Thursday, January 05, 2006

"Anybody but Daly" in District 6?

In BeyondChron, Casey Mills provides a tepid endorsement of Supervisor Daly's expected bid for re-election this year:

District 6's Chris Daly...will also face re-election...Daly's ability to irk certain moneyed interests may cause a self-financed challenger to jump in and create some drama, but the continued strong support of Tenderloin, South of Market and North Mission residents of Daly and his willingness to fight for their needs leaves little chance that he will lose in November. ("Political Races of 2006: A Preview," Jan. 3, 2006)

Well, maybe. Recall that Daly barely avoided a run-off in 2002 with 51.21% of the vote. Since then he has allowed 19 marijuana clubs to open up in District 6. And there's his shocking endorsement of the Rincon Hill developments that include highrise buildings and more than 3000 luxury condos in his district, not to mention his volatile public behavior. Daly's opponents can plausibly launch an "Anybody But Daly" campaign in District 6 with a good chance of success.
In a recent message to the PROSF bulletin board, James Hooker lavishes praise on Supervisor Bevan Dufty:

The real force that is developing is with Bevan Duffy who has developed a reputation for "getting the job done" among minorities and progressive people alike (they sometimes have different agendas) He's communicative and has no personal agenda but to successfully serve the community. Although he is a Willie Brown mentor[sic] like Gavin he still commands an excellent assessment of the politics of SF and can be an outstanding leader for the progressive left.

Dufty's biggest failure is being completely MIA on the UC proposal to turn the old Extension site on lower Haight St. into a huge housing development of 400-500 units, even though it turns out that all of the property is actually in his District 8. So far Dufty has stood silently by as Supervisor Mirkarimi does all the heavy political lifting on the issue. 400-500 new housing units means at least 1000 more people and a lot more traffic in a densely populated area struggling to digest the appalling new Octavia Blvd. that now carries all the freeway traffic that used to travel over Hayes Valley on the Central Freeway. Dufty's future political opponents will rightly ask, "Where has Dufty been on the UC issue?" He also waffled for months on the proposal to put a Trader Joes on upper Market St. before coming out in opposition to that potentially traffic-snarling idea.

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Rincon Hill: The new Bryant Square?

In a look back at 2005, Randy Shaw of BeyondChron, denounces Chris Daly's Rincon Hill deal, which allows more than 3000 luxury, highrise condominiums downtown in exchange for $58 million in development fees:

The luxury towers approved for Rincon Hill have become akin to the Bryant Square project in 2000 that galvanized opposition to the "build everything" policies of Mayor Willie Brown. Progressives increasingly believe that the community benefits obtained in exchange for luxury development are outweighed by the social costs. 

Since Rincon, many are asking why San Francisco has approved thousands of new luxury housing units that do not provide first-time homeownership opportunities. This housing instead allocates prime land and beautiful views for second, third and fourth homes for multi-millionaires. ("San Francisco Faces Major Battles in 2006," Jan. 3, 2006)

Yes, well put. But, while Mayor Brown has been rightly blamed for his pro-development planning policies, Shaw seems reluctant to pin the blame for the Rincon Hill fiasco on anyone in particular, probably because one of his favorite politicians, Supervisor Chris Daly, is in large part responsible for these grotesque projects. But Mayor Newsom, too, must share the blame, since he also supported the luxury condos on Rincon Hill. 

Let's apportion the responsibility: Supervisor Daly, Mayor Newsom, and a majority of the Board of Supervisors---including District 5 Supervisor Mirkarimi---were in favor of the luxury condos on Rincon Hill in a city that needs affordable housing, not more housing for the rich.

In an interview in today's SF Examiner, Mayor Newsom is allowed to muddy the waters on the Rincon Hill issue:

It's a terrible deal. It's a terrible precedent. It cannot happen again. I will veto any legislation that's along those lines. If it happens in mid-Market, I will veto it. As I made clear in a strongly worded letter to the Board of Supervisors, I did not condone what happened in that case---the threats, the backroom deals. Everything that had been criticized during the Brown years was happening here. It has no place in city government. ("The Mayor at the Midpoint," SF Examiner, Jan. 5, 2006)

The interviewer then asks the mayor, "So why didn't you veto the Daly deal?" The mayor's response: "It was very difficult for me. I thought it could put into peril the entire project and subsequently put into peril, broadly speaking, other projects." 

That is, it wasn't allowing 3000 luxury condos and 50-story highrises to be built in that part of town that bothered the mayor; it was "the Daly deal": extracting $58 million in mitigation fees for the city from the Rincon Hill developers.

There's no byline on the Examiner interview, though Justin Jouvenal's name is on the sidebar next to the first page of the interview. The interviewer didn't seem to know enough to challenge the mayor on the specifics of Daly's deal, the $58 million in fees and what those fees will pay for and where. Nor did he ask the mayor why he is encouraging the construction of thousands of luxury condos in a city that has a chronic affordable housing shortage.

In short, the city does indeed have a plan for housing in San Francisco, but it's a plan that calls for radically increasing the city's population density with more market-rate housing, not affordable housing.

But Randy Shaw's discussion is also deficient in specifics. Nor does he seem to understand how aggressively pro-development the whole city bureaucracy is, especially the Planning Dept. 

City progressives have collaborated on this policy so far because of their misguided notion that building massive amounts of market-rate housing on or near the city's transit corridors will somehow alleviate the city's affordable housing shortage.

Shaw on city planning:

The problem, as activists of all political persuasions have long pointed out, is that San Francisco does no real planning for its housing needs. Developers decide what they want to build, and they almost always get what they want---the only issue is the extent of mitigations.

Well, yes and no: Why don't the Board of Supervisors, the Planning Dept., and the Planning Commission rein in developers? Because they are complicit in what I call the We Need Housing movement in SF, a political tendency that allows any and all large, market-rate housing projects under the illusion that they will alleviate our affordable housing shortage. 

After all, the Rincon Hill development wouldn't have been possible without the city's waiving height and density regulations to allow it. This is what the Housing Element is all about. The same is true for the Mid-Market Plan and the Market and Octavia Plan, both of which are being pushed by the Planning Dept. 

This approach to housing in SF will not only not alleviate our affordable housing shortage, it threatens to destroy neighborhoods that have the misfortune to be anywhere near a transit corridor.

Shaw also indulges in his tendency to refer to unnamed "activists" as a source for what are really his own opinions. In fact, South of Market community activists failed that part of town and the city by collaborating on the Rincon Hill fiasco.

Having failed on homelessness---the most important issue in SF in the last 20 years---the city's left is now botching the housing issue by raffling off the city's neighborhoods to the highest bidders.

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History is for rewriting

Like his posting last year of the picture of a backhoe demolishing one of the pedestrian tunnels, Chris Duderstadt's pictures of the flooded pedestrian tunnels on the Concourse are deceptive. In fact the tunnels will not be open for use until the Concourse rehab job is done in the Spring. The drains to the tunnels are covered during construction to avoid being clogged with construction debris. Hence, the heavy rains have left some standing water in the tunnels. So what?

Speaking of "stupidity and spite," why Warren Hellman is dragged out for periodic public floggings by "progressives" is a mystery to me. Using only private money, this guy built a new underground garage in the park that will provide easy access to the Concourse for the public, especially for families, the old, the young, and the handicapped. And once the construction loan is paid off with revenue from the garage, it will belong to the city, a $55 million gift to San Francisco. Hellman also pays for the free bluegrass concert in Golden Gate Park every year, which costs him $1.5 million. Seems like a good deal for the city. We should be thanking the guy, not hammering him.

From: Chris Duderstadt
Subject: History in the making.
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 2005

It has been most obvious for years that Warren Hellman and his Music Concourse Community Partnership don't like pedestrian tunnels and only replaced 2 out of 3 of them after a huge public outcry. In what looks like either stupidity or spite, we now have a new lake in Golden Gate Park. History is for making, not for saving!

Chris D.

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Stephen wasn't invited

Why would those who paid for the new garage invite Willis and others who waged a long campaign of disinformation and lies against the whole garage/Concourse project? What's been done in Golden Gate Park has been a completely public process. What is there left for Hellman to explain? He and the MCCP have built a garage for the city, a project that has been ratified both by the voters of SF and the courts. Willis and garage opponents lost at the ballot box, and they lost in court. They are just bad losers. Once the construction bond for the garage is paid off, the garage will belong to the city. Since it was built entirely with private money, it will be a huge gift to the city. Willis keeps throwing around the word "private" to inflame public opinion and muddy the waters.

People need to read Proposition J and both of Judge Warren's decisions---which are available on the Municipal Court website---to have an informed opinion on this issue. Based on Willis's past communications on the issue, I find no evidence that he's read any of that material. Yet he's called me a "coward" and both Mike Ellzey---executive director of the Concourse Authority---and me "liars" when we discuss the facts of the situation on my blog. Based on past performance, the so-called green garage issue sounds like just another stick to beat garage proponents with.

To view Judge Warren's Aug. 10, 2004, Statement of Decision, and the June 16, 2005, Statement of Decision, go to and enter the case number, 427163 after clicking on "Case Number Query."

From: Stephen Willis
Subject: M.H.deYoung Museum Celebrates Their New "Green Garage"
Date: Mon, 19 Dec 2005

"RSVP" - Quiet Ceremony for the New deYoung Parking Garage: Private, underground affair to honor project's philanthropic sponsors (San Francisco)

Following a decade of intense public controversy surrounding the new private garage in Golden Gate Park, including two years of court battles, two of the prevailing board members of the Music Concourse Community Partnership, Warren Hellman and George Hume will finally be honored today at an invitation only event in their new garage in the Music Concourse. In stark contrast to the recent and highly successful grand opening of the proud new M. H. deYoung Memorial Museum, the private owners and operators of the deYoung garage and their supporters seem reluctant to claim their recent victories in the courts and in the media. And it's not clear why. The garage promoters promised San Francisco voters a "green" garage that would qualify under the City's Department of Environment classification as a "Green Building." However, when it came time for MCCP Executive Director Dick Young to cut project costs, in December, 2002, he value-engineered all of the "green/environmental" features completely out of their preferred Bechtel design, to save money. Joshua Hart, former program director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC), collaborated with the City Environment Department, to support the Concourse Authority's new green garage, until it became clear to him that the very environmental features that qualified the project for that enhanced environmental status, had actually been eliminated from the project by MCCP Director Young. Hart then demanded that the project web page be removed from the Department of the Environment's web site, which it was. Hellman and Hume are well respected patrons of the arts and humanities in the San Francisco Bay Area. It would be interesting to hear and report on what they have to say about their garage and their successful campaign to finance and construct the facility. But, it's a private affair, in a private garage. And the public was not invited.

s willis / ndmedia