Moment of truth - Page 3

The Eastern Neighborhoods Plan could determine whether San Francisco retains its working-class residents
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The Eastern Neighborhoods Community
Plan area includes many
working class neighborhoods

In fact, there has been an unprecedented level of community organizing and collaboration among groups of all political stripes around this plan, work that is expected to pay off more at the board level than at the commission level.

"Because the board and the commission are two very different political bodies, others may come out that weren't at the commission hearings," said Wertheim, noting that developers were well-represented at the commission level. "But the one thing I've learned from this whole process is not to be surprised."

Keighran seemed to sense the changing dynamics. "Planning takes methodical procedural work," he said. "Politicians are not best suited to doing planning."

But the activists say this plan should be a reflection of the city's values, not simply a product of discussions between developers and planners. Yet they understand that politics can cut both ways, particularly during an election season.

"Of course we need more housing, but building $6 million condos isn't the answer," said Marc Salomon of the Western SoMa Task Force, which broke away from the Eastern Neighborhoods planning process — a process he criticizes. "It's not about housing people, it's about investment. It's 'How do we give the developers what they want and give the natives the bare minimum, or just enough that they don't burn down City Hall?'<0x2009>"

Salomon fears the Eastern Neighborhoods will continue to suffer from political pandering. "The [supervisors] are all looking for their next move," Salomon said. "The discourse has moved so far to the right that you can't be against market-rate housing. And what they're doing is developing market-rate housing to suit developers, and at the same time purging this city of progressives."