Letter to Senator Yee on AB 1229

Senator Leland Yee
State Capitol, Room 4074
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Senator Yee,

As the Executive Board of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, it is with great disappointment that we write to express our frustration at your recent “No” vote on AB 1229. While we are relieved that the bill ultimately passed in the Senate, we are concerned that your vote against restoring a city’s right to mandate affordable housing rental units as part of new construction is a vote against tenants, low-income communities, and our collective ability to access affordable housing in San Francisco.

Housing access and tenants’ rights have been a priority issue for the Milk Club this year. We are appalled at the onslaught of million dollar condos going up throughout our city, as our affordable housing pool dwindles and new affordable developments struggle to get off the ground. Few of the new luxury apartment buildings being developed include units for low to moderate income San Franciscans who would like to live and work here. Our new and existing housing stock is growing increasingly unaffordable and has already resulted in the displacement of many seniors, low and moderate income renters, and people living with HIV and AIDS. The diversity of our community is in peril and the most vulnerable of us are the most directly affected.

AB 1229 lends us hope that we can change the growing tide of housing unaffordability in San Francisco. It is a powerful step toward undoing the harm caused by the Second District Court of Appeal’s erroneous decision in Palmer v. City of Los Angeles.Accordingly, your “No” vote on this crucial housing policy change has left us scratching our heads. You denounce AB 1229 as a “piecemeal solution”, but fail to provide an alternative that would similarly aid local jurisdictions in furthering the goal of affordable urban housing.

While we appreciate that you have been an ally in the struggle for LGBT rights and for progressive causes, we are stunned by your vote on this matter. Please don’t forget that because of your commitment to our issues, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club endorsed you in your race for Mayor in 2011 and presented you with the Community Ally Award at our Annual Dinner and Gala on July 24th.

This is not your first vote against tenants’ rights and affordable housing. Your recent track record on these matters does not meet our standard of a progressive legislator and deviates from the communities that you’ve committed to representing. We want to meet with you and your staff immediately to discuss your vote and to gain clarity on what your position on future housing issues will be. Further, we intend to meet with you in advance of all future votes regarding housing issues and, if necessary, on the rest of our progressive goals. Ultimately, we will respect and support your future ambitions only to the extent that you respect the constituency that has supported you so fervently until now.

Very sincerely yours,

Tom Temprano, President

on behalf of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club Executive Board