Tom vows to make Mission Permit's Cave
With a touching reminiscence of shouting "rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb" during his
dear old college years, San Francisco Board of Supervisors president Tom Ammiano
today spelled out a 21-point plan to rescue the Mission district from the curse of
"...unwanted dot-com office space, increased commuter traffic, thousands upon
thousands of evictions: It ain't pretty," was the popular head supe's diagnosis of
the rapidly changing district. Ammiano's plan for returning the Mission to its
boarded-up glory is a set of interim housing controls that include a ban on new live/work projects, permitting requirements
for new offices, a ban on tourist hotels, new "affordable" housing requirements, and
a host of new regulations
available for your perusal. Not only will the new regs hasten the flight of dot-commers from the
area, Ammiano promises, they will bring new jobs, child care, and affordable housing, and
allow the community to "communicate" with developers.
Amen corner says "Amen"
The public comment period was an Ammiano love fest. Sarah Towne, a young Mission
district resident, introduced herself as a four-year student at
Abada Capoeira studio, studying the
fabled Brazilian/African martial art/dance. A heartwarming story of artistic dreaming
and small-business can-do
ensued: Students pitching in to outfit the studio, diverse Americans working
hand in hand for the common good. And all of it now in jeopardy, thanks to greedy
developers just out to make a buck! Was there a dry eye in the house? Hardly! Ammiano,
who in a full supes session a few weeks ago was observed parley-vooing with a visiting
mayor from the island of Madagascar, proved his knowledge of the Romance tongues is
as broad as it is deep, throwing out some Portuguese pleasantries, to the delighted giggles
of the comely Ms. Towne.
Citizen demands: Why hasn't the recession made life easier?
Towne was followed by a speaker with big ears and Heinrich Himmler glasses,
who dismissed the notion that the dot-bomb "has eased the everyday pressures on
people living in the Mission." Not true, the speaker shot back, adding that the
economic slump provides the city with an opportunity to "act proactively." That
sentiment was echoed by one Ada Chan of the Mission Business Development
Agency, who condemned valet parking and high end restaurants. Who in the
strong Mission neighborhood can afford such frivolities? Chan demanded. So spirited was Ms.
Chan's Jeremiad that at one point now-beardless North Beach supervisor Aaron Peskin
asked if she were attempting to modify the proposed interim rules. "I'm not trying
to modify anything!" Chan exclaimed.
For God's sake, end the speculation!
Mr. Carlos Romero, rocking a Maharishi look, with a collarless shirt,
luxuriantly poufed hairdo and five oclock shadow, applauded the measure for
its "anti-speculative" elements. "This allows us to put a finger in the dike and
tell these developers they can not rush into the Mission and build only market-rate
housing," Mr. Romero declared.
Disaster was narrowly averted when a supporter of the new rules produced
a land-use map of the Mission, demonstrating how industrial, office, and
residential uses have shifted over the past decade. Supervisor Peskin, whose
curiosity often endangers his status as a team player, could not help noting that
many of the formerly industrial spaces had been converted into unspecified
spaces; for a few dangerous seconds the question of exactly what native Mission
industry (Ship-building? Farm equipment? Missile defense?) would suddenly
boom once the new rules were passed lingered dangerously in the air.
Fortunately, the topic was quickly changed with a visit from Amy Fishman,
a regular guest of the Board of Supervisors. "What we are seeing today is a
continuation of a historic process," Ms Fishman averred, and a hair-raising
tale of the inevitability of history followed. Neighborhoods Plowed Out by
developers! Valet parking restaurants displacing honest folk! Residential
hotels being replaced by tourist hotels! Fight the Future, Fishman urged one
and all. "That's what the controls are there for," she concluded, "So that
we're not at the whims of the market, not
at the whims of speculation."
No profit in Tom
One-time standup comedian Ammiano showed his comedy chops are as fresh
as ever during an explanation of the controls. "Let's say you have a non-profit
in a building," a speaker began, "and that's changed to ammiano.com..."
"Org!" the jolly board president fired back, "Always Org!"
Peals of laughter broke over the meeting.
And so on...
The meeting hit its stride, as speaker after speaker mixed displacement horror
stories with celebrations of the dot-com bust and hope for a future in which
the American dream of living 13 people in a room can be a reality for all of us.
Agreement was general. When one speaker spoke of a "a corridor of diesel death"
created by internet server farms, a chill went through the room. To a one, spectators
were moved when another speaker told of her daughter's friends who have had to
move to the East Bay. When one speaker with a vaguely Celtic accent condemned
the live/work law as "the most egregious act of the Brown administration," the love
in the air was so thick that nobody had the heart to inform the visitor from Emerald
lands that the live/work law was passed by SF voters in 1988, some seven years
before Brown's election as mayor.
No housing meeting would be complete without a visit from portly anti-development
gadfly Sue Hestor. Hestor vigorously condemned the San Francisco Chronicle
for failing to cover meetings of the SF Board of Appeals - an organization that has
on at least one occasion actually allowed a building permit to be approved. (Although
Supe Scoop is at this time unable to provide the coverage Hestor demands,
are the minutes of last week's meeting.) Supervisor Jake McGoldrick thundered from
his chair: " Are you aware that I've asked the city attorney to look into this, and the city attorney is preparing a case against the Board of Appeals for breaking the law?"
Finally, Bill from Supervisor Chris Daly's office approached and fulsomely thanked
President Ammiano and the other committee members for all their assistance with the
new controls. Unfortunately, Bill neglected to tuck his shirt into his pants prior to addressing
the elected officials.
Ammiano: "Thanks to Chris Daly and everybody who helped develop the new controls."
The board president assured all and sundry that developers will no longer be in
the driver's seat.
Peskin: "The Mission is one of the greatest neighborhoods in the greatest city." The
bewhiskered but fresh-faced supervisor apologized on
behalf of a board of supes that doesn't sit in City Hall anymore. But these interim controls are not a permanent solution, Peskin warns.
What the shamefully under-regulated city of San Francisco needs, Peskin declared,
is permanent controls.
McGoldrick: "I was flabbergasted," said Supervisor McGoldrick, in a tone that would
have made Daffy Duck himself jealous, "watching over the last few years at what was
going on. We've been saying that the Weakest Link -
God, what a horrible program - the weakest link gets thrown in the gutter. This is the moment
when we determine what the hell we're supposed to do." McGoldrick also demanded to
know what the hell was going on, and took a few other opportunities to pepper his
conclusion with the expletive "hell" (which in the lore of various religions is
zoned as the place where unrepentant sinners are punished).