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Why S.F. Supervisor Scott Wiener doesn’t run from housing fights

March 4, 2015

: bizjournals – excerpt

Supervisor Scott Wiener maybe doesn’t pick fights on controversial housing issues, but he certainly doesn’t run away from them either…

In 2015, Wiener plans to push for middle-class housing and transportation solutions – even in the face of political blockades. Middle-class residents making 80 to 120 percent of the city’s median income have seen their housing needs least met, according to the Planning Department…

The mayor’s office, activists and developers proposed new solutions for reforming inclusionary laws and creating more middle class housing. What are we going to see from you in terms of new legislation?

It’s too soon to say. One thing I’m interested in is the possibility of the so-called dial..

[ Per the mayor’s working group, the dial would allow developers to allocate more units to more middle-class residents making a higher percentage of the city’s median income instead of low-income residents. In exchange, developers would have to build more of these below-market-rate units.]…

You also tried to reform the environmental appeals process, which resulted in some minor modifications. Why was that such a battle and why did you take it on?

San Francisco’s process is very lengthy and expensive and convoluted. We also value public participation, and we give people a strong voice in their neighborhood, and that really arose from some terrible things that happened in San Francisco. Bulldozing of neighborhoods by redevelopment, this craziness of building freeways in the city. People finally rose up against that and said we want a voice in our community. That’s a good thing.

It didn’t curtail anyone’s ability to file appeals, but we said let’s have a transparent and predictable timeline. That took a year and it was an enormous effort and I got branded as being against public participation. That’s a very, very hard one. I dont see any significant changes (in the near future).

I think everyone who lives in the Bay Area is yearning for public transit improvements. What are your goals for Muni, Caltrain, BART?

These systems are at or over capacity, which is a great thing because people want to ride them. But we have to keep up. With Muni, we’re accelerating the arrival of the new light rail vehicles. We will double the number of new light rail vehicles and add new lines, put (in) bus rapid transit. We have to always have a subway under construction… (more)

 

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