SF’s Flawed $438 Million Bond Proposal

By Randy Shaw : beyondchron – excerpt

Bond Fails to Prioritize COVID19 Priorities

Mayor Breed’s proposed $438 million “Health and Recovery Bond” raises serious questions about city priorities. Much if not most of the proposed spending does not meet COVID-19 needs. The Board of Supervisors must revise it before it gets to the ballot… (more)

If the bond doesn’t meet the COVID-19 needs of the city, the voters can always oppose it. There is no reason to encourage a waste of funds during an economic crisis. By November the crisis will be real if things do not improve soon.

Cleanup wizard in a messy scandal / DPW aide has faced string of complaints

By Lance Williams, Mark Fainaru-Wada, Chronicle Staff Writers : sfgate – excerpt

He transformed a tiny San Francisco gardening co-op into a national model for urban job-training programs. Then he emerged as City Hall’s point man in a high-profile war on grime and graffiti.

But almost from the day in 2000 when he became an executive in the city Department of Public Works, there were complaints about how Mohammed Nuru, the dynamic protégé of then-Mayor Willie Brown, conducted the public’s business.

Nuru has emerged as a central figure in a City Hall scandal involving alleged voting improprieties in the December runoff election won by Mayor Gavin Newsom. But according to public records and interviews, Nuru has been the subject of repeated complaints about alleged mishandling of taxpayers’ funds.

Some staffers complained that Nuru, paid $150,867 a year, bent civil service rules to replace city workers with trainees from the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners, or SLUG, the nonprofit he formerly ran...(more)

Is America Built on a House of Cards?


Single family homes in California are under attack by State Senator Scott Wiener and his supporters who claim that “single family homes remove affordable housing for people of color and poor people because they cannot live in single family homes”. Moms 4 Housing just proved him wrong. Photo by zrants

By Richard Colman, in response to the material that appeared in The Economist on Jan. 18, 2020, titled  Home ownership is the West’s biggest economic-policy mistake”

In addition, The Economist (same issue) also provided a very long article on housing.

Basically, The Economist argued that America’s gross domestic product (the total output of good and services) would be higher if housing were not given such favorable treatment by government.

The Economist gave examples of housing policies in Germany, Singapore, and Switzerland.  The magazine wrote favorably of the housing policies in these nations.

The Economist argued that an individual could earn more income by investing in stocks than in home ownership.

In America, the problem is this:  A renter is subject to the whims of a landlord.

We have seen too many Americans lose their places to live because of landlords and other eviction-related factors.

Personally, I know of too many Americans who became homeless or almost homeless because they were renters, not owners.

The property tax in America is really a wealth tax.  Normally, there is no tax on an asset unless and until the asset is sold.  However, in America, the property tax is levied on residential property (and commercial property) while the property is still in the owner’s possession.

Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) has called for a wealth on high-income people.  Sen. Warren has not acknowledged that existing American property taxes are a wealth tax.

Sen. Warren has proposed a two percent tax on household net worth between $50 million and $1 billion.  She has also proposed a four percent tax (a six percent tax overall) on households net worth above $1 billion.

Here is a key question:  If Sen. Warren’s plans become law, how much time will elapse before her wealth tax is applied to lower levels of income?

In 1913, the United States adopted the personal income tax.  Initially, the rates were very low.  Now, more than 100 years later, the income-tax rates are much higher.

Perhaps the time has come to eliminate the property tax and replace it with some other form of taxation (or no taxation at all).

If you want my personal opinion, I feel better about Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) and former Vice President Joe Biden (D-Delaware) than I do about Sen. Warren.

I also liked Bill Clinton’s economic policies.  Bill Clinton, with help from:  Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia), speaker of the House from 1995 to 1998; Trent Lott (R-Mississippi), Senate majority leader; and Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, helped produce a strong economy.  Gingrich and Lott wanted a balanced budget.  Clinton agreed as long as Social Security and Medicare were not touched.

From 1995-1999, Bill Clinton and company produced four consecutive balanced budgets and decreased the national debt.  Twenty-two million jobs were created.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average went from 3,000 to almost 12,000 during Clinton’s two terms.

In 1837, the national debt was zero.  By 1981, the national debt reached $1 trillion.  Today, the national debt is $23 trillion.  Is a day of reckoning coming?

Government has a tendency to ask taxpayers for more and more money.  Over the last 10 years, Californians have seen higher sales taxes, higher gasoline taxes, and higher state income taxes.  Currently, California has the nation’s highest state sales tax, the nation’s highest state gasoline tax, and the highest top bracket (13.3 percent) for the state income tax.

At some point, a tax revolt in California may occur.  Dan Walters, who was a columnist for the Sacramento Bee for many years and now writes for www.calmatters.org, has a reputation for fairness and objectivity.  Walters recently wrote that Californians may be on the verge of “tax exhaustion.”

What do you think?

Richard Colman has lived in Orinda, California, for 20 years and is the president and founder of Biomed Inc., a biotechnology, and publishing company.

Meet Scott Wiener’s Democratic Socialist Re-Election Challenger

: sfweekly – excerpt

Public Bank

Jackie Fielder knows she would be a relatively rarity when it comes to working-class people in power.

Building on the momentum of recent electoral wins for progressives, state Sen. Scott Wiener faces a challenger running to to his left.

Jackie Fielder, a democratic socialist activist, pulled papers on Monday to run against Wiener for his California Senate District 11 re-election bid, SF Weekly has learned. Wiener, a former supervisor, narrowly won his first term to represent San Francisco, Daly City and Colma in 2016 after beating progressive board colleague Jane Kim, though not in the primary.

But Fielder feels motivated by the November victories over incumbents that brings reformer Chesa Boudin as District Attorney and democratic socialist Dean Preston as District 5 Supervisor

She gives Wiener credit as a smart policy wonk but is troubled by his, and much of the California Legislature’s, support from real estate interests. He authored Senate Bill 50, a controversial re-zoning bill that was shelved after uproar for its feared exacerbation of gentrification. In a message to supporters earlier this month, Wiener touted success in authoring 36 signed bills around LGBT rights, mass incarceration, climate change, health care and mental health… (more)

Since this article ran, opponents have dropped out of the race. A major issue will be Scott Wiener’s SB50 and the top down dense housing legislation he is pushing. Many California voters are appalled at efforts by Sacramento politicians to override the constitutional authorities of local governments and communities to design their cities the way they prefer to live. Since Senator Wiener is pushing these objectionable bills, we anticipate a large amount of support for his opponent from outside the district.

Revitalizing SF’s historic piers: Next step could start a fight

By Roland Li : sfchronicle – excerpt

The Port of San Francisco is planning to seek a developer to revitalize up to four historic piers and two other structures on the city’s northeast Embarcadero — but a longtime local activist is calling for a pause…

Jon Golinger, a longtime North Beach activist who has successfully fought previous projects at the same piers, wants to see an update to the Waterfront Land Use Plan before a request for proposals moves forward.

An updated plan was developed by the 32-member Waterfront Plan Working Group between 2015 and 2018. The update calls for water recreation, public waterfront access, parks and open space, along with higher revenue generators in pier sheds to help finance projects at the piers… (more)

FIX THE MESS FIRST and move slowly into the next big project on the bay. We have seen this movie before, and now that our governor is suing again, San Francisco should be very careful to follow the rules and be as transparent as possible over the development on the Bay.

It is being sold off at a pretty fast pace. There is a renewed push for costly dredging on Treasure Island in spite of a recent decision to kill that idea, and a renewed push to put in ferry lines that will further impact access to the Bay.
It is not a bad idea to pause while all these projects are melded into a solid plan. We only have one Bay and and we don’t need any more fast poorly executed projects while we are in the midst of fixing the host of disasters bought on by eager investors. Let’s get this right the first time please.


An ethics pledge for the district attorney race

By Larry Bush : 48hills – excerpt

Two candidates agree not to take money from DA Office employees, bail bonds companies or corporate PACs. It’s a start.

Two candidates for district attorney, Chesa Boudin and Leif Dautch, have created an ethics pledge for the campaign, and it takes us further toward making the city’s chief law enforcement office less susceptible to the influence of pay-to-play politics that can affect everything from who gets hired, who raises money for DA candidates, and special interest corporate money… (more)

How to not build in San Francisco: Maximus and the so-called ‘Monster in the Mission’

By Joe Eskenazi : missionlocal – excerpt

After several aggravating years and little progress, the aspirational developers of the so-called Monster in the Mission may be putting the ball in your court, city voters.

Late last year, after many moons of strife and harsh invective and dueling rallies and community mobilizations, a major development was erected on the 16th Street BART Plaza.

And there was much rejoicing. For it was a ping-pong table.

People do play. But it’s been raining something fierce of late. Perhaps a few men or women could take shelter beneath this sturdy table. This city is, after all, so lacking in places to stay.

Maximus Real Estate Partners — Rob Rosania, founder and “lead visionary” — would like to build housing on the plaza, an errant smash away from the ping pong table. Quite a lot of housing. But, after dropping some $42 million for this land, and investing years — and plenty more money — wrangling with any and all comers, the 1979 Mission St. project remains an ethereal watercolor… (more)

The Sierra Club and the luxury-housing developer

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

Northern Alameda chapter backs San Leandro project in a sign that the pro-growth forces are trying to take over the environmental group.

Are you a Sierra Club member who lives in Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville, Alameda, Piedmont or San Leandro? If so, you fall under the aegis of the club’s Northern Alameda County Group, which is nested within the larger Bay Chapter.

Be aware, then, that the NAC Executive Committee is currently dominated by a pro-growth coterie that’s exploiting the Sierra Club’s cachet to push a pro-development agenda that violates the club’s commitments to affordable housing, neighborhood integrity, and democratic governance.

If you’re a Sierra Club member who lives elsewhere in the Bay Area, you should also be concerned. The growth boosters on the NAC Ex Com include two men who wield considerable influence in the Bay Chapter, Igor Tregub and Andy Katz. Tregub also chairs the chapter Executive Committee. Both he and Katz sit on the Bay Chapter’s Political Committee, which makes the Sierra Club’s endorsements of political candidates and ballot measures. In the Bay Area, where the club claims nearly 60,000 members, and environmental values are widely embraced, Sierra Club endorsements carry a lot of weight. (UPDATE: Tregub tells me he has stepped down from the Political Committee, which only makes advisory recommendations on endorsements.)

This is an alarming trend for the club; already in San Francisco, Yimbys have tried to take over the local chapter (and so far failed). But the pro-development forces know that placing people on the boards of all-volunteer organizations is not that difficult. There’s little doubt that “smart growth” advocates are trying to shift the influential Sierra Club in their direction, locally and nationally(more)

Neighbors, activists vent about planned development at 16th, Mission streets

By J. K. Dineen : sfchronicle – excerpt (includes video)

Opponents of the proposed development at 16th and Mission streets delivered a blistering message to the San Francisco Planning Commission on Thursday night at Mission High School. Speaker after speaker ripped the project as a luxury complex that would worsen the displacement and gentrification that have become as synonymous with the neighborhood as burritos and murals… (more)

Planning Commissioners will continue to review the two alternatives. Maximus has threatened to bring the project to the voters if they do not get their plan approved.


Supes close to deal on budget ‘windfall’

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Mar offers plan to fund teacher raises, and it appears the progressive supes are going along, setting up a confrontation with the mayor.

With a hearing on Mayor London Breed’s proposal to spend most of the city’s education-money windfall on homeless services set for tomorrow, there is growing consensus among progressives on the board that some of that money should go to the school district.

Sources tell me that meetings with educators over the past two days have been productive and that Breed’s proposal will either be amended in committee or replaced with a new plan…

“Voters made it clear that they want to give teachers a raise, fund supportive housing, and early education, and we can and should respect the will of the voters. With this amendment, we can fund the goals of June’s propositions C and G, as well as November’s proposition C, all of which I strongly supported” Mar said in a press release…

The money comes from an excess in property-tax collections beyond what the state mandates much go to public education. It has been described as a one-time windfall, but this insightful piece by Joe Eskenazi at Mission Local suggests that the city may be taking in an additional $200 million or more every year for several years to come… (more)