Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Supervisor Breed's housing record

Supervisors Breed and Wiener

...In 2013, her first important housing test saw Supervisor Breed solidly backing landlord- and speculator-friendly legislation introduced by her strong ally on the board, Supervisor Scott Wiener. It would have allowed “tenants in common” owners to freely convert to full condo status, bypassing the 200 conversion a year limit set 20 years ago to limit the loss of rental housing. The proposed legislation was simple in its complexity: allow unregulated TICs to convert to regulated condos.

While condos are limited to 200 conversions a year, unregulated TICs, by state law, were exempt from that limit. In 2013 it was estimated that as many as 10,000 apartments had been converted to TICs, with the overwhelming majority being in rent-controlled apartment buildings. These conversions meant the loss of rent controlled apartments and, in most cases the eviction, through the Ellis Act, of their tenants.

Candidate Breed announced her support of the legislation to its main proponents, Plan C, a pro-developer group that announced its endorsement of her based upon that position.

But the pro-tenant majority on the board kept the legislation in committee until June, 2013, when Breed, again joining Wiener and two others, pulled it from committee to the full board.

The opposition to the legislation was based on the fact that the unlimited conversion of TICs to condos would reduce rent-controlled apartments and lead to massive evictions as landlord /speculators would buy rent controlled buildings, use Ellis Act to evict and then convert to TICs, which could then become even more profitable condos. The ordinance, in short, was seen by every tenant and affordable housing advocate in the city as being anti-rent control and anti-affordable housing.

Breed supported it anyway. On June 11th 2013, with Supervisors Cohen, Tang, Farrell, and Wiener, she sought an “amendment of the whole” gutting the protections added to the measure by the pro-tenant majority. She wanted to remove a measure that would have eliminated the rights of condo conversions if the landlords sued over it. Breed lost on a 6-5 vote.

Seeing the political handwriting on the wall, she and Cohen then voted with the six pro-tenant advocates to make the measure---amended to included tenant protections---veto proof, with Wiener and Farrell actually voting against legislation they initially introduced and brought to a vote with Breed’s support.

Hundreds of the lost rent controlled TICs were in D5, reducing the number of affordable rental units available to residents...

In January, 2015, Supervisor Breed introduced legislation that rezoned Divisadero Street from Haight to O’Farrell from a Neighborhood Commercial District to a Neighborhood Commercial Transit District. The rezoning would remove the regulations governing the number of units allowed by lot size and allow the number of units to be determined by height and bulk, allowing for more smaller units, that is, more residential density per lot. While height would not be increased, many smaller units would be allowed to replace fewer larger units.

The bonus to developers would be huge. In one case a developer, under the old zoning, proposed a 16-unit project at 650 Divisadero. After the rezoning, passed by the Board in July, 2015, he revised his project to 60 units, more than a 350% increase.

The rezoning was not well publicized in D5, and it wasn’t until projects started dramatically increasing their unit count that neighbors became aware of the change in late 2015. Neighborhood concern was increased when it was realized that the dramatic increase in density had no increase in required affordability. Moreover, such an increase in density with no increase in affordability would so change the development economics of the area that demolition of existing housing and displacement of existing neighborhood serving retail uses became a deep concern since the legislation neither addressed demolition nor small business retention.

In October, 2015, members of three neighborhood organizations and several Divisadero Street residents and merchants wrote Supervisor Breed pointing out their concerns and asking her to rescind the rezoning until the community could develop a “community driven” plan that addressed these concerns.

The following month she replied that she would not rescind the legislation, saying that city law prohibited her from requiring more affordability “unless...a significant upzoning in an area of 40 acres or more…the Divisadero NCT is not 40 acres…”

That was an incorrect citing of the law, which passed as Proposition C in 2012.

What Proposition C actually said is the exact opposite — increases in affordability requirements could be made if “through...local legislation...a 50% or greater increase in residential density over prior zoning” is granted, which is exactly the case with her NCTD rezoning.

Supervisor Breed refused to attend any of the planning sessions of the Affordable Divisadero Community Plan, sending her staff to only one to lecture the audience in her mistaken assertion of Prop. C.

In January, 2016, after 500 residents attended one or more of the meetings, the Divisadero Community Plan was adopted and sent to the supervisor and the Planning Commission. It called for demolition controls on all rent controlled housing, a 50% affordable requirement for all new developments of 10 units or more with all of the affordable units on site, that 70% of new market rate housing had to be two or more bedrooms, that additional fees be charged for transit on all new market rate units and that in all “high density development” 50% of all proposed retail space had to be “neighborhood serving” and there should be no formula retail uses allowed.

Supervisor Breed has remained silent on the Affordable Divisadero Community Plan.

But on the day before the plan was to be finally debated at a well publicized community meeting, Breed announced her intention to introduce legislation to increase affordability requirements from 12% to 23% in the NCTD, dropping her claim that to do so was illegal. Her campaign claim that this is the “highest affordable housing requirement in San Francisco history” is pure hokum since the voters passed a 25% inclusionary requirement in June, 2016.

As of this date no committee hearing before the Board of Supervisors has been set by Breed, so it’s unclear when the new requirement will take effect, possibly exempting a massive 152-unit market-rate development proposed for Divisadero at Oak.

Breed complained when 48hills questioned her record on tenant issues, and we responded here.

But Breed’s record on affordable housing includes supporting legislation that has made housing more expensive for her constituents in D5; incentivizing displacement and demolition of existing housing and small businesses through massive upzonings, and pitting tenants against first-time owners over scarce rental housing.

We also asked her office to respond to questions about this article, but have heard nothing back. We will happily update if she wants to comment.

Rob's comment:
On London Breed's transportation record: here and here.

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Garrison Keillor on Hillary

Garrison Keillor:

I saw Hillary once working a rope line for more than an hour, a Secret Service man holding her firmly by the hips as she leaned over the rope and reached into the mass of arms and hands reaching out to her. She had learned the art of encountering the crowd and making it look personal. It was not glamorous work, more like picking fruit, and it took the sort of discipline your mother instills in you: those people waited to see you so by gosh you can treat them right. 

So it’s no surprise she pushed herself to the point of collapse the other day. What’s odd is the perspective, expressed in several stories, that her determination to keep going reveals a “lack of transparency”---that she should’ve announced she had pneumonia and gone home and crawled into bed. 

I’ve never gone fishing with her, which is how you really get to know someone, but I did sit next to her at dinner once, one of those stiff dinners that is nobody’s idea of a wild good time, the conversation tends to be stilted, everybody’s beat, you worry about spilling soup down your shirtfront. 

She being First Lady led the way and she being a Wellesley girl, the way led upward. We talked about my infant daughter and schools and about Justice Blackmun, and I said how inspiring it was to sit and watch the Court in session, and she laughed and said, “I don’t think it’d be a good idea for me to show up in a courtroom where a member of my family might be a defendant.” A succinct and witty retort. And she turned and bestowed her attention on Speaker Dennis Hastert, who was sitting to her right. She focused on him and even made him chuckle a few times. I was impressed by her smarts, even more by her discipline. 

I don’t have that discipline. Most people don’t. Politics didn’t appeal to me back in my I walked dark rainy streets imagining the great novel I wouldn’t write and was still trying to be cool and indifferent well into my thirties, when other people were making a difference in the world. 

Hillary didn’t have a prolonged adolescence and fiction was not her ambition. She doesn’t do dreaminess. What some people see as a relentless quest for power strikes me as the good habits of a serious Methodist. Be steady. Don’t give up. It’s not about you. Work for the night is coming. 

The woman who does not conceal her own intelligence is a fine American tradition, going back to Anne Bradstreet and Harriet Beecher Stowe and my ancestor Prudence Crandall, but none has been subjected to the steady hectoring that Mrs. Clinton has. 

She is the first major-party nominee to be pictured in prison stripes by the opposition. She is the first cabinet officer ever to be held personally responsible for her own email server, something ordinarily delegated to anonymous nerds in I.T. 

The fact that terrorists attacked an American compound in Libya under cover of darkness when Secretary Clinton presumably got some sleep has been held against her, as if she personally was in command of the defense of the compound, a walkie-talkie in her hand, calling in air strikes...

Someday historians will get this right and look back at the steady pitter-pat of scandals that turned out to be nothing, nada, zero and ixnay and will conclude that, almost a century after women’s suffrage, almost 50 years after Richard Nixon signed Title IX into law, a woman was required to run for office wearing concrete shoes. Check back fifty years from now and if I’m wrong, go ahead and dance on my grave.