Rafael Mandelman, London Breed, and Mark Leno | Photos: Anthony O’Donnell/Tony Taylor
A HISTORIC ELECTORAL TRIUMPH
Mandelman wins D8, Ranked-choice voting leaves San Francisco in suspense
After a nail-biting week involving tens of thousands of mail-in ballots and a debatable ranked choice voting system, London Breed beat out Mark Leno in one of the closest San Francisco mayoral elections in over 20 years.
“I am London Breed, I am president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and soon to be mayor of the city and county of San Francisco,” Breed said to cheers during a short news conference outside of City Hall on June 13th. “I am so hopeful about the future of our city, and I am looking forward to serving as your mayor. I am truly humbled and I am truly honored.”
After conceding the race, Leno called Breed to congratulate her, CNN reported. “She is a remarkable young woman,” Leno said. “She is going to do a very fine job and we all wish her the best because her success is San Francisco’s success.”
On election night, former State Senator Leno prevailed over Board of Supervisors President Breed to finish the term of Mayor Ed Lee, whose sudden death in December created the need for the June 5 special election. According to the Atlantic, Leno, whose win would’ve made him San Francisco’s first openly gay mayor, held a lead of 1146 votes after the first batch of votes were tallied.
After a week of tallying, however, Leno’s lead all but vanished with Breed surpassing him over the weekend by 1861 votes.
In a city whose African American population is a mere six percent, Breed, who grew up in San Francisco public housing and is a lifelong renter, will become the City’s first black female mayor.
“No matter where you come from, no matter what you decide to do in life, you can do anything you want to do,” Breed said on the steps of City Hall. “Never let your circumstances determine your outcome in life.”
San Francisco uses a ranked-choice voting (RCV) system that allows voters to select their top three favorites. The candidates with the least votes are eliminated in rounds until there’s a winner; the person with the most first-place votes isn’t necessarily that winner.
In the old system, if a mayoral candidate failed to garner a majority of votes (50 percent), a run-off election would be held between the top two most voted candidates. But RCV is referred to as “instant runoff” because instead of holding another election, the Department of Elections simply counts second and third choice votes until one candidate hits a majority.
In 2010, Jean Quan became the mayor of Oakland when she scored enough second- and third-place ranked choice votes to beat the candidate with the most first-place votes.
The last San Francisco mayor’s race to be nearly this competitive was in 1995 when Willie Brown led in the initial election by barely 2000 votes before winning more easily in a runoff, the Atlantic reports.
Breed will take office in July and serve until the end of 2019.
MANDELMAN WINS DISTRICT 8 SUPERVISOR
The progressive District 8 Supervisor candidate Rafael Mandelman beat out incumbent Jeff Sheehy in the mid-term June election. Sheehy was appointed to the position by the late Mayor Ed Lee after Scott Wiener went to the State Senate.
Mandelman will fill the District 8 seat until November, when he must compete again for a full four-year term. Sheehy confirmed that he will not run for District 8 supervisor a second term, leaving Mandelman to face off against a crowded field of minor candidates.
“I just want to express my tremendous gratitude for all the work people did, hundreds of volunteers knocking on doors making phone calls,” said Mandelman during his Cafe Du Nord election. “We’ve got tremendous support from folks in every neighborhood in the district, and I just am so grateful that I’m given this chance to try and make a difference.”
Mandelman’s ready to get to work for San Francisco, the Chronicle reported, citing homelessness, issues with public transit and petty infighting at City Hall as items he will prioritize.
Mandelman has long served on the San Francisco City College Board of Trustees and is credited with helping save the school from losing its accreditation a few years ago.
“If you grow up in San Francisco, you should have a decent path to a middle-class life,” Mandelman told Castro Courier in November during his campaign. “[Children] should be able to go to school anywhere, get free community college, and get a job at an excellent corporation like Twitter or Google. There’s private wealth that should be shared with the people that live here.”
He called the Bay Area an economic driver. “Within 50 miles people are changing how we bank, shop, interact, have sex. We are generating gazillions of dollars in our private sector.”
Mandelman will be sworn into office in July.
Bruce Sparrow will open floral boutique BluMen at 548 Castro Street this summer. Photo: Tony Taylor
BLU’MING NEW FLORAL BUSINESS
After over 20 years of working at IXIA floral boutique (2331 Market Street), first time entrepreneur Bruce Sparrow is ready to blossom. BluMen, a botanic sculpture boutique, will open at 548 Castro Street in July.
“This is my first storefront,” Sparrow told Castro Courier. “I haven’t been this excited in a long time.”
Formerly located at 548 Castro Street was Whatever Store, a comic book shop. After nearly 12 years on the Castro strip, Whatever Shop relocated to 2275 Market Street, the former Books, Inc. storefront that closed in 2016.
Sparrow, 52, who has lived in Castro for 27 years and has been doing arrangements since he was 16, said the neighborhood is what’s he’s used to.
“I worked at IXIA since 1997 and the new ownership inspired me to start my own business,” said Sparrow.
BluMen boutique will offer only high end floral art, no cut flowers, which is a luxury service in the botanical industry, according to Sparrow.
He admitted that San Francisco’s small-business permitting was “easy” because BluMen required minimal construction, only painting and new flooring. “All cosmetic stuff,” he said, adding, “I also negotiated a great rent.”
A California native, Sparrow’s client list includes UCSF, dental offices, downtown lobbies, work spaces, private residences, and weddings.
BluMen will host an Grand Opening celebration later this year.
DELECTABLE PRIDE EVENTS
Precita Park Cafe
On Tuesday, June 19th, neighborhood restaurant, Precita Park Cafe will host their annual Gay Pasta night for an evening of food, friends, and Pride fun. Executive Chef Lori Frank has created a Gay Pasta Menu that will feature colorful pastas such as Rainbow Ravioli with butternut squash, GrindR Fusilli with rainbow Fusilli and Spaghetti Girl with handmade rainbow spaghetti. 20 percent of all proceeds from the Gay Pasta Menu will go to Art For AIDS & The Alliance Health Project. For reservations go to opentable.com or call the cafe directly at 415-647-7702.
The Castro’s prideful Finn Town tavern is celebrating Pride with a special “All You Need is Love” cocktail menu honoring prominent members of the LGBTQ community. The bar team, led by Finn Town’s mixologist R. M. Richards has created a menu of celebratory cocktails honoring artists, activists, and gay performers such as Cleve Jones with the Always Rising cocktail and Gilbert Baker, the Designer of the Rainbow Flag, with the Busty Ross.
On Pride weekend, Finn Town will transform into a brunching destination with a “Pink Brunch” on Saturday, June 23rd from 10am – 3pm and an all day “Rainbow Brunch” on Sunday, June 24th. Guests can sip on Pride cocktails and indulge in Finn Town’s signature brunch favorites such as the Power Bowl with poached farm egg, avocado, almond, curly kale, snap peas, and turmeric quinoa, Heritage Pork Benedict with poached farm eggs, braised greens, skillet fries, and sage hollandaise, and Brioche French Toast with fruity pebbles, Meyer lemon curd, and huckleberry syrup.
On Friday, June 22nd and Saturday, June 23rd from 11pm-1:30am, the tavern will transform into “Club Finn” for a “classy, not trashy” Pride nightlife destination. Guests can party the night away with special cocktails and festivities including a red carpet, balloons, step and repeat photographer, and boys with Jell-O shots to keep the party going all night long.
Fate of the earth in the hands of women’s education
Over the last 200 years, the earth’s population has increased from one billion to over seven billion people and is projected to grow to 11.1 billion by the year 2100. This growth will have enormous impacts on the natural environment, on the extinction of many species, and even on the future of our own species. Despite these impacts, over-population remains a sensitive topic to introduce into discussions about the environment.
To learn more about the best ways to approach this topic, I spoke with Karen Gaia Pitts, an environmental activist who has studied population issues for years and is currently a member of the Sierra Club Sustainable Population through Equity and Health Committee. Pitts referred me to environmental writer Paul Hawken’s new compendium, Drawdown, in which a coalition of scientists, economists, and other experts quantitatively evaluate the most effective ways to reverse global warming. Of the 100 solutions listed, girls’ education and family planning rank in the top 10 ways to lower emissions.
Supporting girl’s education in the era of the #metoo movement is a no-brainer, but adding in family planning can lead to a mine field of fear of government control over our personal lives and concern over religious beliefs.
For example, past policies that have dictated the number of children per family have been contentious; extreme programs such as forced sterilization are not something that most people want to replicate. These types of programs are based on the assumption that on their own, women will choose to have as many children as possible.
It turns out that this is not the case. In Drawdown, Hawken states that 225 million women in lower-income countries “want the ability to choose whether and when to become pregnant but lack the necessary access to contraception -- resulting in some 74 million unintended pregnancies each year.”
Despite this, in many countries the rate of population increase has leveled off or decreased. What has led to this change in family sizes?
Many factors come into play but, according to Pitts, making family planning information widely available in their native language to women and girls, combined with providing convenient access to safe, routine, and low cost or free health care, have been shown to be effective in giving women power over their lives and therefore over their choice as to the size of their families.
What about religious objections? Studies have shown that the majority of women who are members of traditionally conservative religious groups have tried or will regularly use contraceptives -- if the contraceptives are available. It is important to emphasize that family planning programs involve much more than providing abortions.
In fact, family planning education combined with low-cost health options results in fewer abortions and better health care outcomes for both women and their babies.
The other major factor impacting population growth is education for girls. This is something we can all support as good for the girls themselves. But there are further benefits. Studies show that girls’ education results in fewer child marriages, choosing to start families later, choosing to have fewer children, a drop in maternal mortality, and healthier babies. Economically, education for girls results in higher wages and greater upward mobility for women and a greater contribution to economic growth.
One of the most stunning statistics Pitts shared is that, according to the Brookings Institution, a woman with 12 years of schooling will have four to five fewer children than a woman with little or no schooling.
But is universal girls’ education attainable? How much would it cost to educate all of the girls in lower and lower-middle-income countries through secondary education? The United Nations estimates about $39 billion annually above what is already being spent. Of course, that is a lot of money, but with hundreds of billions currently being spent by the United States government on military development, one is reminded of the 60’s bumper sticker -- “It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.” It is just a matter of setting the right priorities.
Pitts emphasized that population numbers also count for wealthy countries -- the higher the standard of living, the greater the environmental impact of each person. Estimates vary, but one 2015 Oxfam study stated that at a global level, the carbon emissions of the richest 10 percent are 11 times greater than those of the poorest 50 percent of the world.
Add that to the surprising fact that 50 percent of pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and it is obvious it is in everyone’s interest to advocate for comprehensive health care for women in the United States as well.
When given information and a choice, women will control their own family planning. And, in turn, our planet and all the life on it have a better chance not only of surviving but also of thriving.
Katherine Howard is a member of the Executive Committee of the SF Group of the Sierra Club.
Buena Vista Neighborhood Association News:
There are lots of activities going on within the Buena Vista Neighborhood Association as reported in their most recent newsletter. The month of June will feature some important neighborhood meetings for those who are part of the BVNA or those who are interested in this wonderful section of the city. Here is a snapshot of some important items.
To form or not form a Greens Benefit District: Possible formation of the Greater Buena Vista (GBV) Green Benefits District. A group of citizens are proposing the formation of a Green Benefits District (GBD) which would introduce an annual property assessment (tax), with proceeds to provide funding for determined services to maintain and improve Buena Vista Park, Corona Heights Park, and other open spaces within the GBV district. This group, with support from SF DPW, and non-profit Place Lab, held a first community meeting in May and is holding a follow-up community meeting on Monday, June 11 from 6:30-8:30 pm at the Randall Museum.
In response to this effort, a group of neighbors recently formed the Concerned GBV Citizens, with concerns and alternatives conveyed in a flier entitled, You Are Not Alone, along with their group contact information.
Although the current BVNA leadership does not feel that BVNA should yet take a formal position, in conversations with BVNA members and other neighbors, a majority have expressed significant concerns, with a growing number opposed to the GBD concept. As neighbors learn more, much of the concerns are based on the general principle of a GBD, and how this could work against the existing systems used to raise, allocate and apply city, state, federal and private funds to care for San Francisco parks, open spaces and other public assets. Concerns are also expressed on the ability of neighborhood volunteers to properly administer a GBD, and the current San Francisco process for forming a GBD. To express your view on the GBD, complete the GBV GBD survey and attend the meeting at the Randall Museum on June 11.
Buena Vista Park Projects Update: SF Rec and Parks recently completed the upgrading of the irrigation system of Buena Vista Park by automating all valves, including those on the Haight Street lawn, the full perimeter around the outside of the park, and some at the summit of the park. This will enable more targeted and efficient watering, while also requiring less of the gardeners’ time. As a reminder, a large part of the funding for this project came from the $200,000 assigned to Buena Vista Park from the 2015 city budget, as part of the Buena Vista Park capital planning initiative between Buena Vista community members and SF Rec and Parks.
In April, the important tree management 4-month project was completed, with a total of 56 trees removed and 9 trees pruned. All trees had been assessed as highest risk to park visitors and those walking and driving by, due to falling branches or whole trees coming down in the high winds. This is also part of healthy tree management by removing old and unhealthy trees, and making room for new trees to be planted later. Carol Sionkowski, SF Rec and Parks service area manager sees this as part of an ongoing reforestation effort, with the grant application mentioned above and other fund raising activities, important to the expedited timing of this effort. Of highest priority is the reforestation and replanting of the park’s outer southeast hillside, where a number of large trees were removed, and the park’s northwest center interior hillside, above the dog run, where a number of trees came down in past winter storms or were removed. A big thanks to the Rec and Parks arborist group for leading this project, to HortScience for conducting the assessment, and to ArboristNow for doing most of the removal and pruning.
Impressive progress has been made on re-landscaping the steep hillside that frames the big stair entrance at Haight and Baker Sts. Thank you to Rec and Parks supervisor Fankie Macuer and gardener Milo Lineman for leading this effort with other gardeners and apprentices, and large, one-day corporate volunteer groups.
Buena Vista Park Tennis Courts: Thanks to a generous grant from San Franciscans for Sports and Recreation (SFFSR), Rec and Parks began the resurfacing of the Buena Vista Park tennis courts in May, and it is expected that this project will be completed in July.
Change in Buena Vista Park hours: The proposed change in Buena Vista Park closure hours, from the current (10pm-5am), to (12am-6am), in support of park and neighborhood safety, is continuing to move forward. This chance received strong support at community meetings, which included Supervisor London Breed, Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, SFPD Park Station Captain Una Bailey, and SF Rec and Parks Rangers Lt. Marcus Santiago.
For more information on the Buena Vista Neighborhood Association email the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Randy Jacob on Unsplash
California Budget to include funding for homeless youth
On Tuesday, June 12, Governor Jerry Brown and the leadership of the California Legislature released the official proposed budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year. The funding proposal includes funding requested by Senator Scott Weiner for assisting programs for homeless youth as part of Senate Bill 918. The budget package will be voted on by the full legislature by June 15.
Weiner authored SB 918, The Homeless Youth Act, with input from Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, and had this to say about the proposed budget. “The budget agreement announced by Governor Brown, President pro-Tem Atkins, and Speaker Rendon is a great reflection of our values, including funding to reduce homelessness, increase education spending, and fighting poverty throughout our state. I fought for a number of key priorities in this budget, most significantly an increase in funding for our homeless youth that we proposed in Senate Bill 918. This funding will help California to end the moral failing that is our youth homelessness crisis. California has 38% of the nation’s homeless youth, and we need to do more to help these young people before they become chronically homeless adults. This funding is the most significant investment we have made to address this problem, and I want to thank all of the advocates who helped push this effort forward.
The budget also includes critical funding for San Francisco, including funds for our seawall, which needs massive investments to strengthen it against earthquakes and sea level rise. I also worked to secure funding for the GLBT History Museum in San Francisco, so that we can continue to honor our community’s history. These are just a few of the great priorities included in our state budget, among many.”
SB 918 requires the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to develop, oversee and administer grant programs that would award funds to nonprofit or continuum of care administrative entities to provide services for youth experiencing homelessness. As originally proposed, the Senate Bill also included $60 million in funding. The budget includes $17.5 million for youth homelessness, triple what is currently spent on homeless youth.
Photo by Davidson Luna on Unsplash
Sugah Betes on Hamilton, filthy dirty drag queens,
and colorblind casting
Photos Courtesy of Sugah Betes
It may be a little bit easier to get tickets to Hamilton: The Drag Version than for Hamilton, the Broadway version, but don’t wait too long, because this show will sell out. It will be running for five weeks at the wonderful PianoFight in San Francisco, at 144 Taylor Street. Sugah Betes, who presents Hamilton: The Drag Experience with Cruizin d’Loo, chatted to Castro Courier about their upcoming run at PianoFight and about what else she has in store for 2018.
Wendy: You’re about to begin a new run of Hamilton: The Drag Experience in July, and it’s a production that has been running on and off since 2016. Obviously it’s been a big success, parallel to that other production of Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda exercises artistic license with his version of the Hamilton story; I imagine you might go a little bit further.
Sugah: Very much so. This will be our seventh run of it. [We did] a couple of one-offs at smaller bars, and then this will be the third time at PianoFight. We were super inspired by the way he [Lin-Manuel Miranda] took the liberties and did a colorblind casting of it. We went a step further and did a gender-blind colorblind casting. We have an African American Washington and Hamilton; we have an Asian Jefferson; we have a trans person who’s stepping in for Washington during this run, so we wanted to include the gender aspect that San Francisco is famous for as well. We put a little bit of an irreverent drag spin on everything. There are just certain things that drag queens bring to shows that you can’t get away with in [other] theater, especially if you’re singing, you can’t have the little asides that our cast does.
Wendy: You partner with Cruzin d’Loo on The Drag Experience shows. How did you form your partnership; what’s the history of your relationship?
Sugah: Cruzin and I have been friends for years. I am a hostess of The Monster Show in the Castro, at The Edge bar, a musicals bar basically. They ask us to do a musically themed drag show every once in a while, and instead of just doing a tribute to a show, we decided we would try running, based on the [success] of Hamilton, a mini production of it, cutting out about half the numbers, but still giving people a real show. I pulled that together and we did that. About a month later, Cruizin [was asked] to bring a show to PianoFight. She was originally thinking movie musicals, but that’s very much Peaches Christ’s domain, so she asked if I had any suggestions. I said, “We can always bring Hamilton there as a place holder, and then move into something else,” but Hamilton was a smash hit there, so they asked us to keep going with that.
Wendy: PianoFight is a relatively new venue in this city. It’s great that they’re hosting all types of events there, including more offbeat stuff, a la New York.
Sugah: True, they have all three spaces, where there are bands playing in the front room, simultaneously with a sketch comedy in the smaller room, and a big drag show in the theater. You can get a whole night’s entertainment plus dinner and drinks.
Wendy: Hamilton is one of the shows that you and Cruizin have produced as part of The Drag Experience. How long has The Drag Experience been happening?
Sugah: Hamilton was our first show. After we did it at The Edge, we picked it up at PianoFight in September, 2016. “Let’s put this on and see how it goes,” was the idea the venue had. We sold out before we even opened the first show, so they immediately asked us to start doing more. We were thinking of doing three shows a year; they asked us to do five. We’ve repeated Hamilton, based on the popularity, but we’ve also done Chicago, and Cabaret, and Hairspray, and I wrote a Christmas special based on all Dolly Parton music [A Holly Dolly Christmas Spectacular] that we strung together to make a campy Christmas story, about what happened after the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer story ended.
Wendy: And these are sing-a-long productions?
Sugah: We ask [our audience] to. If they’re laughing and cheering along with us, or if they’re singing with us, the better show they get, because we can feel their energy and mirror it back at them.
Wendy: How often do you start a new production, and do you have any new productions that are in your radar, or your plans, that you’re thinking of doing?
Sugah: Right now they have us doing five a year; we may cut back to four next year, because it’s such a tight schedule. When one show ends, we have about six weeks before we have to open the next one. With all of the choreography, punchline gags, and props that we have to make or buy, it’s a really tight schedule. We’ve done Hamilton before, so they know their parts and can just jump in. We have a couple of new cast members joining that we’re gonna be teaching. Coming up, we’re on spec right now to probably do Wicked in the fall, and we’re gonna write a new one again at Christmastime. We’re thinking of [writing it] based on the music of Whitney Houston, instead of Dolly Parton, this year. That’s our idea right now; there’s nothing set in stone on that one. I’ve just started writing that now, so we’ll see if that works, but hopefully it will be out at Christmastime.
Wendy: Do you have the dates for your upcoming shows?
Sugah: Sure! Hamilton is every Friday, from July 6th to August 3rd. In September and October, we have September 21st to October 12th; that is probably going to be Wicked, and then we have a Christmas special, from November 30th to December 28th. It’s every Friday for all of those.
Wendy: You were talking earlier about The Monster Show that you do at The Edge, and you put that on with Laundra Tyme and Intensive Claire?
Sugah: I do. Intensive Claire just joined us when Sue Casa left about two months ago. Sue Casa took over when Cookie Dough died. She was the original founder and ran it for 11 years.
Wendy: With The Monster Show, you also produce a lot of battles, like Janet Jackson vs. Justin Timberlake, and Janelle Monae vs. Kylie Minogue.
Sugah: Yeah, we try to keep all of our bases covered to draw in as much of an audience as we can. I like to throw in a couple of different Broadway shows, because The Edge just loves their musical nights. We’ll throw in a couple of campy drag ones, like we’re doing a Golden Girls tribute on June 28th.
Wendy: Have I left out any other events that you’re involved with?
Sugah: In addition to The Monster Show, I run a game show night with Profundity; we call it Broad Games. Our biggest success is when we play Match Game, which is similar to RuPaul’s Snatch Game. You have to match a filthy dirty drag queen to win prizes and drinks.
Wendy: Very nice! When did you move to San Francisco?
Sugah: I moved here in September of 2007, from New York City. The year before we moved, there were a whole bunch of blizzards and my husband was not liking it anymore, so we wanted to get out. He wanted to try something new, so when my company acquired a few offices out here, they offered a transfer, and I said, “Yes please!”
Arts at Risk as Cost of Living Increases
As students in San Francisco during its tech stardom, we have witnessed major changes in the City and we fear that skyrocketing housing prices caused in part by the tech industry, are driving the arts and culture out. The inadequacy of public resources for the arts can be seen in the uneven dispersal of arts and cultural centers throughout San Francisco. Public facilities like the African American Art and Cultural Complex, Queer Cultural Center, Bayview Opera House Ruth Williams Memorial Theater, Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, SOMArts, and Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, are concentrated on the eastside of the City––leaving communities and people on the western half without public cultural and arts centers.
The value of these centers lay in their ability to build community by offering classes, art exhibitions, and performances. Another issue with these centers is that their target populations can no longer afford to live in San Francisco. As young, wealthy “techies” move into the area, long time residents are pushed out through evictions and rising rent costs.
This isn’t only the case with people that find their artistic freedom at public arts and cultural centers, but a problem for artists as a whole. In the past few decades, rising real estate values in cities, especially San Francisco, have forced artists to downsize, take on multiple jobs, or leave the city altogether. In the 1980’s San Francisco saw a significant decrease in the number of artists living in the city. In response, the city instated the 1988 Live-Work Ordinance which loosened restrictions on loft-style housing, allowing live-work lofts in areas zoned for industrial use and exempting developers from regulations––including compliance with the Americans with Disabilities act. This allowed for developers to keep costs down, but instead of creating cheaper housing, developers sold to affluent non-artist buyers to maximize profits. One source estimates that only 5-10 percent of the 3,000 units created under the 1988 Live-Work Ordinance were truly used by artists for live-work purposes. The program was put on pause in 1999 and later the moratorium was extended indefinitely, however as of 2013, neither the city nor the SF Arts Commision has proposed plans for future artist housing.
To provide affordable housing for artists, the city needs to loosen zoning restrictions exclusively to nonprofit organizations that give preference to people who genuinely plan on using the space for artistic purposes . Some examples of successful organizations providing low income housing and studio space for artists include Project Artaud and ArtSpace. However, even under this system, some leaders within the artist community fear that artist enclaves would only cause real estate prices to rise further. In an article for the San Francisco Public Press, Victor Valle writes “when artists move in, nearby property values become red-hot, and original artists are forced to leave as the neighborhood rapidly gentrifies.” Artist and community organizer, Nancy Hom notes that “creative placemaking sounds nice in theory, but in practice, it is sometimes creative dis-placemaking.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge for bringing (or keeping) an arts community in the city is the ever-rising cost of living in San Francisco, especially rent. The growing power of tech companies in the city itself has made it difficult for those who aren’t in a high income bracket to afford to stay. In fact, a study reported by SFGate found that in 2017, the income required to live comfortably— on a 50% necessities, 30% discretionary, and 20% savings budget— was more than $110,000, while the group Attom Data Solutions found that people in the SF metro area
spend about 77% percent of their salary on average to pay rent, far over the national average of 39%. Clearly, most young artists are not making six figures.
Fortunately, the city has measures in place. SF’s rent control policy keeps rates from skyrocketing over short periods and cap the increase of rent in most instances at only 7% per year, which must be documented and approved before it can be instated. It also establishes a list of just causes for eviction. Since young artists are often renters and not homeowners, maintenance of a livable renting market in SF is vital to keep the arts community strong. It’s worth noting that the biggest loophole in SF rent control policy is the lack of coverage on units with a certificate of occupancy dated after June 13, 1979, so many new constructions are exempt— the same new constructions which often advertise as artistic space.