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The Gentrification of our Livelihoods: Everything Must Go…

February 27, 2015

Originally posted on Beaux Artists:

by Megan Wilson :stretcher – excerpt

Preface: When I began researching and writing The Gentrification of our Livelihoods in early March 2014 one of my primary interests was the impact that the collaboration between Intersection for the Arts and developer Forest City’s creative placemaking 5M Project is having on the existing communities that have invested in and called the South of Market home prior to the tech booms. Having worked with many community-based organizations within the SoMa community for the past 18 years, I’ve had deep concerns about the development’s impact for the neighborhood and its impact on the future of Intersection.

However, I would not have predicted the announcement that Intersection made on May 22nd to cut its arts, education, and community engagement programs and lay off its program staff would come as soon as it did. What began as a reflection on the shortcomings of creative…

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SF housing protests get personal as another Googler is confronted at home

February 27, 2015

by : arstechnica – excerpt

Protest is the third in recent months to target a Google employee.

There’s an undeniable second boom underway in the tech sector, and the consequences, both positive and negative, are rippling throughout the San Francisco Bay Area with special force.

Protests focused on the negative effects of tech companies have become increasingly common in recent months, and they’re getting personal. This morning, protestors who say they’re being evicted by a Google lawyer protested in front of the property he owns.

It’s the third gathering to target a specific Google employee. In January, protestors showed up at the Berkeley home of a Google engineer who had done work on self-driving cars. Earlier this week, protestors gathered at the Potrero Hill home of Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose, holding posters calling Rose a “parasite.”

The building at 812 Guerrero Street in San Francisco is where Jack Halprin, a lawyer who handles e-discovery for Google, lives. It’s also a building that houses six other tenants who Halprin recently initiated evictions against.

That caused a small group of protestors to gather at the property this morning, decrying Halprin’s actions.

“Jack Halprin, a lawyer for Google, displaced two of my friends out of this building,” said a bullhorn-wielding protestor whose statements were videotaped by a reporter for SF blog Mission Local. “One of them had a child. The other had to move out of the area. Continuing on—not satisfied, he Ellis Acted everyone else. What was once a community of friends has become a piece of property to be traded and sold for money.”

A small crowd gathered in front of the building, holding signs and chanting for several minutes. “7 Families Evicted for 1 Google Lawyer,” read one sign.

“He is so fake, he had this plan all along,” Claudia Tirado, one of Halprin’s tenants, told Mission Local. Tirado, a third grade teacher and mother, has lived in the building for eight years. “He bought it with a partner taking two flats, now he’s taking all seven.”… (more)


Google’s Expansion Causing Excitement, Worry in Mountain View

New expansion plans for Google headquarters, known as the Googleplex, has the city of Mountain View in a tough position as city leaders try to accommodate their biggest corporate taxpayer as well as non-Google residents who feel the tech giant is swallowing their town.

“I think most of us in Mountain View are concerned about where are we going to house the employees that work there, the new employees. How will they get to work given the traffic bottlenecks that already exist?” asked Mountain View councilman Lenny Siegel… (more)


It’s still called trickle-down economics, even in San Francisco

February 26, 2015

By David Campos : sfexaminer – excerpt

Who Paid Attention in Economics 101?

Something unsettling has occurred – the ghost of Ronald Reagan has spoken from the grave and he’s chosen a San Francisco Supervisor as his mouthpiece.

A colleague of mine, Supervisor Scott Wiener, recently published a letter addressing affordable housing activists and an unnamed elected official. The letter claims that people who don’t believe in laissez-faire housing policies also don’t believe in the law of supply and demand. While affordable housing advocates are used to the mischaracterization of their policies, I have to admit I am surprised that a San Francisco Supervisor in 2015 is dusting off tired, warmed-over Milton Friedman tropes and trying to pass them off as smart housing policy.

Let me be clear – not a single affordable housing activist denies the existence of the law of supply and demand. Where we all agree is that the incredibly complex San Francisco housing crisis won’t be solved by the recitation of freshman economics notes. But while we’re talking about Econ 101, here’s a refresher – the policies they are pushing aren’t referred to by liberals as “supply and demand” they’re called “free market development” – otherwise known as deregulation. And deregulation is a bad idea for most markets, especially housing.

Let Them Eat Cake Development

My Moratorium is Better than Yours

There has been a lot of speculation and hand ringing about possible interim controls in the Southern Mission. Here’s some history. In the last 20 years, the Mission District has lost 1,400 Latino families. My office and the Mayor’s Office of Workforce and Economic Development – with the unanimous support of the Board of Supervisors – funded the creation of a neighborhood group called Calle 24. Its goal is to protect the character of the Southern Mission and prevent displacement of its residents and small business. Following an almost two year process, the community group made up of local residents, merchants, and artists came up with a plan.

The group has called upon the board of Supervisors and the Mayor to do three things: fast track the development of affordable housing in the Mission; pass interim controls to preserve land for affordable housing development in the neighborhood; and form a special use district, with controls similar to those in Japantown, to preserve the neighborhoods unique historic and Latino character. Ironically, the same colleague who has criticized Calle 24’s recommendations, recently introduced similar development controls on what he calls “monster houses” being built in his own neighborhood. Free marketeers often try and stop poor communities from having a voice in development, but are happy to exchange their ‘supply and demand’ hat for a nimby hat when it comes to protecting their own backyard.

Economics 102

Tenant Evictions have risen 38% in the last 3 years. Ellis Act evictions, which take rental units off the market forever, have doubled every year for the past three years. Almost 2,000 tenants were evicted last year, the highest in 15 years. Housing advocates have consistently asked the Mayor and Board of Supervisors to support policies that would end the erosion of our current supply of affordable units and have consistently been rejected. When people are evicted from their rent controlled homes we diminish supply. When apartment owners convert units to condos we diminish supply. When homeowners put units on the short term rental market we diminish supply. Civic leaders are going to have to take this crisis seriously and be willing to put forward innovative solutions that don’t rely on false cause and effect – the people of San Francisco are demanding it.

David Campos is a San Francisco supervisor… (more)

What’s ‘success’ mean in the Mission? First, an end to the evictions

February 26, 2015

by 48hillsonline – excerpt

FEBRUARY 25, 2015 — The Chron held its much-publicized forum on the future of the Mission last night, and the response from the audience suggested there will be a lot of support for a move to limit new development in the neighborhood.

The room was packed, with hundreds of people watching the Chron’s 20-minute video on the changes in the Mission and then hearing a panel talk about some of the issues. I can complain about the Chron coverage — at no point did any reporter confront a greedy landlord or speculator on camera and ask how they feel about destroying a community. The disaster of displacement in the Mission seemed almost like an act of God — it just happens, and there are no bad guys.

But at least the paper is talking about displacement, and while there were a few really lame people on the panel, there were also some very good people speaking. Erick Arguello, the president of Calle24, set the tone for the discussion when he said that the goal of his group is to “make sure our people are able to stay.”…

Joe Garofoli, one of the Chron reporters on the project, asked a good question: What would success look like? Marti had the clear and obvious answer:

“Success is when not a single person gets evicted, there’s no more speculation, and we build housing in balance with job growth.”.

Everyone applauded – because to most of the people who showed up for the event, Marti articulated the issue that has to be at the center of any debate: People who live in the neighborhood now, and don’t want to leave, shouldn’t be forced out to make room for people with more money.

Simple concept. Everyone in the room seemed to get it. Amazingly hard to get across at City Hall sometimes.

District Nine Supervisor David Campos was offered the chance to address the panel, and he talked about the Calle24 proposals. He noted that he’s been criticized for calling for a moratorium on development when he hasn’t even introduced a bill yet.

But the “key assumption by the attackers,” he said, is that supply-side economics, Ronald Reagan’s theory, actually works. “You build luxury homes, and somehow that will trickle down … it’s voodoo housing, the idea that you can have affordable housing even if you don’t build affordable housing.”…

There seems to be a bit of confusion about the role Campos is playing in the proposed development for the 16th Street BART station. The developer made a mistake and included him as a sponsor of a March 4 meeting. The likes of Michael Petrelis are demanding that he take a stand.

All of this shows a deep misunderstanding of how the Board of Supervisors works.

There’s no doubt in my mind that whatever the Planning Commission decides on the Maximus development, it will wind up getting appealed to the supes. That’s typical with big projects that require environmental review and conditional-use authorization.

When that happens, the board members are sitting in a quasi-judicial role, hearing an appeal of another city agency’s ruling. If any member has already taken a position for or against the project, he or she can be forced to accept recusal and sit it out.

This project will be controversial, and the vote on the board could be close. Campos would be highly irresponsible to take a position for or against the project today when that could jeopardize his vote on it later, when it matters(more)

Thank you Tim for doing a really good job of explaining the complexities of the rules the District Supervisors must follow in order to get the results they are after. This article needs wider distribution. The last few paragraphs are especially helpful. Learning the rules will help constituents work with their representatives in a more effective way.

Marin Voice: A real test for debate over housing densities

February 15, 2015

The apartments at the old WinCup site in Corte Madera are nearing completion. Once that happens, we will finally have the chance to determine which planning philosophy is more accurate in the real world.

For the 20 years that I was on the Larkspur City Council, there were constant battles between what I called the “social density agitators” and the “realists.” The social density agitators were constantly pushing the agenda of higher and higher density, elimination of parking spaces for occupants of new housing, more bike and pedestrian paths, etc.

The realists, which I consider myself, refused to buy into the fantasy that you can turn suburban Marin into high-density enclaves and in doing so, most if not all of the occupants would take public transit to work and walk or bike to do most of their everyday shopping, and their kids would either ride a bike or walk to school.

However, during my time on the council, the two opposing views clashed only in theory because Marin had no high-density, limited-parking housing.

Now that will change with the WinCup apartments coming on line very soon.

The apartment complex represents close to the ideal that the social density agitators advocate. There are 180 units, made up of one- and two-bedroom apartments and some three-bedroom townhouses. According to the Corte Madera planning director, there are supposed to be 295 parking spaces, some of which will be assigned as guest parking. How are they going to allocate the extra 115 spaces among the 180 units and guest parking?

If you rent a three-bedroom unit does that mean, by definition, you are entitled to more than one space?

Talk about economic inequality smacking right into the issue of parking!… (more)

What’s Wrong With a Bill That Helps the Hungry and Reduces Food Waste?

February 13, 2015


The Fighting Hunger Incentive Act could help increase charitable donations—but some see it as a tax giveaway.

A law that could help feed those in need and reduce the amount of perfectly good food chucked into landfills—some 40 percent of fruits, vegetables, and other items goes to waste—would appear to be a double shot of good. A bill that’s making its way through the Republican-controlled House would do just that. So why is the Obama administration threatening to veto it?

The Fighting Hunger Incentive Act, which passed out of the Committee on Ways and Means late last week, promises to increase donations to food banks and other charitable groups by providing tax incentives. But some antihunger advocates are concerned that the bill would amount to little more than a massive tax write-off for corporations.

“Why don’t we have a tax policy that recognizes and (provides incentives) to say, ‘Why don’t we donate that to our neighbors, to the food banks of America, so that they can use that food, rather than putting it in the ground in a landfill?’ ” Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., one of the bill’s five Republican cosponsors, told the Star Gazette on Sunday. “Use that food where it needs to be utilized best. And that’s on the tables of hungry Americans across the country,”

It’s a conservative idea for addressing poverty that, unlike cutting $40 billion from the food stamp program, has earned the support of food banks. Feeding America, the largest antihunger group in the country, supports the bill… (more)

ABAG facing audit

February 13, 2015

By By J.K. Dineen : sfgate – excerpt

ABAG hearings: State officials are rushing in to get to the bottom of the ABAG scandal. State Controller Betty Yee said Thursday that her office will conduct an audit of the Association of Bay Area Governments’ internal administrative and accounting controls after allegations that a senior official stole $1.3 million.

“As California’s chief fiscal officer, I am charged with protecting state resources,” Yee said. “When public money goes missing, I need to determine how it happened and whether effective controls are in place.”

The audit will initially focus on fiscal years 2012-13 and 2013-14. If investigators discover accounting weaknesses that may have affected earlier years, the audit may be expanded.

Yee’s office has sent a letter to ABAG asking that the association fork over any and all relevant documents — including ledgers, contracts, invoices, personnel records, meeting minutes, policies and procedures.

The audit work will begin Feb. 20 and is expected to take a few weeks… (more)


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