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November 2016 SFMTA Charter Amendment

May 30, 2016

Let City Hall know you are fed up with the SFMTA.
Return the power to the people.

The SFMTA Charter Amendment will split the MTA Board appointments between the Mayor and the Supervisors, 4 to 3 and lower the requirement to reject the SFMTA’s budget from 7 to 6 supervisors, putting the SFMTA management in line with other city departments, and making it easier for the Board of Supervisors to respond faster to voter requests. Link to legislation File No. 160389

The SFMTA is the one that needs to shift policies and goals, not the residents. They work for us. We don’t work for them.  San Francisco needs a transportation system that works today, not a plan for the future. We need a Board who listens to the public not one that dictates to us. Taking seats out of buses and removing bus stops will not help our aging population take public transportation.
Link to a Sample letter to the supervisors

Eminent domain means your home can be their castle

August 20, 2016

 By Debra J. Saunders : sfchronicle – excerpt

As mayor of Oakland in the 2000s, Jerry Brown supported redevelopment. Then he returned to the governor’s office in 2011 and inherited a $25 billion budget shortfall. Feeling the squeeze, Brown saw an opportunity to make $1.7 billion by eliminating redevelopment agencies and shifted. He liked redevelopment as mayor, he explained to the League of California Cities, but also: “I didn’t quite understand it. It seemed kind of magical. It was the money that you could spend on stuff that they wouldn’t otherwise let you spend.”

In Sacramento, fiscal restraint can only last so long. The urge to “spend on stuff” is back. Last year, the Legislature passed a measure with bipartisan support to restore redevelopment. The governor signed the bill, which took effect this year. Already the Legislature is working to expand rules to allow local officials to green-light pet projects more likely to enrich powerful interests than benefit the communities the policy is supposed to serve.

Small businesses, beware. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “economic development” constituted “public use” in its infamous Kelo decision, which allowed governments to seize private property for private development. (The state or local government derives its power to take private property for public use in return for just compensation from the right of eminent domain.) The Kelo ruling emboldened cities like Oakland to seize private property at bargain prices to accommodate tony private development. The targeted property didn’t even have to be blighted — the traditional rationale for urban renewal projects. It just had to be in the way… (more)

Chilling Thing Twitter Said about San Francisco’s Office Bubble

August 19, 2016

Chilling Thing Twitter Said about San Francisco’s Office Bubble

Twitter is shaking up San Francisco. It’s the city’s 10th largest employer, and second largest tech employer, after Salesforce. But it hasn’t yet figured out, despite a decade of trying, how to make money. Last October, it announced that it would lay off 8% of its workforce. A couple of weeks ago, it reported a second-quarter net loss of $107 million along with disappointing user metrics and lousy projections. Its shares have lost 74% since their miracle-IPO-hype peak at the end of December 2014.

And now Twitter is dumping nearly one third of its total office space on the San Francisco sublease market.

It leases a number of floors in the two buildings at Market Square. The four floors it put on the sublease market total 183,642 square feet of “fully furnished” office space with workstations for 1,416 employees, according to a marketing brochure by corporate real estate firm CRESA.

It’s the largest sublease space now available in San Francisco… (more)

This is old news from August 8, but, there are still people who insist we need to build more office space, or rather that we need to “allow” more office space so they can build it whenever they want. That is why we have Prop O on the ballot. Lannar wants the voters to allow them to build more than the allowable limit on their property at Candlestick and Hunter’s Point. We haven’t given them enough yet. Proposition O: Candlestick Point/Hunters Point office development

San Francisco fighting over limited construction labor force

August 19, 2016

By Kelsey Ramírez : housingwire – excerpt

Construction constraints driving up home prices

San Francisco’s competitive employment market is causing many construction companies to lose workers and driving a trend towards more expensive housing, according to an article by Alison Vekshin for Bloomberg.

The city is in an office and condominium construction boom to accommodate the technology boom in the area, and these builders are contracting out construction workers by offering them $2, $3 or $4 more per hour than the residential real estate construction pays them, the article states.

“Everybody’s fighting for the same labor force,” said Sean Keighran, president of the Residential Builders Association of San Francisco. “There’s so much work going on. I would say this is a new high-water mark for work activity in San Francisco in decades, perhaps ever.”

Because of this increase in competition, single-family residential builders have been forced to move into a new market: luxury homes…

In San Francisco, costs are particularly high because access to the city is constrained by bridges and congested highways, making it difficult for contractors to come from outside the city, said Gregg Nelson, Trumark’s co-founder. There’s also a shortage of skilled workers who can handle large-scale commercial projects, he said, estimating that direct building expenses have increased 50% to 60% since 2012.

The result is that developers are forced to build luxury homes, Nelson said. His company, which has four San Francisco condo projects, has to project revenue of $1,400 to $1,600 per square foot to get a loan underwritten.

“Because the costs are higher, you can’t deliver product at an affordable price in those markets,” he said.

Technology jobs caused a boom in San Francisco’s market, but that could change as prices rise, and workers can no longer afford to live in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S…(more)

Some of us have been saying this for months. The shovel-ready government projects that were supposed to jump-start the economy with government bonds, are driving up the price of labor as well as public debt.  They need to slow down those programs.

We need to try to smooth the employment peaks and valleys by doing government programs during during economic downturns. Rushing to complete major government projects during peak employment makes no sense and is driving up prices for everyone.




Chinese developer pays $171 million for 42-acre biotech site in South San Francisco

August 18, 2016

by Blanca Torres : bizjournals – excerpt

Greenland USA and its equity partners completed the purchase of the Landing at Oyster Point, a proposed 2.25 million-square-foot biotech and life science campus in South San Francisco, for $171 million.

The firm, a state-owned Chinese developer, bought the 42-acre site from a partnership between Shorenstein Properties and SKS Partners, which paid $84 million for the land in 2008 and entitled the development plan… (more)


Comprehensive Approach Needed to Solve Displacement

August 18, 2016

By Jacob Bourne : theregistrysf – excerpt

A team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley are working to better understand the root causes of the Bay Area’s urban displacement and gentrification issues through The Urban Displacement Project. Working in conjunction with community-based organizations and UCLA research partners, the team has funding through MTC, ABAG, Air Resources Board, and The California Endowment to analyze development trends and changes at the neighborhood level, in an attempt to help equip communities with tools to respond to displacement pressures.

In May, project director Miriam Zuk, Ph.D., and Professor Karen Chapple, principal investigator, authored Housing Production, Filtering and Displacement: Untangling the Relationships, which provides “A nuanced analysis of the relationship between housing, production, affordability, and displacement in the San Francisco Bay Area.”

The research focused on impacts for low-income residents, defined as households with income below 80-percent of county medians. They found that for the Bay Area’s nine counties, both market-rate and subsidized housing production reduces displacement, though subsidized housing has more than double the effect of market-rate units. Further data showed that increases in market-rate housing supply lead to more rent-burdened low income residents but also results in lower median rents for future decades. The research brief also indicates that in places such as San Francisco where there’s a high demand for housing and low supply, the production of market-rate and subsidized units don’t provide as much protection against displacement as compared to the regional level. Among other deductions, the study concluded that in markets such as San Francisco, preservation strategies are vital, working alongside increased production of market-rate and subsidized units to curb displacement.

“The take away is that market rate housing is needed in this region due to the dearth of supply, but we can’t look at that solely,” commented Zuk. “Market-rate housing isn’t the only solution. We need to make sure that subsidized housing is available.”… (more)

Arguello: Governor’s housing plan harms low-income communities

August 16, 2016

By Martha Dina Arguello, Special : mercurynews – excerpt

California needs a thoughtful, comprehensive approach to increasing affordable housing. The governor’s proposal isn’t it

There is a clear need for more low-income and affordable housing in California. Unfortunately, Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest so-called affordable housing policy favors developers and harms the environment, while doing little to put a roof over the heads of people facing housing insecurity.

Housing in many parts of our state is completely out of reach for many Californians. According to the California Association of Realtors, average home prices in coastal areas range from $782,500 in Santa Clara County to $660,000 in Orange County. In many places, you need at least double the median income to buy a home.

The need for new affordable housing is most acute around transit lines, as low-income residents are less likely to own private cars. That’s exactly where home prices are going up the fastest. A growing number of families must choose between paying rent or buying food and accessing health — basic needs that become unaffordable luxuries.

The governor’s proposal would exempt almost all residential developments from environmental review and community input. It creates a false choice between environmental protection and affordable housing. What’s more, this proposal allows projects near transit that are 95 percent luxury units to bypass environmental review. Creating such a broad exemption is much more likely to put urban dwellers at risk of air pollution and related public health risks than meaningfully increase our affordable housing stock…

California needs a thoughtful, comprehensive approach to increasing affordable housing. The governor’s proposal isn’t it...

Martha Dina Argüello is executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility — Los Angeles. She wrote this for the Mercury News(more)

Struggling Twitter To Sublease 1,400 Employees’ Worth Of Mid-Market Office Space

August 16, 2016

By Allie Pape : hoodline – excerpt

Times have been tough for Twitter, which has seen its stock price decline fairly steadily since last spring and laid off eight percent of its employees last October. Now, the city’s second-largest tech employer is subleasing a hefty quantity of office space in its two Mid-Market buildings, presumably to help bring in a little extra cash.

According to the SF Business Times, Twitter has made four spaces immediately available for sublease: one in the historic former SF Furniture Mart building at 1355 Market St., and three in the adjacent building at One 10th Street. Together, they total 183,642 square feet, enough space for 1,416 employees—making the office sublease San Francisco’s largest… (more)


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