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

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.



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

San Francisco proposal would convert parking garage into affordable housing, hotel

 : smartcitiesdive – excerpt
Dive Brief:
  • San Francisco has proposed a plan to redevelop the Moscone Convention Center’s 732-space garage into a multiuse complex with at least 100 affordable housing units and at least 650 hotel rooms, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • The garage, which is owned by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, reportedly is 53% occupied during peak hours and generates $2.3 million each year for the city.
  • Leaders with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency are scheduled to vote today on whether to move forward with the plan and issue a request for proposals for developers to build the multiuse facility… (more)
Does this mean the SFMTA that never produces a project on time or within budget will take on another construction project while they are stuck in the tunnels and having problems with the contracts they are already working on?

SFMTA to solicit hotel developer for Moscone Center Garage

By  : sfexminer – excerpt
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency voted to begin accepting proposals to replace the Moscone Center Garage with a hotel and affordable housing…
In July 2017, the Parking Authority transferred ownership of the Moscone Center Garage to the SFMTA, and the hotel development terms will see the transit agency retain jurisdiction of the site. The lease terms are for 65 years, with the option of a 34-year lease extension…(more)

Cars remain popular because they are vastly superior to transit alternatives

By Gary Galles : ocregister – excerpt

The Los Angeles Times has recently reported that public transit agencies “have watched their ridership numbers fall off a cliff over the last five years,” with multi-year decreases in mass transit use by up to 25 percent. And a new UCLA Institute of Transportation study has found that increasing car ownership is the prime factor for the dive in usage…

Many things are already in motion to solve transit agencies’ problems. For instance, in 2015, Los Angeles began a 20-year plan to remove auto lanes for bus and protected bike lanes, as well as pedestrian enhancements, diverting transportation funds raised from drivers and heightening congestion for the vast majority who planners already know will continue to drive.

Such less than effective attempts to cut driving by creating gridlock purgatory suggest we ask a largely ignored question. Why do planners’ attempts to force residents into walking, cycling and mass transit, supposedly improving their quality of life, attract so few away from driving?

The reason is simple — cars are vastly superior to alternatives for the vast majority of individuals and circumstances…

As Randal O’Toole noted: “Anyone who prefers not to drive can find neighborhoods … where they can walk to stores that offer a limited selection of high-priced goods, enjoy limited recreation and social opportunities, and take slow public transit vehicles to some but not all regional employment centers, the same as many Americans did in 1920. But the automobile provides people with far more benefits and opportunities than they could ever have without it.”… (more)

This article fails to mention the Uber Lyft factor. As some city dwellers have given up car ownership due to gridlock and parking challenges, private enterprises have replaced private owned cars with “shared” cars so there is no net reduction of traffic. Citizens are fed up.

Non-partisan grassroots organizations are uniting to replace politicians, repeal the recently imposed state gas tax increase, fight future taxes. Environmentalists, affordable housing proponents, and displaced residents know how they have been played and they will not be tricked again by state orchestrated land and power grabs.

Uber’s partnership with Jump could put the future of station-less bikes in San Francisco at risk

By n : recode – excerpt

Uber users will be able to book a Jump bike from the Uber app.

Dockless bike-sharing company Jump just became the first U.S.-based company to work with a ride-hail app. Soon, San Franciscans will be able to locate the nearest Jump bike straight from the Uber app making it easier to plan out the first and last mile of trips.

However, the splashy announcement could put pressure on a pilot program that is stretched thin by design. Jump, which received its permit to operate an 18-month pilot in San Francisco in January, can only provide 250 of its station-less bikes in the city.

Opening up those 250 bikes to Uber users in the city, in addition to the customers separately using the Jump app, would exacerbate demand in a city with more than 850,000 residents. The partnership might undercut the viability of this new form of bike-sharing…

Additionally, Jump is the only dockless bike provider that has been granted a permit by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority and can only operate e-bikes — a stipulation that came out of a settlement with incumbent stationary bike-share service Ford GoBike. The network, which is run and operated by New York-based company Motivate, is sponsored by Ford…

Through the pilot, the SFMTA intends to evaluate the efficacy and merits of starting a dock-less bike-sharing program. However, competing companies LimeBike and Ofo as well as some city supervisors including Malia Cohen of San Francisco’s 10th district and Ahsha Safai of the 11th district have questioned whether this pilot could in fact hurt the industry…

The SFMTA asked these companies to provide real-time location information for all of the bikes in their fleet.

However, LimeBike contends they did meet that requirement but also expressed their concerns with this process of data-sharing.

The LimeBike application reads:…“Most importantly, we believe this exposes the citizens of San Francisco (and the City & County of San Francisco) to unnecessary risks. With current technology, someone with the right skills can identify a person with as little as four location data points, even with the data otherwise anonymized, so sharing that data openly will pose significant privacy and security concerns.”

For now, the companies have been effectively banned from operating in San Francisco for the duration of this pilot, straining a relationship that will be integral to the proliferation of station-less bike-sharing in the city… (move)

Pressure by local citizens to change the course at SFMTA may effect unpopular pilot projects and exclusive deals the department is cutting with their favorite partners. What are the deal makers, getting out of these partnerhsips? How heavily invested are City Hall authorities invested in the new technologies that are disrupting our city? How healthy are these public/private partnerships as we question our ability to live private lives free from over-brearing government interference?

San Francisco is not for sale. You read the entire article that describe the corporate structures and public/private agreements SFMTA has involved San Francisco in. Some city officials’ are concerned. We assume there will be some ethics complaints filed soon regarding this matter.

SFMTA Delays Traffic Diversion Plans For 8th Avenue ‘Neighborway’

by Lauren Alpert : hoodline – excerpt

On Wednesday evening, Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer and SFMTA hosted a community meeting to discuss a traffic-calming plan that would divert traffic away from 8th Avenue.

While the plan originated with SFMTA initiatives and gathered feedback from neighbors, some residents have expressed concerns about traffic being shunted to adjoining streets.

Officials from the transportation agency say the proposed 8th Avenue “neighborway” would create a “safe, pleasant north-south route” for pedestrians and cyclists, noting that the street “carries 2 to 3 times the amount of vehicle traffic when compared to parallel routes.”… (more)

Good news. This is strike two for neighbors since the Supervisors threatened with a Charter Amendment and Ordinance to reign them in. So far the only consistent problems are coming from SFPark’s Corporate dealings. In spite of massive efforts by environmental groups supporting neighborhoods, the corporate mobsters are gaining public ground (literally).

King of the Roads: Uber takes the crown with this deal.

Op-Ed by Zrants

Uber partners with JUMP after SFMTA handed them an exclusive e-bike deal, sort of. It looks like Motivate/GoBikes will be adding some e-bikes to their stations soon. How they will handle the battery charging program appears to be up in the air at the moment.

Market Share: Uber, Apple and Amazon are driven by the same lust for power and dominance that drove GM, GE and Philip Morris to conquer their markets. I don’t trust Uber any more than I trust Elli Lilly or Bank of America. These corporations are expert at hiding their holdings.

Holding Companies: This article on Motivate describes some of the corporate entities in back of GoBikes and leaves no doubt what motivates them to invest in bike share companies.

Corporate Deals: According to articles in streetsblog, and SF Examiner, Uber not only made a deal with JUMP, but, SFMTA negotiated a compromise between Uber and Gobike/Motivate, to would assure they did not have to compete with each other. Will it take a Charter Amendment for the San Francisco voters to get this level of attention and concern for our well-being?

How do taxpayers feel about paying for Ed Reiskin’s time and attention to these corporations who are taking over our public streets for profit? SFMTA officials are focused on supporting corporate interests and planning for our future in 2045 instead of finishing the major capital projects that are behind schedule, way over budget, and disrupting our lives. Could this be why the Central Subway and Van Ness BRT projects are so screwed up and we have grid-locked streets? Ed spends his time making deals?


Uber’s latest venture is a bike-sharing service in San Francisco. It’s working with dockless bike-sharing startup Jump.

By Mallory Locklear : engadget – excerpt

Uber’s piloting a new service in San Francisco alongside dockless bike-sharing startup Jump. Uber Bike will let users rent one of Jump’s 250 bikes, charging $2 for the first 30 minutes and an additional per-minute fee thereafter. Jump was granted a permit by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency earlier this month, which made it the first company to operate a dockless bike-sharing program in the city. Jump’s 250 bikes should launch around the city between now and March and the SFMTA may allow the company to release 250 more after nine months, depending on how things go. The permit was issued for 18 months, during which the SFMTA will evaluate the program and the public’s response… (more)

Uber partners with JUMP on electric bike share pilot in San Francisco

by Monica Nickelsburg : geeklwire – excerpt

SINGAPORE — If Uber Technologies Inc. is planning a retreat from Asia, no one told Brooks Entwistle, head of the ride-hailing company’s business in the region.

The San Francisco-based company is planning an expansion in Japan and is offering faster booking and cheaper rides to gain share in Singapore, Mr Entwistle said in an interview…more)

For Uber, the trade-off is scale. If it pulls out of markets like India and Indonesia, that will improve profitability immediately — but it would sacrifice long-term growth. Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said recently the company would continue to be aggressive about expansion in 2018 as he sees Uber as being “everywhere for everyone.”… (more)