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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

After 8 Washington

As I think about it, the 8 Washington vote was about three things: Whether the mayor's popularity has any staying power and coat tails; whether the voters are satisfied with the direction of the city; and whether it's time for an entirely new approach to the city's waterfront.

The answer to the first question is clearly No. Ed Lee made it very clear that he wanted this project to move forward, and nobody seemed to care. It still lost by 20 points. That doesn't bode well for his "legacy project" of the Warriors arena. The second is pretty obvious, too -- when even the Chron puts evictions as its lead story, the anger among the populace is pretty serious. And I think the next thing we're going to see is some sort of a campaign to rethink development along the Port and nearby areas -- possibly a vote-approved height limit of some sort. Or maybe, in a more lasting way, an approach that looks at what the Port does with its land and whether we really want to continue allowing private-sector development and the money it brings in to fund Port operations. Maybe we just do a big bond act, clean up the piers we can fix, create a lot of new open space, and let the other piers decay into the Bay.

The larger, overarching issue, of course, is housing. It seemed pretty clear that the voters didn't see $5 million condos as part of the solution to the housing crisis. But the debate still goes on: Can we build enough market-rate housing to bring prices down? Is there any connection between supply and demand in this city?

That's what Urban IDEA and the SF Progressive Media Center (among others) are going to talk about tomorrow (Thursday) night at a special forum at the LGBT Center. It starts at 6 pm, and we're going to hear a wide range of expert panelists discuss the local housing market, whether new construction will bring prices down, and what can actually be done. If you care about housing in the city, you want to be there.

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