Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Matt Smith's dream is coming true

He probably won't get his residential highrises on Fulton St. and Lincoln Ave., but Matt Smith's dream of a lot of new housing units in highrises in SF is coming true, as Emily Fancher tells us in today's SF Examiner ("Trinity Plaza Touted as Vehicle for Investment," SF Examiner, Feb. 21, 2006): 2200 mostly market-rate highrise units at 8th and Market and 650 condos at 10th and Market. She quotes Sam Dodge of the Central City SRO Collaborative: "The density will bring a lot of life to Market Street and go a long way to revitalize it...This is urban infill housing without displacement. San Francisco is leading the way." 

This is the kind of delusional thinking that so-called activists also indulged in during the Rincon Hill process: Chris Daly's successful shakedown of developers for higher mitigation fees was seen as a great deal for the South of Market area. In reality, all this highrise housing development is a radical experiment in social engineering, led by an aggressively pro-development Planning Dept., the Board of Supervisors, and the mayor. Residential highrises in SF is a bad idea whose time has apparently come. The lemmings are in full flight into the unknown on the housing issue, in spite of the upbeat bullshit that accompanies every new large housing project in the city.

One of the dumbest fantasies---pushed by Matt Smith---is that these mostly market-rate condos and apartments are eventually going to be occupied by "progressives" and bike nuts like him who will dutifully vote for the Democratic Party. But how likely is it that, once all the luxury condos in the Rincon Hill highrises are occupied several years from now, anyone remotely like Chris Daly will be elected? Granted that, in Daly's case, this is a good news/bad news deal, but even a sensible, mainstream Democrat might have trouble getting elected in D6 once all this housing is built and occupied. By accelerating gentrification in the city, progressives leading the We Need Housing movement are in effect laying the foundation for a much more conservative San Francisco.

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