Graphic by SF Examiner

Graphic by SF Examiner

Airbnb, District 3 endorsements top Democrat talks

San Francisco’s November election slug-fest was on full display at last night’s Democratic party meeting, as the body voted to endorse The City’s plentiful ballot propositions and candidates.

The Democratic County Central Committee, or D-triple-C, as it’s known, represents the local Democratic party. Each election it is expected to pound its powerful rubber stamp: endorsements.

In what were widely considered its most hotly contested votes, the DCCC voted to solely endorse District 3 Supervisor candidate Julie Christensen and not to endorse Measure F, which aims to more tightly regulate Airbnb.

Measure I, the Mission District Housing Moratorium that would put a pause on the construction of market-rate housing, was not endorsed by the democratic party.

Endorsed parties appear on the DCCC’s slate card mailer, widely considered influential in elections. The DCCC is also not held to the same campaign finance restrictions as candidates or propositions, opening a route for more money supporting candidates.

The debate heated up over the District 3 endorsement. District 3 encompasses Chinatown and North Beach, among other neighborhoods.

Supervisor and DCCC member Eric Mar said he was troubled by the amount of money flooding into San Francisco’s local election.

“There’s a horrible context of ballot measures and candidates and measures being bought, and the outside influence of corporate money flooding into this race,” Mar told the DCCC. “I don’t want to be part of a Democratic party that’s part of this dirty money as well.”

In a report by the Examiner this week, it was revealed Christensen received $500 for her campaign from tech billionaire and Airbnb investor Ron Conway and his affiliates. Conway also reportedly donated $28,250 to the Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth political action committee, which polled the race between Christensen and Aaron Peskin.

DCCC member Rafael Mandelman said the never-ending flow of money from corporate interests into campaigns, brought on by the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision, was supported nationally by Republicans.

Below is a list of candidates and ballot measures endorsed by the local democratic party Wednesday night.

Graphic by SF Examiner
Graphic by SF Examiner

Many members argued voting for Christensen would boost women’s political representation. But member Alix Rosenthal said she was voting for Christensen because “people calling me on behalf of Supervisor Christensen have been more transparent, more honest brokers and less manipulative.”

On the measure to restrict Airbnb-like, short-term, bed-and-breakfast rentals, David Campos, DCCC member and city supervisor, argued in support.

The current system allows too many scofflaws to take entire apartments and buildings off the rental market to turn them into hotels, he said, particularly problematic in a rental crisis.

New DCCC member Joel Engardio said the ballot measure would “lock in” regulations for Airbnb, because laws enacted by ballot measures cannot be modified by supervisors, and only by another vote of citizens.

DCCC member Matt Dorsey spoke in favor of the short-term rental regulatory measure.

“For reasons I don’t understand, in the worst housing crisis, in this point in our history, our policy makers decided how they can better serve more tourists,” Dorsey said. “It is a statement of fact that those who were home sharers before February first were breaking the law. … If it were up to me, it would be a tougher measure.”

Some of the members who voted against tighter short-term rental regulations had ties to Airbnb. Leah Pimentel has appeared at Airbnb support rallies and was quoted saying she hosts on the platform. Member Tom Hsieh told the Examiner he is a consultant working with the No on Measure F campaign.

The DCCC has bylaws that allow members to recuse themselves when there are conflicts of interest, but a DCCC representative said none had recused themselves in the last year.

Hsieh said he was acting in accordance with those bylaws, which only restrict DCCC members who are up for slate card contracts.

A slew of public commenters spoke for more than an hour, and an ideological split was clear among them. Many publicly supporting Christensen also spoke out against the Mission Moratorium, or against Airbnb restrictions. Some in support of Peskin supported the moratorium and the Airbnb restrictions.

Hugo Vargas is one of the teens who was kicked out of the Mission Soccer Field by tech sector employees, the subject of a viral video last year. He spoke in favor of the moratorium.

“We’re not telling you to stop building those big condos, we’re telling you to put a halt,” Vargas said. “I live in an SRO right now. Say yes to it, I need help, my parents need help, people in the Mission district need help.”

Aaron PeskinAirBnBDemocratic PartyJulie ChristensenPolitics

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