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City for Sale

The Transformation of San Francisco, Revised and Updated Edition

Chester Hartman (Author)

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Paperback, 501 pages
ISBN: 9780520086050
October 2002
$31.95, £23.95
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San Francisco is perhaps the most exhilarating of all American cities--its beauty, cultural and political avant-gardism, and history are legendary, while its idiosyncrasies make front-page news. In this revised edition of his highly regarded study of San Francisco's economic and political development since the mid-1950s, Chester Hartman gives a detailed account of how the city has been transformed by the expansion--outward and upward--of its downtown. His story is fueled by a wide range of players and an astonishing array of events, from police storming the International Hotel to citizens forcing the midair termination of a freeway. Throughout, Hartman raises a troubling question: can San Francisco's unique qualities survive the changes that have altered the city's skyline, neighborhoods, and economy?

Hartman was directly involved in many of the events he chronicles and thus had access to sources that might otherwise have been unavailable. A former activist with the National Housing Law Project, San Franciscans for Affordable Housing, and other neighborhood organizations, he explains how corporate San Francisco obtained the necessary cooperation of city and federal governments in undertaking massive redevelopment. He illustrates the rationale that produced BART, a subway system that serves upper-income suburbs but few of the city's poor neighborhoods, and cites the environmental effects of unrestrained highrise development, such as powerful wind tunnels and lack of sunshine. In describing the struggle to keep housing affordable in San Francisco and the seemingly intractable problem of homelessness, Hartman reveals the human face of the city's economic transformation.
Preface
1. The Larger Forces
2. Superagency and the Redevelopment Booster Club
3. The Assault on South of Market
4. The Neighborhood Fights Back
5. Into the Courts
6. The Redevelopment Agency Flounders
7. Resolving the Convention Center Deadlock
8. South of Market Conquered
9. Moscone Center Doings
10. Yerba Buena Gardens, TODCO’s Housing, and the South of Market Neighborhood
11. City Hall
12. High-Rises and the Anti-High-Rise Movement
13. The Housing Crisis and the Housing Movement
14. The Lessons of San Francisco
Notes
Index
Chester Hartman is President and Executive Director of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council in Washington, D.C. He is author of Between Eminence and Notoriety: Four Decades of Radical Urban Planning (2001), and editor of Challenges to Equality: Poverty and Race in America (2001) and Housing Issues of the 1990s (1989).
"The importance of Chester Hartman's book reaches far beyond the case of San Francisco. It is a major work on the politics and economics of urban development, a work that uniquely foresees alternative ways to improve our cities. It will become a landmark of urban research."—Manuel Castells, University of California

"The further one reads into Chester Hartman's story of San Francisco redevelopment, the more bizarre and engrossing the story becomes. Centering his account on the downtown Yerba Buena Center project, Hartman wonderfully illuminates the conflicts of interest, ambitions, misrepresentations, extravagant promises, brutality, waste, incompetence, and sheer silliness that characterized the ill-fated American experiment called Urban Renewal and puts it into a social and economic context."—Jane Jacobs, author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities
Preface

  For a city as politically fascinating and world renowned as San Francisco, it is surprising how little exists in the way of book-length scholarly literature focused solely on the city's recent history. Fred Wirt's 1974 Power in the City: Decision Making in San Francisco, Allan Jacobs's 1978 Making City Planning Work, Richard DeLeon's 1992 Left Coast City: Progressive Politics in San Francisco, Stephen McGovern's 1998 The Politics of Downtown Development: Political Cultures in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., and the 1998 collection Reclaiming San Francisco: History, Politics, Culture, edited by James Brook, Chris Carlsson, and Nancy J. Peters (see also their related CD-ROM, Shaping San Francisco: A Multimedia Excavation of the Lost History of San Francisco, 2d. ed.), along with my 1984 The Transformation of San Francisco, stand out as the few examples. Thus, when that book went out of print several years ago, I could not resist the temptation to update and reissue it. That I no longer live in San Francisco (although I still own a home there) turned out to be both an advantage and a disadvantage. The downside is obvious. But a combination of regular trips back, constant contacts with old friends and activist colleagues, and regular consultation of the city's newspapers (now easily accessed via the Internet) gave me a basic understanding of how the various strands of my earlier history have developed in the dozen and a half subsequent years. To provide the additional detail needed, I was fortunate to recruit Sarah Carnochan, then a lawyer with the Tenderloin Housing Clinic and currently a doctoral student in social work at UC-Berkeley, who spent many weeks, at different periods of the rewrite, under my direction, tracking down the various items I needed for the new edition and writing up this new material. For my final writing push, she was joined by Art Armstrong, a San Francisco State graduate student, to provide answers to the many lingering research questions, large and small. It is no cliché to say this book would not be possible without their first-rate work. My correspondence and personal interviews with key actors over the past years, by phone and in the course of trips back to the city, provided additional material, and I am pleased to acknowledge their help below. The positive spin on how my removal to Washington, D.C., in the early eighties was a plus is the way that distance can often provide a useful overview of developments, once one no longer is mired in details and day-to-day involvement, as I was during the 1970s. My frequent use and citation of accounts from the dailies I now read—the Washington Post and New York Times, papers that regularly report on this most interesting of U.S. cities—reflect a recognition that such capsulized, reflective analyses often provide more insightful coverage of political and cultural developments than is to be found in the day-to-day coverage of the local press; these "foreign" sources also provide a filtering device of sorts as to which San Francisco happenings are of larger interest to the rest of country.

My account of development politics in San Francisco is in large part that of a participant-observer and resident of the city from 1970 to 1980. The stand on development issues embodied in this book has been shaped by the direct and indirect roles I played in many of the events chronicled here: as a staff member of the National Housing Law Project (cocounsel in the Yerba Buena Center [YBC] displacees' historic litigation opposing the illegal displacement activities of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency) from 1970 to 1974; as a member (appointed by TOOR [Tenants and Owners in Opposition to Redevelopment], the displaced residents' organization) of the Relocation Appeals Board established in 1970 as part of the federal court decree resolving TOOR's suit against the City and Redevelopment Agency; as an organizer of the 1974-75 effort to reshape the Yerba Buena Center project via litigation and creation of the Citizens Committee on Yerba Buena Center; as coplaintiff in the final, 1978 financing suit against YBC; as an organizer of the November 1978 ballot initiative requiring landlords to pass on to their tenants their Proposition 13 property tax windfalls; as cochair (with Charles Lamb, president of Local 2, Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union) of San Franciscans for Affordable Housing, the coalition that placed the comprehensive housing reform initiative on the November 1979 city ballot; and as an activist in many of the city's housing and neighborhood struggles, such as those around the International Hotel and Goodman Building. This long-term and intimate involvement in the politics of the city has permitted greater depth of understanding, as well as greater access to information and actors, than would otherwise have been possible.

Having a publishing contract with University of California Press and a massive pile of documentation needed for the rewrite, all I needed was a few solid weeks of writing time, something I was simply unable, for far too many years, to find, given my position as executive director of a small national public interest organization. Thus, I jumped at the invitation to return to the University of North Carolina—where I had taught for a year right after leaving San Francisco—as the Cecil B. Sheps Visiting Fellow in Social Justice. Over a four-week period during March and April 1997, I went to Chapel Hill three to four days a week and put in often sixteen-hour days absorbing the new material and creating new text. I am extremely grateful to Bill Rohe and his staff at UNC's Center for Urban and Regional Studies for their hospitality, support, and fellowship (in both senses), and to Dr. Sheps for creating this award. And as well, I am indebted to various Chapel Hill-ers—Jane and Adam Stein, Anita and Paul Farel, especially—who put me up and put up with me during this stay and made it so pleasant. But alas, time ran out before I could finish the book in 1997, as I needed to heed importunities from family and office to return. And so the manuscript once again lay in boxes—this kind of writing not being something I can do in dribs and drabs. Then in 1999, the hidden hand that so often has dropped into my life, and comes as close as anything to challenging my atheism with a belief that someone up there likes me, struck—this time in the form of an invitation to apply for a stay at a writers' refuge in Point Reyes Station, California, an hour north of San Francisco. I applied, went there for two weeks in mid-July, and shortly afterward was able to turn an updated manuscript in to UC Press. The Mesa Refuge, created by Peter Barnes and Leyna Bernstein, is a magnificent concept and execution: Point Reyes is heaven on earth (counteratheism again); the Mesa Refuge is set up and equipped with such care and sensitivity as to make life and writing there as supportive as possible. Those readers of this book who also are writers—especially those, like me, who are not full-time writers—will know what a precious gift it is to have the time and proper environment—away from regular work, from family (pace Amy, Jeremy, Ben), from everything except the project one needs to do—to concentrate solely on writing. Thank you, Peter and Leyna.

This revised edition of The Transformation of San Francisco is actually the third iteration of a project that began with my 1974 book Yerba Buena: Land Grab and Community Resistance in San Francisco (Glide Publications), written while I was on the staff of the National Housing Law Project. I then expanded the scope of the earlier treatment to deal with citywide development politics and impacts (The Transformation of San Francisco, Rowman and Allanheld, 1984). This revised edition takes that broader treatment up through mid-2001.

Each book incorporates text from and builds on the prior work, and in all stages there have been great numbers of people who have helped: supplying information, drafting materials, reviewing drafts, typing drafts (in the old, precomputer days), providing hospitality, and assisting this technoklutz with word-processing problems. My list of acknowledgments therefore is extremely long (Yerba Buena alone, a collective effort, had sixteen "with" coauthors), perhaps of Guinness length (and likely still overlooks a few folks who should be acknowledged). Nonetheless, it is important and appropriate to list—and thus to thank—them all. The following megalist is simply alphabetical and does not distinguish among who assisted with which book, how much, and in what way; it is offered with the standard caveat that responsibility for the final product is mine alone:

Gerald Adams, Donald Andeini, Phyllis Andelin, Frank Anderson, Carl Anthony, Gaynell Armstrong, Jim Augustino, Alvin Averbach, Linda Avery, Larry Badiner, Buck Bagot, Carol Baker, John Bardis, Charlotte Barham, William R. Barnes, Stephen Barton, Robert Begley, Nancy Belden, Harold Bell, Bruce Bernhard, Jessica Bernstein, Marsha Berzon, Stephen Berzon, Melissa Best, Sue Bierman, Dian Blomquist, Michael Bodaken, Tiffany Bohee, Leo Borregard, Charlotte Brady, David Bratton, Gray Brechin, David Brigode, William Brinton, Harry Britt, Keli'i Brown, Evelyn Bruce, Bruce Brugmann, Simeon Bruner, Kevin Carew, Chris Carlsson, Willard Carpenter, Suzanne Caster, Jerry Cauthen, Adelaide Chen, Gordon Chin, Sandy Close, Gene Coleman, Sara Colm, Kathleen Connell, Tom Conrad, Roger Crawford, Anna Creighton, John Crew, Kelley Cullen, Henry Dakin, Lisa Dancer, Josephine de Jesus, Richard DeLeon, Paul Deutsch, Robert DeVries, Steve Dietz, Philip Dochow, Catherine Dodd, Jim DuPont, Alvin Duskin, Stephen Dutton, Lauren Dzubak, John Elberling, Arnold Ellis, Elizabeth Ellis, Mike Estrada, Jim Faye, Mary Filippini, Amy Fine, Frank Fitch, Jeffrey Freed, Jon Garfield, Judy Gerritts, David Glaser, Armando Gomez, Robert Goodman, Rachel Gosiengfiao, Ruth Gottstein, Fiona Gow, Claire Greensfelder, Susan Griffin, Mary Grogan, Richard Gryziec, Ted Gullicksen, David Gurin, Joy Hackel, Barbara Halliday, Michael Harney, Neil Hart, Lauren Hauptman, Amanda Hawes, Robert Herman, Barbara Herzig, Dale Hess, Sue Hestor, Anita Hill, Steven Hill, Melvin Holli, Richard Hongisto, Lorraine Honig, Victor Honig, Karen Hull, John Igoe, Bradford Inman, Jonas Ionin, William Issel, Kim Jackson, Allan Jacobs, John Jacobs, Garrett Jenkins, Sharon Johnson, David Jones, Tom Jones, Alan Kay, Dennis Keating, Robert Kessler, Marshall Kilduff, Tony Kilroy, Marsha Kimmel, John King, J. Anthony Kline, John Kriken, Michael Krinsky, Joe LaTorre, Rachel Lederman, Clarence Lee, Susan Lee, Richard LeGates, Eva Levine, Dan Levy, Robert Levy, Joel Lipski, Suzanna Locke, Alejandra Lopez-Fernandini, Dean Macris, David Madway, Michael Mann, Sandra Marks, Dennis Marshall, Polly Marshall, Rob McBride, Deena McClain, Michael McGill, Jim McCormick, Patrick McGrew, Paul Melbostad, Ann Meyerson, Spencer Michels, Mike Miller, Earl Mills, John Mollenkopf, David Moon, Betsy Morris, Jack Morrison, Brian Murphy, Michael Narvid, Amy Neches, Jill Nelson, Judith Nies, Ira Nowinski, Rai Okamoto, Mitchell Omerberg, Patsy Oswald, Kay Pachtner, Sandra Paik, Bradford Paul, Bruce Pettit, Ken Phillips, Catherine Pickering, Kay Pilger, G. Bland Platt, Katherine Porter, Denise Rivera Portis, David Prowler, Theresa Rabe, Tim Redmond, James Reed, Marcia Rosen, Lee Rosenthal, Paula Rosenthal, Matthew Ross, Gayle Rubin, Jana Rumminger, Bill Rumpf, Lois Salisbury, John Sanger, Helen Sause, Crichton Schacht, Alan Schlosser, Martha Senger, Randy Shaw, Matthew Sheridan, Frank Shipe, Les Shipnuck, Jim Shoch, Joseph Sickon, Richard Sklar, Moira So, Rebecca Solnit, Ron Sonnenshine, Sean Spear, Alan Stein, Fred Stout, Walt Streeter, Allan Temko, Juli Tolleson, Cheryl Towns, Charles Turner, William Bennett Turner, Kim Vaugeois, Nancy Walker, Paul Wartelle, Stanley Weigel, Mike Weiss, Calvin Welch, Frances Werner, George Williams, Sherry Williams, Fred Wirt, Stephen Wirtz, Bill Witte, Sidney Wolinsky, Susan Wong, Lee Woods, Gerald Wright, and Barbara Ziller.

At UC Press, Monica McCormick, Suzanne Knott, and Hilary Hansen were very helpful throughout. Greatest kudos go to Ellen Browning, my copyeditor, whose competence, intelligence, and attention to detail were remarkable, and who actually was fun to work with—the kind of claim I'll bet few authors can make.

Finally, my thanks to the wonderful San Francisco Mime Troupe, whose recent play, "City for Sale"—about gentrification and the city's housing crisis—provided the title for this book.

Chester Hartman

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