The machine - Page 2

Sup. Scott Wiener is relentless, driven, prolific — and changing San Francisco in sometimes alarming ways

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Scott Wiener follows Harvey Milk, Harry Britt, and Bevan Dufty representing a neighborhood that's changed profoundly.
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY KEENEY + LAW PHOTOGRAPHY

Still, Wiener calls being gay and Jewish the "galvanizing experiences" of his formative years, particularly at a time when AIDS had devastated this new community he was joining, so his political activism focused on LGBT issues as he worked his way through Harvard Law School, choosing to settle in San Francisco in 1997.

Tall and gangly, almost obsessed with Democratic Party politics, his only real hobby or pastime is yoga, which he said "helps me stay sane." Wiener has always been less fun-loving than many of the gay men around him in the Castro, the neighborhood he represents.

"Dating has not always been my strong suit," Wiener said. He's close to family and friends but really hasn't had any serious romantic relationships to speak of. "Men are challenging."

So he works, and works, and works. He's been working the Castro with door-knocking intensity since well before his successful run for supervisor in 2010, during his long tenure on the Democratic County Central Committee and his day job as a deputy city attorney, focused mostly on defending the San Francisco Police Department.

Department heads have learned that he's always on duty. "I was at Nancy Pelosi's New Year's party on Sunday, and I saw [SF Muni head] Ed Reiskin and I started walking up to him because I had like three things to talk to him about, and the look I saw in his eye was the same look that I think I sometimes get in my eye when a particularly aggressive constituent approaches me," Wiener recalled.

It's a look that Wiener has had to adopt regularly over the last two years as he's sponsored a string of the city's most controversial pieces of legislation.

 

 

AGENT OF CHANGE

 

Right now, Wiener is pushing legislation that would limit people's opportunities to appeal development projects (dubbed "CEQA reform") and co-sponsoring legislation that would let owners of tenancy-in-common (TIC) housing units pay a fee to bypass the city's condo conversion lottery, which limits the removal of apartments from the rental market.

Both changes, two of the most controversial measures of this new legislative session, have been opposed by progressives for decades. And they follow Wiener's sponsorship of the two most controversial pieces of legislation from the last session: his unsuccessful attempt to remove the exemption of nonprofits from paying the city's Transit Impact Development Fee and his ban on public nudity, which passed on a 6-5 vote in November, making national headlines.

The two new bills reflect an agenda that's popular with landlords, property owners, and developers — and opposed by tenants, neighborhood activists, and just about every progressive group in town.

Yet, at the same time, Wiener is supportive of nightlife and an advocate for Muni and bike lanes — softening his image as a downtown conservative and sometimes giving him a chance to divide the progressive community. And last year he cast the crucial eighth vote needed to create the CleanPowerSF public-power program and override a threatened mayoral veto.

"I strongly believe in the capacity of government to make people's lives better," Wiener said.

Wiener told me he believes in the social safety net and rent control. He says he has supported every tax measure on the ballot in recent years, he understands that Muni and other vital city infrastructure go deeper in the hole with every new development project the city approves, and he knows that San Francisco is becoming steadily less affordable to those on the bottom half of the economic spectrum.

Yet, even when pressed on the topic at length, he doesn't have a good answer for how to maintain San Francisco's long-term socioeconomic diversity. It's almost as if that' s not part of his consciousness. Instead, he's making it easier for capitalism to have its way with San Francisco.

Comments

Scott is selling out the gay community to the noe valley sabb set - thats his base - long after hes gone he will be remembered as the anti-Harvey Milk - Hes the badlands of elected officials -

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

It is about ELIMINATING 2000 Progressive votes, not about helping some poor TIC sucker.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 29, 2013 @ 8:17 pm

that the constituency of voters is manipulated to suit your own personal agenda?

Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 7:55 am

That's what he's saying, public policy supported by you is political and economic cleansing.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 8:11 am

It's called reality.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

Colonization and economic cleansing.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

a certain community and the goal of relocating or eradicating them.

Demograhic changes may result from investment choices but are not the primary purpose of such investments. So it's a natural process and not a sinister conspiracy.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 1:09 pm

Can't wait for the TIC demographic to go bankrupt and move out.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

If moral hazard is to have any meaning at all, these TIC communes should all be dissolved.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 6:27 pm

Another opportunity for Rafael Mandelman to brown nose Wiener. He never misses an opportunity to do so......

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 1:12 pm

Plus co-sponsoring with Mark Farrell whose Ronald Reagan haircut screams it!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 29, 2013 @ 8:43 pm

Good mini-biography, except for the odd ending on page 7 and the run-on paragraph. (Are there more pages?)

When it comes to Scott Wiener, his politics are as conservative as his sexuality, like something out of a 19th-century mausoleum. For him, the prerogatives of the landed gentry reign supreme. Period. No wonder the needs of the poor are not part of his "consciousness", as the article insinuated.

And nude people just "hanging out" on his streets? For Wiener, if there is no socioeconomic utility, there is no need to exist --- at least not in his Emerald City.

But what Jones should have mentioned is Supervisor Wiener's biggest failure: 2011's Proposition E (which would have given the Board the power to water down or eliminate initiatives). It failed miserably at the ballot: 67% voted against it. Luckily for Wiener, he hasn't gotten too much flack for this colossal legislative misstep. I wonder how he feels about it now.

Posted by City Hall & Oats on Jan. 29, 2013 @ 10:14 pm

sorry for formatting weirdness.

Posted by admin on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 9:02 am

Hes a moderate republican with a suburban taste level who never gets laid

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 1:04 am

Jason Grant Garza here ... is this the SCOTT Weiner that played a part in the NUCLEAR WINTER at the Sunshine Task Force and was found GUILTY of "OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT" in case # 11048 that HAS not been to ETHICS?

His spin was that the MINISTRY of SUNSHINE was costly to the CITY ... when I wrote to him in regard to HOW the MINISTRY is a SHILL and saves the CITY big $$$ by frustrating, vexing and basically dragging out DUE PROCESS ... I did not get a response.

So what was good for ROSS with Supervisor's Weiner vote against him IS NOT good enough for Scott ... where's the ETHICS trial over HIS OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT ? Two sets of RULES or will NO journalist ask?

Yes, another puff piece full of words and wonder signifying NOTHING.

Keep DRINKING the KOOL-AID or go to the MINISTRY and ask about case # 11081 to see HOW it is RIGGED and how this too (article) will PASS in time.

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 5:57 am

No working person can afford to live in the city anymore, unless you mean 12 people in a 2 bedroom in Bernal Heights.

Way to kill off a city, yay!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 7:28 am

buy and own their own home perfectly easily.

I think what you mean is that YOU cannot afford to buy a place.

Cry me a freaking river while playing the world's smallest violin.

Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 7:57 am

1/8 is a very small number, homeowners are the outliers, and most of us are protected by Prop 13.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 8:12 am

Not 1/8.

It's too low, I'd agree. But the TIC/condo migration path provides home ownership options to many.

Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 8:19 am

100,000 / 800,000 = 1/8, your numbers, troll.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 9:10 am

Don't project your lonelyness on the rest of us.

Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 9:32 am

It is you who is whining for a special carve out in the law to cover your bad casino bets.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 9:39 am

About one third of housholds in Sf owner occupy. Assuming the same household size for owners and rental, that means about one quarter of a million San Franciscans live in a home their family owns.

The rate nationwide is more like 2/3 owners, so clearly laws that help more people buy and own would be a desirable thing.

Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 9:48 am

so your numbers are wrong.

Homeownership in Switzerland is 35%, proving that homeownership is not a necesary component of community stability.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 10:06 am
Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 10:19 am

This is what you wrote, "And yet somehow at least 100,000 San Franciscans manage to buy and own their own home perfectly easily..." No mention there of household size, just people.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 10:37 am

other people may live there too. Children, for instance, cannot be on the title of a property.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 10:47 am

I'm sure he meant 100,000 "households" manage to own a home in SF. I assume owner households average larger than the renter "households" mainly because there are so many studio and 1-bedroom rental apartments.

The city needs better, more accessible, numbers about its housing stock. There isn't anything more important than a community's housing base. As far as I know, there are no reliable numbers on how many homes are owned by residents and how many are 2nd and 3rd investment properties. Or how many rent-controlled units there are in the city and what are the proportions of studio through 3-bedroom units split between rent controlled and post-1978 construction? Or what is the proportion of home purchases between permanent residents vs. investors over the past 10 years?

My guesses (but we shouldn't have to guess):

280-320,000 Total Housing Units (with average occupancy over 2 for owner-occupied and under 2 for renter households)

100-120,000 Ownership Units (including condos)
65-75% of the ownership units are owner occupied; 25-35% are rented out
5-15% of the ownership units are 2nd, 3rd or 4th "homes" used part-time by the moneyed set

180-220,000 Rental Units
110-130,000 are under rent-control price protection
70-100,000 are post-1978 construction

I was encouraged that both Supervisors Chiu and Kim asked good questions about housing numbers during Tuesday's hearing. Neither could have been very impressed with the numbers and answers provided by the City Attorney and DPW, who both sounded clueless about potential numbers of units and about other finer points about the condo conversion process. And the cracks in the enforcement process between DPW and the Rent Board sounded so wide that I'm sure the "efficient" DPW guy hired a few years ago allowed more than a few dozen conversions that should have been prohibited under current rules.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 6:25 pm

Marcos, both you an "troll" make the mistake of assuming that ever single person in needs to live alone. However, young children live with parents, individuals live with their significant others/spouses/partners, extended family members live together.

We don't need to be able to provide a separate dwelling for every single resident of SF because many people voluntarily live together as a couple/family not because they cannot afford to live separately. There is no city in the world, nor will there ever be, where every single resident has his or her own separate dwelling unit.

Posted by Chris on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 11:11 am

only about 300,000 or so homes. Of those 200,000 or so are rented, most of which are covered by rent control.

Over time, the number of units of rent control diminish because, as vacancies arise, the owners switch them to owner occupied units and sell them. Several thousand RC units "vanish" every year.

Eventually, there will not be enough votes for rent control to continue.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 11:21 am

A conga line of future bankrupt TIC owners said different Tuesday.

"But the TIC/condo migration path provides home ownership options to many."

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 11:02 am

plucking facts out of your ass?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 12:17 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 6:09 pm

Maybe need new glasses?

Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

That was fast for a nearly four hour hearing.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

as I told you.

Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 6:52 pm

Maybe need new brain?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 6:42 pm

Not much competition.

Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

A disturbingly small number.

Hopefully homeownership numbers can be increased, particularly for residents of moderate income.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 8:59 am

their unit. I would probably accept an offer of twenty times the market rent.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

How many of those home owner rent at triple the real rent rate and not even live here?

http://www.sfgate.com/realestate/article/Walter-Lembi-dies-led-real-esta...

Mr. Lembi leaves behind a real estate conglomerate, which, at its zenith in 2008, owned more than 300 apartment buildings in San Francisco, but is currently besieged by bankruptcies, foreclosures and receiverships.

The company's business practices have also been criticized, especially by tenants groups. Several lawsuits have been filed, including one by City Attorney Dennis Herrera, alleging harassment, illegal evictions and rent raises, lack of repairs and failure to repay security deposits.

"There was nothing particularly notorious until they went on a buying spree in the middle of the decade. Then they developed a well-defined strategy of harassing rent-controlled tenants out of their buildings in order to raise the rents to market levels," said Ted Gullicksen, director of the San Francisco Tenants Union. "It was successful for a while, then there was pushback, the financial collapse, and the Lembis started losing buildings."

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/realestate/article/Walter-Lembi-dies-led-real-esta...

Posted by Guest on Feb. 14, 2013 @ 5:15 pm

I cant wait to see all the rantings about the one supervisor who actually gets shi* done.
This towns political past and future are built on meaningless gestures and knee jerk reactions.
We're a backward navel gazing bunch, more obsessed with the concept of banning things than moving forward.

You know when people start commenting on looks and sex appeal, that they've lost the battle.

Posted by Greg_the_diKC on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 8:58 am

a kneejerk ideolog. He cares about doing a good job rather than changing the world. Much like Lee in that regard.

It is good for the city that the adults are back in the room.

Posted by anon on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 9:33 am

I would not use the words back room in conjunction with Wiener

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

I didn't vote for Wiener, and I don't agree with everything he's done/proposed. But it IS refreshing to have a Supervisor willing to take chances and challenge the status quo.

Excellent work!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 9:32 am

Soctt Wiener is without a doubt the WORST SUPERVISOR in the history of San Francisco. He sits in his ivory tower scratching his head trying to think of ways he can CHANGE San Francisco, instead of working to SOLVE OUR PROBLEMS. It will take the City decades to undo the damage that he has already caused.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 9:51 am

Hes a social misfit that is most likely a virgin

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 10:43 am

Scott Wiener is the worst supervisor in the history of San Francisco? Good grief! I think Chris Daly would win that contest hands down. I saw Chris Daly once yet an obscenity at a girl during the public comment period because he didn't like her comment in support of the JROTC. Wiener at least acts like and adult and I respect him for that.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 10:52 am

Scott Wiener is the worst supervisor in the history of San Francisco? Good grief! I think Chris Daly would win that contest hands down. I saw Chris Daly once yet an obscenity at a girl during the public comment period because he didn't like her comment in support of the JROTC. Wiener at least acts like and adult and I respect him for that.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 10:55 am

Scott Wiener is the worst supervisor in the history of San Francisco? Good grief! I think Chris Daly would win that contest hands down. I saw Chris Daly once yet an obscenity at a girl during the public comment period because he didn't like her comment in support of the JROTC. Wiener at least acts like and adult and I respect him for that.

Posted by Sully on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 11:04 am