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Letters to the Editor 

Letters from November 1, 2000

The Housing Mess

Good work! Here's our rental résumé: I was pleased to read John Mecklin's thoughtful case for building coalitions as a way of solving our housing crisis ("It's the Housing, Stupid," Oct. 18). I have seen the value of this approach just this year in my work to create two pieces of affordable housing legislation.

The Housing Action Coalition is an unprecedented coalition of traditionally warring factions from the affordable housing, development, neighborhood, business, and nonprofit communities who agreed to identify areas of com- mon ground to break the stalemate in the production of more affordable housing.

We were able to agree on two pieces of legislation. The first increases the amount of affordable units developers must include in new developments, including live/work lofts. The second improves the approval process for new housing development, making it easier to build more housing in transit-rich areas that can most easily accommodate it. It wasn't easy, but we have created a plan that could add nearly 1,000 units to the housing stock each year.

Mecklin was also correct to conclude that a problem of this complexity requires board members and the public to put politics aside. Following a coalition-building model, and with the co-sponsorship of Supervisors Becerril, Bierman, Kaufman, Katz, and Newsom, we now have the opportunity to act on an issue of crucial importance to the soul of this city.

Supervisor Mark Leno
San Francisco

So who do we blame? We want names: While I agree with your general sentiments around the opposition to the housing plan at Feinstein Elementary, aren't you blaming the messengers?

Michael Yaki, Mabel Teng, Amos Brown, and even Leland Yee have all supported affordable housing plans in the past. The Feinstein project was very ambitious, and that unfortunately made it a big target for the anti-housing activists, who are the real problem here. Bending to pressure on one project hardly makes these people enemies of affordable housing. Moreover, have you looked at their opponents? The promising ones are all too green, while the majority of them are cut from the same cloth as the Process-Obsessed, Mouth-Breathing Mole People who have made high-density housing politically unpalatable in San Francisco.

Michael Thornton Ege
North Beach

Yes, we've angered many French people: Truly an excellent piece on San Francisco's ridiculous, self-created affordable housing holocaust. Very refreshing to see a San Francisco writer mock the so-called progressives and call them economic illiterates, which they so obviously are. You're gonna provoke beaucoup outrage with that article, but hang in there, because you're absolutely right.

Wayne Heuring
Twin Peaks

Reviewing the Reviewer

That thesaurus crack was really captious: Does anyone proofread for coherency at your paper? After reading Matthew Stafford's self-glossing review/babble on Cajun Pacific ("Bye-Bye Bourbon Street," Eat, Oct. 25), one wonders whether he was giving us a self-history lesson or restaurant review. Stop drinking Hurricanes before you approve copy for SF Weekly. I also was not impressed with his vocabulary; he obviously made good use of his thesaurus.

My review of Cajun Pacific: a good down-home, down-to-earth, fun place to eat. Stick to the po' boys and batter-fried zucchini.

Ed Florence
Sunset District

Gas Money

Well, real estate's a little slow right now: Thanks for the great article on City CarShare ("Sharing the Love," Matt Smith, Oct. 18). We'd like to make one small clarification: City CarShare has raised the majority of our seed money from environmentally minded foundations, not local developers. We're a nonprofit organization, and our funders include the Columbia Foundation, the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, the Goldman Fund, the San Francisco Foundation, and San Francisco Beautiful. We've also raised about $20,000 from local developers.

Elizabeth Sullivan
Executive Director, City CarShare
Mission District

Be True to Your School

A grad has a gripe: I read your story on Balboa High School recently ("Hard Lessons," Oct. 11) and, to be honest, I think it pretty much stunk. I am a former student (class of 2000) and I know what the school is like. You made my school out to be the educational garbage dump of San Francisco. I did not see much of a positive representation of Bal. Everyone knows the school is underfunded, but that's the case with many San Francisco schools. I know there is a textbook shortage, but there is as much of a shortage at other schools. Another thing I didn't see mentioned was the support from the alumni association, which is always doing something for the school, whether it is donating money or donating senior sweaters.

Although it doesn't show all the time, Bal has a lot to offer for those willing to accept it. Please, next time you do a story on a school, don't offer the biased view that everyone wants to hear. Tell them about the strong sense of school spirit the students have. Tell them about the family ties in that school, the grandparents, uncles, parents, and siblings who went there. Tell people about the bad, but balance it with the good.

Elizabeth Sydow
Silverview Terrace

Oh, We Get Suggestions, All Right

But you might not want to hear them: It's easy to bash or complain -- and in your case profitable (Puni, by Dan Siegler). I wouldn't be so harsh if you would include some offer of compassion or a suggestion of how service could be improved. Better people than you (excuse me, Your Puniness), people who get paid more than you and go to work every day to fight the forces that oppose, are committed to having Muni be effective. My wish: Use your Puni space to collect suggestions for improvement, since you obviously want better service or are frustrated by the shortcomings.

Steve Schwartz


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