage business.

Combs told me that there are about 3,000 massage therapists advertising on Yelp – and about 200 registered with the city. The Health Department has exactly two inspectors.

“We are all against trafficking,” she said. “If the city wants to do something about that, they have to hire more people instead of making it harder for existing small businesses.”

Cultural sensitivity in the Police Department wouldn’t hurt, either.

At any rate, the committee approved the measure 3-0, and it now goes to the full board.

The committee also decided once again to delay action on the Central Soma Plan for a while Sup. Jane Kim works on “tweaks” to the legislation, including community demands for more affordable housing.

But a series of speakers still came forward to oppose the overall rezoning, raising serious questions about whether Kim will be able to come up with anything that won’t face strong neighborhood opposition.

The Doormat Division: Down go the Titanics …

Every once in a great while, a team steps forward…I think it’s two or three steps, and then you swing your leg…right?…and puts themselves into the Doormat Division record books.  Doing this despite their current record (3-3) does not diminish the accomplishment. In the case of the Tennessee Titans, the Basement really isn’t that far away, ever. We only have to peel back one or two layers of wallpaper to get to our Titanics pattern.


It’s not the 11 sacks, one off the NFL record, that is impressive, even though it’s often a coach-sacking offense. It’s not the seven first downs. It’s this: Nine Titans possessions, nine Titans punts. We’ve been covering the Doormat Division for eight years, and following the stats for a lot longer than that, and we have never seen every possession in a game end with a punt. No interception, no fumble (though Titanics QB Marcus Mariota tried), no 4th down failure (not even late in the game?). 

That takes skilled determination. The Titanics haven’t crossed the goal line in eight quarters, have lost two straight, and Titans coach Mike Vrabel was pretty verbal in the post-game press conference. Taking full credit for the incredible accomplishment, Vrabel said “you don’t have time for any hangovers,” clearly meaning they can’t celebrate for too long, because another sinking ship is on the horizon. 



NFC            W-L        PF      PA       DIFF

Arizona         1-5          82       139       -57

NY Giants     1-5        117      162       -45

*Santa Clara  1-4        118     146       -28

Atlanta          2-4         167      192       -25

Tampa Bay    2-3        141      173      -32

Detroit           2-3         125      137      -12

AFC            W-L        PF        PA     DIFF

Oakland        1-5         110      176       -66

Indy              1-5         152      180       -28

Buffalo         2-4          76        138      -62

Denver          2-4         120      154      -34

Cleveland     2-3-1      128     151      -23

*Santa Clara plays the Packers tonight


The Seahawks are not a great team. But the RAIDERS.  Every year, the NFL invites four teams out to London for a couple games, and it’s never teams that might make the Super Bowl. If you’re in London, you’re a Doormat rep or you’re auditioning to be. The Raiders passed the audition with damp moldy colors, something any Brit can appreciate. The only way to be the worst of the worst is confident totally wrong top-down leadership. Seven years into the (owner) Mark Davis era, the downward spiral, with one season of up, is starting to look like a whirlpool from which the pirate ship Raider Nation will not escape, and why should they? They’ve got a Moldy Carpet Trophy (the Doormat Division’s highest award) to hoist at year’s end. They can cart it out to Las Vegas, put the ol’ Skull and Crossbones up in some dusty creosote tangled lot, get bit by a scorpion, put their pirate vessel in dry dock, stop showering and let that Moldy Carpet dry out, blowing its spores across the lonely desert. 

What’re the odds? 

PS:  You know, if Al Davis were alive, he’d look terrible, but he would have hired Colin Kaepernick as soon as he was available, if just to thumb his nose at all the other owners.  The NFL misses that. With two rookie tackles watching the world go by, they could really use someone who is already out on the edge by the time the pass rush gets to the backfield. Just sayin’. 


The Brownies are keeping it real, 2-3-1, and back in our standings.  Noting that Browns QB Baker Mayfield likes to run around, the Chargers decided to help him out and turn it up to ‘run for your life.’  Five sacks, two more interceptions, and a Brownie day at the yard, in Cleveland. The Browns defense shored up its run strategy, getting mowed for 246 rushing yards, and making Philip Rivers look like a level-headed cool cucumber. He’s not really green, it’s just this old TV.  The tubes come from Russia. Are they listening?


You know it’s a tough news day when your worst team in the league is item #4, but what can you do?  It’s not flashy, it’s just brain-dead. Cardinals accomplish difficult task of making Kirk Cousins signing look good, for one day.


I know this is not a Doormat game, but last year it sure was. Another loony game in the NFL in 2018. And it’s mostly ex-Doormats (attempting to leave) leading the charge.


Like this one!  The Clots are 1-5, yet are averaging 25 points a game. But they’re giving up 31, so it’s one near miss, blown lead, futile comeback, after another. They only punted twice! 


Down…down….down… another pirate ship slowly sinks in the harbor. Three losses in a row gets them back to a losing record, despite 512 yards of offense.  Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick, who cares who’s back there- just come close.  But, please, no cigars.  Although, the completely hilarious multi-fumble-lateral final play that ‘almost’ got in the end zone, you gotta give the Bucs some style points.  Big Doormat style points.


Twelve  first downs, 12 penalties, 11 pipers piping, five punts-a-punting, TWO -In-ter-cep-tionnnnns!

Bills interception machine QB Nathan Peterman got into the game (one INT for every 8.7 attempts. That’s 63 in a season with 550 attempts), finishing off the game with a pick-six with 1:23 left. This came after the Bills had set up the Toxins at the one-yard line with a pass interference call, but the Toxins refused to move in, kicking a tying field goal, hoping for an overtime loss or something.  But when you’ve got an interception wizard out on the field, a team just has to be patient with impatience.  Bills 2-4 and in the race.


Yes, Eli Manning is still playing football.


Well!  It’s like old Home Week.  The Jags turn back the clock for a day, 10 first downs, scrape up 204 yards of offense and sink back to 3-3.  Two blowout losses in a row, and they could easily lose 3 of the next 4 games.


49ers at Packers

Whiners should get to 1-5 with this one, but I think they may cover the nine-point spread (biggest of the weekend), as this may be their last gasp before giving in and playing out the string.  Packers are not what they once were, but the Whiners have no idea what they once wuz.

aaaAAAAAAnd That’s the View From the BASEMENT!!!!

Two big (and environmentally awful) projects — and a step toward saving the Mission

Greenaction's Marie Harrison testified against the India Basin plane

The India Basin environmental impact report, which was more-or-less rejected by the supes two weeks ago when the local air board said the construction proposals would cause too much airborne pollution, comes back to the board Tuesday/16.

Greenaction, a Bayview Hunters Point environmental justice group, appealed the EIR on the project, which involves the construction of 1,500 new housing units on the edge of the Hunter Point Shipyard, where we now know there is still at least some radioactive contamination. At the hearing two weeks ago, Greenaction representative Marie Harrison, who was carrying an oxygen tank because of her respiratory problems, said that the development would cause further damage in an area that already has the highest asthma rates in the city.

Greenaction’s Marie Harrison testified against the India Basin plan. Photo by Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner.

A representative of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said that the construction would cause unacceptable levels of pollution and that the plan needed changes.

The air-pollution issues are nothing new: The EIR acknowledges that there are air-quality problems that can’t be mitigated. But the Planning Commission decided that the city’s need for housing is so great that it overrides those concerns.

So now the issue is back before the board, which only very rarely overturns EIRs. Sup. Malia Cohen, who represents the district, supports the project. But as Tony Kelly, candidate for D10 supe, told me,

I’ve been around a while, but it’s still a shock that, in San Francisco in 2018, the city might approve a building project next to the Shipyard that hasn’t really considered how safe the dirt is, has environmental impacts that can’t be mitigated, and deliberately avoided communities that don’t speak or read English. And the official reason the city might approve the project anyway is, they want the money and the expensive housing. If this gets approved, how wrong does a project have to be to get rejected?

Shamman Walton, who is also a leading candidate in D10, told me he doesn’t have enough information to take a position on the project EIR.

And then the supes will have to deal with the Central Soma Plan, which pretty much everyone agrees is a mess– too much office, too little housing, no concern for massive new traffic problems. The board approved the EIR September 25 despite all those issues, and Sup. Jane Kim, who represents the district, said she wants to add a lot more housing to the mix.

I asked Kim why the city needed to make room for that much more office space in the first place, why this level of growth is a good thing for anyone. “I get that argument,” she said.

But that argument – that the city can’t possible handle the impacts of this rapid office and job growth – is generally dismissed by planners, and frankly, by most of the supes.

So the plan itself comes before the Land Use and Transportation Committee Monday/15 and the full board the next day.

Two weeks later, Land Use and Transportation will hold a hearing called by Sup. Sandra Lee Fewer to talk about the idea that private buses should be able to use the city’s Muni-only lanes. If the Muni-only lanes are meant to speed up the city’s transit system, clogging them with Google buses would seem counterproductive – but that’s what the MTA is considering at this point. Transit and environmental advocates are urging people to contact their supes in advance of the hearing and express opposition to the plan.

Sup. Hillary Ronen has introduced legislation that might make some impact on the dramatic gentrification of the Valencia Street corridor and surrounding areas and the displacement of long-time neighborhood businesses by high-end restaurants and brewpubs.

The measure would require conditional-review permits for new restaurants and would ban new brewpubs in the area roughly bounded by 14thStreet, Guerrero, Cezar Chavez, and Potrero.

Ronen also wants to block the merger of ground-floor commercial spaces resulting in spaces larger than 1,500 feet (except for legacy business, arts, and community uses). And she would require than any new developments of more than 10,000 square feet provide storefront space of less than 1,500 square feet.

Light industrial use would be legal in most areas, and a conditional-use hearing would be required if any legacy business is replaced.

This is just a start; there’s a lot to be done to save what’s left of the Mission. But it’s a step forward, and the Planning Commission will hear it Thursday/18.

The neighborhood case for Proposition 10

The Rent is Too Damn High -- and a new study shows Prop. 10 won't discourage new housing

Vote YES to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (state ballot measure Proposition 10).  This state law repeal will impact the entire state.

Current existing rent control laws will still apply, but they may be changed by local city governments rather than the state legislature.

The Rent is Too Damn High — and a new study shows Prop. 10 won’t discourage new housing

Costa-Hawkins is a 1995 state bill enacted by the legislature that set restrictions on rent control for cities and counties throughout California.  As such, the bill treats each city as if they were identical and not unique.

The Costa-Hawkins bill does not actually set statewide limits on annual rent hikes, and provides eviction protections to tenants.  The rates of rent increases are set separately by the 15 California cities that have local rent control laws.  The bill has received only minor updates since it went into effect 23 years ago. 

While some jurisdictions allow rent increases of 3 percent to 8 percent annually, San Francisco’s rent ordinance allowed a 2.2 percent rent increase between March 1, 2017 and February 28, 2018 and sets rent increases between March 1, 2018 and February 28, 2019 at 1.6 percent.  San Francisco’s rent control is based on 60 percent of the increase in the Consumer Price Index posted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The CPI for All Urban Consumers in the Bay Area was 2.7 percent posted in November 2017.

Opponents of Prop. 10 — primarily developers, large real estate companies and the politicians that they control — are scared to death that Costa-Hawkins will be repealed by a “Yes” vote.  They believe that they will no longer be able to harvest large development fees from building market-rate housing with high rents and will be forced to produce less profitable affordable housing.

San Francisco does not have a market-rate housing shortage, we have an affordable housing shortage.  Between 2007 and 2014, developers produced only 18 percent of San Francisco’s medium-income affordable housing stock quota, 45 percemt of the low-income quota, and 109 percent of the city’s market-rate quota set by the Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) goals.  The production goal deficit in San Francisco included 5,547 medium-income units not built, and 6,696 low-income units not built.

Developers are currently trying to scare the hell out of voters by airing a 30-second television commercial.  The advertisement text states the following:

“Deeply flawed, badly written.  That’s Proposition 10.  It does the opposite of what it promises.  Prop 10 will drive up rents, take rental housing off the market, and make it harder to find a place to live.  And Prop 10 has no protection for renters, seniors, veterans, or the disabled, and no provisions to treat homelessness or build affordable housing.  That’s why veterans, seniors, and affordable housing experts say No on 10.   It makes a bad problem worse.”


This is called the “Chicken Little—The Sky Is Falling” argument.  By naming all of the things that might possibly go wrong without any reliable data or reports to substantiate their suppositions or arguments, opponents of the repeal of Costa- Hawkins are simply stating their worst fears—not facts.

None of this ad copy is true. Proposition 10 promises nothing more than the repeal of Costa-Hawkins.  You might as well say, that “it might rain tomorrow” and you would be as accurate as this tripe.  The repeal of-Costa Hawkins will simply allow San Francisco politicians, tenants, and landlords to maintain a dynamic tension locally without state interference.

The advertisement was paid in part by:

  • “Essex Property Trust, a publicly-traded real estate investment trust that invests in apartments, primarily on the West Coast of the United States. As of December 31, 2017, the company owned interests in 247 apartment complexes, aggregating 60,239 apartment units, and 1 office building comprising 106,564 square feet.”
  • “Equity Residential, a publicly-traded real estate investment trust that invests in apartments. As of December 31, 2017, the company owned or had investments in 305 properties consisting of 78,611 apartment units in Boston, New York City, Washington DC, Seattle, San Francisco, and Southern California.”
  • “AvalonBay Communities, Inc., a publicly-traded real estate investment trust that invests in apartments. As of January 31, 2018, the company owned 77,614 apartment units, all of which were in New England, the New York City metropolitan area, the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Seattle, and California.”

Pigs at the trough.  These national real estate companies care only about their own bottom line profits.  If they really cared about renters, seniors, veterans, disabled or the homeless,they should donate their ad budget to these causes.

The real value of Costa-Hawkins repeal is that it will restore authority to California’s cities and counties to develop and implement local policies that ensure renters are able to find and afford decent housing in their jurisdictions while still protecting landlord’s ability to charge fair rents and earn a reasonable rate of return.

Prop. 10 doesn’t automatically enact or strengthen rent control.  It simply says it’s time to look at the 23-year-old state law and return responsibility for new ordinances back to local control.

According to Susan Kirsh, the Chair of Livable California, “It’s become popular to refer to an affordable housing crisis. Yet the ‘build, build, build’ remedy rarely provides housing for low-income workers.  Buying a new car isn’t as ‘affordable’ as buying a used one.  Building new housing — even tiny units — isn’t affordable to anybody on minimum wage.  According to the State Legislative Analyst’s office, trickle-down affordability will take 25 to 30 years.”

Kirsh further says, “The crisis we face is the systematic effort to dismantle local control and replace it with unelected, regional bureaucracies.  The crisis is the rush to pass more draconian legislation, like the dozen or so housing bills passed in 2018, piled on top of the 14 housing bills passed in 2017, which Berkeley researchers warn have unpredictable outcomes. The crisis is believing the mantra ‘we have to do something’ justifies legislation that benefits a few, while jeopardizing the majority.”

The crisis is legislation that increases the financial burden on cities without calling it what it is — an unfunded mandate.

Does anyone remember State Senator Scott Wiener’s ridiculous and failed SB-827? Well … he will be reintroducing a version of this bill next January.

San Francisco’s rent control protects all tenants who live in buildings that were built on or before 1979.

The current Costa-Hawkins Act protects a landlord’s right to raise the rent to market rate on a unit once a tenant moves out.  It prevents cities from establishing rent control — or capping rent — on units constructed after February 1995.  It exempts single-family homes and condominiums from rent control restrictions.

Under the current Costa-Hawkins Act a landlord may charge thousands more for a unit to 1) Recoup the low rental price that was being paid by a previous tenant, and 2) Make money on a unit that may be off of the market for years.  These resulting high rental prices can lead to high rent, housing shortages, excess density, and homelessness.

Please vote yes on Costa Hawkins repeal.

George Wooding is the president of the Coalition For San Francisco Neighborhoods.  Feedback: [email protected]

Join us Thursday, October 18, for live music and pre-election cheer

The Deadliners

We’re throwing a pre-election party and 48 Hills fundraiser at the Bindery—the events space for Booksmith on Haight Street—this Thursday, October 18, 7pm-10pm. Join us! 

The Deadliners

The night features live music from the Deadliners, a band of local writers you just may recognize:

Jonathan Alford, keyboards
Zoe Carter, rhythm guitar and lead vocal
Mark Hertsgaard, rhythm guitar and another lead vocal
Gary Kamiya, lead guitar
Dan Keller, bass
Greg McRae, drums
Mark Schapiro, harmonica

The Bay Guardian and others local organizations will also be on hand to distribute voters’ guides, and there will be lots of rallying energy to face the midterms! Oh, and a full bar! 

Come out and support local media, so we can keep getting the word out about what matters. 

Thu/18, 7pm-10pm, $10 (but we’ll take more!)
The Bindery in the Haight, SF. 
More info here!

Pucks to plays: Former hockey pro brings drama to Magic Theatre

Playwright Ashlin Halfnight's 'The Resting Place' is at Magic Theatre through November 4. Photo by Gabriel Frye-Behar

ONSTAGE Ashlin Halfnight sees a lot of parallels between his former career as a professional hockey player and his current one as a playwright. 

“It seems weird to say, because most people think of sports, especially contact sports, at one end, and arts and theater at the other end. But really, they’re much closer cousins,” he said. “You have to work as a team to bring your best forward and the season and process is long. And on any given night one person may not be at their best, and it’s up to others to pull them up.

Halfnight in his hockey days

“Also, you need discipline for the writing like you do to train to be a high-level athlete. And sometimes, particularly with first drafts, there’s a kind of zone I can drop into where I channel the play and voices and characters. It’s sort of like what can happen in sports when you get out of your own way and let the game flow through you.”

Halfnight, who writes for TV and movies as well, has a play opening at the Magic Theatre this month, The Resting Place, which was part of the theater’s Virgin Play Festival last year. The Magic feels like his theatrical home, Halfnight says.  

“I think the theater is an amazing place as far as supporting playwrights and investing in process,” he said. “Most theaters pay lip service to that, but they put on a reading and kiss you goodbye. The Magic actually puts blood and sweat and tears into it.”

Halfnight is happy to be working again with Jessica Holt, who was his director for the original reading of the play. That means they both know where they want the play to go and have a shared vocabulary, he said. 

In The Resting Place, a family is dealing with the aftermath of a terrible situation, in “a cloudburst of crisis—filled with raw humor, piercing darkness and fierce love.” Halfnight says some of it comes from thinking about Sophocles’ Antigone as well as what we owe our families and communities—and what we do when those come into conflict. His writing sometimes comes from personal experiences and stories in the news, he says, but he wants to explore topics that aren’t so familiar. 

“Basically, I like to make shit up,” he said. 

First cast reading of ‘The Resting Place’ at Magic Theatre. Photo by Sonia Fernandez

Halfnight, who has an MFA from Columbia University in playwriting, got into working in film when one of his plays was optioned for a movie, for which he wrote the screenplay. He says film and TV have a more segmented approach than plays, and he enjoys the collaborative aspect of theater: It’s more hands-on, and you can inhabit a story as it evolves. “The Resting Place,” in particular, benefits from this. 

“With theater we all come and sit in a dark room together,” he said. “The questions the play is wrestling with are better served by that.”

It’s important to Halfnight that he writes something engaging and entertaining for the audience to chew on. His previous plays have gained critical applause for his approach to such moral dilemmas and his writing style. (The New York Times has praised his “punchy, coarse dialogue” and called him “deliriously imaginative.” 

“One of most boring things is going to the theater and being told what to think,” he said. “Hopefully, you’re so engrossed in the story that you stumble out and then start to process it. It should ideally be funny and heartbreaking and fun and fast – all the things life and good entertainment should be.”

Again, Halfnight says how thrilled he is to be at the Magic, which gets a lot of respect in the theater world, he thinks. 

“The history and legacy of the Magic in new play world is pretty incredible especially given their size,” he said. “They’re a theater that punches way above their weight.”

Through Nov. 4
Magic Theatre, San Francisco
Tickets and more info here