Rebuttal to Senate Bill 827 Amendments

Map of effected areas in SF indicates 96% of the city property will be up-zoned if SB 827 passes.

(Courtesy of the SF Planning Department)

Senator Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 827 received great criticism on many fronts, including these two topics:

(1) Demolition Protections: The up-zoning SB827 imposes will accelerate demolition of existing housing. Wiener amended his bill to incorporate language that local demolition laws will remain.

(2) Anti Displacement & Eviction Protections: SB827 would lead to developers evict low income tenants building developments that would be offered at higher rents that would displace low income residents.

In February 2018 Scott Wiener made amendments to the bill in an attempt to address these amendments. These amendments are invalid and ineffective for the reasons described below.

Claim: Local Demolition Laws Will Remain

Scott Wiener summarizes his amendments as follows:

“Rent-controlled housing may not be considered for demolition permits unless a local government certifies by resolution, after the passage of SB 827, that the city will consider demolition permits for rent-controlled housing based on criteria and processes set forth in the resolution, and affirm that every displaced tenant will have a Right to Remain Guarantee (#4). After the resolution passes, the city retains full discretion to deny, restrict, or limit issuance of these permits in accordance with its policy.

All local processes for evaluating demolition permits shall apply to SB 827 projects. These local processes may include reviews through a Planning Commission or City Council, or even be categorical bans on certain types of demolition. Additionally, a demolition permit may not be issued for an SB 827 project until an adequate Right to Remain Guarantee for all displaced tenants – regardless of whether the housing was rent-controlled or not – has been approved by the local government.”

Rebuttal: Why these Demolition Amendments are Ineffective

Currently, the Planning and Building Code for demolition controls are routinely ignored as evidenced by illegal demolitions that continue to take place.  Case in point is J.K. Dineen’s article from January 7 of the Chronicle that featured 3 homes.  We have many more that have yet to be ajudicated.  The additional height and number of dwellings offered by SB827 will incentivize more demolitions in a city that is already plagued by illegal demolitions.

Claim: SB827 Introduces the Strongest Possible Eviction Protection Measures & Gives Renters “Right of Return”

Wiener’s bill introduces clauses stating the following:

  • All moving expenses for tenants moving into and out of interim dwellings are paid while the project is being built.
  • Up to 42 months of rental assistance that covers the full rent of an available, comparable unit in the area is provided.
  • Right of first refusal for housing units in the new building is guaranteed, including new lease at the rent previously enjoyed by the tenant in their demolished unit.

Why these Anti-Displacement Amendments are Ineffective

a) Developers Can Easily Circumvent These Provisions: In reality, “renovictions“, buyouts, and Ellis Acting will occur long before any application for permit is filed.  Because Planning does NOT check whether or not an address was previously tenant-occupied, developers can get away with this.  Planning doesn’t keep an inventory of rental units and as such, cannot identify what property is renter-occupied.

b) No Agency is Accountable to Enforce the Provisions: What agency would provide the oversight for any of the so called displacement protections? Who is going to enforce the right to return for tenants that have to move out?  Who would determine what a comparable unit is?  Would something in Antioch be comparable for tenants in the Mission?  A city that has a heck of a time enforcing its current Planning and Building Code will not be able to administer unenforceable requirements such as these ones.

c) Unscrupulous Use of Construction Delays: All construction cycles are unpredictable by nature.  Delays happen all the times because of the market or developers who just want to get the entitlements and then sell them to the next developer.  What if the build cycle goes beyond 42 months?  When does the clock still ticking on that 42 months?  From the time that the developer applies for permit or from the time that the construction begins.  It’s easy for unscrupulous developers to game the system and drag the permit and construction process to go beyond 42 months.

Amendments Are Not the Answer

We are not seeking amendments to Senate Bill 827 to address these concerns. We believe Senate Bill 827 is entirely the wrong approach to solve the housing crisis as it:

(1) Invalidly presumes market rate developers will build enough units to stabilize or reduce rents. This invalidly presumes trickle down (now referenced as “filter down”) economics work, and markets are efficient. It ignores that increasing units generates additional demand from speculators and a continuous flow of new employees to the region.

(2) Removes local decision making imposing a one size fits all mandate that overrides local considerations such as environmental issues (E.g. nature preservation, risk of flood, fire, etc…) and local issues (e.g. capacity of transportation infrastructure, local services such as police, fire and schools, etc…).

We respect that California is facing a housing crisis and advocate solutions focusing on providing truly affordable housing that respect local and environmental considerations and that protect communities of color and low income communities.

Send edits, additions or suggestions to comments for consideration.

Sample letter written by Marina Communities Association



Faster track for transit-friendly housing

editorial board : sfchronicle – excerpt

BART’s oft-delayed trains look downright speedy next to the painful pace of housing development around its stations. Take the affordable-housing complex Casa Arabella, the second phase of which broke ground on a parking lot near Oakland’s Fruitvale Station last week. The occasion, as The Chronicle detailed, arrived nearly a quarter-century after plans for the area transit village took shape.

Housing around BART stations and other mass-transit hubs, as it turns out, isn’t so different from housing throughout California: disdained by surprisingly plentiful, powerful and vocal constituencies and therefore in all too short supply. And yet neighborhoods served by train stations are among the most logical places for high-density housing development that won’t compound traffic and pollution.

Promising new legislation by Assemblymen David Chiu, D-San Francisco, and Timothy Grayson, D-Concord, seeks to address the relative scarcity of BART-accessible housing by requiring the system to adopt zoning standards that promote residential development and forcing cities to go along with them. The bill, AB2923, also would mandate that developers devote at least 20 percent of projects to affordable housing and, in a potentially counterproductive concession to organized labor, pay union-level wages… (more)

Chiu is aligning his political future with Wiener’s. They appear to be taking their marching orders from the YIMBYs and their developer backers instead of listening to their constituents.

Chiu’s AB2923 would force development on BART parking lots. Wiener’s SB 827 and its cousins, if passed, will impose state zoning on all of California’s local governments. Both are extremely unpopular with citizens around the state and neither of these bills have been vetted by their constituents, or the local governments they are being imposed upon. Cities and counties around the state are opposing SB 827.

After the last decade of government by developers, we have no less traffic, cheaper housing, or happier citizens. We have more workers with longer commute times, thousands of displaced people living on dangerous crime-ridden streets, and the highest cost of living in the world. Our local businesses are closing and the disruptive on-demand delivery industry is at a crisis point, as delivery services do not perform as promised. The effects of the entire SMART plan need to be evaluated before we continue down this path.

If you oppose dense stack and pack development, attacks on private vehicle ownership, and/or the state takeover of local jurisdictions, you may want to vote for some new representation in Sacramento when you get the chance. Stay tuned for details on how you can fight back.

Lawmakers introduce transit development bill for BART stations

Marin, California gear up for transit hub zoning fight

By Katy Murphy and Erin Baldassari : marinij – excerpt (includes maps)

Taking aim at climate change, highway gridlock and soaring housing costs, a California lawmaker has ignited a red-hot debate with a proposal that would force cities to allow more apartments and condominiums to be built a short walk from train stations and bus stops.

Arguably the most radical in a series of legislative fixes for California’s crippling housing crisis, Senate Bill 827 has the potential to reshape neighborhoods up and down the state, from Berkeley to Los Angeles, by overriding single-family zoning and superceding limits on new housing near public transportation…


In Marin, several cities have sent off letters of opposition, saying that usurping local control over development is not the way to build a community. Among the Marin cities in opposition are Mill Valley, Larkspur, Corte Madera, San Anselmo, Fairfax, San Rafael and Novato… (more)

The war against cars is finally exposed as the cover for the great new gold-rush land grab that it is. If there was ever any doubt about the connection between public transportation projects and housing, SB 827 lays those doubts to rest.

Sensitive neighborhood communities in California cities have been pushed out of their affordable homes, and businesses that served them are closing. The lucky ones escaped to the suburbs, the unlucky ones ended up on the street. If SB 827 passes, the residents who moved to the suburbs will once against be uprooted. Where are they supposed to go next?

Read the article and the sidebar that describes the intent of  SB 827 and decide for yourself how it may effect you and your neighbors. Opposition is growing around the state to forced dense development as residents from San Diego to Mendocino dispute the one-size-fits-all approach to zoning and the top-down approach to governing.

The construction industry does not live and die by legal edict. When the physical limitations of production are taken into a account it is easy to see why it takes so long to build. You need money, labor, and materials as well. The insane pace of building has driven costs through the roof. The process is broken and doing more of the same thing is not going to fix it.

Let your city officials and state representatives know how your feel about the state telling you and your neighbors how you must grow your cities and towns to meet the expectation of developers intent on expanding their portfolios by rapidly increasing land values without regard to the consequences.

Rebuttals to arguments for SB 827

San Francisco Supervisor Wants Tax On Uber And Lyft

By Susie Steimle : cbslocal – excerpt (including video)

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Ride-hailing companies could be forced to pay up if one San Francisco supervisor who says he’s tired of Uber and Lyft not contributing their fair share gets his way.

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin says the time for complacency toward these companies is over. Peskin is calling state lawmakers complicit and says lobbyists have influenced California for far too long…

On Tuesday Peskin called on state lawmakers to turn the reigns over to cities when it comes to regulating rideshare. Next week he plans to introduce a city ballot measure for November that would allow San Francisco to tax Uber and Lyft… (more)

We suggest looking at the individuals at the CPUC who are caving to the TNCS. Who appointed them and where do they get their authority? Also consider why people are taking these rides to begin with. What did the SFMTA think people would do when they made car ownership and parking so difficult and cut Muni services and stops and killed the taxi industry? Fix those problems and the Uber Lyfts will be less popular.

Oh, and the new CEO of Uber stated it is his company’s intention of taking over municipal transportation. So they are directly competing with Muni How many residents are competing with Muni?

California CPUC is to blame for the corporate takeover of our streets. We need new leadership at the CPUP.

Video by Spenser Michael, PBS NewsHours : KQED  – excerpt (video included)

This story ran in 2014.

Every weekday morning, dozens of sleek buses roll through the heart of San Francisco, picking up a cargo of workers commuting south to companies like Google, Facebook and Apple. But critics say the buses are clogging city bus stops and are symbolic of the disparity in wealth between the new tech workers and the long-time working class residents… (more)

Matters have gone from bad to worse. The SFMTA turned public parking spaces over to the buses and now we dealing with more buses and TNCs. As the street parking disappears a new parking need arises for delivery services.

Nothing the state, county, city agencies have done with the millions of dollars in federal, state, regional, county, or city taxes, fines and fees, has put a dent in the traffic problem.

California citizens all over the state are calling for a halt in the failed projects until major changes are enacted to stop the flawed plans that are not working.

RELATED: National coverage has been building on this subject for years.

Fast forward to 2018:

We now know a lot more about the “healthy economy” and it is unhealthy for most people.

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) does not work for the public. At their last meeting they determined that because they are spending less money than anticipated on enforcement, the fees should be lowered on the Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) they are supposed to regulate.

Cities have no way to combat this agency. The only thing they regulate is the routes and the stops.

This is a perfect example of why we need to stop the state from usurping power from local governments. As the state legislature gives itself the right to regulate land use and traffic laws though such bills as Wiener’s SB-827 and 828, neighborhoods are being turned into futuristic holding cells for transients out to make a fast buck. They better grab fast, because they are killing the golden goose. Cities are crumbling under the weight of expectations and unrealistic priorities.

California has a number of regulatory agencies that make the rules and enforce them at their own discretion. There is no separation of powers here. San Francisco’s Municipal Transit Authority has a similar problem. Too much power and too much money has a bad influence on performance. The process does not work for the public. It works for the corporations and their lobbyists who control the agencies.

Because over 2% of the corporate bus trips cross into other local jurisdictions, they are regulated by the state. This encourages more regional traffic, not less, as TNCs scramble to grab those rides.

Uber’s new CEO admitted that his company is in competition with Muni and wants to run the city bus programs. We need  new cop in town and City Hall who can work some magic in Sacramento by taking back local control.

As it stands now the only thing the voters can do is stop the flow of money into the coffers of the agencies until City Halls get the message that the plan is flawed and the citizens are not going to take it anymore. The next tax on the ballot for transportation will be the regional RM3 bill that would increase bridge tolls to pay for more of same.

Fighting back means replacing people who are responsible for this untenable situation, and have not learned by their mistakes. It is one thing to posit an idea that doesn’t work. It is another to pretend like the world is your oyster when millions of people are suffering because of a flawed plan based on false assumptions.

We now know that algorithms can be manipulated thanks to Donald Trump and the Mueller investigation that uncovered massive manipulations by facebook algorithms. Next time someone tells you they based a zoning plan or a traffic pattern future project on an algorithm run for the nearest exit. Computer models are only as good as the input. When there are no recent studies based on current conditions, the computer models are flawed and the algorithms meaningless.

There is a new kid on the block intent on fighting back with renewed public outreach. is taking on the buses that are ravaging the Noe Valley neighborhood. See the recent action at the last stop at 29th and San Jose. Marvel at the chutzpah of the huge empty buses as they head for the 280 freeway.

State legislators need to take control the CPUC just as our Supervisors need to control the SFMTA. Let them know how you feel.



Studies are increasingly clear: Uber, Lyft congest cities

: kcra – excerpt (includes video)

One promise of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft was fewer cars clogging city streets. But studies suggest the opposite: that ride-hailing companies are pulling riders off buses, subways, bicycles and their own feet and putting them in cars instead.

And in what could be a new wrinkle, a service by Uber called Express Pool now is seen as directly competing with mass transit…

“The emerging consensus is that ride-sharing (is) increasing congestion,” Wilson said…

In San Francisco, a study released in June found that on a typical weekday, ride-hailing drivers make more than 170,000 vehicle trips, about 12 times the number of taxi trips, and that the trips are concentrated in the densest and most congested parts of the city…

“I would prefer to have the Uber take me there directly rather than having to transfer several times and wait at a bus stop,” said Wu, who doesn’t own a car…(more)

SMART technology is not so smart when it comes to understanding humans.

Expanded Uber Express Pool option: Walk a bit, ride for less

By Carolyn Said : sfchronicle – excerpt

Uber is expanding Pool, its shared-ride option, offering passengers the chance to save money if they wait a few minutes and walk a few blocks for a ride.

The company has run a pilot of the new program, called Uber Express Pool, in San Francisco and Boston since November. This week it will add six cities: Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, San Diego, Denver and Washington, D.C.

“Regular” Uber Pool, which the company has offered since mid-2014 and which now exists in 36 cities, lowers prices by letting multiple passengers split costs on a ride, like a form of carpooling. But Ethan Stock, an Uber product manager, acknowledged in a press call Tuesday that passengers get frustrated if their cars drive in circles to pick up and drop off others — and that such an approach is not the most efficient.

Express Pool takes a more streamlined approach, with some of the extra effort coming from passengers on foot so the cars can follow a straighter route.

People requesting an Uber ride will see the options of Express Pool, regular Pool and UberX, and the associated prices and estimated arrival times for each. Those who select Express Pool will be asked to wait a few minutes to increase the odds of finding compatible passenger matches, and then to walk one or two blocks to be picked up. Likewise, at the end of the ride, passengers may have to walk a couple of blocks to their destination… (more)

Uber completes with Muni. What doesn’t ?


Uber Express Pool offers the cheapest fares yet in exchange for a little walking

Uber officially launches Uber Express POOL, a new twist on shared rides

Uber Express Pool is like a minibus with cheaper rides


Bus-only lanes drive fears of displacement in East Oakland

: kalw – excerpt (includes audio)

AC Transit is building a faster, more reliable bus line on International Boulevard in East Oakland. But some locals are worried that the project will be one more thing forcing them out of the city…

My analysis is that they don’t care about us,” says Buford. “They made plans but we weren’t in those plans.”

The bus line was billed as a way to serve low income residents. But to Buford, it looked like it was designed to skip over the poor neighborhoods as quickly as possible.

“In order to do that you’ve got to fly by a whole lot of stops,” says Buford... (more)

Transportation gentrification How Bus Rapid Transit is Displacing East Oakland

Mountain View starts collecting waste from RV dwellers

by John Orr : mercurynews – excerpt

Complaints pouring in about sewage being dumped illegally on lawns, parks and storm drains.

The City of Mountain View in January began a pilot program to collect waste from recreational vehicles, in response to the increasing number of people who live in such vehicles in the city. The service is free, with vouchers distributed by the police department…

With more people living in recreational vehicles on Mountain View’s streets, the need for them to safely empty their wastewater tanks is becoming increasingly important…

In response to the growing problem, the City Council in March approved “the sanitary waste dump pilot RV waste disposal program,” said Kimberly S. Thomas of the city manager’s office. “The goal was to both offer waste disposal services to residents living in RVs, and test whether a permanent sanitary waste dump in Mountain View is viable.”

That program began in earnest on Jan. 16, when the first of two phases began in parking lot A/B at Shoreline Amphitheatre… (more)


“Parking Management and Vehicular Habitation” presentation at the February 6 Board meeting

Preview the SFMTA Oversize Vehicle SlideShow: Slide_presentation.pdf
Perhaps this is a good opportunity to consider a program for San Francisco like the one they are using in Mountain View to handle the problem if such a program does not yet exist.


Proposal for $9 tolls on Bay Bridge, $8 on other bridges gets big boost

By Lizzie Johnson : sfgate – excerpt


Sunset cruise on the Bay Bridge photo by zrants

A measure to raise Bay Area bridge tolls to $9 on the Bay Bridge and $8 on others over several years took a major step forward Wednesday when a key transportation committee unanimously recommended putting it before voters in June…

But to get before voters, the recommendation will need approval from the full Bay Area Toll Authority, which usually follows the committee’s lead. A vote is expect Jan. 24.

If the authority gives the measure the go-ahead, the Board of Supervisors in each of the nine affected counties will make the final vote to place it on each county’s ballot for June 5 as Regional Measure 3. If it passes, the toll hikes will affect only drivers on the Bay Area’s seven state-owned bridges. The Golden Gate Bridge would be excluded. Commuters who cross two bridges to get to their destination would receive a 50 percent discount on their second crossing if they have a FasTrak pass…

The measure also includes a proposal to create an inspector general whose job would be to examine BART finances and operations…(more)

Good to know that they will use the increase in bridge funds to hire another high-paid consultant. That sounds like a winning strategy for workers who are paying an average of 40% of their shrinking incomes on housing. I’m sure they will jump at the prospect of paying higher bridge tolls.