Chris Daly: shakedown artist
Supervisor Daly's latest blog rant is a two-fer: We get a puerile attack on Mayor Newsom and his staff and a defense of the indefensible Rincon Towers, highrise condos for the rich to supposedly meet the city's chronic housing shortage.
Daly claims that 2200 highrise condos in Rincon Hill is a "responsible development," while sneering at "Team Gavin's" lack of aggressive leadership on "housing production" in the city, even though Newsom too supports the Rincon Hill atrocity. (Maybe the Mayor just didn't think the city could shake the developers down for so much.) Daly insists that we need 20,000 units of affordable housing "right now." He doesn't say where that number comes from, but, even if it makes sense, surely development should be done more carefully in what is, after all, a small city geographically. To provide a quick sense of how large the Rincon Hill project is, consider that the large, circular housing tower on Cathedral Hill has only 100 units, and Fox Plaza a mere 200 units. What the city is allowing with 2200 new housing units in one project is really a Neighborhood Prevention Plan, wherein one mega-development will both obliterate whatever previously existed there and prevent a real neighborhood from emerging within normal city regulations and planning.
Residential highrise development is evidently a bad idea whose time has come, since Planning wants to put more residential towers in the Market/Octavia neighborhood, the crucial part of which, unfortunately, is also in Chris Daly's district, not that Supervisors Mirkarimi and Dufty, who represent the neighboring districts, have shown much concern about this shocking planning concept.
Chris Daly is the de facto leader of the alarming We Need Housing Movement---an alliance of progressives, the Planning Dept., and, of course, developers---that wants with a reckless urgency to build housing in the city. Daly and Mayor Newswom, alas, essentially agree that encouraging massive amounts of new housing quickly is good planning, that somehow all this new housing for the rich will trickle down some benefits for the rest of us. What this movement really does is threaten the city's neighborhoods, infrastructure, and quality of life.
Daly sneers at the Mayor's staff as "Team Gavin" and "Gavin and his gurus," and the Mayor's Communications Director is a "hotshot." This is a Daly tendency I've written about before. When I call Supervisor Daly a "Punk Progressive," it's not a mere insult; it's an analytical category that defines a gratuitous, in-your-face political incivility. Daly jeers that a press release from the Mayor's office is "one of the worst written I've seen..." Yet Daly's blog entry reads like a 12-year-old trying to imitate Hunter Thompson.
An SF Chronicle editorial gets the Daly scam right:
Daly has strong-armed developers hoping to build a half-dozen giant condo towers in his South of Market district to put up $68 million for affordable housing...Deals of this dubiousness usually happen behind closed doors. The outrage is that no one at City Hall is stepping forth to stop it ("Shakedown at City Hall," Aug. 10, 2005).
Maybe Daly was worried that a private shakedown would get him in trouble with the Sunshine Commission. Yes, it's an outrageous deal: First, raffle off a large section of your district to developers with the lure of waiving height and density regs for a huge luxury housing project. Then shake down the chosen developer for huge development fees for the privilege of trashing your district and your city. How's that for "progressive" leadership?
A so-called community leader in the neighborhood that will soon be obliterated, April Veneracion, is under the delusion that this massive project can somehow be "mitigated":
A well-funded, properly developed infrastructure in the SoMa area, which is targeted for new high-density development, will ultimately mitigate the effects of the Rincon development citywide (SF Chronicle, Aug. 1, 2005).
No, it won't. No matter how many millions the city gets in the shakedown and/or future tax revenues, a project this large can't really be mitigated, as an artist's rendition of the project accompanying Veneracion's opinion piece clearly shows.
The real outrage is that encouraging massive residential highrises is considered good planning in "progressive" circles. And exactly who is "targeting" the South of Market area for "high-density development"? Our own Planning Dept., with the crucial help of the Board of Supervisors, the Planning Commission, and Chris Daly's We Need Housing movement.