Skip to content

Through the cracks journalism

The latest catch.

Secrecy rules in regional-planning power struggle

September 1, 2015

By Zelda Bronstein : 48hills – excerpt

Critical funding, equity issues playing out with very little public input. Pat Eklund, of Novato, is the only member of the ABAG Executive Board who is calling for more openness in the process.

SEPTEMBER 1, 2015 — Last week the power struggle between the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments intensified, as the Sierra Club and the Six Wins for Equity Network entered the fray. Meanwhile, the agencies’ joint ad hoc committee resumed its secret deliberations on consolidating the planning functions of the two agencies.

Routinely ignored by the media, MTC and ABAG operate in obscurity at their MetroCenter headquarters in Oakland. That’s unfortunate, given their huge impact on where Bay Area residents live and work (or not), and how we get around. MTC oversees the region’s transportation planning; ABAG manages its planning for land use and housing. Together they prepared the region’s first, state-mandated Sustainable Communities Strategy, Plan Bay Area 2040, approved in July 2013. Under the aegis of that “blueprint,” as they call it, the two groups expect to hand out $292 billion in public funds.

Their current dispute involves money. Finance-wise, the two partners are highly unequal. MTC has an annual budget of more than $900 million; ABAG’s budget is $23.6 million. More to the point, ABAG depends on MTC for crucial funding. The first public sign of trouble appeared in late June, when MTC voted to fund ABAG’s planning and research staff for only six months ($1.9 million) instead of the customary full fiscal year.

The timing of the MTC vote was not coincidental. At the end of December the two agencies are scheduled to move into their plush new headquarters in San Francisco. If major administrative changes are in the offing, MTC officials want to make them before the relocation.

But what’s really at stake is not efficiency; it’s who will call the shots, and in what direction they will aim. In particular, will social justice count in Plan Bay Area 2.0?.

The social justice question provided the subtext of the contentious July 10 joint meeting of the MTC Planning Committee and the ABAG Administrative Committee. The agenda carried dueling recommendations from MTC and ABAG staffs over whether  a key anti-displacement policy that appears in the first iteration of Plan Bay Area should appear in the blueprint’s 2017 update, which is now under way.

The contested policy, which constitutes one of the “performance targets” in the current plan, reads as follows:

House 100% of the region’s projected growth by income level (very-low, low, moderate, above-moderate) without displacing current low-income residents.

ABAG staff wanted to keep the policy; MTC staff proposed to replace it with this:

House 100% of the region’s projected growth by income level with no increase in in-commuters over the Plan baseline year… (more)

The big power battles continue. Read the rest if you can. Voters may want to quiz all their elected officials on where they stand on these issues and what they think can be done to bring some public control back to the process of running our government and deciding our future.

Density Bonus Comes to San Francisco

August 31, 2015

By Charles J. “CJ” Higley, Steven Vettel  : jdsupra – excerpt

In the face of runaway housing costs, San Francisco is proposing to implement the state “density bonus” law.  First adopted by the California legislature thirty-six years ago, the state law (California Government Code Section 65915, et seq.) encourages the production of affordable housing by offering an increase in the number of units otherwise allowed under applicable zoning controls in exchange for offering below market rate units.

The City’s proposed program provides two separate “density bonus” options: (1) the state law approach, and (2) a new local density bonus program with greater incentives.

The state density bonus program would be available to any site in the City.  The local density bonus program would apply only in those zoning districts that currently contain limitations on residential density (e.g., one unit per 800 sq ft of lot area).  This includes, among others, RC and RM districts and most NC districts (the “program area”).  The program will not apply to newer zoning districts established pursuant to neighborhood plans (e.g., Eastern Neighborhoods, Market-Octavia) because density limits in those zoning districts are generally already “form based,” or limited by other physical constraints like height, bulk and setbacks, rather than by residential density formulae.  In addition, the density bonus program as currently proposed would not apply in RH-1 and RH-2 districts (one- and two-unit districts), which make up 70% of the land area in San Francisco… (more)

Already housing and neighborhood groups are taking up positions on the, as yet to be unfolded SF expended version of the state law. A petition against it will be posted soon along with a map that shows the spread of dense “stack and pack” housing opportunities into every neighborhood not yet touched by the dense housing mania. Stay tuned.

Prominent City Builder Likens Developers’ Plight to That of Nazi Victim

August 23, 2015

By Joe Eskenazi : modernluxury – excerpt

Oz Erickson finds a novel analogy in rejection of the Mission moratorium.

n an emotional and private plea to fellow builders hoping to defeat the Mission moratorium this November and pass a $310 million affordable housing bond, influential city developer Oz Erickson employed a novel analogy: the Third Reich.

“I am starting to feel a little like Pastor Niemoller in Nazi Germany,” Erickson wrote in an August 15 letter obtained exclusively by San Francisco. “You are all probably familiar with his famous words. ‘First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then, they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then, they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.’”

“Hyperbolic for me to bring up Niemoller,” Erickson acknowledges, “but if we let [Mission District developers] Maximus and Podell go down in flames even if they were in part responsible for the mess, we jeopardize development throughout the city. . . . The mood against construction is getting hysterical.”

Erickson goes on to suggest that developers submit $10,000 or $20,000 to fight Prop. I—which would halt development projects in the Mission that are not 100 percent affordable—to go along with $500,000 in contributions from Maximus and Podell. “After all it is their fat that is actually in the fire,” he writes. “We are simply marinating.”… (more)

Mayor is not looking very friendly to the citizens of SF those days and the media is not holding back on pointing that out. Can’t wait to see the cartoons on this one.

Read more…

1-2-3, Anyone But Lee

August 21, 2015

Candidates

Tuesday, September 15, 7 PM – 953 De Haro, The Potrero Hill Neighborhood House. Potrero Hill Democratic Club. All Mayoral candidates are invited to discuss the issues voters care about.  phdemclub


1-2-3, Anyone But Lee by Denise Sullivan : downwithtyranny – excerpt

The last time we checked in on San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee (appointed to fill Gavin Newsom’s vacated seat and elected for a full term in 2011) was set to run unopposed in the November election. But as candidate, community organizer, and singer Amy Farah Weiss (also known as “YIMBY” for Yes In My Backyard) has been quick to point out, there are in fact now five official alternatives to Lee on the ballot, though local media refuses to acknowledge their respective campaigns. In response to the black-out, Weiss and her fellow candidates, educator and organizer Francisco Herrera and columnist and comedian Broke-Ass Stuart Schuffman have come together as a coalition. The trio could conceivably pose a triple threat if voters take seriously their directive to rank them 1-2-3 in a bid to oust Lee. Weiss has even adapted the old Bobbettes number, “Mr Lee”  as a campaign song, a clever attempt to give voters a catchy way to remember the strategy (candidates four and five are Reed Martin and Kent Graham of whom I could find out little)… (more)


Cakewalk1 from zRants on Vimeo.

Maybe this is the problem. Corruption is Legal in America:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tu32CCA_Ig

Bernie embodies San Franciso values

August 21, 2015

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

We love us some Bernie Sanders in San Francisco. He represents and sticks up for so many S.F. values like universal health care, LGBTQ rights, ecology, living wages and racial justice.

It’s like he’s one of us, like he gets us, like he’s speaking for the Bay Area when he says, “If you can’t afford to take care of your veterans, then don’t go to war,” and, “Nobody who works 40 hours a week should be living in poverty.”

People are rightfully losing their minds over Sanders because, finally, there is a presidential candidate saying things on a national level that have been the core of our ideological beliefs, on a local level, for decades.

So why is it, then, that we cheer Bernie on for trying to get money out of politics, while we let corporate interests buy up our city? How can we look ourselves in the mirror and say, “I’m voting for Bernie!” and then shrug our shoulders at the things happening in San Francisco and say, “That’s just the way things go here.”

I imagine that a large number of people in the Democratic County Central Committee would say they support Bernie, yet just last week they passed a slate that endorses the candidates and ballot measures that fall in step with Mayor Ed Lee and his moneyed backers. The DCCC endorsed Supervisor Julie Christensen, who was handpicked by Lee and has received campaign donations from Ron Conway. They voted “no” on Measure F, which would restrict Airbnb rentals, when it’s well known that Airbnb heavily supports Lee and his cronies.

They also voted “no” on Measure I, the Mission Moratorium, when it is also well known that the mayor has close ties with the developers, who stand to make insane profits if the moratorium is shot down.

I mean, are you kidding me? Get your shit together, San Francisco!

How can you support a presidential candidate whose main goal is to get money out of politics when we don’t hold our own mayor accountable for the same betrayals?…

P.S. Big shout out to Amy Farrah Weiss for giving me good food for thought on this… (more)

A gravely ill Rose Pak on life, death, and her greatest regret (the mayor)

August 20, 2015

BY Joe Eskenazi : modernluxury – excerpt

Battling a serious illness, Pak reflects on a career of struggles—and the clashes yet to come.

Pak, 67, a tireless force in city politics for the better part of four decades, is seriously ill. Beset by kidney failure, she finds herself incapacitated for long stretches; during her increasingly sporadic public appearances, she looks gaunt and unwell. Medical officials have given her timelines; do-not-resuscitate documents have been signed. Pak, with a morbid grin, says that she has refused the option of life support if a pending operation goes awry (which, happily, it does not). “When you’re gone, you’re gone,” she says. “I don’t want to be hooked up to the damn machine.”…

Even in this diminished state, with doctor’s appointments filling her hours and IVs filling her veins, Pak is, very much, still hooked up to this city’s damn machine. She is pulling strings and exerting influence and will continue to do so until those DNR orders come into play. She still calls up the head of San Francisco Public Works on a moment’s notice to complain about an overflowing sewer stinking up a Chinatown corner. She still dials the local police captain’s cell when aggressive panhandlers menace elderly passersby. She still summons the city’s most powerful movers and shakers to her table at New Asia Restaurant, where she continues to deploy the word “motherfucker” like a comma. Pak is as outspoken as ever. But now you have to lean in real close to hear…

Power ebbs and power flows, but Rose Pak always has power in the bank. That’s because, throughout her tenure as a fixer, activist, and kingmaker, she has always reinvested her dividends. Other Chinese-American self-proclaimed plenipotentiaries have risen up (your Julie Lees, Benny Yees, Pius Lees, Florence Fangs…). But, by and large, those strivers indulged themselves by skimming off their success: They demanded a commission appointment, say, or a position for their idiot son.

Pak—who was born in China, grew up in Macau and Hong Kong as a refugee, and worked as a Chronicle reporter in the 1970s before throwing herself into full-time advocacy—craved none of this. Influence begets influence, and Pak’s goal has always been to seed more and more of her people throughout government. So, while her rivals have found themselves on the losing end of commission votes or marginalized by ascendant new regimes—or in jail—she has an entire Rolodex of department heads at her beck and call.

Pak leads me through a labyrinth of sterile corridors at Chinese Hospital to a downstairs break room ostensibly reserved for staff. We enter; a pair of hard plastic cups of steaming hot coffee are placed in front of us. Pak exchanges friendly greetings with every last employee, from those in surgical scrubs to those pushing a broom. “She’s a goddess there,” says former mayor Art Agnos of Pak’s standing at Chinese Hospital. “And she earned it.”…  (more)

Read more…

SAN FRANCISCO’S SKY-HIGH RENTS SEND BUSINESSES PACKING TO OAKLAND

August 20, 2015

By Carolyn Tyler : abc7news – excerpt

San Francisco’s sky high rents are not only pushing out some renters, but businesses as well.

Two companies have announced they’re leaving the San Francisco for Oakland.

The CEO of Brown & Toland can almost touch AT&T Park from his window, but the medical group is trading in a view for a less costly headquarters. By next April, its 280 employees from San Francisco and Emeryville will be settled into a new space at the Clorox building in downtown Oakland and the company will be saving nearly $2.5 million a year.

“Every bit we can save on the administrative cost structure allows us to support ours doctors and our patients for health care services,” said Richard Fish of Brown & Toland.

Other factors came into play including the ease of public transportation..

That was also a consideration for California’s stem cell agency, the Calif. Institute for Regenerative Medicine, as it searched for a new home. Money was a major factor. The agency, which provides funding for research, had a 10-year, no rent, free parking sweetheart deal with San Francisco in a building near the ballpark. That’s coming to an end.

“It’s a sellers’ market,” Kevin McCormack of the state’s Institute for Regenerative Health. “This place is so hot right now that landlords can get what they want.”

He says what they want is at least $1.5 million a year, so the stem cell agency also chose Oakland after searching the Bay Area. Besides economics and public transportation, Oakland officials and the companies agree the vibrancy of that city’s restaurant and art scene. Oakland’s director of Economic and workforce development says there’s a thriving renaissance.

“There are companies that are poised to come to Oakland and I think once one big one comes, one big one comes, the rest will follow,” said Mark Sawicki of Oakland Economic and Workforce Development.

San Francisco’s loss is Oakland’s gain… (more)

Is it time for the Mayor to go back to praying for jobs, jobs, jobs again? Or maybe just do what many are calling for and put the brakes on the whole development scheme until someone can figurer out how to rebalance what was once a balanced development plan. The citizens deserve better than going from one extreme to the next at the whim of city officials and corporate overlords.

These are scientists after all. They may also be concerned about the actual increase in bad air, due to slower moving traffic, (the longer it takes you to get there and park, the more time you are driving the more you are polluting), and the rise in sea levels that are coming faster than predicted.

Why bet on a sinking city? Do what many of us are going and vote for a change, starting with:

Anybody but Ed Lee

RELATED:
S.F.’s development boom chases out hep-C vaccine researchers
State’s stem cell agency leaves S.F. for Oakland as rent skyrockets

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 89 other followers

%d bloggers like this: