Comments policy — please read

By Tim Redmond

I really love all the comments and debate on these posts. That’s one of my goals for 48hills – to be a forum for discussion. That’s why I posed the question a week or so ago about whether David Chiu’s legislation could be saved and how; I want my readers to weigh in.

But things can sometimes get out of control, so I’m going to make clear what the comments policy is on this site. Continue reading

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Poll slams city planning — and suggests the voters are ready for a new approach to development

What if we made sure there was adequate Muni service BEFORE we approved new projects?

What if we made sure there was adequate Muni service BEFORE we approved new projects?

By Tim Redmond

SEPTEMBER 19, 2014 — Mayor Ed Lee’s Planning Department gets poor marks for its response to the city’s development boom, and a stunning 91 percent of likely voters think it’s important to protect small businesses and artists from displacement, an poll released this week shows.

The poll, commissioned by Tenants and Owners Development Company and conducted by David Binder and Associates, shows considerable unhappiness with the impacts of the tech-driven boom.

And it suggests that Lee, and other elected officials who are presiding over and encouraging the rapid growth of tech offices and market-rate housing, have a seriously political vulnerability. Continue reading

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The ongoing fight to save industrial space continues

David Repetto is suing to block the sale of the Flower Mart

David Repetto is suing to block the sale of the Flower Mart

By Zelda Bronstein

SEPTEMBER 18, 2014 — There’s lots of news on the light industrial/PDR (Production, Distribution, and Repair) front.

  • On September 9, District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim introduced a bill that would prohibit office or residential conversions of property zoned for light industry, a.k.a. PDR in the Central SoMa (né Corridor) Plan area for 45 days

Bounded by Market St. on the north, 2nd St. on the east, Townsend St. on the south and 6th St. on the west, the plan area lies wholly within District 6.

The Central Corridor map

The Central Corridor map

Stating that “recent economic trends,”—“the current economic boom cycle” and associated “development pressure”—are making PDR-zoned property “particularly susceptible to displacement and outright loss,” the bill seeks “to provide stability to the neighborhood during the time that the draft Central SoMa Plan is under development and public.”

The intention is admirable. As always, however, the devil is in the details. A few questions, then, about some of the bill’s details: Continue reading

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Facebook dismisses drag queens. It’s not over.

David Campos and the delegation discuss their interaction with Facebook

David Campos and the delegation discuss their interaction with Facebook

SEPTEMBER 18, 2014 — “I don’t think,” Sup. David Campos told me, “that the Facebook campus has ever seen quite this type of visit.”

Indeed: The Peninsula campus of the social media site isn’t used to a crew of drag queens marching in and demanding better treatment. In fact, like most tech companies, Facebook isn’t used to having anyone hold it accountable for anything.

And yet, after sfist and 48hills broke the story last week that Facebook was cracking down on drag queens, the community jumped into action. At a Harvey Milk LGBT Club meeting Tuesday night, a packed room listened as drag performers, trans people and others spoke about how the policy of demanding “legal” names was both discriminatory and dangerous.

Plenty of people have good reason not to use their legal names on Facebook. Teachers who are drag performers at night (particularly in some parts of the country) might not want to advertise that on a social media forum. Victims of domestic violence might not want to be that visible. Continue reading

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Airbnb hearing shows serious problems with taxes, enforcement


Sup. Jane Kim wondered why Airbnb’s representative had such a hard time answering questions

By Tim Redmond

SEPTEMBER 17, 2014 — It’s remarkable that every single person supporting Airbnb at a Land Use Committee hearing on Sup. David Chiu’s legislation Monday used the term “home sharing.” It’s become almost a propaganda term, kind of like “hosting” and “guests.”

As Tony Robles, who works as an advocate for seniors and disabled people, noted, “it’s as if this was some sort of philanthropy.”

But it’s not “sharing.” It’s rent. It’s a form of commerce.

Nearly everyone who spoke in favor of short-term rentals talked of the extra income they get from Airbnb. This is about money. Some openly said that they were running this as a full-time business.

Among other things, the Chiu measure would limit short-term rentals to a total of 90 days a year. Only full-time San Francisco residents could rent their units, and they would be limited to one unit each.

Sup. Jane Kim said early on that “if this is more than 90 days a year, then you’re running a small bed and breakfast.” She suggested that maybe people could apply for a different sort of permit for that use. But she didn’t try to sugar-coat it or use different words.

This is all about making money. It’s a ton of money for Airbnb, VRBO and others; it’s a fair amount of money for people who rent out apartments as hotel rooms. “Airbnb is not just a platform for connecting people,” Kim said. “Airbnb makes a profit off it.” Continue reading

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Tax-break tech hiring a bust in the Tenderloin


By Tom Carter, Mark Hedin and Geoff Link

SEPT 15, 2014 – When the Twitter tax break was signed, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s office had high hopes that the expanding technology boom would explode with local hiring and that the incoming Internet companies could help make his dream of 2,500 new tech jobs come true. So the first Community Benefit Agreements that each participating tech company signed to mitigate the harshness of the ensuing gentrification of the neighborhood referenced local workforce development.

The 2013 CBAs all contain some allusion to hiring locals, few specifics, no grand goals or hiring promises. Much of it resembled Twitter’s politically correct: “It is crucial that all people have access to economic growth.” But the expectation of jobs in the documents was palpable.

Tech firms Zoosk and Zendesk pledged to hire interns from the neighborhood. Zendesk expected to hire at least two each in 2012 and 2013. Zendesk did hire a pair in 2012, but only one last year. Zoosk executed its first CBA in 2013 and fulfilled its promise to hire two interns. All the interns got only summer jobs, and all came from the neighborhood’s Vietnamese Youth Development Center. But recently, Zoosk put someone on full-time in an entry-level position.

That’s it: one full-time hire and five summer interns out of the neighborhood’s 30,000 population. So central city residents can only hope that they will be the 1 in 5,000 who snags some sort of job at Big Tech. Continue reading

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Why is City College cutting so many classes?

Students and faculty converge at the City College administration building to ask: Why are you cutting our classes?

Students and faculty converge at the City College administration building to ask: Why are you cutting our classes?

By Sara Bloomberg

SEPTEMBER 15, 2014 — Imagine you’re a college student. Classes are picked. Textbooks have been bought. Your boss finally accepted your schedule request and child care is arranged for the times you have class.

Then, bam, that class you needed is cancelled. It might be offered on a different day, at a different time—but can you make it work? Maybe there’s no alternative section offered.

It’s a reality that students, as well as faculty, have to deal with every semester at community colleges across the state as local administrators try to preen course offerings to a “prudent” level that aligns with the amount of state funding each college receives based on enrollment numbers.

It’s particularly challenging at City College, where the threats over accreditation have helped drive enrollment down – and 171 classes so far have been cut because too few students have signed up. But thanks to a special measure by state Sen. Mark Leno, City College is guaranteed stable funding during the accreditation process, leading some faculty and students to ask:

If we have the money, why the cuts? Continue reading

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How the Chron missed the point on the Nieto autopsy


By Tim Redmond

SEPTEMBER 15, 2014 — The autopsy report on Alex Nieto was full of news; we reported some of it last week. There are lots of ways to look at the new evidence.

But the Chron in a back-of-the-news-section story, focused on only on piece, and most likely the least relevant information available.

The piece barely mentioned the gunshot wounds, and instead detailed the mental-health issues in Nieto’s personal hospital files, which became part of the public record when the medical examiner asked SF General to hand them over after his death.

The files show that Nieto was being treated for mental illness, had been prescribed some powerful medications (which he apparently wasn’t taking regularly) and at one point had been involuntarily confined after threating to burn down his parents’ house. Continue reading

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