Was it a great year?


At noon Dec. 19, a group of about 50 housing activists led by the Housing Rights Committee gathered at 18th and Castro, next to the giant Shopping Season Tree, to discuss the wave of evictions tenants are facing at the end of 2012. Tommi Avicolli Mecca held up a list of 26 buildings that are currently being clear of tenants under the Ellis Act, a state law that allows landlords to evict all their tenants and sell the property as a single-family home or tenancies in common. With him was a long line of tenants who are facing holiday homelessness thanks to landlord greed.

"There are too many tenants being evicted to fit in front of the tree," he said.

We heard story after story: A man living with AIDS facing the loss of his home after 17 years. A family being forced out after 18 years. Seniors, kids, disabled people ... all of them almost certainly displaced from San Francisco.

"San Francisco is becoming a city of the rich, and we are being pushed aside," said Lisa Thornton, who works at Rainbow Grocery and is losing her home.

"This," Mecca said, "is an epidemic of evictions."

And we all know why: As the second tech boom roars in to San Francisco, high-paid young workers are able to afford to buy TICs or single-family homes, and long-term rent-control-protected tenants simply can't compete. It's not a pretty pciture.

So I almost barfed when I say Randy Shaw's glowing paen to Mayor Ed Lee. "San Francisco had one of its greatest years in 2012, as the city’s job growth and vibrancy outpaced nearly everywhere else," he wrote.

Oh, gee, he says, there are some problems:

Few want San Francisco to become a city where only the rich and subsidized poor can live. But these same fears were felt in the 1980’s. When I was moving to San Francisco in 1979, the lines for vacant apartments were just as long and the competition for vacant units as fierce as what we read about in 2012. We couldn’t believe we had to pay $375 for a Mission one bedroom apartment, a rate that is less than half the cost of an SRO room without private bathroom today. San Francisco has long been an expensive city that keeps getting pricier.

So what -- because we were worried about displacement in the 1980s means we shouldn't be worried today? Those worries were real -- gentrification of San Francisco neighborhoods has been rampant for decades. It's changed the city, for the worse.

In the 1980s, Shaw was part of a broad coalition that fought to get rent control laws and eviction protections and limits on condo conversions. Now he's acting as if none of that was worth the fight, as if protecting affordable housing wasn't, and isn't, the most critical issue in the city today.

A great year? Fantastic vibrancy and job growth? Not if you're one of the growing numbers of people who are losing their homes to Ed Lee's vision of economic development.



Don't. Suggest moving to Oakland because the same thing is happening there.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

in SF during the sub-prime bust were down 50% in Oakland. In fact, in any bear market in RE, it's the marginal area's that do the worse. Prime SF RE never gets cheap and, for all Tim's hand-wringing, he is doing very well out of RE inflation, as are Hestor, Welch, Shaw, Daly etc.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 4:33 pm

Tim's again advocating for stricter enforcement of the policies which have decimated the middle class in San Francisco. Stricter rent control!! More busing! Throttle back development of new housing!!! Restrict parking and make it more expensive!! Support NIMBYs who oppose mixed-use development!!

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

Partly of course it is because only expensive places think they need RC in the first place. But partly because RC depresses supply, whether it's developers who go elsewhere, or of course the owners themselves for whom the logic behind Ellis'ing a building become compelling.

And remember, Tim, that the Ellis Act only exists because cities like Santa Monica, Berkeley and SF took local RC rules too far, and the State said "enough". Just like it was excessive RC that gave rise to the Costa-Hawkins Act that took condo's and single family houses out of rent control.

Does the left ever learn?

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 4:36 pm

Seriously - without that we'd be subject to vacancy control and all other kinds of chicanery which would throttle back supply even worse than it is already. Coastal California would be a nightmare for property owners without Costa-Hawkins and Prop 13.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

was Santa Monica's insane law that banned a landlord from leaving a rental unit empty that prompted Mister Ellis to do his thing.

Interestingly, San Francisco never had vacancy control but sufefrs because Santa Monica and Berkeley went even further with RC, leading to the backlash and the thousands of people evicted under Ellis. I think it is called the law of unintended consequences.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 5:06 pm

He's mentioned it many times over the years. However even he's not been bold enough to demand the repeal of Costa-Hawkins so vacancy control can be imposed - he knows that's a giant non-starter even with our new Democratic super-majority.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

provided a more elegant solution to the problem. If VC were possible, units would never be re-rented and, if a LL is determined to leave a unit vacant, they might as well go the TIC/Condo route.

In fact, I have converted three buildings (total 8 units) to condo's without ever using Ellis (in fact, you can no longer condo convert if you have Ellis'ed anyway). I used just natural turnover and the odd small payoff, with the exception of one OMI eviction (and one for cause, which hardly counts)

I've provided opportunities for successful San Franciscans to own their own home and so, in Redmond's eyes, I'm the anti-christ. I should be subsidizing losers and bad artists instead, apparently.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 6:09 pm

That number comes from a poll which predates the change in public perception over his handling of the Mirkarimi matter; it is from before Eliana had a chance to give an eye-witness account of the event Mayor Lee so slyly attempted to exploit. It's before Lee started making immoderate noises about civil rights and on other matters.

I seriously doubt Lee has much better than a 50-50 approval rating at this time, and I'd like to see someone provide proof to the contrary.

Shaw comes of as the worst kind of tool; a mercenary turncoat.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

And it has Jane Kim running scared. Lee's stance on Mirkarimi didn't anger the public - those supervisors who opposed Mirkarimi's removal are the ones who pissed off the public.

Don't you need to go pick up your check from FOX News? We all know you're a right-wing plant here designed to make progressives look terrible.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

herself, but if such is meant to suggest that though she may be wrong on some topics, that she is also capable of being right -- and of arriving at those positions through a process characterized by intellectual integrity -- that is giving her entirely too much credit.

Nobody with a capacity for honest intellectual pursuit would make the above claim that Olague lost her seat over her Mirkarimi vote.

First of all, Olague can't be said to have "supported Mirkarimi." Olaque condemned Mirkarimi for his arm grab. In fact, not a single one of the supervisors who voted against the mayor's suspension dismissed, decried, or otherwise foreclosed on possibility of a recall to remove the sheriff. Kim, at least, said she'd support such a step.

What Olague and the three others did by their votes is stand up for the rule of law. Olague, Kim, Avalos, and Campos voted for an honest interpretation of the city charter and the powers given by it to the mayor and ethics commission.

An honest analysis of how many votes Olagues position on the Mirkarimi matter "cost" her takes into account all factors, not just the ones that seem to validate a preconceived result.

Support for her was weak in District 5 and support for Ross Mirkarimi was high -- above 50% at any rate because even the DV mavens' outrageous push poll showed close to that.

Saying the Olague's vote cost her her seat is to ignore the D5 constituency who didn't think that Ross Mirkarimi should be removed, or who didn't believe the process being undertaken for his removal was legal.

Voting the other way would have cost Olague votes too, and the candidate that won her erstwhile seat said quite explicitly that she would vote against the mayor's suspension, characterizing it as political in nature.

Olaque's vote would have been a net positive for her in D5 except for one thing; the aspect of which is missing Snapples post and which marks her written opinion as diabolical (apologies to left-handed people): Ron Cowan's money.

Snapples may seem to take a correct stance on one topic or another, but underlying all her comments here is her unstated belief that concentrated wealth should be in control of public policy.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 9:22 am

100% for her loss but, at the margin, it is clear that she lost votes because of her vote for Mirk. The only question, then, is whether that alone was sufficient to cause her loss (and, for that matter, Mar's survival) by tipping the result over the edge.

That statement cannot definitively be made either way without knowing the details of how everyone decided on election day. But it's a reasonable POV to claim that, had Olague voted the other way, she could have edged out Breed.

Since I happen to think that Breed was a stronger candidate anyway, it's largely moot, and we can move on while leaving Olague to ponder on what might have been,

The broader point here, of course, is Shaw's endorsement of Lee and the popularity of Lee's stewardship, which so baffles Redmond. Voters appear to like Lee precisely because of how he presented himself to them - practical, pragmatic, pro-jobs and immune to the ideological stupor that contaminates many of the other aspirants to being the City's CEO.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 10:11 am

Are you calling Lucretia a "nobody" -- or is this just more clear evidence that you are willing to make the most absurd and obviously untrue claims? Nothing you write is to be taken seriously.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 10:39 am

She was stating what has been widely mootyed post-election, that Olague's pro-Mirk misjudgment cost her votes, and may have cost her victory. Even Olague acknowledges that so it it rather churlish of you to belittle that.

Now, even though I think Olague should have voted the other way, that doesn't mean she should be written off as a Supe. Kim also voted that way, but limited the damage by saying that she did that for narrow, technical, legal reasons, and that she will support a recall.

Perhaps Kim is just politically shrewder about how to perform damage control than Olague. I suspect that Mar agrees.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 10:57 am

She made several moves that pissed off her progressive base, which in turn caused Rizzo and Davis to enter the race, sensing an opportunity. Then she went against the mayor and his financial backers, pissing them off too. But it was too little too late. A lot of damage had already been done with her base, and Davis and Rizzo weren't about to pull out. And the other side (Conway et al) plays for keeps. In the end, nobody was very happy with her.

You gotta know which team you're playing on.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

Olague showed that she wasn't Lee's puppet but also showed that she was not a mindless, kneejerk, ideological progressive. She tried to follow the path that Kim took i.e. independence and a pragmatic neutrality.

Your idea that you have to be either a solid left-wing vote or a solid moderate vote is understandable. But many of us want someone who isn't in anybody's pocket and cans tand up to lobbyists and constituents. It was reasonable that Olague would try and emulate Kim in that regard but, in the end, she didn't have the gravitas to carry it off. Her vote on RossGate was just the coup de grace.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

She said Olague's vote cost her the election. Clearly saying "it cost her the election" was not simply claiming it cost her more votes than it garnered -- which itself would be a dubious assertion as it is made without basis.

What Greg wrote is completely honest and supportable, but that kind of commentary is clearly not your style.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 21, 2012 @ 8:52 am

votes, so the only rreal question here is whether it cost her the losing margin, or whether she would have lost anyway.

If anything, Olague was helped by having weak candidates on her elft - none of them were electable, especially after Davis self-destructed as spectacularly as Ross did. That just left Breed as the still, clam voice of the center.

Olague lacked political nous. Kim showed her how to do that, and Mar showed her in a different way.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2012 @ 9:12 am

Olague's Ross vote was closer to a wash, in any event not sufficient to make up the margin by which she lost. Olague was appointed and Pearce made to throw her race precisely in the hopes that such an approach would flip the district. Our opponents play for keeps, our side refuses to strategically contest.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 21, 2012 @ 9:24 am

Olague was tainted and compromized, Davis self-destructed, Rizzo didn't try and ran a half-assed campaign, and Selby was decent but lightweight and unelectable.

I suspect that RossGate cost Olague some votes, while not gaining her any from the left who split their vote among the other no-hoper's.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2012 @ 9:47 am

Breed was the least flawed candidate.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 21, 2012 @ 10:02 am

A new citywide poll has the mayor scoring a favorable job-approval rating with 49 percent of voters. But of those, only 9 percent give Lee "excellent" marks, while 40 percent call his performance "pretty good."

On the downside, 32 percent say he's doing "only fair," and 12 percent rank him as "poor." Seven percent say they don't know.

The new numbers are in sharp contrast to the 60 percent-plus favorable ratings that Lee was racking up in July 2011, when he was still interim mayor and a fresh face to most voters.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/Mayor-Ed-Lee-s-job-app...

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 10:58 am

I didn't vote for Lee but I think he's done a reasonable job. Clearly the poll shows an impact from the scandals surrounding Alvarez and others.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 11:26 am

before the Alvarez scandal.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

It's hardly unusual for a city official to be deemed incompetent or corrupt. In fact, it's more a surprise when one isn't.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

The issue probably hasn't registered because the mainstream corporate press hasn't made a stink. People get more outraged if the papers drum up outrage. Who decides what to drum up outrage over? The City Family, because the Chron is pretty much their mouthpiece.

Fire Chief batters spouse? No outrage. Sheriff grabs wife's arm? Big-time outrage. Alvarez? No outrage, because he's not one of the hated progressives.

That said, the steady drip drip drip of scandal is taking its toll on Lee little by little. This will chip away at his approval ratings even more.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

My read is that the only reason why the Chronicle attacked Alvarez all week was because there was a division between Willie and Rose on one hand and Ed's people on the other. The Chron threw red meat at the progressives to go after Alvarez (white lesbian) and like trained attack dogs, so many saw the red cape and charged.

The questions remain as to whether anyone should take Willie's bait and why Lie is sticking with Alvarez in the light of these allegations, more explosive than those similar which have sunk progressives.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 2:16 pm

Ed Lie's poll numbers will continue to drop as his governing style reveals Willie Brown an Rose Pak are running the show. They can't help but steal everything and we're at the point where people are realizing this, again, and now his poll numbers are dropping and we're just one year into his full term.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

Most people I talk to (who are probably more normal and moderate than the average activist hangs with) are that he's a steady hand at the tiller, and that he's done a good job of creating jobs and boosting business which, you will recall, was easily the number one issue resonating with voters.

With plenty of jobs, business doing well, stocks near their all-time high and peoples' home values nicely recovering, most SF'ers are feeling pretty sanguine. Compared to that, issues around Alvarez and Mirk don't amount to a hill of beans

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

People are disgusted with the crumbling transit system, decrepit parks, filthy streets and the rapid pace of increasingly out of scale development.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

there and you're not even speaking for the majority.

Muni is messed up but you cannot blame Lee for that as Muni has been messed up forever.

Development to most people means jobs, tax revenues and progress. Only the NIMBY's and hard left want to freeze SF in time.

The streets aren't fixed right but, again, it's always been that way. Like Muni, much of the problem is an overpaid city workforce and Lee would fix that if he could - I just don't think anyone can.

Shaw is right - 2012 was a good year for MOST city residents. And for Lee.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

Ed Lie is weaker now than he was at this time last year, and there are no signs of that trend reversing. There has not yet begun a grassroots campaign to delegitimate Lee yet.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 3:01 pm

In fact, he was near 100% successful in the election results he was seeking this past November, indicating that he understands how the majority is thinking, even if odd outliers like you disapprove.

And there is no sign of any figure emerging from the elft that has any critical mass of support. Avalos is probably the de facto leader of the left right now but he doesn't have the conviction - he's seen as a loser, albeit a good-natured loser.

Sorry, Marcos, but we could be in for several more years of Lee, especially if the local economy continues to do well - that's always the clincher. I know you and Redmond hate this, but most SF'ers actually like to see economci success and development.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

that Lee had a 70% approval rating.

Why aren't there commenters claiming that Lee has a 28% approval rating? That would be *just* as accurate as the above mentioned claim that his approval is at 70.

The reason is that reactionaries -- i.e. "moderates" -- are fucking liars but everybody else tries to work within a framework of truth.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 21, 2012 @ 8:43 am

At least the moderates have sufficient aggregated cognition to lie while all the progressives can muster is flopping on the table like suffocating fish.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 21, 2012 @ 9:02 am

not a lie. It was genuine. It's just a little stale now and, AFAIK, there is no newer poll. Whether a current poll that asked the right question would show Lee as more or less popular is not known. My guess would be that it is in the 60-70 percent range that both that poll and the election showed.

But what dos it matter? He's the mayor, the favorite for re-election, and clearly many people are happy that Lee has stuck to the pro-jobs, pro-business, pro-development platform that he ran on. Say what you like about him, but he is doing exactly what he promised to do.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2012 @ 9:09 am

is a useful tool, but I strongly disagree with your implication -- if such is what you intended, which I don't believe -- that it behooves progressives to follow suit. Again, if that was your point, I would put it to you that adopting such a tactic plays right into the regressive's hands.

Progressivism is the descendant of the Enlightenment which is a movement based on truth-seeking. To remain in opposition to reactionary forces which have attempted to stave off every advancement in mankinds condition, the value of truthfulness is the most critical value that exists.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 21, 2012 @ 9:26 am

Progressivism only succeeds when it is populist, when it reflects the broadest consensus of the people instead of winnowing narrowly down on the issues of the fewest. That is how they have progressives flopping around like fish and the progressives are all too eager to beat them to that punch. I think that it is some sort of remnant Catholicism mixed with Marxism that elicits such suicidal politics.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 21, 2012 @ 9:43 am

(Though, to tell the truth I'm not sure what to make of the Marxist/Catholic allusion.)

In any case, I wholeheartedly share your oft-stated objection to the singling-out of the very poorest for governmental relief. In a way that is akin to two tier unionism because it foolishly and neccessarily divides a group whose interests are best served over the long term by remaining unified.

Pervasive examples which stem from this sort of foolish thinking are the many forms of subsidies for the poor which kick in at some sharp dividing point; subsidies for transit fees, heating fuels, school meals, etc. These bright-line dividing points don't ever -- can't ever -- correspond to genuine conditions of need, but in crudely approximating such, serve no purpose more perfectly than to divide constituencies which otherwise might be unified.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 21, 2012 @ 10:23 am

Illi, just as the Catholic repeats the same meaningless rituals in search of absolution, just as the rat presses the bar for more cocaine until it dies, there is a nexus of progressives who would literally commit political suicide by narrowing the coalition down to the most vulnerable than to reassess the sacred political texts for error, back away from the cocaine bar and adopt a political posture that appealed to a majority of voters.

But this conflicts with scripture, both religious and political, and such heresy is socially shunned.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 22, 2012 @ 7:55 am

He promised a non-ideological, pragmatic, centrist path with a pro-jobs and pro-business emphasis. He has delivered that.

Redmond doesn't like the job Lee has done because he doesn't agree with those values. But that's not really the issue with assessing Lee's performance. Rather, the question has to be this - is Lee doing what he said we would do if elected and what the voters told him they wanted?

The answer to that is clearly: YES.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

Did Lee promise to grant Willie and Rose's every wish when he was on the campaign trail, just after he promised that he'd not seek a full term?

Voters are onto Lee's facilitation of Brown's corruption and thus his polling is in the toilet.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

didn't know that Lee had a certain affinity with people like Willie and Rose. But he's also been quite independent of them at times too. However, my point was that was known going in.

Oh, and Lee didn't "promise" never to run. He simply said that, at the time he was appointed, that he had no intention to run at that time. He was later persuaded to change his mind when he got great feedback and when he saw how worrying the other candidiates were.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

Purely Clintonian linguistic gymnastics in service of Nixonian corruption.

Ed Lie promised that he would not run for a full term, then claimed that he was above it all and now is revealed as Willie and Rose's butt boy.

Olague lost because she was meant to lose, that is why she was appointed, that is why Enrique Pearce was made to throw the campaign on her behalf.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

at the exact point in time where he was asked, that he then had no specific intention to run. Many of us believed that he would not in fact run, but we certainly would not have wanted to rule that out if it was clearly seen as being in the best interests of the city.

The fact that he creamed Avalos 60-40 appears to indicate that most voters agree with that position.

Anyway, as you surely recall, the Supes could not agree on any other candidate, mainly because as usual the elft were fighting with each other.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

years into his job. The President's party often loses the House at the first mid-terms. And of course elected leaders try and make their unpopular decisions early.

Lee has gotten a lot done and, allowing for the fact that many people will blame the Mayor for whatever they don't like, there remains little doubt that Lee would win re-election if a vote was held today.

When i'm asked why people like Lee, I invariably say it is because he is a true public servant - he listens to the voters and then sets about giving them what they want. He isn't an ideolog with a kneekerk, mindless agenda that he seeks to impose on the voters regardless - something Avalos might like to ponder on.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 20, 2012 @ 11:26 am

of Lee's approval now would be much different. You may not like the guy but it's hard to refute the notion that he's popular because, quite simply, he is.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

he means just to work here, right? Doesn't he live in the Berkeley hills?

At least he knows and acknowledges who butters his bread, and it's not the low income people he houses or the tenants facing eviction and their advocates that were at the event in the Castro this afternoon. It must be nice making a killing on someone else's misfortune.

Thanks for the piece, Tim.

Let the pro-free market, property rights trump all backlash begin.

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

migration, and it always will.

Detroit would kill to have these "problems".

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

SF Weekly had a well written, well reported piece in this week's edition about housing.

Posted by The Commish on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 4:35 pm