SF preparing to assume control of troubled Housing Authority in face of federal takeover threat

By Joshua Sabatini : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s Housing Authority is in “substantial default” of its obligations to administer low-income housing programs like Section 8 vouchers and could warrant a takeover by the federal government, according to a letter sent Thursday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The letter also sets the stage for The City to avert a federal takeover by taking over the agency’s programs itself by submitting a plan to HUD by April.

The letter comes after it was revealed late last year that faulty data and poor financial management caused the Housing Authority to experience a surprise shortfall of $20 million for low-income vouchers that required a bailout using both city and federal funds… (more)

SoMa neighbors say SFMTA is stonewalling hotel/housing development process

By J.K. Dineen : sfchronicle – excerpt

Plans to develop a convention hotel with some affordable housing on the site of the Moscone Center Garage are off to a rocky start, as neighborhood groups accuse the city agency in charge of the project of “stonewalling the community.”

Last spring the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency issued a request for proposals to redevelop the 732-space parking garage at 255 Third St., a mid-block, 40,000-square-foot rectangular parcel between Folsom and Howard streets.

The request called for a 30-story tower containing a 650-room hotel and a minimum of 100 units of affordable housing. Developers were also asked to submit two versions of the proposal: one with a 200- to 300-space parking garage and one with no parking.

Four teams responded to the request, each of them consisting of a hotel development group and a nonprofit housing builder.

But while the members of the four teams have been publicly disclosed, the SFMTA has kept the details of the individual proposals confidential, saying the information will not be made public until a winning developer is selected…

Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the district, said his constituents want to make sure the transit agency picks the teams offering the best community benefits, not simply the most money for the land. They want a developer willing to construct the most affordable housing, that has a good track record of providing high-paying union construction and hotel jobs, and is willing to throw in extras like affordable space for nonprofits or arts groups…

“This site could accommodate 300 units of housing — 300 would be great,” said John Elberling, executive director of TODCO, which owns and manages affordable housing complexes in the South of Market…

Elberling said that his group would consider a lawsuit or even putting the project on the ballot if negotiations with SFMTA don’t improve.
“We are being stonewalled by the MTA,” he said. “If the MTA keeps doing that, their project is never going to happen. There are so many ways this project could be attacked. The MTA is crazy to pick a fight.” … (more)

Board of Supervisors passes legislation to register vacant storefronts citywide

By Camden Avery : hoodlike – excerpt

This afternoon, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve new legislation that would improve the accuracy of the city’s vacant storefront registry.

The measure, introduced by District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, is intended “as a crucial part of an ongoing effort to increase the vibrancy of commercial corridors” and combat retail vacancies, said Fewer’s legislative aide, Ian Fregosi.

Fewer’s measure piggybacks off a five-year-old ordinance that had similar terms, but was largely unenforced. (In 2018, there were only 40 officially registered retail vacancies, though the city estimates the actual number is in the thousands.)

The earlier legislation required landlords to pay a $711 annual vacancy fee when they registered. Under the harsher new terms, landlords will have 30 days to register and pay the fee; if they don’t, they’ll be penalized with a $2,844 non-registration fee. They’ll also need to conduct annual building inspections to keep their buildings fit for occupancy.

“The $711 is already the current fee,” Fregosi said. “We’re just saying you actually have to pay this fee.”… (more)

Senate Bill 50 could spell end to single-family zoning citywide

By paloaltomatters – excerpt
“Jobs-rich” designation extends impacts well beyond transit zones in Palo AltoSince last year’s defeat of Senate Bill 827, State Senator Scott Weiner has returned to try his hand again at replacing local zoning control with one-size-fits-all, state mandated housing standards. SB-827 sought to encourage bigger, denser housing projects near transit. This year’s version, Senate Bill 50, extends state mandates beyond transit corridors to include all residentially zoned parcels in “Jobs-Rich” areas. Whether a community is jobs-rich would be determined by proximity to jobs, area median income and public school quality. By those indicators, it seems inevitable that SB-50 impacts would reach all of Palo Alto.

SB-50 creates a tiered system of incentives designed to make dense housing projects more appealing to developers by requiring cities to waive or adjust local zoning rules regarding such things as density, parking, height and the size of a building relative to the size of the lot (known as Floor Area Ratio). Eligible projects also must be granted up to three additional density bonuses of their choosing (e.g., site coverage, setback, or daylight plane adjustments, even more height or FAR, etc.). Different sets of incentives apply based on the category of a project’s location:

  • In a Jobs-rich area or within ¼ mile of a high quality bus corridor.
  • Within ½ mile of a train station.
  • Within ¼ mile of a train station… (more)

Single family zoning would be largely removed as an option in California is the authors of SB 50 have their way. At some point, we need to question the science behind the claims that up zoning and dense housing is the solution to preserving our children’s future on earth.

Random Access – 3 Mayors Discuss Affordable Housing and Traffic Concerns

Video and comments By Sunnyvale City Council Member, Michael S. Goldman

A 15 minute round-table with: Mayor Lynette Lee Eng of Los Altos, Mayor Eric Filseth of Palo Alto, and Mayor Steven Scharf of Cupertino.

“City bankruptcies, deteriorating public services as funds are drained from cities trying to cope with increased demands by new construction. That will be CASA’s main impacts. See a transcript on Michael’s site: https://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2019/03/three-mayors-on-silicon-valley-housing.html

Thanks to these Mayors for their frank discussion on what many consider to be overlooked considerations that were not addressed adequately by the SF Bay Area regional planners who concocted the CASA Compact. Forcing more up-zoning on landfill that is sinking under the tall towers already built, is a losing proposition. How many people want to throw more money at the Joint Powers Authority that designed and built the closed, failing Transbay Terminal?

Green Benefit Districts?

Green Benefit Districts are a disaster for neighborhoods according to some people. See the links below and decide for yourself. Is this misspent tax money with no controls as some claim? Or is this a good way to augment the city services that don’t cover what your neighborhood needs?

Who Benefits from Green Benefit Districts – Part Two: From Petition to Immortatlity – Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council


Are Green Benefit Districts really worth the money? – by sally-stephens – September 9, 2018 – The San Francisco Examiner

Breed may not be opposed in November—but her policies will be

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt
In D5, the mayor’s appointee faces a serious challenge. Her candidate for district attorney does, too. And if she appoints a political crony as public defender, the allies of Jeff Adachi will almost certainly mount a challenger.

Things can change quickly in San Francisco politics, but for the moment, it appears that Mayor London Breed will not have a serious challenger in November. It’s expensive and difficult to take on an incumbent mayor in San Francisco, and nobody who can pull that off has shown any interest.

But it also appears that the fall election will be in part a referendum on the mayor’s policies…

very week, I get press releases from the PD’s Office showing the clients who have been kept out of prison.

Why would the mayor mess with that record of success? What I’m hearing is that she is still unhappy that Gonzalez endorsed Preston against her for supervisor and Kim against her for mayor. That’s fine when you are deciding who to appoint for supervisor; when you are looking for a public defender, those considerations will appear petty.

Meanwhile, there’s an open race for district attorney – and Breed is strongly backing former Police Commission member Suzy Loftus. Chesa Boudin, who works in the Public Defender’s Office, is challenging her from the progressive side.

So we know that in at least one high-profile district race, the mayor’s record will be on the line. And two high-profile citywide races may pit the mayor’s endorsements and political clout against challengers.

So Breed may run essentially unopposed – but her policies and alliances will not…(more)