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Through the cracks journalism

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Board of Supervisors District 3 Candidates Forum

October 10, 2015

Hosted by the League of Women Voters, moderated by Sherrill Jennings.

Development News: Pagoda Condos Still Moving Forward

October 10, 2015

hoodline – excerpt

New construction is sweeping the city, and District 3 is part of the boom: three new hotel and housing projects are currently on track for Fisherman’s Wharf and North Beach.

First, we got an update on the former Pagoda Theater site (1731-41 Powell St.) Last month, we broke the news that the site’s owner, Joel Campos, is forging ahead to build the Palace at Washington Square, which will include luxury condos and a 4,700-square-foot restaurant. After a flurry of media attention, District 3 Supervisor Julie Christensen and District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener announced their plan to push the city to buy the land to house a future North Beach Central Subway station…

In related news, the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council sent a press release late Wednesday announcing that it—along with Christensen, Wiener, SF NexTstop and community members—would hold a rally and community walk at 10am today, in support of extending the Central Subway from Chinatown to the Pagoda site and then to Fisherman’s Wharf… (more)

New SoMa High-Rise SRO To Require Residents To Be ‘Students Or Interns’

October 8, 2015

BY CALEB PERSHAN : SFist – excerpt

Rising at 1321 Mission Street between 9th and 10th Streets is what might be thought of as anSRO Hotel for 2015. It’s the Panoramic, and it offers us a view of housing for a population that seeks to learn and study on a budget in San Francisco: students and interns.

But the Panoramic isn’t just catering to that population, it’s requiring that its residents belong to it. Just like multiple properties highlighted in Apartment Sadness, and in an ongoing trend, the Panoramic is an SRO trying to be upscale by avoiding renting to low-income people who aren’t students and interns. And how is this not discriminatory housing? How will they even enforce that?…

With truly nice-sounding amenities and in an area that’s well situated to a young person interning at a downtown company or studying at a conservatory, this could be a good alternative to being price-gouged by a stranger on Craigslist. Especially, of course, for a student or intern with some savings or parental assistance
But how long can you last in these quarters at that price? As highlighted by the Business Times, a new Urban Land Institute report found that the San Francisco area’s high housing costs leave Millennials unsure of how long they’ll stick it out.
74 percent of Millennials living in the Greater Bay Area are considering moving away over the next five years due to expensive housing costs, while “just 24 percent are very confident that they will be able to own or rent their desired home in five years — a dramatically lower percentage than Gen Xers, 38 percent of which voiced strong confidence in their ability to move up; or Baby Boomers, at 49 percent,” in the words of the report… (more)

How Burrowing Owls Lead To Vomiting Anarchists (Or SF’s Housing Crisis Explained)

October 8, 2015

by techcrunch – excerpt

he Santa Clara Valley was some of the most valuable agricultural land in the entire world, but it was paved over to create today’s Silicon Valley. This was simply the result of bad planning and layers of leadership failure — nobody thinks farms literally needed to be destroyed to create the technology industry’s success.

Today, the tech industry is apparently on track to destroy one of the world’s most valuable cultural treasures, San Francisco, by pushing out the diverse people who have helped create it. At least that’s the story you’ve read in hundreds of articles lately.

It doesn’t have to be this way. But everyone who lives in the Bay Area today needs to accept responsibility for making changes where they live so that everyone who wants to be here, can.

The alternative — inaction and self-absorption — very well could create the cynical elite paradise and middle-class dystopia that many fear. I’ve spent time looking into the city’s historical housing and development policies. With the protests escalating again, I am pretty tired of seeing the city’s young and disenfranchised fight each other amid an extreme housing shortage created by 30 to 40 years of NIMBYism (or “Not-In-My-Backyard-ism”) from the old wealth of the city and down from the peninsula suburbs… (more)

It’s complicated, but Ms. Cutler tries to tie all the parts together so you can spend some time mulling over them.

How Gentrifiers Gentrify

October 7, 2015

By Max Holleran : publicbooks – excerpt

October 1, 2015 — This past spring a new French restaurant opened in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Located on Malcolm X Boulevard, directly across the street from a Crown Fried Chicken, the restaurant—with a menu that includes frog legs and a bottle of Bordeaux that sells for $2,000—is an incongruous new addition to an area of Brooklyn where the median household income is below $35,000. It is named L’Antagoniste, ostensibly for its celebration of the contrarian French personalities pictured on its walls, but neighbors might interpret the name differently.

In Brooklyn the opening of a Francophile farm-to-table restaurant in a neighborhood where many bodegas still have bulletproof glass now follows a well-worn path. Yet if, or more likely when, the restaurant’s patrons move into the neighborhood, they will face off against long-term residents for control. How do gentrifiers take over a place culturally, racially, and socioeconomically different from themselves? In Good Neighbors: Gentrifying Diversity in Boston’s South End, Sylvie Tissot examines how new neighborhood antagonists come to wield local power.

Writing on gentrification has generally taken two very different approaches: the bird’s-eye view (popular in critical geography), in which gentrifiers are cogs in an unequal economy that manifests itself in disputes over city space; and the ground-level focus on the cultural trappings of newcomers: flat white coffee, vintage T-shirts, artisanal beer, and vegan cupcakes. Good Neighbors brings together culture and politics to show how such tastes can lead to political power for gentrifiers, creating a wedge with which they penetrate neighborhood organizations and assume authority over others. The process of forming a neighborhood elite in Boston’s South End happened, according to Tissot, not always through the often-colorful world of the city’s democratic politics but through voluntary associations that, despite being private, wielded considerable power—interior design or park conservation is not just a hobby. Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s analysis of how groups use cultural capital for social advancement, Parisian sociologist Tissot shows how wealthier newcomers used city boards and nonprofits to mold Boston’s South End in their own image and to actively exclude those who lived there before them from decision-making and positions of power… (more)

Pro-development group seeks to take over local Sierra Club

October 6, 2015

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

Move could change the politics of one of SF’s environmental stalwarts

OCTOBER 6, 2015 — A group that wants more market-rate housing development pretty much any cost is trying to gets its allies elected to the local Sierra Club board to force the organization to be more supportive of highrise condo projects, including on the waterfront.

The pro-growth advocates are taking advantage of the open, democratic process of the venerable environmental group, which allows anyone who pays a $15 membership fee by Tuesday/6 to vote in the upcoming board elections.

This isn’t the first time interests that want to change the club’s politics have tried to sign up new members and take over senior positions – in the 1990s, a group tried led by the former governor of Colorado tried to get seats on the national board to force the environmentalists into taking a strong anti-immigration stance.

This is a much smaller effort, but it has its own ambitious goal – to drive an organization that has been part of the progressive movement in San Francisco in recent years to take a more pro-development stance…

The battle is getting played out mostly on Google groups and facebook, where Trauss and Dewsnup, who has filed as a candidate for the Executive Board, are making their pitch: If enough people sign up and join, the politics of the club can be shifted…

In other words, as Sierra Club political leader John Rizzo points out, a relatively small number of new members can have a serious impact.

The Sierra Club slate in San Francisco is influential; this time around, the club endorsed challenger Aaron Peskin over Sup. Julie Christensen and is supporting the tighter limits on Airbnb and the Mission Moratorium. The SFBARFers are all in for Christensen and oppose the moratorium…

I asked Trauss what she was up to, and she told me that she’s particularly upset that the Sierra Club opposed height increases at 75 Howard. In fact, the club has been part of the broad-based progressive coalition that has fought to keep the waterfront from becoming Miami Beach.

She wrote to me:

New housing is expensive, because it’s new, and SF has tons of rich people. It’s appropriate to build new, expensive housing for rich people in expensive neighborhoods. Sierra Club (and No wall on the waterfront) are just rich people using their political capital to block housing in their fancy neighborhoods.

If that’s what you think, fine. If you disagree, it’s easy to join the Sierra Club online, and even a few more memberships could keep a part of SF’s progressive movement from becoming another developer front.

The link is here. Just scroll down and click “join.”… (more)

Is the dotcom bubble about to burst (again)?

October 5, 2015

 theguardian – excerpt

In Silicon Valley, millions of dollars change hands every day as investors hunt the next big thing – the ‘unicorn’, or billion-dollar tech firm. There are now almost 150, but can they all succeed? 

Have you heard the story about the tip from the shoeshine boy, a Brit called James Pallot asks me on my last day at TechCrunch Disrupt. I have, I say, though later I Google it to get the facts straight.

It’s attributed to Joseph Kennedy, paterfamilias of the Kennedy clan who, in 1929, was getting his shoes shined by a young boy who was also making confident predictions about which stocks would rise. For Kennedy, it was a moment of revelation. He sold his portfolio. Not long afterwards, Wall Street crashed and the world was plunged into the greatest depression ever seen. So a tip from the shoeshine boy is a sign that the bubble is about to burst. That the wave of confidence will finally crash upon the shore. That the jig is up.

Pallot used to be the digital editorial director of Condé Nast in New York and now he has a startup. But then, we’re at the world’s biggest startup conference in San Francisco, a few miles down the road from Silicon Valley where the world’s greatest concentration of technology startups first started up.

His company is in the booming field of VR, or virtual reality, which is to 2015 roughly what Rubik’s Cubes were to 1982, though with rather bigger potential consequences. Pallot claims it’s the logical next step for journalistic content. In 20 years’ time, you won’t be reading this on the page, I’ll probably be leading you by the hand through a 3D rendering of a virtual TechCrunch conference floor. Or, more likely, you’ll be leading yourself and I’ll be claiming jobseeker’s allowance.

But anyway. In the meantime, Pallot asks me if I’ve heard of the tip from the shoeshine boy. I have, I say, and tell him it’s been on my mind. Because for three days, I’ve been hearing about “unicorns” – a Silicon Valley term for companies that have been valued at more than $1bn. When this usage was first coined, less than two years ago, there were 39 of them. Today, there are 147. Or as Matthew Wong, a senior analyst at CB Insights, tells me: “The funding is at levels that we haven’t seen since 2000.”… (more)

Considering the number of prayers going out for a relapse it wouldn’t be surprising if some kind of “correction” didn’t occur soon. The good news and money in Silicon Valley does not spread very far into the general populous i in the Bay Area communities. The takeover of tech is pushing traditional jobs out, which could lead to a disaster if a  downturn in tech materializes.


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