SF is losing affordable housing almost as fast as we can build it

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Planning Dept. report shows that evictions are erasing about 70 percent of the city’s affordable housing gains


It doesn’t help much to build a lot of new affordable housing if we lose almost as much to evictions. Photo by Zrants

The Planning Department has released its latest report on how the city’s affordable housing balance is coming along, and it’s not pretty.

The report, which will be discussed at the Planning Commission Thursday/1, is required under city law. It’s supposed to show the progress San Francisco is making toward its official housing goals… (more)


SF officials and residents face off at heated meeting on homeless shelter

Laura Wenus : misisonlocal – excerpt

Crowd of people who didn’t get into the meeting were promised a second meeting. Photo by Zrants

At an emotional community debate Monday night some 200 Mission residents squared off with top city officials and one another over the burdens and benefits that a temporary homeless shelter will bring to a neighborhood severely impacted by tent encampments.

At issue is the city’s plan to place a Navigation Center – a low-barrier homeless shelter that offers its clients on-site access to supportive services – in a vacant lot and electrical building at 1515 South Van Ness Ave. The property will then be developed into mixed-use housing.

“People are stepping over homeless people, they are finding needles, this Navigation Center is only going to create a bigger problem because it is not a solution, it is only a patch on the problem,” said one nearby resident.

But those who spoke in support for the temporary homeless shelter at a Monday night’s public hearing, said any solution is better than the status quo…

“The decision has been made,“ said Ronen, adding that the Navigation Center will likely be up and running by June 1 and it will be open from six to nine months.  Last month, Ronen struck a deal with the site’s developer, Lennar Multifamily Communities, to allow city use of the space as a homeless shelter until construction permits for the 157-unit housing project are finalized…(more)


It’s a perfect storm’: homeless spike in rural California linked to Silicon Valley

by Lauren Hepler : theguardian – excerpt

The heartland best known for supplying nearly 25% of America’s food is experiencing a rise in homelessness that can be traced in part to the tech boom

t first glance, the rusted metal pens in the central California town of Patterson look like an open-air prison block. But for Devani Riggs, “the cages”, abandoned since the days they were used to store the bounty of the self-proclaimed apricot capital of the world, play a very different role.

“This one was mine. That one was Patty and Pete,” said Riggs, a 3o-year-old homeless woman, adding that dozens of people had slept in the cramped enclosures.

California’s Central Valley is best known for supplying nearly 25% of the country’s food, including 40% of the fruit and nuts consumed each year. Yet today, backcountry places such as Patterson, population 22,000, are experiencing an increase in homelessness that can be traced, in part, to an unlikely sounding source: Silicon Valley… (more)

Looks like we have to repeal Costa Hawkins for the sake of everyone in the state. The real estate bubble is destroying the lives of people all over, not just in Silicon Valley and the big cities. This is a marketing scheme and it needs to be exposed for what it is. Re-instating rent control should remove the tensions caused by real estate speculation that is tearing us apart.

Supervisors Introduce Legislation To Fight Fraudulent Owner Move-In Evictions

by Sara Gaiser : BayCityNews – excerpt

Photo by Zrants

Supervisors agree this is not the homeless solution for San Francisco. It is better to keep people in their homes if we don’t want them living like this. 

Two pieces of legislation were introduced to the Board of Supervisors yesterday, aiming to make it harder for landlords to fraudulently evict tenants by falsely claiming they plan to live in the property.

Both pieces of legislation, introduced by Supervisor Mark Farrell and by Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Jane Kim, would require property owners who conduct “owner move-in” evictions to sign a declaration under oath that they plan to follow all eviction laws.

Under state law, property owners are allowed to evict tenants if they plan to live in a residence themselves or to have a family member live there.

Once they do so, however, they are required to keep the unit off the rental market for at least three years. If they return it to the rental market, the original tenant has the right to re-rent it at the same rent, plus any allowable increases.

In practice, however, there is little enforcement of this requirement, and reports of fraud, with landlords returning the property to the market for much higher rents, are widespread… (more)

People who complain about the homeless living on the streets should applaud any program that keeps people in their homes. We need to somehow create an administrative policy that sets up procedures for enforcing the laws. It is good to see the Supervisors are working on it. We should support their efforts and watch our state legislature to be sure Sacramento does its part in protecting tenants by supporting enforcement of local laws. If Sacramento can’t fix the Ellis Act laws they can at least stay out of the way of local jurisdictions so we can handle the problem at home.

The peculiar priorities of Mayor Ed Lee

by Susan Dyer Reynolds : marinatimes – excerpt

Tents in the Mission photo by zrants

According to recent data compiled by American City Business Journals, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is the highest paid mayor in America with an annual salary of $289,000. I guess with a $9.6 billion budget, that’s a drop in the proverbial bucket. It’s certainly not merit-based: As San Franciscans grow angrier about the condition of their once fair city, Lee’s approval number has plummeted to the low 40s, with those who “strongly approve” of his performance in single digits.

Perpetually perched atop glorious lists such as “best places to visit,” San Francisco now takes titles like “worst roads in the nation.” A November 2016 study by the National Transportation Research Group found that 71 percent of San Francisco’s roads are in poor condition — that’s worse than any other city with a population of 500,000 or more. Drivers here pay nearly $1,000 on average for auto damage caused by those rough rides. Lee’s answer is of course to add another layer of bureaucracy called “the fix-it team,” with a “fix-it director” (yes, that’s the official title) who reports directly to him. Are you telling me with a budget bigger than the nations of Haiti, Belize, Aruba, Jamaica, Cuba, and the Bahamas combined, bigger than 13 U.S. states, bigger than every U.S. city per capita except Washington, D.C., that we can’t get potholes fixed without creating another six-figure middle management job?(more)

A lot to think about. San Francisco has a lot of priorities lining up for a handout. The public needs to be involved in priority discussions, as there will be cuts coming soon. A hiring freeze would be a good place to start. We don’t need any more six figure staff. We also need to admit which of the experiments on our streets are not working. The figured out that removing trash cans was leading to more trash on the street so they are returning the cans. How much money did we spend on that experiment?

Airbnb Ousts Nearly 1,000 SF Home Listings

By Joe Kukura : sfweekly – excerpt

Home-sharing service removes 923 San Francisco listings from landlords who are renting out too many locations on the site.

If you’re running an Airbnb side gig with multiple apartments or homes listed in San Francisco, your gig may be up. The apartment and home-sharing service has scrubbed 923 San Francisco listings from its site for hosts who had multiple homes for rent on their account….

Airbnb notes in a press release that they have removed nearly 1,000 San Francisco listings in the 11 months since the policy went into effect here… (more)


Will San Francisco Embrace ‘Sanctioned’ Camps for the Homeless?

By Zachary Clark : SFPublicPress – excerpt

Despite acceptance in the Northwest, tent villages on vacant land have been a hard sell to Mayor Lee’s office

San Francisco voters expressed their frustration with tent encampments by banning them from sidewalks in the November election. One controversial solution to getting street dwellers into housing involves temporary, “sanctioned” camps like those being tried out around the Bay Area, elsewhere on the West Coast and across the country.

As a concept, sanctioned encampments are city-approved communities of self-managed homeless people living in tents or tiny structures, generally on underused city-owned or leased property. Amenities typically include portable toilets, showers, trash pickups, food deliveries and kitchen space. The idea is to minimize the proliferation of tents along sidewalks while honoring the autonomy of residents and streamlining efforts to support them. They are meant to be a stepping stone to permanent housing.

San Francisco officials, however, have not been keen on the idea. During a recent interview on KALW-FM radio, Jeff Kositsky, director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, said the city favors its “navigation centers,” which provide emergency short-term shelter, over sanctioned encampments. He also told the Public Press that approved, self-managed encampments such as those in Seattle and Portland “have all failed miserably” by essentially reinforcing, instead of resolving, homelessness.

One local activist hopes to win him over.

Amy Farah Weiss, founder of the nonprofit Saint Francis Homelessness Challenge and a 2015 mayoral candidate, has led the effort to gather support for city-approved camp spaces, which she calls “sanctioned transitional villages.” These villages would operate within the system for people unable to find permanent housing after a 30-day stay in a navigation centers.

Weiss said she has private funding to test the idea here. Two local philanthropists have pledged $20,000 for a three-month pilot program to house 10 to 15 people, including couples, in 10 structures, Weiss said. The donors wish to remain anonymous but say the pledge is guaranteed… (more)

What Happens to San Francisco’s Medical Safety Net Under the Republican Bill?

By Laura Klivan : kqed – excerpt

In her office in Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Dr.  Alice Chen pulled down a blue box she keeps on top of a file cabinet. She set it on her lap and leafed through a stack of thank-you notes, until she found one from a former patient that she wanted to read aloud.

“I feel enormously fortunate to have been granted such a willing and able team to support me during such a tough period,” she read.

The grateful patient who wrote those words was uninsured, but was still able to get some treatment at Zuckerberg at the time. That’s because Zuckerberg — and other taxpayer-funded hospitals across California —formed the medical safety net of last resort for 17 million uninsured Californians before 2014. That was the year the Affordable Care Act kicked into gear, which helped California lower that uninsured rate down to 7 percent…

“We are deeply troubled by the CBO’s finding that the amount of support provided for consumers to buy health insurance in 2020,  under proposed legislation would be only 60 percent of what is provided under current law,” Lee said in a press release.

Before the Affordable Care Act, 40 percent of patients at Zuckerberg San Francisco General were uninsured. Now it’s down to 3 percent, according to hospital CEO Susan Ehrlich…

Beyond concerns for patients, hospital staff members are worried about funding. Provisions of the Affordable Care Act added $125 million in revenue to the annual budget of the hospital and an affiliated network of neighborhood clinics.

“If Medi-Cal expansion is capped, then some of our patients will not be insured,” said nurse Philippa Doyle. Medi-Cal expansion provided coverage for more Californians than those traditionally included in the Medi-Cal pool. “Because we treat everybody, then our reimbursement will go down significantly, and we won’t be able to provide resources that we are currently.”…

Under the AHCA, public hospitals like San Francisco General are expected to lose tens of millions of dollars in government support every year…(more)

The Hidden Systems at Work Behind Gentrification

By Corin Faife : motherboard – excerpt

The cafes and craft breweries are just pawns in a much bigger game.

“Someone who learned about gentrification solely through newspaper articles might come away believing that gentrification is just the culmination of several hundred thousand people’s individual wills to open coffee shops and cute boutiques, grow mustaches and buy records. But those are the signs of gentrification, not its causes.”

So writes journalist Peter Moskovitz in How To Kill A City, a book on gentrification in America, published this week. It’s a study of four cities—New York, Detroit, San Francisco and New Orleans—that are all in the process of coming to terms with widespread gentrification, which in the case of the latter three has happened at dramatic speed…

“The most surprising takeaway I had [when writing the book] was how unsecretive and how blatant politicians had been in the past with pro-gentrification policy, especially in New Orleans and Detroit,” says Moskovitz. “The economic czar of the Detroit government actually said, ‘please bring on gentrification we need more of it’. It would sound like a conspiracy if it wasn’t laid out in plain English.”…

Part of the aim for the book, Moskovitz says, was to try and steer the conversation around housing in the US towards that which can be found in parts of Europe, where rent control measures and pro-squatting movements are more common. Towards this end, having set up gentrification as a powerful systemic force, the book closes by chronicling various resistance tactics, and outlining policy-based strategies for working towards a less gentrified future.

“I’m optimistic when I meet with activists who’ve been doing this for a long time,” says Moskovitz. “Gentrification might be a new term, but housing inequality has been going on for hundreds of years. People have been coming up up with new and inventive tactics to fight these systems for so long, and that gives me hope that these people know what they’re doing. What remains to be seen is how we can motivate all the people who haven’t started to do that work.”

How To Kill A City is out now published by Nation Books/Perseus/Hachette…(more)


Art Agnos sizes up SF politics over matzo ball soup

By David Talbot : sfchronicle – excerpt

There didn’t seem much to celebrate for a progressive warhorse like Agnos. A man who represents everything Agnos opposes now occupies the White House. Donald Trump’s victory, said Agnos, “bothered me more than my own defeat” for re-election as mayor in 1991. And he had just come from a memorial service across the street at City Hall for Aileen Clarke Hernandez, the legendary feminist, civil rights and labor activist whose death seemed like one more requiem for the heroic liberation movements of the past.

And yet Agnos, at 78, seems as energetic as ever, after successful heart surgery to fix an aortic aneurysm in November 2015. He continues to play an active role in city politics as a progressive power broker. His clout was felt in the successful 2013 ballot battle to block the ”wall on the waterfront” — the proposed luxury condominium high-rise building on the Embarcadero. The same leadership team — Agnos, former City Attorney Louise Renne, political organizer Jon Golinger, and Aaron Peskin (in between stints on the Board of Supervisors) — reassembled in 2014 to lead the landslide victory for Proposition B, the landmark San Francisco measure that gave voters the right to decide on big development proposals along the city’s precious waterfront.

The Prop. B victory represented a “revolutionary change” in San Francisco, said Agnos — the democratization of a planning process that has long been controlled by developers and their political allies. “Now, if you want to build something on the waterfront, you don’t go down to City Hall and make a contribution to a politician’s favorite charity. You have to go to the people for their support.” Agnos would like to see the Prop. B concept extended from the waterfront throughout the city…

Agnos finds the political establishment to be woefully behind the electorate when it comes to deciding the city’s future. He’s particularly critical of another former mayor, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who campaigned for 8 Washington and — as chairman of the State Lands Commission — is suing the city to overturn Prop. B. “This is supposedly Mr. ‘Citizenville,’” said Agnos, referring to Newsom’s book that touted the expansion of participatory democracy in the digital age. “And he’s suing the city he once led, saying the citizens shouldn’t decide.

“I call Gavin the greatest one-night stand in politics. He looks great, he talks great. But you wake up the next morning and you ask yourself, ‘What was that all about?’”… (more)

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