Supporters and opponents of SB827 stand off in front of city hall. Photo by Michael Toren

Board of Supervisors candidate Sonja Trauss escorted off by sheriff’s deputy after wading into crowd of opposing protesters

Following dueling press conferences, protests and counter-protests, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday went on record about SB 827, Sen. Scott Weiner’s bill in the California legislature that would reduce restrictions on height and density for residential developments near transit lines.

They don’t like it.

The supes were initially set to vote on a resolution merely stating that they’d be okay with working with state legislators to amend the bill to give San Francisco local control over housing policy. But Supervisor Aaron Peskin upped the ante with amendments changing the resolution to flatly oppose SB 827.

“I think we should send a message of, ‘full stop, let’s start this over,’” he said. “Usurping San Francisco’s authority is not the way forward.”

The debate on the resolution proved lively, with many afterward calling it the open debate on SB 827 they’ve been longing for. The resolution passed 8-3, with Supervisors London Breed, Ahsha Safai and Jeff Sheehy voting against it. Katy Tang, Malia Cohen and Catherine Stefani all joined their more left-leaning colleagues in the vote.

“I never have, and never will believe that solely increasing the supply of luxury housing will somehow eventually trickle down and create the affordable housing that we obviously, desperately need,” said District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen. “This piece of legislation, however well-intentioned, is so fundamentally flawed that I believe it is absolutely not only correct but necessary that we go on record as a city opposing it.”

“This is not the right way to build housing,” added District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, a mayoral candidate. “This is a giveaway to landlords and developers without asking anything in return for our city and community.”

Breed, also a mayoral candidate, said that she supports the intent of SB 827. “This bill, in its current form, does not change our ability to deal with local controls,” she said.

Breed also noted that the state bill will be significantly amended next week. “Why won’t we wait at least a few weeks to see exactly what the bill looks like?” she asked.  “Knee-jerk opposition … sends a loud and clear message that San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors isn’t serious about addressing this deep affordable housing crisis.”

Hours before the meeting, organizations opposed to SB 827, composed in large part of people of color and seniors, held a press conference on the steps of City Hall with speakers, including Peskin and Kim.

YIMBY Action, which supports the bill, held a competing event a few feet away, protesting the press conference and attempting to noisily drown it out. It quickly degraded into the two sides chanting slogans at each other.

“Affording housing now,” and “Upzone the Westside,” the YIMBY side shouted.

Speaking at the podium, Kim said the west side should be upzoned — but by San Francisco, not Sacramento. “In fact, I have been the queen of density and upzoning in District 6,” she said.  We are building the most housing of any district in San Francisco.”

“This is not about NIMBY vs. YIMBY,” Peskin said.  “This is about WIMBY — Wall Street in our backyard.”

Although largely peaceful, there was one moment of brief physical contact between the two groups. Sonja Trauss, a YIMBY activist  running for supervisor in District 6 for the seat Kim is termed out of, waded into the anti-SB 827 crowed. A sheriff’s deputy intervened, and escorted Trauss back to the YIMBY side.

“She made physical contact,” said Gen Fujioka, policy director for Chinatown Community Development Center. “I don’t think she was intentionally hitting anybody. But she literally crossed a line that the deputies were trying to keep” between the two groups.

Fujioka said Trauss was yelling and waving a sign. “There was some jostling for sure.”

Trauss confirmed she was escorted away by a deputy, but said she was shoved by aggressive people in the crowd. That confused several witnesses, who didn’t recall seeing this, but claimed that Trauss muscled into a group of elderly Chinese people.

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Michael Toren is a reporter in San Francisco. He can be reached at

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  1. In the same way that it is hard to find a scientist that thinks climate change is a hoax, it is also hard to find an economist who believes that rent control and building restrictions help a housing shortage.

    1. Bravo Erik,
      I am a Socialist but I believe in the Law/Theory of Supply and Demand as certainly as I believe in the Law/Theory of Gravity.

    1. Rarely does history give one as clear a case study on SB827 as we have seen in District 9.

      We have had the rough equivalent of SB827 in The Mission for a decade now. It was called Transit Oriented Development that upzoned along Mission and Valencia in 2008. We were promised that upzoning along transit corridors would result in added supply which would lower housing prices with newcomers taking riding bicycles, walking or taking transit, Muni and BART, not driving.

      What we got was skyrocketing housing prices, torrential homelessness, and Muni snarled by Ubers and Lyfts. Interesting how the nonprofity types assert that it is racist to not respect their ethnic rent-a-mob opposing ostensibly racist SB827 when those same nonprofits were on-board with Eastern Neighborhoods/Mission Area Plan that differs little from racist SB827.

      Oh, yeah, those nonprofits compete for “community benefits” from that market rate development. That makes it not racist, paying the toll to the ethnicity nonprofits.