Nobody has a good answer to San Francisco's most basic housing problem: How do we build the housing that existing city residents need? It was a question the Guardian has been posing for many years, and one that I again asked a panel of journalists and housing advocates on March 14, again getting no good answers.
The question is an important one given Mayor Ed Lee's so-called "affordability agenda" and pledge to build 30,000 new housing units, a third of them somehow affordable, by 2020. And it's a question that led to the founding 30 years ago of Bridge Housing, the builder of affordable and supportive housing that assembled this media roundtable.
"There really isn't one thing, there needs to be a lot of changes in a lot of areas to make it happen," was the closest that Bridge CEO Cynthia Parker came to answering the question.
One of those things is a general obligation bond measure this fall to fund affordable housing and transportation projects around the Bay Area, which Bridge and a large coalition of other partners are pushing. That would help channel some of the booming Bay Area's wealth into its severely underfunded affordable housing and transit needs.
When I brought up other ideas from our March 12 Guardian editorial ("Lee must pay for his promises") for capturing more of the city's wealth such as new taxes on tech companies, a congestion pricing charge, and downtown transit assessment districts Parker replied, "We'd be in favor of a lot of that."
Yet it's going to take far more proactive, aggressive, and creative actions to really bridge the gap between the San Francisco Housing Element's analysis that 60 percent of new housing should be below-market-rate and affordable to those earning 120 percent or less of the area median income, and the less than 20 percent that San Francisco is actually building and promoting through its policies. (Steven T. Jones)
No charges in CCSF protest
The two formerly jailed City College student protesters can now breathe a sigh of relief, as they learned March 19 that the District Attorney's Office won't be filing criminal charges against them.
Otto Pippenger, 20, and Dimitrios Philliou, 21, were detained by SFPD following a violent clash during a City College protest on March 13. Their ideological and physical fight for democracy at their school is also the subject of one of our print articles in this week's Guardian ("Democracy for none," March 18). Philliou's attorney confirmed to the Guardian that charges were not pursued by the District Attorney's Office.
"The charges have been dropped for now, in terms of the criminal case," said Rachel Lederman, president of the San Francisco chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, which is representing Philliou.
But, she noted, they're not out of the fire yet.
"The fight is not over for them," she said, "as it's possible they'll face school discipline."
Heidi Alletzhauser, Pippenger's mother, told the Guardian that Vice Chancellor Faye Naples indicated the two would face some sort of disciplinary hearing, though Naples told Alletzhauser that Pippenger would not be expelled. (Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez)
Activists cross the border
Last November, the Guardian profiled Alex Aldana, a queer immigration activist who was born in Mexico but came to Pomona, California with his mother and sister on a visa at the age of 16 ("Undocumented and unafraid," 11/12/14).
On March 18, Aldana joined a group of undocumented immigrants in a protest at the US border crossing at Otay Mesa in San Diego. Chanting together as a group, they marched over the border and presented themselves to U.S.