Commentary

Commentary: Nancy DeStefanis

A Focus on Seniors

The holidays can be a rough time for many folks, particularly seniors. Two city propositions have passed which will help seniors and people with disabilities. There is also support for seniors aging-in-place in San Francisco; I have listed some of the best places to get information below.

SF Voters Passed City Propositions M and N

Prop. M taxes vacant apartments. It passed receiving 54% of the votes. The SF Controller’s office estimates that 4,000 units are likely to qualify for the vacancy tax. It was backed by several groups, including Faith in Action Bay Area (FIABA). I spoke to Rev. Victor Floyd, a member of FIABA and the Minister of Spiritual Care at Calvary Presbyterian Church. He told me that the newly created fund will help seniors with low incomes pay for their rent, and fund affordable housing. It will also help seniors at the end of life pay their rent to stay at home and afford supportive care at home. Led by neighbors who experience injustice and marginalization firsthand, Faith in Action will participate in the implementation of Prop. M and call on San Franciscans to insist on the right for seniors to age-in-place.

Prop. N – which will make the garage under the California Academy of Sciences and de Young Museum more affordable – passed with 74.6% of the votes. Mayor London Breed said the proposition’s passage would allow the City to spend public dollars on the garage, which creates flexibility over the management and parking rates. That change would make it possible for the City to offer discounts to low-income and disabled visitors who drive to the park. By passing responsibility of the garage to the Recreation and Park Department, the City can more easily reduce the parking rates and make improvements to the garage, such as creating subsidized parking or adding secure bike lockers.

Support for Seniors Living in the City

Floyd put together an excellent resource guide to senior adult resources on the Calvary Presbyterian Church website: calpres.org.

The mission of the Community Living Campaign (CLC) is “Cultivating connections to help seniors and people with disabilities age and thrive at home.” A variety of services provided by CLC include virtual classes at home, advocacy and an in-depth resource guide. CLC also publishes a newsletter Senior Beat. For more information, visit sfcommunityliving.org.

San Francisco Village connects older San Franciscans to the community, resources and the expertise they need to live independently in the places they call home. It conducts programs all over the city. Membership is available for adults who are 60+ (sliding scale) and are San Francisco residents. For more information, contact info@sfvillage.org.

Around Town

Spoke Easy: This bike shop in the Richmond prides itself on the service they give to their customers. And well they should. My friend’s 14-year-old son lost the second key to his kryptonite lock, and they ordered two for me. Then they advised that it was possible to put thin tires on the 15 year old’s Raleigh bike with fat tires. I left totally satisfied.

Movie: “Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues”- an exciting documentary on the great Satchmo, how he became the famous trumpeter, and his support for the civil rights movement. Now streaming on Apple TV+. 106 min.

Nancy DeStefanis is a member of the Richmond District Democratic Club, has been politically active in the Richmond and Sunset districts for 28 years and in San Francisco for more than 40 years.

2 replies »

  1. The assertion that Prop M helps seniors brought a cynical smile to my face, since I am a senior who is being driven out of my own home, a 300 sq ft microcondo (ie, a condo-converted room in a Victorian), by enormous (particularly enormous relative to the tiny size of my condo) Prop M tax, which would add $10,000 per year to the >$4,850 per year that I already pay in property tax to the City of San Francisco!

    Prior to retirement, I worked on temporary contracts in many places, including San Francisco. My principal residence was, and still remains, a 350 sq ft microcondo in Boston, and for the past 14-15 years, I have also owned the other tiny condo in San Francisco. Obviously, I did not steal that condo from anyone and am not withholding it from any other rightful occupant (as Prop M seems to be asserting), but have bought it with my hard-earned savings for my own use, to use it in the way that is extremely meaningful to me. I am a solitary aging woman without family – I am a traveler, continue to be a traveler in retirement, and in the absence of family, I guess I direct my feelings of love and connection towards cities to which I am tied by memories. Boston and San Francisco have been my two home cities and anchors in my travels; I assumed it would stay that way until I became unable to move. It breaks my heart to be thrown out of San Francisco, to be forced to sell my tiny San Francisco base – it breaks my heart to see what happened to San Francisco in general.

    I obviously can’t pay the Prop M tax, considering its size relative to the size of my tiny condo, ie, your “newly created fund” for seniors, created to steal from a senior like me (or to drive out a self-supporting senior like me, replacing her by a dependent senior who needs to be subsidized), won’t actually be collecting the planned enormous tax from me. On the contrary, Prop M will indeed force me to sell my tiny place to a market buyer. No San Francisco senior gets anything out of that… so does somebody else does get political prominence out of that, for empty political posturing?

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  2. Prop M’s tax on homes held empty is intended to help seniors and low-income households. From what you disclose in your comment, you will be fine. The goal of Prop M is to tax real estate speculators who hold multiple units empty, while they wait for the best time to sell. They trade vacant housing like stocks. Some investors have held entire buildings totally vacant while poor San Franciscans camp outside. Single family condos (homes) are exempt from Prop M.

    Virtually every SF newspaper published disinformation regarding Prop M. The Marina Times printed an absurd claim that Prop M would destroy voting rights. Other outlets, like the Chronicle, demonstrated logic conundrums by claiming that Prop M was a good idea but that voters should oppose it for not going far enough. The Housing Action Committee even claimed that Prop M would worsen traffic.

    Every newspaper willfully ignored the Prop M’s exemptions. Still, the voters of SF favored it by 8+ points. I urge you to read the measure firsthand.

    Prop M has irritated the very entities who exploit SF’s housing stock—to the point of promoting violence. Shockingly, those entities seem to control the media narrative. Soon after Prop M’s win was certified by the Department of Elections, the SF Examiner ran a large cover photo of Supervisor Dean Preston, Prop M’s most public proponent, placing a large bullseye on his head. Paul Pelosi was still in the hospital when the Examiner placed a bullseye on a Supervisor’s face.

    A wise friend reminded me that when evil attacks your work, you must be on the right track. Prop M was the moral choice. The voters of SF have not sold their soul, and for that, I am very glad.

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