The April 2006 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

US Government Created Housing Shortages

Hate Crimes in S.F. and Boston

Urban Removal in S.F. Bayview

Stop Bulldozers of Gentrification

The Death of Two Eloquent Homeless Voices

Grandmother Is Left Homeless by Car Wreck

Building Strong Unions on U.S./ Mexico Border

Transit Justice Is Derailed

Poor People Use the Internet to Organize

Just Wage for All

Ruling Class Runs Economy into the Ground

Art & Altruism: The Paintings of Elizabeth King

Poor Leonard's Almanack: On Writers

April Poetry of the Streets


March 2006

February 2006

January 2006

November 2005

October 2005

September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005

February 2005




Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

Stop the Bulldozers of Gentrification in the Bayview

Editorial by Carol Harvey

Willie Ratcliff is the publisher of the Bay View newspaper and a leading voice in the fight against gentrification and "urban removal." Photo by Leuren More

Progressive San Franciscans from the Castro to the Tenderloin and from the Haight to South of Market are shocked and awed by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency's recent threats to use "eminent domain" and predatory gentrification to dislocate African-Americans, peoples of color, and other homeowners out of the Bayview for profit.

This rank environmental, civil and human rights injustice is as significant, though not as visible, as the racist and classist disaster in Katrina's wake. Activists aim to make this injustice more visible.

Progressive San Franciscans want Mayor Newsom and the SFRA Commission to know they cannot sweep under the rug this aggressive invasion of Bayview homeowners' property rights. The biggest thing in most people's lives is whether or not they own a home.

The S.F. Board of Supervisors must show some real leadership and stand up against the Redevelopment Agency's powerful, but most repugnant tool -- the unjust use of eminent domain and the insidious misuse of market-rate housing developments to push people off of property they have worked for years to build, own, and repair, and on which they planned to secure their family's future.

When you lay out this issue of eminent domain for any taxpayer who thinks it through, they will side with Bayview residents. If the Bayview citizenry can be pushed out by the Redevelopment Agency's tool of eminent domain, any group anywhere can be similarly made to disappear - in the Haight, the Mission, the Castro, Noe Valley, or Richmond.

The Supreme Court's recent Kilo decision on eminent domain expands governmental powers to condemn property for private development. It strips American taxpayers of their property rights. It is the most unpopular decision the Supreme Court has ever made, opposed by everybody from the far left to the far right. Why would any political leader want their name associated with eminent domain or predatory gentrification?

Once upon a time there was a Fillmore. That Fillmore was known all over the world. That was a time when Black folks couldn't buy a house in most parts of San Francisco. They couldn't go to school in most schools in San Francisco, but they could work at the shipyard and hold other jobs. In Bayview Hunters Point right now, discrimination is universal. A total lockout shuts out blacks from nearly every job. Additionally, African-Americans can't borrow money to start their own businesses.

With a little bit of help to turn it around, Bayview Hunters Point could completely rebuild itself and create safe neighborhoods for its existing residents. These diverse communities could be attractions for tourists, rather than a cause for people to want to take a broom and sweep all the African-Americans out.

The Fillmore was once the biggest thing San Francisco had going, next to Chinatown. People could be celebrating and making music again. The Fillmore and the Bayview's Third Street could become huge twin tourist attractions. But not by bringing in non-indigenous restaurants and musical venues. If we want San Francisco to be a premier tourist city, let's think hard about ways we can enhance our city's attractiveness to tourists. San Francisco will not be an exciting place for tourists if all they see is rich white people.

The multicultural character of the city will be vastly diminished by the absence of the African-American community.

Let us recall the Board of Supervisors election in 2000 when San Francisco voted in a host of progressive leaders like Chris Daly, Jake McGoldrick, Gerardo Sandoval, Tom Ammiano, Aaron Peskin, and Matt Gonzalez, many of whom are still in office.

Let these supervisors reconsider their own strong progressive values, and refocus their compassionate spirits to support the folks in the Bayview whose environmental, human, and civil rights are being so terribly savaged by the Redevelopment Agency's threat to bulldoze them out of their homes and replace these lovingly built structures with market-rate condominiums.

We need to save this precious green gem with the sunniest, warmest weather in San Francisco and its wonderful blue Bay views for the lively, energetic, intelligent, tight-knit community of folks who have worked so hard so many years to build and maintain it, without hope or help and against all odds. It is a one-of-a-kind community that must be preserved at all costs. We owe it to the world to help the Bayview keep its dream. It is our dream as well.

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