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)


Why SF’s City Planning Department doesn’t get it

The Mission District and the SF of the future that planners are endorsing is not what San Franciscans want. Spirit matters

There is no designated Sociologist position on the 200+ staff of San Francisco’s City Planning Department. And a bachelor/masters degree in Urban Planning can be received from many universities throughout the nation without any requirement to take even an Introduction to Sociology 101 course. This explains a lot.

The inculcated dismissal of human social behavior and how it shapes cities came to mind once again as I read the department’s quibbling on the question of whether new development causes community displacement in the Draft Mission 2020 Action Plan released last week:

“The forces of displacement are varied and complex and the key is to deploy strategies and investment now to stabilize the neighborhood for decades to come … The city acknowledges displacementis real but believes the causes of displacement are complex and tied to larger [unnamed] systemic issues beyond development.”

For the metrics-oriented approach that dominates much of the national urban planning community and our local department these days, the conceptual problem is – despite a litany of statistics that document the widespread low-income resident and small business displacement that is actually happening now in the Mission District – missing data:

“The city also feels research on effects of market rate development will be inconclusive but is nevertheless scoping out a way to further study the nexus between development and displacement to determine what it is, if one exists.”

The problem with relying on metrics is that they can show what is happening – retrospectively – but not intrinsically why. Adding economic analysis, which the department superficially attempts to do by relying on input from other city agencies, can explain the immediate motivations of economic actors – property owners, businesses, developers, and nowadays “investors” – but still fails to capture the overall cultural and social dynamics of how cities evolve and change due to the collective behavior of large discrete population groups. That’s Sociology. And over time it is most of all those cultural and social dynamics that actually drive and determine the course of events. Urban economics follow the values they reflect, not the other way around… (more)

Stealing the future is like stealing the soul: I reserve the right to plan my own future and I reserve the right to change my mind as I go along. A lot of people and circumstances change throughout our lifetimes and that is why living in the future is futile. Right about now there are a lot of people who are incredibly inconvenienced by a government that put off fixing a major problem that was pointed out over a decade ago. How many more of these are out there, ignored disasters, waiting to happen because fixing them did not fit the plan du jour?

The planning departments (every department has one) do nothing about solving current issues. SFMTA can’t figure out how to handle traffic work today or even count it, but they claim if we give them 10 or 20 years they will have it all worked out. They can tell you the traffic counts for 20 years from now. Really? Sorry, but I don’t believe the parties who destroyed a functioning traffic and transit system are the ones to fix it. We need a system that works for the residents who are here now. Not a future perfect plan for a future no one can predict and will probably never happen.

The Eastern Neighborhoods Plan is a bust

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Too much office space, too little affordable housing, industrial space destroyed – the report card is bleak.

The Planning Commission heard a report on the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, which has guided development in a huge swath of the city, and from the public comment and the response of some commissioners, it’s pretty clear that this massive 20-year planning process isn’t turning out the way it was supposed to.

As Commissioner Dennis Richards pointed out, the plan was adopted in 2008 – before the Google buses, before the massive tech-boom displacement, before the Twitter tax break, before Uber, before Peninsula cities fully outsourced their housing problems to SF. It’s a different city today, and what made sense back then isn’t working any more.

In fact, some of what seemed to make sense back then has been, as land-use lawyer Sue Hestor pointed out, “a farce.” The transit improvements that were supposed to serve the massive explosion in market-rate housing developments simply haven’t happened.

Neighborhood activist Marc Salomon noted that people who moved into what were supposed to be transit-oriented developments have ignored transit and instead use private cars, Uber and Lyft (which have crowded the streets with many, many more cars) and the tech shuttles.

Pedro Peterson presented the summary report, starting off with the Department’s position that the plan was created to preserve Production, Distribution, and Repair spaces in the neighborhoods and to encourage housing development.

Reality: In the past five years, nearly a million square feet of PDR has been lost, and another 1.3 million will be lost of all of the proposed projects in the pipeline move forward…

Time, it appears, to reboot. In fact, the call by Sup. David Campos a couple of years ago for a temporary halt to all development while the city reviews this plan might need to be revived – before more damage is done… (more)

Personal Property is under siege

OpEd by concerned citizen

A major crime wave is sweeping our streets, killing businesses and putting public at risk, and nothing is being done about it. Crime statics are down because there is no record of the crimes.

This story came from a reader concerned about the decline of the local Safeway. Desperate people are taking desperate measures. Ignoring the problem is not going to make it go away. Dehumanizing people, treating them like animals and feeding and cleaning up after them is not a good solution. City Hall needs a better plan. Mayor Agnos suggests putting them on an air craft carrier. It’s worth a try.

Crimes of personal property are just not prosecuted. I spoke to the manager of the Potrero Hill Safeway because I’m worried it will go out of business due to loss of clientele. He told me when Gus’s opened they lost 70k customers. To stop the losses they cut service and because of a million dollars of theft last year they put ?toothpaste and mouthwash? in glass cabinets. Organized gangs swept toothpaste off the shelves and resold them in the Mission. “When thieves are caught by security, the police are called. Sometimes they don’t show up for 1.5 hours and when they show up they drop the thief off at the corner”.

It’s a real battle in which the “city” is not on our side but the side of the thieves. The police know that jails have a revolving door.  It’s not cost effective to arrest thieves. A portion of the homelessness is a distinct outcast society that survives on crime and begging.

One safe thing you can do is support our local businesses. Please support PH Safeway during this difficult time. The manager said they are doing their best but I don’t think it is good enough to keep their regular customers. They need your feedback.  The displacement of small and large businesses with small margins is another crime that is spiraling downward making it even more expensive and difficult to live here.

– Concerned Citizen

Feds reject housing plan meant to help minorities stay in SF

By J.K. Dineen : sfchronicle – excerpt

Olson Lee, head of the mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, said in a letter to HUD that the program’s goal is to “provide existing residents the choice to stay within their communities when market rents rise rapidly.”

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has rejected San Francisco’s neighborhood housing preference plan, which will have an immediate impact on the city’s attempt to use policy to stem the exodus of African Americans and members of other minority groups from neighborhoods that are rapidly gentrifying.

In a letter to Olson Lee, who heads up the city’s Office of Housing and Community Development, Gustavo Velasquez, HUD’s assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, said San Francisco’s plan could “limit equal access to housing and perpetuate segregation” in violation of the 1968 Fair Housing Act.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed the neighborhood preference plan in December after months of debate on how to craft a law that would ensure new affordable housing units would be available to current neighborhood residents.

The plan seeks to set aside 40 percent of all new subsidized units for qualified people already living in the supervisorial district in which the development is being built or within a half mile of the project.

In particular, supporters of the plan hoped it would help African Americans improve their odds in lotteries used to fill most below-market units in market-rate developments and 100 percent subsidized projects. Just 4.7 percent of privately developed subsidized units created between 2008 and 2014 went to African Americans. The city’s African American population has plummeted from 13.7 percent of the city’s population in 1970 to 5.7 percent today.

The HUD decision will have an immediate impact on how residents are selected for the Willie B. Kennedy development at Turk and Webster streets in the Western Addition, a 98-unit senior housing development set to open this fall, because neighborhood residents will no longer receive better odds in the lottery(more)

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Supes vote to protect arts space after some disingenuous whining

Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Wiener, Farrell complain that progressives are using the ballot to push their agenda — which is exactly what Wiener and Farrell are doing

The Board of Supes put a measure to protect artist workspace and blue-collar jobs on the ballot yesterday after a long discussion about why this has to get voter approval.

That debate was punctuated by some stunningly disingenuous remarks by Sups. Scott Wiener and Mark Farrell, who said this issue should have been dealt with by the board – but who have put two measures of their own on the ballot that could have been addressed the same way.

There’s no secret what’s going on here. Farrell and Wiener want to have anti-homeless measures on the ballot to create a wedge issue to attack progressive candidates. There’s no way the 6-5 majority on the board would have approved these harsh and pointless laws, so they used their power under the City Charter to put them on the ballot with just four signatures.

Kim’s measure had at least six votes – but not eight, and if she had gone the legislative route, everyone knows the mayor would have vetoed it. Mayor Ed Lee supports the tech industry and the developers who are rapidly taking low-cost production, distribution, and repair space and arts space and turning it into luxury condos and tech offices.

So both sides have gone directly to the voters.

John Elberling, director of TODCO, pointed out the problem: “There has been catastrophic displacement of arts space and PDR, and for five years, the city has done nothing about it,” he testified.

Eric Arguello, who works with Calle 24, noted that Cell Space is gone, Galleria de la Raza is having trouble getting a new lease, Dance Mission is having trouble getting a new lease – and all over the Mission, cultural heritage is under attack.

“We are bleeding blue-collar jobs,” he said, noting that some studies show more than 20 percent unemployment in the Latino community (while the mayor brags about the city’s overall unemployment rate, which shows that white people with engineering degrees who moved here recently are doing fine).

Flora Davis, an artist who recently lost her studio on Soma after 23 years, noted that of the 43 artists she used to share space with, only 16 remain in the city. The building she moved into in the Mission used to have 60 artists; there are 20 left.

Kim noted that a recent study found that 70 percent of the artists in San Francisco are either being evicted or facing eviction – and the other 30 percent fear it… (more)

Candidate for Supervisor Proposes New Mission District BART Station

By : missionlocal – excerpt

A new BART station and thousands of units of housing may transform the area of the Mission District south of Cesar Chavez Street, if a candidate for District Nine supervisor has his way.

Josh Arce, a community liaison for laborers union Local 261 running to replace Supervisor David Campos, laid out plans on Thursday to replace the Safeway and its parking lot at 30th and Mission streets with a new BART station, and to develop dozens of parcels in the area to increase the neighborhood’s housing supply by 2,000 units.

The development, part of a proposed “Mission Street South of Cesar Chavez” plan, would “not touch any existing housing,” Arce said. The housing built would be a mix of market-rate projects and affordable housing.

“There’s never really been a plan for this neighborhood,” he added, standing with some 20 supporters in the Safeway parking lot at 3350 Mission St. where the new station would go. The Safeway itself could be incorporated into the new station, Arce said, or a new store could be built elsewhere…

Arce’s plan parallels that of one of his opponents, Hillary Ronen, who is also running for District Nine supervisor and currently serves as chief of staff for Supervisor Campos. Ronen announced in January her intention to build 5,000 affordable housing units in the Mission District in the next decade, saying she would develop empty lots and raise heights to accomplish the feat.

The Mission District has seen no new units of affordable housing constructed in the last decade and just 455 units approved across four sites for the next four years. Those will be joined by a couple hundred more once funds from the housing bond passed last November are disbursed, but that would still be a fraction of the total Ronen has pledged for her term in office... (more)

Who needs food when you can BART? Can we find a politician who cares what the residents in the neighborhood want to do, instead of demanding we follow their plans to change our lives? How about if we just slow down the pace of change and allow everyone to catch up before running off on a new tangent?