September at HANC: A Visit With Captain Sanford

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By Bruce Wolfe, HANC Vice President

At our September 10th meeting, Captain John Sanford, Jr., the new Park Station Commanding Officer, joined us. A calm guy presented his vision of policing for our neighborhood. He explained the recent roadway traps focusing on bicycle riders, that got plenty of press, was to help protect pedestrians and reduce dangerous altercations with motorists. He received a lot of complaints about bikers and since there is law about bike riding on open roadways, specifically, rolling stops at traffic control devices and signage, he felt it prudent to monitor and then act if the issue was credible. It appeared it was.


A Summary of HANC's Series on the "Sharing Economy"

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By:  Tes Welborn, HANC Board

In April's meeting, we learned that the “sharing economy” encompasses a wide range of non-profit, barter, cooperative and for profit structures. All are based on mobile networks and social networks, tech plus trust, and facilitated by the economic downturn. However, the for-profit sector is the one that is booming.

Many have criticized the for-profit sector of the sharing economy, writing that sharing economy businesses "extract" profits from their given sector by "successfully [making] an end run around the existing costs of doing business..." New York Magazine wrote that sharing economy innovations have made a difference, but that the for-profit sector of the sharing economy has succeeded in large part because the real economy has been struggling. "Lots of people are trying to fill holes in their income by monetizing their stuff and their labor in creative ways..." The magazine writes that "In almost every case, what compels people to open up their homes and cars to complete strangers is money, not trust...But what's getting them to the threshold in the first place is a damaged economy, and harmful public policy that has forced millions of people to look to odd jobs for sustenance."

 If a business normally had, say, a 10% profit margin, And they could save 30% of labor costs by NOT having employees, and NOT having to build or buy buildings, or a fleet of cars, their profit margin could be 40% or more! Investors see the failure of government to aid us, our cities and our communities, and are eager to help us get by --But not by giving us JOBS !!

In May's meeting, we learned that while Short-Term Tourist Rentals are enjoyed by many, these Tourist Rentals are definitely reducing affordable, rent-controlled housing in both the Haight and San Francisco. Up to 30% of “available housing” is being used for full-time tourist rentals! Thousands of illegal STRs cannot be made legal under both current law and proposed law, and they supply most of Airbnb's and all of VRBO's income.  Effective local regulation can only be achieved, HANC believes, by voting for Proposition F this November.



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No HANC Meeting in August

As is our custom, there will be no general membership meeting in August.  The next meeting, after our July meeting will be September 10.


Videos of HANC Meetings

Videos of HANC's April and May meetings on the Sharing Economy can be viewed online.  Click on the links on the top right of our website, or look for HANCSF on YouTube.


HANC Voice available by Email

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June at HANC: How the Sharing Economy is Changing the Taxi Industry

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At HANC’s June 2015 meeting we looked at one aspect of how the sharing economy is changing transportation: app-based ride services such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. While all three services (called transportation network companies, or TNCs, by the state) have headquarters in San Francisco, their sights are set on “disrupting” the taxi industry globally. Two panelists with detailed knowledge of the industry helped us dig into the benefits that TNCs may bring and the damage they may be causing.

Veena Dubal, an attorney and associate professor at UC Hastings, explained the parallels between the history of labor relations in San Francisco’s taxi industry and the push by TNCs to have their drivers deemed to be independent contractors. Taxi drivers actually achieved substantial employment protections through labor organizing the early 20th century. But from the 1950s onwards the taxi companies sought creative legal routes to redefine drivers as independent contractors, which increased the companies’ profitability. In San Francisco this change really took hold in the 1970s, after which there was essentially a two-tier system, with a small number of medallion holders each affiliated with a taxi company renting their cabs to a pool of contract drivers who had few guarantees of shifts or income.

The limited supply of taxi medallions made them very valuable commodities and reduced the incentive for companies to improve service for customers or conditions for drivers. By the early 2000s, national organizing by drivers had started to achieve modest improvements in some cities, such as guaranteed hours. Ironically, San Francisco cabs actually wanted to put in place a centralized dispatch system but were barred from doing this by the city. Now that centralized dispatch has become such an attractive feature of TNC services, San Francisco has allowed taxi companies to affiliate via the Flywheel app, which lets passengers locate any taxi from a participating company.


May at HANC: Airbnb Rentals and the Haight-Ashbury

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Over 50 people attended HANC's May meeting on the impact of short term tourist rentals (“Airbnb rentals”) on our neighborhood.  The day before the meeting the Board of Supervisors Budget and Legislative Analyst Office issued a report on the impact of short term rentals citry wide (Analysis of the Impact of Short Term Rentals on Housing) which found that the Haight-Ashbury had some 32% of its vacant rental hosing stock being offered as “commercial” Airbnb listings and removed from the rental market with resultant increase in rent .  This was the most rental housing removed of any neighborhood in the City.  Moreover, the report pointed out, the neighborhood led in the number of evictions that occurred over the same period. 

The study was confirmed by personal testimony of neighborhood residents at the meeting who reported their stories of being evicted or having neighbors evicted to make room for the Airbnb rentals.


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