Thank you to the regulars and visitors that attended the Libertarian Party of San Francisco January 10, 2015, election of officers and planning for 2015 meeting. We had a great mix of Libertarians, libertarians, and not either. Although only members of LPSF vote on official party business, we welcome in our planning discussions viewpoints from everyone present at our meetings. No one can ever accuse us of living in an echo chamber!
Our plans for 2015 include traditional events, such as participation at San Francisco’s Annual Pride Celebration and hosting LPSF’s annual Tax Day panel discussion. We will continue to work with Bay Area civil liberties and property rights groups to achieve common goals. This year we will make a special effort to understand the issues behind San Francisco’s housing challenges, offer some of our own viewpoints, and work with housing groups on shared objectives.
As always 2015 will see our efforts in dissecting proposed local legislation, especially those that threaten our liberties and raid our pocketbooks. We hope to get lucky and win some free spots on the Department of Elections official Voters’ Handbook, but are setting aside some donations just in case we need to pay for publishing our “For or Against Arguments.”
We also hope that our work, done entirely by volunteers, will earn us votes of confidence in the form of increased membership in the LPSF and donations. Everything we do that costs money -- this website, telephone, mailbox, outreach brochures, booths at festivals, voter arguments -- comes from membership dues and donations. LPSF membership dues are $25 per year, and donations are whatever you can spare. We accept PayPal as well as checks payable to The Libertarian Party of San Francisco sent to our mailbox at 520 Frederick Street, #17, San Francisco, CA 94117.
Our next business meeting is on February 14, 2015, 3:00 – 5:00 pm, San Francisco Main Library, 4th Floor Conference Room. As always, all are welcome to the meeting and/or the after-meeting social.
Today’s headlines proclaim that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors voted unanimously on January 20th to fund “free” Muni rides for “low to moderate income” seniors and people with disabilities. The press is parroting the wording in the SFMTA’s press release announcing the “free” service. Would it be too much to ask that City officials and the press quit using the word “free” to describe “subsidized?” Every good or service has a price, and someone pays when consumption occurs. This is true whether we are talking about lettuce, jeans, housing, or transportation.
The subsidy is not insignificant when we consider the annual income thresholds to which it applies: $67,950 for singles, $77,700 for couples, and $97,100 for families of four.
The senior and disabled subsidy is part of a list of other decisions made by the SFMTA Board, such as increasing service on some lines, enhanced maintenance practices, cleaning up vehicles, and increasing staff.
Funding for what we consider to be ongoing service maintenance will come in part from the passage in November 2014 of Proposition A ($500 million in general obligation bond) and Proposition B (Charter Amendment requiring the City to increase the base amount provided to the SFMTA by a percentage of population growth). Definitely nothing “free” here!
Funding for the senior and disabled subsidy could also come from Propositions A and B, but City officials are hoping to extract some more money from the tech industry. Our question here would be -- why would any business give money away to the City unless it received benefits from the City, such as tax breaks, or were confident it could pass the cost on to consumers?
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow ruled on January 16 as we expected – two more years of reprieve for City College of San Francisco. However, in spite of the media hype about CCSF celebrating another win, the bottom line in Judge Karnow’s decision is that,
~ The Accreditation Commission’s termination decision was not vacated – it stands.
~ City College has two years under the new Commission’s “Restoration Policy” to achieve full compliance.
~ The Accreditation Commission and the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office have until February 3 to comment or object. [Note: CCSF is not a party to these legal proceedings. The suit against the Accreditation Commission was brought by the City Attorney.)
How much work is left for CCSF to do? There are a lot of “Partially meets this standard” in the self evaluation report submitted by the college to the Commission in October 2014. Just four examples of the several goals receiving the "partially met" label should prompt serious students and taxpayers to demand more accountability and less moaning from the college as well as City officials.
“II.A.2.h. The institution awards credit based on student achievement of the course’s stated learning outcomes. Units of credit awarded are consistent with institutional policies that reflect generally accepted norms or equivalencies in higher education.” Standard partially met.
“II.A.5. Students completing vocational and occupational certificates and degrees demonstrate technical and professional competencies that meet employment and other applicable standards and are prepared for external licensure and certification.” Standard partially met.
“III.B.1.a. The institution plans, builds, maintains, and upgrades or replaces its physical resources in a manner that assures effective utilization and the continuing quality necessary to support its programs and services.” Standard partially met.
“III.B.2.a. Long-range capital plans support institutional improvement goals and reflect projections of the total cost of ownership of new facilities and equipment.” Standards partially met.
As we did in 2012, today we again predict that the dysfunction in City College will continue forever unless voters make clear that there will be no more pouring of hard earned taxpayer money unless CCSF meets all the standards met by all other functioning California Community Colleges.
To read the City College of San Francisco Institutional Self Evaluation report in application for
Restoration Status, October 15, 2014: CCSF Self Evaluation Report October 2014
Guest contributor: Sonja Trauss
I don’t want subsidized, supervised affordable housing.
With a salary of $30,000 per year, I am low-income. Shouldn’t I be calling for more Below Market Rate (BMR) units to be built so that I can live in San Francisco? Don’t I appreciate the efforts of affordable housing advocates? They are working tirelessly to hold up and delay the creation of market rate units while negotiating for a higher percentage of units to be set aside as BMR rentals or condos.
Why aren’t I thankful? Don’t I want a Below Market Rate unit?
No, I want a Market Rate unit. I want the market to provide a unit I can afford.
Imagine the world that affordable housing advocates are trying to build for me: in their visionary utopia, in order to rent an apartment I would have to get my income certified. Next, I would go on a waiting list or enter a lottery. I would either wait years on the list for a unit or endure many rounds of lotteries before winning a unit. Once in a BMR rental unit, I would be discouraged from letting my income increase. If I were to progress in my career, or have some other financial success, I would have to move.
Maybe I could buy a BMR condo. That takes care of the possibility of being forced out if my income increases, but owning a BMR condo is false ownership. I don’t have the two main advantages of true ownership: I cannot pass the property onto my heirs, and I cannot take advantage of the full appreciation of the property. The resale price of a BMR unit is determined by the Area Median Income at the time of the resale. Unlike a true owner, increases in property values in my neighborhood do nothing for my overall wealth.
I want to rent on the open market. If I can buy, I want to buy and truly own. I want to consume housing the way I consume all other products: Buy used, old or out of fashion, buy scratched and dented, buy odd lots, split the cost with friends. Of course I’m not going to move into a new building. If you’re trying to save money on a car, do you buy this year’s model? No.
Every new affordable unit means another renter living under income supervision and perverse incentives. It means another “owner” robbed of the appreciation of his asset, and his children alienated from their inheritance.
There is a place for subsidized housing: people who are unable to work due to advanced age or disability should be entitled to a housing benefit along with their social security benefits. If you’re working, the market should be big enough to supply you with housing. If the supply is sufficient, and the lowest wage workers are still priced out, then the area minimum wage is too low.
In my utopia there would be zero working-age, able-bodied, sound of mind people in supervisory subsidized housing, zero hamstrung owners, ZERO WAIT LISTS. Zero supply constraints!
How do we get market rate housing for all markets? Step One: End the shortage. If we need 100,000 units, we have a lot of work ahead of us. If you’re involved in opposing a new housing project, stop, just stop.
Our need for housing at all price levels far outstrips our supply at any level. Are you preoccupied with whether the new units “match” the rest of the neighborhood? Matching is for your belt and your shoes. Housing supply is a serious problem. If you’re sentimental about the past, swallow your tears.
Sonja Trauss is the founder of SF Bay Area Renter’s Federation.Her views are her own and not an official position of SFBARF.
In November 2012, the Libertarian Party of San Francisco encouraged voters to vote “NO” on Proposition C, The Housing Trust Fund. Our statement on the Voters’ Pamphlet expressed our concerns:
“Proposition C would commit San Francisco to increasing payouts through 2042 and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars that won't be available for other priorities like schools, parks, infrastructure, or health care, plus an open-ended authority to issue bonds without voter approval!”
Proposition C passed by 65.15%. However, two years later in 2014, Mayor Ed Lee issued the “Findings and Recommendations by the Housing Work Group 2014,” which stated,
“When San Franciscans adopted the Housing Trust Fund two years ago, they put in place the most aggressive local funding stream for affordable housing in California. But given the steady decline of federal and state funding for affordable housing, the loss of Redevelopment, and the increasing cost of producing affordable housing, it became clear to Working Group members that our existing funding streams are still not enough.”
So, we are telling you once again, it will never be “enough,” because market forces simply cannot be legislated away. All that will happen is San Francisco piling up debt that will encumber our children and grandchildren for decades to come. This in addition to squeezing all that is possible from residents and businesses doing business in the City. Noted in the Working Group recommendations is the following,
“The Capital Planning and Budget Offices should examine the potential for General Obligation bonds for affordable housing development and rehabilitation over the next several years…The City should examine how best to use tax increment financing to provide affordable housing to a range of income levels, using tools such as the Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District recently enabled by the state…” “To leverage limited public dollars for housing, the City should pursue the development of an off balance-sheet Housing Affordability Fund…”
Wall Street high jinks pale in comparison to these plans, and as we noted in 2012, voter approval is not necessary.
A few statistics can clarify our point that there will never be enough. Median household income 2009 – 2013 is $75,604. Of those in the bottom half, 13.5% are below the poverty line. Average rent for a two bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $3,800. We ask, as we did in 2012, what distortion and damage are needed to keep pursuing the notion of “housing for all” in the most expensive city in the nation.