Bridge the housing-Muni divide

EDITORIAL One the most frustrating political conflicts in San Francisco this election season is the schism between sustainable transportation activists and affordable housing advocates, a split that unnecessarily divides the progressive movement and one that has been cynically manipulated by the Mayor’s Office and its political allies.

We at the Bay Guardian haven’t yet decided what position we’ll take on Props. A and B — both of which would give more money to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for Muni and other transportation needs — or Prop. K, the affordable housing measure that was heavily watered down by the Mayor’s Office. Our endorsements come out Oct. 8.

But we can say that we’ve been concerned with how housing and transportations needs have been pitted against one another — and by the political tactics that are being used to create that false choice in the minds of voters, often by those who have a financial self-interest in making misleading arguments.

San Francisco needs more affordable housing, a robust public transit system, and fully funded social services if it is to remain an efficient, diverse, compassionate city. We need all of those things, now, before we experience even more impacts from the rapid growth now underway.

Mayor Ed Lee chose to break his promise to place a local vehicle license fee increase on the fall ballot, so Sup. Scott Wiener and others placed Prop. B on the ballot instead. It would tie the city’s General Fund contributions to Muni to city population growth, but it would also allow the mayor to end that subsidy if voters approve the VLF increase in a future election.

Several local journalists have reported on the carrots and sticks that members of the Mayor’s Office have used to try to sink Prop. B and maintain affordable housing advocates’ support for Prop. K (see “Mayoral meltdown,” Aug. 5), pitting transportation and housing activists against one another, either by accident or design.

But San Francisco can’t afford this false dichotomy, and it’s high time to finally have this discussion openly and honestly. So the next Bay Guardian Community Forum — on Oct. 9 from 6-8pm in the LGBT Center, 1800 Market Street — will focus on bridging this gap. We’ll be inviting key players on both sides and we hope that you, dear readers, will join us as well.

The same players in this city who are urging San Francisco to rapidly grow as an economic and population center are sabotaging the political alliances and funding mechanisms that we need to handle that growth. It’s time for a forthright, public discussion about the city’s many long-term needs and how to finance them.