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?

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.

SF transit officials discuss granting dockless bikeshare permits amid legal challenge

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco’s transportation agency moved to potentially grant permits for at least four dockless bikeshare companies prior to facing legal challenges for potentially permitting one dockless bikeshare program in The City, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

When Bluegogo, a similar dockless bikeshare company, discussed entry into San Francisco, city officials cried foul in January, fearing the potential for piles of bikes to litter city sidewalks.

Now, four dockless bikeshare companies — Spin, MoBike, LimeBike and Social Bicycle — have all been in discussion with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to begin operation in The City, according to records obtained by the Examiner.

Emailed discussions occurred just prior to — and in some cases, after — Bay Area Motivate, LLC and the SFMTA entered a “dispute resolution process,” mediated by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, to settle conflicts over San Francisco’s contract with the Ford GoBike bikeshare program.

The heart of the dispute is whether entering into an exclusivity contract with Motivate for Ford GoBike, which docks its bikes on city sidewalks, preven

ts San Francisco from granting permits to dockless bikeshare companies.

Though Motivate declined to comment, citing confidentiality agreements as part of the conflict-resolution process, the company has previously said “no.”… (more)

Where is the voice of the public in this discussion of who has access to our streets? Does the public want rental bikes taking over on our streets? Where does the public right to access and use the streets end and the private corporate right to buy our streets from the SFMTA begin? How is this effecting the small “legacy” bike companies that sell and repair private bikes? Do they have a say in this “space sale” SFMTA is engaging in?

Why don’t we show our appreciation by boycotting Ford? I know it is not Ford Bikes, but they are aligning themselves with Ford so let’s boycott Ford to show our solidarity with private citizens right to control our streets and keep them open to public use. NO PRIVATE SALES OR RENTALS OF OUR STREETS!


Mayor’s Plans for Bike Lanes Hide Toxic Dangers for Kids

By Richard Lee Abrams : citywatchla – excerpt

CORRUPTION WATCH-I’ve got a cracker jack idea – let’s freshen up our children’s classrooms with lead paint. Better yet, let’s protect the children from fire by using a lot of asbestos…

Asbestos has great qualities such as thermal and acoustical insulation, fire protection, strengthening of other materials. For example, asbestos strengthens floor covering making them resistant to humidity, scratches and scuffmarks.

So, let’s all cheer for more lead paint and more asbestos, especially in children’s play areas…

Oh, I forgot one of the big three in the triumvirate of good things for children’s health – toxic auto emissions…

Bike Lanes in Major Streets vs Bike Paths Away from Autos

The City locates bike lanes in major streets claiming that they are a major health benefit to the community. The City took this false information and used it as a basis for its Vision Zero campaign and its Mobility Plan 2035. Many people told the City that placing bike lanes in major streets posed a health risk to cyclists, especially children. Citizens submitted over 20 studies and research papers, all pointing out the health dangers of bike lanes in major streets. These submissions to the public record are excluded from the City’s Index of Mobility Plan 2035 public records. (Isn’t removing official documents from a public record a felony?)

Let’s Look at The Research on Bike Lanes

Harvard University in its August 15, 2014 Study, Impact of Bicycle Route Type on Exposure to Traffic-related Air Pollution, found that bike paths are significantly less polluted than lanes painted on the road, especially when there’s distance and some vegetation as part of the protection…

The Data Was Easily Available to the City

A 2011 article in the LA Times discussed how bicyclists may be inhaling twice as much soot as pedestrians: “You’ve decided to help your health and the environment by riding your bike to work. Good for you! Sorry to have to deliver the bad news: you may be inhaling more soot…

The Actual Purpose of Bike Lanes – Road Diets

Bike Lanes in healthy locations are worthless as Road Diets. The actual reason the Garcetti administration and councilmembers Bonin conceal the health danger to children is to create Road Diets. They need an excuse to remove travel lanes from major streets in order to create significant traffic congestion. The perverse motivation behind concealing the health dangers of bike lanes in major streets to children is to evade the state’s environmental law…

(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams... (more)

That sounds about right. LA has the same system we do. So why do we want to promote our mayors to higher office when they don’t listen to us now?


Transportation Madness

By Commentary Paul Kozakiewicz : richmondreview – excerpt

Lately, I have been wondering why the city’s transportation agency has been running roughshod over merchants and local residents across town, and acting in total disregard for the wishes of most San Francisco residents.

Whether it’s the Geary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), or the L Taraval streetcar line, the public and local merchants are ignored as being minor disruptions to the agency’s self-proclaimed higher ideals.

The SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has created a scorched-earth policy, destroying or hurting businesses on Third, Mission, Taraval and Irving streets and Van Ness Avenue. It refuses to conduct economic impact studies before closing and tearing up streets just to shave a minute or two off bus and streetcar times. It ignores the pleas of seniors, people trying to raise a family, and anyone else who stands in its way.

And it is beyond the reach of voters and elected officials…

The SFMTA was granted special SF Charter status, and divorced from oversight by elected public officials, in 1999. I bet most of the people reading this column have no idea who is running one of the largest departments in the City, with almost 5,000 employees and an annual budget of $1 billion.

The story of how we got to where we are today is ugly.

Mayor, supervisors abdicate transportation responsibilities…

Who is running the SFMTA?

Prop. E is seven pages long, with mostly additions and a lot of deletions of the old laws. It is specific, however, on who should run this massive super-agency…

Currently, it appears as if none of the seven members of the board of directors, or the operations director, have much experience in transportation. They are mostly political insiders whose experience is working within government in some limited capacity…

I think running a large transportation conglomerate is above Reiskin’s pay grade. And, the board of directors running this important show are political appointees, mostly with expertise in subjects other than transportation. It boggles the mind.

The directors of the SFMTA are Cheryl Brinkman (chair), Malcolm Heinicke, Gwyneth Bordon, Lee Hsu, Joel Ramos, Christina Rubke and Art Torres. Their biographies are available at the SFMTA’s website at

And the city’s taxi industry has not fared well under the SFMTA’s oversight…

The aftermath

Here we are, 17 years after the passage of Prop. E, and the SFMTA is a monster of its own creation. The development of the Geary BRT would be funny, except for it being real. I’ve documented the Geary BRT story exhaustively since late 2006, when I spent my Christmas vacation trying to figure out why the SFMTA was coming into the neighborhood talking about a “voter mandate” to build a Geary BRT, which was never wanted by most of the people who work and live in the district…

• Representatives of the SFMTA refused the request of local merchants to include an economic impact statement in the Geary BRT’s environmental report;…

The second phase would tear up Geary, hurt local businesses, remove left-hand turns, remove parking spaces and increase traffic on all other Richmond streets.

Non-profit challenges SFMTA

The SFMTA is not a good public institution to deal with. That’s why a group of concerned west side residents and merchants joined together to create the nonprofit organization SF Sensible Transit…

Members of the organization tried for months to negotiate with representatives of the SFMTA, but to no avail. Finally, in desperation, they filed a lawsuit to stop implementation of “phase 2” of the Geary BRT…

Please join Sensible Transit or make a donation in care of: San Franciscans for Sensible Transit, P.O. Box 210119, SF, CA 94121. Or, go to the website at

It’s for all the right reasons.

Thank you.

Paul Kozakiewicz is the publisher of the Richmond Review and Sunset Beacon


SF residential parking permit changes put on hold

Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

Major changes to San Francisco’s 40-year old Residential Parking Permit Program are put on hold after transit officials raised concerns about several schools in The City not being notified about parking permit changes.

Last Tuesday, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors was to decide on changes to the RPP program, including changes that would limit schools in The City from obtaining more than 15 parking permits for faculty.

Kathy Studwell, residential permit parking program manager at the SFMTA, said seven schools in The City currently have more that 15 parking permits.

The change would take effect in July 2019, said Studwell.

SFMTA Director Malcolm Heinickie asked Studwell if those seven schools had been notified yet.

Studwell said: “We will be notifying them.”…

Nicky Jacobson, a resident in the Dogpatch and a member of the Dogpatch Parking Task Force, did not support the plans for the neighborhood.

Jacobson said she did not like the idea of taking the petition process out of the hands of residents and businesses: “We know as business owners and residents know what goes on on our block.”

Another issue that bothered some directors, which was mentioned by Jacobson, was the way the SFMTA staff had notified interested parties about the proposed changes of the RPP program…

SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said a date had not been set yet on when the SFMTA board will take up the item again… (more)

And that pretty well sums up the attitude of the SFMTA staff, that fails to notify and fails to listen to the public. The Mayor and Board of Supervisors are getting leaned on pretty heavily and they are sending pressure to the SFMTA Board and Director and conducting a number of hearings. Next step is for neighborhood groups to hold some hearings in their neighborhoods to get a better idea of how the residents and businesses feel about the results of the many SFMTA streetscape projects that are killing businesses and making voters miserable. In those cases where supervisors are leaving, the voters have a chance to vote for a new attitude at City Hall. Ask the tough questions of all our candidates before you choose the next one. If you are in an even district, you will soon have that opportunity.