Skip to content

Through the cracks journalism

The latest catch.

Why Gentrification Is Not Inevitable

April 20, 2014

A new much-publicized report on displacement in Oakland and San Francisco also provides a roadmap for how to stop things from getting worse.

A new comprehensive report on gentrification in Oakland and San Francisco received much attention last week from Bay Area news outlets. But one of aspect of the report — and perhaps the most striking claim in it — went mostly overlooked: the argument that gentrification is not inevitable.

According to the report, “Development Without Displacement,” which was a joint project of the housing-rights organization Causa Justa/Just Cause (CJJC) and the Alameda County Public Health Department, the current trend — rising housing costs pushing lower-income residents out of their communities — can be stopped. The report also presented data showing the recent displacement of working class communities of color in Oakland and San Francisco, along with a summary of research showing the effects of displacement on the lives and health of community residents.

But the report, released April 7 at a standing-room-only event in the Fruitvale Senior Center, is not only a factual document, but also a call to action. It advocates for specific policy changes — and a whole new vision of development. CJJC Program co-director Dawn Phillips said his group is not anti-development. “Residents in deteriorated communities know things have to change,” he said. “The question is, what kind of change?”…

“People need to listen to us — the city council, the policymakers — and we need to talk,” said Towanda Sherry, a member of CJJC. “If we don’t speak up, they’ll roll right over us.”… (more)

There are a number of Ellis Act amendments under consideration in Sacramento. The SF Supervisors running for state office are in a race to get bills written that mitigate the problem at a local level. Here is the article on the latest one:
San Francisco Supervisors Approve Bigger Payouts For Ellis Act Evictions

One CEQA case linking the tech buses to a specific eviction is headed for an appeal:
Bus Blocking protesters call out Google staffer who’s allegedly trying to evict Guerrero Street tenants/


Privatization of public housing

April 20, 2014

By : sfbg – excerpt

Many residents feel they’re moving from the frying pan of Housing Authority control into the fire of developer and nonprofit management.

Like so many San Franciscans, Sabrina Carter is getting evicted.

The mother of three says that if she loses her home in the Western Addition, she’ll have nowhere to go. It’s been a tough, four-year battle against her landlord — a St. Louis-based development company called McCormack Baron — and its law firm, Bornstein & Bornstein. That’s the same law firm that gained notoriety for holding an “eviction boot camp” last November to teach landlords how to do Ellis Act evictions and sweep tenants out of rent-controlled housing.

But Carter’s story isn’t your typical Ellis eviction. Plaza East, where she lives, is a public housing project. Public housing residents throughout the country are subject to the “one-strike and you’re out” rule. If residents get one strike — any misdemeanor or felony arrest — they get an eviction notice. In Carter’s case, her 16-year-old was arrested. He was cleared of all charges — but Carter says McCormack Baron still wouldn’t accept her rent payment and wouldn’t respond to her questions…

PUBLIC HOUSING, PRIVATE INTERESTS: Plaza East is one of five San Francisco public housing properties that was privatized under HOPE VI, a federal program that administers grants to demolish and rebuild physically distressed public housing…

US Department Housing and Urban Development is rolling out a new program to privatize public housing. The San Francisco Housing Authority is one of 340 housing projects in the nation to be chosen for the competitive program. The city is now starting to implement the Rental Assistance Demonstration program. When it’s done, 75 percent of the city’s public housing properties will be privatized.

Under RAD, developers will team up with nonprofits and architectural firms to take over managing public housing from the Housing Authority. RAD is a federal program meant to address a nationwide crisis in public housing funding. Locally, the effort to implement the program has been spurred by the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development…

Armstrong is the president of the citywide Public Housing Tenants Association, and she talked about RAD at a March 27 meeting, conveying tenants’ apprehension toward the expansion of private managers in public housing.

“Staff in HOPE VI developments are very condescending,” Armstrong said. “We’re not pleased. We’re being demeaned, beat up on, and talked to in a way I don’t feel is appropriate.”…

Public housing has many complex problems that need radical solutions. But some say RAD isn’t the right one. After seeing developers gain from public housing while generational poverty persists within them, Gray-Garcia says that her organization is working with public housing residents to look into ways to give people power over their homes. They are considering suing for equity for public housing residents(more)

How many people are aware that the city plans to turn over 75% of its public housing stock to private enterprise non-profits and  developers? What kind of non-profits are these? The kind that spend city money on lobbying efforts in Sacramento to push the laws that developers want?


Central Subway project cooks the books

April 11, 2014

by district5diary : (Covering Their Tracks) in the SF Weekly - excerpt

LaVonda Atkinson laughs bitterly, shakes her head, and grins. “Your article”—the article you’re now reading—”is gonna get me fired.” It is, after all, dangerous to stand in the path of a train. That’s especially so in the case of Muni’s long-gestating Central Subway project: a $1.6 billion, 1.7-mile extension to Chinatown and eventually, if vocal civic boosters get their way, along to Fisherman’s Wharf for millions, if not billions, more. The Central Subway is a transit line. But it’s also a monument to the coercive role of politics in the realm of transit planning. It’s a pet project of the city’s most powerful influence-peddlers, virtually every electable politician, and our federal representatives in Washington, D.C., disseminating largesse back to the home front. Atkinson is the project’s cost engineer. It’s her job to ensure the numbers add up. They don’t.

Not surprising that the folks building the Central Subway are cooking the books as they go along, since Save Muni—not cited in the article—has been documenting the project’s many problems and deceptions from the start. It’s an obviously flawed oversight approach that makes the project’s cost engineer risk getting fired for blowing the whistle or have to go along with a dishonest practice…

The prose in the Weekly story reads like a teenager’s first attempt at writing—or “Writing”—for the school paper. Muni doesn’t “sign” a contract; it “inks” it. Muni didn’t “buy” or just “get” a computer program; it “acquired” it. The feds don’t just “read” contracts; they “peruse” them. “Prior” is chosen instead of “before,” and “subsequent” gets used before “after.” A schedule is not “completed”; it has to be “finalized.” There are “myriad” line items, when “many” would have been enough. A mere “letter” is transformed into a “missive.” And “luxuriate” is used incorrectly instead of “linger.”
The SF Weekly deserves credit for opposing the Central Project early on.

Of course the Board of Lemmings unanimously supports the Central Subway project… (more)


Bus-Blocking Protesters Call Out Google Staffer Who’s Allegedly Trying To Evict Guerrero Street Tenants

April 11, 2014

by Laura Dixon - sfappeal – excerpt

Dozens of protesters in San Francisco blocked a bus headed for Google headquarters this morning and dozens more are expected during a march this afternoon to rally against the evictions of local teachers and other longtime city residents.

Protesters from Eviction Free San Francisco and other groups blocked a Google bus at Dolores and 18th streets starting around 8:30 a.m. The protest went on for about 20 minutes before police cleared the scene, according to protest organizer Becca Gourevitch.

Attendees heard from longtime residents of a building at 812 Guerrero St. who are being evicted under the Ellis Act, a state law that allows property owners to take a building off of the rental market and convert it for other uses, such as condominiums or a single-family home.

The building was recently purchased by a Google employee who “proceeded to evict tenants using illegal methods,” according to a statement from Eviction Free San Francisco… (more)

If this is a true story we have a evidence that the Google employees who ride the buses are directly effecting the displacement of San Francisco residents by evicting them. Whether these evictions are legal or not, we have to ask ourselves, should they be, and what can be done to change the laws to protect ourselves?


Why isn’t S.F. Mayor Ed Lee fighting Prop. B?

April 7, 2014

By John Coté : sfgate – excerpt

In January, Mayor Ed Lee stood against the backdrop of a construction site overlooking the bay during his State of the City address and called for 30,000 new or rehabilitated homes to be built in San Francisco by 2020.

Since then, a measure has qualified for the June ballot that members of Lee’s administration say could threaten the construction of up to 3,690 planned housing units. Yet the mayor, who otherwise has appeared eager to tackle the city’s housing crisis during the current tech boom, has so far refused to take a public stance on a proposal that could put a sizable dent in his stated goal.

The reason, according to political analysts, is simple: politics… (more)


Time for the Giants to play ball on Prop. B

April 6, 2014

Art Agnos and Quentin Kopp : sfgate – excerpt

Now that a judge has ruled Proposition B – the Waterfront Height Limit Right to Vote Initiative – will remain on the June ballot, it’s the right time for the San Francisco Giants to drop their opposition to this commonsense ballot measure…

Proposition B would simply require that, before the existing waterfront height limits along the 7 1/2 miles of Port of San Francisco property stretching from Fisherman’s Wharf to Bayview Hunters Point can be increased, the voters must approve the changes. The rest of the city’s planning process would stay the same. In exactly the same fashion as the Giants’ ballpark was conceived, shaped and put before the people, Prop. B would encourage prospective waterfront developers, the Port Commission and politicians at City Hall to only propose tall buildings along the waterfront if those projects will make sense to the voters. Currently, the system is one that excludes the public and allows the kind of backroom deals and rubber-stamping that led to the City Hall approval of the 8 Washington luxury condo towers deal, only to be rejected by two-thirds of San Francisco voters last fall. We don’t need more 8 Washington schemes.

We note that the Warriors and Forest City Development, which propose two waterfront projects requiring voter approval under Proposition B, publicly state that they are not opposed to Proposition B. The Giants should not fear San Francisco voters. Instead, they should join the Sierra Club, the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods and so many San Franciscans who will be voting Yes on Proposition B this June. Let’s work together to win one for our waterfront… (more)


SF MTA City Whistle-Blower’s Lament: An Itemized List of How Muni Obscured Its Budget

April 2, 2014


SFMTA obscured its budget

Originally posted on Meter Madness:

By Joe Eskenazi : sfweekly – excerpt

LaVonda Atkinson, the cost engineer for the Central Subway project, this year filed a complaint with the city’s whistle-blower program alleging serious lapses in accounting procedures and unethical behavior on the $1.578 billion project. Among her more disturbing charges reported to SF Weekly:

  • A Muni official, in writing, acknowledges plugging a “make-up #” into a federally reported document in order to maintain the desired total budget: a “make-up #” $30 million off from the data within that very document and $43 million greater than the prior month’s reported total.
  • Atkinson claims she was instructed to override computer formulas and manually reduce cost variances to zero — obscuring millions of dollars of month-to-month reassignments of budgets and expenditures, often on projects completed as long ago as 2010. As such, budgets are retroactively altered to match actual expenditures, and then the alterations themselves are hidden…

View original 244 more words


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 71 other followers

%d bloggers like this: