OPINION: Why political money should be a top issue in the mayor’s race

By Larry Bush : 48hills – excerpt

Hidden money seeks to control SF politics

Pay to Play belongs at the top of the issues in the mayor’s campaign if for no other reason the hundreds of thousands (soon to be a million plus) that pour into independent expenditure committees to elect or defeat candidates.

What do these big-money donors want, why do they think they can get it, and how will they get it?

Point one: the past is not prologue. Once, we could track the source of funds going to a candidate, and it could signal what the candidate didn’t say him or herself. Tobacco money, casino money, realtors, energy companies, and others were flashing signals.

Point two: officials now have many routes for money to play a role beyond direct contributions. Well-heeled backers pick up airfare, hotel and travel expenses for officials. Corporations banned from making campaign contributions instead give in response to a candidate’s request, often to pay for the official’s own project. In the past eight years or so, more than $22 million flowed at the request of the mayor, various supervisors and others. Often it came in checks for $1 million or more. Officials sometimes establish nonprofits, and the next mayor could pay for a big-time inaugural with that money.

Some officials and many donors don’t want you to be able to follow the money, or even for you to know if they are meeting with money men and women.

Contributors hide through a thicket of committees, sending money through one that then goes to another that in turn pays into a third or even a fourth. Ann Ravel, past chair of the FPPC, sued over that tactic when unnamed sources poured millions into a California ballot fight — but we couldn’t get to the first original before it flowed through back channels….

That’s what is at issue in this election: a status quo that we can see rewards those with the most and requires those with the least (including middle-income residents) to pay the share that others aren’t paying… (more)

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California Apartment Landlords Dump Properties Ahead of Rent Control Vote

By Laura Kusisto : wsj – excerpt

Investors, housing advocates gear up for a fight, expected to spend tens of millions of dollars on campaigning

A push to expand rent control in California is sending a chill through the state’s apartment industry, prompting more investors to sell properties or hold off on buying.

Ben Lamson, whose family owned just under 100 apartments in the Inland Empire area in southern California, said he has sold about 70 units and is in contract to sell the remaining ones. He is taking all the money and investing it in properties in the Las Vegas area, he said…

“These renter groups are starting to speak out and say, ‘These rents are ridiculous.’ They’ve gotten more organized than they ever have been,” he said. “I started getting a little freaked out or a little scared or concerned [that] this could really happen.”.

In late April, a coalition of housing advocates said they submitted some 595,000 signatures, more than enough to get a measure on the ballot in November to repeal Costa Hawkins, state legislation that prevents cities and towns from imposing rent control on buildings constructed after 1995 and on single-family rentals.

Both sides are gearing up for a fight and are expected to spend tens of millions of dollars on campaigning… (more)

The threat of returning rent control decisions to the local governments by repealing  state controls seems to be having some effects already.

SF needs a mayor who will tax, spend, and regulate

By Calvin Welch : 48hills – excerpt

City-Hall-Chessboard

A new life-size Chessboard has appeared in front of City Hall as a reminder that old-fashioned political strategies can work as well, if not better, than money, media buys and sound bites. Sim City does not exist in the real world, people do and people vote. Regardless who wins, new games will begin after the June 5 election. photo by zrants.

Consider a short list of the realities facing our next mayor:

The social/economic/cultural transformation of the city through unchecked hyper-gentrification caused by a development policy that has, at its heart, maximizing speculative real-estate profit at the expense of existing residents and the businesses and activities that serve them…(more)

A local-government public sector dominated by bureaucrats, policies and programs that see “facilitating the market” as the primary goal of government…

An alarming under-investment in our urban public infrastructure …

A growing assault on local democratic government specifically aimed at San Francisco led by, at the state level, real estate speculators and their legislator allies seeking an end to “local control”…

The rapidly growing re-segregation of our civic life involving the toxic brew of race and income inequality,..

Given these realities, the June 5th election for mayor has the unmistakable feeling of being a directional election defining San Francisco’s future… (more)

The tax and spend part will be a matter or who is taxed and how the money is spent. There is a growing resentment of government overreach into citizens’ lifstyles and pockets that runs counter to government priorities that appear to favor more government employees and larger tax bases to support them. Workers and consumers, overwhelmed by the load now, are being asked to sign onto more debt. They may balk and repeal some of the taxes. At least one recall is in play now. More could follow.

Resolution Opposing SB 827

April 21, 2018

Open Letter to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors:

Re: Resolution Opposing SB 827

Thank you for supporting the resolution opposing Senator Wiener’s SB 827 that would take control of development decisions from local communities and allow the state legislature to remove the options of opposing inappropriate controversial development projects and eliminate the possibility of improving them.

There are many reasons to oppose this bill, but, the major concern shared by opponents is the loss of local control over development decisions. This power must remain in the hands of local authorities. SB 827 establishes a policy of state control over local communities that is dangerous and unwelcome by citizens concerned about the centralization of an overly aggressive state government. At a time when our state policies are threatened by the national government it makes no sense for the state to use similar tactics on our local communities. In plain English, the state needs to leave us alone and protect our interests, not disrupt our lives.

A one-size-fits-all development policy does not work in California. Our state contains a wide range of natural geographic features and natural treasures that need to be protected not exploited. The California deserts, snow-capped mountain peaks, dense redwood forests, and sweeping ocean views have drawn world-wide attention and visitors for over a century. Travelers come for the unparalleled views, not the sports arenas. Taming this land is not in the best interest of our state or humanity. As grand as the land, it is unstable and we have limited resources for unlimited population growth. Some areas are best left to growing crops and raising livestock, not building dense cities.

No one wants to be disrupted or have their lives turned upside down by people whose goal in life is to suck the gold out of the land in a quest for wealth based on changing society. We have seen the results of allowing disruptive industries to grow and thrive unchecked, and we are now trying to reign them in. We cannot make that mistake by overdeveloping the entire state.

Thanks to our local government officials for helping the concerned citizens of California opposing SB 827 and all the other bills that remove local power and hand it over to the state. We appreciate you more than you know.

Sincerely,

Concerned citizens of San Francisco

UPDATE on SB 827: Thanks to the unprecedented opposition to this bill by city and county leaders and citizens all over the state that are now aware of the attempts to undermine the balance of powers by some state representatives in Sacramento, it appears that SB 827 may be dead this year. We understand that the Transportation and Housing Committee members received thousands of letter and requests to oppose the bill. Thanks to everyone who helped kill SB 827. There are more of those coming. Find out about the methods our state representatives are using to push these bills through and how you can stop them.

Come to the SB 827 and Beyond event sponsored by CSFN. Find out how your can protect the sunset from up-zoning by state edict.

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Saturday, April 28, 10 AM, in the Koret Auditorium at the Main SF Library at 100 Larkin Street. Next to Civic Center BART stop.

The Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods will sponsor a forum on the Scott Wiener legislation that is shaking up the state of California. This will be a great opportunity to learn the real facts behind SB 827 and other controversial attempts to change the way California cities are developed.

Find out why people want to protect the local planning process now controlled by our local communities. Speakers: Art Agnos, Former SF Mayor; Zelda Bronstein, Former Berkeley Planning Commissioner; Calvin Welsh, Affordable Housing Advocate; Sophie Maxwell, Former SF Supervisor.

Co-sponsors include: West of Twin Peaks Council, Stand Up for San Francisco, Noe Valley Neighborhood Council, SF Neighborhood Network, Van Ness Corridor Neighborhoods, Livable California.

Due to recent events there may be other speakers and new information on the efforts our state legislation that our representatives are pushing in Sacramento to override our local planning processes.

RSVP : http://evite.me/Cepn64gPT6

RELATED:
Letters to the Editor: California Legislature was right to reject transit-housing bill

SF supervisors thumb noses at SB 827

By Michael Toren : missionlocal – excerpt (includes video)

Board of Supervisors candidate Sonja Trauss escorted off by sheriff’s deputy after wading into crowd of opposing protesters

Sonja exposed

Trauss exposed. Officers separated the two sides though they did not stop the vocal YIMBY chants from disrupting the speakers. Trauss exposed photo by zrants.

Following dueling press conferences, protests and counter-protests, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday went on record about SB 827, Sen. Scott Weiner’s bill in the California legislature that would reduce restrictions on height and density for residential developments near transit lines.

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Jane Kim and Aaron Peskin spoke in opposition to SB 827 photo by zrants

They don’t like it… (more)

Scott Weiner’s SB 827 loses. Residents, homeowners, and city officials win this Will Scott Wiener and the rest of our representatives in Sacramento get the message Aaron Peskin tried to send that the help we need from the state is: Repeal Costa-Hawkins, Amend the Ellis Act and send buckets of money to help solve the homeless problem. We do not a state takeover of local jurisdiction and constant CEQA amendments. There are hundreds of entitled projects in the pipeline that are stalled for physical reasons that have nothing to do with permitting.

As anyone attempting to do any repairs, remodeling, or building knows, there is a severe labor shortage in the construction industry, and importing foreign labor is not easy. There is a shortage of materials and costs are going through the roof due to federal manipulations and an impending trade war. Higher interest rates are drying financing options. The legislation may want to consider how to solve these problems instead of harassing local communities.

RELATED:

Wiener endorses Breed as battle over SB 827 heats up

Move puts state senator on the same side as group that has attacked his longtime friend and mentor, Mark Leno… (more)

SB 827: Land grab in South L.A. communities of color

Not since the “Urban Renewal” projects of the 60s has something so radical and detrimental been proposed…

You will be hard-pressed to find a bill in the state legislature proposed by a Democrat that is a bigger threat to the stability of our community than SB 827, authored by state Sen. Scott Weiner, R-San Francisco…(more)

Note these Southern California residents refer to Senator Wiener as “Republican Senator Scott Weiner”.

We don’t need to destroy the Sunset to save San Francisco

By Jane Kim : medium – excerpt

State politicians have been rushing forward a “transit oriented” housing proposal that will allow virtually unlimited construction of luxury condos throughout San Francisco.

The proposal is Senate Bill 827 (SB 827) and it allows developers to build up to 8 stories of luxury housing in areas that meet “minimum levels of transit service.” 96% of San Francisco’s parcels, including the Sunset, Richmond, Excelsior and Chinatown meet this standard. And the proposal upzones our entire City without increasing developer contribution to transit, parks, schools or other services critical to sustaining our neighborhoods. This is not how we build housing or grow livable cities…

Meanwhile, the cities who refuse to invest in public transit aren’t required to build any new housing. In fact, SB 827 rewards bad actors who refuse to build public transit or housing — sorely needed throughout the region. The Sierra Club California opposes this “pro-environment” bill writing, “While infill development near transit is the most desirable option, we believe that [SB 827] is a heavy-handed approach to encourage development that will ultimately lead to less transit being offered and more pollution generated, among other unintended consequences.”…

This plan is a failure. We can build more housing without destroying our neighborhoods...(more)

 

No Vacancy for the Homeless

By Joe Eskenazi ; sfpublicpress – excerpt (includes audio link and graphs)

Dozens of Residential Hotels Have Rooms to Spare, but Officials Cannot Force Owners to Rent

Every night, thousands of San Franciscans have no place to sleep. And yet, every night hundreds — possibly thousands — of single-room occupancy hotel units are left empty.

According to the latest count, 4,353 people were living unsheltered in our city. Among them, 1,020 were between 18 and 24 years old. If, by some alchemy, the city could beam them into these empty rooms, the entire population of homeless youths and a decent number of older adults could be indoors by nightfall…

Over the past 20 years, San Francisco has underwritten the price of thousands of formerly homeless residents’ rooms in private hotels run by nonprofits. But now it is a seller’s market. Hotel owners can charge upward of $2,000 for rooms in hotels formerly occupied by the down and out. Other owners are holding those rooms empty, perhaps in search of an even bigger payout down the road when they sell their buildings…(more)