Rise SF is a newly launched pro-housing and transportation organization. (Courtesy Rise SF)

Rise SF is a newly launched pro-housing and transportation organization. (Courtesy Rise SF)

Turning ‘Yes, over there’ into ‘Yes, here’

Taiwan has seen an incredible advancement of democracy, free speech and human rights since martial law ended in 1987. Now, a woman is president, and the country is poised to become the first in Asia to allow same-sex marriage.

Yet, change of that magnitude doesn’t happen without complications and contradictions. While a majority in Taiwan supports marriage equality, polls also reveal that most would not accept their own child being gay.

The phenomenon of accepting something new as long as it doesn’t hit too close to home came to mind when Rise SF — a recently launched pro-housing and transportation group — shared poll results with me that said a majority in San Francisco supports building more housing. After decades of rejecting growth, nearly two-thirds of San Franciscans now say adding more housing supply to meet demand and push prices lower should be a priority, even if it means changing the look of neighborhoods.

I had to wonder which neighborhoods: their own or someone else’s?

This question confronts District 7, a historically conservative area of single-family homes on the westside, where any discussion of increased density was long considered a nonstarter. Then last year, a majority in District 7 voted against a proposed moratorium of new housing construction in the Mission. They said building for the future was OK — at least on the other side of town.

When a nonprofit developer recently proposed 150 units of low-income senior housing adjacent to the Forest Hill neighborhood in District 7, the opposition was swift and strong.

I believe some type of housing should be built on the site — it’s a vacant church parking lot on Laguna Honda Boulevard and only a couple minutes’ walk to a Muni station served by three train lines.

I also understand the concerns neighbors are expressing: Are 150 units too much? Is five stories too high? If a percentage of formerly homeless people are to be included, how will challenges like mental illness and drug addiction be managed so the unruly behavior prevalent in downtown BART stations won’t occur on Forest Hill sidewalks? These are serious questions that deserve community input and real answers.

That’s why I was surprised to see Rise SF champion the District 7 project in its first press release. Why poke a hornet’s nest when there are more winnable battles to choose? Wouldn’t affordable housing for teachers be an easier sell?

Then I realized Rise SF wasn’t poking District 7 — it was reaching out. Rise SF announced that a board member who lives on the westside would take fellow residents on a tour of comparable low-income senior housing to show that the developments are not as scary as they may sound. Perhaps, District 7 could feel good about helping a vulnerable population.

“San Francisco likes to project paranoia and fear on a movie screen when it comes to change. Rise SF is offering an alternative movie,” said Wade Rose, a vice president at Dignity Health and Rise SF executive board member. “We want to help people get out of the mindset that everything is going to hell because of change. We embrace change because we believe that’s where the solutions are — and we need to solve housing for a diverse range of residents.”

Rise SF is a coalition of labor unions, businesses and community organizations focused on housing and transportation solutions for a city that has not adequately planned for its inevitable growth. The 22-member volunteer board includes representatives from health care, labor and tech.

What they have in common is that nurses, construction workers and even tech workers can’t afford to live in San Francisco. Their answer is more housing at all price points along with better transportation infrastructure to accommodate the increase in population.

“We encourage San Franciscans to look beyond their own backyard and support policies that are beneficial to The City as a whole,” Rose said. “This will require a lot of face-to-face conversations, neighborhood by neighborhood. It’s worth the effort because we believe the best days of San Francisco are ahead of us.”

Joel Engardio lives west of Twin Peaks in District 7. Follow his blog at www.engardio.com. Email him at info@engardio.com.

Just Posted

National Weather Service flood watch in the San Francisco Bay Area for Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. (National Weather Service via Bay City News)
Storm pounds Bay Area, leaving over 145,000 without power as damage mounts

Torrential rainfall causes flooding, triggers evacuations in burn areas

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
Plan Bay Area 2050: Analyzing an extensive regional plan that covers the next 30 years

Here are the big ticket proposals in the $1.4 trillion proposal

A collaborative workspace for a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) in Coordinape is pictured at a recent blockchain meet up at Atlas Cafe. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Business without bosses: San Francisco innovators battle bureaucracy with blockchain

‘The next generation will work for three DAOs at the same time’

Pregnant women are in the high-risk category currently prioritized for booster shots in San Francisco. (Unai Huizi/Shutterstock)
What pregnant women need to know about COVID and booster shots

Inoculations for immunosuppressed individuals are recommended in the second trimester

Most Read