Backers see ballot measures, Peskin as referendum on mayor

By Heather Knight : sfchronicle – excerpt

Mayor Lee gave a statement about his efforts to avoid another incident like the one that killed Katheryn Steinle at a press conference at Portsmouth Square Wednesday July 8, 2015. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee spoke about the sanctuary program which allowed Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez to be free on the streets where he allegedly killed Katheryn Steinle recently. Photo: Brant Ward, The Chronicle
Mayor Lee gave a statement about his efforts to avoid another incident like the one that killed Katheryn Steinle at a press conference at Portsmouth Square Wednesday July 8, 2015. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee spoke about the sanctuary program which allowed Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez to be free on the streets where he allegedly killed Katheryn Steinle recently. Photo: Brant Ward, The Chronicle

Well, that was anticlimactic.

Sure, Lee officially has five challengers, but probably the only one you’ve ever heard of is Stuart Schuffman, a.k.a. BrokeAss Stuart, who bills himself on his website as a “Mother— Hustler.” While it could be argued that’s an important credential for a politician, we’re still calling this one for Lee.

But for those of you who aren’t convinced San Francisco has moved in the right direction under Lee — and who aren’t enamored of homes selling for $1 million over the asking price, $4,000 apartments and $18 cocktails — there’s a sliver of hope.

There are several ballot measures, and a crucial supervisorial race in District Three, that when taken together could be viewed as a referendum on Lee’s San Francisco, if not the mayor himself.

So when San Franciscans turn in on election night, they could also have severely curbed Airbnb and other home rental sites, banned the construction of anything but affordable housing in the Mission for 18 months, ensured public lands sold for development include more affordable housing, and created a fund to support longtime small businesses.

Oh, and they could also have sent former Supervisor Aaron Peskin back to City Hall, tipping the balance of power on the 11-member board toward the progressives and giving Lee a whip-smart, biting nemesis to deal with on a daily basis.

“I think people understand that having checks and balances is one of the underpinnings of having a healthy government, and I’m sensing that people feel like those checks and balances are missing,” Peskin said.

The buzz we’re hearing is that Peskin is favored to win against Lee’s appointee, Supervisor Julie Christensen — an outcome the mayor has privately let his supporters know is absolutely not OK…

Although Lee and his campaign staff say his top priority now is dealing with the resulting affordability crisis, not everybody thinks the mayor has acted quickly or decisively.

“Personally, he’s very popular, and he has real support from a broad spectrum of San Franciscans,” said political consultant Jim Ross. “But I think there are a lot of people in San Francisco across the political spectrum who want to have a conversation and want to weigh in on the future of San Francisco.”…

Members of the San Francisco Human Services Network, an association of 80 nonprofits, as well as progressive political operatives have met a couple of times recently to figure out how to join forces and persuade voters to back all four progressive ballot measures as a sort of referendum on the sweeping changes in San Francisco under Lee’s leadership.

Longtime housing activist Calvin Welch, a key backer of the Airbnb ballot measure, said the four measures taken together at least allow the city to have an important debate and that they can serve as “the equivalent of the mayor’s race” in that regard.

“There’s a hunger for people for talking about these issues,” Welch said. “This administration not only buries issues under the rug, it then busies itself to stomp on the lumps.”

The groups will probably collaborate on joint mailers to voters, a unified social media presence and walking the streets to get their message out to voters, Welch said….

Overall, Lee is proud of the San Francisco he has helped create. On the KQED radio show “Forum” a few days ago, he said it was misguided to criticize job creation and a thriving economy.

“Job creation is good for the city. … I support a robust, vibrant economy,” he said. “All the things we’re doing for the city are good in the long term. They’re sustainable.”

In November, we’ll see if voters agree….

Initiatives considered test of Lee

Backers of four ballot measures are hoping to bundle them as a referendum against Mayor Ed Lee. Here’s a look at the measures.

Airbnb: This was done through a signature drive and hasn’t yet officially qualified for the ballot. It would cap all short-term rentals at 75 days a year and require the city to post a notice on each unit to signify it has been approved for short-term rentals.

Mission housing moratorium: Mission housing activists mounted a signature drive to get this on the ballot, though it hasn’t officially qualified yet. It would bar the city for 18 months from issuing permits for construction, demolition or conversion for housing projects with more than five units unless the project was 100 percent affordable housing.

Public lands: This was put on the ballot by supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, Jane Kimand Eric Mar. This would require that any piece of public land sold for development have at least 33 percent of its units dedicated for affordable housing.

Legacy business preservation: This was submitted by the same four progressive supervisors and would create a Legacy Business Historic Preservation Fund. The money would pay for grants to small, long-time businesses and the landlords that house them in hopes of preventing more historic businesses from shutting their doors… (more)