Jane Kim is a Time Traveler: 5 Reasons Jane Kim Still Needs To Do Better on Housing
By Armand Domalewski
Thanksgiving break was a nice respite from the unsteadiness of poorly paid adulthood; driving around in a car and sleeping in a bed bought by my parents was a nice way to forget that I had a job that paid too little and an apartment that cost too much. Retreating into a sepia toned version of your childhood is a nice way to push away the anxieties of adulthood, for a bit, but we can’t ignore reality forever.
Break is over; the landlady needs her rent and the boss needs her coffee; it’s time to face facts.
Somehow, despite my deep desire to crawl under the covers and watch yet another episode of Jessica Jones on Netflix (SO GOOD, right?), even I get the need to face the cold reality of San Francisco’s housing crisis.
So why doesn’t Jane Kim?
A few weeks ago, I posted a criticism of Supervisor Kim’s housing record.While I disagree with several elected officials on housing, I nudged Kim to improve her policies because I thought she displayed the two most important characteristics of a persuadable public official: a track record of policy innovation in some areas, and a run for higher office.
Obviously, I was wrong. Instead of ignoring me, taking any of my suggestions to heart, or at least refuting my arguments, she decided to blast me with the hashtag #factsnotattacks, retweet folks impugning my motives, and post this deeply misleading graphic.
Alright, Supervisor. I was hoping for a reasonable, respectful, and rational conversation about your housing policies rather than whatever this is, but I see how it’s going down.
Let’s do this thing.
Here are five reasons why Jane Kim is still wrong on housing:
1. Jane Kim is apparently a time traveler. Kim is claiming credit for housing built in her district between 2005 and 2015. The problem is that she didn’t enter office until 2011! Now, it may very well be the case that her district generated more housing than Scott’s between 2011 and the present, but by listing units created prior to entering office she’s either taking credit for something she has no right to take credit for, or has discovered time travel technology.
I would actually be more upset by the latter — if she has a Back to the Future DeLorean stashed in City Hall, why is she holding out on us? Shouldn’t she have saved Marty McFly or something by now?
2. District by district unit counts don’t make sense. Anyone who knows San Francisco knows that District 6 — SOMA, Treasure Island, and other neighborhoods— is vastly different from District 8 — the Castro, Noe Valley, and other neighborhoods. SOMA is a largely industrial area full of old warehouses, underutilized auto centric businesses, and vast parking lots. The Castro and Noe Valley are far from downtown, contain far fewer economically underutilized sites, and much of their land is already dedicated to housing. (Would I prefer those units be taller? Of course. But Supervisor Kim knows better than I do that demolishing existing housing to build new housing is incredibly hard in this city — for good reason — so any area with lots of parking lots and unused warehouses is going to generate more housing.)
3. Kim’s failing by her own standards. Kim has made her political bones by arguing that it’s the percentage of affordable housing that matters more than the total — prior to negotiating with the Giants for the Mission Rock project, she threatened to introduce a ballot initiative that would lower the total amount of units and up the percentage of affordable ones. And yet according to Kim’s own graphic and her own metric, Scott Wiener is better on housing than she is! Look at the graphic — 24.28% of the units produced in her district were affordable, while 39% of the units produced in Scott’s were!
4. You need to count housing blocked as well as housing produced. If you’re going to take credit for housing you created, you also need to take the knocks for the housing you tried to block. As I pointed out in my last piece, Jane Kim supported the Moratorium in the Mission, opposed the Park Merced project, tried to make the CEQA regulatory process for housing even more drawn out and unpredictable, watered down micro-unit legislation which did or could have cost the city 7,000 units of housing at least. If we’re using Kim’s own tally, that knocks off half her accomplishments!
5. The thing that matters most is the choices you make. If Kim wants to prove she’s better on producing housing than Wiener, she needs to highlight instances where they disagreed—and she voted for more housing. The standard for the more pro-housing Supervisor isn’t whose district produced more housing—it’s whose votes produced more housing.
So in the spirit of the season, I’d like to make a friendly wager. Supervisor Kim, for every vote you can identify where you disagreed with Supervisor Wiener on a housing issue where your stance would’ve produced morehousing, I will volunteer an hour to the charitable cause of your choice. I’ll work on the Tenderloin People’s Garden; I’ll green the streets with GLIDE; hell, I’ll even find a way to help out at one of the famous Pit Stops! (Yes, I’m going to volunteer anyway — it’s the holiday season — but you get to pick how I choose my volunteer efforts.)
And the best part of this offer is that doesn’t only apply to past votes; it applies to future ones as well. I’m less interested in scoring points than building some goddam housing.
You want to be our State Senator, Kim? Find innovative ways to get more housing built. Don’t just try to meet Wiener’s housing ambitions—exceed them.
Break is over; let’s get to work, Supervisor.