Peskin is currently ahead of incumbent Julie Christensen, who Lee had appointed to replace the departing David Chiu in January, and who had provided Lee with a sixth vote on the 11-member board. A Peskin victory would now swing that advantage to the progressives. (While the race is still potentially within Christensen's reach as more mail-in ballots are counted, she was already talking about her career on the board in the past tense last night. Peskin has already claimed victory.)
Still, any momentum that progressives generate could be short-lived, as they will not enjoy a veto-proof majority, and three members in their ranks, Eric Mar, David Campos and John Avalos, will be termed out next year.
"Both sides, moderates and progessives, will try to recruit strong candidates for those district seats where [there are] termed-out supervisors,” said Shafer. "The outcome of that is really going to determine the future course for the city at the board.”
More 'Classically Progressive' Measures on the Way?
Political consultant Alex Clemens said in terms of affordable housing, San Francisco could see “more classically progressive San Francisco-type initiatives” on both the June and November 2016 ballots. He said the election of Peskin “will provide a great deal of conflict in City Hall that we haven't seen recently."
If the issue of housing has divided progressives and moderates, San Francisco voters seem to have sent a mixed message this election. Voters passed Proposition A, a $310 million affordable housing bond, and Proposition D, which increased height limits for the San Francisco Giants’ proposed development at Mission Rock, where at least a third of rental units must be affordable to low- and middle-income households.
However, voters rejected two propositions championed by progressives that targeted perceived drains on the city's affordable housing stock. Proposition F would have capped short-term rentals like those arranged through Airbnb at 75 nights a year for each unit, and saddled hosts with an array of other regulations. Proposition I sought to impose a temporary moratorium on luxury housing development (also known as market-rate housing development -- this is San Francisco) in the Mission District for at least 18 months.
“I think the voters are really concerned about affordable housing, about maintaining the character of San Francisco, but they want some clarity,” said USF professor Tim Iglesias. “I think that's why both A and D passed handily, but F and I seem to be losing. It's because in one sense F and I, the effects of the propositions, were unclear. Or at least the voters were confused about whether that was really going to help or not.”
Clemens said Airbnb’s final spending on the campaign to defeat Proposition F may approach $10 million, which he said political insiders were calling the “single-largest expenditure by one company in San Francisco political history,”
“Airbnb took no chances with this one,” he said. “They invested an extraordinary amount of money to influence the outcome of this election, and I believe they are doing so to try and send a message not only to San Francisco voters but to other elected officials and community leaders across the country who might seek to put in place similar regulations."
Lee opposed Prop F, arguing that the city should rely on the short-term rental restrictions passed last year, which Airbnb critics say are toothless. The mayor, along with other F opponents, said the measure would "pit neighbor against neighbor by encouraging petty lawsuits." Last night, though, both Peskin and Lee avoided any heightened rhetoric about the issue, while they basked in their victories.
Peskin said short-term rentals are going to be an "ongoing issue," and one that he "looked forward to working with the community and City Hall in resolving."
Lee said he had to "make sure that we don't hotelize neighborhoods" and said enforcement of the current legislation is "what I get to do, and I'm going to do that very well." When asked where he and Peskin disagreed the most, he jocularly said, "Oh, probably on who's taller."
Ha ha ha.