Maintaining our Neighborhoods (Housing & Businesses)
In the past six years, over 1/3 of our neighbors have left town. Many of our beloved neighborhood businesses have shut down. Storefronts are shuttered. Many of us have seen families leave, their homes sold, rented, and sold again. This unprecedented “churn” of our neighborhoods is not a given, even for our port City which in many ways embodies the latest trends in commerce and lifestyle.
Our City has been Destabilized.
Our lives have been Disrupted.
We are not alone in that. Major urban areas around the globe have suffered similarly. I have called myself a San Franciscan for over 20 years. The City is our home. I chose to live here not because of opportunities that arose but because of the intangibles. Love, a sense of belonging, a belief that there were kindred spirits here (confirmed), a desire to live in a place of rare beauty, the context of a deep and interesting history, a City with all the earmarks of a World-Class City—these are some of the intangibles I refer to.
Like many of you who are native-born/raised/remaining and who are long-time residents, I have suffered from the transmogrification of our City by greed. We are, in some sense—some more, some less—victims of indirect displacement. The City has changed for the worse, many of its better attributes have diminished, many of the people and places that gave us a sense of place in our home have moved on, passed on, been demolished, or disappeared behind stack and pack condos and flashcube skyscrapers.
Members of the Board of Supervisors and Mayors, past and present, presided over this fire sale on the City’s assets.
We live in an asset-based economy. Banksters crashed that economy in 2008 in the subprime mortgage meltdown, like they did in the Savings and Loan crisis of the late 80’s and early ’90’s.
Our current housing crisis is unlikely to resolve any differently without intervention and taxpayers will again be on the hook bailing out the financial sector to mask the overvaluation of assets which is, this time, being hoarded by a smaller handful of plutocrats in Real Estate Investment Trusts, foreign investment schemes, and personal enrichment speculating.
Rather than relying on career politicians whose campaigns have been largely funded by the real estate/tech partnership that created the crisis, it’s imperative that we take immediate steps to recapture and stabilize our City’s housing stock.
As Supervisor I will champion a vacancy tax, a pied a terre tax, true disclosure (requiring legal notice of top investors in real estate transactions), a bank of San Francisco (where in-lieu fees, paid by developers who shirk their obligation to produce housing other than Luxury apartments and condos, are deposited and Housing Development Funds are created).
I will attempt to curtail rampant speculation by putting use-it-or-lose-it entitlements legislation on the table. This will end the practice of flipping properties with approved plans in a flawed planning process.
I will also advocate for housing production within zoning laws as proscribed in 2014 and attempt to repeal developer friendly laws put on the books after that date. I will endeavor to put longstanding, reputable, community-based non-profit organizations in charge of building new housing where feasible. The City can afford some purchases, renovations, rent-ups, and new construction with intense oversight.
We simply cannot afford to continue to overbuild for an unforeseeable future at the whim of investors who will profit by hoarding housing assets, maintain assets by laundering money, and create new assets where there were none by creating “land lots in the sky”. The environmental costs, the costs of new infrastructure, and the cost to our quality of life are too high. We do not need more ghost hotels, zombie buildings, leaning towers, or poured concrete fossils for the next Millennium.