June 20, 2000

Supe Scoop! 6.20.01

Bringing you the San Francisco Board of Supervisors

Today: Housing Committee
Supes in attendance:
Jake McGoldrick, Tom Ammiano and Aaron Peskin

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 prosperity.

"...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, here 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?" (General applause)

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).

Speak up!

Previously in simpleton:

The dot-bomb observed
Scenes of yuppie eradication
The Threat to America
Spies in kingdom of Windows
Growing up masked
Business 2.0, Jesse Jackson and me
A response
Some information
about poison gas

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