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

SFMTA Staffing Analysis Requested by Supervisor Tang

excerpt from Katy Tang’s Neewsletter:

Throughout the years, our office has fielded many complaints regarding SFMTA service. Although governed by a separate Board of Directors, the SFMTA plays an important role in the daily lives of residents and visitors. As Supervisor Tang and several colleagues have been interested in reforms to SFMTA to ensure that it is providing the best services possible, Supervisor Tang recently submitted a request to the Controller’s Office to provide a staffing analysis of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) over the last 15 years. The request directs the Controller’s Office to report on the growth of full-time employees and major shifts in staffing within each division of the SFMTA. Supervisor Tang hopes that this analysis will help guide conversations about how the department can better respond to the needs of our community. Our office will keep residents informed once the report results are available and what we intend to do with the information.

Thanks to Supervisor Tang for this request.

All your complaints are starting to move the Supervisors. Each are responding in their own way. Maybe they saw the article that ran in the LA Times, about the traffic diet reversal in LA after a major negative response from constituents who have organized to fight the street eating monsters.


brokenheart – excerpt


Sick of corporations destroying our beautiful city?
Tired of corporate profit at our expense?
Force tech buses out of SF neighborhoods! Let’s get rid of this stop and force a complete overhaul of this system, so we’re not suffering.
Show the Board of Supervisors, SFMTA, and these tech companies
that you DO care, and will not be sold out!


This new site was announced February 20, 2018 during public comments at SFMTA Board Meeting to oppose privatization of public streets and demanding the tech buses are removed from the city streets. Comments at the source are appreciated:

San Francisco teachers allowed to request residential parking permits

By : sfcurbed – excerpt

“An $84 ticket for not having a residential parking permit is an economic hardship for a teacher making less than $70,000 a year”

It’s a small but important step in helping the city’s teaching force. Today the MTA Board will make changes to transportation code, which will give teachers in smaller San Francisco schools the chance to apply for residential parking permits.

As the law currently stands, schools with 15 or more teachers can access residential parking permits, but those with fewer than the required number (e.g., preschools) are out of luck. With restrictive parking in the city, and a lot of schools located in residential areas a good distance from public transit, this could prove a small yet effective move…

According to a MTA report, there are 141 facilities within residential parking permit areas. “Of these, 30 have been issued a total of 202 permits.”… (more)

As more parking permits are issued it becomes more important than ever to stop removing public access to public street parking spaces. A balance of public parking access and assets needs to be maintained before any further leases or private/public contracts are signed by the SFMTA that transfers public assets to private enterprises.

The Board of Supervisors, acting as the county SFCTA, should request a report on the effects these contracts have had so far on the economy, including, but not limited to, gentrification of neighborhoods, Muni ridership levels, and economic impacts to businesses and the city. Have these partnerships benefited the citizens of San Francisco? Have these contracts resulted in a net gain or loss of revenue for the city? Can they uptick in car break-ins and delivery problems be attributed to the loss of parking?

The Board of Supervisors should immediately put a stop to any further removal of parking spaces until the impact reports are completed.

Firefighters union asks mayoral candidates for veto power over bike lanes, pedestrian safety projects

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Firefighters want their department to wield veto power over Vision Zero street safety projects — which often include bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements — and they’re asking mayoral candidates to help them achieve it.

That’s according to a questionnaire sent to mayoral candidates by San Francisco Firefighters Local 798, which was obtained by the San Francisco Examiner Wednesday.

The questionnaire states that though firefighters support Vision Zero, such street changes can create “serious problems” for fire engines navigating narrow streets and firefighters deploying ladders.

It continues, “Do you support giving the SFFD Fire Marshall more discretion and the ability to reject any Vision Zero proposals that will compromise public safety and the ability of SFFD Firefighters to respond to local emergencies?”…

Leno’s answer to the firefighters emphasized all stakeholders, including merchants and transit advocates. “Any challenges in implementing Vision Zero must be discussed with all stakeholders at the table, working together in good faith,” Leno wrote.

Local 798 is hosting a mayoral candidate forum Feb. 8 to inform their members before they conduct an endorsement vote… (more)

Firefighters want their department to wield veto power over Vision Zero street safety projects — which often include bike lanes and pedestrian safety improvements — and they’re asking mayoral candidates to help them achieve it.

If the Supervisors agree to support the SFMTA Ordinance that would give them oversight over SFMTA Board decisions and the Fire Department would be able to address their issues through the supervisors. We will soon see which mayoral candidates are more supportive of the SFMTA and the Bike Coalition than the Fire Department and the rights of citizens.


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).

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.


SFMTA is outdoing themselves this week

There are so many pages of details of street changes and parking and traffic alterations that it is hard to list them all. Here is the agenda.

Note the extra long pages and the fact that there are six of them.  A letter arrived from London Breed’s district regarding a mass of parking removal and plans to install more of those GoBikes in the Haight. I will share a slightly edited version here:

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

MTA is planning to remove parking spaces at the corners along Fell Street and at the intersections of Fell with the cross streets from Baker through Shrader.  There will be a hearing before an MTA hearing officer on Friday, February 2, at 10 AM at City Hall, Room 416.  We are very concerned about the loss of yet more parking spaces in our neighborhood.

Even if you have a garage, you may be impacted because eliminating these parking spaces would make it more difficult for guests, babysitters, employees, contractors, visitors, delivery people, housekeepers, movers, etc. to find parking.

Here’s a link to an article on Hoodline that describes the plan and neighbors objections. You might also want to let Supervisor Breed know how you feel about the SFMTA when you see her on the campaign trail.

If you oppose the loss of these parking spaces around Oak and Fell Streets described in this article, please attend the hearing and/or submit written opposition to the following officials. Always copy your supervisor:
Ed Reiskin MTA Director
MTA spokesman
MTA Livable Streets
MTA Livable Streets
Supervisor London Breed
legislative aides to Supervisor Breed

Concerned Neighbor

There are many objectionable projects on this agenda.

This week’s projects include two more Bike Share Stations near freeway access points. One on Berry and King Street that will remove 4 metered parking spaces. Another one is planned for the sidewalk at Indiana and Cesar Chavez Street. Few cyclists ride on Cesar Chavez. The Mission specifically opposes the corporate takeover of our streets.

There is one full page of reversing projects that must not have worked as planned. Traffic circles, left hand turns and tow-aways that appear to be in District 11 will be rescinded. That would be the supervisor who is working on the Charter Amendment. He appears to be getting the attention of the SFMTA.

I wonder how much the traffic circles cost to install and how much it will cost to take them out. I heard the ones in District 2 are really a problem for pedestrians and bikes because the streets are not wide enough to accommodate them. Maybe our new Mayor or the Supervisor he appoints can do something about that. Maybe he can even get rid of some of the GoBikes stations that residents oppose.

Pruned Panhandle Parking Protects Pedestrians, Says SFMTA




SFMTA no longer plans to remove 17th Avenue Safeway stop

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

In a sudden twist, The City’s transit agency has reversed course and will keep a much-beloved Muni train stop adjacent to a 17th Avenue Safeway.

Originally the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency proposed removing the stop on a trial basis in the name of speeding up the L-Taraval train, a small part of the $90 million L-Taraval Rapid Project which was intended to improve speed and safety along the route. A final vote on that stop’s removal was scheduled for summer.

But after an outcry from organized neighbors and the intervention of Supervisor Norman Yee, whose district includes the stop, the SFMTA has revised its proposal and plans to announce today that it will maintain the Safeway stop…(more)

Fear of the Supervisors’ threat to place a Charter Amendment ()on the ballot that would split theme up them apart may be working as the SFMTA backtracks on one of their most controversial decisions. The Supervisors are announced a plan to decentralize the SFMTA and encourage a neighborhood process for “neighborhood issues.”

Now is the time to contact your Supervisors to demand support for the first Ordinance to set up an appeals process and demand more action. Don’t forget to raise these issues with the candidates for Mayor and Supervisor positions as well. Each Supervisor may take up an issue and it may take a while, but, you need to take this moment to turn the SFMTA around.