Seven Choice Bits From Sup. Aaron Peskin's Talk at the Tenderloin Museum

Newly elected Supervisor Aaron Peskin presented at the Tenderloin Museum's monthly guest speaker series last week. While not as heavily attended as Sup. Jane Kim's talk in April, the atmosphere was a bit less heated, as no one rose to confront Peskin on any of his policies or actions in office. Additionally, it was a wonkier discussion, with Tenderloin Museum director Randy Shaw providing the lion's share of the skepticism (although in a collegial fashion).

Peskin also conspicuously thanked the City Hall employees whom he recognized as taking their lunch hours to hear the talk. Here are the seven choicest tidbits from his 50-minute presentation.

[jump] Peskin snuck into the Tenderloin with a friend at age 8.
Growing up in Berkeley, Peskin's first experience of the Tenderloin was when he and his childhood best friend rode the newly constructed BART to eat at Zim's, a chain of 24-hour burger joints that closed more than 20 years ago.

Peskin and Kim consider themselves joint representatives of “District 36” or “District 63.”
Noting that District 3 — Chinatown, North Beach, and Telegraph Hill, which he represented — and District 6 — which covers SoMa and the Tenderloin — are the two densest in the city, Peskin said they've “experienced an extraordinary amount of change in the last half-dozen years.” Referring to Kim's predecessor, Sup. Chris Daly, Peskin said that the issues facing the combined “District 36” were much the same as they were when he initially took office in 2000: evictions, affordable housing, and pedestrian safety. 

The neighborhood has lost more housing than people may realize.
Observing that “SFOs are one piece of a complicated puzzle,” he stated that the area around the recently reopened SFMOMA was once home to 5,000 single-room occupancy units, nearly all of which were removed in the 1970s and 1980s for Yerba Buena and other redevelopment projects, and never replaced. He compared the actions of then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein to today's speculators who operate with “impunity,” and claimed that had various ballot propositions not forbidden the Board of Supervisors from tinkering with the percentages of affordable housing units developers had to produce, the city would have added “hundreds of thousands of moderate-income units” over the intervening decades.

He sees “accessory dwellings” like in-law apartments as one way to get housing into the pipeline.
When it comes time to add housing with “destructive development,” Peskin believes that adding in-law units might provide upwards of 30,000 additional dwellings with little to no displacement of existing tenants. (Coincidentally or not, that figure represents Mayor Ed Lee's stated goal of new, affordable housing by 2020.)

He wants to make the notion of “density equity” more prevalent.
Just as Jane Kim had proposed putting one Homeless Navigation Center in each of the city's 11 supervisor districts, Peskin wants the less-dense regions of San Francisco (read: the West Side) to absorb their fair share of new housing. Although he recognizes that this proposal is likely dead in the water — to which Shaw heartily agreed — he's going to keep trying.

He refers to the Ellis Act as a “neutron bomb” of displacement.
Pretty dynamic language, that.

He's skeptical of Airbnb's motives.
With his reputation as a crusader against short-term rentals and their effects at distorting a housing market that resembles the international modern-art market more than any kind of rational supply-and-demand dynamic, Peskin observed that the $250,000 Airbnb recently dropped into Democratic politics is clearly intended to influence the the troika of races where voters will replaced termed-out progressives Eric Mar, David Campos, and John Avalos. Claiming that enforcement of the existing Airbnb law — drafted by his predecessor, David Chiu — would create “10 percent of the mayor's goal of 30,000 new units by 2020,” he admitted that there is disagreement over how many units that other scofflaw, Academy of Art University, has effectively taken off the market.

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