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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.

Contacted regarding the letter (which concludes, “PS: Please don’t pass this on. It would be sad breach of confidentiality if this ends up in the papers somewhere”), Erickson tells San Francisco that he’s been “busting his ass since February 2014” to create and pass an affordable housing bond. “It’s the right thing to do. It provides a huge amount of affordable housing: perhaps as many as 3,000 or 4,000 units.”…

Erickson emphasized that he supported a housing bond long before the specter of Prop. K crossed his horizon, and would have been aggressively fund-raising for it regardless of whether the elements of Prop. K he described as “just terrible” were stripped out (he and others sent this letter to Kim in June 2014). “There was absolutely no quid pro quo,” he told us. “There was no formal arrangement.”

That, however, doesn’t exactly synch with this passage from his August 15 letter: “That bond money truly provides homes for those that need it most, and we in the real estate community made a formal commitment to get the bond passed to avoid the horrors of Prop. K as originally designed.”

So what, exactly, was the nature of this “formal commitment”? Had it involved pledging a hefty pile of cash to an individual politician—or his/her individual campaign—in exchange for altering legislation, that would be illegal. But, according to legal experts, it is not a crime to promise a donation to a future ballot-proposition campaign in exchange for alterations to pending legislation. That, while possibly discomfiting, is 100 percent legal (you can see the relevant laws here)…

“If Prop. A fails, if Prop. I wins,” Erickson writes, “construction slows down, future development becomes extraordinarily risky, Richmond-style rent control appears on the scene, and overall the City, which I adore, gets unmercifully savaged.”…  (more)

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