The mayor makes bad deals
EDITOR'S NOTES I wasn't invited to the meeting where Mayor Ed Lee (and Willie Brown and Rose Pak) sat down with representatives of Lennar Corp. and a Chinese investment consortium to try to finalize a deal for Treasure Island. But I can tell you with near-absolute certainty that what comes out will not be good for San Francisco.
I can tell you that because every major project the mayor has negotiated has been bad for the city.
The way the California Pacific Medical Center project came down is a perfect example. The mayor worked directly with Sutter Corp., which owns CPMC, last spring, and in March, came out with a proposal that he and his allies presented as the best the city and the hospital giant could do.
It was awful.
CPMC would pay nowhere near enough in housing money to offset the new jobs it was creating. St. Luke's, the critical public health link in the Mission, would be cut to 80 beds, below what it needed to be sustainable. Only about five percent of the 1,500 new jobs would go to existing San Francisco residents.
It was also pretty much dead on arrival at the Board of Supervisors, where a broad-based group of community activists pushed for big changes — and won. Sups. David Campos, David Chiu, and Mark Farrell stepped into the void created by a lack of mayoral leadership and forced Sutter to accept a much better deal, with St. Luke's at 120 beds, vastly increased charity care, a guarantee that 40 percent of the new jobs will go to San Franciscans, and a much-better housing and transit component.
The mayor got rolled; he was ready to accept what everyone with any sense knew was better for Sutter than for his constituents. He clearly didn't know how to say what the supervisors said: This won't work, and we'd rather walk away from the whole deal than accept a crappy outcome.
That's exactly what's going on with the Warriors' arena — the mayor is giving away the store. And he, with Brown and Pak at his side, will do the same at Treasure Island.
The balance of power in the city is moving to the board. And for good reason — the supervisors seem to be able to get things done.