levi's Open Sign

The First Step Is To Admit We Have a Problem?

                                          
John Farrell
John Farrell

If you follow the media than you know that our nation looks at San Francisco as a haven for crime and homelessness. Sure, we are not the only troubled city but it hits home to me since I am a fifth generation San Franciscan. I have seen it go from “the city that knows how” to the “what happened city.”

If you live on the Westside you know how lucky we are. Over the past several years though, we have experienced a dramatic increase in break-ins and we are seeing more and more homeless on our streets, many mentally ill and drug addicted. These issues need to be addressed before they get further out of hand.

 

We count on our elected officials. But it is time people start realizing they are not getting the job done.  We need solutions and not rhetoric. It is easy to finger-point but that is not productive since we are all in this together. So where do we go from here?

First. Let’s admit we have a problem. Our city is in big trouble. And it is not just because of Covid-19 which has devastated our economy. It is because of a continued string of bad policies and decisions by City Hall over the past 10 years that has led to a dramatic drop in our quality of life in our City. Further, entrusted City Hall officials are abusing their power and are finally being indicted.

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the efforts to clean up the Tenderloin are pushing homeless, especially the mentally ill and drug addicted, into other neighborhoods and making the problem worse all over the City.”

We watch as our city continues its slide due to lack of vision and direction. Nothing compares to the extent of the crime, drugs, homelessness and overall filth our visitors, residences and businesses have to deal with every day on our city’s eastside, such as in the Tenderloin. But the efforts to clean up the Tenderloin are pushing homeless, especially the mentally ill and drug addicted, into other neighborhoods and making the problem worse all over the City. People are leaving our city because they are fed up. 

Second. Let’s stop the reactive mode and formulate a game plan for the future that keeps the integrity of San Francisco and our neighborhoods. The City needs an all-inclusive strategy to handle these problems.  Instead of “Defunding the Police” which Mayor Breed cut $120M last year, I say “Defend our Police.” It is not an easy job walking around with a target on your back. I want to thank all law enforcement for their service to our City.   

Since our city has no rules, the homeless can come and go as they please. We need to enforce our quality of life laws while providing services to the people who desperately need it.  So how do we enforce the laws? For those mentally ill and drug addicted, I recommend the Mayor and our Supervisors pass an ordinance that requires a person on the streets who is incoherent and not of sound mind be taken to a treatment center to be evaluated and helped for at least the next 30 days.

So where do we take them? We need treatment centers where doctors, counselors and caseworkers are available along with the treatments that we know work to save lives. The majority of homeless are over 40 years old. As our society ages more and more, people need skilled nursing facilities (SNF). The reduction in SNF beds has provided another crisis in our City. In 1999, voters approved Proposition A to rebuild the 1200 SNF beds and 140 assisted living beds at Laguna Honda Hospital (LHH). In 2008, LHH cut its SNF beds to 780. The City knew there was a shortfall in SNF beds but instead of building more and ensuring LHH rebuilt the 1200 — as approved by the voters — the City reduced SNF’s. This needs to be revisited and more SNF’s need to be made available for our aging society.

Third. The City must stop spending like a drunken sailor. This is the perfect time for the City to do a zero-based budget and start to become accountable. The Board of Supervisors should immediately direct the Budget Analyst Harvey Rose to conduct a zero-based budget as of a specific start time. The last zero-based budget was during the Willie Brown administration.

The current approach to homelessness is not working. Audit non-profit agencies and City contracts to insure that services are being provided and determine if they are even necessary. Cut unnecessary fat to ensure vital City needs are met. We need to prioritize essential services and programs and ensure they have sufficient funding before lower priority programs are funded. Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

Fourth. In real estate it is “location, location, location.” In regard to the City it is “audit, audit, audit.” Audit the revenue practices of our revenue generating City Departments to insure all revenue sources are identified. I guarantee they are not. Have Grand Jury and Harvey Rose audit recommendations been implemented? Based on my own 40 years of experience in private industry and government (of which 12 years were in the Assessor’s Office), a professional, qualified and independent audit means at least $100 million more tax revenue to the City. I have identified over $1 billion in revenues from missed and undervalued assessments, taxes and fees. (See previous articles below)

 

Fifth. Review all our existing City systems to see how tech savvy we can be. We have the top tech minds of the world in our neighborhood so let’s take advantage of this for our City’s benefit.

Sixth and last but not least, let’s stop talking and get it done.

As a public servant, I knew who I worked for. I worked for you — the taxpayers of the City and County of San Francisco. And every decision I made was in the best interest of the City. So I am writing to you as a professional and true public servant who knows the workings of City Hall and knows that business as usual has got to change.

This is the greatest city in the world.  We have great people working in our departments and I ask all to rise to the occasion and give your input, if you haven’t already, on how we can better serve our City. I ask all who live, work and visit our City to respect each other and to respect our City. Respecting each other and each other’s property by keeping our streets, parks and beaches safe and clean starts with each and every one of us. If we can do this, than millions more can be spent on services and programs especially for those in need of assistance in our City.

It’s easy to turn away hoping that things will get better, but they will only get worse, especially for these individuals who need our help and for our residents and taxpayers who rely on our government to address the crime, drug, filth and homeless problems for the health and safety of our City.

Next time you see a policeman, muni driver, fireman, teacher, nurse, or other public servant, thank them. They are the ones in the trenches making this City run day after day. The same goes for our veterans for their service to our country. 

Harry Truman said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.”

If we work together there is nothing we can’t accomplish and along the way make a positive impact in people’s lives.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

JANUARY 2022

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John Farrell
How to stop the San Francisco Exodus
                                          

Our city is in big trouble. And it is not just because of Covid-19 which has devastated our economy. It is because of a continued string of bad policies and decisions by City Hall over the past 10 years that has led to a dramatic drop in our quality of life in the City. City Hall was projecting a deficit even before the pandemic hit.

 

We watch as our city continues its slide due to lack of vision and direction. Nothing compares to the extent of the crime, drugs, homelessness and overall filth our visitors, residences and businesses have to deal with every day on our city’s eastside, such as in the Tenderloin. But the efforts to clean up the Tenderloin are pushing homeless people, especially the mentally ill and drug addicted, into other neighborhoods all over the city and making the problem worse. People are now leaving our city because they are fed up. 

 
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We cannot ignore or arrest our way out of this. People are dying and there is something we can do. It is inhumane to continue allowing this.”

The current approach to homelessness is not working. Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”  People are complaining about our homeless problem on facebook, nextdoor, etc… but nothing gets done to solve the problem.

So what do we do? How do we protect our society at the same time showing compassion to those sick and struggling? That is the big question. We cannot ignore or arrest our way out of this. People are dying and there is something we can do. It is inhumane to continue allowing this.

We need to reevaluate our current programs and formulate a game plan for the future. We do not need to reinvent the wheel. For example, 10 out of 10,000 people in Rhode Island are homeless. Of these, 93.3 percent are sheltered, one of the highest rates in our nation. Rhode Island also scored well when it comes to veterans, as just 3.3 percent are without shelter. There is a program in Providence, Rhode Island called the “Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)” program. First thing they do is enforce their laws. Drug dealers and people who steal and commit crimes to get their drugs end up in a correction facility. Every day at the facility they line up to get their medicine. There are three opioid blockers (Methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol) that are FDA approved to get people off heroin. The inmates choose what blocker they want. These blockers stabilize them physically to handle the emotional work needed to address the disease of drug addiction. The MAT program provides counselors to help them return to the outside. Many inmates were thankful for being arrested. It has saved lives.

Since our city has no rules the homeless can come and go as they please. We need to enforce our quality of life laws while providing services to these people who desperately need it. So how do we enforce the laws? For those mentally ill and drug addicted, I recommend the mayor and our supervisors pass an ordinance that provides that, if a person on our streets is incoherent and not of sound mind, they will be taken to a treatment center to be evaluated and helped over at least the next 30 days.

So where do we take them? We need treatment centers where doctors, counselors and caseworkers are available along with the treatment that we know work to save lives. The majority of homeless are over 40 years old. As our society ages more and more people need skilled nursing facilities (SNF). The reduction in SNF beds has provided another crisis in our City. In 1999, voters approved Proposition A to rebuild the 1200 SNF beds and 140 assisted living beds at Laguna Honda Hospital (LHH). In 2008, LHH cut its’ SNF beds to 780. The City knew there was a shortfall in SNF beds and instead of building more and ensuring LHH rebuilt the 1200 as approved by the voters, the City reduced SNF’s. This needs to be revisited and more SNF’s need to be made available for our aging society.

Where will the money come from to do this?  City Hall just closed a $1.7 billion deficit that is being addressed by rainy day funds, department cuts and wage freezes. City Hall needs to audit the current $300 million annually spent on homeless services, especially those provided by City departments. The City needs to stop throwing good money after bad. When I worked for the City we brought in hundreds of millions to our City that were being missed. The City has the funds to cover the deficit but they are not being recognized. I have identified over $1 billion in revenues from missed assessments, taxes and fees. I have sent several emails to the Mayor’s Office to show where these revenues are being missed but have only received one boilerplate reply which didn’t address my letter's substance.

There is also a lot of goodwill in our tech companies as well as others. These philanthropic companies are concerned and care about our City problems. If we have a business plan to address our homeless situation throughout our City I know these companies, along with many others, would rise to the occasion to assist our brothers and sisters in need. 

I don’t have all the answers but I do know the current approach isn’t working. I will be damned if I will just sit back and do nothing to help those in need and watch my city continue to go to pot.

We have an opportunity for our city to rise again. Let’s grab it.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com.

August 2020

Impending Budget Shortfall a Dilemma for Our City's Taxpayers

cartoon of budget shortfall
John Farrell
John Farrell

Our city is hurting. Our economy is shot. Our drug and homeless situation is out of control, especially in the Tenderloin. Small businesses are closing at record numbers and there is over 12% unemployment. Hotels rooms are empty as conventions and tourism has halted. There are protests over recent tragedies. And tragedies resulting from these protests. Our police are being minimized and protestors are allowed to destroy and take down statues without ramifications. Trust in our City government (City) is at an all time low especially from the abuse of power from entrusted City officials.

The City just closed a nearly $250 million budget deficit and now faces a $1.7 billion deficit over the next two fiscal years which could reach over $2.5 billion per Controller Ben Rosenfield. With all the financial experts the City has, they will come up with budget cuts and increasing taxes to property and business owners. If departments are to be cut then the City needs to prioritize and ensure the funding of vital services and programs such as our police, fire and public health before lower priorities are funded. In regard to increasing taxes, our taxpayers have been through a lot these past months and you can’t always put the burden on them.

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With all the financial experts the City has, they will come up with budget cuts and increasing taxes to property and business owners.”

There are at least four tax increase proposals on the November ballot which includes a tax on CEO’s earning at least 100 times the median income of the average worker, a 1.12% payroll tax on stock-based corporations, a doubling of the transfer tax from 3% to 6% for commercial and residential properties sold for over $10 million, and there will be two competing proposals to overhaul the City’s gross receipts tax.

All options need to be on the table.  When I worked for the City we brought in hundreds of millions to our City that were being missed. Several were missed for political purposes but once we found out — we made sure they were picked up. The City has the funds to cover the deficit but they are not being recognized. I have identified monies from missed assessments, taxes and fees, in former articles on this website, to cover the deficit. I have sent several emails to the Mayor’s Office to show where these revenues are being missed but have only received one boilerplate reply which didn’t address the substance of my letter.

To quote Victor Hugo, “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”

We have an opportunity for our city to rise again.

All the best to you and your family in these trying times.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

July 2020

City Hall after the earthquake
An Emphatic Letter to City Hall 
 
John Farrell
John Farrell

Our City and nation have gone through a lot these past months and it has given us the opportunity to reflect on who we are and where we want to go. We have seen the best in people and we have also seen the worst. This virus has devastated our economy and how we interact with each other, but not our spirit.

Never forget, our City was in a terrible state of depression after the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, the incomprehensible murders in Guyana by the People’s Temple leader, the tragedy of AIDS and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, to name a few. But San Francisco always rises stronger than ever.

We are presented with another opportunity to rise again. This time with Mayor Breed at the helm.  But we have come to that fork in the road. As Al Pacino eloquently said in the movie A Scent of a Woman, “Now I have come to a crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception. I knew. But I never took it. Do you know why? It was too damn hard.” 

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Now I have come to a crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception. I knew. But I never took it. Do you know why? It was too damn hard.”

If our City continues on the same road it was on, prior to the pandemic, then we will continue on a path to imminent failure. But if we take the other road, we will all succeed. Our City needs to get our economy back on track and get people working again, and to address our devastated City finances and our increasingly horrendous homeless situation.   

To address the budget deficit of nearly $2 billion over the next two fiscal years, our City financial advisors will consider increasing taxes on property owners and reducing or cutting low-priority expenditures—in addition to a hiring freeze and work furloughs. 

The City is planning a $438.5M bond measure in November to fund street paving, park improvements and homeless services. Leave the property taxpayers alone. They have already been through a lot this year and you can’t always put the burden on them. There are other ways. The City has the revenues but they are not being recognized.

In regard to our homeless situation the current programs are not working. We are seeing more and more homeless in our neighborhoods. Some come for hotel rooms and other freebies. Some think they can do as they please without ramifications. Apparently, the City accepts the most appalling behavior and the resulting (nearly) 400 homeless deaths on our streets over the last three years (prior to the pandemic). So at this point City Hall is part of the problem — not part of the solution.  

I advise the City to step back. Do not allow homeless camps in Golden Gate Park, especially since many are mentally ill, drug addicted and/or recently released from incarceration. Once you give someone the right to inhabit the park, it will be very difficult to take it away months later. Just like the hotel rooms. You can’t expect to put homeless people in hotel rooms and then expect them to leave. This is wrong. The City has plenty of land all over the state to consider. 

It is time to recover and we will. It will take time but we can do this together.

United we stand – we are not going to fall.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com.

April-May 2020

John Farrell
Coronavirus Aftermath – What Does Our City Do Next?

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is having huge impact our City finances. City Hall has a projected deficit in the current fiscal year of up to $288 million. The upcoming fiscal years are projected from $528 million to $779 million for FY 2020-21 and from $444 million to $612 for FY 2021-2022. Prior to this pandemic our city’s basic issues such as safety, housing affordability, homelessness and drug infested streets seemed worse than ever and we were short on police, MUNI drivers, nurses, etc… Further, the FBI picked up MS-13 gang members in our city and we read about entrusted City Hall officials abusing their power.

The Mayor and related departments have addressed this pandemic head on. I want to thank them and all medical staff, police and fire, garbage collectors, MUNI drivers, volunteers and everyone who stepped up in making our city run during this tumultuous time.

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... City Hall will have the daunting task of grappling with balancing the City’s budget and addressing our city’s priorities such as housing, public safety and homelessness.

It is hard to believe that in January the US had the strongest economy in the world and was winning the trade war with China and suddenly a virus develops which is now devastating the US economy.

By the way, did you know that 97% of all antibiotics in the US come from China, as well as 80% of the active pharmaceutical ingredients used to make drugs. We need to start producing these products here in the US.

This pandemic will be over soon and City Hall will have the daunting task of grappling with balancing the City’s budget and addressing our city’s priorities such as housing, public safety and homelessness. While we all have been requested to shelter-in-place, this gives time for City Hall to reflect and formulate a game plan to address these issues and getting our city’s economy back on track.

City Hall has a golden opportunity to develop this game plan to ensure our vital services are met as our economy has been devastated by this virus. We need to just get through this next budget cycle and then once completed, direct the Budget Analyst’s Office in conjunction with the Mayor’s Office to conduct a zero-based budget. We need to also address how to minimize the losses of our city businesses affected by the virus, especially our small businesses.

We need accountability in our city government. City Hall needs to utilize our city resources more effectively and efficiently, to cut waste and consolidate departments, programs and services where applicable, to eliminate those that are low priority and not cost effective, and reallocate funds to departments that are justified. City Hall needs to prioritize essential services and programs to ensure they have sufficient funding before lower priority programs are funded. We need to audit non-profit agencies and City contracts to ensure that services are provided and determine if they are necessary. We must ensure that City contracts are entered into with the utmost integrity. All revenue generating departments need to audit their practices to ensure all revenue sources are addressed.

I grew up in the greatest city in the world. I am tired of reading about what a mess it is now. Let’s get back to basics.

I wish you and all your family all the best during these trying times. We will get through this together. God bless.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com.

April-May 2020

The California New Deal - Care for the Homeless

John Farrell walking his dogs
John Farrell walking his dogs

I am a fifth generation San Franciscan but can’t believe what I have been seeing over the last several years. Last month I was walking my dogs up Pacheco Street and woman in her early thirties in a windbreaker walked up to me and started talking. As she talked she became incoherent as she rambled about her being sexually abused when she was younger and about her brothers in the army using iPhones to listen to our every word. As she started becoming crazier and crazier I crossed the street to get away and protect my dogs. She started spitting at me and yelling profanities and that she wanted to kill me.

The prior week a man walked into the Marina Safeway and crapped in the aisle where the toilet paper was. Our personal property crimes are the highest in the nation, people are shooting up on the streets and drugs sold without consequences. We are losing conventions and our City is known around the world as the “Poop City.” This is becoming the norm in our city unless the quiet majority starts speaking up. Yes I am talking to you.

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As she started becoming crazier and crazier I crossed the street to get away and protect my dogs. She started spitting at me and yelling profanities and that she wanted to kill me.”

A year has gone since our governor took office, and President Trump has been continuously criticizing him and state leaders for failing to fix the homeless problem, threatening to provide federal intervention. Our governor just created a new homeless plan to spend more money, identify state land for shelters, designating 100 state fleet trailers for temporary housing, and calling for a study of the causes of homelessness in CA by the State’s Health and Human Agency working with the University of California researchers.

Let’s save the state at least a couple of hundreds thousands on a homeless cause study. Here is how we got there and here is how to fix it.

In 1963 President John F Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Act that transferred the responsibility of mentally ill patients from the state to the federal government. This was to create a network of community mental health care centers where mentally ill people could live in the community and rveceive the care they need. However less than a month after signing the Act he was assassinated.

In 1965 Congress enacted Medicare and Medicaid, which provided benefits to mentally disabled people living in the community but not for those in psychiatric hospitals. State legislators encouraged discharging patients from mental hospitals, since costs for care were then incurred by the federal government.

When Ronald Reagan became governor in 1967 the number of patients in state mental hospitals had dropped to 22,000 from the peak in 1959 of 37,000. This reminds me of Juvenile Hall, which is being closed due to the drop in occupants, even though it would be packed if our laws weren’t changed making felonies now misdemeanors. Reagan signed the Lantermann-Petris-Short Act ending institutionalizing patients against their will. This was a disaster, as the number of patients at mental hospitals fell to 7000 by 1973 as mentally ill people exited the hospitals only to enter the criminal justice system. Even today people blame Reagan for what is happening on our streets even though we are on our 7th Governor since then and any of those could have done something.

Now let’s look at the homeless today, where the majority are those with mental illness and drug addiction. Like many other counties in our state, there has been a dramatic increase in homelessness since 2017. The number of homeless people in our City has increased by 17% since 2017, which includes a large increase of people living in RVs, despite our City’s efforts creating hundreds of new beds and spending over $300 million annually on the homeless population, not including costs of Police, Fire, Department of Public Works, and Public Health Department.

The City’s current approach to homelessness isn’t working. Jeff Kositsky, the Director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (DHSH), reported that the numbers are bad. He also reported that their data tracking shows that for every person who exits homelessness, three fall into it. Further, 75% of our City residents believe homelessness has gotten worse since 2017 per a Controller’s survey.

How do we protect our society at the same time showing compassion to those sick and struggling? We cannot just ignore or arrest our way out of this. People are dying and there is something we can do to stop this. It is inhumane to continue allowing this on our City streets.

We need to create a California New Deal which would:

Provide programs and housing for the homeless. From 1933 to 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt enacted the New Deal which was a series of programs, public works projects, financial reforms and regulations. This was a respond to the Great Depression. Programs provided support to farmers, the unemployed, youth, elderly and poor. Our homeless crisis is “the Great Depression of our Society.” Our homeless are broken and we need to help them back on their feet and not just let them exist and become another death statistic. Frederick Douglas put it the best, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Our homeless are broken.

We must enforce our quality of life issues and no longer tolerate the defecation, drug abuse, mental illness and any other dysfunctional behavior on our streets. We need to provide the resources to enforce quality of life issues and provide the treatment to those in need.

We need to build Specialized Treatment Facilities where doctors, counselors and caseworkers are available along with the treatments, and where sick people could learn how to live life again and be provided job training and therapy in one place. Eventually these people would be able to leave and be on medication to cope with their addiction.

For example, Providence, Rhode Island has a successful program that has saved lives and helped those drug addicted called the “Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)” program. First thing they do in Rhode Island is they enforce their laws. Drug dealers and people who steal and commit crimes to get there drugs end up in a correction facility. Every day at the facility these individuals in the MAT program line up to get their medication. The MAT program provides counselors to help and build a relationship with the inmates while they are there and as they return to the outside. The program has been successful in saving lives. Many inmates were thankful for being arrested since it saved their lives.

Our roads and infrastructure throughout our state needs repair and we need to cut back trees throughout the state to avoid major fires. We can help build many broken people by providing the training and jobs. Many just need the opportunity.

California’s economy is larger than any other state in our nation and if it was its own county it would be the fifth largest economy in the world. Our City is our country’s second-most densely populated major city after New York. We have more billionaires per person in our city than anywhere else in the world.

We have an affordable housing crisis in our state but our legislators are focusing in on building more and more high density units like in the recently failed SB50 which had major effects on San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego and less on other regions that have the land to build. We need to build more housing outside our major cities. Everyone can’t afford to live in San Francisco and there is plenty of land around our state to build all the housing we need.

Marc Benioff, CEO of Saleforce stated about the effects of capitalism: “Yes, profits are important, but so is society. And if our quest for greater profits leaves our world worse off than before, all we will have taught our children is the power of greed.”

There is a lot of goodwill in these tech companies as well as others. These philanthropic companies are concerned and care about our City and State problems. If we have a business plan to address our homeless situation throughout our City and State I know these companies along with many others would rise to the occasion to assist our brothers and sisters in need.

Enough talk. Time for action.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

February 2020

Let’s Get Rid of Ranked-Choice Votingillustration

Another election has passed and it is too bad we had to deal with this ranked-choice voting (RCV) scam as votes are split and not everyone’s vote counts in the end. This is a flawed system which in most cases elects a candidate without a majority vote of the total votes cast, and is unconstitutional.

The whole facade of RCV was to save the City money by switching from a run-off election to RCV, since voter turnout for run-off elections was typically lower. This is a scam. The main purpose of RCV is to manipulate the voting system to confuse voters and split the vote.

A prime example of how this RCV system failed is this past election for District Attorney (DA). First off, congratulations to all the candidates for stepping up to make a difference in our City, whether you believe in the candidates’ ideas, or not.

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... there were 22,415 exhausted votes, reflecting over one third of the votes that did not rank either Loftus or Boudin, which cost Loftus the election.”

Per the Department of Elections, there was a 41.63% voter turnout. There were 193,168 votes cast in the DA race as follows: Chesa Boudin had 68,792 (35.61%), Susy Loftus had 60,002 (31.06%), Nancy Tung had 37,347 (19.33%), and Leif Dautch had 27,027 (13.99%). After the rankings were completed, Chesa Boudin received 86,696 and won by 2831 votes over Susy Loftus who had 83,865 votes. Chesa Boudin won with 44.9% of the total votes cast (86,696/193,168).

Now let’s get to the real problem of RCV. Of the total 64,374 votes for Nancy Tung (37,347) and Leif Dautch (27,027), there were 22,415 exhausted votes, reflecting over one third of the votes that did not rank either Loftus or Boudin, which cost Loftus the election. In other words, these votes didn’t count. Not having your vote count is unconstitutional.

If we did not have this RCV boondoggle, there is no way Chesa Boudin wins over Susie Loftus in a run-off election. As in this case, a single progressive candidate won against three moderate/conservative candidates by having those candidates split the vote. This would not happen in a run-off, as the top two candidates would face off.

The people who came up with this flawed RCV system were fully aware that not all voters will rank everyone. Let’s face the fact that voters will not typically rank anyone other than their preferred candidate, and possibly another candidate. The end result in most cases is a candidate who is elected without a majority vote of the total votes cast, as in this DA case. This is wrong.

By the way, I went through the RCV results since inception and many elected Board of Supervisors members would not have won in a run-off election. No surprise there.

It is essential that an election be fair and just to keep our democracy alive and well. Run-off election results are fair all the time. RCV results are not, as history shows. The system is manipulating and confusing to voters.

We need to return to run-off elections between the top two candidates. This gives the voters an opportunity to vote for the person they prefer most, or the lesser of the two evils, whichever applies, and everyone’s vote counts. This RCV system becomes more confusing as residents in our City turn over. The Department of Elections will always have to train voters on this RCV system every time there is an election. You never had to be trained on a run-off election.

I urge everyone, especially the quiet majority, to wake up, to contact the Mayor’s Office to place an initiative on the next ballot for the voters to decide whether to continue this failed RCV scam.

By the way, I get a kick because RCV was to save taxpayer monies by eliminating run-off elections, and then our City decides to provide public financing for elected positions. Nearly $20 million of your tax dollars has been spent so far on candidates running for elected office in our City since inception of public financing. Don’t you think this money could be better spent elsewhere? I do. But that’s a discussion for another time. Let’s first get rid of RCV.

I wish you and your family all the best this holiday season. God bless.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com.

December 2019

homeless man rests by his possessions

No More Turning a Blind Eye

John Farrell
John Farrell

You have read or heard in the media all over our nation that San Francisco is a mess - a haven for crime and homelessness. Sure we are not the only troubled city in our country but it hits home to me. This is my home. I am a fifth generation San Franciscan and appreciate our City. Every time I cross the Golden Gate Bridge and see that beautiful city landscape I am in awe.

If you live on the Westside you know how lucky we are. Over the past several years though, we have experienced a dramatic increase in break-ins, and we are seeing more and more homeless on our streets, many mentally ill and drug addicted. Also an increase in those living in RV’s and vans, such as near SF State, and several months ago there was a number of home invasion robberies that targeted our Chinese families. These issues need to be addressed before they get further out of hand.

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Next time you see a policeman, muni driver, fireman, teacher, nurse, or other public servant, thank them. They are the ones in the trenches making this City run day after day.

But nothing compares to the extent of the crime, drugs, homelessness and overall filth our visitors, residences and businesses have to deal with every day on our Eastside, such as in the Financial District, the Civic Center and Tenderloin neighborhood to name a few. San Francisco has the highest crime per capita in our nation, and the number of homeless in our City has increased by 17% since 2017 despite our City’s efforts creating hundreds of new beds and spending over $300 million on homelessness annually.

In August there were several attacks on our waterfront, including the well-publicized and vicious attack by a mentally ill man on a young woman named Paneez Kosarian outside her apartment complex. Superior Court Judge Christine Van Anken released the man against the request by our District Attorney since she believed he was not a threat to the community. Subsequently, Judge Van Anken changed her ruling and the man is now being held in custody pending trial after she had the opportunity to see the security video of the attack and learned of new allegations against the man involving threats with a knife.

Coincidently, this apartment complex on the waterfront where the attack occurred is across the street from the proposed navigation center that has the neighbors in an uproar. This attack doesn’t help the City’s case, since the City’s is building it whether the neighbors like it or not.

Prior mayors like Joe Alioto, Diane Feinstein, Art Agnos and Frank Jordan made decisions on what they believed was in the best interest of the City whether you agreed with them or not. You never felt the City was losing its direction, like it has over recent mayors. It is now in Mayor Breed’s hands to take the bull by the horn and lead our City. I am rooting for her.

Everything in life is cyclical. And with changing economies and with uncertain presidential policies, we need to address these crime and homeless issues and develop future plans to ensure all vital services and programs are met. I am tired of hearing we don’t have enough teachers, we don’t have enough police, we don’t have enough emergency operators, we don’t have enough muni drivers… I can go on. It’s great being number one but not in property crimes per capita among our nation’s 50 biggest cities. Further, there is no excuse for the dirty and drug infested streets throughout our city. This has got to end. We have a City budget of $12.3 billion, $1 billion more than last year.

In my articles in May, June and July I focused on addressing our homeless crisis by enforcing our quality of life laws while showing compassion and providing services, especially to mentally ill and drug addicted people who need our help. Our City’s current approach is not working and we need to look at alternatives as mentioned in these articles.

This is the greatest city in the world. We have great people working in our departments and I ask all to rise to the occasion and give your input, if you haven’t already, on how we can better serve our City. I ask all who live, work and visit our City to respect each other and to respect our City. Respecting each other and each other’s property, and keeping our streets, parks, and beaches safe and clean starts with each and every one of us. If we can do this, than millions more can be spent on services and programs, especially for those in need of assistance in our City.

We need to appreciate our blessings and how precious life is; and understand and be sensitive to our differences, especially in these volatile times. Hatred, in any form, such as racism, bullying, domestic and sexual violence; child, senior, LGBTQ or any type of abuse and animal cruelty is unacceptable, will not be tolerated, and must be disavowed.

Harry Truman said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.”

If we work together there is nothing we can’t accomplish and along the way make a positive impact in people’s lives.

Next time you see a policeman, muni driver, fireman, teacher, nurse, or other public servant, thank them. They are the ones in the trenches making this City run day after day. The same goes for our veterans for their service to our country.

It’s easy to turn away hoping that things will get better but they will only get worse, especially for these individuals who need our help and for our residents and taxpayers who rely on our government to address our crime, drug, filth and homeless problems for the health and safety of our City.

No more turning a blind eye.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

September 2019

A New Approach to Homelessness

John Farrell
John Farrell

First: Let’s admit there is a problem. The City’s current approach to homelessness isn’t working. Jeff Kositsky, the Director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, reports that the new homeless numbers are bad. The number of homeless in our City has increased by 17% since 2017 despite our City’s efforts creating hundreds of new beds and spending over $300 million on homelessness annually, not including the costs of City services such as Police, Fire, Public Works, and Public Health Department.

Even though Mayor Breed plans to open more shelter beds and permanent supportive housing by the end of this year, 75% of our City residents believe homelessness has gotten worse since 2017 per a Controller’s survey. Further there is a homeless surge at SFO as increasing numbers of homeless people are going to the International Terminal seeking shelter.

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We need to audit the current $300 million annually spent on homeless services ...We need to put homeless service providers on alert that we are going to make them accountable and justify their funding. No more feeding at the trough.”

Second: Be compassionate. When my grandmother passed away in 1987 her last words were “Take care of the poor.” She lived through the Depression and had a tough life but always smiled and was positive. She had wonderful sayings and one was “Never judge a person until you have walked in their shoes.” How I miss her.

Many of us are broken at sometime in our lives. Luckily many of us have had someone there to pick us up. We need to be there for those who don’t. Frederick Douglas put it the best, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Our homeless are broken. We look away when we see them. What if that was your brother, sister, mom, dad, friend, etc. In God’s eyes, that is your brother and sister.

Third: We need to reevaluate our current programs and formulate a game plan for the future. Mr. Kositsky said “for every person who exits homelessness, three fall into it.” Since our City has no rules and homeless can come and do as they please, we need to enforce our quality of life laws while providing services, especially to mentally ill and drug-addicted people.

We need to look at viable alternatives and successful programs. For example, Providence, Rhode Island has a successful program that saves lives and helps drug addicts. The “Medication Assisted Treatment” (MAT) program. First, they enforce their laws. Drug dealers and people who steal and commit crimes to get their drugs end up in a correction facility. Every day at the facility these individuals in the MAT program line up to get their medication. There are three opioid blockers (Methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol) that are FDA approved and work to get people off heroin and save lives. The inmates choose what blocker they want to use. These blockers stabilize them physically to handle the emotional work needed to address the disease of drug addiction. MAT provides counselors to help build relationships with inmates and as they return to the outside. It’s saved lives. Many inmates were thankful for being arrested.

What if we built a specialized facility to utilize our resources and knowledge to fight this problem? A place where doctors, counselors and caseworkers were available along with the treatment that we know works to save lives. Where sick people could learn how to live life again and be provided job training and therapy in one place. Eventually these people would be able to leave and be on medication to cope with their addiction.

The majority of homeless are over 40 years old. As our society ages, more and more people need skilled nursing facilities (SNF). The reduction in SNF beds has provided another crisis in our City. In 1999, voters approved Proposition A to rebuild the 1200 SNF beds and 140 assisted living beds at Laguna Honda Hospital (LHH). In 2008, LHH cut its SNF beds to 780. The City knew there was a shortfall in SNF beds, and instead of building more and ensuring LHH rebuilt the 1200 as approved by the voters, the City reduced SNFs. This needs to be revisited and more SNFs need to be made available for our aging society.

Fourth: The City must stop spending like a drunken sailor and cut the waste. Over the past several years our City has flourished and our tax revenues have increased substantially due to tourism and the tech industry, and as buildings continue to go up like crazy. The Mayor’s budget is $12 billion, which is $1 billion more than it was last year.

We need to audit the current $300 million annually spent on homeless services, including all those provided by our City departments. We need to utilize these resources more effectively and efficiently, to eliminate those that are not cost effective and to reallocate funds to those homeless programs that are justified. We need to put homeless service providers on alert that we are going to make them accountable and justify their funding. No more feeding at the trough.

I am a private citizen and I am not running for any public office. Like many of you, I just want to resolve our homeless situation. We need to look at other alternatives now. I don’t have all the answers but I do know that if a program such as MAT works, than don’t reinvent the wheel. Let’s see what we can do to implement the MAT program here. If you agree, contact the Mayor and Supervisors to look into the program. If you have other suggestions to address our homeless crisis, let me know. Hopefully, together we can turn this around.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

JULY 2019

Is San Francisco Dying?

New Homeless Population Report Shocks (Part II)

John Farrell
John Farrell

Well the new homeless figures are in and it is not good news. The number of homeless people in our City has increased by 17% since 2017, which includes a large increase of people living in RV’s, despite our City’s efforts creating hundreds of new beds and spending over $300 million annually to address homelessness. By the way, this $300 million annually does not reflect the costs of City services currently provided by our City Departments such as Police, Fire, Public Works, and Public Health.

A preliminary report using federal guidelines of January’s one-night street count reported 8,011 homeless in our City, but this will increase when the more complete count is released in July, since federal guidelines don’t account for many types of homelessness such as those in jail, hospitals, and health treatment centers. The federal count in 2017 was 6,858, and subsequently increased 641 to the 7,499 reported by the City. So we can assume the 8,011 will increase to over 8600.

homeless count chart

Since 2017, the number of people living in vehicles increased by 45%, while there were reported decreases of 14% in the number of homeless veterans and 10% in homeless youth. Sheltered homeless increased by 13% due to the increase in shelter beds, and the number of homeless families remained the same. Other counties also increased in the number of homeless over the past two years. Santa Clara increased by 31% to 9706 and Alameda increased by 43% to 8,022. The only county to reflect a decrease was Marin County by 7% to 1,034.

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We cannot just ignore or arrest our way out of this. People are dying and there is something we can do to stop this. It is inhumane to continue allowing this on our City streets.”

“I’m really disappointed in these numbers,” said Jeff Kositsky, the Director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (DHSH). “I can make no excuses. These numbers are bad, and we have to own that.” Mayor Breed also found the numbers disappointing and noted, “Unfortunately it’s not a big surprise.” She said “Certainly there is more we need to do, but at the end of the day this is a challenge that exists in the entire state of California. We need more resources from the federal and state governments for housing and we need to build housing faster.”

Mayor Breed plans to open more shelter beds and permanent supportive housing by the end of this year. Further, Mayor Breed is proposing ballot measures this November for a $500 million bond for affordable housing, and a rezoning of City properties (excludes Recreation and Park properties) for teacher housing.

Let’s stop a minute. Mr. Kositsky reports that the numbers are bad. He also reported that their data tracking, and 75% of our City residents believe homelessness has gotten worse since 2017, per a Controller’s survey. Also, there is a homeless surge at SFO as increasing numbers of homeless go to the International Terminal seeking shelter.

So here we are in a spiraling, out of control situation—we are losing the battle. So what do we do? Do we continue playing the same game in the second half of which is not working and face sure defeat, or do we adjust our game plan during halftime and come out with a new vigor and take the bull by the horns. I’m for the second.

How do we protect our society at the same time showing compassion to those sick and struggling? We cannot just ignore or arrest our way out of this. People are dying and there is something we can do to stop this. It is inhumane to continue allowing this on our City streets.

We need to look at other alternatives and successful programs around our country. For example, Providence, Rhode Island has a successful program that has saved lives and helped those drug addicted. It is called the “Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)” program. First thing they do in Rhode Island is they enforce their laws. Drug dealers and people who steal and commit crimes to get there drugs end up in a correction facility. Every day at the facility these individuals in the MAT program line up to get their medication. There are three opioid blockers (Methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol) that are FDA approved and work to get people off heroin and save lives. The inmates choose what blocker they want to use. These blockers stabilize them physically to handle the emotional work needed to address the disease of drug addiction. The MAT program provides counselors to build relationships with inmates while they are there and as they return to the outside. It has successfully saved lives. Many inmates were thankful for being arrested since it saved their lives.

Mr. Kositsky reported that for every person who exits homelessness, three fall into it. How do we prevent more homeless from coming to our City, since our City has no rules and homeless can come and do as they please? We need to enforce our quality of life laws while showing compassion and providing services, especially to mentally ill and drug addicted people who need help.

What if we built a specialized facility to utilize our resources and knowledge to fight this problem? A place where doctors, counselors and caseworkers were available, along with the treatment that we know works, to save lives. Where sick people could learn how to live life again and be provided job training and therapy in one place. Eventually these people would be able to leave and be on medication to cope with their addiction.

In December, I proposed a resolution to tackle our homeless and quality of life crisis by providing a small portion of the Candlestick Park site for a larger Navigation Center and temporary parking lot for 500 RVs, to offer the homeless respite from life on the streets by providing room and board, while case managers work to connect them to relatives, income, public benefits, health services, shelter and housing. The temporary RV lot would help the approximate 1,100 people living in them. This would result in a higher quality of life in our City by providing safer and cleaner streets, and substantially reduce the costs of City services currently provided by our City Departments including the Police, Fire, Department of Public Works, and Public Health Department.

I was listening to a District 5 candidates’ debate. Candidates were saying that affordable housing at the McDonald’s site at Stanyan Street won’t be built for 5 years. Why not build a navigation center there in the meantime since there is a need in the Haight. Since navigation centers are temporary it would be demolished when the affordable housing project breaks ground in 5 years. Park Police Station is right there to ensure safety.

The majority of homeless are over 40 years old. As our society ages, more and more people need skilled nursing facilities (SNF). The reduction in SNF beds has provided another crisis in our City. In 1999, voters approved Proposition A to rebuild the 1200 SNF beds and 140 assisted living beds at Laguna Honda Hospital (LHH). In 2008, LHH cut its SNF beds to 780. The City knew there was a shortfall in SNF beds, but instead of building more and ensuring LHH rebuilt the 1200 as approved by the voters, the City reduced SNFs. This needs to be revisited and more SNFs need to be made available for our aging society.

The 2017 homeless count reflected 91 homeless in District 7. This amount is expected to increase and the majority are from those living in RVs and vans such as near SF State. Many of the supervisors want navigation centers in all the districts. I heard the City is considering a navigation center at Lake Merced Circle. This number of homeless does not justify a navigation center in District 7. Laguna Honda Hospital is a skilled nursing facility that should be able to handle those homeless in need in our district.

Instead of City Hall proposing to tax companies’ IPOs, or continuously dumping bond initiatives on our taxpayers, have our tech companies donate to just causes like providing funds for more SNF beds at LHH. or providing funds for navigation centers with their company names on them. There is a lot of good will in these tech companies, as well as others. These philanthropic companies are concerned and care about our City problems.

We need to know how much is currently being spent on homeless services, including all those provided by our City departments. We need to utilize these resources more effectively and efficiently, to cut waste and consolidate programs and services where applicable, cut those that are not cost effective and reallocate funds to those homeless programs that are justified.

In regard to additional funds, I highly recommend that all revenue generating City departments audit their processes to ensure all revenues are being addressed. I know we can bring in hundreds of millions more that is not currently being addressed.

These are just a few options for our City to consider. It’s easy to turn away hoping that things will get better but they will only get worse, especially for these individuals who need our help, and for our residents and taxpayers who rely on our City government to address this problem for the health and safety of our City.

Contact the mayor and supervisors and let them know how concerned you are about the current homeless situation and that we cannot continue with business as usual. Our current process is not working and we need to look at other alternatives now. Let’s be creative. The future of our City and posterity depends on it.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

JUNE 2019

Is San Francisco Dying?

John Farrell
John Farrell

If you have an hour to spare I highly recommend a YouTube video called “Seattle is Dying.” It asks the question “What if Seattle is dying and we don’t even know it.” It is about people who are compassionate but no longer feel safe in their City, no longer feel they are being heard. It is about lost souls who wander the streets with no home or reality chasing a drug that, in turn, chases them. It is about the damage they instill on themselves and the fabric of their City. There is a seething, simmering anger that is boiling over into outrage. Property crimes are out of control. This story is about a beautiful jewel that was violated and in current crisis, and of people falling out of love for their home. Sound familiar?

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How do we protect our society at the same time showing compassion to those sick and struggling? That is the big question. We cannot ignore or arrest our way out of this. People are dying and there is something we can do.”

Seattle is a place where people who grew up in it don’t recognize. Numerous residents, business owners, and city employees talk about their disgust. Seattle police fear retaliation that could cost them their jobs and pensions if they speak out. One officer said “Yes, I am frustrated because I am … told NOT to enforce the law.” Another officer noted, “People come here because it’s called Free-attle and, if they come here, they will get free food, medical treatment, mental health treatment, a free tent, free clothes and be free of prosecution for just about everything, and they are right.” Another noted, “…it started with the legislature decriminalizing felonies and dumping convicts onto the streets.” Sound familiar?

A concerned resident said Seattle is a different place from the one he grew up in and it is really sad. He is so embarrassed that he doesn’t want friends to visit. While it is one of the most beautiful regions in the world but looks like sh—. He even started a Facebook site called, “Seattle Looks Like Sh--.” It’s not meant to be funny, it’s meant to be sad. Check it out.

There is a disconnect between City of Seattle officials and the frustrations of residents and businesses. It’s not legal to live on the sidewalk but it is allowed. How bad is the property crime rate in Seattle? It was ranked second per capita in our nation in 2017. Only one other City was higher, and that was our home, San Francisco.

I listen to friends and neighbors complaining about people shooting up on our streets, even shooting each other up. I have called the police numerous times on people sleeping on our City streets. Once a man was totally out cold and the officer on the phone asked me to go up to him to see if he was still alive.

My daughter called me when she came home to her apartment in the Castro and found a disturbed man on her stairs. She told a policeman on Market Street about him, but he said it was not his jurisdiction. I came over and we waited for him to leave.

I went to Safeway on Taraval Street and parked in the upper lot. There was a homeless man in a sleeping bag next to the stairs and elevator. When my wife drives up Santiago Street, she sees the same homeless woman there. I read on Nextdoor that a neighbor’s car was broken into or a package taken. As I write this a neighbor’s car was stolen last night. You never heard of anything like this on our side of town 5 years ago. I can go on.

I am rooting for our new mayor since she has her hands full and is trying to figure out who she can trust. We have an $11 billion dollar budget but still MUNI is a mess, streets are congested and continuously being worked on and we need affordable housing. Further, the City continues to dump bond initiatives on our tax payers but it is never enough.

How do we protect our society at the same time showing compassion to those sick and struggling? That is the big question. We cannot ignore or arrest our way out of this. People are dying and there is something we can do.

Seattle, like San Francisco, struggles with the same problems, but an answer may have come from Providence, Rhode Island. It is called the “Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)” program. First thing they do is enforce their laws. Drug dealers and people who steal and commit crimes to get their drugs end up in a correction facility. Every day at the facility they line up to get their medicine. There are three opioid blockers (Methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol) that are FDA approved and work to get people off heroin and save lives. The inmates choose what blocker they want to use. These blockers stabilize them physically to handle the emotional work needed to address the disease of drug addiction. The MAT program provides counselors to help them return to the outside. Many inmates were thankful for being arrested. It has saved lives.

What if we built a specialized facility where doctors, counselors and caseworkers were available—along with the treatments that we know work, where sick people could be provided job training and therapy in one place. Eventually they might be able to cope with their addiction.

In December I proposed a resolution to tackle our crisis that would provide that a small portion of the Candlestick Park site for a larger Navigation Complex, and a temporary parking lot for 500 RV’s to offer respite from life on the street and providing room and board while case managers work to connect them to relatives, income, public benefits, health services, shelter and housing. The temporary RV parking lot would house about 1,100 people. This would result in a higher quality of life in our City by providing safer and cleaner streets, and substantially reduce the costs of City services, including Police, Fire, Public Works, and Public Health.

Homeless and Supportive Housing’s (DHSH) 2017 Point-In-Time count reported that 7,499 people experience homelessness on any given night. Of those 4,353 are living on the streets. Further, the Director estimates that 500 RV’s are parked on our streets every night with 1,100 people living in them—up from 387 per the homeless count in January 2017.

We are all broken at some time in our lives. Luckily, many have had someone to pick them up. Our obligation and compassion to care for the mentally ill and drug addicted, our veterans, our seniors, our disabled, and our homeless youth who are nearly 50% LGBTQ and 13% HIV positive. Further, 2100 students in our public schools are homeless, and nearly 400 homeless people died on our streets in the past three years. It is inhumane to continue allowing this.

“Is San Francisco Dying?” No. Our City has come to that proverbial fork in the road and we are in crisis mode. I have seen changes over the years, but nothing like it is now. It is time for all of us to look at the problem straight on. The future of our City and posterity depends on it.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

MAY 2019

Flintstone House
Photo courtesy of Angela Alioto Law Offices

Yabba Dabba Do It!

Everyone loves the Flintstones! They’re the modern stone-age family. From the town of Bedrock. They’re a page right out of history. If you don’t have a smile on your face right now then kick yourself.

The Flintstones have been a family favorite for nearly 60 years. Inspired by “The Honeymooners” with Jackie Gleason and Art Carney, the Flintstones first broadcast in Sept 1960. The Flintstones have brought joy to generations over the years through reruns and spinoffs, memorabilia like games, comic books and toys, and even cereal and vitamins, to name a few. How many out there have chewed a Flintstones vitamin when you were a kid? I did. Are you smiling yet? Aren’t memories wonderful. The good ones, of course.

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Keep the Flintstones House with Fred and all intact! We need as much joy in this world as possible.”

If you have driven home on Highway 280 then you have seen the house located at 45 Berryessa Way in Hillsborough that is referred to as the Flintstone House. This multiple dome-shaped home was built in the 1970’s and resembles a stone-age home like you would see in Bedrock.

Last year it was purchased. The new owner has taken it a step further, adding Fred and Wilma and dinosaurs in the yard and a “Yabba-Dabba Doo” sign. The property’s new decor hasn’t set well with town officials and the new owner is now in court. It is now being called an eyesore, and town officials are asking a judge to declare it a public nuisance. There are other permit-related issues involved as well.

Let’s put this all in perspective. Many people will say, “I know it is all in fun and if this was Halloween it would be great. But how would you like to live next door the Flintstones House every day with dinosaurs in the yard?”

You can call it what you like. Whether an eyesore, an architectural gem, or the Flintstones House. Your choice. I call it the Flintstones House. But no matter what you call the house, it is not your ordinary home. This has been called the Flintstones House since the 1970’s. Those who get upset with the house remind me of people who buy a home by a school and complain about the children’s noise.

When you are driving home, how many of you look for the Flintstone House on your way back into our City? I do. I wonder how many of you have thought when you were driving by the home that they should put a dinosaur or Fred out in the yard. I sure have.

Keep the Flintstones House with Fred and all intact! We need as much joy in this world as possible.

Before I close this article let’s sing one round.

Flintstones - Meet the Flintstones

They’re the modern stone-age family

From the town of Bedrock

They’re a page right out of history

Let’s ride with the family down the street

Through the courtesy of Fred’s two feet

When you’re with the Flintstones

you’ll have a yabba-dabba doo time

a dabba-doo time—You’ll have a gay old time.

Wilma!

Are you smiling now!

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com.

APRIL 2019

A Tax Break for PG&E?

John Farrell
John Farrell

Why is PG&E getting a $9 million annual tax break and why do we still need the State Board of Equalization?

In June 2017 Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that stripped the State Board of Equalization’s (SBE) powers and duties, reduced staff from 4,800 to 400, and reassigned staff in the collection of sales and excise taxes to a new California Department of Tax and Fee Administration. This was due to an investigation by the State Department of Justice that accused SBE employees and members of mismanagement, which included putting $350 million in sales taxes in the wrong accounts.

The SBE, which is an elected board of five members, also gave up its role hearing taxpayer appeals to a new Office of Tax Appeals, leaving the SBE to advocate for taxpayers and to continue setting rates for gas taxes and pipeline levies, and ensuring county assessors fairly appraise properties for tax purposes.

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Based on an annual franchise fee of approximately $5.4 million per the Controller’s Office audit, PG&E should be paying the City at least $1.1 million annually in property tax to our City for the franchise fee…

But who is going to make sure that the SBE fairly appraises properties for tax purposes?

Most properties are reappraised upon ownership transfer, or completion of new construction per Prop 13, by county assessors’ offices. However, privately held public utilities, such as the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), are appraised statewide by the SBE. These utility properties are not subject to Proposition 13 and are annually reassessed at fair market value.

The SBE values utility companies like PG&E based on a historic cost less depreciation and/or an income approach. Per the SBE, their annual appraisal does not reflect an amount for the franchise fee even though it’s supposed to. What does this mean when the franchise fee is not reflected or assessed accordingly? Loss of tax revenue to our City and a tax break for privately held public utilities.

Utility Fees collected in SF

Let’s take PG&E as an example. In 1939, the City granted PG&E and its successors two franchises to use city streets to transmit, distribute, and supply electricity and gas. The City further gave PG&E the right to use power and gas lines on public property “in perpetuity.” In consideration for the two franchises, PG&E annually pays a franchise fee to the City based on a percentage of gross receipts from the sales of electricity and gas in the City. The franchise fee rates are 0.5% for electricity and 1% for gas.

Per the Controller’s Office Franchise Fee Audit of PG&E dated Nov 16, 2016, following are the franchise fees paid to the City in 2013 and 2014:

Based on an annual franchise fee of approximately $5.4 million per the Controller’s Office audit, PG&E should be paying the City at least $1.1 million annually in property tax to our City for the franchise fee (based on a 1.1723% 2018 tax rate on a $92.8 million assessed value). This $92.8 million assessed value reflects the present value of the $5.4 million annual payment to the City over 35 years @ 5% interest rate. Since the PG&E franchise agreement is in perpetuity, I used 35 years, which reflects a transfer of a fee simple ownership per the CA revenue and Taxation Code.

However if we assess the franchise fee based on fair market, which is the appropriate way to value utility properties, then the assessed value would be substantially increased. For example, San Diego Gas and Electric currently has a 50 year franchise executed in 1970 for 3%. Los Angeles has a franchise agreement on a year-to-year basis at 2%. San Jose is 2.3%. Berkeley is 5%.

If we used a fair market franchise fee of 5% then the assessed value would be approximately $770 million. This $770 million assessed value reflects the present value of a $44.8 million annual payment (5% fair market franchise fee) over 35 years @ 5% interest rate. This would result in approximately $9 million annually in property tax to our City for the franchise fee (based on a 1.1723% tax rate on a $770 million assessed value).

PG&E’s franchise fee is subject to property tax but is not reflected in the annual appraisal by the SBE. By the SBE not assessing the franchise fee at fair market value our City is losing approximately $9 million annually.

The Assessor’s Office should work closely with SBE staff to insure a fair market franchise fee assessment is accounted for in the SBE’s annual appraisal of all privately held public utilities. This would result in property tax revenue to the City from just PG&E of approximately $9 million annually (based on a fair market franchise fee of 5%). The Assessor has the authority and should also consider going back at least 8 years and issue escapes (appraising values missed in prior years and then the Tax Collector will bill accordingly) in order to recoup this missed franchise fee reflecting approximately $72 million (8 x $9 million) that would have been collected by our City if this franchise fee was appropriately valued by the SBE at fair market.

Keep in mind we are just reviewing the property tax revenue from the franchise fee of PG&E. There are numerous companies with franchise fees that should also be appraised, which would result in addition millions to our City annually.

The SBE has become a place where termed out politicians go to remain relevant. It is time the SBE be eliminated and the remainder of its diminished duties and oversight be transferred to other existing agencies, resulting in streamlining and costs savings.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com.

March 2019

A Call for Care

John Farrell
John Farrell

A Resolution to End Homelessness in Our City

It seems that our City is always in a reactive mode instead of a proactive one. We need resolution to tackle our homeless and quality of life crises in our City. Well, here is one. I call it, “A Call for Care.”

We are all broken at sometime in our life. Luckily, many have had someone there to pick us up. We need to be there for those who don’t. “A Call for Care” is for those that don’t.

quote

Both the Navigation Complex and temporary RV parking would result in a higher quality of life in our City by safer and cleaner streets. And it would substantially reduce the costs of services currently provided by Police, Fire, Public Works, and Public Health.”

The Department of Homeless and Supportive Housing’s (DHSH) 2017 Point-In-Time count reported 7,499 people experience homelessness in the City on any given night. Of those 7,499 people, 4,353 are living on the streets. Further, the Director of DHSH estimates that 500 RV’s are parked on our City streets on any given night with 1,100 people living in vehicles, up from 387 in the last official homeless count in January 2017.

San Francisco has a homeless and quality of life crisis. Lennar and Five Point Holding’s proposed retail/housing project at Candlestick Park has not proceeded, and the shopping mall idea was suspended in April 2018. A small portion of that site would provide more than sufficient space for a larger Navigation Center, a Navigation Complex, and temporary parking for 500 RV’s.

We need a feasibility study and cost benefit analysis for a Navigation Complex at Candlestick Park that could offer respite from life on the streets, and support all those 4353 people who need shelter, changing their lives through lasting social service and housing connections. They should be provided room and board while case managers work to connect them to relatives, income, public benefits, health services, and permanent housing. In addition to the Navigation Complex, the proposed site could provide temporary RV parking for up to 500 RV’s, helping the approximate 1,100 people living in them.

Both the Navigation Complex and temporary RV parking would also result in a higher quality of life on our City’s safer and cleaner streets. And it would substantially reduce the costs of services currently provided by Police, Fire, Public Works, and Public Health.

Once the Navigation Complex is completed it could continue to provide housing and services as existing ‘temporary’ navigation centers, are converted to affordable housing.

Prop C, just approved by voters, mandates Homeless funds, but potential litigation may delat funding for several years.

I know of hundreds of millions in existing funds, not currently being addressed, that could be used for such a Navigation Complex and temporary parking.

It’s easy to turn away, hoping things will get better — but they will only get worse for these who need our help—and for residents and taxpayers who are relying on our elected officials to resolve this problem.

I urge our Mayor and Board of Supervisors to consider “A Call for Care” and take immediate action to help those in need and provide a resolution to this crises in our City.

* * *

To all our police, fire, emergency workers, and volunteers throughout our nation: Thank you. I cannot say enough about these tremendous people who rose to the occasion to confront the fires in our state and assist those in need—unbelievable dedication and self-sacrifice. Times like these remind us of how strong we are when we put our differences aside and unite for the common good.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday season, and all the best to you, your family and all those close to your heart.

The most effective way to donate to help fire victims is to donate cash:

American Red Cross

California Community Foundation's Wildfire Relief Fund

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former City Asst. Assessor-Budget/Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

December 2018

Vote No on Prop 10 - No Repeal!

Prop 10 is to repeal the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act and is called the "Affordable Housing Act. " Calling it the "Affordable Housing Act" is very deceptive since it does not create any affordable housing and does not provide funding for any affordable housing. Prop 10 is bad for both landlords and tenants.

What does the Costa-Hawkins Act do? It exempts single family homes, condos and newly built rental units from rent control. Further, Costa-Hawkins allows landlords to increase rents to market rates when units have a change in tenancy. Makes sense to me.

quote

… if Costa- Hawkins is repealed by the voters than cities will have the authority to take away these rights and can decide whether to end rent control exemptions on single family homes, condos and newly built units, and to end the ability to increase rents to market rates when units turnover. So low rents would remain when a unit turns over and could only go up by the minimal CPI adjustment each year.

This is the beginning of a disaster waiting to happen if Costa-Hawkins is repealed. Why do I say that? Because if Costa- Hawkins is repealed by the voters, cities will have the authority to take away these rights and can decide whether to end rent control exemptions on single family homes, condos, and newly built units, and to end the ability to increase rents to market rates when units turn over. Low rents would remain when a unit turns over and could only go up by the minimal CPI adjustment each year.

If rent control were applied to all new housing, this could potentially bring construction of new housing to a halt and further exacerbate the housing crisis.

Many owners of single family home and condos, especially seniors, will not want to rent their property since they don't want to deal with rent control. Landlords, especially of small rental properties, will have to decide whether to take their units off the market when there is a change in tenancy. Why would a landlord sink money into renovating outdated units with deferred maintenance or continue to rent if they can't increase the rents to market rate when units turn over? Many landlords will just take their units off the market.

Expect to see an increase in evictions especially through the Ellis Act which provides landlords the right to get out of the rental business. Why would a landlord want to hold on to a property if you have current low rents and you can't increase them to market rate when the units turn over? Many landlords will Ellis Act the building and turn the units all into TIC's )Tenancies in Common), which is a better return on investment. This is not the way to go and I would hate to see that happen for both landlords and for renters.

Rental properties are sold based on existing rents and the potential of increased rents when units turn over. If you can't increase the rents when they turn over than most multi-unit property owners should expect an immediate loss in equity, which could be substantial. This would result in a property tax revenue loss to the City as many property values would be appealed.

Costa-Hawkins currently guarantees some form of fairness and sanity to property owners in rent controlled cites. Without Costa-Hawkins it will be a crapshoot.

Our Board of Supervisors recently voted 7-4 on a resolution by Supervisor Peskin to support Prop 10 to repeal Costa-Hawkins, which failed, since it required 8 votes to pass per procedural rules. Of those 4 votes against, Supervisors Tang and Cohen are gone at the end of the year. This gives you an idea of what direction our Supervisors are heading.

Vote No on Prop 10!

Why should property owners be penalized due to the government's failure to provide affordable housing? Since 2012 City rents have almost doubled and there was a 67% spike in evictions per the Rent Board, over a five year period, while City Hall sat on its hands taking care of Airbnb and other "Wag the Dog" issues. I will not mention the other failures, like having the highest property crime rate per capita in the nation, the homeless situation and the filthy and drug infested streets, to name a few. And while people grow more frustrated with City Hall, the City's current budget has increased by nearly $1 billion to $11 billion. So I won't.

I have a better solution for affordable housing for our low income, moderate income, teachers, seniors, and our families—who all need City Hall's help and are counting on you.

1) Expedite the permit process for affordable housing projects.

2) Continuously search properties on the market and off-market for potential sites and review the list from the Real Estate Department of all City-owned property including Unified School District, Water Department and the Port. We need to identity land now. And we will find it.

3) Utilize our City's resources more effectively and efficiently, to cut waste and consolidate departments, programs and services, where applicable, to eliminate those that are low priority or not cost effective and reallocate funds to departments that are justified. All revenue generating departments need to audit their processes to ensure that all revenue sources are being addressed accordingly. I know there are hundreds of millions in revenues that are not being addressed. This is funding that can be used to build affordable housing.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former City Asst. Assessor-Budget/Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

October 2018

Great Expectations and Our Next Mayor

This June 5th we will elect a new mayor who will potentially lead our City over the next 10 years. It is too bad we have to deal with this rank choice voting crap, as votes are split and not everyone’s vote counts in the end but that is the way it is right now.

Today we have over 850,000 residents. Despite the rapid growth in our City’s cost of living, the population is projected to increase to 1 million over the next 10 years or much sooner. What is the City’s strategy to achieve this one million population growth? We have an aging infrastructure and our transit system needs to be addressed. Traffic downtown is horrendous. We have an affordable housing crisis, the highest property crime rate per capita in the nation, and a homeless situation that has worsened. Should I go on?

quote

What is the City’s strategy to achieve this one million population growth? We have an aging infrastructure and our transit system needs to be addressed. Traffic downtown is horrendous. We have an affordable housing crisis, the highest property crime rate per capita in the nation, and a homeless situation that has worsened. Should I go on? ”

Harvey Rose, SF's Budget Analyst

We all get wrapped up in our worlds, whether it is making our mortgage or rent payments. Putting food on the table and a roof over our heads, raising our children or taking care of an elderly family member, taking care of the sick, needy, and those less fortunate, helping in our neighborhoods. We count on our elected officials, but it is time people start realizing they are not getting the job done. We need solutions and not rhetoric.

It is all good that our mayoral candidates want more affordable housing, and to take care of the homeless - especially the mentally ill and drug addicted, and to end property crimes. As concerned citizens we all want that. It is easy to point a finger, but that is not productive since we are all in this together. There have been many positive steps like navigation centers for the homeless, more police added, and more affordable housing in the pipeline. But more is needed, specifically leadership.

So where do we go from here? What do we expect from our next mayor?

First off, let’s identify the problem. The City has no game plan or strategy to accommodate this one million population growth.

Second, let’s stop being in a reactive mode, and formulate a game plan for the future that keeps the integrity of San Francisco and our neighborhoods. We need a mayor to finally take the lead and develop an all-inclusive strategy to handle the increase in population to one million and its ramifications on our City and our City Services. These ramifications include increases in crime, traffic, transportation, homelessness, the City’s universal health plan, police and fire services, jobs, new businesses, etc… All City departments should report on the effect that the proposed increases will have on their service levels.

Third, The City must stop spending like a drunken sailor and cut the waste. Over the past several years our City has flourished and money has been coming in hand over first. Our tax revenues have increased substantially due to tourism and the tech industry and buildings continue to go up like crazy, changing the character of our neighborhoods. The Mayor’s FY2017-18 budget of over $10 billion is a billion more than it was 2 years ago. However our City’s expenses are outpacing our City revenues, and the City projects a deficit over $600 million over the next 4 years.

We need accountability in our City government and we need to show it to our taxpayers. We need Harvey Rose’s budget analyst’s office, in cooperation with the Mayor’s Office, to perform a zero-based budget audit, and especially review all hires since at least 2007, reflecting the start of the prior foreclosure crisis. Positions should be reviewed based on their revenue production, efficiency, health and safety, if mandated, etc.

We need to utilize our City resources more effectively and efficiently, to cut waste and consolidate departments, programs, and services where applicable, to eliminate those that are low priority or not cost-effective, and reallocate funds to departments that are justified. We need to prioritize essential services and programs and ensure they have sufficient funding before lower priority programs are funded.

Fourth, in real estate it is “location, location, location.” In regard to the City it is “audit, audit, audit.” All revenue generating departments need to audit their processes to ensure all revenue sources are being addressed accordingly. I have outlined in these pages of the Westside Observer, at least several hundred-million in revenue that is not being captured.

Have the Grand Jury and Harvey Rose audit recommendations been implemented? Are all City department lands that are rentable leased out, and if not, why not? Have all backlogs, such as building permits, been addressed? Have audits of non-profit agencies and City contracts been conducted to insure that services are being provided and to determine if they are even necessary?

Fifth, review all our existing City systems to see how tech savvy we can be. We have the top tech minds in the world in our neighborhood, so let’s take advantage of this for our City’s benefit.

Sixth, and last but not least, let’s stop talking and get it done.

As a public servant, I knew who I worked for - I worked for you, the taxpayers of the City and County of San Francisco. Every decision I made was in the best interest of the City. So I am writing to you as a professional and true public servant who knows the workings of City Hall and knows that business as usual has got to change.

We are the City that knows how. We need our next Mayor to step up and take the lead.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com.

June 2018

Attention Mayoral Candidates!

John Farrell
John Farrell
by John Farrell

I have been following various mayors' debates and they have all been entertaining. The main issues are, of course, how to address affordable housing and homelessness. All the candidates are for more affordable housing and taking care of the homeless, especially the mentally ill and drug addicted. Accountability of our City government is never a question asked of the candidates.

Our City has a budget over $10 billion as tax revenues have increased substantially over the years due to tourism and the tech industry, and as buildings continue to go up like crazy, changing the character of our neighborhoods. Yet basic issues such as public safety, housing affordability, and homelessness seem to be worse than ever.

quote

So how can it be that there is a projected deficit of over $200 million over the next two years, with larger deficits in subsequent years? Are you kidding me!”

So how can it be that there is a projected deficit of over $200 million over the next two years, with larger deficits in subsequent years? Are you kidding me! And this doesn't take into account the over $10 billion deficit in health care and pension liabilities. Probably closer to $20 billion.

Maybe it's because the City hired over 5000 employees since 2011. Or maybe it's because the City has no strategy to achieve the projected growth. Or maybe it's because in good times, programs and services are not as scrutinized in the budget process as they would be in a recession or depression. It's all three folks.

Mark Leno and Angela Alioto are the only two of the major mayoral candidates who have brought up the need to audit the City departments. Leno also brought up performing a zero-based budget and stressed that if we can reduce the budget by even 1% then $100 million would be available for housing and homelessness. Mark and Angela, you are on the right track and there is more than $100 million out there.

Keep in mind everything is cyclical. There are many signs that the economy is slowing down, and with uncertain presidential policies, the City needs to develop future plans to ensure vital services and programs are met. I am tired of hearing we don't have enough teachers, we don't have enough police, we don't have enough emergency operators, we don't have enough sheriffs… I can go on. It's great being number one, but not in property crimes per capita among our nation's 50 biggest cities. This has got to end.

Alioto and Leno both know that we need to utilize our City resources more effectively and efficiently, to cut waste and consolidate departments, programs, and services where applicable, to eliminate those that are low priority or not cost effective, and reallocate funds to departments that are justified.

In order to resolve the affordable housing and homeless crisis we need the necessary funds available. But before the City start inundating the voters with initiatives, I would highly recommend you look into your own backyard. We need accountability in our City government and we need to show it to our taxpayers.

And don't forget that it is important to pick your top three mayoral choices, or at the least your top two this June. We are the City that knows how. We need to pick a Mayor who will step up and take the lead.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former City Asst. Assessor-Budget/Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

April 2018

Rank Choice Voting Doesn't Work

John Farrell
John Farrell

There is a major decision to be made this June and it is to elect a new mayor who will potentially lead our City over the next eight years. It is too bad we have to deal with this rank choice voting crap as votes are split and not everyone's vote counts in the end. Further, this is a flawed system which in most cases elects a candidate without a majority vote.

Let's look at the last two Mayor's races under rank choice voting. In the last mayor's race, Mayor Lee had no competition and only received 57% of the vote. What did that tell you? It shows people wanted a change but there was no alternative. All the alternatives were scared off or bargained off. Further, the results of rank choice voting from the previous mayor's election in 2011 were a factor.

In 2011 when the mayor's election was over, Mayor Lee had 59,775 votes out of 197,242, or 30.3% of the vote, before the rounds of the rank choice voting. After the rank choice voting rounds Mayor Lee won with 84,457 votes, or 42.8% of the total ballots cast. There were 52,524 votes that were exhausted, meaning these voters didn't vote for either of the two remaining candidates. In other words these votes didn't count. This to me is unconstitutional.

By the way, I get a kick because rank choice voting was meant to save taxpayer monies, and our City decides to provide public financing for elected positions. Did you know that the 2011 Mayoral election cost taxpayers $4,696,390 in disbursements to candidates per the Ethics Commission, and nearly $11 million since inception of public financing.

quote

It is too bad we have to deal with this rank choice voting crap as votes are split and not everyone's vote counts in the end. Further, this is a flawed system which in most cases elects a candidate without a majority vote.”

In my opinion, we need to return to the runoff between the top two candidates. This gives the voters an opportunity to vote for the person they prefer most or the lesser of the two evils, whichever applies, and everyone's vote counts. Further, we need to eliminate public financing. Nearly $11 million in your tax dollars has been spent so far on candidates running for elected office in our City. Don't you think this money could be better spent elsewhere? I do.

Whoever wins the mayor's race this June will win with substantially less than the majority of the votes due to this faulty ranked choice voting system. So please remember that it is important to pick your top three mayoral choices, or at the least your top two this June.

We are the City that knows how. We need to pick a Mayor who will step up and take the lead.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident -farrellinvestments@yahoo.com.

March 2018

How Bout Them Progressives!

John Farrell
John Farrell

All footballs fans are familiar with former Dallas Cowboy Couch Jimmy Johnson’s rant “How bout them Cowboys!” Well in the case of City Hall “How bout them progressives.” Whether you are conservative, moderate, progressive or whatever, you have to hand it to the progressives.

At the January 23 Board of Supervisor meeting the progressives (Supervisors Peskin, Kim, Ronen, Fewer and Yee) along with moderate Supervisors Mark Farrell and Jeff Sheehy collaborated to appoint Supervisor Farrell the Interim Mayor until the June election.

Supervisor Malia Cohen said, “This is the greatest progressive fumble I have seen in a long time. “ I don’t think so, Supervisor. And I don’t think Supervisor Cohen down deep thinks that as well. This was a smart move for the progressive Board members.

quote

This collaboration nipped in the bud the advantage Acting Mayor Breed had to appoint commissioners and work with communities in her capacity as Acting Mayor.”

 

Former Supervisor Chris Daly made a similar comment back in 2011 when the progressives held the majority on the Board of Supervisors and appointed Ed Lee interim Mayor as the result of Gavin Newsom becoming Lieutenant Governor. He emphasized “We are about to witness the biggest fumble in the history of progressive politics in San Francisco.” And he was right. Ed Lee gave his word that he wouldn’t run, and he did, and won with the help of incumbency.

This appointment was not about race, gender, sexual orientation, etc… It was pure politics. The progressives were backed up against the wall and knew no progressive would get the 6 votes needed. They understood that a small step backward for the next 5 months will result in a giant step for progressives in June, and an potential to lead our city for the next l 12 years.

If the progressives didn’t make this move then Acting Mayor Breed would have a major advantage of incumbency through June. This collaboration nipped in the bud the advantage Acting Mayor Breed had to appoint commissioners and work with communities in her capacity as Acting Mayor, such as courting Asian voters in Chinatown by proposing to rename Portsmouth Square after Ed Lee.

The moderates were not united behind Breed, which raises a red flag that there is a problem in the moderate camp which is good news for the progressives. We can speculate that breakdown of unity, but that doesn’t matter. The moderates better get their act together for the June election. This provided Supervisor Farrell, who was termed out at the end of the year, a once in a lifetime opportunity to be Mayor. And he took it. He now has the opportunity to appoint his now vacant seat in District 2.

Many believe that this was an unfair move to replace Acting Mayor Breed. Since no one put up a fight when then-Board President Diane Feinstein became Mayor as the result of the assassination of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978. Per Sec 13.101.5 (b) Vacancies – If the Office of the Mayor becomes vacant due to death, resignation, recall, permanent disability or the inability to carry out the responsibilities of the office, the President of the Board of Supervisors shall become the Acting Mayor and serve until a successor is appointed by the Board of Supervisors. Feinstein became Supervisor as the result of citywide elections, and the top vote getter became President of the Board back then, not like District elections today. A totally different time.

It is too bad we have to deal with this rank choice voting crap, as votes are split and not everyone’s vote counts in the end. In my opinion, we need to return to the runoff between the top two candidates. This gives the voters an opportunity to vote for the person they prefer most, or the lesser of the two evils, whichever applies.

Turns out, however, in the June election, you have to hand it to the progressives this time around for not fumbling the ball.

Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

February 2018

Presidio Terrace Street Sale:

Rescind or Not Rescind!

John Farrell
John Farrell

We all read recently about the City selling a private street in Presidio Terrace for $90,100 at auction because of a tax-default in 2015. The real property is a private circular street and sidewalks located in the gated Presidio Terrace community. The new owner is Hiuyan Lam of San Jose.

The Presidio Terrace Home Owner’s Association (HOA) was unaware of this auction sale. It never received the tax sale notice since it was sent to an incorrect address and they first heard about it when a resentative of the new owner came to them to see if they were interested in buying back the property in the beginning of this year.

The HOA, which includes 35 homeowners, blames the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office for sending tax bills to the address of a former HOA bookkeeper who retired in the early ‘80s, and then sending the tax-sale notice to the same incorrect address. For 30 years, tax bills were returned undeliverable as the HOA didn’t pay the $14 annual property tax since the bill continued to be sent to the former bookkeeper’s address and was never changed. With penalties and interest, the total tax amount owed by the HOA at time of the auction was $994.

Senator Feinstein, who lived in Presidio Terrace over 20 years, agrees with the HOA and wants the Board of Supervisors to overturn this tax-default sale. Senator Feinstein believes an incorrect address mistake by the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office caused the HOA failure to pay property taxes for three decades.

quote

If your property remains tax-defaulted for five years, it becomes subject to a tax sale. This means your property may be offered for sale at a public auction or acquired by a public agency if you do not pay …”

There is a Board of Supervisors hearing scheduled for Nov 28th with a motion to follow on whether to rescind or not rescind the sale. The Board will determine if the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office followed the law. Treasurer Jose Cisneros said his office followed all the right procedures.

So who is at fault? You can point fingers in various directions but that is not productive. It happens. So let’s resolve this matter and make sure it never happens again.

Let’s review the process. First off, the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office is not responsible for maintaining homeowner addresses. That is the job of the Assessor- Recorder’s Office. Second, it is the property owner’s responsibility to advise the Assessor-Recorder’s Office when the mailing address has changed.

If your property remains tax-defaulted for five years, it becomes subject to a tax sale. This means your property may be offered for sale at a public auction or acquired by a public agency if you do not pay the taxes before the date on which the property is offered for sale or acquisition.

We can speculate how the HOA’s address change could fall through the cracks for 30 years since their former bookkeeper retired. But I won’t go there.

Even though the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office followed the procedures there is one simple question. Was the Board of Supervisors aware that the property to be sold at auction was a street and sidewalks in Presidio Terrace? If no, then there was a disclosure mistake and rescind. If yes, let’s sit all the respective parties down and resolve this matter in an amiable manner before any more time and money is wasted.

If the Board of Supervisors knew that a street and sidewalks owned by the Presidio Terrace HOA was to be sold at auction, I cannot believe that they would have approved the sale. By the way, if a property tax bill, especially one as minimal as $14, has not been paid for over 30 years by any Home Owners Association then there is something wrong. The new owners’ representative got in contact with the Presidio Terrace HOA, why couldn’t the City? That is called public service.

Since my article deadline was due before the Nov 28th hearing, we will see how it all plays out.

I wish all of you and your families the best this Holiday Season. And to quote Tiny Tim, “Tiptoe through the Tulips.” Sorry, wrong Tiny Tim. “God Bless Us, Everyone.”

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

December 2017

The Real Heroes

John Farrell
John Farrell

Part 2

Last month I wrote an article ‘The Real Heroes’ thanking all the people who risked their own lives to save those people and animals that were in grave danger due to the massive flooding and rains during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. I also thanked all those who helped one another during Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the massive earthquake in Mexico. But it doesn’t end there.

The recent Northern California wildfires were the deadliest in California history. The fires destroyed over 5700 structures, evacuated 90,000 people from their homes, and killed at least 42 people. The stories of people losing their homes and lives were heart wrenching. I have several friends who lost their homes. It is devastating and shocking.

But never give up on the human spirit. There were more than 10,000 firefighters battling the fires, and coming from Canada and as far away as Australia unbelievable dedication and self-sacrifice. They were helping others first and risking their lives was second.

quote

Now that we are in a recovery mode, our public officials need to review our infrastructure and emergency plans to ensure our preparedness in the future for the next potential catastrophe.”

I cannot say enough about those firefighters, police, emergency workers and volunteers who rose to the occasion to confront the fires and assist those in need, as well as those who have provided donations.

It is times like these that remind us of how strong we are when we put our differences aside and unite for the common good.

Now that we are in a recovery mode, our public officials need to review our infrastructure and emergency plans to ensure our preparedness in the future for the next potential catastrophe.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

November 2017

The Real Heroes

John Farrell
John Farrell

When I was sitting back thinking about what to write many thoughts crossed my mind. There are so many things to write about. Should I write about the many NFL players either staying in the locker room or kneeling during the National Anthem protesting President Trump's comments about kneeling being unacceptable? No.

Maybe write about the Civil Grand Jury noting in their recent report that the majority of our residents believe the City is headed in the wrong direction. That our City suffers from widespread public dismay, even though we reside in the heart of the most dynamic region in our nation. The three main issues: 1) the affordable housing crisis, 2) the highest property crime rate per capita in the nation, and 3) a homeless situation that has worsened. While people grow more frustrated with City Hall, its budget has doubled over the past 10 years. No. Not that either.

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These are the people that deserve the accolades and a trip to the White House.”

There are so many divisive issues going on around us I thought we need a breath of fresh air. So I decided to acknowledge all the people who risked their own lives to save those people and animals that were in grave danger due to the massive flooding and rains during Hurricane Harvey and Irma. To all those who stepped up at a moment's notice and didn't hesitate to put another before themselves – Thank you!

To all our police, fire, emergency workers and volunteers throughout our nation - Thank you!

These are the people that deserve the accolades and a trip to the White House. These are the ones that we all should be looking up to and emulate. They are the fiber of America.

I also want to acknowledge all those who helped each other during Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the massive earthquake in Mexico.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

October 2017

It's Budget Time Again

John Farrell
John Farrell

On Friday June 23rd, the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee approved Mayor Ed Lee's FY 2017-18 budget proposal of $10.1 billion —an approximate 5% increase over the FY2016-17 budget of $9.6 billion. Good news is that this budget will be balanced and will not depend on revenues from a ballot initiative, like the increase in the sales tax that the voters rejected last November.

The Budget and Finance Committee is responsible for review of the mayor's budget proposal, making cuts, and then adding back monies to spending priorities of the Board of Supervisors members. The Board's Finance Committee Chair, Supervisor Malia Cohen, worked with the Mayor's Office to reduce $32.7 million from the mayor's $10.1 billion budget proposal to provide add-backs for the next fiscal year.

Of course there is always political drama. It was reported that Supervisor Aaron Peskin attempted to join Supervisor Cohen in negotiations with Mayor Lee, but the mayor refused to meet with him. Supervisor Peskin no longer wanted to serve and withdrew from the Committee. He was frustrated, since he wanted the Mayor's Office to cut more from its proposed budget in order to provide for more add-backs.

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I don't understand. The job of the Budget and Finance Committee is to review and make applicable cuts. Don't expect the Mayor to do the job for you.”

I don't understand. The job of the Budget and Finance Committee is to review and make applicable cuts. Don't expect the Mayor to do the job for you.

I have a better idea. Why doesn't the Mayor just set aside $30 million in next year's budget proposal for add-backs for the Board of Supervisors, since the budget appears to be just formality.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, 5th Generation San Franciscan, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

July/August 2017

Turn It Off Now

John Farrell
John Farrell

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently initiated its Groundwater Supply Project which blends Hetch Hetchy water with groundwater. Initially only 4% of our water will be blended, which will increase to 15% by 2020. Even though the PUC has assured customers there will be no change in the taste of the water, customers throughout the City have concerns including taste, odor, nitrate levels, and public notice.

On May 24th a hearing was held before the Board of Supervisor's Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee at the request of our Supervisor to address public concerns of the blended water. Concerned neighbor after concerned neighbor spoke out.

George Wooding, President of the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, stated that there is no more drought and there is no need this year for the water blending. Chris Bowman said that if the voters were aware of this water blending project back in 2002, they would have never approved the bonds for water system improvements, of which $66M has been provided for this water blending project. Other neighbors addressed the safety of the water and the insufficient public outreach by the PUC. I totally agree with all their concerns

quote

Supervisors Yee and Sheehy noted that we should revisit this matter once 1 million gallons per day of underground water is in the system, which is expected in late summer. I have a better idea - let's setup a task force. Just kidding!”

The Committee addressed their concerns as well, but in the end this hearing was continued to a future date. Supervisors Yee and Sheehy noted that we should revisit this matter once 1 million gallons per day of underground water is in the system, which is expected in late summer. I have a better idea - let's setup a task force. Just kidding!

I commend our supervisor for calling this hearing. But let's just not go through the motion to what appears to be to just appease the public. If the Board of Supervisors is really concerned then they should urge the mayor to have this turned off immediately, or pass a resolution urging the PUC to turn it off now since it is not needed at this time, and to address public concerns.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, 5th Generation San Franciscan, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

June 2017

Who Ordered the Code Red?

John Farrell
John Farrell

After years of conserving water we are finally out of the drought. Only now we are being asked to drink inferior water, which isn’t necessary at this time.

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently initiated its Groundwater Supply Project, which blends Hetch Hetchy water with groundwater. Initially only 4% of our water would be blended, which will increase to 15% by 2020. Even though the PUC has assured customers there would be no change in the taste of the water, customers throughout the City have concerns such as taste, odor, public notice, and nitrate levels. So why turn it on since it is not needed at this time and with all the public concern?

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The bottom line is this. This was not needed. As a concerned taxpayer I request Mayor Lee to please instruct the head of the PUC to turn this off immediately…”

This reminded me of the movie, A Few Good Men. Tom Cruise plays a young military lawyer who defends two marines charged in the killing of another marine. Cruise is convinced that an order was given, a Code Red, to kill the marine. The movie culminates with him grilling an abrasive colonel played by Jack Nicholson. Who can forget Jack’s condescending rant, “You can’t handle the truth.” Cruise confronts Nicholson and demands an answer, “Did you order the Code Red? You g—dam right I did.” Jack blurts out. Well, in the case of our City, who ordered the Code Red and gave the go ahead for the PUC to turn on the spigot even though it’s not needed at this time?

I totally agree with George Wooding, who wrote an outstanding article in last’s month’s edition reporting on this blended water. George noted in the article, “The key point here is that there is no need this year – or perhaps even through next year, if we have normal rainfall in 2017-2018 – to turn on the spigot quite yet of groundwater being ‘blended’ into our tap water supply.” Please read if you hadn’t had the chance yet.

Further, our Supervisor called for a hearing to discuss the testing and safety of the PUC’s Groundwater Supply Project prior to the start this month. This was to provide the PUC with another opportunity to address the concerns of our residents.

So who ordered the Code Red? Frankly it doesn’t matter. The bottom line is this. This was not needed. As a concerned taxpayer I request Mayor Lee to please instruct the head of the PUC to turn this off immediately, since it was not needed at this time, and to address public concerns.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, 5th Generation San Franciscan, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

May 2017

A City Gone Amok!

John Farrell
John Farrell

If the City and County of San Francisco were a Marvel Comic Book, Stan Lee would write an attention grabbing caption such as A City Gone Amok! Budget out of control, more than 5000 City jobs added since 2011. City wants more money to spend—potential City income tax. Aging infrastructure. Buildings go up like crazy, changing the character of neighborhoods. Drastic need for affordable housing. Family exodus. Homelessness, panhandling and drug use is epidemic. Crime. Break-ins. Pedestrian fatalities. Traffic congestion. The list goes on.

If this were a comic book then the Avengers would be sent in, or maybe a new team would be created like the Accountability Squad with Audit Man and Transparency Woman. But this is reality folks, and that is not going to happen.

It is all good that our City officials want more affordable housing, to improve services, and to maintain our infrastructure. As concerned citizens we all want that. But before you start inundating the voters with initiatives, such as a City income tax, I would highly recommend you look into your own backyard. Because if you did then you would not be considering measures like this.

The Mayor’s FY2016-17 budget of $9.6 billion was $1 billion more than it was 2 years ago, yet basic issues such as safety, housing affordability, and homelessness seem worse than ever. And the budget wasn’t even balanced, since it depended on an increase in the sales tax that the voters rejected. And now with our new president, our City revenues are expecting to lose at least $1 billion in federal monies as the ramification of being a Sanctuary City.

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The City must not continue this same approach to just balance the budget in order to get by without a plan for the future.””

Our City has a projected deficit for FY2017-18, and the Mayor has asked our City departments to cut up to 3% percentage of their budgets in order to balance the City’s budget. The City must not continue this same approach to just balance the budget in order to get by without a plan for the future.

I know I sound like a broken record but we need accountability and to run the City like a real business. As I mentioned in previous articles, the Board of Supervisors should immediately direct Budget Analyst Harvey Rose to conduct a zero-base budget. And with the many signs that the economy is slowing down and with new presidential policies, we need to cut costs and develop future plans to ensure vital city services are met. Further, we need to audit the practices of our revenue generating departments to ensure all revenue sources are addressed.

Over the past several years I have written articles identifying over $200 million in tax revenue to our City that is not currently being addressed. The tip of the iceberg? This $200 million would go a long way without asking taxpayers to pay the bill and potentially save millions in bond interest payments.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former Assistant Assessor – Budget & Special Projects, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

April 2017

Neighbors have questions about 250 Laguna Honda

John Farrell
John Farrell

Christian Catholic Homes (CCH) plans to build a 5 story, 150 unit, low income senior housing project at 250 Laguna Honda Blvd, for up to 30% formerly homeless seniors who have lived in the City at least six weeks. The property currently consists of a church, preschool, and parking lot. The lot is 70,950 sq ft per the tax records, or approximately 1.6 acres, and is currently zoned for single-family homes RH-1(D). By the way, when this project was first proposed to our Supervisor two years ago, it was for a 50 unit housing project; it was subsequently submitted for the proposed 150 unit project.

In November, the Forest Hill Neighborhood Association unanimously approved a resolution written by the neighbors to reject the project as proposed, since the development is too large.

First off, let's stop the name calling. Those neighbors who are against this 150 low income senior housing project as proposed have been called NIMBY's, privileged, anti-homeless, anti-seniors, and a lot of others.

Christian Homes development before

Let me make this clear, the neighbors opposed to the project as proposed are NOT against low income senior housing in our neighborhood. The neighbors have major concerns regarding the proposed project. These concerns include the oversize of the project, the integrity of the hill that would be excavated and has had landslides in the past, the closing of a church and preschool that provide important services to the community, especially children in the surrounding neighborhoods, and the lack of transparency of the developer with the neighborhood about the nature and scope of its plans. The good news is that the preschool is now being incorporated in the project as the result of neighborhood concerns.

Christian Homes development after
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First off, let's stop the name calling. Those neighbors who are against this 150 low income senior housing project as proposed have been called NIMBY's, privileged, anti-homeless, anti-seniors, and a lot of others.”

CCH submitted a Preliminary Project Assessment (PPA) application to the City in July for the 150 units. The Planning Department responded in a letter dated October 4th identifying Planning review requirements for the proposed project, including those related to environmental review, approvals, neighborhood notification and public outreach, the Planning Code, project design and other general issues of concern for the project. The letter notes that the proposed project's site does not conform to the zoning (currently RH-1(D)) or height requirement (currently 4 stories). The environmental review will include 1) the review of the Historic nature of the church, since it was identified as an example of Expressionistic design; 2) a Preliminary Archeological Review, since the project includes the excavation of up to 16 feet below grade; and 3) a Geology review, since the project is within a Landslide Hazard Zone. How will the project affect the integrity of the hill which has had landslides in the past?

On January 31st engineers and neighbors along the hill behind Castenada Ave met to discuss proposed hole drillings to determine the stability of the hill. Per the engineers, the process includes rolling equipment out on dollies over the hill sand to the drilling sites on the slope. The neighbors have concerns that this process for the core samplings will result in disruption of the hill sand, and more damage to an already at-risk hill. The engineers know that the hill is unstable and has had landslides.

Neighbors look forward to CCH's proposal in response to the issues noted in the PPA and working with CCH to address neighborhood concerns.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former City Asst. Assessor-Budget/Special Projects, 5th Generation San Franciscan, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

March 2017

The Times They Are A Changin'

John Farrell
John Farrell

It's a new year. We have a new President. As Bob Dylan sang out, "The times they are a changing." Our City has flourished over the past several years as money has been coming in hand over fist. Our tax revenues have increased substantially as tourism and the tech industry boomed, and buildings seemed to pop up overnight, changing the character of our neighborhoods. Further, more than 5000 government jobs have been added since 2011.

The Mayor's FY2016-17 budget of $9.6 billion was $1 billion more than it was two years ago, yet basic issues such as safety, housing affordability and homelessness seem worse than ever. And the budget wasn't even balanced, since it depended on an increase in the sales tax that the voters rejected. Now with our new President our City revenues are expecting to lose at least $1 billion in federal monies as the ramification of being a Sanctuary City. There are many signs that the economy is slowing down. As you might have read, our City has a projected deficit in FY2017-18 and the Mayor has asked our city departments to cut up to 3% of their budgets in order to balance the City's budget. Or put another way, live in the present. No plan for the future. It's just dumb to cut departments 3% across the board. Especially revenue generating departments. I have a better idea. It is called accountability. We need to run the City like a real business and stop the waste. This is the perfect time for the City to do a zero-based budget and start being accountable before the next bubble bursts. The Board of Supervisors should immediately direct Budget Analyst Harvey Rose to conduct a zero-base budget.

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...with the change in Presidency, we need to develop future plans to ensure vital city services are met. It's great the Warriors are building a new stadium, but we must stop the exodus of families from our city."

As I've mentioned in previous articles, in good times programs and services are not as scrutinized in the budget process as they would be in a recession or depression. Keep in mind everything is cyclical. And with the uncertainty with the change in Presidency, we need to develop future plans to ensure vital city services are met. It's great the Warriors are building a new stadium, but we must stop the exodus of families from our city.

…Yes, the times they are a changin'. But I expect nothing less of the greatest city in the world to meet these issues head on with our head held high.

Come gather 'round people

Wherever you roam.

Let's stand up for families

Before they are gone.

Our neighborhoods need safety

From break-ins and crime.

We need affordable housing.

It's about time.

For the times they are a changin'

—Sorry Bob.

John Farrell, MBA, Former City Asst. Assessor-Budget/Special Projects, father, Westside resident. farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

February 2017

District 7 Alert!

If the City Can Build It Here - They Can Build It Anywhere

John Farrell
John Farrell

We all agree that our City is in need of affordable housing. But one of the main concerns is that the City is in a reactive mode, pushing through projects without due diligence, like proper neighborhood input. This is the case with the proposed 5 story, 150 unit senior housing project at 250 Laguna Honda Blvd. The property currently consists of a church, daycare center and parking lot. The lot is 70,950 sq ft per the tax records, or approximately 1.6 acres, and is currently zoned for single-family homes RH-1(D).

Per the September 15th Chronicle article entitled “SF housing projects get help from city”, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) selected four affordable housing developers in need of predevelopment money for housing projects. One of the four developers included Christian Catholic Homes, (CCH) which will receive $2 million from the City, and plans to build a 5 story, 150 unit apartment complex at 250 Laguna Honda Blvd for low-income seniors, of which up to 30% will be formerly homeless seniors who have lived in the City at least six weeks. The unit mix consists of 1 bedroom units and studios with an average square footage of 595 and 382, respectively, and 60 parking spaces. By the way, the surrounding neighbors knew nothing about this project until this article came out.

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When this project was first proposed to our Supervisor two years ago it was for a 50 unit housing project; it was subsequently submitted for the proposed 150 unit project.”

Proposed 150 Unit Apartment

Proposed 150 Unit Development

As a result of the uproar from the neighbors concerned with the size and scope of the proposed project, there were meetings with MOHCD and church representatives on October 3 at the Forest Hill Clubhouse, and at the October 24 meeting of the West of Twin Peaks Central Council. Each time the clubhouse was packed with Forest Hill neighbors. And each time questions by neighbors were not answered.

Site of proposed 150 Unit Apartment

Christian Homes Development Site

On November 14 the Forest Hill Association Board of Directors, before a packed clubhouse of concerned neighbors, unanimously approved a resolution by the neighbors to reject the 150 unit project as proposed. All the directors noted that they were for affordable housing but that the project was just too large for the site.

Let me make this perfectly clear. I, like all the neighbors involved, am for affordable housing; however, I am strongly and vigorously opposed to this project as proposed, which seeks to rezone a single plot of land designated for single-family homes RH-1(D) into zoning for a 150-unit development in Forest Hill. I am opposed to this unwise project for numerous reasons, including the fact that the project (1) ignores the unique nature and character of Forest Hill by proposing an intensive use directly adjacent to single-family homes, among other things; (2) does not take into account the already existing heavy traffic congestion on this portion of Laguna Honda Blvd.; (3) will result in the closure of a church, a preschool, and an important early childhood development center, all of which provide important services to the community, especially children of Forest Hill and the surrounding neighborhoods; and (4) the developer has not been transparent with the neighborhood about the nature and scope of its plans and timeline. This doesn’t even take into account what the impact of the project will have on the integrity of the hill, which has had landslides in the past. By the way, if the City recommends a project like this on this respective site, then any potential site in District 7 is at risk. When will the City realize that one size does not fit all?

Site birdseye

CCH submitted a Preliminary Project Assessment (PPA) application to the City in July for the 150 units. The Planning Department responded in a letter dated October 4th identifying Planning review requirements for the proposed project including those related to environmental review, approvals, neighborhood notification and public outreach, the Planning Code, project design and other general issues of concern for the project. The letter notes that the proposed project’s site does not conform to the zoning (currently RH-1(D)) or height requirement (currently 4 stories). The environmental review will include 1) the review of the Historic nature of the church, since it was identified as an example of Expressionistic design, 2) a Preliminary Archeological Review, since the project includes the excavation of up to 16 feet below grade and 3) a Geology review, since the project is within a Landslide Hazard Zone. How will the project affect the integrity of the hill, which has had landslides in the past?

Christian Homes closeup

When this project was first proposed to our Supervisor two years ago it was for a 50 unit housing project; it was subsequently submitted for the proposed 150 unit project.

I have a win-win solution. Have Park and Recreation buy the land from the Forest Hill Christian Church for a park, as they did with the Franciscan Reservoir on Russian Hill in 2014 from the PUC. The City could have built hundreds of affordable units on this approximate 3 acre lot which was ideal for housing, but the Russian Hill neighborhood wanted a park. This makes sense. Let’s not have another poorly planned project, like the Millenium disaster, that could affect the adjacent homes on the hill.

Mayor Lee, please drive by the site at 250 Laguna Honda Blvd and see for yourself that a 5 story, 150 unit complex makes no sense. Why not build more senior housing by Laguna Honda Hospital? I would be more than happy to help you find suitable locations, and even provide you with sources of revenue currently overlooked by our City departments to assist in building them. We are in this together.

John Farrell Broker/Realtor® – Farrell Real Estate, MBA, Former City Asst. Assessor-Budget/Special Projects, 5th Generation San Franciscan, Westside resident - farrellreinvestments@yahoo.com

December 2016/ January 2017

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