YIMBYs: The “Alt-Right” Darlings of the Real Estate Industry

By Toshio Meronek and Andrew Szeto : Truthout – excerpt

Rising city skyline from Bernal Heights by zrants

In San Francisco’s Mission District, flyers pasted on mailboxes and light poles warn longtime residents of the new “conquistadores,” the hordes of wealthy tech industrialists who’ve descended on the neighborhood en masse over the past few years, displacing many in the Latinx-heavy neighborhood to the outer reaches of the Bay Area.

But it’s not just lower-income people who are feeling set upon. Rich newcomers also see themselves as an interest group in need of a voice. “Someone needs to represent people who haven’t yet moved into a neighborhood,” said pro-development activist Sonja Trauss, who moved to Oakland in 2011, at an April real estate industry soiree in Vancouver. In San Francisco, “the people who haven’t yet moved in” most often means the tech industrialists, lured by high salaries, stock options and in-office employee benefits like massage therapists and handcrafted kombucha.

But these new tech “immigrants,” as Trauss refers to her kinfolk, spell disaster for current San Franciscans. In 2015, the city-funded homeless count found 71 percent of homeless San Franciscans were housed in San Francisco before being pushed onto the streets…

A Campaign to Legitimize the Luxury Condo Boom

A founder of the Yelp.com web empire, Jeremy Stoppelman, bequeathed $100,000 upon new Oakland resident Trauss in 2015, with the stated goal of clearing the way for more housing units, even if those units were only accessible to the richest of the rich. That investment helped to spark a libertarian, anti-poor campaign to turn longtime sites of progressive organizing into rich-people-only zones…

A Grassroots Facade…

YIMBY brings together community groups, advocates, and grassroots organizations,” reads the Toronto YIMBY Party’s website. But North America’s first YIMBY convening, YIMBY2016, was funded by groups, such as the National Association of Realtors and the Boulder Area Realtor Association…

Are the people-of-color-led community groups like Causa Justa that supported a moratorium on luxury condo construction “just as bad” as anti-immigrant Trump supporters? Trauss thinks so, calling people who didn’t support new market-rate condo projects in central San Francisco “nativists” because they don’t welcome with open arms the construction cranes building lavish condos with butterfly gardens and valet parking in traditionally working-class neighborhoods… (more)

The BARFERs (Ms. Stauss YIMBIEs are known as BARFERs) got in trouble when they used the term “nativists” at a Board of Supervisors hearing after Trump was elected. None of the supervisors appreciated that moniker and the project Ms. Strauss was supporting has been radically changed. It is slated to be a temporary homeless shelter.

Deadly Neoliberal Policies

Infill, with its self-aware, geek-chic name, is the podcast that Trauss co-hosts with another YIMBY-to-watch, Laura Foote Clark. When Truthout asked for evidence that the YIMBY trickle-down model would benefit people who aren’t making tech salaries, Foote Clark was quick to send a dozen papers that claim to show how neoliberal deregulation will end the housing crisis, and that rich NIMBYs are the main benefactors of further regulation…(more – Leave comments here if you can.)

This fresh look at San Francisco politics on the national stage contains helpful new observations and about our political divide. Most people want to same thing, they just disagree about how to get there.

“…rich NIMBYs are the main benefactors of further regulation…”

This statement is evidence of a misplaced jealousy of people who own homes, and a misunderstanding of the concept of liquid assets, true values, and security. People who own homes are just as stuck as people who rent. The only thing they have going for them is a little more control over their finances until they lose their source of income and are foreclosed on if they bought into an equity loan scheme.

If you do sell your home to realize an increase in equity value, where do you move? You can hardly afford to trade up in the market.

One of the major things that sets Yimbies apart from the rest of us is that along with a strong sense of jealousy, they live in the perfect future while the rest of us live in the present. Waiting for the world to turn into a perfect vision is not something that appeals to people who live in the present. We built the city to live in, not as a get rich scheme.

The amazing thing is that WE are accused of being the obstructionists, while THE YIMBIEs and BARFERs, along with SFMTA and SPUR are the real obstructionists. They are creating havoc on our streets impeding our movement, while claiming we are impeding their ability to stop us.

Everyone does agree that we have too many homeless on our streets and we need to enforce the eviction laws to keep people in their homes. The entire Board of Supervisors are intent on fixing that problem.

RELATED: Comments on the above article
With development activists compared to the ‘alt-right,’ the housing crisis debate jumped the shark

 

Program Will Allow Homeless To Pay LA Parking Tickets With Community Service Instead Of Fines

cbsla – excerpt

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday approved a measure to allow homeless people to pay parking citations by performing community service rather than paying a fine.

Under the newly approved program, people who meet the federal definition of being homeless under Title 42 of the Public Health and Welfare Code can go into one of the city’s service provider agencies and apply to perform social services or community services instead of paying the citation fine… (more)

The Streetcar Hustle

by : jacobinmag – excerpt

We need bold new transit projects. But Bill de Blasio’s streetcar plan shows we won’t get them by catering to private developers.

ig changes are coming to one stretch of the New York City waterfront. In his recent State of the City address, Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced an ambitious plan for a new streetcar system that would connect the city’s most populous borough, Brooklyn, to its largest, Queens. Citing “explosive growth on the waterfront in Brooklyn and Queens,” the mayor proclaimed: “Today, we take the next great step in connecting New Yorkers to the heart of our new economy for New York.”…

The plan’s price tag currently stands at $2.5 billion. Some of that cost would be borne by riders, whose fares would be pegged to the cost of a subway swipe, but most of it would be paid for through gentrification. According to the New York Times, “administration officials believe the system’s cost can be offset by tax revenue siphoned from an expected rise in property values along the route.” Seen from this vantage point, the streetcar proposal seems less a transportation plan than a real estate stimulus.

This is not exactly a surprise. As historians like Robert Fitch and Kim Moody have described, real estate barons have long manipulated New York City’s planning apparatus, often through their chosen “nonprofit” advocates. Entire subway lines, for example, were rerouted to correspond to the Rockefeller family’s particular real estate holdings.

Nor is this link between public investment and private gain a secret. In fact, planners are often taught to see the two as mutually reinforcing. New York University’s Mitchell Moss enthused that the streetcar system “is going to do more to encourage more housing than any other transit improvement currently underway.” Alex Garvin, a well-known planner and member of the group “Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector,” argued that “by creating a new light rail line in those neighborhoods, we could create an enormous opportunity for new investment.”

De Blasio highlights these benefits to property owners, but he also frames the plan as a gift to New York City’s poorest residents, many of whom have long been under-served by the city’s mass transit network. Brooklyn and Queens are home to millions of working-class people, many of whom could no doubt use an easier way to travel between those boroughs.

But the existing plan is inseparable from a longstanding project to remake the waterfront, and must be seen as part of a larger process of state-enabled gentrification and displacement…(more)

I could not have said it better. This article, written last year, pretty much sums up all we have been experiencing all ovr the cities. Here we have the blunt truths about why cities promote gentrification and the rise in property values, and how the systems promotes the welfare of the less than 1% of the population. As their fortunes rise, everyone else falls.

As we are witnessing a huge increase in homeless people on the street as the dense housing and mass transit systems move in and displace them. We can pretty well assume those programs and projects are responsible for the rise in homeless population on our streets because the rise in properties and ensuing rents that did not coincide with a similar increase in income for most people.

The new administration in Washington seems less likely to help ease the situation than the one that just left. At least Obama spoke well of the poor and acted as if he cared. Trump leaves no room for doubt as to how little he plans to do for the poor folks who put him in office hoping he would come to their rescue. His plan is more of the same on steroids.

What goes up must come down and get rebuilt for at least twice as much as we spent before.

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When their shifts end, Uber drivers set up camp in parking lots

By Eric Newcomer and Olivia Zaleski : chicagotribune – excerpt

In the 1970s, the Safeway grocery store in San Francisco’s gleaming Marina neighborhood, known as the Social Safeway, was a cornerstone of the pre-Tinder dating scene. Armistead Maupin made it famous in his 1978 book, Tales of the City, calling it “the hottest spot in town” to meet people. For years afterward, locals called it the “Singles Safeway” or the “Dateway.”

Forty years later, German Tugas, a 42-year-old Uber driver, got to know it for another reason: Its parking lot was a safe spot to sleep in his car. Most weeknights, Tugas drives over 70 hours a week in San Francisco, where the work is steadier and fares are higher than in his hometown, Sacramento. So every Monday morning, Tugas leaves at 4 a.m., says goodbye to his wife and four daughters, drives 90 miles to the city, and lugs around passengers until he earns $300 or gets too tired to keep going. (Most days he nets $230 after expenses like gas.) Then, he and at least a half dozen other Uber drivers gathered in the Social Safeway parking lot to sleep in their cars before another long day of driving… (more)

What do Uber drivers in San Francisco have in common with San Jose cops? They both sleep in parking lots.

New Marina Parking Restrictions Targeting Car-Dwellers Upset Homeless Activists

: sfist – excerpt

Another in a long line of SFMTA measures restricting large vehicles from parking overnight on certain San Francisco streets was approved on Tuesday, this time focusing on the Marina. The Examiner reports that the rules, which effect vehicles over 22 feet long and 7 feet tall, are specifically designed to address a safety hazard some residents allege is caused by people living in their cars.

The ban prohibits parking on specific Marina streets from 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m., and has homeless activists crying foul. “We are very concerned about the possibility of expanding this failed strategy,” the Coalition on Homelessness’s Kelley Cutler told the paper…

Perhaps in response to those criticisms, the SFMTA is now floating a scaled down version of an idea first proposed earlier this year by then “homeless czar” Sam Dodge. SFMTA senior analyst Andy Thornley told the Ex that one possible solution to the perceived problem of people living in cars would be to identify vacant lots and allow parking overnight in those spaces. However, in Thornley’s mind, each morning the RVs would need to head back out on the streets to find parking for the day — likely an extremely time consuming affair as anyone who has every tried to park a truck in the city can attest.

At this point Thornley’s idea is just that, an idea, and no apparent moves are being made to make it a reality. Interestingly, however, this may be the last new ban on overnight parking we see for a while. Gwyneth Borden, who sits on the SFMTA board of directors, said that she will not approve any additional overnight restrictions. “We won’t be entertaining these issues in the future,” she said — words which might allow some RV-dwellers to sleep just a little bit easier…(more )

RELATED:
Banned From Numerous SF Streets, Homeless Czar Now Wants RV Park For Homeless Vehicle-Dwellers

Commuters Voice Mixed Feelings About Mission St. Changes

By missionlocal – excerpt

San Francisco’s Mission Street is undergoing significant transformation in the coming months, but there is skepticism among drivers and bus riders that the changes will be for the better.

As of last Friday, several bus stops along the corridor including those at 15th, 19th, 21st and 23rd streets had vanished. The city will now begin turning one of the lanes in each direction into a bus-only lane, with painting expected to be completed at the end of April. Beginning in March, left turns off of Mission Street will be prohibited, and northbound drivers will be required to turn right off of Mission at 26th, 24th, 22nd and 20th streets.

The response to these changes on social media was swift and angry: “Nooo,” “Horrible,” “This is terrible,” or simply, “Grrrr.”

Others had more specific complaints.

“They got it backwards. You start implementing transit first after you have a transit system,” wrote Daniel Bucko on Facebook.

“Who do we have to vote out of office to make this go away?” wondered Facebook user Gary Siegel.

After the changes were announced, Dave Smith, a Mission resident dedicated to reducing dangerous crashes on South Van Ness Avenue, wrote an incensed letter to the transit authority’s head Ed Reiskin. Now he wrote, even more drivers will be diverted to the notoriously high-injury corridor.

“You, due to your negligence have created an unsafe situation on South Van Ness Ave. and it will only get worse once you limit cars on Mission St.,” Smith wrote. “It makes zero sense to funnel traffic from Mission St., which is commercial, to South Van Ness, which is mainly residential in nature.”…(more)

Why are city officials approving spending money on controversial programs like this? As someone who works late at night pointed out, Mission is not a safe street to walk on in the middle of the night, and he fears for the safety of his co-workers. We have a growing homeless population living on the streets of our city while the SFMTA waste millions of dollars needed to house them. Who indeed do we need to fire to set the priorities straight?

Finding a home on Hotel 22

By Isabel Angell : KALW – excerpt (audio)

I’m on the Valley Transportation Authority’s Line 22 bus somewhere between East San Jose and Palo Alto. It’s 2:30 a.m., and it’s raining. I start a conversation with a man sitting down, and ask him if he’s heard the nickname for the bus.

“Yeah, well there’s the Motel 22 or Hotel 22. That’s the big one I’ve heard.”

I ask him what he calls the bus.

“I call it home.”… (more)

BART starts enforcing ban on stretching out at Powell Street

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate – excerpt

BART police on Monday began enforcing a ban on sleeping, lying or sitting with legs extended at the busy Powell Street Station and said they plan to expand the crackdown systemwide.

The enforcement action, which involved as many as nine BART police officers Monday, is a safety measure intended to ensure that stations can be evacuated in four to six minutes in an emergency, said Jeffrey Jennings, BART’s deputy police chief.

Jennings said the campaign is not intended to target the homeless, though BART police are aware that’s how it may be construed.

“Everyone’s going to spin it as an attack on the homeless,” he said. “It isn’t. It’s about getting everyone out in an emergency.”… (more)

 

Imports & Domestics: San Francisco Might Have to Kill Its 1971 Ban on Car-Dwelling

By Rachel Swan : sfweekly – excerpt

Utah-born entrepreneur Austen Allred became something of a local folk hero last summer, after living for three months in a two-door Honda Civic while launching his startup in Silicon Valley

Allred is an outlier among car-dwellers: He’s now running a moderately successful Web company with $50,000 in reserves. Most of the newly, partly, or perennially homeless are far less fortunate; they aren’t ingratiating themselves with venture capitalists; they don’t have the option to abscond to an apartment in Utah. Moreover, they’re contending with a 43-year-old ordinance in San Francisco — and a newly proposed law in Palo Alto — that make it illegal to live in a vehicle…

That might change in light of a recent 9th Circuit decision to strike down a Los Angeles law against vehicle-dwelling. Ruling that the law was “unconstitutionally vague” and likely to promote discrimination, the federal appeals court set a precedent for any city trying to eradicate this swath of the homeless population…

It could be a huge point of contention in San Francisco, where, in 2012, the city also added an additional ban against overnight parking of large vans and trailers, which created transient communities along the Great Highway and the outer lip of Golden Gate Park. Here of course, housing prices and a fecund tech economy have created a perfect storm for the Austen Allreds of the world… (more)

Maybe San Francisco could consider investing a relatively meager amount to establish a car park with facilities for people lucky enough to own a motor vehicle car to live in as a few other cities have done. It is a lot cheaper than building low income housing and would take a lot less time to complete. Of course their would be less money for developers and banks.

It’s No Longer Illegal to Live in Your Car in Los Angeles

By Adrian Glick Kudler : la.curbed – excerpt

Rents are insane, housing supplies are short, and buying is one giant “pffffffft” noise going on forever, so housing options are housing options here in Los Angeles, and now finally the Ninth Circuit Court has struck down a law that made it illegal for people to live in their cars. The law had been on the books since 1983 but the city only started enforcing it in 2010 (with a 21-officer task force) when those notoriously complainy Venice residents started complaining about waste and trash on the streets, according to the Guardian. (In January, a group of Venetians finally dropped a years-long battle to kick cars and RVs off the streets overnight.) The ban forbid anyone from using a vehicle “as living quarters either overnight, day-by-day, or otherwise,” and officers all had different interpretations of what exactly that meant, so enforcement was selective; officers were arresting people just for having stuff in their car and even when they were parked in private parking lots. One of the four homeless people who sued to overturn a lower court’s decision upholding the ban had been pulled over in her RV for failing to use a turn signal but was cited instead for living in the vehicle. As one Ninth Circuit judge wrote, “[the ordinance] is broad enough to cover any driver in Los Angeles who eats food or transports personal belongings in his or her vehicle. Yet it appears to be applied only to the homeless.” That of course makes it potentially discriminatory and unconstitutional. The AP adds, via the judge’s opinion, that the ban “criminalizes innocent behavior.”… (more)