Protest caravan demands hotel rooms for homeless

By Garrett Leahy : 48hills – excerpt

Medical, faith, and homeless communities puts the obvious question: why isn’t the city moving to take over, and ultimately buy, failing hotels for housing?

The streets around City Hall were filled with the sounds of cars honking, wooting, and chants of “housing is the cure!” on Friday evening as roughly 50 cars participated in a caravan protest calling for the city to house San Francisco’s homeless population in hotel rooms as well as increase their focus on acquiring long term affordable housing for the homeless.

The cars passed by city hall, the Painted Ladies, and along Pierce St. near Mayor London Breed’s home. The caravan protest was organized by homeless rights advocacy organizations the Coalition on Homelessness, the Do No Harm Coalition, and Faith in Action.

“We’re coming from different directions but we have one common goal which is to house the vulnerable for moral reasons, for health reasons, and it’s for the benefit of us all,” said Reverend Sadie Stone, a pastor at the United Methodist Church on Sanchez St and a member of Faith in Action… (more)

Supes have plan to staff hotel rooms — but mayor ignores it

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Increasingly bitter divide at City Hall as SF misses ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity

Sup. Matt Haney, with the support of four of his colleagues, put forward a plan this week to address the staffing needs that the mayor says are preventing the city from moving homeless people into hotels.

The plan, and the mayor’s response, has showcased an increasingly bitter political divide at City Hall.

Hotel Numbers

Haney presented the plan at a virtual press conference where Sups. Hillary Ronen, Shamann Walton, and Dean Preston jointly denounced the failure of Mayor London Breed to abide by city law that requires the city to provide 8,250 hotel rooms for homeless people by this past Sunday.

As of yesterday, the city has only 880 homeless people in hotel rooms, and 621 have come from shelters where they were likely exposed to the virus. There are more than 1,000 rooms that the city is paying for but are now vacant.

The overwhelming messages from health-care and faith leaders was that the mayor is creating a moral and medical crisis…(more)

Move LA gets fully behind Peter Calthorpe’s vision

via email

Move LA is getting fully behind Peter Calthorpe’s vision of building new housing (including affordable housing) on major boulevards to replace underutilized retail and commercial spaces, and adding zero-emission bus lines to serve them. (While leaving existing residential neighborhoods alone.)

Here is what they are saying:

*Everyone knows there isn’t enough affordable housing in LA County* and that too many people live on the street. How are we going to expand the supply of housing for our low-income workforce and for people likely to become homeless as the economy flounders and more jobs are lost due to COVID-19?

Moreover, how can we rebuild transit ridership in urban neighborhoods served by transit when the people who use it the most can’t afford to live there anymore?

Move LA has a proposal about how to do this. We call it “Boulevards of Equity and Opportunity.”

First, we need sufficient land with good access to frequent transit where new neighborhoods can be built without requiring the demolition of existing housing or the displacement of residents. Second, we need policies in place and/or sufficient public capital to build housing affordable to low and moderate-income households in these new neighborhoods.

Below we discuss where we think we can find the land on which to build sufficient housing without displacement. Next week we will write about where we think we can find the resources to build a significant amount of affordable housing on this land.

What We Propose

We believe state and local governments should enable and encourage, even prioritize, multifamily mixed-income housing along commercial boulevards and in downtowns that are well-served by transit—especially zero-emission bus rapid transit (BRT)—where because of longstanding zoning policies little housing has been built.

LA County boulevards have long been dominated by commercial uses, but many of these boulevards declined as retail moved to shopping centers, a decline accelerated now by the increasing popularity of online shopping. Many are ready for reinvention and redevelopment.

The new mixed-use neighborhoods with multifamily housing that we propose building along these boulevards should include robust urban greening as well as improvements that make it both safe and appealing to walk and bike—which would help attract new residents as well as new development.

There are already very successful local examples of neighborhoods like this, including some dating back to the 1980s. We think it’s time to take this model to scale.

Local History with Mixed Use

In the late 1980s the cities of Pasadena and Santa Monica, for example, began experimenting with mixed-use development, adding multifamily housing  above ground floor commercial uses in Old Pasadena along Colorado Blvd and  around Santa Monica’s new Third Street Promenade. These initiatives necessitated challenging the specialized building codes and banking practices of the day.

To the surprise of many, people were eager to live in these neighborhoods. More than 3,000 units have been built in Santa Monica’s downtown since 1990 including 1,000 deed-restricted affordable units. This experiment in Santa Monica and Pasadena pioneered a new urban model for LA County.

In 2006 the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), concerned about the surge in regional population growth and sprawling development, released a study showing that if housing were built in downtowns and along commercial corridors served by frequent transit that all SoCal’s projected population growth could be accommodated on just 2% of the region’s land.

Enthusiastic essays about SCAG’s “2% Strategy” were written by experts ranging from renowned real estate developer and philanthropist Randall Lewis: The 2% Strategy  to author, urban planner and former City of Ventura Mayor Bill Fulton: If the 2% Strategy a Solution for Southern California? SCAG kept the momentum going with their Compass Blueprint planning grants program  and other cities in Southern California, including LA, began encouraging mixed-use developments on commercial boulevards.

There are dozens of boulevards in LA County where this program could work—including Victory, Vanowen, Vermont, Valley and Venice, to list just some of the “Vs.” Many were once served by the Pacific Electric Red Car; some were important contributors to local economies and are still commercially viable. But many had their heyday decades ago and could benefit from the changes we propose.

Where Do We Start?

Fundamentally this program requires a partnership between LA Metro, local cities and LA County. The State of California would need to create a fund for affordable housing as well. Metro has planned but also needs to prioritize implementation of BRT projects along the boulevards with significant potential for community development and ensure that the city in which the boulevard is located is willing to collaborate and sponsor the development of affordable housing.

Many other required policies and resources are already in place:
• Funding was dedicated in both Measures R and M to develop BRT lines. Three projects are moving forward and Metro is working to identify several more.
• Measures R and M also provide funding to cities for complete streets and for walkable/bikeable first-last-mile connections to transit.
• Statewide funding sources, including the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program funded by the state’s Cap-and-Trade dollars, could be tapped both for affordable housing and urban greening.
• Move LA sponsored SB 961, a bill authored by Sen. Ben Allen and signed into law by Gov. Brown in 2018, to allow cities and counties to create Neighborhood Infill Financing and Transit Infrastructure districts, called NIFTI-2 districts. This makes it possible to recreate a kind of community redevelopment district near transit, where tax increment financing can be used to build affordable housing in mixed-use mixed-income multifamily developments, as well as to fund transit infrastructure and urban greening.

We stress, however, that it is essential that we find a reliable source of funding for affordable housing at both the state and local levels if we want an affordable housing program to succeed. More on that soon.

We’ve Stirred Up Considerable Interest

In 2018, Move LA’s Executive Director Denny Zane—who had initiated the Third Street Promenade and the mixed-use planning model described above while mayor in Santa Monica—was awarded the Durfee Foundation’s Stanton Fellowship to develop a program that would essentially work toward realizing the 2% Strategy.

The intent was to marry Measures R and M’s commitment to BRT with a robust affordable housing program. He called this plan “Grand Boulevards,” but changed the name to “Boulevards of Equity and Opportunity” to emphasize the importance of creating new affordable housing and avoiding the loss of existing housing as well as the displacement of low-income families and longstanding commercial businesses.

Along the way Denny began a conversation with Peter Calthorpe, a San Francisco-based architect, urban designer, planner and principal/co-founder of UrbanFootprint company that provides cloud-based graphic GIS mapping and evaluative services that can help determine the potential for housing and transit ridership. Both were interested in the idea of building mixed-use development along underutilized commercial corridors served by transit as a way to create sustainable transit-oriented neighborhoods.

Last month we scheduled a symposium on the topic at SCAG — with Peter Calthorpe, Metro CEO Phil Washington, LA City Planning Director Vince Bertoni, Estolano Advisors CEO Cecilia Estolano (formerly CEO of the Community Redevelopment Agency in the City of LA), and many other speakers.

*We got so many RSVPs after just one emailed invitation we would have filled the room. And then came the coronavirus. We had to cancel the event.*

But we will stay the course. We are organizing several conversations on Zoom to discuss this further over the next three months. It is our near-term goal to convince at least one city or council of governments to become interested in beginning a boulevard planning process with Metro that can become a model for other cities.

*We will tell you more—in case you want to help!— in coming weeks.*

Gloria Ohland for Move LA

Move LA 2020: Boulevards of Opportunity

New restrictions on office space in new Mission District developments move forward

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

The Planning Commission on Thursday voted to prohibit most office space in some new developments in the Mission District.

The unanimous vote Thursday on a proposal from Supervisor Hillary Ronen is intended to boost housing in projects within the urban mixed use (UMU) district that includes the South of Market, Potrero Hill, and the central waterfront, which was created to allow for residential and office space while preserving industrial uses.

The restrictions approved Thursday no longer allow new office space in the upper levels of certain developments within the UMU district, but scale back Ronen’s original proposal to include only the Mission District… (more)

“It’s unfortunate and inequitable to change the rules after it’s gone before the Planning Commission,”

It is also unfortunate and inequitable for a property owner to purchase a property under one set of rules and then lobby to change them. This is what is happening thanks to our state representatives that have bent over backyards to protect the interests of the wealthy landowners at the expense of the rest of society. Wall Street on Main Street is what we have in San Francisco, or in this case, on Harrison.

We shall see how many tech office spaces we need after this epidemic passes. They may build them and nobody may want them after all.

Fortunately, we have a choice of electing new representatives to serve us in Sacramento. Here is one option: https://jackieforsenate.com/

Rent Voucher Program Legislation Introduced for COVID-19 Impacted Tenants

connect – excerpt

The California Apartment Association (CAA) introduced a legislative proposal that would help both landlords and renters endure the financial difficulties brought on by COVID-19. The Sacramento-based association sponsored a bill, SB 1410 by Sen. Lena Gonzalez, D-Long Beach, that would set up a system for the state of California to make direct rental payments to help tenants who cannot afford to pay their rent. SB 1410 would cover at least 80% of unpaid rent attributable to the pandemic.

CAA’s Debra Carlton says, “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought frightening and uncertain times, leaving many Californians with health challenges and economic difficulties. Sen. Gonzalez has offered a solution that will help housing providers continue to pay their bills, and their employees, while also making it a little easier for struggling renters to get back on their feet financially when the pandemic ends.”

Eligible renters for the temporary COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program would include those who can demonstrate, as determined by the Department of Housing and Community Development, an inability to pay rent due to COVID-19 or a government response to the COVID-19 pandemic….(more)

 

What, exactly, is going to get built on Geary and Masonic?

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

It was first described as a mixed-use development, then as housing for families …. and now it’s furnished studios for ‘students and visiting professors.’

Just before the Board of Supes voted to approve a new 101-unit project on Geary and Masonic, we learned a critical piece of information:

The developer isn’t planning just to build housing for “working people and families” It’s going to be at least in part furnished rentals, which often becomes corporate rentals.

Sup. Dean Preston said that the developer told him the project only “pencils out” if a significant amount of it is furnished rentals – which bring in higher prices.

“All of their projections are based on furnished rentals,” Preston said. He said the developer needed 19 percent return, that 17 percent wasn’t enough.

The project, the supervisors were told, will be financed by a union pension fund…

So the project – whatever it actually is going to turn out to be – was approved 10-1. But the question still remains: Why is the city going along with a developer’s demand that the rules be relaxed for financial reasons – when nobody but a few supervisors have been able to see the data?… (more)

Road map to a new start for San Francisco

By Connie Chan : sfexaminer – excerpt

We need to invest in working people

During this time of unprecedented public health crisis, I am as proud as ever to be a San Franciscan. I am grateful for all the hard work of our first responders, health care workers, educators and city workers, and for their dedication and service to keep our City safe and healthy. The quick actions from our city and state in response to COVID-19 may well save many lives in the coming weeks, and I remain hopeful that the City’s relief efforts will help provide some immediate support to our renters, working families, and small businesses..

Unfortunately, the social and economic impacts of this crisis will be devastating and far reaching. We may be facing a new era in which we need to fundamentally change how we live and conduct business. To address the impacts, I propose the New Start San Francisco plan. This plan will put forth transparent and coordinated efforts to leverage newly available state and federal funds to support job retraining and assistance for small businesses, invest in housing security for the homeless and working families and make much needed improvements to our public health system…

We must learn the lessons of COVID-19 and remember that for San Francisco to stay strong and thrive, we must invest in working people first.

Connie Chan is a longtime public servant, Richmond District resident and candidate for District 1 Supervisor...(more)