On this year's ballot, two propositions in San Francisco -- Propositions I and F -- have come to represent the city's well-publicized tension between its growing tech-worker population and its long-established artistic class.
In one case, a fast-growing tech company has spent over $8 million to stop a proposition that would increase regulations on its services, which data shows have contributed to the city's housing shortage and mass exodus of longtime residents. In the other, the passage of a proposition would mean that a new 4,000-capacity dance hall would be unable to open for three years, but it would also mean that a small-but-beloved music venue would get to stay open for a good while longer.
For more information on these propositions, and other measures on this year's ballot, see KQED News' November 2015 Election Guide)
Prop. I's main intent is to institute a moratorium on luxury housing in the city's Mission District; it would block construction of any new residential buildings with five or more units, possibly for two years. But the proposition would also halt new "business development projects," including the opening of Drill Court, a larger event space inside Kink.com's Armory on 14th and Mission. If the proposition passes, Kink.com would be unable to convert the currently part-time space into a full-time music venue, thereby rendering it financially impossible to run.
On the other hand, Prop. I would save the Elbo Room from being turned into a five-story condo development for at least 18 months. When the cherished venue announced that its owners planned to shut down the club, late last year, local residents quickly came together to block the conversion. When the owners' plans were approved, it looked like the Elbo Room was doomed. Delays with the project led building owners Dennis and Susan Ring to allow the Elbo Room to stay open through the end of the year, however, and to operate on a month-to-month lease through 2016. If Prop I passes, the Elbo Room would be allowed to operate into at least 2017.
The biggest issue affecting artists in San Francisco is housing: a recent survey conducted by the San Francisco Arts Commission found that out of 600 respondents, 70 percent had lost or were in the process of losing their workspaces or homes. A contributor to this housing shortage is Airbnb, the online service that allows local residents to utilize empty rooms as short-term rentals. But the system is being abused in San Francisco: according to InsideAirbnb, which monitors the site's data, almost 60 percent of Airbnb rentals in San Francisco are entire houses, available for rent over 90 days a year. (One of the intents of Prop. F is to limit the use of a landlord's room as a short-term rental to 75 days per year.)
Airbnb has invested many millions to attack the proposition, but some of their ads have backfired. In the wake of the public-relations meltdown, a few positive pieces on Airbnb were published -- including in the New York Times' magazine T, which, in a clear conflict of interest, was written by the wife of a major investor in Airbnb.
In a recent piece on Buzzfeed, author Caroline O'Donovan wrote that the wife of Airbnb's vice-president of product had started her own baking business making cookies resembling Frida Kahlo. In order to offset business startup costs, the couple planned to rent one of their rooms on Airbnb, but claimed Prop. F's restrictions would end those plans.
On that same story, one commenter noted that the artist who introduced Frida Kahlo's work to an American audience was Rene Yañez, who held Kahlo's first show at San Francisco's Galeria de la Raza in the 1970s. A city resident for 35 years -- who's also credited with turning Dia de los Muertos into a citywide event -- Yañez and his entire family were evicted from their duplex on San Jose Ave. through the controversial Ellis Act last year. At the time, both Yañez and his wife were fighting terminal cancer.
According to InsideAirbnb, there are currently 922 Airbnb listings in the Mission alone.
(For more on the potential impacts of Proposition F, see the KQED newsroom's recent overview.)