Supervisors back appeal, delay housing project on Mission District laundromat site

By Laura Waxmann : sfexaminer – excerpt

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday sided with Mission District activists challenging a housing development on the site of a former laundromat, ordering the developer to conduct a shadow study looking at the project’s impacts on an adjacent school.

The board voted unanimously to require additional study on the plan to build 75 units of market rate housing at 2918-2924 Mission St. in response to an appeal filed by the Calle 24 Cultural District…

But according to Ronen, the school will soon be part of The City’s Shared Schoolyard Program, which seeks to open school yards to the public after school hours.

“There has been, in my opinion, not enough analysis as to how the shadow impacts of this project will impact that public open space,” said Ronen… (more)

Thanks to everyone who made this happen! This is truly an amazing victory that is shared by all the districts as all our Supervisors supported this outcome by voting unanimously to uphold this CEQA appeal.

One of the most memorable comments came from a citizen who asked how this board can send representatives to protect children at the border and ignore the needs of the children in the Mission.

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Opinion: How big should SF be — and for whom?

By Mayor Art Agnos :48hills – excerpt

A former mayor has some advice for the next mayor — and the people of the city

This is a critical time for our city. There are a lot of important issues at stake that matter to all of us. Income inequality. Homelessness. Drugs. Auto burglaries. Educational reform. The list goes on and they are all important.

From my perspective as a former mayor, though, the biggest issue that is to be decided in San Francisco is this question:

“How big does SF want to be, and who do we want to build for and where?”

The answer will determine where most people like us or their families will be able live here in the future…

How big do we want to be – and for whom?

We can seek a requirement for a Prop B like citywide vote on projects over a certain size.as we did on the waterfront.

We can seek a requirement to decentralize the Planning Department to support neighborhood planning committees like those in New York city and Washington DC.

No matter who is in charge of City Hall, the ultimate power resides with us, the people of San Francisco.

No one can take it. But we can lose it by not staying informed, organized, and engaged every step of the way…(more) 

 

Cox Opposes Rent Control Ballot Initiative

mynewsla – excerpt

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox Saturday called a rent control initiative set to appear on the November ballot “a bad deal for renters.”

“Building more housing will bring rents down,” Cox tweeted as he shared a story about the measure qualifying for the November ballot. “This measure treats the symptom, not the disease – it’s a bad deal for renters.

What backers have dubbed the Affordable Housing Act would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, a 1995 law that bans rent control on apartment buildings, condominiums and houses built after 1995 and froze local rent control laws.

The 1995 law also allows landlords to raise rents by an unlimited amount when a unit becomes vacant.

If adopted by voters, the initiative would give cities and counties expanded authority to enact rent control on residential property.

There was no immediate response to an email sent Saturday night to a spokesman for Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, seeking the Democratic gubernatorial candidate’s position on the initiative…(more)

Which SF High-Rises Could Collapse in an Earthquake

By Joe Kukura : sfweekly – excerpt (includes list of 39 at risk buildings)

Transamerica Pyramid and Embarcadero Center towers are among nearly 40 high-rises at risk of collapse in an earthquake, according to a new study.

This ridiculous image from the 2015 San Andreas movie poster may have an ounce of truth to it, according to a recent study from the U.S. Geological Survey. The Transamerica Pyramid is among 39 San Francisco high-rise buildings that could collapse in an earthquake the magnitude of the 1906 quake, according to a new report the New York Times.

If you live or work in a downtown high-rise, you might want to immediately scroll down to the bottom of this article to see if your building is one of the 39 San Francisco high-rises built with an engineering technique that is now considered flawed… (more)

Maybe San Francisco is not such a great place to up-zone. No mention here of the fires that accompany earthquakes, or the power outage that will make all the electric systems obsolete, including banking and the public transportation systems.

As National Park Service regional HQ struggles with soaring Bay Area costs, Sen. Feinstein pushes back on plan to move out of state

By Hannah Norman : bizjournals.- excerpt

The U.S. National Park Service has become the latest casualty of San Francisco’s soaring office rents and housing crisis.

The federal agency plans to uproot its west regional office, which supervises 60 national parks throughout the western United States, from San Francisco’s Financial District for Vancouver, Washington.

“We have struggled with recruitment in San Francisco for years due to the high cost of living,” said Regional Director Stan Austin in a staff memo obtained by KQED. The move could save the agency $1.8 million a year with less money allocated toward paying its staff… (more)

The Park Service is not alone in its fight to attract workers as housing prices rise far faster than compensation. Just last month, the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates the state’s largest power companies, said it will be relocated many of its jobs from San Francisco to Sacramento. This move to decentralize comes after a more than 100-year stint in the city by the bay. The California Association of Realtors recently reported that a household in San Francisco needs to make $333,000 per year to afford a median-priced home of… (more)

How is this not somewhat amusing to those of us who are calling the PUC out for failing to regulate tech buses, Uber, Lyft, and the whole menagerie of “sharing” on-demand transportation systems that is largely responsible for the gentrification they are now fleeing. Does no one else see the irony in this? PUC is leaving the nightmare they created for San Francisco. How is this fair?

2018 mayoral candidate questionnaire: Mark Leno

hoodline – excerpt

Mark Leno interview re: how he anticipates supporting small businesses:

Many small business owners we interview complain about the city’s permitting and approval processes. What are your plans for making it easier for San Franciscans to become entrepreneurs?.

Today, one of the greatest roadblocks to the expansion and success of our small business community is the difficulty many face when working their way through our permitting and approvals processes. No small business owner or prospective entrepreneur should have to hire an expediter to do what city government itself should be doing. Far too often I’ve heard from small business owners who find themselves forced to pay for services that city government should provide. As mayor, I will be looking closely at the many hurdles our small business community faces, including the permit and appeals processes.

Rising commercial rents have driven many small businesses out of business, leaving vibrant corridors with an abundance of vacant storefronts throughout the city. Furthermore, delays and construction costs on transit improvement projects have been a major source of frustration – for residents, merchants and visitors. As a small business owner, I absolutely understand the negative effects merchants in the impact zone are facing.

One of my first priorities will also be to ensure there is a small business voice on the SFMTA, where the lack of small business representation is so clearly hurting our small businesses citywide. One example of this impact can be seen in the ongoing delays of the Geary BRT. Small business owners and prospective business owners along Geary struggle with the uncertainty of the completion of a project which would greatly affect their ability to attract and retain customers amid construction. SFMTA should be working with business owners to ensure important decision-making takes into consideration the impact on merchants and merchant corridors… (more)

Mark Leno promises to shake things up if he is elected Mayor and we anticipate some new faces at City Hall if that happens, as the status quo is obviously not working for the average citizen. The status quo is turning San Francisco into a corporate sports and entertainment arena. Our biggest effort to compete with Time Square for gaudiness is a giant pulsing tower raised to the skies.

Regardless of who is elected Mayor we will have new Commissioners and Board members. Hopefully new SFMTA Board members would consider unwinding the corporatization of our streets that has flourished under our current Board and, if it is Mark Leno, he can use some influence in Sacramento to suggest for changes to the PUC and state legislature. For some time we have been pointing to the PUC and we will continue to point that way until someone gets the message and takes action at the state level to reign in the corporate takeover of our state.

Rent Control Loophole Closed

By Nuala Sawyer : sfweekly – excerpt

Until this week, it was perfectly legal for new landlords to pass on their property taxes and debt services to rent-controlled tenants.

It’s been a bad month for Veritas. The massive real-estate corporation — which owns more than 250 apartment buildings citywide — was the subject of a ruthless City Hall hearing on May 16, where dozens of tenants took the mic to complain about squalid living conditions, unexplained rent increases, and never-ending construction. Sup. Jeff Sheehy, who called the hearing out of concern over the company’s business practices, called Veritas unethical for making “people’s lives unlivable.”

If you’re into Schadenfreude, it was highly entertaining to watch Veritas’ representatives squirm on the stand. But the hearing ended without any clear calls to action, essentially offering little more than a public finger-wagging at a company that’s been pushing rent-controlled tenants out through sneaky, barely-legal tactics for years.

This week, Sup. Sandra Fewer took the admonishments a step further. On Tuesday, she introduced legislation to the Board of Supervisors that would block one of Veritas’ sneakiest legal loopholes: passing on debt services and property taxes from newly-purchased buildings to the tenants who live there. In a rare show of solidarity, the Board approved the legislation unanimously, without a single amendment.

The legislation targets “operational and maintenance pass-throughs,” called O&Ms in tenant-rights circles. Under current law, large-scale property owners can use these pass-throughs to legally raise someone’s rent, even if they live in a rent-controlled unit. Each increase is reviewed (and nearly always approved) by the city’s Rent Board, and often adds around $70 to $200 to someone’s monthly rent… (more)