April 30 David Chiu/Aaron Peskin Forum at SF Community College

By Bill Hannan, GGTA President

On April 30, 2016 our state assemblyman David Chiu and our city supervisor Aaron Peskin held a public forum at San Francisco Community College at Kearny & Washington Streets.

David is chairman of the state assembly Housing Committee, and discussed several bills being considered in the legislature, including his proposed $1.3B housing bill, and 5 other bills including use of MediCal funds for supportive housing to reduce the need for emergency room medical services to homeless people.  He also sponsors a bill to close loopholes in existing laws regulating assault weapons.

In response to questions, David and Aaron each stated support for Proposition C on the June ballot in San Francisco to fund more affordable housing.  Aaron criticized Academy of Art University (“Academy of Real Estate”) for converting existing housing to dormitories.  Aaron lamented attrition of SROs, and abuse of AirB&B to create illegal hotels.  David mentioned that city regulations on AirB&B have been slowly progressing, but are now coming into effect.

Asked about affordable housing for middle-income earners such as teachers and firefighters, both said the traditional focus has been on low-income housing and that shortage of middle-income housing has been increasing.  Aaron stated that Proposition C includes 10% for middle-income and moderate-income residents.

BCNA’s Diana Taylor asked about neighborhood retail being squeezed out by offices.  David and Aaron replied that state law prohibits commercial rent control.  Aaron discussed the new SF legacy business program, which is now beginning.

BCNA’s Bob Harrer asked about sources of state funding for new programs.  David replied that his $1.3B housing bill would be a one-time expense paid out of a $4B state surplus, but that Governor Brown “is not there yet”.  Other possibilities are a “cap & trade” approach such as having polluters pay for cleanup costs, and also building new housing near existing transit corridors, or a $75 state fee for each real estate transaction.  David lamented cuts by former governor Schwarzenegger to state highway and transit funding.

Asked about school funding, in which California ranks near the bottom nationally, David recalled that Proposition 13 froze property taxes that supported public education, but said recent state programs are beginning to increase education funding, and Aaron said San Francisco has recently increased its local public school funding.

Gateway resident and FOGG head Lee Radner asked about the State Lands Commission suit against the City over Proposition B’s restrictions on waterfront height limits.  Both David and Aaron expressed support for Proposition B. Aaron said the case is scheduled for trial in October, 2016, and the City Attorney says he remains confident of his position.