Oakland school cop comes forward as a whistleblower

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Family and friends of Raheim Brown protested outside Oakland School Police Department headquarters last year.
GUARDIAN FILE PHOTO BY YAEL CHANOFF

Two years after his involvement in a police shooting that took the life of a 20-year-old African American man, an Oakland School Police Department officer has come forward as a “whistleblower” in sworn testimony, making allegations of unethical behavior within a department that is already under the scrutiny of federal investigators.

In a deposition delivered earlier this month as part of a civil suit, police Sergeant Jonathan Bellusa gave a detailed account of what transpired just before his patrol partner, Sgt. Barhin Bhatt, fired several rounds and killed Raheim Brown as the youth was positioned in the passenger’s seat of a car outside a high school dance in January of 2011.

Bellusa gave testimony that in the months that followed, he came under retaliatory pressure from within the department and was “uncomfortable” with various aspects of how the investigation unfolded.

An unedited, uncertified transcript of Bellusa’s deposition, which contains some grammatical and punctuation errors because it was transcribed by an automated system, was made public Feb. 28 by a group of activists organized under a project called “Against Hired Guns.” The group sent a detailed summary and analysis of the deposition, as well as the unedited transcript, to reporters. The activists also posted the contents on a website, againsthiredguns.wordpress.com.

Asked who is behind Against Hired Guns, spokesperson Cat Brooks said they are Oakland activists “who have been doing this work either together on campaigns, or separately inside of our own groups, that see strength in numbers rather than apart. We in general are tired of having flashpoint reactions to police corruption or violence, and are interested in bringing as many people or groups together as possible to have a sustained campaign that is focused on eradicating police violence.”

Bellusa is currently on leave from employment at the Oakland school police department, and the Guardian was unable to reach him by phone on the number listed on the OUSD website. “He’s been gone for quite awhile,” OUSD spokesperson Troy Flint told the Guardian when reached by phone. Asked to comment on the myriad allegations raised in Bellusa’s testimony, Flint said, “We're going to refrain from comment until we've seen the actual suit.”

The deposition was conducted by Attorney Adante Pointer of the Law Offices of John Burris, in connection with a civil rights suit that is being filed against OUSD by Brown’s mother, Lori Davis. Reached by phone, Pointer confirmed that he had taken Bellusa’s deposition several weeks ago, and was surprised that its contents had been made public, since it “is not complete yet.” He added, “I’m thinking to myself, who put that out there?” As of press time, Pointer had not returned a follow up phone call.

Brooks declined to answer questions about how the activists obtained a copy of the uncertified transcript.

Allegations of retaliation for whistleblowing

Roughly a month after the shooting incident, Bellusa said in his deposition, former OUSD Police Chief Pete Sarna let out “a boisterous yell with his [fist] up in the air” and seemed “excited” that “we as a department don't have to worry about anything.” According to Bellusa’s testimony, Sarna had just received word that his “friend” Pete Peterson had “agreed to do the investigation” of the fatal shooting of Brown.

Asked if he felt pressured by supervisors to make statements consistent with Bhatt’s account of the shooting incident, Bellusa stated, “I have felt that if I gave statements that went against the district that I would be thrown in jail for perjury.”

In the months after the shooting, Bellusa testified that he filed a formal complaint alleging that Sarna drunkenly made racist remarks to an African American sergeant in July of 2011. Sarna resigned the following month.

Bellusa also testified that on an August morning in 2011, after he’d filed the complaint against Sarna for allegedly making racial slurs, he overheard a conversation between OUSD General Counsel Jacqueline Minor and Superintendent Tony Smith. “I over heard Jackie Minor… say they were not going to let John get away with this,” he stated.

In another incident, Bellusa testified that a different OUSD officer informed him that “Chief Sarna’s assistant, Jenny Wong, told a bunch of officers something like: ‘Don't worry, Sarna is going to beat this case. He’s going to fire John [Bellusa].’”

After Sarna stepped down, Bhatt was briefly appointed interim police chief, unleashing an outcry from OUSD parents outraged that an officer would be promoted to the top post after shooting and killing Brown just months before. Alameda County prosecutors had since cleared Bhatt of any wrongdoing in the shooting that resulted in Brown’s death.

In response to the backlash, Bhatt was removed and replaced with Police Chief James Williams in September of 2011. The shooting of Brown, coupled with Sarna’s alleged use of racial slurs, prompted a federal grand jury investigation into the OUSD police force last year. Bellusa noted in his testimony that he had described his experience to federal investigators.

Taken as a whole, Bellusa’s testimony renders a disturbing internal portrait of the Oakland School Police Department, which consists of about a dozen officers and operates independently of the Oakland Police Department as a division of the school district.

The alarming account raises serious questions about internal operations of the department, particularly since it is an independent force operated by the school district at a time when funding cuts have placed the public school system under tremendous budgetary pressure, resulting in recent school closures.

Allegations of corruption

A detailed summary of the transcript provided by Against Hired Guns highlights more disturbing allegations made by Bellusa in the course of his testimony. Among them:

  • Bellusa asserted that he witnessed Bhatt pour Wild Turkey into a glass while he was on duty. He also said he felt concerned about Bhatt after observing him “clean his firearm for a long period of time.”                                                                      
  • Bellusa testified that he “found out” that Sarna and Lou Silva, a former OUSD officer and current district-wide Campus Security and Safety Manager, were “sending their personal cars down to a shop on 16th Avenue… [and] were overcharging the police cars,” apparently in order to have their personal cars repaired for free or at a deep discount.
  • Bellusa testified, “I found out that he [Sarna] called another officer [and] told him [not to report] what had happened in front of the African American who is a witness to the … racial slurs.”

Officer-involved shooting

Brown was shot and killed outside a dance at Oakland’s Skyline High School on Jan. 22, 2011. He was sitting in the passenger’s seat of a Honda with a friend, Tamisha Stewart, who was in the driver’s seat. Bellusa and Bhatt pulled up behind them in an unmarked patrol car after noticing the lights of the Honda were flashing. Bhatt made his way to the driver’s window, Bellusa testified, while he flanked the rear passenger’s side of the car.

As Bhatt began a verbal exchange with Stewart, Bellusa testified that he noticed Brown was “fidgety” rather than cooperative, which he interpreted as a “red flag.” He opened the passenger door, crouched into what he described as a “catcher’s stance,” and initiated a verbal exchange with Brown. Shortly after opening the door, Bellusa said he made observations that led him to conclude that the car had been stolen.

When Pointer asked him where his hands were at that point, Bellusa stated, “They were on his lap,” according to the transcript. “Were they holding anything?” Pointer asked. “No,” Bellusa responded. “And so did you ask him to step out of the car when you're having this conversation with him?” Pointer asked. “Not at that time,” Bellusa answered. 

Bellusa said Brown then grabbed a screwdriver and stuck into the ignition of the vehicle, directing Stewart to drive. This prompted a struggle between Brown and Bellusa. According to a summary of the transcript written by the group of activists:

“Bellusa lunged into the car, grabbing [Brown] from behind as Brown was leaned over toward the ignition. …Bellusa tried to hold Brown, and then grabbed him, pulling Brown’s shirt and ripping it. Bhatt, leaning in through the driver’s window, hit Brown with his flashlight. … Brown had not yet made any aggressive move toward anyone, according to Bellusa’s description of events.”

A struggle ensued, and Bellusa testified that at one point Brown bit Bellusa’s wrist, prompting Bellusa to pull his hand away and use his “hammer fist” to strike him. Brown then grabbed the screwdriver from the car’s ignition, and “I believe that the backside of the screwdriver [was what] he used at that point to strike me in the chest,” Bellusa testified.

“As the struggle ensued and neither fighter gave in,” activists wrote, “[Brown] turned the screwdriver around and tried to make contact with Bellusa.”

According to Bellusa’s sworn testimony, “I was afraid that I was going to get stabbed in the throat clear as day.” He told his partner to shoot Brown: “I just screamed shoot him, shoot him,” he testified.

The Against Hired Guns summary describes what happened next. "As Bellusa pulled himself out of the car, two shots were quickly fired through the driver’s open window ... by Bhatt before his gun jammed. Raheim Brown, Jr. had two bullets lodged in his body. It took Sergeant Bhatt five to ten seconds to clear the chamber of his gun, during which time he said loudly: 'Fuck! Fuck!' By this time, Bellusa was out of the car and at a safe distance, he said in his deposition. When asked whether he thought Brown was still a risk after the first two shots, Bellusa replied plainly: 'No,' and said that by this point, he had his own gun out. When asked why he didn’t pull his trigger, he replied: 'Just like I said my statement with OPD, I didn't see a threat.'

‘Tell me … about the gun’ 

Bellusa explained in his deposition that he’d noticed a gun sitting in the side pocket of the vehicle during the incident, but did not alert Bhatt that the gun was there until after the shooting had occurred. When Pointer asked, “And prior to you screaming ‘shoot him, shoot him’ you hadn’t said anything related to the gun?” Bellusa responded: “No.”

Shortly after the shooting, Bellusa testified he had an interaction with Sarna, then-OUSD chief, and Smith, the OUSD superintendent. According to details included in the deposition, this conversation took place at Oakland Police Department (OPD) headquarters, after Bhatt and Bellusa had been separated, prior to any formal interview with OPD regarding the shooting.

According to Bellusa’s testimony, Smith questioned him directly. “He said specifically ‘John, tell me where the gun was. Tell me everything you can remember about the gun and what it looked like.’”

Penetrating the Thin Blue Line

An introductory statement from Against Hired Guns notes that Bellusa “will likely be considered a ‘good’ cop” for publicly airing these allegations and making an unusual break from the code of silence that typically binds police departments.

Yet the activists aren’t willing to let the sergeant off the hook so easily. Asked why they took steps to preempt release of this information, Brooks, the spokesperson for Against Hired Guns, told the Guardian, “We thought that it was important so that the debate could be framed as part of the larger context of police and violence in Oakland, as opposed to this cop has now done something good, which makes him a good cop. … He was still present the night Raheim was murdered.”

Against Hired Guns wrote in an analysis included in press materials, "It has now been over two years since Raheim’s family lost him to the violence of policing.  They have relentlessly searched for justice and still do not know exactly what happened to him. At the very least, Bellusa or any of the people or agencies he spoke with, could have explained the context of Raheim’s killing to his family members, who continue to grieve and struggle with the loss of their son, father and lover." 

The activists’ summary frames the issue in this way: “Sergeant Bellusa has now penetrated the ‘thin blue line’ that shields corrupt, abusive, violent police officers and departments. We are releasing this information as part of … a series that places the statements of Bellusa’s testimony in the larger overall context of policing in our society [and] the ‘thin blue line’ that protects officers from any consequences.”

Comments

Cops put their lives in danger to protect life, liberty and property every day but you never report that.

But a gangbanger thug gets shot by cops and you are all over it.

Miserable.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 5:32 pm

You're a dick. You think police violence should be kept secret then? Someone died. If you cared about civilians this would sadden you; and if you cared about the police force this would sicken you. Fact is MAJOR reform is needed to the nation's police force. It's more than just a few bad apples out there. There needs to be real civilian oversight and real consequences for criminal behavior for cops. They should not be a privileged or protected class. But I'm sure you think these people had it coming because they broke the law and therefore maybe deserved to die. You're stupid to think you'll never be on the receiving side of unforgiving police "justice". Wake up we live in a police state. How many AR-15's do you think the police own?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 10:14 pm

You're a dick. You think police violence should be kept secret then? Someone died. If you cared about civilians this would sadden you; and if you cared about the police force this would sicken you. Fact is MAJOR reform is needed to the nation's police force. It's more than just a few bad apples out there. There needs to be real civilian oversight and real consequences for criminal behavior for cops. They should not be a privileged or protected class. But I'm sure you think these people had it coming because they broke the law and therefore maybe deserved to die. You're stupid to think you'll never be on the receiving side of unforgiving police "justice". Wake up we live in a police state. How many AR-15's do you think the police own?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 10:19 pm

This is what they do all day. There's a cadre of trolls here who can be counted on to parrot the usual right wing tripe that markets rule and cops are always right. This is just the beginning. Prepare for the onslaught.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 10:29 pm

From the continual mocking of Asians to your repeated foul language you really seem to be heading downhill and quickly. This all seems like a desperate cry for attention. It's so sad to witness. I must say Greg - it's all going to end very badly if you keep on in this manner.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 10:49 pm

Racist, misogynistic troll. You are exactly the kind of troll I'm talking about.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 11:12 pm

Deeply. Please seek some type of help - this downward spiral is just terrible to watch.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 11:39 pm

Only Greg like "progressives" can bring up general race type things.

You do know that you have to be a "progressive" to mention race in any way.

Take for example Tim's ramblings white Catholics and gay rights, when everyone knows that minority Catholics are so open minded to gays.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 12:02 am

Pleb, buzz one of the nursing assistants there in the ward and ask them to kindly please turn down your glucose drip. It's set on "High" apparently by mistake. It's bringing out one of your other people inside you, pleb, and I think most on here are already quite accustomed to your usual bitch/hateful/vile self.

International Troll Society Member #12360969212

Posted by International Troll Society Member #12360969212 on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 12:03 am

I suspect that if you scratch the surface, we would fine that he has engaged in some fairly bad stuff himself. Anyone who can hate as much as Greg hates on Asians and cops is going to act very defencsive.

If he ever meets an Asian cop, he will go ballistic.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 6:56 am

A case of one excrement encouraging the other. Pleb, I suspect if you scratch the surface---not that we would have to go that far down---we would find that you most assuredly belong in the same ward with all the other imposter troll nuts on here, if you're not already there on that group rate.

International Troll Society Member #12360969212

Posted by International Troll Society Member #12360969212 on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 3:16 pm

That doesn't begin to cover it, but it's a good start! I wrote a gentle suggestion to that excrement, but Greg, it's best not to respond to attention-seeking, amateur, imposter, pleb trolls and especially that excrement. They don't merit your attention. That particular excrement acts like a 2 year old in dire need of attention. Although some 2 year old's act more mature than that sample. I occasionally respond to the excrement only so that the parasite will pass on my information to those in their hospital ward for further treatment (they have a group rate, you know). It's best to ignore all of these parasitic, amateurish, pleb trolls who are---I might add---completely unworthy of International Troll Society membership.

International Troll Society Member #12360969212

Posted by International Troll Society Member #12360969212 on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 12:16 am

The good deeds of some cops don't make up for the bad deeds of others.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

Here is why. The odd time a cop shoots a guy when he should not have done, it's always a bad guy. So even tho it should not have happened, it's not a nun or choirboy that got iced - it's a gangbanger thug who might have mugged you the next day.

People get that which is why guys like Grant don't get that much sympathy, and the juries do easy on the cop.

The average good person feels a lot more compassion for cops than thugs.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

The heavy handed police force in Oakland reminds me of the numerous police activity in the Mission and lower Haight over 10 years ago. If the police rouse the obvious poorer people, especially people of color, there wil be enough arrests, disruption to the local community, and the occasional killing by the police to force the lower income people out of the area, paving the way for the upscale artists, queers, and higher income migrants who can profit from the increasing property values.

The same strategy happened along the S. Van Ness, 24th Street east of Mission, Webster south of Fell, Divis, and is increasingly occurring in pockets of Oakland. Land values have skyrocketed in the areas where police are used to cleanse the neighborhood of poorer families, often non-white families. Drugs and petty property crimes are often the pretense the police and politicians use to force out large segments of the exisiting community. Hundreds of millions of land wealth are created for the owners of the property, with banks and real estate companies receiving a nice slice from the financial upgrade.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 02, 2013 @ 10:23 am

then doesn't it make sense to subtley encourage relocation of such groups to somewhere like Oakland, that appears willing to tolerate a greater crime rate than would be acceptable to the voters of SF?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 02, 2013 @ 10:52 am

the problem is that you believe police have the right to shoot to kill someone for suspicion of a minor crime ... and a non-violent crime at that.

hope i'm there as witness when they come for you (for nothing, as they often do), and you piss your pants in fear ... because you cannot pretend you don't know the truth : police in oakland are the violent thugs.

Posted by wiseoldsnail on Mar. 02, 2013 @ 9:25 am

or a criminal. the cops don't just shoot random people - they shoot villains who resist arrest, threaten another person or who seek to otherwise evade arrest or detention.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 02, 2013 @ 10:54 am

mother and daughter whose truck the LAPD shot about 70 times in Torrance.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 02, 2013 @ 11:19 am
Posted by Guest on Mar. 02, 2013 @ 11:31 am

It doesn't matter. The same kinds of people who are attracted to police work in Torrance, are attracted to police work in Oakland. The same lack of oversight that exists in Torrance exists in Oakland. This tendency to nitpick examples because they happened in another town is off-base. It's essentially the same system.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 02, 2013 @ 7:57 pm

They should report both, simple as that. If police start to act like thugs, they won't be any different

Posted by THAT cop that told it on Jul. 11, 2013 @ 7:59 am

Are they trained to apprehend or kill? Miserable is a person feeling that police killings are justified. How come black officers dont accidently shoot people, black or white?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 8:00 pm

Who knows why he's coming forward publicly. Maybe it's to protect himself. Maybe he saw his career being ruined for blowing the whistle in the same way they did to Dorner in LA, and he wanted to head that off. Maybe not all of it is true.

But it's good that it's all coming out into the light of day. One thing that's clear is that this is a department with some serious issues, and more public accountability is never a bad thing. I hope the SFBG follows up on this story... because we sure as hell can't count on the comical to do it.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 28, 2013 @ 10:26 pm

Nice effort, very informative, this will help me to complete my task. Thanks for share it keep it up.

Posted by paramountessays.net on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 1:08 am

Stop Snitchin'!

Oh wait - that doesn't apply to cops?

My bad.

The only violence problem Oakland has is police violence!

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 6:24 am

the SFBG didn't report it or say anything about it.

Their anti-cop bias is clear. Cops are the only part of the public sector that SFBG hates.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 6:57 am

Police Don't Deserve To Be Part Of The "City Family", That Tim Loves So Much!

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 7:08 am

But Oakland has cheap rent and that's where u keep saying us po folk should relocate to, never mind the crime rate, right dyttp?

Posted by pete moss on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

part of what drives housing costs is safety, particularly for those who, unlike you, have a lot to lose.

What's up? You don't want to move to Oakland? Too many blacks there? Not enough sushi joints?

Then get a better job and stay in SF.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

I can't live in Oakland. My sister practically runs that burg & she hates me. I'm doing just fine in SF anyway, thank very much, I'm a native and I have roots and connections and resources miles deep.

Posted by pete moss on Mar. 03, 2013 @ 7:04 am

10 minutes from SF. You're making excuses. Why should I subsidize people who want to live in SF but cannot afford it? Especially when they could just move to Oakland or Daly City?

You sound like a parasite with a sense of entitlement and ambitions beyond your means and fiscal power.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 03, 2013 @ 9:15 am

I had half brother who was a ski bum. Lived his whole life in places like Vail, Aspen, even Switzerland. Never made more then 25K in year. Didn't matter, if there were steep mountains and deep powder he found a way live nearby. I've known surfers didn't have a p,ot to piss in but lived in Malibu, Huntington Beach, even La Jolla cause that's where their favorite break was.

People are going to live where they want to live and some of them just don't care about money. Get over it.

I'm not currently receiving any subsidies that I know, not even bus pass, let alone ebt card or rent control or mort interest deduction or anything else, but I don't mind being called a parasite even inaccurately.

Parasites are often amazingly evolved and provide vital services for their hosts.

Posted by pete moss on Mar. 03, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

no more surprising that you support policies that interfere with what would otherwise interfere with a meritocratic free market.

Nobody can live for 25K pa in expensive places unless they are getting a break from somone, whether that is a sugar daddy, welfare handouts or a skewed set of laws.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 03, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

the use of the word "meritocratic" in the above comment, which almost always indicates a stupid statement, especially when modifying the term "free market." Just as two wrongs don't make a right, two fictitious terms don't make a reality.

Down with stupidity!!!

Power to the thoughtful!!!

Posted by San Francisco Anti-Stupidity Campaign on Mar. 03, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

taken into consideration. Losers never do.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 03, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

Pleb, there are words in your title that are expressly forbidden by the International Troll Society. A legitimate troll (International Troll Society member) will be banned when attempting to put others down to make oneself feel better about oneself, which is what you've done. Are you really that insecure, uncomfortable with yourself and consider yourself so unworthy as a pleb that you feel you must put down other human beings you don't even know in order to make yourself feel better and to appear up on a elitist pedestal? From frequenting this site on occasion, you live on this site from the moment you wake up until they turn off the lights in your ward. I would suggest that the "l" word in your title (it begins with a "l" and ends with a "s") most assuredly applies to you, pleb.

International Troll Society Member #12360969212

Posted by International Troll Society Member #12360969212 on Mar. 03, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

letting us know that he hangs out with losers would somehow magically make him more credible here.

Just my PSA for the day.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 03, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

Nah. Not buying it, pleb. You're really not very bright as demonstrated by all of your ignorant hate on this site. Your life must be terribly miserable there in that ward.

Your PSA = Pleb's Scum Ass.

Posted by International Troll Society Member #12360969212 on Mar. 03, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

All you have is abuse, stalking and trolling.

Posted by anon on Mar. 03, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

the National Security Agency to combat stupidity. Analysis of the content and the IP addresses of the comments from "Guest" at 3:46 pm and "anon" at 6:03 pm conclusively prove that these two contributors are the same person.

The SFASC and the NSA agree with anon/Guest about the importance of the police state to insure the rights of the innocent, although thoughtful readers might find irony in the uncovering of anon/Guest's ruse by that police state.

Down with stupidity!!!

Power to the thoughtful!!!

Posted by San Francisco Anti-Stupidity Campaign on Mar. 03, 2013 @ 11:28 pm

With mobile computing, IP's are meaningless.

You knew that, right?

Oh wait, you didn't. Who is stupid now?

Posted by anon on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 6:56 am

the NSA insures its ability to accurately determine the authorship of comments.

Down with stupidity!!!

Power to the thoughtfull!!!

Posted by San Francisco Anti-Stupidity Campaign on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 8:10 am

Here's a clue. It ends in 2.

Posted by anon on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 8:34 am

I don't even qualify for EIC on my 1040. I may be the most subsidy free person in SF so show some respect 'guest'

Posted by pete moss on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 5:11 am

If you rent, you have rent control, as well as a "renter's credit" on your CA income taxes.

If you own, you deduct the interest on your mortgage and your property tax.

The only way you are neither is if you are a "kept man" or "trophy husband" or "toy boy" or "giggolo". In which case, there is a woman (or gay man, I suppose) subsidizing you.

Posted by anon on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 7:24 am

especially stupid ones like anon, that pete moss neither rents nor owns, as he described in an earlier comment. He falls into a different, yet growing category, called homeless.

Down with stupidity!!!

Power to the thoughtful!!!

Posted by San Francisco Anti-Stupidity Campaign on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 8:13 am

You're getting stupider and stupider.

And of course the homeless get lots of subsidies

Posted by anon on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 8:33 am

I got the impression pete moss might be living in a one of a growing number of resident-controlled housing units held by a non-profit. This is one of the better housing models since the residents meet the monthly untility and upkeep costs, but the housing unit itself stays in a non-profit form that prevents future speculation and displacement.

If homeless, a hat tip to pete for making one of the wisest choices to stay in SF: moving back to the streets where humans roamed for the first 50,000 years or more. If the city leaders won't prevent landlords from increasing rents to unaffordable levels to most current residents, then after displacement by high rent increases, OMI, or Ellis eviction, moving directly to the street (a park is my preference) is one of the smartest political strategies possible to let the rulers know that their current housing policies are hurting SF residents. After landing on the street, making immediate demands for a clean bed, sanitary bathroom and shower facilities, a work room, a quiet room, and a library should be the minimum stardard the city, state and feds should be providing to mitigate their housing policies that favor the wealthy and powerful over the bottom 2/3 of the local community.

If indeed homeless, I hope pete is using some of his internet time to reach out to the growing homeless populations in Japan, China, Greece, and other countries where similar real estate policies are creating the same issues: increasingly unaffordale housing costs for the majority of residents; increasing numbers of homeless; and a concentration of wealth by the relatively small numbers of landlords and financiers that sit at the top of a very steep pyramid.

Posted by Ditto on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 9:02 am

spending 24/7 on his iphone advocating for the under-housed everywhere.

But, as a point of interest, SF rents cannot be "unaffordable" because the vacancy rate is 1%. So SF housing can be afforded by enough people to sustain it.

By "unaffordable", you presumably mean that you personally cannot afford the average rent here. Hey, I know how you feel, I can't afford Aspen and so have to slum it in SF.

Posted by anon on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 9:54 am