Edition 3, March 2019
Welcome to this year’s third edition of Pacifica Voice
The PPA evaluation of Pacifica’s 2018 campaign finances is here. It discusses outside monies contributed to influence election outcomes. This is important information for all Pacificans.
Two articles are submitted by Pacifica Housing 4 All. Please read them prior to attending this Saturday’s housing discussion hosted by the City. PH4A discusses Pacifica’s housing crisis and proposed state legislation on tenant protection.
Pacifica Voice is eager to receive articles on issues important to our community. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Pacifica City Council Election Dominated by Huge Out of Town Real Estate Spending
Author: Carlos Davidson, March, 2019
Out of town real estate industry sources made huge financial contributions to the 2018 city council race. According to public records, all together the out of town real estate industry spent 115 thousand dollars on the city council race, including spending 56 thousand on an unprecedented smear campaign against councilmember John Keener. In addition, they spent 20 thousand to elect Sue Beckmeyer, 20 thousand for Mike O’Neill, and 18 thousand in support of Vicky Flores. By contrast Mary Bier received no real estate industry funding. The California Association of Realtors spent $57,568 on the Pacifica city council race, swamping all other contributors combined. The National Association of Realtors contributed $36,639, and out of town realtors donated $18,750. When the money spent to elect a city council candidate comes mostly from out of town and one special interest, it raises concern that the council member is beholden to those funders and may represent their interests rather than those of local constituents.
Particularly disturbing was the California Association of Realtors (CAR) spending almost 50 thousand dollars on a vicious and baseless smear campaign against council member Keener. Council Member Sue Vaterlaus sits on the board of directors of CAR and has claimed publicly that she knew nothing about the smear campaign. It is unclear if the Realtors Association would engage in such dirty politics in the home district of one of their own directors without informing them ahead of time.
The finances in the last two city council race were unusual. Typically, Pacifica city council candidates raise around 15 – 20 thousand and usually the overwhelming majority of funds are local and come from many different sources.
Total direct and indirect contributions from all sources to candidate O’Neill were 35 thousand, to Beckmeyer 40 thousand, to Flores almost 28 thousand, and to Bier almost 35 thousand. The National Association of Realtors paid for online pop-up advertising and mailers for Beckmeyer, O’Neill, and Flores. The California Association of Realtors paid for the bulk of the anti-Keener smear campaign, along with nine thousand from San Mateo realtor Tom Thompson
Independent expenditures are when an outside group spends money for or against a candidate without any coordination with the candidate. Independent expenditures are subject to fewer limits than direct contributions. In the case of independent expenditures in support of a candidate the claim of no coordination with the candidate is often questionable. In the 2018 council election, BACPAC, a political action committee originally set up by the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce, claimed that it made independent expenditures for a meet and greet with candidates O’Neill, Beckmeyer and Flores. How do you have a meet and greet without coordinating with the candidates? The Fair Political Practices Commission looked into that question and made BACPAC report the meet and greet funding as direct contributions to the candidates.
While O’Neill, Beckmeyer, and Flores received the bulk of their funding from out of town (69%, 59% and 73% respectively), Bier received 78% of her funding from in town. The majority of Bier’s funding came from almost 200 local contributions under $500, while the three real estate backed candidates raised less than a quarter of their funds from local contributions under $500, and actually had few small local contributors. The finances for council candidates John Keener and Adonica Shaw Porter were not included in this analysis, however similar to Bier, they likely received no out of town real estate funding. Both Keener and Shaw Porter ran smaller campaigns than the other four candidates. Keener raised a total of $10,703 and Shaw Porter $9,581.
This analysis was prepared using official campaign financial reports. These reports are available from the Pacifica City Clerk’s office, and in redacted form on the City of Pacifica election forms webpage.
A PACIFICA HOUSING CONVERSATION
hosted by the City of Pacifica and San Mateo County’s Home For All.
Saturday, April 13, 9:30 am – 12 noon
Pacifica Community Center, 540 Crespi Drive
Free breakfast and childcare
Author: Suzanne Moore, March, 2019
The City of Pacifica received a $15,000 grant from San Mateo County to host a community discussion on the future of housing in Pacifica. Home For All, the team coordinating this effort, describes this conversation as apolitical, a safe place to share ideas and talk with neighbors, and an opportunity to learn new perspectives. Pacifica Housing 4 All encourages community participation. In advance of the 4/13/19 seminar, PH4A offers some thoughts.
HOUSING: A COMMUNITY ISSUE
Stagnant wages, rising rents and housing costs, and low vacancy rates have created a housing “perfect storm” in the Bay Area. In Pacifica, we see the storm impact in many ways: increased homelessness, displacement of friends and neighbors who can no longer afford housing here, worker shortages as evidenced by turnovers at Terra Nova High School and Sunset Ridge, increased traffic and long commutes with 60% of workers in San Mateo County commuting from outside the county.
Housing is necessary for health and well being of the individual, families, and the community as a whole – as acknowledged by our Chief Public Health Officer for San Mateo County. Young families, elders, the disabled, students, the poor, and people of color are especially disproportionately unable to access safe, affordable housing. Our community needs to converse on ways to “weather the storm” and increase community resilience.
THE CASA COMPACT: A RECENT BAY AREA DISCUSSION
For those who may not be familiar with CASA, the Committee to House the Bay Area, CASA was a group of diverse “stakeholders” brought together to discuss Bay Area housing. Convened in mid 2017, the committee recently finalized a 10-point set of recommendations known as the CASA Compact. The Committee has been criticized for lack of transparency; nevertheless, the Compact itself contains language which speaks to the concept of housing equity – safe, affordable housing for all. The CASA Committee recognized that housing at all levels of affordability need to be built while preserving existing affordable housing and protecting residents from displacement. The public has dubbed the recommendations as the 3 P’s: protection, preservation, and production. This is probably the first community conversation to state the necessity for protection from displacement while ramping up production for housing – a significant recommendation.
WEATHERING THE STORM
It has been said that the number of people displaced by the Bay Area housing crisis is already equivalent to the number displaced by a major disaster like Katrina. It takes time to build housing. What can we do right now to help our neighbors currently out in the storm?
Support the Pacifica Resource Center (PRC). There is no brick-and-mortar shelter here on the coast. The PRC has created a plan which meets the standards outlined by our county and has previously passed feasibility studies. Anita Rees, Director of the PRC, is currently seeking funding for this plan – a Rotational Shelter and Safe Parking Program. As a community, we can demonstrate verbal support, seek sites for rotational shelters, and encourage our City Council to lease city property for Safe Parking.
The State is considering legislation for tenant protection and displacement reduction. We all know friends and family who have been hurt by the high cost of housing. In Pacifica, rents increased 122% between 2010-2015. There was a 300% increase of no-fault evictions between 2012-2015, and 70% of those evicted were families with children. In this edition of Pacifica Voice, current tenant protection bills, proposed by our state legislators, are reviewed. Although rent control has been divisive in Pacifica, we need to stabilize housing in our community.
PACIFICA: A BEDROOM COMMUNITY with little money for housing.
How does Pacifica create affordable housing? We need to be creative.
Pacifica’s Housing Trust Fund has approximately $300,000 – very little could be done with that. It may be possible to bring more money into the trust fund: through impact fees both commercial and residential, through license fees for contractors and realtors, and through other sources not yet identified.
Market rate, for profit housing will not meet the needs of the majority of residents seeking a home. Pacifica could revisit the inclusionary policy for creation of affordable homes related to market-rate developments. The City could delete the contractor’s fee-waiver option to assure that necessary affordable housing is built.
The City could work with San Mateo County’s Department of Housing, seek a secured site for development, and utilize the county’s expertise to create nonprofit housing. There are several examples in our county of what can be achieved through “local funding, collaboration, and political will” (Building on Success, the Housing Leadership Council).
ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) can increase housing in Pacifica, but these ADUs are likely to be market rate. If the Housing Trust Fund could create loans for homeowners willing to build below-market rate housing, affordable homes could also be created.
The current housing “perfect storm” impacts our entire community, and we all need to roll up our sleeves and lend a hand. It might be easy to believe that the housing crisis is beyond our ability to solve, but I don’t believe we have the luxury to remain uninvolved. Our future and that of future generations truly depends on our efforts now. Please participate in Pacifica’s community discussion on housing, and voice concerns about protection from displacement as we create affordable housing. Together we can help maintain economic and cultural diversity, stabilize our community’s housing, and weather this storm.
PACIFICA HOUSING 4 ALL and TENANT GROUPS ENDORSE TENANT PROTECTION BILLS
Author: Suzanne Moore, March, 2019
Our state legislators recognize California’s housing crisis. Stagnant wages, rising housing costs, and low vacancy rates have created market-rate rents which have skyrocketed. California has 17 million renters; and increased numbers, over half of California tenants, are paying over 30% of their income on housing – an indicator of household financial instability. As some legislators consider ways to increase housing production, others also seek ways to protect and stabilize those currently housed. Pacifica Housing 4 All supports legislation to reduce displacement and protect tenants, especially our most vulnerable – families, disabled, elders, students, and people of color.
The Keep Families Home Package
A triad of state assembly bills have been introduced to address high rent increases and reduce displacement. These bills were created due to tenant reports of landlord abuses including sudden,high multiple rent increases and evictions without cause.
AB 36 would allow local communities, if desired, to expand tenant protection. A city could choose to extend protection to rental units over 10 years old, condos, and single-family homes. This Costa Hawkins Reform bill updates and places more control in communities to decide their needs.
AB 1482, an Anti-Gouging bill, would protect millions of tenants from sudden high increases. It would establish an upper limit on annual rent increases and provide tenants the ability to anticipate future housing costs.
AB 1481 protects tenants from eviction through no fault off their own. Landlords will still have the right to evict tenants for lease violations; but tenants will otherwise not be faced with costly, unplanned relocations without cause.
Tenant Right To Organize
SB 529 is a response to landlord retaliation against tenant associations. Tenant unions would be protected against no-cause evictions, require good-faith bargaining of a landlord with tenant right to strike, and enhance penalties for landlord retaliation or violation of the law.
ACTION: if in favor of tenant protection bills
housingnowca.org has Keep Families Home as a tab on their main menu.It has contact information of 5 key legislators, and it is recommended we make our calls before 4/24/19:
- Todd Gloria 916 319 2078
- Brian Maienschein 916 319 2077
- Monique Limon 916 319 2037
- Sharon Quirk-Silva 916 319 2065
- Jesse Gabriel 916 319 2045
Learn more about tenant protection. Tenants Together is a state-wide tenants advocacy team who can provide additional information.
Share what you learn with friends and neighbors. Encourage community involvement.