Making Real Change in SF by Dave Snyder, SFBC Executive Director

Last June, I got two eviction notices on the same day: one for my home in the Haight and one for the SFBC's longtime headquarters at 7th & Market Streets.

As I move to my new home in SF, I'll be paying more rent for less house. Many of my friends are also getting displaced, some of them going to Oakland, others to Ohio. As of press time, I really don't know where the SFBC offices will be next month.

We have to stop the hemmorhaging of people who cannot afford this city's escalating rents. When I moved to San Francisco in 1989, I found a great place to live in the Haight for $285/month. With that low rent, I could hold a part-time job while organizing the Bicycle Coalition on the side. Like countless other activists and artists, I was able to contribute to my city because I had the free time that low rent makes possible. Without plenty of places for poor people to live, this city will become devoid of risk-taking social projects and interesting art. It will become a city of the rich, with the kind of entertainment rich people like to pay for. I guess that won't be so bad once they complete the bike path across the Bay Bridge. (Should be a headline: City's Elite Pay for Bike Path Across Bay; Domestic Workers Need Some Way to Get to Work.)

The Bicycle Coalition has always had this tension between focusing narrowly on bike issues and looking at the broader issues of concern to bicyclists, such as preservation of rental housing (bicyclists are disproportionately renters) and other land use and planning issues. I've tried to steer us in the direction of focusing on bikes, despite the passion that I and many SFBC members feel about the other issues, because the bicycle is the one thing all members have in common. Now, with our sister organization, we can have it both ways.

The SFBC can focus more easily on bikes, because Transportation for a Livable City (TLC) will put new energy into other transportation-related issues, like housing. If thousands of us are being thrown out of our homes and out of the city, why do the zoning rules require housing developers to pay more to build garages (car housing) than to build affordable housing (people housing)? This has got to change!