The GrowSF Report: SF will miss state housing deadline
PLUS: Before and after APEC: Photos of street conditions
What You Need To Know
Here’s what happened around the city for the week of November 20, 2023:
- SF will miss state housing deadline
- Before and after APEC: Photos of street conditions
- A new generation of Bay Area innovators is about to soar
- New towers coming to SOMA, bringing 1,100 homes
- Safaí fails to strip MTA of power to set fares
Recent & upcoming openings:
- Trad’r Sam is back!
- The Third Floor from the creators of Dumpling Time
SF will miss state housing deadline
As we reported in October, California is no longer playing around with housing laws. Back on October 25, the State informed San Francisco that if it did not pass 28 reforms to our housing process, the state will revoke our local control and simply step in to let builders bypass our gridlocked permitting system.
Well, the first deadline is Monday, and the Supervisors will miss the deadline, according to J.K. Dineen at The Chronicle. Supervisor Melgar, who is tasked with implementing the various housing reforms, did not manage to schedule a vote before the deadline, but a vote may happen the day after San Francisco fails. Melgar has not shown an inspiring ability to pass the legally mandated reforms, and the city stands to lose not just control over housing, but tens to hundreds of millions of State dollars for transit and city infrastructure.
What happens after the State issues its final warning to San Francisco on Monday is up to the Board of Supervisors. If they get their act together and actually start enacting the legally required changes, the city can get back on track. If not, then in about 30 days San Francisco will fall into a “builder’s remedy” environment where any housing proposal that meets minimum requirements will be approved by the State, regardless of what San Francisco thinks.
Some day the Supervisors may learn how to govern and implement responsible change. But today is not that day.
Before and after APEC: Photos of street conditions
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit came to San Francisco, and it gave us all a brief glimpse into what the city can look like when we focus on fixing it.
The before and after photos in The Standard show remarkable improvement. The roughest parts of the city, from Civic Center Plaza, to the Federal Building, to most corners in the TL were all transformed. Tents, stolen goods markets, drug markets, and human waste were all cleaned up for visiting dignitaries and reminded us of what our city should be. The natural question to ask is: why doesn’t the city do this all the time?
The answer is frustrating: our local laws prevent the city from keeping it clean. But the Federal government isn’t constrained by the Board of Supervisors; they can actually mobilize resources, clear encampments, and keep fentanyl dealers away. However, these changes didn’t actually solve the underlying problems. The feds didn’t build the 8,000 shelter beds our city lacks, didn’t bust up drug dealing or theft rings, and didn’t dedicate long-term staff for street cleaning. And just a week after APEC left town, we’re seeing parts of the city go backwards again.
We’re still on our own when it comes to permanent solutions, and GrowSF will keep working toward making San Francisco clean and safe every day.
A new generation of Bay Area innovators is about to soar
“It’s time to invest in San Francisco,” writes Bob Fisher in Fortune. Fisher, whose family founded The Gap, frames San Francisco as the birthplace of creativity. San Francisco is a “lightning in a bottle” where we dream up “never-been-done ideas that go on to shape the rest of America.”
We are poised for success, yet again. More than 50% of the top AI companies in the United States are in San Francisco, the city is doubling down on revitalizing downtown through public-private partnerships, and there is talk about a new art school to join the list of world-class schools based in the Bay Area. And that is something that Doris and Donald Fisher, who started their store on Ocean Avenue, would be proud of.
New towers coming to SOMA, bringing 1,100 homes
Two exciting new towers are poised to be built in SOMA, according to George Kelly in The Standard. In total, the residential towers would replace three small buildings and seven parking lots with 1,105 homes.
But part of the excitement for this new building is that it may get to take advantage of the State taking over permitting. Due to the city failing its state-mandated permitting changes, as we covered in the first piece today, the builders might get their permits in just a few months instead of spending five years fighting the city and doing design-by-committee.
Safaí fails to strip MTA of power to set fares
This is a bit of an odd one. Supervisor Safaí attempted to strip away the power to set parking meter prices and Muni fares from the MTA and hand it over to the Mayor.
On the surface, this just looks like an attempt to bring more accountability to the MTA. But we think the truth is that Safaí (who is running for mayor) tried to tie an albatross around Mayor Breed’s neck as she approaches the November election. The hope may have been to catch her in a no-win scenario as the person responsible for rising prices or the one responsible for declining transit service.
But apparently after some back-room dealmaking alongside potential fellow Mayoral hopeful Aaron Peskin, Safaí dropped the proposal and got the MTA to give up on their plan to raise parking meter rates.
Robin Pam, the founder of KidSafe SF, told The Examiner “It’s extremely ironic that Supervisor Safaí wanted to bring more accountability into how the agency deals with raising revenue and ended up cutting a backroom deal for what he wanted in the first place.”
We think it’s less irony and more cynical politicking, but the point stands!
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Recent & upcoming openings
A great city is constantly changing and growing, let’s celebrate what’s new!
Trad’r Sam is back!
WHERE: Geary & 26th
The oldest Tiki bar in America has reopened their doors after a renovation that started last September. Regulars were worried that the potent but affordable drinks may never come back, but worry no more! Go grab a Pisco Punch and make a new friend.
The Third Floor from the creators of Dumpling Time
WHERE: Inside the Jay hotel at Clay & Battery
If you’re a lover of Dumpling Time like we are, you’re in for a treat. The creators have just launched a new project in the Jay hotel call The Third Floor. It serves breakfast and an all-day menu of American and Asian dishes like Coconot Pork Belly and Liberty Farm Duck Soup with handmade egg noodles.
The Spirit of San Francisco
There’s a lot to love about our city and the Bay Area. Here’s what makes it great. Brought to you by The Bold Italic.
What we’re doing this week
The Lion King Broadway tour
Giraffes strut. Birds swoop. Gazelles leap. The entire Serengeti comes to life as never before. And as the music soars, Pride Rock slowly emerges from the mist. Disney’s The Lion King makes its triumphant return to the Orpheum Theatre. The show runs through the end of December.
WHERE: Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102
WHEN: Now through December 30th, 2023
Ice Skating in Union Square
The ice rink at Union Square is pretty cramped and full of little ones to avoid on your way toward falling on your butt. All that said, there’s little more charming this time of year in San Francisco.
WHERE: In the heart of Union Square near the corner of Geary and Powell streets. 333 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
WHEN: Now through January 15, 2023
What we’re writing about
What to do in San Francisco for the holidays
The Bay Area might not get a blanket of snow during the holiday season, but it does offer a few other ways for you to bring in the cheer. There are plenty of activities that will make a San Franciscan embrace the holiday spirit that don’t involve sledding, building snowmen, snuggling by a fireplace, or visiting our far-flung homes where all of those activities might be more possible. Stay fresh, Minneapolis.
A deep dive into the menu at San Francisco’s hottest new restaurant
Chotto Matte is a rooftop restaurant with a wraparound outdoor terrace and massive indoor space running from plant-lined bar and DJ lounge to massive dining room, so it could easily be dubbed “sceney.” It’s the kind of place you’d find more in LA or Miami than quality-before-scene SF. The Bold Italic visited recently for a quick tour and menu sampling. Now we’re back for a deeper dive.
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