Former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos is awaiting a quadruple heart bypass after being diagnosed this past week with congestive heart failure.
Agnos, 77, is resting at his home in San Francisco's Potrero Hill neighborhood. He is awaiting word on an appointment for surgery in Ohio at the Cleveland Clinic. Agnos says he feels fine -- and he sounds strong, based on a phone conversation with him Saturday afternoon.
Agnos served 11 years in the state Assembly before being elected mayor of San Francisco in 1987. He defeated Supervisor John Molinari 70-30 percent in a runoff election.
Agnos served one term as mayor from 1988 to 1992, losing to former Police Chief Frank Jordan. The four years of his tenure were buffeted by controversy over a homeless encampment in Civic Center Plaza, the height of the AIDS epidemic and the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. After the quake, Agnos led the bitter fight to tear down the Embarcadero Freeway, a successful effort that cost him crucial support in Chinatown.
After leaving the mayor's office, Agnos became regional HUD director under President Bill Clinton.
In recent years Agnos has emerged as a leading critic of Mayor Ed Lee, saying Lee is beholden to high-tech companies for campaign contributions while ignoring the rising cost of living in San Francisco and the need for more affordable housing. His opposition to the Golden State Warriors proposed arena on Piers 30-32 helped convince the team and Mayor Lee to abandon the site for its current proposed location in Mission Bay. He also led the campaign against a market rate housing development at 8 Washington on Port of San Francisco land. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposal.
Agnos also has added his voice to those concerned about San Francisco's rising income inequality, the lack of affordable housing and the loss of working-class people who can no longer afford to live in San Francisco.
Over the past year Agnos has been treated for high blood pressure, but learned after extensive testing this past week that his heart has seriously deteriorated.
"My bleeding heart has finally caught up with me," Agnos joked, referring to his well-known liberal politics. While saying he felt good and that his condition was stable for now, he acknowledged being "a little scared" as he looks ahead to serious heart surgery and recovery.