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Artists Aghast at Anti-Public Art Lawsuit Against Oakland

August 1, 2015

By  : kqed – excerpt

Artists across the Bay Area are expressing shock and dismay after the Building Industry Association of the Bay Area (BIA) filed a lawsuit against the city of Oakland last week over the issue of public art in privately-funded developments.

The BIA Bay Area, a nonprofit association of contractors, developers and building industry business owners, is fighting the city’s percent for art ordinance, which they claim violates their first and fifth amendment rights.

“I consider this the ‘slip and fall’ of development lawsuits,” says Oakland artist Randy Colosky.

The ordinance, which already applied to Oakland municipal projects, expanded in early February to require that commercial projects costing more than $200,000 devote one percent of their budgets to public art. Residential projects must devote one-half percent of their budgets to public art. Alternatively, any building project can pay a corresponding amount into a pooled fund for public art programs.

“Developers owe it to the city and residents to enrich the landscape and culture of the urban space,” Emma Spertus, artist and founder of the Oakland studio building and residency program Real Time and Space, says…  (more) 

This is an important case to watch. One of many that is bringing out the big guns. Something should be done to mitigate the bad taste in designs we are suddenly surrounded by. I feel like I am living in a Modrian nightmare. Have modern architects no imagination? Or are developers too cheap to hire anyone with taste?

Affordable Housing Battle

July 30, 2015

KQED – excerpt – (video)

Affordable Housing Battle
As rent and home prices in San Francisco soar, there’s widespread agreement that more affordable housing is needed. But how and where to build that housing remains a contentious issue. Joshua Johnson hosts a panel discussion on a ballot measure to put some new development on hold.

• Carol Galante, director of the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley
• J. Scott Weaver, attorney with the San Francisco Tenants Union
• Sonja Trauss, founder of the San Francisco Bay Area Renters’ Federation

Ms. Trauss said “Affordable housing is existing housing.” We agree, preserving affordable units should be a first priority if we want to protect them.

That is why we oppose demolishing existing properties and that is probably why codes were written to protect the existing housing by making tear downs more difficult. Unfortunately, the Planning Department is granting exemptions and variances to every project that comes up so those protections no longer work. Even when the property owner gets caught doing something illegal, nothing happens.

We also agree with Mr. Weaver’s.  “When you are going down the wrong road you STOP” to figure out where you need to go. That is why we support the moratorium.

Ms. Galante declares this is a regional problem, but offers no ideas on how to fix it. How about building residential units near the job sites… (more)

Displacement policy at risk in quiet power struggle

July 22, 2015


By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

Two regional agencies battling over the future of Bay Area planning — with social justice in the balance

JULY 21, 2015 –At a time when California state officials are steadily expanding the authority of regional governance, a nasty rift between the powerful Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments has burst into public view.

Like the smoke and lava belched by a volcano that’s about to blow its top, portents of the rupture have surfaced at recent meetings.

At its June 24 session, MTC, the moneybags of the duo, voted to fund ABAG’s planning and research staff for only the next six months instead of the customary full year.

At the July 10 joint meeting of the MTC Planning Committee and the ABAG Administrative Committee, MTC staff recommended that key anti-displacement language that appears in Plan Bay Area 2013 be stricken from the plan’s 2017 update; the ABAG staff report vehemently objected to the deletion.

The July 16 agenda of ABAG Executive Board included a staff report on MTC’s alleged proposal to move ABAG’s Planning and Research Department to MTC. That’s the institutional equivalent of a heart transplant.

In short, this is no bureaucratic squabble but rather a major power struggle. The antagonists are two public agencies whose decisions about housing, land use, and transportation are profoundly reshaping the life of the region (think Plan Bay Area, for starters).

As the dispute over anti-displacement suggests, should MTC prevail, social justice in the Bay Area is going to suffer… (more)

Please read the rest of the article. It is full of items of concern. Write letters to the parties letting them know how you feel. They don’t have a definition for “displacement”. Give them yours.

In-law units get approved — with conditions that Sup. Christensen doesn’t like

July 21, 2015

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

JULY 20, 2015 – Two bills that would legalize in-laws and second units on existing lots are moving forward – but the debate at the Land Use Committee today exposed some interesting political alliances and conflicts.

Nobody on the panel was opposed to the concept of allowing property owners to build inlaws or backyard cottages in Districts 3 and 8, where the bills by Sups. Scott Wiener and Julie Christensen would allow that construction.

Both Wiener and Christensen insisted that they wanted to promote the development of more rent-controlled housing in the city.

But when tenant advocates proposed some rules that would ensure the new units were actually used for rental housing – and not, for example, turned into condos or hotel rooms – they ran into some fierce resistance from both supervisors.

The narrative that Wiener and Christensen both put out echoed what the Chron reported yesterday – that the concerns tenant groups have expressed must be related to the District 3 supervisorial election.

Wiener is not running against anyone this fall, but the D3 race still framed his remarks: “This entire issue has been so vetted … what has changed? Now we have a D3 election.”

He noted that Aaron Peskin, who is challenging Christensen, proposed similar citywide legislation when he was in office, but wasn’t able to get a board majority to support him.

But the issues facing the city in 2015 are a bit different than when Peskin first proposed to legalize second-units. For one thing, there was no Airbnb back then, and thousands of housing units weren’t been removed from the rental market and turned into hotel rooms.

And the epidemic of Ellis Act evictions wasn’t driving tenant advocates to put whatever barriers possible in the path of the speculators.

Jennifer Feiber, the director of the Tenants Union, testified that her group had no problems with so-called accessory dwelling units (ADUs) – but if the board was going to legalize them, she suggested some rules… (more)

“Give Up and Move”—really?

July 20, 2015

Guest writerParkmerced Action Coalition – PmAC

The Parkmerced community is scheduled for a major upheaval next spring, 2016, as developers launch their 20 to 30 year demolition and construction project. There are residents lined up both for and against the proposed destruction of the existing community and after the failure of a law suit our tenants organization, Parkmerced Action Coalition (PmAC) is primarily dedicated to helping tenants insure their rights-as they are now and those spelled out in the Developers’ Agreement once the project is launched.

We often get calls from tenants who have issues with management, including eviction threats and notices. We accept that Parkmerced has several thousand tenants and as any business they have procedures that they follow-they are not the friendly landlord who lives upstairs and we refer tenants who approach us to the Rent board and to the list of tenants rights organizations that we have all unfortunately, as things are in the City these days, become too well aware.  There is a very real fear amongst exiting tenants that in light of the promises made to keep a certain number of units under rent control for those whose current residences are being scheduled for demolition management is looking for any reason to evict those tenants in advance of construction. Also as rents have accelerated so drastically in the current market a financial incentive indeed exists for getting rent controlled tenants out of their units.

That being said we do have some on going, very major concerns and have been met with very little support from the tenants rights community. This past week a current Parkmerced resident, who has a very legitimate case against her eviction threat,  as told by a leading, first line of defense, organization that the cards were stacked against our residents and that she should just move!

Clues for their reasoning–Parkmerced is represented with tenant issues by one of the best known landlord attorneys’ offices in San Francisco. One of the firm’s partners  is a member of the Rent Board Commission and the other’s wife is in management position at Parkmerced.  Parkmerced’s PR representative’s resume goes back to the first election campaign of Willie Brown and he has represented many campaigns since, both political and for developments.   In 2011, prior to the BOS vote on the Development Agreement. Parkmerced was one of the top 10 in SF in money spent on lobbying. Lobby efforts continue.  From just these few examples, if you been paying attention to SF’s political scene, you can easily see where this interconnectedness is leading–the fix is in!

It often feels that Parkmerced is an after thought when it comes to San Francisco communities. The perception of some is that it is a middle class suburb what with the lush lawns (prior to the drought) and award winning landscaping. But Parkmerced is a multi-generational, multi ethnic community, rich and poor and all that that entails. Many residents have lived here for a long time, some their whole lives, in rent controlled units and they feel the threat of displacement every bit as much as those in other areas of the City.

If this is the message from a tenants organization-“give up and move”-what hope is there for the 1000s that live here?

Parkmerced Action Coalition – PmAC

San Francisco’s Mayor’s Race needs to be more than just a “cakewalk”

July 15, 2015

July 23rd, 7PM – at Women Building, 3543 18th St, (between Valencia and Guerrero) Mayoral Candidates Amy Farah Weiss and Francisco Herrera will join Tim Redmond, and Tommi Mecca to discus San Francisco’s Political Landscape and the Mayor’s race: How do Progressives fit into it? Take the survey to ask your questions. Download the press release here: PR VisionSF

Zrants invites statements from all the candidates.
This statement below comes from Mayoral Candidate, Amy Farah Weiss.

A recent Business Insider article framed the San Francisco Mayor’s race as a “cakewalk” re-election campaign for current Mayor Ed Lee in the midst of a “city at war with itself”. Too much is at stake for the future of San Francisco to allow this election to pass us by without debating the issues of our times, such as a housing affordability crisis, current trends of exclusive and unsustainable growth at the local and regional level, a “contractor economy” that chips away at basic worker rights and protections, global climate change, racial bias within the SFPD, the rising epidemic and criminalization of homelessness, and the need to create pathways to prosperity for neighbors through our public education systems and a diversity of industries.

Are you a San Francisco voter? You can shape the 2015 SF Mayoral election by taking our survey (which can also be found at and sharing the top issues that you want candidates to be on record debating in this election cycle. Let us know if you agree with this District 3 voter who elaborated on why he would not vote for any candidate who doesn’t agree to participate in at least 3 public debates: “Public debates force candidates to take a stand on issues, articulate their ideas in order to communicate them to the voters. The voters can see who has the most substance and best character compared to how they hold up next to each other. A clash of opinions is a good way to discern the truth and to see the best solutions to a matter. I need this from my candidates. I need need this to make the better choice. Any candidate who would shy away from this just exposes them as someone who should not be running for the job in the first place.”

NEWSFLASH! SF voters have choices: Ed Lee is not running unopposed.

businessinsider_edleecakewalk from While the majority of journalists and political insiders would have you believe that Ed Lee is running unopposed in the 2015 Mayor’s race, San Francisco voters will have choices for who will be their next Mayor on the November 2015 ballot. I filed my intent to run for Mayor of San Francisco in early December 2015 because I wasn’t content to stand on the sidelines and witness valued neighbors and neighborhood cultural institutions continue to be displaced in the midst of our city’s rising inequity and exclusive growth. The desire to challenge the status quo of current leadership and shape an equitable and livable future for San Francisco through the democratic process is shared by my fellow candidates, including Broke-Ass Stuart and Francisco Herrera. As a San Francisco voter you can vote for up to three different candidates thanks to our ranked-choice voting system.

My decision to run for Mayor with a “Yes-In-My-Back-Yard” message is similar to what prompted me to found a nonprofit, community-based organization called Neighbors Developing Divisadero in 2011: After working with neighbors to organize at City Hall against a Chase Bank that displaced two local businesses in our neighborhood, I went beyond “just saying no” and tasked myself with identifying and promoting inclusive, culturally enriching, and sustainable development projects. In a democracy we must move beyond complaining and organize in support of our righteous and strategic yes.

Let them eat cake?

Watch a video of Climate Mobilization volunteers and Amy Farah Weiss delivering a cake to Mayor Ed Lee’s office in City Hall as an invitation to debate about CleanPowerSF: It’s up to us to shape the future of the city and region we live in and love through participatory democracy. Share your two cents about the current issues, policies, and ballot initiatives that are important to the future of our city:

Join the debate. Fill out the survey. Tell us why you want a debate. Stay tuned at for a cakewalk event at City Hall in early August where we will share our survey results about the top issues that SF voters want candidates to address in debates, teach-ins, and solutions forums. Be sure to add your voice today!


Amy Farah Weiss has supported individual and collective well-being through research, education, creativity, and action for nearly 20 years. After graduating with a Master’s degree in Organizational Development and Training from SF State in 2010, Amy started a nonprofit organization called Neighbors Developing Divisadero in support of inclusive, enriching, and sustainable neighborhood development. Amy is now running for Mayor of San Francisco with a Yes-In-My-Back-Yard, solutions-oriented approach to the issues and challenges facing San Francisco and the greater Bay Area.


Kickoff party announcement for BROKE-ASS STUART – EDITOR IN CHEAP

I’ve been called “an Underground legend”: SF Chronicle , “an SF cult hero”: SF Bay Guardian, and “the chief of cheap”: Time Out New York, but to those familiar with my work, I’m just “that douchebag who writes books about cheap stuff and drinks a lot”. Here’s the kick off party:

A new study finds San Francisco is losing rent-controlled apartments almost as fast as it is adding new affordable units.

July 14, 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015 (AP) – excerpt

SF affordability

(AP) — A new study finds San Francisco is losing rent-controlled apartments almost as fast as it is adding new affordable units.

The city’s Housing Balance Report shows about 5,500 apartments were removed from so-called protected status between 2004 and 2014. The city added about 6,600 affordable units during the same period.

The study was reported by the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday.

It comes as the city’s housing market is booming, with rents in some neighborhoods topping $3,000-a-month for a one-bedroom apartment.

Supervisor Jane Kim said the loss of rent-controlled units is having a much bigger impact than she would have thought… (more)


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