Real Estate Execs Disrupt Nonprofit Housing

By Toshio Meronek : sfweekly – excerpt

There’s a stealthy way developers get approval to build, build, build.

Hiding behind the scenes of many nonprofit housing organizations are corporate real estate professionals…

Over the past few years, the real estate industry has been cozying up to organizations that exist to help the poorest San Franciscans. It’s not well-known, but many of the nonprofits responsible for housing thousands of low-income San Franciscans and managing millions of dollars in public funding are run by people involved in real estate development, raising the question of whether, for example, an executive from Wells Fargo should be making decisions that affect some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

This conflict of interest can be stressful for tenants…

“We have no say,” says Phyllis Bowie, who lives at Midtown Apartments, a 139-unit complex in the Fillmore that’s managed by the city’s largest housing nonprofit, Mercy Housing

But renters do have allies. Tommi Avicolli Mecca of the Housing Rights Committee ensures that residents get heard over the blare of executives, who he believes have an agenda that puts profits first on the priority list, with tenants toward the bottom…

San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation and the YIMBY Party attempted to win enough member votes to take over the board of the local Sierra Club chapter, but failed in their efforts…

MHDC, BRIDGE, and the board of Mercy Housing — which puts out the majority of the city’s affordable housing — signed on to support local state Senator and ex-Sup. Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 35, which in practice could fast-track majority market-rate residential projects…

No big surprise: Sierra Club, Causa Justa, and the Housing Action Committee all opposed SB 35…

The 16th Street BART station could be home to what opponents have dubbed the “Monster in the Mission,” a new 10-story complex that would change the entire landscape of the neighborhood. (Only 42 of its 330 units are considered affordable.)…(more)

Good article with a lot of information. Unfortunately, most of the news is bad. If you care, you can still work on campaigns to replace the pro developer supervisors and state reps. The DCCC delegate election proved that people can make a difference if they get out and vote. The word that everyone is avoiding using is the word that most non-partisan groups agree is the problem with the Plan Bay Area and that word is gentrification. Look for someone with a plan to deal with rising property rates. Otherwise they do not have a feasible plan.

 

Advertisements

Bunk beds, roaches and nerdy geniuses: my year in a Silicon Valley hacker house

By Andrew Frawley : theguardian – excerpt

The lives of tech entrepreneurs aren’t always as glamorous as they’re made out to be, as I learned living among them on a dangerous San Francisco street

For the past 12 months of my life, I paid the bargain price of $1,250 per month to sleep diagonally in a bunk bed in a 10ft x 10ft room that I shared with a 32-year old man. Because I am 6ft 4in, sleeping diagonally in my undersized accommodation was the only way I could make it through the night without getting cramps.

Welcome to my life in the hacker house…

In my first month, there were six of us unemployed at the time. Woefully seeking income, we built a daily ritual of job-hunting together at the kitchen table until sunset. …

Unfortunately, though, hustle doesn’t always lead to results or income. While I was catching up with Will Harris, the early tenant who has been with the Negev from the beginning, he urged me to tell the story of those who don’t make it.

“Everyone hears how rosy it is out here. No one tells the story of the majority of people who do everything right, work their ass off and still end up leaving the city in six months, broke, with crushed dreams.”…(more)

Monster in the Mission spends $300K on signatures

By Tim Redmond :48hills – excerpt

IMG_2580

Mission activists showed up outside the meeting to voice their opposition and let the public know the meeting is not open to the public or the press. Photo by zrants

Developer pays for ‘grassroots’ effort to build support for a project that many Mission community groups strongly oppose

I was out of town when the latest chapter of the Monster in the Mission fight took place. As Mission Local reports, the developer (Maximus, which also owns Park Merced), tried to hold a meeting with local merchants. It was closed to the press — maybe because the last time Maximus tried to hold a community meeting, it didn’t go so well.

We don’t know how well this one went, either. We do know that Joe Arellano, a spokesperson for the project, told Mission Local that “advocates and staff had been gathering the support of thousands of people who have signed a petition backing the project.”…

The recent event — and the lobbying effort — has been paid for by Mission For All, which is not a nonprofit or a political organization. It’s a Limited Liability Company, chartered in 2016 in California. Documents at the Secretary of State’s Office show its address as the offices of Nielsen, Merksamer, a San Rafael-based law firm that specializes in campaign finance.

Mission For All is entirely owned and funded by Maximus, the documents show… (more)

Business social for new development met with protest

By Laura Wenus : missionlocal – excerpt

Business owners who arrived at the Mission Language and Vocational School Thursday evening to attend a social event organized by the developer of 1979 Mission St. were met by a group of about 30 chanting protesters who reiterated demands that the site be dedicated to affordable housing.

“No more monster in the Mission,” sang the protesters from the Plaza 16 Coalition, referring to the nickname activists long ago gave the project that promises to bring 331 units to 16th and Mission streets.  At present, 41 of those are slated for affordable housing, with an additional 49 units to be built at a different site later. The developer, Maximus, is also considering setting aside some units for teachers

Reporters were barred from attending the event, and it’s unclear which businesses attended. One nearby business group, the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association, has decided to remain neutral on the project, while Mission Merchant Association President Phil Lesser has voiced his enthusiastic support…

As for the demands of the Plaza 16 coalition, which organized the protest and has long demanded that any development at 16th and Mission be entirely below-market-rate, Arellano said, “We want to talk to the community that is interested in meaningful dialogue. The people here have made their demands clear.”

The Planning Commission is expected to consider the project later this year, though no hearing date has been set…(more)

 

Whatever became of Berkeley’s neighborhood-serving retail?

Editorial by Becky o’Malley : berkeleyplanet – excerpt

Having lived in university towns for all of my adult life, I am very conscious of the difference in atmosphere when most of the students go home for summer vacation. One obvious benefit is that parking becomes infinitely easier. Yes, yes, I know that we’re not supposed to be driving, even those of us who are over 75 and a bit arthritic. Yes, I know that students never drive any more—well,hardly ever. It must be just a coincidence that many, many cars disappear from Berkeley streets in the summer—surely it’s not because the students are gone…

It will take more than inspiration to overcome what’s going wrong with small businesses in downtown Berkeley. They are getting evicted to make room for developments aimed at BART commuters to San Francisco, who will most likely do most of their purchasing in The City, and by UC offices for employees who drive in from distant suburbs with big box stores.

University Hardware, a stalwart for many years, was pushed or jumped from its wonderful location on University, complete with parking lot, to a dark and dreary car-free location on a side street. Now to add insult to injury the new store has lost access even for customers’ curbside pick-ups of large purchases to the city’s poorly conceptualized new bicycle routing.

There’s a host of similar examples of local businesses done wrong which give the lie to the perpetual myth of a Downtown Berkeley renaissance. Among other things, it’s past time to re-think Berkeley’s downtown area plan, which was jammed through by the previous city administration for the exclusive benefit of developers of mega apartment blocks for well-off consumers who’ll make their purchases elsewhere. A new and better plan would give much more respect to neighborhood-serving businesses and much less latitude to the smash-and-grab crowd who covet our downtown as potential building sites for commuter condos.

And don’t get me started on the way the University of California is sucking up downtown Berkeley as lebensraum for offices which don’t even pay property taxes. That’s a rant all its own, for another day… (more)

This story is repeating itself in communities all over California. The Berkeley story of disappearing local businesses is being exported to Napa County where the housing industry is getting ready to push the wineries out. What will tourists come for once the beautiful views, local wines and food are replaced by housing enclaves? What will people do with their time when the jobs are replaced by robots?

Emergency Resolution needed to preserve San Francisco businesses

Op-Ed

Here is an idea. SF has carved out hundreds of miles of car-free lanes for bikes and pedestrian-safe zones with no regard to the losses of the businesses that are effected by loss of traffic and parking. The streetscape programs have resulted in huge numbers of business closures and what appears to be an average 30% drop in income of the businesses that survive. No one is talking about the loss of jobs or the flight of the families those jobs once supported.

Why don’t we support the rights of businesses that require traffic and parking by setting up a SFMTA-free enterprise zone, that protects businesses that rely on customers who drive. We need a parking-protected zone to protect businesses while their streets are under construction.

We have see the future as it is being written by Plan Bay Area 2040 and they are anticipating a loss of 40% of the middle class by 2030 or 2040, depending on which report you read. As they extend the debt they extend the time to pay it off and the year of the study changes to meet that goal

Perhaps the Supervisors could legislate a temporary protected zone for businesses to escape from the SFMTA while their streets are under siege with protected loading and parking zones for motor vehicles only. We could use one in China Town and pretty much every neighborhood, The Supervisors can treat it as an emergency resolution to save middle class families by saving the small businesses and jobs they depend on them that are being killed off by the over-zealous SFMTA and developers.

We understand there is a history of placing limitations on disruptive construction projects in one area to protect residents and businesses from the negative impacts of too much construction in one place. Perhaps it is time to revisit that limit. Why not finish the major street projects now underway before starting any new ones.

Perhaps it is time for the Board of Supervisors to devise some method for curtailing city agencies and reigning them. There is ample evidence that the departments are not working well together or communicating changes to large projects as they rush to get them underway.

Perhaps we need new procedural rules to protect our citizens like the CEQA administrative amendments that were enacted to help developers a few years ago. Others are suggesting some Charter amendments may be in order. That will take time. We need some faster protections and we need them now to stop the damage to is being done to our city in the name of future plans.

This was inspired by story on ABC7 News on the plight of Chinatown businesses:

Chinatown merchants say Central Subway construction leading to business bust

by Leslie Brinkley : ABC7news – excerpt (includes video)

Up to 2 million visitors stroll through Chinatown per year. Locals hit the markets in the area too, but lately business is down…. (more)

These stories all have one thing in common. The Future is heavily featured as the reason for the disruption we are living in today. Always the promise of a better tomorrow and know consideration of what is being done to make our lives better today. How can you trust a system that doesn’t function today to make tomorrow better? Let us see some proof. Fix it now.

 

The big lie about California’s housing crisis

By Deepa Varma : sfexaminer – excerpt

SF-skyline

New SF skyline shot from the bay by zrants

It’s official: The rent in California, not just San Francisco, is too damn high.

California now has the highest poverty rate in the nation when the cost of housing is taken into account. Since 2005, more than 2.5 million Californians have been forced to leave the state in search of an affordable home.

Unfortunately, the prevailing supply and demand — “just build” — mantra put forward by opinion leaders is diverting state government from the hard truth that the market has not responded to the demand of California families for affordable homes — not luxury and market-rate homes.

We are told a big lie, that the solution to our housing crisis is to get government out of the way and leave it to the free market to let affordable housing magically “trickle down” to lower-income households. The truth, though, is developers build to make a profit, not to provide a social need. Luxury housing doesn’t trickle down, at least not at a scale to bring down rents in a meaningful way…(more)

Other countries take a different approach to values…

In World’s Best-Run Economy, House Prices Keep Falling — Because That’s What House Prices Are Supposed To Do

Eamonn Fingleton : forbes – excerpt

When Americans travel abroad, the culture shocks tend to be unpleasant. Robert Locke’s experience was different. In buying a charming if rundown house in the picturesque German town of Goerlitz, he was surprised – very pleasantly – to find city officials second-guessing the deal. The price he had agreed was too high, they said, and in short order they forced the seller to reduce it by nearly one-third. The officials had the seller’s number because he had previously promised to renovate the property and had failed to follow through…(more)

Longtime San Francisco residents unhappy with city, says poll

by : curbed – excerpt

SF-skyline

San Francisco’s view-killing wall on the waterfront seen from the bay is unpopular with many long-term residents – photo by Zrants

The longer you’ve been living in San Francisco, the less likely you are to be happy with it.

That’s one of the lessons from the 2017 San Francisco City Survey released Tuesday, in which those with more than 30 years of San Francisco living under their belts generally gave City Hall a thumbs down.

The controller’s office conducts the survey every two years to measure general satisfaction with public services.

Overall, public opinion seems fairly mellow this time; most of the 2,166 randomly selected phone respondents gave the city either a B or a B- grade on things like public safety, transit, and parks. Libraries got a B+.

The public ranked homelessness as the city’s biggest problem, with 33 percent of responses highlighting it as their top concern… (more)

What is to like about a city that sold its soul for a few buckets of gold. People used to come for art, culture, social equality and other non-material qualities of life because there was no money. The new San Francisco draws get-rich-quick schemers who believe their virtual reality and future vision is more important than anyone or anything else and can’t wait to kick us out of our homes.