San Francisco Archives
June 2016 Election Slate San Francisco 2016
It's that time again! Here's my recommendation for voters.
Democratic Nominee for President: Hillary Clinton
Effectiveness matters. As happy as I am to see a progressive doing as well as Bernie Sanders and as much as I like his position on campaign finance reform, I believe Hillary Clinton is more likely to create effective positive change and that that change will be on many fronts. She's the most qualified candidate for the job I've seen in my life and while she's more of a hawk than I'd like, her commitment to floating the most boats (in terms of increasing quality of life for the most people who are currently struggling) is likely to offset the hawkish appeal of war.
United States Senator: Kamala D. Harris
She's been a very good public servant and I'd like to see her in positions where she can make more of a positive impact.
United States Representative: none
After years of supporting Nancy Pelosi, I am making a vote of no confidence by not voting in this category. She works against public interests on privacy and internet freedom.
State Senator: Scott Wiener
Close call, but Jane Kim supported the ill-thought-through Mission Moratorium and so I'm going with Scott.
Member of the State Assembly: David Chiu
Very pleased to see him advancing to serve the state of California, continuing the good work he's done here in San Francisco.
Member, County Central Committee, Assembly District 17 (DCCC):
I'm voting for the YIMBY slate. I am convinced that more housing, more density, will make for a better San Francisco in the short and long run. Yes, right now a lot of the housing being built is expensive, but we don't have enough housing units at any price for the number of people who want to live here. You don't get to cheap older housing without it having been new once—and this city is way behind on keeping up with demand. I also don't want to see ever more suburbs going in because people can't live near where they work.
Arlo Hale Smith
I filled in the last 2 slots with London Breed and Shaun Haines, both local progressives who bring a good perspective to the DCCC.
Judge of the Superior Curt, Office No. 7: Sigrid Elizabeth Irías
Hwang also well qualified but ran an annoying flyer campaign.
Proposition 50 (Suspension of Legislators): Yes
Provides clarity to means of penalizing legislators accused of wrongdoing. Increases vote requirement to suspend a member of the assembly to two-thirds (from a simple majority). This seems like a good idea in these polarized political times; suspension should be something agreed upon by more than just a bare majority. Removes pay and benefits during suspension.
Measure A, Public Health and Safety: Yes
Funds seismic improvements—a big quake is coming, folks—and improves facilities to help the homeless and mentally ill, communities suffering terribly in the city right now. Only opposition statements came from the Libertarian Party, as ever a good barometer for detecting things to vote opposite to their recommendation.
Measure B, Park, Recreation and Open Space Fund: Yes
Increasing population, and in particular increasing younger population, means our parks are experiencing an increased load. This measure helps stabilize funding to allow better ongoing management. Only opposition statements came from the Libertarian Party.
Measure C, Affordable Housing Requirements: No
Feels good on the surface, but economic modeling (report by SF City Economist here: http://sfcontroller.org/sites/default/files/FileCenter/Documents/7131-151274_economic_impact_final.pdf) suggests it would dampen housing development enough to overall result in a reduction in units. It's not just percentages which matter, it's actual increase in number of affordable units.
Measure D, Office of Citizen Complaints Investigations: Yes
This mandate to investigate any incident in SF in which an SF police officer fires a gun and kills or injures someone will result in approximately six additional investigations per year. That seems like a very reasonable increase in workload to gain more oversight over a problematic area. Only opposition statement is by recurring character Terence Faulkner (count his entertaining affiliations in every voter information pamphlet!) who tells a confusing story about some event in 1859 and makes baffling references to Romeo and Juliet and to the Burr-Hamilton duel.
Measure E, Paid Sick Leave: Yes
Simple streamlining with state law provisions without reducing current coverage. No arguments against; this is just a thing we've required the Board of Supervisors to run by us rather than deciding themselves.
Measure AA, San Francisco Bay Clean Water, Pollution Prevention and Habitat Restoration Program: Yes
Lots of nice environmental and shoreline recreational benefits, but one of the really big payoffs from this region-wide $12 parcel tax for the next 20 years is flood prevention. If you believe in climate change, we're going to need this. Only opposition statement is from the Libertarian Party, who apparently don't want anyone to have nice things like a beautiful unpolluted San Francisco Bay.
Letter to the proponents of San Francisco proposition E 2015
I received email promoting prop E and sent the following letter in response:
Mr. [David] Lee,
SF Election Slate November 2015 2015
San Franciscans! Here's all the election info. Note the voter info booklet and sample ballots under "Voter guides and sample ballot".
This time it's almost all really about housing. Very exciting to see so much potential progress on offer for us.
Mayor: Ed Lee
Not perfect, but overall a decent balancing act through some very odd times.
Broke-Ass Stuart and some of the other candidates clearly love this city in all its messy complexity, but I doubt their ability to effectively manage an economy of San Francisco's size, let alone their ability to negotiate the minefield of the city's political power structures.
Sheriff: Vicki Hennessy
Hard to imagine a better candidate with a broader base of support. She did a great job as Interim Sheriff and has both a humane view of the role of the department and the essential support within it to make effective policy changes.
City Attorney: Dennis Herrera
And a standing ovation. We are so lucky to have him.
District Attorney: George Gascón
SF Treasurer: José Cisneros
Seem to be doing a good job.
For the local ballot measures below I've linked the proposition description to Public Press's overview.
Proposition A: Yes
Affordable Housing Bond
"It’s been two decades since city voters gave a housing bond the green light" Public Press points out and boy do we need to address affordable housing in this city. The special set-aside for helping teachers live here is particularly appealing. This is a sound investment in the city and we're in good economic shape to make it now.
Good broad base of support.
Oppositions statements are from the usual clump of anti-public-spending folks (Quentin Kopp and assorted libertarians) who seem to believe that someday a magic Reagan angel will rise up and make trickle-down economics actually work.
Proposition B: Yes
Paid Parental Leave for City Employees
A modest improvement to benefits for new parents who are city employees.
Once again, good broad base of support.
Opposition statements are only that same Terrance Faulkner dude who's opposing lots of things this time because why should non-ladies need to care for a new baby (insert eyeroll here) and Libertarians because why should non-young-single-white-guys get special treatment (insert world's smallest violin here).
Proposition C: Yes
Creates transparency about who's spending big money—$2,500 a month or more—to have other people lobby city government on their behalf.
Proposed by the SF Ethics Commission.
Opposition statement by Terrance Faulkner again, who seems to be missing the key fact that the non-profit exemption terminology in this proposition brings it in line with that for direct lobbying.
Proposition D: Yes
Mission Rock Waterfront Development
This is a well-crafted project worked out with years of community input, located on what is currently a parking lot in a former industrial area. It will create about 600 affordable housing units, which the city desperately needs, plus another approximately 900 market rate units. (40% affordable is an exceptionally good percentage.)
Broad base of support.
Opposed by the Sierra Club, whom I respect, but who I think are flat out wrong on this one. This is a city and some amount of growth is appropriate—and this is a great place to locate this development. It doesn't create a "wall on the waterfront" (like the ill-considered development north of the Ferry Building which the voters fortunately stopped in a past election); rather all buildings are at least 100 feet from the waterfront, and step down in height towards the water.
Proposition E: No
Requirements for Public Meetings
I support increasing public access to civic decision-making, but this throws the whole process in danger of being continually bogged down by non-locals submitting comments on issues which do not actually affect them. We don't need our public participation in government turning into something like the comments on YouTube or SFGate.
There are people I respect on both sides of this issue, but I come down to it not being well-crafted enough to avoid serious problems that could result in less rather than more local voices being heard in city decision making. Not ready for prime time; supporters should improve the proposition and try again later.
(Bonus trivia: this is one of those rare things on which Quentin Kopp and I are actually in agreement on which way to vote. It's expensive and counter-productive.)
Proposition F: Yes
Regulating Short-Term Rentals. For this one the City's summary is even clearer than Public Press'.
Okay, stay with me here. This is long, but it's because you're probably as in the dark on how it actually works as I was before spending a few hours going through it all.
This area of city law is all about keeping residential rentals from being lost to the market and only used for tourists.
It is essential in evaluating this proposition to compare the way it is now, under SF Ordinance No. 218-14 which took effect February 1st of this year, to the proposed changes. Many of the mailings and editorials about this proposition speak in such general terms they obscure the actual change this law would make.
"Current law requires hosts to register with the city, after which they are allowed to rent out entire homes for up to 90 days per year — unless they are staying on site, in which case they can rent out rooms year-round. But to date, only about 700 hosts have registered, implying that thousands of others are flying under the radar. City Hall currently has no way to find them." [source]
Note that hosts under current law must live in the residential unit which will be offered for rental (or partial rental) for at least 275 nights of any given calendar year. Non-resident hosts renting out their place(s) are, as I understand it, violating the requirements of the City’s Residential Unit Conversion and Demolition Ordinance (Administrative Code Chapter 41A) or the Planning Code, and that doesn't change with Proposition F.
So, the registry of hosts and the limited rental days per year for non-resident hosts already exist. Voting Yes on proposition F means you support changing the limit from 90 days to 75 days per year, and subjecting resident hosts to the same limit as non-resident hosts.
Currently there is no restriction on offering affordable housing (built with assistance from the city) or in-law units as short-term rentals; a Yes on proposition F means you support preventing those uses. (The in-law unit is a big factor in SF right now because in hopes of adding much needed housing the city has just created pathways to legitimize currently illegal in-law units; obviously if those units are eaten up with tourist rentals the whole aim of creating more residential housing is defeated.)
Currently no reporting is required from either the hosts or the services like AirBnB which facilitate short-term renting; a Yes on proposition F means both hosts and services are required to provide data to the city. That would expose the non-registered hosts, increasing city revenue and helping to offset the costs of the new Office of Short Term Rental Administration and Enforcement. (This agency was already created as part of the law which went into effect in February, so SF will be paying for it regardless of whichever way Prop F goes.) Proposition F also will allow fining companies such as AirBnB for listing unregistered hosts.
Proposition F adds notification to interested parties (such as neighbors) of registration of a unit for short-term rentals.
Currently, interested parties defined in detail (e.g. the neighbor) may sue the violator (i.e. the host). Proposition F will also allow them to sue the hosting service which promoted the violating rental. (I don't really buy this as a financial incentive to spy on neighbors; the hassle and expense of a lawsuit against a company with in-house legal counsel who handle this stuff all the time doesn't seem worth it except in extreme problem cases.)
My big takeaways on digging into this proposition:
- It's currently a misdemeanor for a non-resident to rent out their place for short-term rentals (e.g. through VRBO, AirBnB, etc.) and Prop F doesn't change that.
- The city currently doesn't have any way to penalize listing services for facilitating those short-term rentals because the city doesn't require any reporting from those services or from hosts. Prop F does change that, and when you realize they wouldn't be able to list unregistered hosts without risking fines from the city or lawsuits from neighbors of the unit it becomes a lot more clear why AirBnB has spent $8million trying to shoot this proposition down.
- Prop F will drive non-registered hosts (which, importantly, includes all those who do not live in the rental unit most of the year) underground. This will probably have a dramatic negative impact on their ability to use their place(s) for short-term rentals. Whether that will result in more places coming back into the residential rental market remains to be seen, but I do think Prop F would slow the outflow of units from residential to short-term usage by cutting off that easy revenue stream.
- Prop F will further limit the amount of short-term rentals available, not only through the reduction of the maximum for a unit from 90 to 75 days per year, but also through the minor hassle of registration with the city and reporting. (Though it's strongly in the listing services' best interest to make that reporting easy for their users so I doubt it will be a big issue.) With short-term rentals constrained, those wanting to earn money renting out part of their home will be incentivized to consider normal residential rentals instead, potentially adding more housing to the market.
- Prop F makes it harder to use potential residential units for short-term rentals. It thus creates an incentive for those currently operating multiple units for this (illegal) purpose to transfer their business into legitimate small hotel activities.
So, in the short term—say the next few years—if Prop F passes, I'm guessing we see some apartments return to the residential market, some additional spots for shared-housing residential rentals, and some new small hotels created. I think those "some"s add up to a significant number, so that's all good. We also see fewer short-term rentals available and that's a drag, but does put a nice ceiling on city-disrupting convention events like Dreamforce. Bottom line: unregulated hotel rooms, with all their issues and annoyances, decline in favor of registered short-term rentals with insurance etc, legitimate hotels, and residential rentals.
Proposition G: No
Proposition H: Yes
Defining ‘Clean’ or ‘Green’ Energy
SF has a plan for switching the city over to a greater percentage of sustainable energy sources. The intent under this CleanPowerSF is that compared with PG&E’s energy portfolio, CleanPowerSF will draw from more renewable sources without charging customers more than they currently pay.
Prop G attempted to define it one way (in PG&E's favor & less sustainably). Prop H uses the state's definition.
Prop G has been withdrawn by its original proposers (PG&E employees) in favor of Prop H, which has a broad base of support.
Guess who is opposed? Yes! Terrance Faulkner.
Proposition I: No
Mission District Housing Moratorium
Halts basically all construction in the Mission which isn't 100% affordable housing for 18 months. Which is to say, halts all construction in the Mission, even projects with exceptionally high percentages of affordable units. City Controller estimate in September is that it halts building of 750-800 units.
The arguments in favor falsely equate "luxury" with "under 100% affordable". Yes, we need more affordable housing, but this is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Yes, the Mission is undergoing massive change, but not for the first time and this proposition does not offer any solutions. The argument against is clear:
"What the proponents didn’t consider in their rush to the ballot is if we don’t create new homes at all income levels, the city’s problem of displacement will worsen. Thousands of people will still move to San Francisco, and if Prop I limits the supply of housing, they will bid up prices of existing homes, increasing displacement."
Proposition J: Yes
Legacy Business Historic Preservation Fund
This fund to support local, 30+ year old businesses which are significant to the history or identity of their neighborhood and which are committed to retaining that legacy.
The fund is subject to future budget cycles so it is nicely suited to protecting old businesses in boom times without overdrawing the city in lean times.
Opposed by Quentin Kopp, the Libertarian Party, and the Republican Party in their privileged belief that "If an enterprise is truly a “healthy” business...it will exist."
I'm siding with the true character of the city and with protecting it from short-term monied interests.
Proposition K: Yes
Using City Land for Affordable Housing
Streamlines the process for taking unutilized public lands within the city and turning them into affordable housing, prioritized toward the homeless.
Wish this had been done 10 years ago with the old freeway lots bounded by Octavia, Fell, Oak, and Laguna! We need housing for everyone, not chained off vacant lots.
Opposed by Quentin Kopp and the Republican Party. Supported by pretty much everybody else.
a little interview with me 2014
Here's a little interview with me that includes my favorite local cocktails here in my part of San Francisco.
The Week Behind 2013
It's been a good week, with much satisfaction arising from the current book project, The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level. All the amazing conversations of the week before and much digging in old cocktail books, thinking about principles of drink creation have been percolating in my head. This resulted on Tuesday in my finalizing the first draft of the Bibulo.us Cocktail Taxonomy and posting it for comment. Mostly Twitter chatter in reaction so far, but the process of articulating my principles for others has, as usual, clarified them and this structure is performing well as I continue to research old recipes and organize the book's recipe candidates.
This pleasant creative burbling all week was accompanied by a big experiential spike in the form of an amazing concert Sunday at the new SF Jazz Center in honor of Bobby Hutcherson. Wonderful sound and great performers! Such a joy to have this resource so close to our home.
Around those themes the week swirled along quite well with a nice mix of home life and time out on the town and up in Napa county for Joe's work.
Proud: I have been keeping up my exercise routine! Between the Fitbit, the treadmill desk, and Zombies, Run! I am able to make myself put in the effort and seeing my strength and endurance grow as a result. Very pleasing!
Completed: I think I can now say I've achieved mastery on maintaining a beautiful, uncluttered living space with minimal effort. Still projects to be completed and undulation in tidiness from day to day, but in general the place is within ten minutes of "company-ready" pretty much all the time. The fortnightly visit from the maid who does my most-hated chores (vacuuming and scrubbing porcelain) has helped tremendously in letting me put my energy into things that pay off without driving me nuts.
Learned: Twitter may not seem like it eats much time to quickly check now and then, but it is a huge time-suck if not constrained. Trying out a Pomodoro method timer to help keep me on track and not ducking into email/Twitter/etc every 10 or 15 minutes. Getting better at managing this will help me not only with completing the current to-do's but also with staying focused on work as my social media activity grows when the book comes out.
Inspired: The barfolk I've been talking to as I research the book have been just marvelous; generous, enthusiastic, customer-focused. Really looking forward to working with them a lot this year.
NOPA managers wish happy holidays 2013
Yay! Great portrait of you all! Back in town and hoping to see you tomorrow to make sure January gets it off to a proper start. smile emoticon
[Link not working as of October 2015]
More lovely cheeses 2012
Sometime last month we had another amazing cheese plate at Jardiniere. This time it included the following:
- Bent River, cow, from Alemar in Mankato, Minnesota
- Etude, goat, from Andante in Petaluma, California
- Calvander, raw cow, from Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- Hudson Red, washed raw cow, from Twin Maple in Ghant, New York
- Shaker's Blue, raw sheep blue, from Old Chatham in Old Chatham, New York
Their selection has been wonderful in 2012 for showcasing great U.S. dairies. Well worth a visit for a cocktail and cheese plate at the bar.
a good day 2012
Brunch at Nopa and then a walk up to Alamo Square.
New Orleans under the skin 2012
RT @hayeswire: Chef Justin Simoneaux Reflects on First Year at Boxing Room
Best salmon of my entire life tonight at Nopa. Wow! #food #bliss #SF
Trying stuff no one's done before? Science does that. 2012
"Nobody thinks to raise baby ostriches in the middle of a museum."
At @calacademy again. Yay!
These chicks are about 2 weeks old. Since they're the same ones I saw a week ago and the scientist in the rear of the photo said they'll be too big for the enclosure in another 4 weeks and that they have the next batch of eggs incubating now, I recommend a visit between June 25th and July 5th for optimal cuteness, either of the gangly teen or teensy fluffy baby variety depending on your luck and the accuracy of my memory of what he said.
The scientist bending over is using a small thermometer to test the temperature under the heat lamps. Baby ostriches are sensitive to heat and humidity and they like it about 95 degrees under there. The scientists are adjusting the height of these new lamps for optimal conditions.
Looking great at 75 2012
Now THAT was a birthday party! @GGBridge, you are gorgeous. Here's to the next 75 years!
It began with a line of fire from each tower to the middle, turning to a waterfall of gold. Best video I found so far:
RT @GGB75 Relive the magic of the BIG WOW FINALE for #ggb75! Share your photos, videos, gasps, and wows @GGB75. @KFOG:
Socks symphonically rocked 2012
Wow. Amazing program at @sfsymphony tonight. Perhaps my favorite yet. Love love loved the Kalevi Aho piece. Hahn & Osmo fabulous as expected
Hetch Hetchy, reservoir or valley 100 years from now? 2012
There's a move afoot to launch a massive project to drain Hetch Hetchy valley and restore to California "a second Yosemite".
“As insane as this is, it is, in fact, insane,” Lee said at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast.
Lee also warned the business community to avoid anyone trying to “rope you into some masked discussion about water sustainability.” The mayor described San Francisco’s water as the “cleanest” and the dam as creating one of the “strongest clean hydroelectric sources” of power."
I made a few comments to the mayor on Twitter, but received no reply:
@mayoredlee Concerned that you seem to be speaking against not only draining Hetch Hetchy, but also sustainability efforts accompanying that. Why don't we recycle water & use storm/ground water? Why not river power generation rather than dam? Those aren't "insane". Maybe it would take us 50 years, but a second Yosemite could be SF's moon program; deeply inspiring; a scientific celebration.
Moebius tribute in Clarion Alley 2012
Keep the green growing 2012
I wouldn't want to live anywhere else 2012
RT @mulegirl: I love my crazy gold rush town.
New York and San Francisco differences 2012
Jim Ray asks:
Honest question: have you found New York, center of the soul-less finance careerists and “new media” wankfest, to be different?
New York can certainly be a soulless place (just ask me about the time I ate at a sushi place in Midtown East and overheard a finance guy ask his date if she wanted to be with “the guy who has the villa on top of the hill or the guy who has the villa on the bottom of the hill”), and of course the irony isn’t lost on me that I subtly shifted Choire Sicha’s very New York media-centric diatribe to apply my experience with SF. But I think there are a couple of key saving graces to New York that prevent it from being the source of annoyance that SF has become to me personally: it’s too big of a city to be dominated by any one industry, culture, or peer group; and it’s historically a place that resists ever allowing you to feel like you’re special.
I realized that one of both the virtues and the problems with SF is that, basically since the Gold Rush times, it has always been a welcoming haven for people seeking to escape something, to reinvent themselves, to be their own person, to make a fortune on the frontier.
This is wonderful in many ways, but in my experience, there is also dark side to this admirably gentle, indulgent, enthusiastic culture: if you are a person who harbors any tendencies toward ridiculousness and narcissism, San Francisco has a way of bringing those traits to the fore in a major way. There are plenty of terrible people in New York, of course, but their narcissistic leanings tend to be kept in check by the natural hardships of life in the city, the size of the place, the variety of cultural and professional influences, and, frankly, the willingness (some might say eagerness) of New Yorkers to censure bad behavior.
Go check out the whole post. It's well worth reading and the continuation of an interesting series of things Buzz has been writing about the character of San Francisco Bay Area. He followed up with another post, also worth your time.
I think he's got very valid points—though he clearly lived in a bubble more than a little bit—but even if I agreed completely with him, I'd still choose San Francisco.
As Warren Zevon said, "So I think I'll hurl myself against the wall, because I'd rather feel bad than feel nothing at all"... but in this case the wall will be replaced by a self-indulgent, smug crowd of foodie hipsters eating ice cream, gourmet chocolate, $7 coffees, and heritage sausages on Hayes Valley's Patricia's Green.
Most importantly, I will keep getting myself out of the well-Foursquare-checked-in parts of the city, to connect with life in the avenues, alleys, and "boring" neighborhoods.
Nicole Lee (who is always worth listening to) gave her musings on the topic of New York and San Francisco and they mesh well with mine.
Like Anthony Bourdain said: “It’s a two-fisted drinking town, a carnivorous meat-eating town, it’s dirty and nasty and wonderful…” Bourdain has his own issues with the crunchy granola self-righteous parts of the Bay, which I do agree with, but the San Francisco I choose to live in is the one in that quote.
Useful preparedness links 2012
RT @SFFDNERT: Here's a great safety resource page from @abc7newsbayarea: http://abc7news.com/PrepareNorCal Thanks for including us, ABC 7! #PrepareNorCal
Fun at Booksmith's BookSwap evening 2012
Booksmith's events are super fun.
Put your money where we need it, BART. 2012
Here's a good petition: Tell BART to fight for American jobs & get a better deal for taxpayers = win-win #bart4america
The Discardian dog & pony ride again! 2012
RT @Discardia: Delighted to be scheduling a big summer series of free public discussions on Discardia at @SFPLnews branches! Details to come. #SanFrancisco
¡On-Demand Mariachi Fiestas! 2012
at Comstock Saloon 2012
love that leather