Jane Kim has had seven years on the Board of Supervisors to implement policies that would actually stabilize San Francisco rents. Yet rents in the Bay Area rose by 50% over her tenure. This is because Jane Kim has sided with wealthy homeowners and continued housing segregation rather than fighting to build affordable homes in every neighborhood.
Jane Kim has helped make San Francisco more expensive, and to add insult to injury, she lies about it at every opportunity.
Whether it’s zoning, local control, displacement, demographics, affordable housing, or campaign finance, Jane Kim aides the powerful while rationing crumbs for those who struggle to pay rent in San Francisco. And instead of admitting where her priorities really lie, Jane Kim consistently chooses blatant dishonesty about her actions. Here are some of her greatest hits.
Kim’s zoning delusions
Kim boasts of negotiating record levels of new affordable housing and helping permit more affordable housing in her district than all the other supervisorial districts combined over the past seven years.
She conveniently omits that the only reason she’s been able to build more is that the high-rises she’s permitted in her district are illegal for developers to build in the Sunset. Thanks to 1970s-era downzoning implemented explicitly to preserve class- and racial segregation. “Our zoning map is an idea of how a healthy city should look,” Kim said while speaking to SF YIMBY.
Senator Scott Weiner’s now-shuttered SB 827 would have rolled back racist zoning laws near mass transit hubs by rezoning to prevent local governments from prohibiting mid-rise apartment buildings. In a recent op ed and campaign video Kim vehemently opposed the bill.
This despite the fact that SB 827 would have likely reduced racial segregation in San Francisco. It would allow lower income, racially diverse people to move into racially segregated, wealthy neighborhoods by bringing more affordable homes to the west side.
Which is why California urban planning professors and national housing-equity researchers endorsed the bill. “SB 827 alone cannot solve the problem of racial residential segregation, but it is a major step in the right direction,” they wrote. As Henry Grabar wrote for Slate, what Weiner proposed “was nothing less than to upend the entire framework for the past century of American racial politics and wealth building.”
Jane Kim on displacement
So why did Kim oppose SB 827? She claimed that it would have caused displacement because the cheapest parcels of land will generate the highest profit. Not according to the experts. In fact, SB 827 would have concentrated the greatest increases in affordable housing in the approximately 72% of San Francisco parcels that are zoned RH-1 or RH-2, which correspond to single-family and duplex housing, respectively.
On the issue of displacement, Kim’s record isn’t great. For example, she’s thrown her support behind the Central SOMA Plan, which experts agree will likely cause more displacement by bringing new jobs without building enough new homes for all the new workers, which raises the cost of housing, pushing out long-term residents.
Jane Kim’s lies on local control
Kim also claimed SB 827 would “take away our ability to negotiate and have a conversation about what works in our neighborhoods and communities.” That’s not even close to true. SB 827 did nothing to streamline the community input or CEQA process.
As journalist Kim-Mai Cutler put it, “She is totally disingenuous here.”
Jane Kim’s demographic dishonesty
Kim claimed SB 827 allows “unlimited luxury condo high rises” that “will destroy SF neighborhoods.”
That was a lie. SB 827 allows (not mandates) multi-family homes and allows for height limits on new development of up to five stories. Its latest amendments did not remove height limits around bus stops.
Slate describes the density allowed by SB 827 as “a residential scale about half that of a typical Parisian street.”
So if not density, is it demographics that Kim thinks would “destroy” SF neighborhoods? It’s telling that she rallied against SB 827 in West Portal instead of in her own neighborhood of SOMA.
Jane Kim’s lies on affordable housing
Perhaps Kim’s most flagrant lie was that SB 827 wouldn’t create affordable housing. According to everyone from the SF Planning Department to national fair housing advocates, the bill would increase the stock of affordable housing in California.
Kim then claimed SB 827 would have allowed developers to build without having to contribute affordable housing. This is patently false. All inclusionary requirements apply to all SB 827 projects.
That Kim wants to spare West Portal from luxury high rises is interesting, considering Kim built her career cutting deals with developers to build luxury condo high rises and then taking campaign dollars from those developers.
Speaking of campaign dollars, Kim promised voters she would “publicly denounce, renounce and reject” funds from outside parties during her Mayoral race back in January. “I enthusiastically accept the Fair Campaign Promise,” Kim wrote on Facebook. “One of the greatest challenges in our nation today is the unscrupulous amount of money funneled into our elections.” Since then Kim has repeatedly berated London Breed for not making the “Fair Campaign Promise.”
Recently the SF Examiner reported that organized labor has spent $185,000 on Kim’s campaign via their Super PAC, exactly the kind of independent expenditure she pledged to reject.
Candidates have no control over independent expenditures. Anyone at any time can create a Super PAC and any rejection by the candidate has no impact on campaign spending. Jane Kim either didn’t know how independent expenditures worked when she made the pledge, or knew the pledge was meaningless.
Kim was also instrumental in ousting London Breed as San Francisco’s acting mayor and replacing her with Mark Farrell. Kim justified her move by claimed to be concerned about Breed’s funding from tech billionaire Ron Conway, yet somehow wasn’t bothered that Conway has been an investor in his Farrell’s venture capital firm since 2011.
Kim’s terrible record on San Francisco’s most pressing issue
SB 827 was a blow against the zoning laws written so wealthy homeowners could keep low-income and minority newcomers out of their neighborhoods. Kim talks the talk on inequality, but her policies, like support for historically discriminative zoning ordinances and the Central Soma Plan, make the problem worse.
Kim made a lot of claims about why she opposed SB 827, but none of them turned out to be true. She also claimed to be working with Weiner on amendments to the bill, but there turned out to be no evidence she or her staff ever reached out to collaborate.
It’s abundantly clear that Jane Kim opposed SB 827 in order to gain the support of wealthy homeowners who are terrified of having the high rises she authorized in her district show up in their neighborhoods, affordability and displacement be damned. Ironically, this is her move to win support in the very neighborhoods that she lost to Scott Wiener in her 2016 bid for State Senate.
While Kim lies about her positions, London Breed is busy doing the work, like reducing fees that target low-income San Franciscans and actually building more affordable housing. Moreover, Breed has a serious, workable proposal for making sure everyone who wants to live in San Francisco can afford to do so.
Deliberative politics will always favor those with the most time, energy, and money. I can respect Jane Kim’s decision to sacrifice affordability on the altar of electoral politics. What I cannot respect is her unambiguous lies about what she stands for and what she’s doing. When your policies make the city more affordable, when you know you’re doing what’s right, you don’t need to lie about it.
Cathy Reisenwitz writes about software for a living, sex on the side, and policy for fun. Her column “Unintended Consequences” appears regularly in the Bay City Beacon. She’s pro-sex, pro-feminism, and pro-market. Sign up for her newsletter and follow her on Twitter.
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