Early indicators - Page 2

Supervisors reject preservationist position, raising concerns about development -- and revealing a little of their political philosophies

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Sup. Jane Kim is shaping up to be a swing vote between moderates and progressives

"In District 6, it's the defining issue because it's the most explosive district in terms of growth," Hestor said. "Land use is about who gets to live in the city."

 

WHOSE CITY?

While most of the discussion about the Johns nomination focused on his qualifications as a historian — indeed, that was the basis of most of the opposition to his nomination, by both activists and progressive supervisors — there was some telling subtext focused on Hestor's point that land use is the most fundamental progressive issue.

At the Jan. 20 Rules Committee meeting, Kim even asked Johns about his "vision for affordable housing as it related to preservation." But the answer she received wasn't terribly reassuring to those who see the lack of affordable housing for low-income city residents as a serious problem that the city is failing to address (see "Dollars or sense?" 9/29/10).

"San Francisco is made up of lots of different groups of people with lots of different backgrounds," Johns said at the hearing, noting that it is important to "preserve the culture and the past that have brought us to where we are. But part of that past is the ability to grow."

In an interview with the Guardian, Johns expanded on the point, sounding a more pro-growth point-of-view than many of his colleagues on the commission are likely to share. "Development and preservation can go hand-in-hand," Johns said. "Maybe it's the development that allows what might be a slowly deteriorating building to be fixed up properly."

As an example, he cited his 20 years of work on preserving the Old Mint Building — his main claim to expertise as a historian — which was ultimately accomplished as part of the development project that included office and commercial development and the Mint Plaza public space.

"People of all income levels have a right to live in San Francisco," Johns said, adding, "The real need some people would say is the need for middle class housing." When we noted that it's often the low-income residents who are ousted when old buildings get modernized, he said, "You have to think about the desirability of people to live in crummy housing."

Chiu and Kim both downplayed the importance of the Johns vote. "People are trying to read too much into this," Chiu said, explaining that he opposed the nomination because he simply felt Johns didn't meet the criteria as a historian. "What was relevant is what city law says."

Kim told us that it wasn't until the full board meeting that she learned how her progressive colleagues felt about the matter, and that she didn't want to change how she voted in committee. "It was not important enough for me to change my vote based on my verbal commitments," Kim said later.

Yet on the evening of the vote, Kim told the Guardian that she felt "pressure" to support Johns, although she wouldn't say from whom. "I was put in a bad position on this issue," she said. Many progressives have speculated that pressure came from Brown, which Kim denies. "We didn't talk about this, not once," she said.

But in his Jan. 30 column in the San Francisco Chronicle, Brown crowed about the victory by "my friend Richard Johns" and called Chiu's opposition to him "a mistake that could haunt him for some time," saying Chiu has set up Sups. Malia Cohen and Kim "to be the swing votes on every issue where moderates and progressives split."

Rebecca Bowe contributed to this report.

Comments

How much money has Sue Hestor made over the years preventing housing from being built?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2011 @ 8:59 am

about 5 dollars

Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2011 @ 9:08 am

Who knew she worked pro bono! Amazing! 35 years of working for free ~!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2011 @ 10:08 am

I've been involved with campaigns Sue has worked on for about 6 years and she didn't get paid a dime for any of them.
Sue is an amazing woman.

Posted by guest2 on Feb. 02, 2011 @ 10:38 am

Too bad most all of those campaigns over the past six years were lost.

-marc

Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2011 @ 11:58 am

Sue has done more to gentrify San Francisco than any one developer.
Every wealthy neighbor who doesnt want their view blocked hires her. There is literally not a single apartment building greater than 20 units that she hasnt been hired to try and stop.

She is definitely the darling of the have's and the enemy of the have nots.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

Both Wiener and Peskin make good points about how much power this commission should have. Should this commission's main focus be preserving history or impeding any or all development? I'm not sure.

What really concerns me is the fact that Supervisor Kim voted for a Willie Brown lackey to serve on this commission. What make Johns qualified? The fact that his wife worked for Brown? (I don't think so.)

Does he have a degree in historical preservation? Has he ever taken a college-level class in historical preservation?

Posted by Common Sense SF on Feb. 02, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

Peskin just wants to use 'historical significance' as a technical loophole to stop whatever he wants (or whatever Sue Hestor wants stopped). See: library, North Beach.

The Melvin Belli building, gutted in Peskin's Dsitrict while he was Supervisor is as historical as they come. A gold rush era theater that survived the '06 quake. When they ripped it apart history buffs sneaked up in the night to steal bricks. But the developers weren't looking to build anything that threatened Peskin's view from Telegraph Hill so they had free reign to do as they wish. But don't try to touch a 50 year old asbestos filled library in North Beach.

Posted by Homer on Feb. 02, 2011 @ 2:27 pm

This issue couldn't be hotter.

The Eastern Neighborhoods will be facing the devastating post 2008 job our progressive reps handed to developers... A nuclear bomb that will wipe out thousands of low income properties.

Watch for major foreign money to roll into town. For example the same Taiwanese company that is now playing PC games with the Brisbane Baylands (3rd Street SP lands Pt 2).

In this city, even the progressive media is terrified of linking up to the devastating crap that developers and banks have done nationwide.

How many San Franciscans lost their homes due to variable rate mortgages?

No, we aren't seeing housed being torn down like we saw inland or to the south, but then maybe nobody seems to be doing the footwork to see what has happened.

City hall isn't where the damage is being done, and nobody is covering it, so it goes, if a tree falls in the forest and nobody sees it happen...

Posted by Guest on Feb. 02, 2011 @ 6:32 pm

Peskin says the commission isn't very powerful. But he's upset this Johns fellow was nominated to the commission that is supposedly not so powerful. Those positions don't really square.

Posted by The Commish on Feb. 03, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

Is it time to vote Jane Kim off the Progressive Island then?

Anybody who shows any sort of nuance or sense of compromise does not deserve to be part of The Cabal.

Lift thy stones and begin the execution.

Posted by Barton on Feb. 03, 2011 @ 5:42 pm

I think it's time for Jane to pledge her allegiance to the "progressive" cause...

Posted by Flowers on Feb. 03, 2011 @ 10:18 pm

Willie Brown got Kim elected. Kim returns the favor - one of many down the road.
good old politics...

Posted by Guest on Feb. 04, 2011 @ 12:16 am