Look out, yo, this is the League's tumblr! Our members post random things we're pissed off (or excited) about here.
Posts that have been formally approved by the Frisco League's steering committee say "OFFICIAL LEAGUE-APPROVED POST."
You can also find the latest from us on twitter or facebook.
Here's our page on the national League of Young Voters' site:
And when it's election season you can find the League's Voter Guide here: http://theballot.org/sf
Been meaning to come out to a League event? Want to get in on the ground floor for the June Election? Join us this Saturday for the Endorsement Meeting!
We’ll be discussing the different candidates and propositions for this election, then voting on the League’s official position. If you’ve donated (which you can do on the spot) and volunteered in the last year, you can vote for your favorites…but even if you can’t, this is a fun opportunity to learn about the big races and get ready for the election.
Plus, we’ll be hanging out at Thee Parkside, which has delicious food and free-flowing spirits, so it’s not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon :)
Saturday, April 19th, 2014, 1pm - 4pm
Thee Parkside, 1600 17th St
In the back patio (kids are allowed!)
See you there!
The grand staircase in San Francisco City Hall’s Rotunda is one of the City’s most dramatic locations. Harvey Milk was a big fan of the stairs. In the movie Milk, Harvey tells Cleve Jones: "When you come here, I want you to wear the tightest jeans possible. Never blend in. And no elevators. Ever. Always take the stairs, you can make such a grand entrance going up the stairs".
The stairs have also seen some darker scenes. May 13, 1960 is known as “Black Friday.” Students protesting a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Un-American Activities were washed down the stairs by police with fire hoses!
The stairway and rotunda will always be linked to the struggle for marriage equality, and since that victory, they’ve been the scene for countless gay marriages.
Here’s a picture from this year when immigration and domestic violence activists celebrated the passage of John Avalos’s Due Process for All ordinance.
And here’s a selfie of some League members taken after we got the updated results of the 2013 election.
And then … last night, Twitter rented out City Hall for their holiday party. Here’s the scene with their CEO giving a speech and (presumably) all of their big shots at the top of the stairs.
I mean, it’s not like there is any perception that the mayor is in Twitter’s pocket, right? Also, this is pretty pic.twitter.com/B1t63pWDr9— màt (@mat)
— Claire Pasquier (@artiste)
Now we know that anyone can rent out City Hall and lots of people have lavish parties there. But in the wake of the Twitter tax break and the way the Mayor genuflects before the tech industry, it’s a little disconcerting to see the lavish spread and twitter logo projected on the wall batsignal-style.
The Bite-Sized Ballot
Candidates without Competition :(
Prop A - Complicated (and pointless?) health care finance rule changes
In 2008, voters approved the creation of a Retiree Health Care Trust Fund to put money aside for retired City workers’ health care. Prop A would add restrictions on when the City could dip into that before it’s fully funded. The idea is to leave that money alone so it can gather interest and become self-sustaining. All of the Supervisors & the Mayor agree on this—but here’s the thing. They could just decide not to touch the money, rather than passing this extra law. Prop A also has confusing provisions that would allow the City to use the fund if two-thirds of the Supes, the Mayor, Controller, and Trust Fund Board all agree. So what’s the point of this thing? We don’t think Prop A is evil or scary, but we couldn’t come to a consensus on it. Some of us trust the City bean counters who endorse it. Some of us suspect that Supe Mark Farrell—the lead sponsor—is just using this to pad his resume for future political adventures. No endorsement - you make the call.
Props B & C - We Don’t Need More $5 Million Condos!
Both B and C deal with the proposal to build 134 luxury condos at 8 Washington Street, just north of the Ferry Building. Average tag? $5 million!! The towers would be twelve stories high, even though the area’s only zoned for eight stories. The project also includes a 320-space garage…even though it’s surrounded by public transit. The Board of Supervisors approved this whack project, but neighborhood activists gathered signatures for Prop C, to shoot it down. Then the developers put Prop B on the ballot to try to make their lame condos sound awesome. We need housing for normal people, not millionaires. Say Hell No to both B and C, cause if either one passes, developers will make bank building condos for the 1%.
Prop D - Prescription drug policy statement
This is a symbolic policy statement (ie, it doesn’t actually do anything). It asks the City to try and lower its prescription drug costs by negotiating with drug companies and by asking state & federal reps to sponsor legislation to reduce drug prices. It’s an ok idea, but SF doesn’t buy enough drugs to negotiate wholesale prices. Maybe California could? Ideally, we wish drug prices were regulated on a federal level. This prop was put on the ballot by an LA org that marched into SF without buy-in from the SF AIDS advocacy groups who’ve been fighting this fight at home for decades. It’s not terrible, it just tries to tackle very complicated procedures with a broad statement and without the support of local orgs. We say no.
All of the candidates running for office this year are unopposed incumbents (technically Katy Tang has an opponent, but he has no website, campaign, or platform). This is lame! We think it’s a sign of unhealthy democracy that we don’t even have a choice. So why isn’t anyone running? well, it’s insanely expensive…and challengers have a massive electoral disadvantage running against incumbents. The citywide races (non-Supervisor and non-Mayor) have no term limits and no public financing, so we’re stuck with these career politicians till they decide to bow out. Even if they’re ok at their jobs, that’s problematic.
Speaking of unhealthy democracy, we’ve noticed a troubling trend: the Mayor appoints politicians to elected offices, who then win the next election primarily because of the advantage of incumbency. In fact, wait…that’s how we got this Mayor! So how do we fix this? We think all appointees should be ‘seatwarmers’ - legally prohibited from running when their position opens up.
Since we don’t have a choice for these races, we’re not endorsing candidates. Instead we’re focusing on what we want to see. If we were in these offices, here’s what we’d do:
Assessor-Recorder: (Incumbent: Carmen Chu) They’re responsible for assessing property taxes. And most of that comes from big skyscrapers downtown. The Assessor should be all up in the business of the corporations that own those buildings, because every time a building changes hands, they owe Real Estate Transfer Tax. Instead, the (appointed) incumbent is buddy-buddy with the Building Owners and Managers Association. That sucks.
City Attorney: (Incumbent: Dennis Herrera) A progressive City Attorney would have more guts to stand up to the fat cat companies (like PG&E, AT&T and big banks) who get way too many breaks in this town. The incumbent has done good things like support gay marriage (but does that give you street cred in SF?), protect workers who were getting ripped off on health coverage, try to save City College, and go after Nevada for patient dumping. On the other hand, we’re hugely opposed to his use of gang injunctions, which disproportionately criminalize youth of color.
Treasurer-Tax Collector: (Incumbent: José Cisneros) Instead of putting the City’s money in crappy big banks, the Treasurer should be setting up a municipal bank (North Dakota has one! Supervisor John Avalos is working to make this happen in SF). The incumbent has done some good stuff (work against predatory payday lenders, enact financial literacy initiatives, even ask banks to improve their policies) but he doesn’t seem ready to take the big step of setting up our own bank to compete with the corporate goliaths.
Supervisor for District 4 (The Sunset): (Incumbent: Katy Tang) Before she was recently appointed by the Mayor, Tang was an aide for the previous D4 Supe, Carmen Chu — who was just appointed Assessor. Before that they worked together in the Mayor’s budget office. We had hopes that Tang would be different than her conservative predecessor, but so far, no such luck. She opposes CleanPowerSF and she worked to weaken the Due Process for All ordinance, using fear-mongering language about SF becoming a “safe haven” for criminal immigrants. She’s also raised over $150,000—including a pile of money from developers & people with business with the city. What does she need all that cash for when she’s essentially running unopposed? We say “No Endorsement”.
UPDATE: Mike Murphy is a qualified write-in candidate for District 4 Supervisor. He’s running on a progressive platform focused on “stopping the revolving door” of unelected appointees in City Hall, opposing the privatization of our parks, and supporting sustainable development instead of condos for billionaires. He got into the race too late for our endorsement process, but if you live in the Sunset, check him out at murphy4supe.wordpress.com and decide for yourself if you want to write in his name on your ballot.
Our City is Changing
Housing in San Francisco is out of control. Ellis Act evictions are up 81% in the past year. No one we know can afford to buy a home here (most of us can barely afford rent). Tech wealth, displacement, the shriveling of cultural diversity in our neighborhoods - even issues like the America’s Cup boondoggle or the sword hanging over City College. It all seems to be part of a trend. Well, fuck. What can we do about it?
If you live in a rent controlled unit, your landlord can only increase your rent once a year . The percentage varies depending on your move in date, but typically the increase is less than 3%. State law (Costa-Hawkins) limits rent controlled buildings to anything built before 1980. Costa-Hawkins also prevents commercial properties from being covered by rent control, which means there is no way to prevent businesses from being evicted.
If we have rent control, why are so many people getting evicted?
Not all units are covered by rent control. Units that aren’t covered (buildings constructed after 1980, dorms, residential hotels, subsidized housing) can have their rent raised by any amount at any time. The Ellis Act gives landlords the option to “go out of business.” This means they can evict all of the tenants in a building (they can’t single out just one), and take the units off the market. They can not rent them for 5 years after evictions, unless they are rented at the previous rental rate.
Increase the Affordable Housing Requirements - Currently, when developers build new market rate housing, they have to make 10% of the units affordable, or build the equivalent of 15% somewhere else in the City. That’s just not enough—especially for super-luxury projects like 8 Washington. The affordability requirement should have a progressive structure—the higher the price of the new housing, the more affordable units they should have to build. Remember, supervisors have power to change the planning code to add development perks (if they want to get more of something like parking or height, require they build more affordable units, or build units on site).
Linking Affordable & Market-Rate Housing - Right now, the affordable housing requirement is regressive: whether you’re building $10 million penthouses or modest Bayview duplexes, you have to make 10% of them affordable. That’s stupid, because the different projects have very different impacts on affordability.
The fancier a new building is, the more jobs appear to provide services to the new residents. But since those service industry jobs don’t pay enough to afford market rate housing, we need more affordable housing to keep the balance - and the developers should foot the bill.
Protect our Flavor - Rising rents push out non-profits and arts orgs. We need creative solutions to save the spirit of the City: new office buildings could be required to donate space to non-profits, or we could extend rent control to nonprofits.
Moratorium on New Market Rate Housing - The nuclear option. A lot of people argue that we have to live with this issue because of “supply and demand”. But because SF is so small and there’s so much demand, it’s not that simple. Yes, we need to build a lot more housing ‘to increase supply’, but if 90% of it is market rate, how many units do we have to build before rents come down? 10,000 units? 50k? 100k?
Legalize in-law units. Most ‘in-law’ units are attached to single family properties, and are unauthorized. The Asian Law Caucus estimates there are tens of thousands of these units, which are a significant source of low income housing. Each year 50-100 units are lost because they are not compliant. Why not bring the units up to code and convert them to legal housing? Then let homeowners create more in-law units to add to the mix!
Get creative. Luxury high-rises aren’t the only way to build more units. What about unused commercial spaces? Parking lots? This would create housing without displacing residents or businesses.
Adjust parking limits: Developers try to include as many parking spots as possible but ⅓ of homes in SF do not own cars. Parking takes up space that could be used for more units - plus it creates more traffic, impacts transit, and changes the demographics of the city.
Prioritize the people who already live here: The City could invest in loans and grants to help everyday San Franciscans stay in their homes or become homeowners. LA has city-funded short term rental assistance! It costs less than finding replacement housing once the renter is evicted, or than providing the services needed when people are homeless.
We also need stabilization of existing housing. If there is a bad history of Ellis evictions or TIC conversions by a particular landlord or developer, we could make it more difficult to merge units, demolish, or convert properties.
Real estate speculators who buy a property but let current residents stay could get a tax break. And what about roommate legislation? That way, if the tenant who’s on the lease moves out but their roommates stay, the unit would still be considered occupied and rent increases would not apply.
Adjust Relocation Fees
Tim Redmond, formerly of the Guardian, suggested a strategy on his new blog. The Ellis Act is state law, so it’s hard to fight, but the SF BoS controls the size of the relocation fees developers pay to evicted tenants when they use the Ellis Act within the City. Why not drastically up the fee so it provides tenants a realistic chance of buying a home here, and simultaneously squashes the landlord’s financial reward for turfing out our neighbors?
Eat the rich - SF is an incredibly desirable place to live and do business, and it’s the diverse neighborhoods, immigrants, artists, do-gooders, and dreamers who make it that way - not the millionaires. If corporations and rich people want a slice of our awesome, they should pay their fair share; progressive taxes & fees can fund housing and services to keep the city affordable.
Get Involved - This city is still 70% tenants. If we stick together and have each other’s backs we have a ton of power. Landlords and developers can only get away with quietly evicting our neighbors for so long. Politicians running for office in a city full of renters need to be reminded that they cannot be elected (or reelected) without the support of renters. You can help - check out these organizations working against displacement and economic injustice in the City:
Direct Action for the 99%
These folks are all doing badass work in SF. If you like us, you’ll love them.
Who is the League of Pissed Off Voters?
We’re a bunch of political geeks in a torrid but troubled love affair with San Francisco. We’re blessed to live in America’s most progressive city, but we’re cursed to live in a city where most of the youth who grow up here can’t afford to live here. Frisco has its own dark history of injustice: redevelopment, environmental racism, the “old boys” network. All of us lucky enough to enjoy the San Francisco magic owe it to our City to fight to keep it diverse, just, and healthy. What are you doing to make a difference?
This voter guide (our 16th in SF!) is how we educate our friends and peers on the issues, excite pissed off progressive voters, and remind sellout politicians that we’re paying attention.
Know Your Voting Rights
October 21, 2013 is the deadline to register to vote. Online Voter registration is finally here! Register to vote online: http://RegisterToVote.ca.gov
Election day is November 5th, 7am - 8pm. Call 311 to find your polling place or go towww.smartvoter.org Also, anyone can vote at City Hall.
Early voting at City Hall: Weekdays from 8-5 starting on October 7th; then, starting the 26th, 10-4 on weekends too!
As long as you’re not on felony parole, you can vote. Even if you’ve committed a felony or you’re on probation, you can register & vote. Don’t let the Man disenfranchise you.
Voter Fraud Hotline: See something shady on Election Day? (800) 345-VOTE
Questions? See http://sfelections.org/tools/voterkit/ or call 311!
Hang Out with the League!
Want to get involved, got a question about this stuff, or just wanna have a drink with us? Come to our monthly Happy Hour (Third Mondays) & come party on Election Night! Stay up to date on all our events and local news at:
There’s a nasty fight going on at City Hall where tenants and working-class homeowners are being pitted against each other. It’s a complex, wonky issue about allowing Tenancies in Common (TICs) to convert to condominiums, but it has huge ramifications for renters in the City.
There are three sides to this issue: renters, TIC owners AND the real-estate industry. It is apparent that something needs to be done to create more affordable housing in San Francisco, but while this legislation promises us some, it also means losing 2600 properties to condo conversions – and it’s a signal to the real estate industry that it’s open season on evicting more tenants to create more TICs. That’s not the right way to create new affordable housing.
For some background on this legislation, and on the League, see the end of this letter. Here, we’ll lay out the League’s position.
The cliff notes version:
The proposed compromise on TIC-condo conversions makes us nervous. We’d be more comfortable with voting this whole legislation down and keeping the current system. But we’re standing by our allies in the tenant groups who have lived and breathed this issue for years. We support the current compromise, but it can’t be watered down any further.
Why is this so important for renters?
State law basically says that once something is exempt from rent control, it is forever. The City exempts condos from rent control - so once it’s converted, that unit can never be regulated again. Right now, there are hundreds of tenants who are renting units in TIC buildings. This legislation would put them at risk of losing their rent control.
The original legislation was, frankly, pretty scary - but it might contain some benefits for tenants, in the form of proposed amendments that came out of months of negotiations. There are two big wins for tenants in the amendments submitted by Supervisors Chiu, Yee and Kim – the 10 year moratorium on the lottery and the exclusion of 5 and 6 unit buildings from the condo lottery going forward. This 10 years of breathing room, we are told, will give pro-tenant organizations time to tackle some state laws like the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act and the Ellis Act. But not everyone is supporting this “win” for tenants, and we fear there are more changes on the way once this reaches the full Board of Supervisors. The expected efforts to change this legislation include taking away the language about the 10 year moratorium and eliminating the owner residence requirements.
So what’s the League all pissed about?
We don’t like legislation that moves the goal posts. TIC owners bought their TICs knowing the rules of the lottery. Changing the rules now – even with the 10 year moratorium – signals to the real estate industry that they might be able to change the rules again. We want to see the lottery go away altogether and stop TICs from being converted into condos.
In an ideal world, we would have added more amendments: We think the $4,000 to $20,000 fee for TICs to convert is too small. Ideally, the fee should cover the cost of building a replacement unit. Or at least, there shouldn’t be discounts below $20,000. We want to have an oversight agency to see the conversions through so that no “dirty” properties are able to convert. We also want to make sure that the lifetime leases can be enforced on a local and state level.
So we’re down to make this deal, but don’t fuck with us. No more giveaways to the real estate industry. It may not be a pro-tenant Board of Supervisors anymore, but it’s still a pro-tenant City. And if the Board gives in to the realtors, San Francisco renters will take this shit to the ballot.
What’s this all about anyway?
A Tenancy in Common (TIC) is basically a pseudo-condo where the residents in a building share joint ownership. They’re riskier than condos because if your neighbor defaults on his mortgage, it could mess you up too. Because they’re riskier, they’re cheaper than condos, which means that a lot of people who can’t afford condos roll the dice and buy TICs instead. Because their riskier, TIC owners pay higher interest rates than condo owners. Every year there’s a lottery to allow 200 TICs to convert to condos. When a TIC becomes a condo, the owners pay about $10,000 in fees, but they can get lower interest rates, and their home becomes instantly more valuable.
The good thing about TICs is they allow additional folks a chance to buy a home in the City. The down side, is that they’re usually created by landlords evicting or somehow displacing tenants and permanently removing rent-controlled apartments from the market. The TIC lottery is supposed to balance these competing interests. The reason we can’t allow all of the TICs to convert to condos is because that would create tremendous pressure for landlords to evict their tenants and convert their buildings into TICs.
Back in June of last year, Supervisors Mark Farrell and Scott Weiner introduced legislation so that TIC owners could bypass the lottery (where only 200 TICs are converted per year) and pay a one time conversion fee to convert their TICs into condos. The legislation was brought before the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee in January, and that’s really when the shit hit the fan. In the past few months, there have been negotiations on all sides to try to find some compromise.
Who is the League of Pissed Off Voters?
We’re a bunch of political geeks in a torrid but troubled love affair with San Francisco. We’re blessed to live in America’s most progressive city, but we’re cursed to live in a city where way too many of the youth who grow up here won’t be able to afford to live here. Frisco has its own dark history of injustice: redevelopment, environmental racism, the “old boys” network. All of us lucky enough to enjoy the San Francisco magic owe it to our City to fight to keep it a diverse, just, and healthy City. We’ve published 15 consecutive voter guides to educate our friends and peers on the issues, excite pissed off progressive voters, and remind sellout politicians that we’re paying attention.
The San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters
So, what happened? How’d we do? What’s the results?
Here’s one of our members perspectives:
Waking up (a little groggy after the awesome party at El Rio last night), here’s what I see:
First, let’s not breeze by the biggest victory this election — two leaders in the progressive movement, Supervisor David Campos (9) and Supervisor John Avalos (11) have built such a strong community of supporters and are so well-liked and clearly unbeatable that the downtown money didn’t even run a candidate against them. That, in itself, is a huge victory and it’s important we acknowledge that. Much of the rest of this couldn’t have happened if we volunteer energy was needed in these other neighborhoods.
Second, President David Chiu, while he’s occasionally voted against our stance, has been a pretty consistent leader and vote for many of the things we believe in. And, he, too, faced no serious challengers from the Downtown landlords.
Now, onto the victory — $940,000 and counting was spent for David Lee(or against Eric Mar). That’s more than any other Supervisor race in SF history — and keep in mind, Supervisors used to be city-wide, so they needed a heck of a lot more money! But, thanks to the early, silent victory of Campos and Avalos running unopposed, people were able to focus their energy in this hugely important race. The Mar campaign was run well and, I think Supervisor Mar said it best to the SF Weekly: “We’re going to show the big business groups that they cannot mess with our communities, and that we will kick their ass every single fucking time.”
In District 1, we pulled out a huge victory — Richmond residents were being drowned in anti-Mar literature from the big landlords and moneyed interests, and, yet, with the League of Pissed Off Voters and hundreds of other volunteers, Eric Mar won. This decisive victory —14 points — sends a clear message that you can’t just buy an election in San Francisco. And we should all be damn proud of that.
And, let’s not forget District 7 — the Westside — who knows how that will go. We’ll have to wait and see, but right now, whether it’s Mr. Yee or Mr. Crowley, it’s not Sean Elsbernd’s hand-picked crony, Mike Garcia. That, too, is a win for San Francisco’s young people, renters, and MUNI riders.
Finally, the shit storm that was District 5… Christina Olague’s campaign just didn’t come together until about three weeks before election day. Simply, you can’t win an election in that short of time. Julian Davis had seemed hopeful, but after the response to allegations, most people were so turned off, he was dead in the water. John Rizzo actually started to pick up steam in the last two weeks, as well — but that just doesn’t work. So, we’re left with London Breed. The good part, is that she’s spent all election cycle proclaiming she’s for rent control and that we all just had her wrong — let’s hope so. London Breed is a young black woman who grew up in government housing in the Western Addition. She is a true homegrown SF leader, and that is cool! She was put into office by the community she was raised in and by and now we have to hope that her allegiance is to that same community and not the big money elite who gave her the $200,000+ to help her win
And — let’s not forget the local ballot measures. The SF League had a five out of six — that’s pretty huge, too.
So, that’s one person’s opinion — what do you think? What are you excited or heart broken about?
Hey y’all, three things:
1. If you haven’t already, check out our voter guide below and VOTE!
2. Come party with us at El Rio tonight! Free drink with your ballot stub.
3. Please reblog this.
Quick Ballot Rundown:
President - Barack Obama
U.S. Senate - No Endorsement
House of Representatives, District 12 - No Endorsement
House of Representatives, District 14 - Jackie Speier
State Senate District 11 - Mark Leno
State Assembly District 19 - Phil Ting
State Assembly District 17 - Tom Ammiano
Prop 30 - Sales Tax & Progressive Income Tax for Schools - HELL YES!
Prop 31 - Two Year Budget + Sketchy Business - No
Prop 32 - Screw Unions and Protect Corporations - HELL NO!
Prop 33 - Car Insurance Shadiness…Again - No
Prop 34 - Repeal the Death Penalty - HELL YES!
Prop 35 - Troubling Human Trafficking Bill - Reluctant No
Prop 36 - Reform the ‘Three Strikes’ Law - HELL YES!
Prop 37 - Label Genetically Modified Foods - Yes
Prop 38 - Tax the Rich for Schools - HELL YES!
Prop 39 - Close “Multistate” Corporate Tax Loophole - Yes
Prop 40 - Reaffirm the State Redistricting System - Yes
Local Ballot Measures
Prop A - Parcel (a kind of Property) Tax to Save City College - Yes
Prop B - Borrow Money for Park Construction & Repair - Reluctant No
Prop C - Affordable Housing Trust Fund - HELL YES!
Prop D - Consolidate Odd-Year Elections - No Endorsement
Prop E - Reform the City’s Business Tax - HELL YES!
Prop F - Mula to Study Hetch Hetchy Tear Down - No
Prop G - Symbolic Stand Against Corporate Personhood - Yes
Board of Supervisors
District 1 (The Richmond)
District 3 (Downtown)
District 5 (Haight / Western Addition / Panhandle / Inner Sunset)
District 7 (The Westside)
#1 Norman Yee
#2 Francis Xavier Crowley
District 9 (Mission & Bernal)
District 11 (Excelsior / OMI)
BART Director, District 7
Margaret L. Gordon
BART Director, District 9
Board of Education (4 seats)
Sandra Lee Fewer