Pro-development group seeks to take over local Sierra Club
By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt
Move could change the politics of one of SF’s environmental stalwarts
OCTOBER 6, 2015 — A group that wants more market-rate housing development pretty much any cost is trying to gets its allies elected to the local Sierra Club board to force the organization to be more supportive of highrise condo projects, including on the waterfront.
The pro-growth advocates are taking advantage of the open, democratic process of the venerable environmental group, which allows anyone who pays a $15 membership fee by Tuesday/6 to vote in the upcoming board elections.
This isn’t the first time interests that want to change the club’s politics have tried to sign up new members and take over senior positions – in the 1990s, a group tried led by the former governor of Colorado tried to get seats on the national board to force the environmentalists into taking a strong anti-immigration stance.
This is a much smaller effort, but it has its own ambitious goal – to drive an organization that has been part of the progressive movement in San Francisco in recent years to take a more pro-development stance…
The battle is getting played out mostly on Google groups and facebook, where Trauss and Dewsnup, who has filed as a candidate for the Executive Board, are making their pitch: If enough people sign up and join, the politics of the club can be shifted…
In other words, as Sierra Club political leader John Rizzo points out, a relatively small number of new members can have a serious impact.
The Sierra Club slate in San Francisco is influential; this time around, the club endorsed challenger Aaron Peskin over Sup. Julie Christensen and is supporting the tighter limits on Airbnb and the Mission Moratorium. The SFBARFers are all in for Christensen and oppose the moratorium…
I asked Trauss what she was up to, and she told me that she’s particularly upset that the Sierra Club opposed height increases at 75 Howard. In fact, the club has been part of the broad-based progressive coalition that has fought to keep the waterfront from becoming Miami Beach.
She wrote to me:
New housing is expensive, because it’s new, and SF has tons of rich people. It’s appropriate to build new, expensive housing for rich people in expensive neighborhoods. Sierra Club (and No wall on the waterfront) are just rich people using their political capital to block housing in their fancy neighborhoods.
If that’s what you think, fine. If you disagree, it’s easy to join the Sierra Club online, and even a few more memberships could keep a part of SF’s progressive movement from becoming another developer front.