Saturday, July 05, 2008

Homelessness in SF: The Silence of the Progs

C.W. Nevius has another useful column on housing in SF, an issue city progressives are in the process of botching. But Nevius casually implies a distorted interpretation of recent city history:

San Francisco has a huge problem with getting people into housing. But not in the way you think. The homeless guy living under the freeway underpass? We know about him. The city, prompted by an outcry from the progressive community, has taken steps to get that person---the extremely poor, unemployed, impoverished homeless camper---into some kind of housing.

Nevius was toiling on the Chronicle's sports page during the advent of Gavin Newsom and Care Not Cash, so maybe he wasn't paying close attention. From the start city progressives opposed Care Not Cash and Newsom's subsequent initiatives on homelessness. When was the last time we heard anything from a progressive leader on homelessness? Nothing from Daly, Mirkarimi, McGoldrick, Ammiano or Peskin. Why? Because Newsom has completely routed SF progressives on the homeless issue. He rode the issue into the mayor's office, and it remains the single great achievement of his administration. Prog leaders understand this and have maintained a sullen silence on homelessness for several years now. The Controller's office recently published a report on the successes of Care Not Cash, but city progressives---at the Guardian, SF Weekly, and Beyond Chron---had nothing to say about it.

Our progressive leadership---with crucial help from Newsom this time---is now in the process of botching the housing issue, which is the subject of Nevius's column, as he tells us what we already know: middle income working people are increasingly unable to afford to live in San Francisco. The city desperately needs affordable housing, but the Board of Supervisors, the mayor, and the Planning Department respond with huge projects that provide market-rate housing---luxury condos on Rincon Hill, the Market/Octavia Plan, the UC/Evans project on lower Haight Street, the Eastern Neighborhoods Project, etc. The M/O Plan and UC's hijacking of the old extension property will not only not help alleviate the city's chronic affordable housing crisis; they will completely trash the heart of the city, with 40-story highrises at Market and Van Ness and 10,000 more people in a part of town that is already trying to cope with the former Central Freeway traffic---45,000 cars a day according to DPT---that is now coming through the heart of Hayes Valley on Octavia Blvd.

On the other hand, hey, progressives got the city's supermarkets to quit using plastic bags.

Chris Daly's account of Care Not Cash: Gavin Newsom moved to the right on homelessness! The accurate implication: doing nothing about homelessness in SF is left-wing.

Daly thinks Care Not Cash was nothing but a declaration of war "on people I care about."

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