Counterpoints: An San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement & Resistance

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“This collection literally makes visible intersecting lines of structural violence that produce displacement and dispossession, while also tracing creative resistances that are always challenging these processes and building more just futures. As an atlas, Counterpoints is transformative and inspiring—it refuses the knowledge-making and representational practices that bind cartography to settler colonialism and racial capitalism, instead developing ethical cartographies and collective praxes for mapping otherwise.” —SARAH ELWOOD, Professor of Geography, University of Washington, author of Relational Poverty Politics: Forms, Struggles, Possibilities “To transform the current system requires us to build a movement led by the communities that are most impacted. And this movement cannot be limited to housing; it must be antiracist and anti-capitalist, it must be queer, it must be feminist, it must be Black and Latino and Indigenous, and it must be intersectional. Counterpoints is a book courageously and defiantly marking this transformation.”


— DAWN PH I L L I P S , Executive Director, Right to the City Alliance

upside down by boomtown madness, bloated by unconscionable wealth, invaded by global capital, and strangled by real estate speculation. The admirable activists at the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project have used their collective geographical imaginations to lay bare the facts of displacement, the resulting social upheavals, and the people’s struggles to reclaim their right to the city.” — RIC HARD A . WAL KER , Professor Emeritus of Geography, University of California, Berkeley, author Pictures of a Gone City: Tech and the Dark Side of Prosperity in the San Francisco Bay Area

USA 70.00 ISBN 978-1-62963-863-8

9 781629 638638


A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement & Resistance

“Counterpoints is a necessary counterpoint to the cheerleaders for the Age of Tech in the San Francisco Bay Area. The people have suffered mightily as their city has been turned

Cover design by Isa Knafo



The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP) is a data visualization, critical cartography, and multimedia storytelling collective that documents displacement and resistance struggles on gentrifying landscapes. With chapters in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, and Los Angeles, the collective works with numerous community partners and housing justice networks in order to provide data, maps, stories, and tools for resisting displacement. AEMP has produced hundreds of maps, oral histories, and multimedia pieces, as well as dozens of community events and reports, and numerous academic and public facing articles, book chapters, and murals. AEMP’s work has been presented in a variety of venues, from art galleries and collectives to neighborhood block parties, from academic colloquia and conferences to community workshops and book fairs.

A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement & Resistance

Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement and Resistance brings together cartography, essays, illustrations, poetry, and more in order to depict gentrification and resistance struggles from across the San Francisco Bay Area and act as a roadmap to counter-hegemonic knowledge making and activism. Compiled by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, each chapter reflects different frameworks for understanding the Bay Area’s ongoing urban upheaval, including: evictions and root shock, indigenous geographies, health and environmental racism, state violence, transportation and infrastructure, migration and relocation, and speculative futures. By weaving these themes together, Counterpoints expands normative urban-studies framings of gentrification to consider more complex, regional, historically grounded, and entangled horizons for understanding the present. Understanding the tech boom and its effects means looking beyond San Francisco’s borders to consider the region as a socially, economically, and politically interconnected whole and reckoning with the area’s deep history of displacement, going back to its first moments of settler colonialism. Counterpoints combines work from within the project with contributions from community partners, from longtime community members who have been fighting multiple waves of racial dispossession to elementary school youth envisioning decolonial futures. In this way, Counterpoints is a collaborative, co-created atlas aimed at expanding knowledge on displacement and resistance in the Bay Area with, rather than for or about, those most impacted.

Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement and Resistance © 2021 Anti-Eviction Mapping Project This edition © 2021 PM Press All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in critical publications or reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced, used, or stored in any information retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise in any manner without prior written permission from the publisher. ISBN: 9781629638287 (print) ISBN: 9781629638447 (ebook) Library of Congress Control Number: 2020934732 Cover by Isa Knafo / Interior design by Isa Knafo / 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 PM Press PO Box 23912 Oakland, CA 94623 Printed in the USA.

“ This collection literally makes visible intersecting lines of structural violence that produce displacement and dispossession, while also tracing creative resistances that are always challenging these processes and building more just futures. As an atlas, Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement and Resistance is transformative and inspiring—it refuses the knowledge-making and representational practices that bind cartography to settler colonialism and racial capitalism, instead developing ethical cartographies and collective praxes for mapping otherwise.” —SARAH ELWOOD , Professor of Geography, University of Washington, author of Relational Poverty Politics: Forms, Struggles, Possibilities (University of Georgia Press, 2018) “ Since the colonization of this land, capitalist, racist, and patriarchal structures have violently silenced and stolen from our communities the ability to map and tell our stories. Even as recently as ten years ago, as organizers in the Bay Area, we spent endless nights debating if we could even use the word ‘gentrification’ as a mobilizing counterforce in our communities. But the landscape is vastly different today. There is no more doubt that we are in the midst of a deep housing and affordability crisis. To transform the current system requires us to build a movement led by the communities that are most impacted. And this movement cannot be limited to housing; it must be anti-racist and anti-capitalist, it must be queer, it must be feminist, it must be Black and Latino and Indigenous, and it must be intersectional. Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement and Resistance is a book courageously and defiantly marking this transformation. It is a truth-seeking decolonial resistance to historical traditions and injustices of cartography and power. It is placemaking and space-making for all those who have never located themselves in conversations of gentrification, displacement, and neoliberal development.” —DAWN PHILLIPS , Executive Director, Right to the City Alliance “ Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement and Resistance is a necessary counterpoint to the cheerleaders for the Age of Tech in the San Francisco Bay Area. The people have suffered mightily as their city has been turned upside down by boomtown madness, bloated by unconscionable wealth, invaded by global capital, and strangled by real estate speculation. The admirable activists at the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project have used their collective geographical imaginations to lay bare the facts of displacement, the resulting social upheavals, and the people’s struggles to reclaim their right to the city.” —RICHARD WALKER , Professor Emeritus of Geography, University of California, Berkeley, author of The Conquest of Bread: 150 Years of Agribusiness in California (New Press, 2004) and Pictures of a Gone City (PM Press, 2018) “ The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project’s work is inspiring for activist cartographers and mapping activists in a number of ways: its strategic use of maps to accuse the manifold forms of oppression in neoliberal urbanization; its commitment to local communities and underrepresented spatial subjectivities; and its involvement with multiple (artistic) measures of activist action. This atlas, we believe, has the potential to instigate social justice struggles in cities worldwide.” —KOLLEKTIV ORANGOTANGO , author of This is Not an Atlas (Transcript-Verlag, 2018)

“ Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement and Resistance is a politically urgent and timely account of the historical and present-day forces of dispossession and resistance in the Bay Area. The atlas contains a wide-ranging archive that assembles the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project’s maps and oral histories, accounts of struggles around eviction, movements for environmental justice, histories of migration, and indigenous geographies produced by scholars, activists, journalists, and residents of the Bay Area. As a counter-cartography that is deeply rooted in community knowledge and struggle, this groundbreaking text makes visible the places and people that Google maps and real estate speculators erase. This book is a must read not just for those living in the Bay Area but for anyone interested in countering the spatial violence induced by racial capitalism.” —NEDA ATANASOSKI , Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, author of Surrogate Humanity: Race, Robots, and the Politics of Technological Futures (Duke University Press, 2019) “ The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project has long been one of the best examples of what’s possible when digital mapping, oral history, community organizing, and public art join forces against displacement. With Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement and Resistance, they’re providing not just a comprehensive look at land and organizing in the Bay Area but also a new collection of ideas, tools, and examples for housing organizers and counter-cartographers across the country. This book proves that mapping can be so much more than merely the science of princes and shows the stunning possibilities of what happens when communities and social movements wrest the power of mapping from states and corporations.” —COUNTER-CARTOGRAPHIES COLLECTIVE “ The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project set anchor in the Bay Area determined to find the trends, to identify the oppressors, and to learn who was affected by displacement and eviction. While the rest of the country pointed its finger directly at tech industry giant Google, the AEMP wanted to dig a little deeper. What makes the AEMP unique is their willingness to share knowledge. It is not something you find very often in today’s society. The ‘American Dream’ has become a narrative that many people are trying to rewrite. There is a new generation in America that, beyond that, is saying we will never realize that dream as long as the 99% are puppets of the capitalist 1%. People around the world are rising up and fighting back. Communities once divided along the lines of color and ethnicity are rising up, envisioning a new world where land serves a social purpose as opposed to being a means of profit for the wealthy. The AEMP has given us the tools to organize ourselves and identify the oppressor. What we do with the tools is up to us. Thank you to all the members of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project.” –ROB ROBINSON , cofounder of the leadership committee of the Take Back the Land Movement, coordinator of the USA-Canada Alliance of Inhabitants


Counterpoints A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement & Resistance

—Chapter 1—

Evictions & Root Shock 3

—Chapter 2—

Indigenous Geographies of Resistance 67

—Chapter 3—

Health & Environmental Justice 115

—Chapter 4—

Gentrification & State Violence 175

—Chapter 5—

Transportation, Infrastructure, & Economy 231

—Chapter 6—

Migrations/ Relocations 287

—Chapter 7—

Speculation & Speculative Futures 327

xiv /


xviii / P refatory Note

The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project

xx /

Foreword: An Atlas for a Difficult World Anaya Roy

xxii / Foreword:

Overcoming Imposed Amnesia Chris Carlsson

xxiii / C ounterpoints: An Introduction

Erin McElroy, Mary Shi, Manissa M. Maharawal, and the AEMP



edited by Erin McElroy and the AEMP collective 03/ Counter-Mapping Evictions

39/ Alameda and Fremont Evictions 41/ Coliseum College Prep 43/ Airbnb and Evictions 47/ San Jose and San Mateo County Evictions 49/ Santa Cruz County Key

Housing Issues, 2016–2017

51/ Narratives of Displacement

and Resistance Mural 53/ The Light Atlas

56/ Eviction Free San Francisco 59/ Oakland Community Power Map 61/ Interview with Roberta Ryan



and Root Shock

edited by Savannah J. Kilner and Magie Ramírez

09/ Soaring Rents and Unjust

67/ Introduction

Evictions in California

13/ San Francisco Ellis Act Evictions, 1994–2017 17/ San Francisco Owner Move-In

Evictions, 1997–2017

19/ Tenant Organizing in Oakland 23/ Oakland Unlawful Detainers,

71/ Ohlone Geographies 77/ The Indigenous and the Displaced 83/ Missionization, Incarceration,

and Ohlone Resilience

87/ Unsettling Domesticity:


Native Women and US Indian Policy in the San Francisco Bay Area

25/ Unlawful Detainer Eviction Process

93/ Bay Area American Indian

in Alameda County

26/ Evictions in Chinatown 27/ The International Hotel at 848

Kearny Street at Jackson, 1978

31/ Anti-Black Racism of San Francisco Evictions 33/ Root Shock: Oral History

of Edwin Lindo

37/ Evictions and Relocation,

San Francisco, 2012

Two-Spirits: A Conversation on the Intersections of Displacement 101/ Ohlone Protocols 103/ Reparations: Solidarity

with the Ohlone People

105/ Sogorea Te’ and Planting Justice:

A Conversation on Land Rematriation


edited by Maria Elena Acosta, Adrienne R. Hall, and Maureen Rees

188/ Police Killings in San Francisco and Oakland 191/ San Francisco Murals of Resistance 193/ Threading the Life of a Mayan 197/ Weaponizing Oakland’s Nuisance Ordinances

115/ Introduction

203/ St. James Infirmary: Statement of

117/ Cheryl’s Story

Support for APHA’s “Addressing Law Enforcement Violence as a Public Health Issue”

119/ Bayview Hunters Point Geographies

of Toxicity and Narratives of Resistance 127/ Asian Pacific Environmental Network: Power

205/ Renegade 208/ Oral History with Charles Oshinuga

Building against Environmental Racism in the East Bay

209/ San Francisco Jail Population

129/ Housing and Dignity Zine: The Village and

211/ Bay Area Military Contracts

Anti-Tuff Shed Encampments 131/ Gentrification, Evictions,

and HIV in San Francisco 135/ Just Biomedicine on Third Street? Health

and Wealth Inequities in San Francisco’s Biotech Hub 153/ Police Violence Is a Public Health Issue:

A Three-Year Struggle within the American Public Health Association 159/ Better Neighborhoods, Same Neighbors 162/ Mapping East Bay Food Justice 163/ Patterns of Green Gentrification 165/ From the Concrete Grew a Sunflower:

A Mini Guide for Community Gardening


edited by Terra Graziani, Andrew Szeto, and the AEMP collective 175/ Introduction 176/ The Gentrification to Prison Pipeline 181/ The Criminalization of Homelessness 187/ Mario Woods

213/ Abolishing Policing in Oakland 219/ Policing and Place-Taking in

Downtown Oakland Nightlife 223/ Data-Driven Policing and the Colonial Database


edited by Deland Chan and John Stehlin 231/ Introduction 233/ Transport in History:

What Is, Was, and Wasn’t 239/ Interview with Bonnie Wills 241/ Interview with Mira Ingram 243/ Energy, Water, Sewage:

The Systems We Take for Granted 251/ Jobs and Commuting: Where We Work and Live 267/ Resistance and Envisioning

our Collective Futures 271/ Redlined: Unsettled in the Mission 275/ Google Bus Blockades for a Right to the City 281/ Why Taxi Drivers Protested Uber at the Crunchies


edited by Mary Shi and the AEMP collective 287/ Introduction 290/ Uneven Development: Suburbanization and

Gentrification 293/ Immigrant Geographies 295/ Timeline of Black Exclusion

in the City of Alameda 299/ Mobile Segregation and Resegregation 301/ Voluntary Migrations,

347/ Wall Street Landlords and Post-Crisis

Housing Speculation 349/ Invitation Homes, Sacramento, 2018 351/ Urban Green Investments 355/ YIMBYism and Absentee Ownership,

San Francisco 357/ Evict the Evictors 361/ Treasure Island and Yerba

Buena Island Redevelopment 365/ Becoming Twitterlandia 369/ Ron Conway

Forced Dislocations

373/ Pledge Map, Midtown, and Boycotts

303/ Expensification

375/ Benito Santiago, June 18, 2014

307/ Family-Based Migrations

377/ Community Land Trusts

309/ Solidarity Becomes a House 313/ Archaeology of the Albany Bulb 317/ Political Economy: Contextualizing

and Pigeon Palace 379/ Reimagining Oakland 381/ San Francisco Kids: Our Wanderland

Migration and Relocation in the Bay 319/ Resistance: Disrupting a


Regional Geography of Inequality


edited by Erin McElroy, Manissa M. Maharawal, and the AEMP collective 327/ Speculation and Speculative Futures 331/ Take the Houses Back: Moms 4 Housing 337/ The Gridline Imaginary: A Brief History

of Speculation in the US 341/ Redlining and Lending in Oakland 343/ Redline in the Sand: Post-2008 Stockton 345/ I Dream of a World

393/ E pilogue: Imagining

Bay Area Futures Magie Ramírez

Counterpoints is dedicated to Finley Coyl.


A Bay Area Atlas of Displacement and Resistance Edited by The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Project Wranglers: Erin McElroy and Mary Shi Layout and Cover Design: Isa Knafo Chapter Editors and Coordinators: AEMP collective, Maria Elena Acosta, Henning Behrends, Deland Chan, Terra Graziani, Adrienne R. Hall, Savannah J. Kilner, Carla Leshne, Manissa M. Maharawal, Erin McElroy, Marko Muir, Aloka Narayanan, Magie Ramírez, Maureen Rees, John Stehlin, Mary Shi, Andrew Szeto, and Aidan Thawley Cartography and Illustration: The AEMP collective, Alicia Cowart, Finley Coyl, Austin Ehrhardt, Zeph Fishlyn, Chris Henrick, Isa Knafo, Sam Rabiyah, Molly Roy, Matt Torres, Carla Wojczuk, and numerous wonderful contributors. Student Community Partners: Charlotte Blair, Christian Ryan Badillo, Tony Robert Hackett, Elise Jael Miller, Lexi Jian Neilan, and Spencer Laurence Robinson Student and Intern Guidance: Deland Chan, Adrienne R. Hall, Erin McElroy, Magie Ramírez, and Mary Shi Oral History Coordinators: Marko Muir, Manissa M. Maharawal, and Erin McElroy Chapter Editors by Chapter: “Evictions and Root Shock”: Erin McElroy and the AEMP collective “Indigenous Geographies of Resistance”: Savannah J. Kilner and Magie Ramírez “Health and Environmental Justice”: Maria Elena Acosta, Adrienne R. Hall, and Maureen Rees “Gentrification and State Violence”: Terra Graziani, Andrew Szeto, and the AEMP collective “Transportation, Infrastructure, and Economy”: Deland Chan and John Stehlin “Migrations/Relocations”: Mary Shi and the AEMP collective “Speculation and Speculative Futures”: Erin McElroy, Manissa M. Maharawal, and the AEMP collective

xii /

AEMP CONTRIBUTORS Maria Elena Acosta has been a health educator in the San Francisco Bay Area for the last fifteen years. She enjoys working in community and creating spaces where people can reflect and work together on health solutions that are meaningful, empowering, and interactive. Henning Behrends lives in Leipzig, Germany, and spends a lot of time building real utopias for the many. Deland Chan teaches in the Program on Urban Studies at Stanford University and is a doctoral candidate in Sustainable Urban Development at the University of Oxford. Finley Coyl was a graphic designer for social justice and worked with the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project for several years, contributing to numerous maps and reports. Alicia Cowart is a geographer working in higher education and is currently the director of a new geospatial lab at the University of Colorado Denver. She is also a board member of Guerrilla Cartography. Austin Ehrhardt is a designer interested in geography and the built environment. Zeph Fishlyn is a multidisciplinary visual artist based in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1987. Working with grassroots organizers, Zeph has responded to gentrification and displacement since 2011 with drawings, prints, public projects, and creative direct action. For more information see Terra Graziani is a researcher and organizer based in Los Angeles, CA. She founded the LA Chapter of AEMP. She recieved her Masters in Urban Planning at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her work focuses on the intersection of police, property, and personhood. Adrienne R. Hall is a doctoral student in geography at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She received her Master’s degree in public health at San Francisco State University, where she became active with the Bay Area chapter of AEMP. Adrienne is passionate about health justice and the collective well-being of Black communities. Chris Henrick is a creative technologist and educator who currently lives in Oakland, California, and who’s work spans the domains of housing justice, web development, data visualization, geographic information systems, and cartographic design.

Savannah J. Kilner is an educator, organizer, and queer femme parent. Born and raised in Ohlone territories, she dreams and schemes for collective care, anti-colonial futures, trans and queer reproductive access, PIC abolition, and politicized healing.

Molly Roy runs M. Roy Cartography—a socially and environmentally focused, design-forward map-making company, specializing in print cartography and map and atlas design consultation. See more of Molly’s work at

Isa Knafo is a publication designer, anti-capitalist researcher, and non-fiction media maker. She has worked for several years with anti-gentrification and anti-artwashing movements in Los Angeles and is a member of AEMP-LA. Her publishing design can be seen at

Mary Shi is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. She grew up on the fringes of the Bay Area and is committed to grappling with the Bay Area in all of its complexity and celebrating the power of partial perspective.

Carla Leshne is a media maker, writer, activist, gardener, and stage technician dedicated to the pursuit of justice through the power of collective alliance and action.

John Stehlin is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Sustainability at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and the author of Cyclescapes of the Unequal City: Bicycle Infrastructure and Uneven Development (University of Minnesota Press, 2019).

Manissa M. Maharawal cofounded the oral history wing of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, called the Narratives of Displacement and Resistance Project, in 2012. She works as an assistant professor of anthropology at American University in Washington, DC, and is the parent of a small wonderful human. Erin McElroy is a cofounder of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project and a postdoctoral researcher at New York University. Erin received a PhD in Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and is an editor of the Radical Housing Journal. Marko Muir it’s 2020 and rent is still theft!!! grieve collectively. riot joyfully. take care of each other. Aloka Narayanan is a data and policy analyst with a passion for dismantling inequitable power structures. She has been volunteering with the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project since 2016. She received her Master of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 2020.

Andrew Szeto was born and raised in San Francisco and does prison-industrial complex abolition organizing in the Bay Area. Aidan Thawley, a University of Leeds graduate, is a geographer and activist based in San Francisco and Northern England. Growing up in San Francisco, they became very passionate about fighting gentrification and for environmental justice and are continuously learning how best to contribute to these causes. Carla Wojczuk is in awe of the rigorous thought, labor, and love that the atlas team put into this work. Carla is a “paint on your collar” scholar and member of the AEMP collective, the lead muralist for the Narratives of Displacement and Resistance mural, a coordinator of Counterpoints: Stories and Data for Resisting Displacement Alameda County Project, and a creative cartographer for the atlas project.

Magie Ramírez was born and raised on occupied Ohlone territories in the Bay and cares deeply for this place, its people, and its future. She currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she works as an assistant professor of geography at Simon Fraser University, and otherwise spends her days raising and learning from two small humans. Maureen Rees earned a Master of Public Health degree at San Francisco State University, where she expanded her thinking about what health means. She has been working in health care in San Francisco since 2011 and is dedicated to making that system work for those who have been historically wronged by it.

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Acknowledgments This project is the result of countless AEMP volunteers and friends, all of whom have put in innumerable hours to make it happen. We recognize them in the chapter by chapter acknowledgments below. We also recognize the community partners, activists, artists, scholars, and collectives who have contributed work and support to this manuscript. We are filled with gratitude for the San Francisco Tenants Union, which literally gave us a home in which to complete this project, as well as a space to exist as a project throughout the years. In particular, we dedicate this project to the Tenant Union’s former director Ted Gullicksen, who supported the AEMP from the get-go, and whose presence is felt throughout the Bay Area housing justice movement daily, along with all those housing activists who have passed away too soon and joined the ancestors. Many thanks to Jennifer Fieber, Deepa Varma, Layla Stanley, Eihway Su, and all of the Tenants Union volunteers for keeping things running so smoothly day by day. The AEMP is one of numerous collectives fighting gentrification and displacement in the Bay Area, and we are lucky to stand on the shoulders of organizations that have been fighting for housing justice for decades. We are also humbled by the fierce tenant organizing that is occurring minute by minute throughout the Bay Area and consider ourselves lucky to be among such powerful allies and networks. We are also endlessly inspired by tenant justice organizing happening throughout the US and transnationally, hoping that the work that we have produced in this atlas is conversant with that of other movements near and far. As this atlas brings in the perspectives of activists and scholars who aren’t often included in normative “urban studies” and “gentrification studies” conversations, from those of prison abolitionists to those of migrant justice activists, from those of Indigenous justice organizers to those of public health advocates, we hope that this atlas can also be in conversation with spaces that seek to bring anti-racist, decolonial, feminist, and anti-displacement work together in new and important ways. xiv /

We are grateful to our many different sponsors and supporters over the years, without whom the AEMP and this atlas would not be possible. This publication was supported by the University of California, Berkeley Global Urban Humanities Initiative, thanks to generous funding by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which studies cities through the lenses of the arts and humanities, architecture, landscape architecture, and city planning. Scott Chilberg was instrumental to bringing the work of the AEMP and the Global Urban Humanities Initiative together. Deland Chan’s Sustainable Cities class at Stanford University also provided labor and support to the atlas. Thanks to the Feminist Studies Department and the Humanities Institute at the University of California, Santa Cruz for inviting us to debut this project, as well as for supporting it. Thanks to Neda Atanasoski for facilitating this. We are honored to be recognized with and supported by the 2019 Alumni Prize for Public Sociology from the Sociology Department at the University of California, Berkeley. The Anthropology Department at American University is committed to public scholarship and provided generous financial support. A grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission made the timely dissemination and public celebration of this work possible. Endless thanks to Steven at PM Press for helping guide us and encouraging us in this process of publishing such a complex and weighty tome. Even before this atlas project began, the AEMP has received many different forms of support, for which we are endlessly grateful. Thanks to Tenants Together for supporting us from our origin and for all of the rich collaborative work that we have embarked upon together since then. And thanks to funding from the Creative Work Fund, Southern Exposure’s Alternative Exposure grant program, the Kala Art Institute, the San Francisco Arts Commission, the San Francisco Foundation, and more. As a collective of artists, activists, scholars, educators, storytellers, and more, the AEMP produces work that often troubles standard expectations of any particular community, discipline, profession, or method. We consider the collective and collaborative nature of our

work to be absolutely central to what we produce and the power with which it can speak. This makes attribution of our work and recognition of specific members a complex, difficult, and inherently political question. As an expression of our commitment to producing work collectively, we offer this atlas in the same way. Nonetheless, we also want to recognize the ways in which specific people contributed their ideas, energy, love, and labor to particular elements of this project. These people are recognized below. CHAPTER 1—EVICTIONS AND ROOT SHOCK edited by Erin McElroy and the AEMP Collective This chapter, along with the “Speculation and Speculative Futures” chapter, is based on years of AEMP research, as well as new material created by atlas contributors. It is impossible to thank all of the AEMP members who have contributed to this work in its original form, as our project is open, collective, and there have been hundreds of amazing volunteers who have come and gone throughout the years. When applicable, we list the main contributors next to the AEMP maps in this chapter, including the cartographers who have helped us adapt web maps into print form. We also list the various community groups and partners with whom we have collaborated to produce content. Collaboration and partnerships are at the heart of our map-making, which we hope comes through in this chapter. In particular, we want to thank the following AEMP members for their work on the content of this chapter: Finley Coyl, Jennifer Fieber, Austin Ehrhardt, Terra Graziani, Carla Leshne, Husayn Karimi, Manissa M. Maharawal, Erin McElroy, Marko Muir, Aloka Narayanan, Sam Raby, Molly Roy, and Carla Wojczuk. Thanks to Tony Robert Hackett and Spencer Laurence Robinson for feedback and suggestions for this chapter and to Charlotte Blair, Henning Behrends, and Marko Muir for editing it. We also want to thank our contributors: the Betti Ono Gallery, Anabelle Bolaños, Chela Delgado and her class at Oakland Coliseum College Prep, Defend Aunti Frances, Delta_Ark, Jesse Drew, Eviction Free San Francisco, FoundSF, Sarah Linck-Frenz, Julian Francis Park, Tony Robles, Lee Reyes, Eva Mas Silberstein, James Sobredo, Leah Simon-Weisberg, Christopher Statton, Renita Valdez, and Megan Wilson. In addition, we want to thank activists Edwin

Lindo and Roberta Ryan for their insightful oral history interviews. Thanks to Claire Astrow, Micah Bazant, Kayan Cheung-Miaw, Jesse Drew, Fernando Martí, and the AEMP’s We Are Here zine for the beautiful images. We are grateful for the community partners involved in this research, particularly the Eviction Defense Collaborative, the Clarion Alley Mural Project, the San Francisco Rent Board, Tenants Together, the San Francisco Tenants Union, San Mateo Legal Aid, the Creative Work Fund, No Place Like Home, and Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto. This work sits within the coalitional work of the Anti-Displacement Coalition and the Regional Tenant Organizing Network. In conclusion, we want to acknowledge all those who have joined the ancestors whose shoulders this research stands upon, notably Ted Gullicksen, who helped bring our early anti-eviction research into being. CHAPTER 2—INDIGENOUS GEOGRAPHIES edited by Savannah J. Kilner and Magie Ramírez This book was conceived, researched, and written on stolen, unceded Ohlone/Lisjan territories. We thank Corrina Gould and Johnella LaRose for collaborating with us on the “Indigenous Geographies of Resistance” chapter. This chapter would not be possible without their words, patience, connections, and insight, and we are grateful for the time they took to meet with us. Special thanks to Indian People Organizing for Change, Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits, Planting Justice, all of the chapter contributors, Austin Ehrhardt and Carla Wojczuk for collaborating to produce maps and illustrations, Fernando Martí and Micah Bazant for their illustrations, Marina Biznack for her timely transcriptions, Lexi Jian Neilan and Tony Hackett for their thoughtful feedback, and Kristen Murakoshi for shooting some beautiful photos at the last minute. CHAPTER 3— HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, edited by Maria Elena Acosta, Adrienne R. Hall, and Maureen Rees This chapter stems from the community-engaged research collaboration of AEMP and graduate students in the Master of Public Health (MPH) program at San Francisco State University, under the leadership of Dr. Laura Mamo. During the fall 2016 and the fall 2018 semesters, students enrolled \ xv

in the Public Health Inquiry course conducted qualitative analysis of select oral history interviews from AEMP’s Narratives of Displacement and Resistance Project, with the goal of understanding and identifying relationships between evictions, displacement, and health. We would like to thank Dr. Laura Mamo and the following individuals who contributed to our framing of gentrification as an issue of health injustice: Maria Elena Acosta, Priyam Das, Adrienne R. Hall, Heather Hargraves, Michael Henne, Calli Johnson, Jaime Loey, Galen Maloney, Rebecca Mendez, Alyssia Plata, Maureen Rees, Gladys Reyes, Erin Royal, Samantha Torres, Galina Yudovich, Andrea Zhou, Cesar Campos, Rebecca Eiseman, Tommy Le, Raymond Lum, Joaquin Meza, Michaela Perez, Ilana Peterson, Emerson Shiang, Laura Suddes, Fatima Sultan, Joseph Sweazey, Meme Than, Andrei Torres, and Nova Wilson. We would also like to thank members of AEMP’s (Dis) location project Ariana Allensworth, Robin Bean Crane, Alexandra Lacey, Maya Sisneros, Jin Zhu, Mark Harris, William Rhodes, and Sofia Vivanco Airaghi for their work to document the displacement of Black San Francisco residents as it coincides with issues of environmental racism in the Bayview. We would like to thank Flora Wang and Marisa Weinstock, who interned with the (Dis)location project and researched and mapped the histories and legacies of segregation and environmental racism in the San Francisco Unified School District. Thanks to Southern Exposure’s Alternative Exposure grant and the San Francisco Arts Commission for funding this work. We are incredibly grateful for the individuals whose narratives are included in our chapter, Dr. Raymond Tompkins, Michelle Pierce, Bradley Angel, and Cheryl, and for the oral historians and videographers who captured these stories, Alexandra Lacey, Jin Zhu, Robin Bean Crane, and Wynn Newberry. We were also privileged to share the world of Margo Rivera-Weiss and Marie Harrison, who are no longer with us. May we continue to learn from their passions. Thank you to all of our chapter contributors—we have learned from each of your submissions.

CHAPTER 4— GENTRIFICATION AND STATE VIOLENCE, edited by Terra Graziani, Andrew Szeto, and the AEMP Collective We are so grateful to the many contributors to this chapter, including Lacino Hamilton, whose writing at Truthout inspired this chapter into being, Adriana Camarena, Critical Resistance—Oakland, specifically Jay Donahue, Woods Ervin, and Sagnicthe Salazar, Eli Shoecraft and Pike Long, and St. James Infirmary, Fortress Bay Area, Paul Boden and the Western Regional Advocacy Project, Chris Herring, Jeff Garnand, Alex Werth, Charles Oshinuga, Matthew Torres, Micah Bazant, Andrea Miller, Carla Wojczuk, Leon Reichle, Marko Muir, Manissa M. Maharawal, Carla Leshne, Erin McElroy, and Salima Hamarani. Many thanks also to Austin Ehrhardt and Isa Knafo who made this chapter beautiful with their cartography and design work. The editors would also like to offer a special thank you to organizers and scholars doing abolition work globally. ACAB and freedom dreams forever. CHAPTER 5—TRANSPORTATION, INFRASTRUCTURE, & ECONOMY edited by Deland Chan and John Stehlin We would like to thank the cartographers who contributed maps, narratives, and research support to the chapter: Adriana Camarena, Jake Coolidge, Deta_Ark, Leslie Dreyer, Jennifer Fieber, Maya Ellington, Heart of the City Collective, Chris Henrick, Nick Lee, Erin McElroy, Kristin Miller, Fernando Navarro, Michelle Ott, Alasdair Rae, Steve Rhodes, Tim Redmond, Masoomeh Sharifi Soofiani, SPUR, and Carla Wojczuk. Elise J. Miller provided thoughtful feedback on the chapter. Thanks to Carla Leshne, Erin McElroy, and Marko Muir for weaving together the resistance section and to Salima Hamarani and Zeph Fishlyn for their oral history work. We appreciate Mira Ingram and Bonnie Wills sharing their oral histories and contributing to the efforts of humanizing the impacts of infrastructure and transportation development on communities. CHAPTER 6—MIGRATIONS/RELOCATIONS, edited by Mary Shi and the AEMP Collective This chapter expands upon years of collective AEMP work developing a regional, relational perspective on the Bay Area and the forces that shape it. Original maps and analyses

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were developed in close collaboration with Austin Ehrhardt and Seth Neill, without whom this chapter would not have been possible. Alex Schafran contributed to the early conceptualization of this chapter and made substantial contributions to both its form and content. Other AEMP collective members whose work is represented in this chapter include Ariel Appel, Carla Wojczuk, Zeph Fishlyn, Terra Graziani, Marko Muir, and Aloka Narayanan. Thank you to the Alameda Renters Coalition, Fremont RISE, and Jay Feria, Kristal Osorio, and Erin Subido of the Bayanihan Youth Group for sharing their stories and inspiring us with their organizing work. Christian Ryan Badillo and Lexi Jian Neilan provided valuable early feedback on this chapter. We are extremely grateful to be able to use this chapter as a platform for the many essays, maps, illustrations, and insights made by external contributors and would like to thank them each for their invaluable contributions: Annie Danis, Nora Dye, Sam Rabiyah, Tony Samara, Rasheed Shabazz, Mashael Majid, Molly Goldberg, Brad Hirn, Gehad Massoud, Bob Offer-Westort, Juju Angeles, Teo Ducot, Rob Connell, and Benji Rouse. CHAPTER 7—SPECULATION AND SPECULATIVE FUTURES, edited by Erin McElroy, Manissa M. Maharawal, and the AEMP Collective This chapter incorporates and builds upon years of collaborative AEMP work. While it is impossible to list everyone, we want to thank the following people who have been especially central to this chapter: Finley Coyl, Austin Ehrhardt, Jennifer Fieber, Terra Graziani, Lauren Hiller, Alexandra Lacey, Carla Leshne, Manissa M. Maharawal, Erin McElroy, Marko Muir, Aloka Narayanan, Faiq Raza, Magie Ramírez, Leon Reichle, Molly Roy, Katharine Sidelnik, Andrew Szeto, Aidan Thawley, Carla Wojczuk, and Jin Zhu. Charlotte Blair and Henning Behrends helped copyedit this chapter, and we are also grateful to Tony Robert Hackett and Spencer Laurence Robinson for early feedback and to Zoltán Glück and Laura Flierl for later copyediting. We want to thank the 2017–2018 fourth and fifth graders of Guadalupe Elementary, Jess Dorrance, Gay Shame, Fernando Martí, Carrie Goldberg, Molly Goldberg, Gleidys Hoyos, Brandon Jourdan, and Marianne Maeckelbergh, for the images they contributed. We thank Shilo Arkinson, Veronica Beaty, Kitty Bolte, Desiree Fields, Leslie Gordon, Aimee Inglis, Erica Jaramillo,

Jeffrey Levin, Toshio Meronek, Beilul Naizghi, Avidan Novogrodsky-Godt, Dylan Rossbach, Katja Schwaller, Kevin Stein, and Leah Simon-Weisberg for their text and research contributions. We are indebted to Benito Santiago for sharing his eloquent oral history and to the many community partners we worked with to produce this content: the California Reinvestment Coalition, the San Francisco Anti-Displacement Coalition, the Creative Work Fund, Tenants Together, the Sacramento Tenants Union, and the San Francisco Tenants Union. PREFATORY NOTE, INTRODUCTION, AND EPILOGUE The broad contours of the prefatory note, introduction, and epilogue emerged out of long conversations among the entire collective of chapter editors at two retreats toward the end of the atlas compilation process in spring 2019 and during a series of virtual meetings at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic a year later. However, as is often the case with collective work, it came down to a few specific individuals to translate the ideas, energy, and intent of a group conversation into concrete words on a page, adding their own authorial voices and reflections in the process. We are grateful to Erin McElroy and Manissa M. Maharawal for doing this work for the introduction, Mary Shi for doing the same for the prefatory note, and Magie Ramírez for bravely offering her vision for a path forward in the epilogue.

∑ These acknowledgments can in no way fully capture the complex ways in which we have come to work together as a collective, the many contributions each person has made, or the people who for various reasons do not want to be named. This list is imperfect and incomplete, but so are we as a collective with so much more room to learn and grow. In addition to recognizing the efforts and support of the many people and organizations that make the AEMP and this atlas possible, we offer these acknowledgments as a moment of self-reflection, in the spirit of reflexive critique, and as an invitation into a richer conversation about the nature of collective work to those working alongside us in all our allied spaces.

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When we began working on this atlas in 2016, we knew that putting together a publication of this scale, scope, and complexity would be an effort of many years. As such, we designed Counterpoints to be read as a snapshot of the particular moment in which it was created. We knew that the value of what we created would be as much in the conversations it could convene as in the timeliness of its contents. What we could not have anticipated is the scale and scope of changes we have collectively faced since then. From the annual clouds of wildfire smoke that have descended over the Bay Area to the more invisible spread of COVID-19 worldwide, we are all facing new conditions of precarity, uncertainty, and harm. And out of these conditions, new campaigns for housing justice have emerged that have already altered the conditions of possibility for all of our struggles. Northern Californian wildfires that killed dozens and impacted millions more highlighted the disparate impacts of collective crises, whether in the guise of fixed-income seniors forced to relocate to fire-prone fringes as a result of Bay Area housing costs or houseless residents closer to home with no means to escape the smoke. The #COLA4ALL campaign that began at the University of California, Santa Cruz made the radical suggestion that given that the cost of housing was so high, why not adjust the rate of student worker compensation to match, thereby highlighting the enormous gap between compensation and cost of living in many Bay Area cities. The #Moms4Housing occupation of Wedgewood-owned empty housing in West Oakland vividly illustrated the choice between people and profit that speculators make whenever xviii /

they allow homes to sit vacant in a region where houselessness is the condition of so many. Meanwhile, current COVID-19 rent strikers in the Bay Area and nationwide are shining a light on the difficult choices families are making between rent, health care, and food during this pandemic and the contradictions of a society that forces these decisions on them. Calls to #CancelRent are growing day by day, as more people explore the limits of what it is possible to collectively demand. Penning this in May 2020 and looking back to early 2019 when the contents of this atlas were finalized and forward to Counterpoints’ release, the only thing we can be certain of is that the terrain under our feet will have shifted again by the time this atlas is in readers’ hands. We only hope that the distance between these points in time as indexed in these pages can inspire others to fight for radical changes they didn’t dare demand before, with even more aggressive timelines, in movements with even broader bases of mutual aid, mutual recognition, and solidarity.



An Atlas of the Difficult World ANANYA ROY

In the United States, displacement and dispossession are nothing new. They are the founding and structuring logics of this settler colony and its imperial expansions. Yet the present historical moment requires renewed attention to, and analysis of, new forms of eviction and expropriation. This is the work that the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project has been meticulously doing in the Bay Area since 2013 and that it is now undertaking in other US cities, including Los Angeles. One striking aspect of the AEMP is the capacious imagination to make visible and hold together seemingly separate processes and histories. Counterpoints thus tells us about Ohlone geographies and Wall Street futures. It tells us about gentrification and military contracts. It tells us about tech capitalism and data-driven policing. Counterpoints sites narratives and practices of resistance, uprising, and dissent at such places of connection. Indeed, in creating and curating data and stories, the AEMP has itself generated key methodologies of resistance, from identifying evictors to building solidarity through pledge maps. These are vitally important counterpoints to the spatial hoarding of wealth and power. Such work is also a counterpoint to normative practices of cartography, as McElroy et al. lay out in their introduction. The AEMP has from its very inception refused the extraction of data and the exploitation of stories. It has also insisted, as is evident in Counterpoints, on connecting data and stories. The abstractions of data can often masquerade as authoritative legal truths. We must remind ourselves that data is a set of stories, often told by the powerful. The stories of communities can often be silenced and suppressed. We must remind ourselves of the truths that lie in stories whose very singularities reveal worldwide patterns of oppression and resistance. xx /

In An Atlas of the Difficult World, a collection of poems written between 1988 and 1991, Adrienne Rich traces “a map of our country,” of “the desert where missiles are planted like corms,” “the breadbasket of foreclosed farms,” “the cemetery of the poor who died for democracy,” “the suburbs of acquiescence.”1 Counterpoints is an atlas of the difficult world, an atlas of our unequal, occupied, policed, colonized cities. Rich writes: I promised to show you a map you say but this is a mural then yes let it be these are small distinctions where do we see it from is the question. The maps and murals, data and stories, collected and curated by AEMP are ways of seeing the world. They also insist that we clarify our location in maps of power and privilege and that we contend with our lines of sight. For organizers and scholars, movements and communities, artists and cartographers, concerned with housing justice, a lot is at stake in the Bay Area. About a decade ago, the University of California, Berkeley, my alma mater and first academic workplace, was ground zero of the violent restructuring of public higher education. Today violent displacement is rampant in the Bay Area, with working-class communities of color being pushed to the far edges of urban life and neighborhoods being turned into policed zones of residence and leisure for tech entrepreneurs. Entitled YIMBYs and liberal mayors have co-opted the language of affordability and inclusion and drafted legislative plans that promise trickle-down housing. But the Bay Area has a rich history of poor people’s movements, indigenous resistance, anti-colonial and black liberation struggle. In Oakland, the city

I called home for many years, black power was established in the interstices of elite interventions and experiments, from the Ford Foundation’s Gray Areas program to Johnson’s Model Cities, and consolidated in structures of self-determination. Counterpoints is thus a cartography of power, as well as of resistance. But it also raises the question of the relationship between map-making and self-determination, between authorship and representation, between texts and social struggle. Much of my own scholarship is concerned with postcolonial democracy, including in India, where I was born and grew up. I have often turned to the work of feminist scholar Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak to make sense of postcolonial dispossession. In a book titled Imaginary Maps, Spivak translates three short stories by the fiery Bengali novelist Mahasweta Devi, each a stunning exposition of caste and gender violence.2 A conversation between Devi and Spivak prefaces the stories. In it, they both agree that the “tribals have not been part of the decolonization of India” but have “paid the price for decolonization.”3 Devi asks American readers to think about what has been done to Native Americans in order to “understand what has been done to Indian tribals.” But Spivak also asks Devi to reflect on her own role as a writer in the struggle of the tribals for recognition and rights. Devi talks about an obsession to listen, to learn, to expose, to report. She describes the incessant work of writing in academic journals, in the form of novels, in newspapers and magazines. She wonders: “What will I write next?”4 Spivak reflects on this engagement between the writer and the tribals,5 on the “responsibility and accountability” that runs through such “ethical action.” This is also, Spivak argues, a relationship between the “literary text” and the “textile of activism.”6 Counterpoints is both a literary text and the textile of activism. It makes real the possibility of writing,

in the broadest sense of the term, as an imagination and practice of decolonization. This type of writing is always bound to the dispossession of those whose lives and labor have been the raw material for postcolonial development. It is therefore a form of ethical action in a difficult world.

ANANYA ROY is professor of Urban Planning, Social

Welfare, and Geography and director of the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at the University of California, Los Angeles. She leads a global research network on Housing Justice in Unequal Cities. Her most recent book is Encountering Poverty: Thinking and Acting in an Unequal World (University of California Press, 2016). \ xxi

Overcoming Imposed Amnesia CHRIS CARLSSON

Counterpoints assembles an incredible range of voices addressing the ongoing tsunami of displacement in the Bay Area. Employing new maps and other visual tools, engaged researchers do geography, history, and analysis of all sorts “from below.” The triumphant narrative of the tech boom and the economic prosperity of the Bay Area glosses over the dire poverty and severe hardship inflicted on millions of the area’s residents. Statistical analyses help illuminate this overlooked reality, and these movement participant researchers go further to provide a set of sharpened tools for the ongoing struggles at hand. To live in the twenty-first century United States is to exist in an ever-changing house of mirrors constantly confronted with the images of venal buffoons laughing their way to the bank. Taking the myriad tools embedded in the oppressive technosphere erected on the backs of the global working class and reconfiguring them to reveal hidden truths about our world is a revolutionary endeavor rooted in solidarity and respect. Community knowledge has deep roots in voluminous reservoirs and is rarely brought into the public realm as it is in Counterpoints. The webs we weave, disregarded by mainstream media and the powers that be, come together to build a solid foundation for a new epistemology, one rooted in the lived experiences of countless overlooked populations. What’s “new” about the sensibilities assembled here is that they have been with us for so long and have never been easy to see. Finally, a decades-long process of violent displacement and systematic forgetting gets its public voice, not just to decry the injustices committed but to the set the stage for a newly empowered and savvy effort to turn the tables on the kleptocrats who have stolen so much while giving us so little. xxii /

CHRIS CARLSSON, codirector of the “history from

below” project Shaping San Francisco, is a writer, publisher, editor, adjunct professor, and frequent public speaker. In 1981, Carlsson was one of the founders of the seminal underground San Francisco magazine Processed World. In 1995, Carlsson and his colleagues began work on Shaping San Francisco, which encompasses the archive of San Francisco history at Foundsf. org. Carlsson has written two books, After the Deluge (Full Enjoyments Books, 2004) and Nowtopia, (AK Press, 2008). He is a board member of the Mission Creek Conservancy, the San Francisco Community Land Trust, and advises the Shipyard Trust for the Arts at Hunter’s Point.


As we complete this project, the result of countless hours of meetings, writings, collaboration, and thinking, we have also been reflecting on our beginnings, on places and what they mean and how we understand and interpret them. This project reflects our deep commitment to what we broadly call the “Bay Area.” We are committed to it as a place, to its history, and to contesting the dispossession of those who live and work here. This commitment is what has propelled this project forward, and it is, more than anything else, what we hope you will find in these pages. This atlas, while a project led by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP), has also engaged with numerous community partners, activists, artists, cartographers, and scholars, whose work is woven together in these chapters. As such, we like to think about this project as the work of the AEMP and friends. The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project emerged in the fall of 2013, when a group of housing justice activists sat around a table at the San Francisco Tenant Union and decided to venture into mapping local evictions. At that moment, the Bay Area was rapidly transforming, evidenced most viscerally by increased evictions and displacement throughout the region, which further entrenched long-standing violent processes of racialized dispossession. However, this transformation was not uncontested. Indeed, alongside eviction and displacement was a vibrant anti-eviction and housing movement manifesting on the ground through direct action. While some of the movement’s groups were new, all built upon the efforts of prior organizing struggles for housing and racial justice. It was alongside groups like Eviction Free San Francisco and coalitions that included the San Francisco Anti-Displacement Coalition and the Bay Area Regional Tenant Organizing Network, that we—the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project—imag-

ined our first maps as a way to support the movement and participate in the struggle. Six years ago, we never imagined we would be making this atlas. Today, we at the AEMP are many, having geographically, conceptually, and methodologically expanded in ways beyond what we imagined when we began. For this growth we are indebted to the strong housing justice movement in which we are situated, and which continues to nourish us as we in turn work to sustain and contribute to it. This atlas, Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas for Resisting Displacement, reflects our growth and the deep commitment of this project to the movement. The conceptual breadth of our expansion is evidenced by this atlas, which contains chapters on topics ranging from evictions to environmental justice, transportation, migration, speculation, and Indigenous geographies. While the AEMP began by mapping entirely within the bounds of San Francisco, we are now working across the region and beyond, in cities from Santa Cruz to Sacramento. Indeed, we have expanded to New York City and Los Angeles as well, but that will have to wait for another atlas. Since our start in 2013, countless members have come to the project, bringing their ideas, energy, skills, and labor. In 2015, after collecting interviews for a year, we publicly launched our Narratives of Displacement and Resistance wing, a subproject focused on oral history, video, mural, and zine work.7 Several oral histories from this project are included in this atlas, weaving their way throughout the chapters. In 2016, we began a long-term collaboration in Alameda County with numerous community partners, from the statewide group Tenants Together to local arts organizations such as the Betti Ono Gallery. From that collaboration we produced the report Counterpoints: Data and \ xxiii

Stories for Resisting Displacement, to which this atlas’s title pays homage. We operate as a collective, meaning that in many ways the analysis, maps, visualizations, oral histories, writings, activism, and data we produce is reflective of what people bring to the project and to ongoing conversations that we, as a collective, have.8 The breadth of our work and engagement reflects this model. But why publish a print atlas? This atlas, made by countless volunteers, activists, cartographers, artists, storytellers, ethnographers, historians, journalists, and more, is an archive of numerous voices and perspectives, all of which align with our project’s politics of centering community knowledge, as well as an anti-racist, decolonial, feminist, and anti-capitalist politics. We have made this atlas both to document the work we have done, most of which currently lives online on our website, and to push our analysis further. In creating this document, which we explicitly think of as an archive of resistance, we are inspired both by the kollektiv orangotango’s recent manuscript This is Not an Atlas: A Global Collection of Counter-Cartographies and Rebecca Solnit’s Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas,9 which maps displacement and redevelopment, as well as sites of local resistance and future-building. Like these projects and so many others, we refuse normative relationships to the project of cartography. Cartography, after all, bears violent histories, from colonization to the creation of Cold War GPS technology. Here, instead, we build upon the rich history of countermapping and critical cartography. From Indigenous mapping projects that refuse settler geographic boundaries to community mapping projects that spatialize assets and points of collective power, reclaiming the power of cartographic representation has been a strategy of resistance struggles for years. Social justice movements and collectives that use mapping in this way can be found worldwide, from the Iconoclasistas in Buenos Aires to the xxiv /

Guerilla Cartography Collective in the Bay Area. And before these projects, in the 1970s, First Nations people in what is now Canada and Alaska “mapped back” against the imposition of settler borders on their lands.10 Inspired by political cartography projects and legacies such as these, we map against neoliberal land grabs and real estate geographies, often referred to as “gentrification.” In doing so, we recognize that gentrification as a term in its popular usage often simplifies complex histories, sometimes also failing to include processes such as settler colonialism, environmental racism, the prison-industrial complex, and more. As such, we offer you Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement and Resistance. By calling this atlas Counterpoints, we suggest that our compiled data should be read against the grain of colonial map-making. Further, as plural form, we offer not just one counterpoint but many. And yet this atlas, which narrates numerous tales of Bay Area displacement and resistance, is far from exhaustive. It reflects the members of the AEMP collective and the new scholars, activists, and community partners that have become part of this project in order to tell the intricate and entangled stories of Bay Area displacement and resistance and the struggles over gentrification that have occurred. To create Counterpoints, we made an open call for submissions and ideas, as well as reaching out to scholars, activists, and cartographers throughout the region who work in the various intersections and entanglements that our chapters highlight. We did this because we recognized our limitations as a collective and the need to bring in other voices, maps, and points to tell the collective story mapped here. This is evidenced in the conceptual, regional, and methodological scopes at play in every chapter. In this atlas we highlight the importance of understanding the political economy of gentrification, its historical antecedents, and its ongoing dynamics

of power. But we have learned that this perspective must also include affective and narrative strands, and this project incorporates the two throughout. In doing so, we also aim to highlight stories of resistance and to learn from the ongoing resistance work. Gentrification in the Bay Area can feel bleak, as if nothing can possibly stop it or change its dystopian trajectory. This atlas is also aimed at providing a counterpoint to this perspective, and it is a testimony to what we have learned from the resistance work that we have been a part of, as well as the longer histories of resistance upon whose shoulders we stand. We argue that urban space is shaped not only by dynamics of racial capitalism and violence but also by resistance, solidarity, and community. Our atlas is far from comprehensive; despite its length, it was impossible to include everything we wanted to. Nor does it evenly portray the Bay Area and its different urban, suburban, and rural landscapes. Rather, it brings in work and analyses from across the region, with a consciously heavier emphasis on San Francisco and Oakland—where many of us live and work. We do recognize the limitations of only mapping the Bay Area from these cities and, as such, do introduce the work of activists and scholars who map and study places outside of these two cities—from Santa Cruz to Stockton to the Albany Bulb. So, what does this atlas do, and what does it cover? In the first chapter, “Evictions and Root Shock,” we highlight maps and data visualizations that focus on the contemporary forced displacement that has occurred in the region. By forced displacement, we don’t only mean official eviction notices, though those are included, instead we recognize evictions, rent control policy, housing laws, and tenant organizing. Here we understand the context of eviction and displacement to be connected to settler logics of dispossession and racial capitalism. This connects to chapter 2, “Indigenous Geographies of Resistance,” in

which we look at Indigenous presence in the region and how Indigenous lives have been dispossessed by settler colonialism that continues to the present day. This chapter is rich in oral histories and narratives of Indigenous Bay Area residents, who narrate ways that we might frame current contexts of local dispossession, resistance, and resurgence. In chapter 3, “Health and Environmental Racism,” we use a social epidemiological perspective to draw attention to issues of health and environmental justice within the context of rampant displacement. Displacement, we argue, is tethered to contexts of environmental racism and gentrification and is a public health crisis. Chapter 4, “Gentrification and State Violence,” turns to the connections between the violence of displacement and the violence of the state as enacted through the increased policing of people of color, the use of police violence to secure urban space for capital investment, and the direct connections between gentrification and prison. In chapter 5, “Transportation and Infrastructure,” we examine the history of opportunity and inequality in the Bay Area through the lenses of transportation, infrastructure, and economy. We discuss infrastructure as it exists, what it was imagined to be, and what it never became, while highlighting the human impacts of infrastructure and what is at stake in local ongoing struggles and contestations. In chapter 6, “Migrations/Relocations,” we address both where people go after being displaced and the processes that structure how people move within the region, either voluntarily or involuntarily, as well as the tactics necessary for resisting displacement as a regional phenomenon. In chapter 7, our final chapter, “Speculation and Speculative Futures,” we assess the process of land and housing speculation as it drives displacement and racial dispossession. We also imagine different speculative futures, both through wins against capitalist speculation and through the spatial reimaginings of elementary school children in \ xxv

San Francisco. This atlas thereby highlights what we understand as fundamental dynamics of racial dispossession and the longer histories of colonial dispossession and puts forward an anti-capitalist critique of these processes. Our hope for this project is that in putting forward these analyses, maps, points, and counterpoints, this atlas will also help trace the contours of a way forward, mapping resistance and new roads toward housing justice and radical social change. In this way, our project aligns with the call made by the Housing Justice in Unequal Cities Network to theorize housing justice as a field of inquiry,11 as well as to produce work that emboldens on-the-ground housing justice organizing. This has been a project of love for those of us involved, and it is in that spirit that we humbly offer it to you. Above all, we do so in homage to the housing justice movements that we are part of, that we work alongside, and that came before us.


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Eviction & Root

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ns Shock



EVICTIONS The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project emerged in 2013 in a context of rising evictions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, from Oakland to San Jose, from Sacramento to San Francisco. This widespread displacement has been the result of a number of factors, from the lingering effects of the foreclosure crisis to new modes of real estate speculation capitalizing on the region’s second tech boom, often called the Tech Boom 2.0. Frequently dated as beginning around 2011, this boom builds upon prior and ongoing technologies of displacement, going back to the earliest (yet persisting) moments of settler colonialism and the Gold Rush. It also amplifies the racial dispossession and gentrification incited by the late 1990s Dot Com Boom and 2008 subprime foreclosure crisis. 3/

In mapping displacement in this chapter, we don’t only look to official eviction notices, although often these are important sources of data. As a project, the AEMP recognizes that frequently people are forcibly displaced without official notices, due to factors including the inability to pay rent, foreclosure, harassment, and buyouts, to name but a few. Often these are not registered as evictions by rent boards and courts, yet they are significant factors behind displacement. As such, in addition to collecting rent board and court data, we also rely upon our own survey data and data from housing clinics and housing justice organizations with whom we partner. Meanwhile, narratives and stories offer more insight, painting more intimate understandings of neighborhood change and its effects on people and communities. This includes what Edwin Lindo, whose oral history we include in this chapter, describes as “root shock,” or the uprooting and dislocation experienced by people after they and their communities have been displaced. Root shock, as Mindi Fullilove has elaborated, is a racist and violent process, one tethered to gentrification processes.12 Despite its limitations, official eviction data does tell important stories. As we have found from analyzing eviction data in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Santa Cruz, and beyond, evictions have greatly increased since the 2008 financial crisis. Official evictions are often categorized as either fault (cause) or no-fault (no-cause), meaning that tenants are either evicted for official breaches of lease, or for no breaches of lease at all. Fault evictions often include failure to pay rent on time, illegal subtenant usage, and nuisance violations. As we explore here and more in length in the policing chapter, “nuisance” evictions

in particular are racially coded to target tenants of color. This operates within a similar racial nexus as the “subprime” did during the foreclosure crisis.13 Racial dispossession amid contexts of surging rents highlight the violence of racial capitalism, underscoring how much capitalism depends upon racism for its own reproduction.14 As with fault evictions, no-fault evictions have been on the rise in the Bay Area in recent years as well, and include Ellis Act evictions, Owner-MoveIn (OMI) evictions, capital improvement evictions, and demolitions. These are often used by real estate speculators, or those who speculate upon the future worth of a rent-cotrolled building once vacated of tenants, to bypass “SIDEWALK STENCIL,” BY THE ANTI-EVICTION MAPPING PROJECT rent control protections and evict tenants for no fault of their own. For numerous collaborative efforts. For instance, in instance, the Ellis Act is a California state law that 2015, we launched a year-long project to map disallows landlords to evict rent-controlled tenants and placement in Alameda County with a number of then exit the rental market, as long as they agree not community partners, including Tenants Together to re-rent the evicted unit. However, more often than and Fremont RISE. Material from this collaboration not, we see speculators utilize the Ellis Act to buy up finds its way into this chapter, from eviction maps units, evict tenants, and then sell them as condominito narrative work. ums or tenancies-in-common (TICs). Collaborative Coalition work is integral to fighting the powers work done with the statewide housing organization of real estate speculation and forced displacement. Tenants Together found that that roughly 80 percent In 2016, housing organizers and residents in five Bay of Ellis Act evictions in San Francisco occurred within Area cities passed new rent control and eviction prothe first five years of ownership, and that 60 percent tections. Mountain View, Google’s home, thus now transpired within the first year of ownership. maintains rent control, and Santa Rosa, Richmond, Over the last several years, the AEMP has been Alameda, Santa Cruz, and other cities have been acmapping eviction data across the region, in cities such as Oakland, San Francisco, Fremont, Alameda, San Jose, San Mateo, Redwood City, Daly City, Santa Cruz, and others. This has been done with the community partners that we have grown through

tively fighting for more protections as well. Meanwhile, direct-action groups and coalitions, such as the Regional Tenant Organizing Network, have grown stronger. Such alliances are working to forge a future \4

in which racial capitalism ceases to control who can, and who cannot, remain housed. In 2019, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1482, which caps the amount that rent can be increased across the state annually. While 1482 is a step in the right direction, there are no enforcement mechanisms, so it is important to keep fighting for local ordinances and community control of rent caps. More recently, the Covid-19 pandemic and corollary loss of income has resulted in countless Bay Area tenants unable to pay their rents, giving rise to powerful campaigns to cancel rent and implement eviction moratoriums. This takes place amid an uprising for Black Lives, racial justice, and police abolition, all of which are intimately tied to housing justice. UPON THE SHOULDERS OF ONGOING HOUSING JUSTICE STRUGGLES Fights for stronger renter protections in the Bay Area builds upon earlier tenant struggles, from that of the I-Hotel, led by Asian immigrant tenants in the 1970s, as narrated by James Sobredo in this chapter, to ongoing Black-led tenant organizing for rent control in Oakland, which Julian Francis Park describes in more length as well. Indeed, there have been numerous antiracist fights against redevelopment throughout the region that precede both the current Tech Boom 2.0 and its Dot Com Boom predecessor. In San Francisco, for instance, the redevelopment of the predominantly Black Fillmore and Western Addition neighborhoods between the 1940s and 1970s saw thousands of the city’s Black community displaced. This coincided with President Harry Truman’s post– World War II notion of anti-Black “slum clearance.” In the end, over thirty thousand people were displaced in San Francisco, decimating the city’s Black community. Other neighborhoods, including SoMa, Chinatown, and Japantown, were also targeted with the overtly racist language of “blight” and “valuable 5/

land,”15 leading to the displacement of numerous POC communities, queer spaces, and more.16 Redevelopment in San Francisco did not, however, proceed without protest. In 1968 and 1969, the Mission Coalition Organization (MCO) and Tenants and Owners in Opposition to Redevelopment (TOOR) organized to resist development. Then Mayor Alioto had hoped to utilize Lyndon B. Johnson’s racist War on Poverty Model Cities program to raze the Latinx Mission neighborhood, but the MCO successfully pushed back. Thus, just as urban racial dispossession is nothing new in Bay Area, neither are community-driven fights against it.17 While more about Bay Area redevelopment can be found in other chapters of this atlas, here we want to stress that the anti-eviction organizing work featured in this chapter stands upon the shoulders of movements that came before us. The AEMP itself is situated within the San Francisco Tenants Union, which long has been fighting for housing justice, and which continues to do so daily in its Capp Street office in the Mission. COUNTER-MAPPING RACIAL DISPOSSESSION In this chapter we counter-map against contemporary evictions, unpayable rents, real estate speculation, technocapitalism, and racial dispossession. All of these processes, we note, entangle with a palimpsest of settler colonialism, transatlantic slavery, forced racialized labor, historic urban redevelopment and renewal, and heteropatriarchal domesticities.18 Thus, while the data portrayed here is relatively contemporary, we understand it to be haunted with prior technologies of property, data, and eviction—much of which involved cartographic violence. By counter-mapping, we refer to cartographic methods that produce knowledge and futures that resist, refuse, and revise dominant geospatial epis-


temologies, and that open, realize, and generatively create spatial alternatives to geographic norms.19 While the word “counter-mapping” was coined by Nancy Peluso in 1995 to describe grassroots collective map-making among Indigenous people in Indonesia,20 practices of mapping against colonial violence and hierarchal knowledge-making can be traced back much further.21 Many counter-mapping projects involve participatory and community-driven geospatial work, challenging and upsetting racist, sexist, capitalist, and colonial power relations, geographies, and technologies.22 Much of the counter-mapping in this chapter involves making visible the racial violence of gentrification and its technologies—some of which, like past redevelopment projects, also involve cartography. In other words, here we use counter-mapping to illustrate the lived violence of gentrification, much of which is otherwise elided, normalized, or rendered “ungeographic” through racist real estate

cartographies.23 Take, for instance, a map created in 2014 by Jennifer Rosdail, a real estate speculator who rebranded a large part of San Francisco’s Mission and Castro districts “the Quad.” On her website, she describes the Quad as a new “meta-hood” home to “quadsters,” those under forty who “like to hang in the sun with their friends,” and who “work very hard—mostly in high tech—and make a lot of money.” They “take the Google Bus, the Apple Bus, or another of the reputedly less well-equipped shuttles like the eBay Bus” to reverse commute to Silicon Valley “campuses.” Further, “they also like to eat really good food” but lack time to cook it. 24 The Quad, Rosdail maps, is home to the quadster. By ascribing new sets of values within her geometric cartography, she participates in an economy that favors a disproportionately white, male, and upper-class workforce, one glaringly not Black, Latinx, nor working-class/poor. Collaborative work by the AEMP and the Eviction Defense Collaborative, highlighted in this chapter, reveals that those \6

evicted in San Francisco are disproportionately Black, Latinx, and below median income. Rosdail’s isn’t the only real estate entity employing settler colonial logics to remap the Bay Area. In 2014, the luxury apartment complex NEMA released a map of San Francisco that explicitly erased certain neighborhoods and renamed others. NEMA opened its doors a year earlier to create housing for Twitter employees in the new “Twitter Tax Break” zone— another new geography designed to incentivize tech in-migration through a $34 million tax break. Not only was Chinatown effaced from NEMA’s map,


but the historically gay Castro neighborhood was renamed “Eureka Valley/Dolores Heights.” Meanwhile, southern People of Color (POC) neighborhoods, such as the Bayview, never entered NEMA’s frame to begin with. After facing criticism, NEMA apologized and released a new map with Chinatown and the Castro intact, but still effaced southern POC neighborhoods from view. The elision of existing space from NEMA’s map, like the introduction of new space in Rosdail’s, serves as a reminder that spatial recognition upon a gentrifying landscape is itself a colonial technology. In 2016, a new cartographic advertising campaign by the data center and colocation company Digital Reality plastered inside of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) trains advertised West Oakland as a new frontier for the tech industry. Reading: “Your Next Stop, West Oakland Station—The New Edge of Silicon Valley” in bold letters, overnight trains highlighted West Oakland’s proximity to both San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Below that text, a smaller font suggested: “Disrupt your industry from our data center.” This map effectively reproduced the “cult of disruption” indicative of Tech Boom ideology,25 while also celebrating the settlement of San Francisco-based technocapital into rapidly gentrifying West Oakland. At the same time, Digital Realty’s map analogizes West Oakland and San Francisco as Silicon Valley, flattening their vast differences.26 As such, we want to be careful in this chapter not to engage in a form of cartographic violence that would otherwise erase geographic differences. At the same time, we do want to attend to the violence of capital as it crosses city borders.

For us, narrative work is crucial in highlighting regional differences and experiences. By creating and engaging with stories, the AEMP pursues a form of counter-mapping aimed at muddying what might otherwise appear too abstract or transposable. These stories invoke deep neighborhood histories, childhood memories, smells of old buildings, and experiences of gentrification. Narratives highlight loss, but they also chart forms of resistance and refusal. For instance, in this chapter, our community power map of Oakland, crafted with the Betti Ono Gallery, challenges white understandings of Oakland’s “pathologic” geographies. As the map interrogates, how, in addition to mapping loss, can we also chart alternative futures and spaces of community power unique to Oakland?27 ONGOING WORK This atlas has been produced amid ongoing struggles and uphill battles. In 2017, the one-hundred-year-old Black elder, Iris Canada, was issued an eviction notice from her long-time San Francisco home by a conglomerate of speculators. She passed away shortly after. Meanwhile, POC-owned businesses and cultural spaces are being displaced, including the Galería de la Raza and La Victoria Cafe on 24th Street in San Francisco. This transpires just blocks away from the infamous fire on Mission and 22nd that displaced sixty tenants and killed thirty-eight-year-old Mauricio Orellana. The building’s ghostly footprint is now being speculated for luxury development. Meanwhile, in Oakland, former Black Panther Aunti Frances has been issued an eviction notice. Further south, Google is planning a new campus in San Jose, much to the dismay of local tenants and anti-gentrification organizers. As of late, the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically exacerbated existing housing and racial inequities, while deadly fires ravage the region and the state. Houselessness increases daily, as do incarceration and expulsion rates.

And the list goes on. Yet we also write this during a time of powerful tenant organizing and alliance building across the region. Eviction moratoriums, rent strikes, and housing justice movements that recognize the importance of decolonial and abolitionist frameworks are growing roots.28 It would be impossible to track all of the daily radical rebellions flourishing in the region’s urban and suburban fabrics alike. Some are mapped in this chapter; for instance the work of collectives and organizations such as Causa Justa :: Just Cause, Eviction Free San Francisco, the Clarion Alley Mural Project, and Fremont RISE. Others are illustrated in subsequent chapters. That said, we lack space to narrate every powerful story that gives us hope here. Instead, we offer an array of them, hoping that together, they provide some of many accounts of Bay Area displacement, resistance, rebellion, and community power.



Many of the issues that renters face in the Bay Area, and California in general, are caused or exacerbated by legislation that benefits property owners and landlords. Other issues are symptomatic of the failure to provide strong enough policy or enforcement to eliminate loopholes that allow landlords or speculators to take advantage of tenants. Only twenty-eight out of 482 cities in California protect tenants against rent hikes and arbitrary evictions: Alameda, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, City of Commerce, Culver City, East Palo Alto, Emeryville, Gardena, Glendale, Hayward, Inglewood, Los Angeles, Unincorporated Los Angeles County, Los Gatos, Maywood, Mountain View, Oakland, Palm Springs, Redwood City, Richmond, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, Thousand Oaks, Union City, Vallejo, and West Hollywood. Thus, most of California’s tenants can be evicted for no reason at all, and their rents can be raised by any amount. In San Francisco, rent control was approved in 1979 to help preserve communities by limiting rent increases, building upon tenant organizing fomented by the immigrant-led I-Hotel battle. Rent control was enacted in 1983 in Oakland. Under the rent control ordinance, landlords can only raise the rent by a set amount each year, tenants can only be evicted for “just cause,” and some units have restrictions on how much a landlord can charge new tenants after previous evictions.


THE TENANT REVOLUTION STANDS UP AND REAL ESTATE $$ PUSH BACK In 2016, tenants in two cities successfully organized their communities to pass new rent control laws for the first time in three decades: Richmond and Mountain View. Since then, tenants in more than twenty-five Californian cities have organized local rent control campaigns. In 2018, tenants in Santa Cruz and National City successfully got rent control on the ballot. Renters in Sacramento have also been gathering thousands of signatures to put rent control on the ballot for 2020. In 2016, Oakland passed a resolution to strengthen rent control protections and make eviction data more accessible to the public. However, city protections are always stymied by state law. Real estate and landlord lobbyists have spent millions to pass and keep state laws like the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act and the Ellis Act and poured money into anti–rent control campaigns to undermine the growing tide of activism. But while landlords and real estate investors have money, tenants have power in numbers. Close to half of California’s residents are tenants—seventeen million and counting. In 2017, a University of California, Berkeley poll found that 60 percent of Californians support rent control.30 Meanwhile, the 2019 Assembly Bill 1482 will curb dramatic rent increases across the state beginning in 2020, but there is much to do still by way of enforcement. The Rental Affordability Act is also in the works allowing local communities to control rent increases.


1 P

2 S




l o a b




San Rafael




Concord Richmond Walnut Creek Berkeley




Bay Area Tenant BAY AREA TENANT Protections






San Francisco

n S a


a F r





Strength of Existing Tenant Protections









Stronger Protections

Union City

o a

Medium Protections


Weaker Protections

San Mateo

Places without tenant protections


East Palo Alto

California Rent Control Campaigns 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

9 Mountain View


San Jose

(Marin County) (San Rafael) Concord Tenants Union Faith in Action (Oakland)

Los Gatos

Housing for All (Burlingame) RISE Coalition (Union City, Fremont, Hayward) Mountain View Tenants Coalition

Morgan Hill

10 \\10

REPEAL COSTA HAWKINS TO EXPAND RENT CONTROL In the 1990s, after tenants spent two decades fighting and winning protections in cities across California, landlords and real estate moguls poured money into lobbying the state legislature to pass a law that severely weakened all local tenant protections. This law is called the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act, and it was passed in 1995. Costa-Hawkins limits local communities’ ability to enact strong renter protections. It prohibits cities from protecting tenants who live in condos, single-family homes, and rentals built after 1995 from rent increases. It also permits landlords to charge market rate (meaning, any amount they want) to new tenants when a unit comes vacant. This is called “vacancy decontrol.” WHAT MAKES SOME RENT CONTROL AND JUST CAUSE LAWS WEAKER THAN OTHERS?

1. The Costa Hawkins Housing Act and the Ellis Act. 2. Loopholes that allow landlords who renovate their units to “opt out” or apply for a permanent exemption from rent control, for instance, Hayward. 3. Loopholes that limit protections only to units rented for less than a fixed amount. 4. Loopholes that limit the law to tenants who have lived in a unit for a set number of years.

11 /

RENT CONTROL IS A COMMUNITYDRIVEN SOLUTION Rent control has been a powerful communitydriven solution to housing crises in the US since the 1900s. In California, communities have been coming together to fight for their right to affordable, safe, and stable housing for over fifty years and have successfully enacted the rent control laws that exist today. We must organize, because overcoming fear and isolation is impossible to do on our own. We seek to transform fear and isolation into dignity and solidarity. SUCCESS STORIES Communities of color in Richmond are disproportionately renters, and the Black population has decreased steadily since the 1990s, partly due to housing displacement. A coalition of eviction defense and tenant organizations, labor unions, and Latinx and Asian community organizations formed the Fair and Affordable Richmond (FAR) coalition. After rent control was passed at the Richmond City Council in 2015, and then overturned by a landlord initiative, the coalition helped put rent control back on the 2016 ballot. A broad, cross-issue, intersectional base ensured that the measure was adopted. Richmond’s measure has one of the strongest processes for protecting tenants from “pass-through” rent increases and withstood a lawsuit brought by the landlord-led California Apartment Association.



San Francisco • Ellis Act Evictions • 1994 - 2017


This map depicts the number of buildings in San Francisco evicted under the Ellis Act from 1994 to 2016. The Ellis Act is a state law that gives landlords the right to evict tenants to “go out of business.” Theunits Ellis Act is abuilding state lawmust which that landlords thesingled right toout. evictMost tenants in order to “gotoout of business.” All All in the besays cleared—no one have can be often it is used units in the building must be cleared of all tenants - no one can be singled out. Most often it is used to convert to condos convert to condos or group-owned “tenancy-in-common” flats. Once a building becomes a condo it is exempt from rent control. There is no limit to the number of times a building owner can “go the age of the building, and even if a unit owner subsequently rents to a long-term tenant. There is no limit to the number out of business.” Rent Board shows some owners and Ellising multiple buildings of times a building owner candata “go out of business”. Rentbuying Board data shows some owners buyingover and Ellising multiple time. If these not want todo benot landlords, are they buying buildings full of rental units? buildings overbuyers time. Ifdo these buyers want towhy be landlords, why are they buying buildings full of rental units? These Ellised buildings - now “out of business”- are also showing up for rent as illegal vacation rentals on sites like AirBNB and VRBO. With landlords looking for ways to avoid renting to long-term tenants, the housing crisis in San Francisco will only be exacerbated. This map depicts the number of buildings recorded as having Ellis Act Evictions from January 1994 - April 2016 in San Francisco.

From 1994-2016,

4,402 San Francisco families were forced out of their homes

San Francisco Ellis Act Evictions 1994 - 2017 NUMBER OF BUILDINGS EVICTED - TOP FIVE ZIP CODES 94110 : Mission 94114 : Castro 94110 : Haight / Fillmore 94122 : Outer Sunset 94118 : Inner Richmond

13 13//


239 174 144 141 110








94111 94133













20 1




























11 94132






San Francisco Ellis Act Evictions 1994 - 2017 NUMBER OF BUILDINGS EVICTED BY ZIP CODE



14 \\14

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An Owner-Move-In (OMI) eviction is one of the most common ways that tenants are evicted from rentcontrolled units in San Francisco. Landlords are permitted to evict a tenant if the landlord or a close relative intends to live in the unit. The landlord must then make the property their primary residence for at least three years. If the landlord does move out during this period, the former tenant has the right to re-rent the unit. Landlords who want to evict a tenant to raise the rent have been known to issue or threaten to issue a fraudulent OMI eviction to circumvent rent control laws. This map was made in collaboration with the San Francisco Tenants Union by plotting all recorded OMIs from 1997–2017.



1.5 mi


<250 250 TO 500 500 TO 1,000 1,000 TO 2,000

San Francisco

2,000 TO 3,000 3,000 TO 4,000 4,000 TO 6,000

OWNER MOVE-INS 1997-2017
























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Tenant Organizing in Oakland JULIAN FRANCIS PARK

Oakland tenants’ rights emerged from struggle. Proletarian tenants, mainly Blacks and elders, with allies in the tenants’ movement have occasionally won concessions from racialized property’s defenders— landlords, capitalists, and politicians. These struggles are fought in the name of specific tenants’ needs, articulated and represented through movement forces—informal and formal actions and groups, including organizations and coalitions, such as those considered here, the Oakland Tenants’ Union (OTU) and Just Cause Oakland (JCO; predecessor to today’s trans–Bay Bridge Causa Justa :: Just Cause [CJJC]). In the late 1970s and early 1980s, and again in the late 1990s and early 2000s, tenants’ movement forces formed in response to displacement and super-exploitive rents and gentrification crises, as well as to the broader socioeconomic crises of employment, finance, and resegregation.31 Late 2017, CJJC Oakland Tenants’ Rights Clinic volunteers Susan Bassein, Allie Pollak, and I wanted to learn how the tenants’ movement had won the 1980 Rent Adjustment Program Ordinance (RAP), which stabilizes the rents of most Oakland tenants, and the 2002 Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance (JC), which prevents most from being arbitrarily evicted. In early 2018, we interviewed James Vann of OTU, who had fought for both RAP and JC, and Phil Hutchings of CJJC, who had fought for JC. What follows summarizes and interprets those interviews. In 1978, James Vann, an architect, moved back to Oakland. After supporting Wilson Riles Jr.’s successful campaign to become Oakland City Council’s “only true progressive,” Vann, a Black tenant himself, got involved in the tenants’ movement. Rents were out of control, ballooned by a housing investment bubble 19 /

and the related rising real estate prices, along with the 1978 statewide tax revolt. Oakland’s real estate investors constructed little new rental housing—adding only 660 units between 1975 and 1980.32 Instead, apartments were “bought up and sold as condominiums. About 25 percent of all rental units in the immediate vicinity of the Lake [Merritt] were converted. . . . It wasn’t unusual for a property to, say, in the Adams Point area, be bought and sold three or four times in a year.” News reports show that in Emeryville, Fremont, and Oakland tenants’ associations formed in larger buildings facing conversion; they actively pressured their city’s councils and planning commissions to block and ban the condo conversions.33 But developers were powerful, the councils and commissions conservative, and “we didn’t have an organized opposition. There were only a few people who were alert to the issue and who came out and spoke.” In Oakland, a weak ordinance passed, mandating that prior to city approval developers had to plan construction for as many new rentals as would be lost to conversion. “This was inherently unequal, because new units are definitely going to be more costly and probably not as spacious as existing rental units in older buildings.” In 1980, there were few tenants’ movement militants in Oakland. Movement forces in adjacent cities like San Francisco and Berkeley were considered more “developed.” Still, liberal attorneys from Berkeley and Oakland observed that “the rental situation was getting so bad” and wanted to “try to get something to go on the ballot.” Vann joined, and they wrote a measure borrowing from Santa Monica and San Francisco’s recently passed rent controls; the group started circulating a ballot petition. The coor-


dinating committee of East Bay–based black socialist congressman Ron Dellums threw support behind the measure, after Vann convinced Dellums to put aside the committee’s reservations about campaign funding. The Dellums committee shared their office with the campaign, and this endorsement aided volunteer recruitment. Petitioners gathered six thousand more signatures than the eighteen thousand required. Noting tenant momentum, racist property defenders mounted their defense, led by the Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Realtors, and Mayor Lionel Wilson, Oakland’s first black mayor. Vann described the defense’s two prongs—co-opt and disinform. “They rushed and put together a haphazard ordinance and rushed it through city council. They immediately put up big billboards at various places around Oakland: ‘Oakland does not need Berke-

ley-style rent control, give our rent control a chance to work.’ And then the mayor sent out letters on city letterhead to every voter promoting this.” The defense worked. “We got 47 percent of the vote and landlords got 53. They spent $17,000 on that campaign, we spent $570. . . . [W]e didn’t have all the flashy billboards and yard signs. We were knocking on doors and being at shopping centers.” “A Tenants’ Union kind of grew out of the 1980 campaign” and “lasted about five or six years.” The Oakland Tenants Union (OTU) was shaped by this outgrowth, the professional composition of the campaign committee (architects, lawyers), and the alliance with progressive elected officials, Riles Jr. and Dellums. They did not organize building associations, as some tenants’ unions have. The OTU of the 1980s, and again in the 1990s, was a union of tenant \ 20

advocates: individuals like Vann and the lawyers and groups, including churches, socialist organizations, and the anti-ageist Gray Panthers. “Oakland wasn’t very organized at the time or didn’t have a really progressive force that you could identify. There were some liberals. The liberal constituency was mostly associated with the Dellums group.” Regarding the involvement of a proletarian base, Vann observed, “Somehow it is hard to get tenants to actually form a strong union. For some reason—I don’t know what the reason is—it’s not easy. We’ve tried it. People won’t. You can’t sustain membership attendance.” In the 1980s, Oakland tenants couldn’t win significant improvements to rent control. In 1981, housing finance went into crisis, with unexpected inflation and new financial deregulation breaking up the housing development/housing finance coalition.34 In 1982, the OTU campaigned again for their strong rent control measure and lost worse than in 1980. Vann attributes this not only to insufficient progressive forces and the focus of liberals on other issues but also to internal divisions within the OTU, including a conflict between one of the socialist groups and the Gray Panthers. To these causes, we might perhaps add that the housing bubble bursting meant less rent pressure to motivate tenant self-organizing. It is also possible the implementation of weak rent control and the previous ballot loss had slowed movement momentum. In any case, in 1984, the Oakland-based African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) organization Uhuru Movement ran a rent control campaign that failed even more drastically. The loss “took the steam out of the pro-tenant movement. . . . The attorneys kind of drifted away.” According to 1990 census data, 57 percent of Oakland renters, who were then 57.4 percent of the population, were burdened by their rent costing 30 percent or more of their income.35 Median home pric21 /

es had been mainly flat in Oakland in the early nineties, but, by 1997–1998, they surged by 8–10 percent. As many people have noted, in the 1990s, the tech sector attracted a flood of capital and high-wage, predominantly white and Asian racialized labor to San Francisco and Silicon Valley, displacing not only lower-wage and unemployed, disproportionately black and brown, and elderly proletarians but also mid-wage proletarians to more affordable nearby cities. In 1999, Oakland saw rents increase 11 percent, compared to 9 percent in the greater Bay Area. In 2000, the Tribune reported 13.7 percent of Oakland households qualified for and received subsidized rent (Oakland had 34 percent of Alameda County’s housing units and 57.2 percent of those that are subsidized). Between 1998 and 2002, no-cause evictions tripled.36 Census data shows that in 1970 Oakland was 34.5 percent black. In 1980, it had risen to 47 percent. In 1990, it had dropped to 43.9 percent. By 2000, it was 35.7 percent. Vann and Phil Hutchings describe different aspects of the situation out of which JCO arose. Vann spoke to the OTU’s role and that of advocates. Vann helped refound the OTU in 1996, encouraged to do so by co-refounder Larry Shoup at an anti-war demonstration. Vann shared his reservations with Shoup, but Shoup told Vann that he would commit to the OTU, which was enough for Vann. Since refounding, the OTU’s advocacy mission has solidified: monitor the Rent Adjustment Program and city council and council tenants. In 1999, a group of residents of Oakland employed in San Francisco as legal aid attorneys got together with the OTU to “call a meeting. . . . Everybody agreed that rent control probably couldn’t get the votes . . . but it was agreed, ‘Let’s go for just cause.’ So the Tenants Union organized the city-wide convention. . . . We had two to three hundred come. We had it at Westlake school, and they were very en-

thusiastic. . . . Out of that movement and group came an organization, all the new people and everything, called Just Cause. . . . The campaign was put together, Just Cause began to have meetings . . . and we fashioned the language for the initiative, all through a community process.” Hutchings is, by training and experience, more activist than advocate. He lived in San Francisco throughout the 1990s and worked for the social justice–oriented Vanguard Public Foundation, moving to Oakland by 2000. “It somehow crystalized for me in the late nineties that I was a tenant . . . so I started paying attention to some of the struggles.” He recalled that those who formed JCO “got a tremendous amount of help from people who were living in the city, mostly working in nonprofits” that had “gotten into some of the issues of gentrification and housing before we had. They had formed things which later we would call Mission [Anti-displacement] Coalition, which would be the key struggle force.” Like Hutchings, these activists working at nonprofits were displaced to Oakland. “They said, ‘Why don’t we do something like this in Oakland.’ And so they called the meeting at the Oakland Main Library in 1999 . . . and we talked about doing something a little different. We needed a more activist approach, something that made the tenants more central.” These activists worked with the OTU and legal aid organizations, seeking to organize tenants directly rather than attracting them by advocating on their behalf. Around forty-five people, including OTU activists, as well other less politically experienced but militant tenants, attended the library meetings before the convention.37 In 2000, JCO made a first attempt to win a Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance. “We didn’t want the city council to handle this. . . . [T]hey might actually pass something called Just Cause and we’d be opposed

to it—it would take our name, take our cause. . . . We got about nineteen thousand petitions signed, and the problem was that it wasn’t enough to get it on the ballot.” After the loss, JCO rebuilt: “if you’re working primarily in West Oakland or near downtown . . . it’s a lot of new areas you have to begin to cover or develop allies.” In 2002, JCO decided to try to win Just Cause again. “We had to take a more organized approach. This wasn’t just our thing, we had to bring other organizations—so we brought in [the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy]; we brought in [the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now] . . . [the Asian Pacific Environmental Network] . . . and they were on the steering committee for Just Cause. And then we did something which we had never thought about doing the first time: we approached labor . . . and labor said, ‘You know we’re not going to endorse this unless you can show us that it has a real chance of winning. We want you to do a poll.’” The poll results came back strongly in favor. With a different, more broad-based coalition than in 2000, JCO was able to mobilize more tenants on the ground in more neighborhoods. “We formed a speakers bureau. . . . [W]e went to churches, the League of Women Voters, and so we got on the ballot, and we’re off.” Unable to co-opt, this time the defenders of racialized property were forced to run a purely negative, racist and classist campaign, with themes like “What will this issue bring into the neighborhood?” JCO preempted one of their most populous opponents, so-called small landlords, by exempting owner-occupied duplexes and triplexes—which has since become a loophole abused by speculators and a new front of struggle. The tenants’ ordinance won, 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent.38 Editors’ note: the struggle for stronger rent control protections continues in Oakland, led by tenant groups such as CJJC and others. \ 22



Oakland • Unlawful Detainers • 2005 - 2015 BY CENSUS TRACT

This map[ Data depicts Unlawful Detainer evictions that tenants have received in Oakland between 1994 and between from ] 2005 and 2015, along with rent increases. It also shows that between 2010 and 2014 alone, Oakland lost 4 percent of its Black population. This loss is visceral, as African Americans have been a central part of Oakland’s culture, O identity,and andgiven voice generations. Anti-Black racisminshapes gentrification in Oakland and beyond, as lifefor to amany community. New residents are welcomed based primarily on the extent of their economic privilege, the cultural and communityhave goods established housing while and racial justice organizers long shown.residents cultivated are discounted. In the United States, the African and 2014, Oakland lost 4% of its black population. The loss of the black population in Oakland is particularly felt as African Americans have been a central part of Oakland’s culture, identity, and voice for many generations now.


UNLAWFUL DETAINERS FILED IN OAKLAND, 2005 - 2015 Oakland Unlawful Detainers 2005 - 2015 BY YEAR


2912 2640








2010-14 overall loss in Black / African-American Population

1000 500 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009| 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015

Oakland Household Median Income 2014 BY RACE


2014 Median Income, Black Households, Oakland

23 /






Black Population


3000 2500







2014 Median Income, White Households, Oakland



since 2014


Average one bedroom apartment rent in Oakland (July 2017)



since 2014


Average two bedroom apartment rent in Oakland (July 2017)


Oakland Unlawful Detainers 1994 - 2017 BY CENSUS TRACT

102 103


276 379

430 5



347 15



60 39




374 439

657 343

66 131

68 16

179 171





13 53

176 199 164 364 135 216 208 167 457 192 284 34 511 309 168 228 256 316 136 175 325 382


DISCLAIMER: Census tracts are shaded for illustrative purposes only. As census tracts are shaded according to the absolute number of UDs in each tract and not in proportion to the number of rental units in that tract, census tract shades cannot be understood to represent areas of higher UD rates.














304 358


172 551



326 360






243 225 734





629 397



639 375




411 267

336 305

502 171






Unlawful Detainer Eviction Process, Alameda County IMAGE BY FINLEY COYL, BASED ON RESEARCH BY THE AEMP

Guide to the Eviction Process in Alameda County


3-Day Notice to Cure or Quit

30- or 60-Day Notice Terminating Tenancy


30 OR 60 DAYS

Tenant DOES pay rent or Cures Violation of Rental Agreement


Tenant DOES NOT pay rent or Cure Violation of Rental Agreement

MATTER ENDS Landlord Files Summons + Complaint for UNLAWFUL DETAINER at Court and Serves Tenant 5 DAYS

NO Response filed

Tenant has only 5 calendar days - including weekends to respond to the lawsuit

Tenant files Response Landlord files Request to set case for Court Trial

Default Judgement: Tenant loses

Tenant files Counter-Request for Jury Trial


As of April 2016, Settlement Conferences and Trial happen in Hayward

Mandatory Settlement Conference Sheriff’s Notice

Stay of Eviction

In Alameda County, Sheriff’s Eviction set for two weeks after Judgement and usually on a Tuesday



Usually the following Monday out of Mandatory Settlement conferences (on Wednesdays)


Court Trial on Thursday, Jury Trial the following Monday



25 /

+ Tenant stays in Possession + Tenant must pay all back rent (at rate determined by judge if defense is habitability)

Evictions in Chinatown KAYAN CHEUNG-MIAW

\ 26


27 /

The International Hotel: 848 Kearny Street at Jackson, 1978 JAMES SOBREDO BASED ON ORIGINAL ESSAY ON FOUNDSF1

In the late 1960s, new development projects threatened this home of primarily Filipinos in San Francisco’s Manilatown. In San Francisco history, the Battle for the International Hotel (I-Hotel) against eviction marks a moment of solidarity to preserve culture and the right to the city in the face of new urban development.39 The eviction at the I-Hotel, located at 848 Kearny Street, had been part of a larger Bay Area development project (described in greater detail in this chapter). By the late 1960s, the expanding financial district had encroached upon Manilatown and Chinatown. In the autumn of 1968, Milton Meyer and Company, which owned the hotel, started sending eviction notices to the tenants of the I-Hotel. “To my mind,” explained Walter Shorenstein, chairman of Milton Meyer, “I was getting rid of a slum.”40 In response, the tenants organized the United Filipino Association (UFA) to battle the eviction. Among the earliest Filipino activists working with the I-Hotel was Violeta Marasigan, then a recent San Francisco State graduate who was hired as a social worker: “When I started working with the old men, I saw that they were discriminated against in terms of their access to social services. A lot of them had been here for over thirty years, but they could still barely speak English or write. These manongs were mostly single retired farmworkers and seamen living on social security retirement benefits.” Marasigan, known as Bullet X to her friends, discovered that they were not receiving their full benefits, which incited her organizing. The late sixties were the height of the anti-war movement and Third World student strikes

at San Francisco State and University of California, Berkeley. Student activists became some of the strongest supporters of the I-Hotel. Emile De Guzman, a young Filipino student leader of the 1969 Third World Strike at Berkeley, had been working with Filipino members of the United Farm Workers Union in Delano. Born and raised in San Francisco, De Guzman grew up visiting Manilatown with his father. When he heard about the eviction notices and a subsequent fire that killed three tenants, he rallied other Berkeley students to protest the eviction: “I got really involved in the I-Hotel and organized students to go down there and picket outside Walter Shorenstein’s office.” The International Hotel Tenants Association (ITHA) eventually replaced the UFA, and Filipino student activists like De Guzman assumed leadership. It was through a coalition of students, tenants, and community activists that the ITHA was able to sign a threeyear lease and avoid eviction. To avoid further public criticism of his role in the eviction, Shorenstein sold the hotel to the Four Seas Investment Corporation, a Hong Kong–based company that planned to demolish the building and replace it with commercial development, including an underground parking garage. It was not just Filipinos who got involved in the I-Hotel struggle. Jean Ishibashi, a third-generation Japanese American born in Chicago, who was pregnant at the time, came to the I-Hotel protests. “For many decades, I carried my family’s unspoken anger from eviction and internment,” said Ishibashi. “When I learned that elderly Asians who were my father’s age \ 28

were being evicted, I identified with them, and that’s why I showed up.” For Ishibashi, the I-Hotel symbolized a time when the Asian American community as a whole came together. It was, however, generally the more progressive and left-leaning Asian Americans. Elderly Chinese also resided in the I-Hotel, and the Asian Community Center and the Chinese Progressive Association were located there. Both organizations strongly supported mainland China and Chairman Mao Zedong’s communist government, and this conflicted with the Chinatown leadership, who supported the Koumintang government in Taiwan. This was also part of the continuing attacks against the I-Hotel, said De Guzman. The leftist Kalayan newspaper was also published there, and its members would go on to form the Katipunan ng mga Demoratikong Pilipino, the largest Filipino socialist organization in America. With its left-leaning management and tenants, the red brick building quickly became known as the Red Block. African Americans and whites were among the supporters of the I-Hotel, including members of the Reverend Jim Jones’s infamous People’s Temple. “We even had a terrorist group that supported the I-Hotel,” recalled the poet Al Robles. The Weathermen (later the Weather Underground Organization) planted a bomb at the Herbst Theater and went on radio to say, “We did this because the I-Hotel was being oppressed.” For Manilatown and its Filipino residents, the I-Hotel represented a life and community. Robles, the unofficial Zen master of the Filipino community, explained, “The I-Hotel was the life of the manongs, the life of the Filipinos. It was their heart, it was their poetry, it was their song.” Robles, whose poetry has since been collected in Rappin’ with 10,000 Carabaos in the Dark, elaborated: “It wasn’t only a hotel: it was a gathering place that brought them together. It was 29 /

celebration; it was ritual. It was bringing back a life.”41 After battling eviction proceedings for over nine years, this community of manongs and poetry was brought to a violent end in the early morning hours of August 4, 1977. At around 4:00 a.m., over three hundred riot police and sheriff’s deputies encircled the hotel and began their assault on three thousand protesters. The police came down Kearny Street on horses and in police cars—“It was like the Roman legions,” recalls De Guzman. The police did not go through the front door. Instead, they used extension ladders on fire trucks to climb up to the top floors and fight through a group of I-Hotel defenders. Sheriff Richard Hongisto, who had spent five days in jail for refusing to enforce the eviction court order, led the assault, using a sledgehammer to break down tenants’ doors. De Guzman described it: “Once the police and sheriffs got into the building, they broke into the tenants’ rooms. Then they started breaking things up, stealing, taking what the manongs had, broke the toilets, that way there were no toilet facilities, so the tenants could never return.” De Guzman was dragged out by deputies in riot gear. Meanwhile, in front of the hotel, over two thousand community activists and protesters nonviolently locked arms, shouting, “We won’t move!” I-Hotel defenders lined up nine rows deep as the police started their frontal assault. They ran horses up front and hit people with clubs. They tore people up, hit them on the head and jabbed them with nightsticks. As Felix Ayson, a seventy-nine-year-old Filipino who could no longer walk or hear, said as he was dragged out of the hotel, “I think my end is very near from this beautiful world.” The eviction of the International Hotel tenants made the national news and cost the city over $3 million and a lot of bad publicity. But then, in 1997,

nearly twenty years after the forced eviction, the city, assisted by federal funding, began construction of a $20 million dollar, fifteen-story, 104-unit building. After years of continued advocacy by I-Hotel activists, the New I-Hotel now provides affordable housing for senior citizens, newly arrived immigrants, and low-income San Franciscans. The building houses a Filipino Community Center, a Museum and Exhibition Hall, and the four-story St. Mary’s Chinese Elementary School.

\ 30


EDC Cases by Supervisor District 2016

RADCo and Legal Services Individual Clients The Richmond District 1


District 2


Russian Hill, Nob Hill, Telegraph Hill, North Beach District 3


Outer Sunset District 4


Haight Ashbu r y, Panhandle, Western Addition District 5


SOMA, Tenderloin, Tr easure Island District 6


Park Merced, West Twin Peaks District 7


Castro, Glen Park, Noe Valley District 8 Mission District, Bernal Heights District 9

4% 12%

Bayview/Hunters Point, Potrero, Visitacion Valley District 10


Excelsior, Oceanview, Merced Heights, Ingelside District 11


The Eviction Defense Collaborative served

District 2

* This map does not accurately represent the current location of the 964 clients our Shelter Client Advocates have served; however, we have chosen to represent them in District 6 due to the majority of shelters predominating in this area.

District 3


4,876 people in 2016


308 District 5

District 1



District 4


District 8



District 9


District 7


District 11

378 31 /

District 6

District 10



Each year, the Eviction Defense Collaborative ately. For example, District 10’s tenants have sought (EDC) assists with over 90 percent of the total out assistance from EDC thirteen times more than responses submitted to San Francisco’s courts. In community members in District 2. District 10 rep2016, Black tenants were overrepresented in the resents the historically Black neighborhood of the EDC client base by 300 percent, despite representBayview; District 2 is whiter and wealthier, with 22% EDC Clients in 2016 who are Children and Youth Ages 0-19 ing less than 5 percent of the city’s population. neighborhoods like Pacific Just as redlinAge 15% SanAs Francisco’s Population in 2015 who are Heights. Children and Youth Ages 0-19 San Francisco’s communities continue to navigate ing and redevelopment once dictated who could SAN FRANCISCO CITY POPULATION 2015 EDC CLIENTS 2016 the threat of displacement, we see that districts 0-19 andYears could not live in San Francisco, evictions and 0-19 Years 22% 15% that made up of Black and Latinx 20-34 unaffordable rents are now displacing those already 20-34are Yearspredominately 23% Years 29% 35-44 Years 16% 35-44 Years 16% communities requiring EDC services disproportionpushed to the city’s edges. 45-54 Years


45-54 Years


55-64 Years


55-64 Years


65+ Years


65+ Years


EDC Data of 2016San Francisco 2016 Unadjusted Area Median Income (AMI) for one person :: $75,400 Income EDC CLIENTS 2016 15% AMI


SAN FRANCISCO AMI 2016 1 person

2 person

3 person

4 person

5 person

6 person

15% AMI







30% AMI


30% AMI







50% AMI


50% AMI







80% AMI


80% AMI







100% AMI







100% + AMI


26.2% EDC Clients in 2016 who identify as Black 5% San Francisco’s Black / African-American population in 2015

Race / Ethnicity EDC CLIENTS 2016 16.5%









2+ Races







40.8% White

3.5 2+

0.5% Other


Disability EDC CLIENTS 2016 51% Yes

49% No

\ 32

Root Shock: Edwin’s Story ERIN MCELROY

And it slowly was changing, and I knew that it hit the climax in the change when my dad and I were taking out the trash; it was about 8:00 p.m., so it was dark. We both had sweaters with a hood—it was a bit cold—and we lifted up the garage door. And the police rolled up and flashed their lights on us. They said, “Excuse me, what are you doing?” I said, “Just taking the garbage out of our house.” They said, “Oh, okay, we got reports that there was suspicious behavior.” A week before, someone moved into the house next door—bought the house, moved in. Never said hello. Never seen ‘em. But while I was taking the trash out, I saw someone peeking out the window— just kind of staring at us. I thought nothing of it at the time until I saw the police roll up, and I realized that they had called the police.” And I asked the police officer, “Did someone at this address report it?” and they said, “Yes.” So, all of a sudden, I became a foreigner in the community that I grew up in. And it felt strange; it felt weird. It wasn’t the first time—experience—I’ve had with the police, but it was my first experience of feeling different in my community—at least in Bernal. This was a year ago. My dad and I—we had fought evictions for ten years. I remember when I was in high school, they filed for eviction, and my dad fought it. When I was in college, they filed for eviction, and my dad fought it. When I was in law school, they filed another eviction, and my dad fought it. When I finished law school and was studying for the bar, they filed for eviction again, and we fought it, until finally they said, “You know what? If you don’t take our settlement, we’re gonna file Ellis Act.” But my dad—if I wasn’t there—I don’t know

what he’d do. I mean—he’s disabled, he’s going to be sixty-four soon. And it was stressing him out—he had already fought it three times—without an attorney: writing briefs by hand and submitting them to the court, and I can tell it took a toll. And this last time, he wanted to fight. He said, “I will handcuff myself to this door until the sheriffs come. They can take me that way. Because this is my home. And I’m not going to lose it because of greed.” And I said, “Dad, that’s great. That sounds great, but we won’t have a place to live. And he said, “You’re right, but I want to send a message.” And I said, “Okay, let’s do it. But let’s at least figure out a plan so that we have a place to live, and we can do that too, if you want to”—because it wasn’t just him; it was us. And I didn’t want him to get into a situation where he would get arrested, and he would’ve lost his benefits, so it was tough. And I made the landlord an offer; I said, “I am willing to do whatever it takes to buy this house. I will buy it from you.” And she said, “I would never sell you this house. You don’t deserve it.” And I thought, “God, that hurts.” Because it meant so much to me—it was the house that my dad raised me in, my grandmother raised me, and it was the community that I knew. And that hurt. I was born in Saint Luke’s Hospital—right here in the Mission. My dad came here from Nicaragua in the 1060s. 1970s? And this was his home, and it was my home—San Francisco is where I grew up. And my father went all over the city, and he ended up settling in Bernal Heights. It was the family house. At one point, my grandmother did own it, but then she transferred it over to a relative who, as soon as they got it, was like, “We’re gonna get you out of here.” And we had lived there the whole time—twenty-one, \ 34

twenty-two years. And I thought, “This is insane.” The greed has gotten so much—that blood is not even thicker than the greed. Well at that point, I thought, “We gotta let people know. This is serious.” 
And I thought to myself, “Wow—your livelihood is dependent on someone else.” And so that’s why I continued to fight, to help people. I mean some people look at me and say, “You don’t look like one of them.” And I say, “I don’t know what them looks like. I am one of them. I was evicted.” It’s called root shock. The term is taken from the study of plants. When you uproot a plant, and you plant it in a new bed of dirt, it takes a while for it to grow. And sometimes it doesn’t grow at all. Sometimes the roots can’t hold onto anything. Because it’s not as strong as the community it came from and the environment it came from. And sometimes it dies.

35 /

\ 36


29.7% Within CA (Outside Bay Area)

WEED 0.6%



21.2% Outside CA













0.6% 0.6%

49.1% Within Bay Area

RENO 0.6%












Evicted Tenants:






44 .5%

0.6% 0.6%




La tin x

As ia







Ot he r 2.5 8.4 % %

Data Source: Eviction Defense Collaborative (2015) 37 37/ /



Race/Ethnicity: Bla ck



15% Seniors 15% Minors 39% People With Disabilities












2% 0.6%






















3% 10.3%























Evicted Tenants: 34% Seniors 32% Minors 32% People With Disabilities Race/Ethnicity: Bla ck

24 .7%



24 .7%

La tin x

As ia




Ot 12





% 0.6%

APTOS Data Source: Eviction Defense Collaborative (2015)

38 \ \38

Evictions in The City of Alameda, 2005–2015 CARTOGRAPHY, FINLEY COYL, BASED ON COLLABORATIVE AEMP RESEARCH Alameda • Unlawful Detainers • 2005 - 2015

Rapidly rising rentsTRACT represent a particularly heavy burden for residents on fixed incomes, such as seniors and BY CENSUS individuals with disabilities. From 2012 to 2014, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the City [ Data from ] of Alameda rose 14 percent. While the City of Alameda may be experiencing a net influx of older residents in certain neighborhoods, this does not mean already established residents are not also being forced to with disabilities. From 2012 to living 2014, on thefixed average rent for a one bedroom apartment in Alameda rose 13.94%. Because move out, particularly those incomes. Alamedan tenants are not protected by any rent control or just cause eviction legislation, this means that this 13.94% increase represents rent increases to many, already established Alamedan residents. While Alameda may be experiencing

incomes to meet rising rent burdens.

Alameda Unlawful Detainers 2005 - 2015 BY YEAR

223 304

300 250

432 220


200 200





203 187 162




Alameda Unlawful Detainers 2005 - 2015

149 104


106 265

140 127



129 101


50 0

| 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015





Alameda Over 65 or on Disability 2012 - 2014

Alameda Section 8 Housing Access 2010 - 2015








2010 Total Population, City of Alameda 2010 Total Housing Units

39 /





2010 Total Rental Occupied Housing Units

Evictions in Fremont, 2005–2015

Fremont • Unlawful Detainers • 2005 - 2015



From 2010 to 2014, the median household income in Fremont rose 7.5 percent. From 2011 to 2014, however, [ Data from ] the average rent for a housing unit of any size increased 44 percent. Because at the time the city lacked rent control, this indicated two things: First, the rate of rent increases outstrips that of income, with From 2010 to 2014 the median household income in Fremont rose 7.49%. From 2011 to 2014, however, the average rent for many households a larger percentage of their incomes on housing. because the medianthese numbers housing unit of anyspending size increased 43.63%. In a city without rent control or justSecond, cause eviction protections, household income rose faster than inflation, and because Fremont did not experience a significant increase in the number of housing units between 2010 and 2014, it is likely that much of the change in median household income can be attributed to the displacement of lower-income households by higher-income ones.

change in median household income can be attributed to the displacement of lower income households by higher income ones.

Fremont Unlawful Detainers 2005 - 2015

60 54



25 120 136 54 58 26 163




152 202 7 227 318 452 59 16 340 38 215 54 60 152 150 257 38 58 129 97 13 107 126 35


33 30




Fremont Median Income 2010 - 2014

Fremont Section 8 Housing Access 2010 - 2015








2010 Total Population, City of Fremont


2010 Total Housing Units



2010 Total Rental Occupied Housing Units

\ 40


When students at Coliseum College Prep, a public STUDENT STORY, JA’KEEMAH SEALS: In 2014, my secondary school in East Oakland, conducted a survey family lost our home in Oakland, California. The house to study the effects of gentrification in their own had been in my family for nearly three generations, neighborhoods, they also claimed control over their and losing that house meant losing our family’s history own stories and the stories of their friends, families, and memories. We got a sixty-day-notice to leave, and neighbors. In coming together to conduct and that was the beginning of our search for a home. their survey, these students learned how to collect, Finding an apartment in Oakland was impossible. With analyze, and synthesize data into a multimedia report only one source of income, we could not afford rent with policy recommendations from the perspectives at the minimum of $1,600 monthly. We were forced of those most exposed to the changing geographies to leave our city, because we could find nothing. After of Oakland. Coliseum Below, we’ve highlighted some parts of the sixty days were up, we were forced to live with College Prep Data their report that spotlight how Oaklanders perceive friends, and that is when I knew we were homeless. When students at Coliseum College Prep, a public secondary school in East Oakland, conducted a survey to study the their changing neighborhoods and they they think Now I am senior in high school, effects of gentrification in their own what neighborhoods also claimed control overatheir own stories and the stories ofand my family and their friends, families, and neighbors. In coming together to conduct their survey, these students learned how to collect, should be done to combat the negative effects of I commute to Oakland every day from Hayward, analyze, and synthesize data into a multi-media report with policy recommendations from the perspectives of those most exposed to the changing geographies of Oakland. Below, we’ve highlighted some parts of their report that spotlight how gentrification. California. Because of the commute my academic Oaklanders perceive their changing neighborhoods, and what they think should be done to combat the negative effects of gentrification. Check out [insert link?] for the full report. performance (especially in my first class of the day) “In spring of 2016, the senior economics class at “How are gentrification, has been negatively impacted. Through displacement and it all I have Coliseum College Prep conducted a survey that the tech industry impacting Oakland?” sought to answer the question, managed to stay afloat, and this fall I will be attending In eleven days in April, we collected 723 survey responses. Most of our surveyees were Latino, low-income, and from East Sonoma State University, with the dream of returning Oakland. Specifically, the largest racial group surveyed was Latino, representing 45% of responses, followed by Whites with 34% of survey responses and African-Americans with 15% of surveyto responses. Of the people who took the survey, 47% health services. my community to provide mental lived in East Oakland, 16% in North Oakland, 10% in Downtown or Lake Merritt and 7% in West Oakland. Close to half of those surveyed (43%) also earned less than $50,000 a year.”

Ways that respondents saw changes in their neighborhoods:

60% Racial Shift

50% 76% Loss of long-term residents

Higher Housing prices

What Oakland residents think tech should do to help...

75% 72% 71%

Guarantee jobs for Oaklanders Offer youth programming and mentorship Commit some company profits to public services

What Oakland residents think the the city should do to protect residents from the negative impacts of gentrification:

81% 71%

76% 41 /

Student Story

Preserve affordable housing City initiatives to build more affordable housing Raise public awareness about tenants' rights


know where to find help when faced with displacement

50% know their tenants rights

Ja’Keemah Seals: In 2014 my family lost our home in Oakland California. The house had been in my family for nearly 3 generations, and losing that house meant losing our family’s history and memories. We got a 60 day notice to leave, and that was the beginning of our search of a home. Finding an apartment in Oakland was impossible. With only one



As a “unicorn” start-up founded in San Francisco in 2008, Airbnb has since grown its tentacles across the globe, imparting gentrifying effects far and wide. In San Francisco, as of early 2019, Airbnb maintained over seven thousand listings, of which 57 percent were full-time vacation rentals. As housing justice organizers have critiqued, Airbnb usage coincides with loss of long-term housing, as apartments were converted to lucrative short-term rentals. The same holds true in Oakland and beyond.43 The AEMP has also found that there are serial evictors who have listed the emptied rooms on Airbnb. For instance, in 2012, San Francisco serial evictor Fergus O’Sullivan evicted Michael Rouppet from his home on Fulton Street. In 2015, O’Sullivan proceeded to list the furnished units for $9,000 a month. Meanwhile, Rouppet spent almost a year living on the street with his dog (the only belonging salvaged from the eviction), coping with houselessness and HIV, not to mention the root shock. Then, in June 2013, O’Sullivan threated to evict tenants in nine units at 2870 Harrison Street. The building housed more than fifty adults and twenty children, with many families having lived there for twenty-five or so years. Two weeks after buying the building, O’Sullivan sent tenants buyout offers, threatening eviction if tenants refused. Many were monolingual Spanish speakers who thought that O’Sullivan’s letter was an actual eviction notice. Three households left due to fear, but the other six joined Causa Justa :: Just Cause (CJJC) and launched a campaign. Despite their efforts, some were eventually forced out. O’Sullivan later rented out units at 43 /

2870 Harrison on Airbnb. As one short-term renter reported to the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project: “Landlord Fergus O’Sullivan is now charging up to $2,500 a month for each bed in the double rooms. This means that the landlord is making around $10,000 a month.” Since then, O’Sullivan retreated from publicizing his short-term vacation rentals. Yet he has evicted several other buildings, leading to the deaths of at least two elderly tenants. O’Sullivan is not an exception in San Francisco. Today, there are former SRO buildings such as the Negev—which once housed some of San Francisco’s most precarious residents—that have become “digerati dorms.” The Negev is a project of the notorious Danny Haber and Alon Gutman, who first utilized Airbnb to list units, and then developed their own platform to advertise “Live/ Work” spaces for tech workers (bunk beds in shared rooms began for $1,250 a month). After establishing the Negev, Haber and Gutman moved on to Oakland, where they facilitated the evictions of seniors and people with disabilities in the Travellers Hotel (discussed in greater detail in chapter 7). In 2015, San Francisco enacted an ordinance legalizing short-term rentals in the city. Prior to this, Airbnb had been operating illegally. In 2016, much to Airbnb’s dismay, San Francisco began requiring that hosts of short-term rentals obtain a business license and register with the city. Hosts can now only rent out of permanent residences,

and no one is allowed to rent out more than one unit. Still, there is little to no enforcement around Airbnb legislation in Oakland and other Bay Area cities, and so the fight continues.


Airbnb and Evictions MAP BY AUSTIN EHRHARDT EVICTIONS SINCE 2008 <250 250 TO 500 500 TO 1,000 1,000 TO 2,000 2,000 TO 3,000


3,000 TO 4,000


4,000 TO 6,000

San Francisco

45 /

Daly City






180 TO 240 DAYS 240 TO 300 DAYS 300 TO 365 DAYS


San Leandro


2\ 46mi


Eviction is an increasing reality for many San Mateo and Santa Clara County families and has deep and long-lasting health consequences, from physical and mental health impacts to ongoing economic challenges. This map depicts evictions in San Mateo County and no-fault evictions in Santa Clara County’s city of San Jose.

NO-CAUSE EVICTIONS BY DISTRICT (2010-2017) <50 50 TO 100 100 TO 200 200 TO 300 300 TO 500

San Jose

22,000 24,000 26,000 28,000 30,000 32,000 34,000 36,000 38,000 40,000


2 mi

San Mateo County Eviction Notices and UDs 2014 - 2015 BY RACE / ETHNICITY San Mateo County Eviction Notices and UDs 2014-15 San Mateo County Population 2014 49%





11.8% 8%


te hi 2


at iv e

m Ot or he e r ra / ce s


aw ai






at iv e





ia n B l Am a ck er / ic an La tin x



3.8% 4%



Latinx people comprise

25% 49%

of the population

and of people evicted in San Mateo County Black / African-American people comprise

2.5% 21.4%

of the population

and of people evicted in San Mateo County

San Mateo County Reported Eviction Notices 2005 - 2015 BY CENSUS TRACT



\ 48


Santa Cruz is the least affordable small city in the US. It is also the city with the highest rate of homelessness in the nation. Sixty percent of Santa Cruz residents are renters, with the median rent pushing past $3,000 a month. Santa Cruz faces a full-blown housing crisis. Its many facets—extreme rent burdens, precarious living situations, widespread displacement, and homelessness— have enormous impacts on the community. No Place Like Home is a community-initiated, student-engaged research project based at University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) that attempts to address these issues. Using surveys, audio documentaries, data visualization, and creative non-fiction, this project seeks to understand the experience and consequences of housing unaffordability in Santa Cruz and beyond. The percentage data was collected by No Place Like Home project participants, and the maps and infographics were created in collaboration with the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project. The data displayed is the average for each of the five survey areas in the project, illustrated on the map below. The five surveys areas are Westside, Downtown + Lower Pacific, Live Oak, Beach Flats + Lower Ocean, and Watsonville + Freedom. Since producing this map, numerous students at UCSC have been hard at work organizing for a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in order to make the cost of living in Santa Cruz more affordable. In early 2020, eighty graduate students were fired from the university for their organizing, and yet the struggle lives on.

49 /


70% RENT BURDEN >30%





Santa Cruz County DEMOGRAPHICS RACE / ETHNICITY Asian/Pacific Islander Black





Native White


Other N/A




INCOME Extremely Low [7,680]


Very Low [12,800]


Low [20,480]


Average+ [>25,600]




AGE 18-34









Downtown +





Live Oak

Beach Flats + Lower Ocean

Watsonville + Freedom

\ 50


51 /

In 2014, the AEMP launched an oral history project, Narratives of Displacement and Resistance. While we had been producing maps of speculation, eviction, and racialized violence for over a year, we had felt that our maps did not adequately detail deep neighborhood history and personal stories of loss, change, and protest. Thus, our oral history project emerged to texture our existing maps with narrative data, offering new insight and analytics. We wanted to produce narrative work online and offline, and so we began painting a version of the online narrative map in San Francisco’s Clarion Alley. We launched both our online map and our mural simultaneously in 2015. To date, we have recorded over one hundred life stories detailing gentrification spatial struggles in San Francisco and Alameda counties, and, more recently, also in New York City and Los Angeles. The mural highlights nine San Francisco stories, and features a “call the wall” number (+1-415-3196865), so that passersby can listen. At the time of the mural’s release, many of the tenants featured were still in their homes as a result of direct action. They joined us for the dedication ceremony, which soon transcended into a march and dance party

THE CLARION ALLEY MURAL PROJECT with participants including Eva Mas Silberstein, Anabelle Bolaños, Fernando Rodriquez, Maria Rodriquez, Lee Reyes, Cynthia Crews, Hannah Gallagher, Lee Reyes, Vivian Schwab, Marko Muir, Kim Cirella, James Yelen, Manon Vergerio, Carla Leshne, David Patrelli, Michelle Lewis, Erin McElroy, Jenna McElroy, Joe Mellin, Andy Blue, Megan Wilson, Christopher Statton, Elvira Nieto, Rufugio Nieto, and many others. Mural upkeep and restoration by Anabelle Bolaños, Yano Rivera, Lee Reyes, Erin McElroy, Henry Brannan, Dan Sakaguchi, and Carla Wojczuk. \ 52

53 /

The Light Atlas DELTA_ARK

Delta_Ark created “The Light Atlas” in collaboration with AEMP while in residence as Eyebeam Fellow at the Buzzfeed Open Lab for Journalism, Technology, and the Arts, and then later on at Gray Area Foundation for the Arts. “The Light Atlas” is a forty-stanza light-projected poem about the Bay Area, detailing the technology industry’s takeover, its impact on housing, and present and future displacement resistance. It is composed of remixed fragments of twitter, testimonies of eviction collected by the AEMP, excerpts from books, collaborations with bots, observations from protests, and speculative narrative. It was projected throughout San Francisco from 2015 to 2018. This is the final quarter of the poem, detailing a far future San Francisco.

I haven’t told you yet, I know about the place where the evicted gather I like to think about it (the sooner the better) it’s the New Presidio, which has become a kind of open field where the evicted and automated snack delivery robots live together in a strange sort of harmony. where there are tiny houses and orchid geneticists breeding new forms of flowers; there are trees filled with electricity that sense the coming earthquakes; there are iris scanners that attract flying insects but not too close; and democratic councils operated by the blockchains of grace. . . the blockchains of grace, the immutable record of the evicted hashed into the metadata of the chain here, here, and here— their genomic sequence uploaded in the comments, graffiti searchable forever by the deep learning of the patchwork of the New Presidio, the mega insect of the New Presidio, that only the evicted are part of and the drones flying between the trees depth-mapping the tiny houses and other drones

\ 54

I pass the face of Nik Bertulis, I pass the face of Victoria Rodriguez, I pass the face of all the others,

inside of the network

holding my hand out before me

are the infinite houses

holding my drones out before me

the infinite worlds

that follow me in a flock

and the infinite houses

and exchange transmissions with the other drones

the houses that expand infinitely into the ether

going deeper and deeper into the tiny house village

that are weightless and massless where the evicted go to

the drones are lights flying between us

and where they are stored infinitely

recording everything streaming everything to

and where they keep living indefinitely

the blockchains of grace

inside of a simulation of another other San Francisco

“the final book” some people call it the drones fly among the trees

so, there’s the eco-villages of the New Presidio

in a light shift pattern

that stretch all the way across the shoreline

that forms a map of the evicted—

to the coming and going of the massive drone

they remind me of the fires

cargo ships that still somehow arrive from China

when there were fires over and over

and Japan, which of course still exist

in California but

and there’s also this other reality:

these are a kind of strange

of all the San Francisco’s that could have been

controlled burn

if people had been able to stay stored in the networked worlds—

we’re walking to the internet archive

I wave my hand and all the lights turn off

with all the drones around us with all the evicted around us

I walk out into the sunlight

up the steps of the columns

with my flock of drones following and everyone

up the columns and into the archive

And I look at the descendants of the evicted

where the green lights of the servers

And I look into the face of the descendants of Erin

blip like insects and the insects

and the face of the descendants of Faiq

also blip green next to them

And I think that this is the world after the contraction

and the seats wheel themselves away

freer, lighter, on the earth

and clear the floor

recorded forever somehow, both more chained and more free

55 /


Eviction Free San Francisco (EFSF) was a direct-action/mutual aid group of tenants that organized collectively to fight evictions in San Francisco for four years from 2013 to 2016. Meetings were held bimonthly and were open to everyone, with from eight to thirty people joining together to organize. Decisions were made by consensus, with the tenants from the buildings facing eviction having the final say on any form of direct action. Often there was a lot of grief and anxiety in the room, as getting evicted from your home is a huge stress. This was openly talked about, and meetings were part direct-action organizing and part support group. We believe that the “eviction crisis” is a public health crisis, and a big part of the beauty of EFSF was how much we supported and continue to support each other. Many of the tenants facing eviction in San Francisco then and now are seniors and people with disabilities, and

many of the folks who fought their evictions with EFSF are still here and still fighting the displacement of their neighbors. TACTICS USED Most eviction fights start with a call-in campaign to put the landlord/developer on notice that the tenants have support, know our rights, and are going to fight to stay in our home and with our community. The landlord is researched—the properties they own, other evictions they have been involved in, what other businesses they own, home address, other organizations they are part of, etc., anything that can be used as part of the fight and a potential place to put pressure on the landlord to rescind the eviction. The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project is a great resource for this and has helped numerous people in their eviction fights.


800 teachers, students, and others march against evictions in the mission district, photo by EFSF.

57 /

In addition to call-in-campaigns, other tactics used have included protests at the landlord’s home, protests at any other business they own, places they frequent, and groups they belong to, etc. Our motto was: if they are going to threaten our homes, lives, and communities with displacement, then we are bringing all of that noise and more to their doorsteps, businesses, and neighborhoods. We worked with many of the other anti-displacement groups in San Francisco and lots of lasting friends and comrades were made. Through all of these wonderful coalitions, EFSF worked to maintain its independence and fierceness outside of the politics of City Hall and the nonprofit world. Some of the amazing groups we collaborated with in San Francisco: Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, San Francisco Tenants Union, Housing Rights Committee, SOMCAN, Causa Justa :: Just Cause, Heart of the City, Poor Magazine, Senior and Disability Action, Plaza 16, SRO Collaborative, San Francisco Community Land Trust, Mission Economic Development Association, Grey Panthers, Green Action, Our Mission No Eviction, Calle 24, Coalition on Homelessness, and San Francisco Anti-Displacement Coalition. AN EXAMPLE OF ONE OF MANY BATTLES WE WON TOGETHER Serial evictor Sergio Iantorno and his son Paolo had served six Ellis Act evictions to six buildings in San Francisco. The Iantornos have a business model based on harassment of tenants and eviction. All of these buildings had longtime residents, folks on fixed incomes, seniors, and people with disabilities. After a series of escalating actions starting with call-in campaigns, protests, and a march on then Mayor Ed Lee’s house, EFSF (with other groups) occupied Paolo Iantornos shoe stores in the Hayes Valley and Fillmore neighborhoods. At the occupation, Paolo was caught on video pushing and shouting down tenants from

these buildings. The negative press, a campaign of fabulously creative reviews on his Yelp pages, and a decline in shoe business forced the Iantornos to sell five of the six buildings to the San Francisco Community Land Trust and MEDA (Mission Economic Development Association). All of the tenants are protected and still live there today! You can read all about this and other victories and see videos and photos on the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project website. Eviction Free San Francisco stopped meeting in 2016, after four years of difficult and amazing work. There were a number of reasons for stopping, and maybe someday we will create a zine of our experiences, successes, and failures. A combination of burnout, the many types of unchecked white privilege in activist circles, lack of access to meetings for folks from all of the neighborhoods, the grief of community displacement, living at ground zero of the global tech dystopia, different types of evictions happening faster, and many activists moving to ballot initiative work led us to disband. We think the Bay Area needs groups like EFSF, rooted in direct action, anti-capitalism, and mutual aid and tenant-powered. Something new will come soon! Look for it!

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59 / / 59


In 2016, as part of our partnership with the Oakland Creative Neighborhood Coalition, the AEMP created a Community Power Map in Oakland’s Betti Ono Gallery. This collaborative map was an attempt to reframe conversations about the Bay Area, so that we didn’t only talk about loss and destruction, but also about community assets worth celebrating and fighting for. Before taking the map down, we digitized its contents, so that it now lives online.

60 \ \60


Roberta Ryan, who is a member of the housing justice organization Fremont RISE, describes her politicization in Fremont. I remember through elementary school there were a lot of families on my block where a lot of the kids were around the same age. And we would coordinate carpools together in our neighborhood to, you know, go to elementary school, and for us to all drive together, and there was one family in particular that would throw block parties in our neighborhood, and a lot of people knew each other, and, you know, it was normal. It was just, there was a community feel with our block, for sure, with people saying hi to each other as they drove by, people knowing each other by name. I remember every Christmas we would sell wrapping paper for my elementary school, so going door to door and selling people wrapping paper for the holidays and Christmas. And even with the adjacent neighborhoods. I lived by a Sikh temple and, you know, living—knowing a lot of diversity with South Asian and Asian communities. Whether that’s East Asian or Filipino communities—being in walking distance from my friends and people I knew, and I remember trickor-treating. And my elementary school especially was great—at Niles—I remember doing talent shows, and we had, like, holiday boutiques every year, where we’d buy little gifts for our family. My parents are from the Philippines, and they immigrated to the US in 1980, and my grandparents, my dad’s parents, came to the US first, and my dad and a lot of his brothers actually served in the US military. It took me—like even now I’m a little unclear on the history on that. My last name is Ryan, even though I am full Filipino, and that’s because my great grandfather 61 /

is Irish American and fought in the Spanish and the Filipino American war in the late nineteenth century, and that’s how my great grandfather settled there. And through ancestry—I don’t know how—maybe that’s how my dad and all my uncles served in the US military. They did receive benefits from that too. And after my grandparents moved, slowly my parents and a lot of my aunts and uncles started moving to the US. So when my parents immigrated to the US, they came with my two older sisters who were three and four at the time. And they lived in the same apartment as my grandparents in Oakland. And my mom would talk a lot about how much she hated the life first coming here to the US, because my mom was someone who had a lot of class privilege in the Philippines and would have drivers and maids, and she would talk about how sad it made her feel to see her children sleeping on the floor in their first apartment with my dads’ parents in Oakland, and how it was the first time in her life that she had to take a bus. So it was very much the immigrant life—and they have a lot of pride for being able to come with so little money and for being able to build up the life they have now. I started this work with the intention of playing some part in alleviating the housing crisis in the Bay Area, because if there was anywhere that my role and my effort could be valuable, it would be in my hometown. . . . I had often felt confused and sort of silenced when it came to our political system. So it was this entry point for me as an organizer, as an advocate, and also as someone who wanted to learn more about politics and to change the systems that we have to be able to start organizing. Even within my own family, where I thought we

had always had stability, and I had grown up in that same house, and I had always thought that house would stay in my family. To know that the same root causes of people struggling with rents is going to eventually probably force my parents to sell their home. I see those rooted in the same issues of: Do we really ever have ownership over the place that we live? Do we have ownership over our land? Or is everything just paid through rent, through mortgage, through a loan? These systems don’t really allow housing to be a right for anyone. I see homeowning as this, really— I understand why it’s a dream for a lot of people—I’m not saying I don’t dream of owning a house one day. But I see it as something very unattainable. You know, sitting at the table with landlords who argue that this is all about markets, and me really struggling to understand how markets can be valued over people’s lives. Especially feeling like, as a woman of color, is there something I’m missing. Am I saying the wrong thing? Really addressing what is internalized within me too—to have white landlords claim to know more than me and to speak out aggressively to me and to cut me off. And people wonder how oppression is internalized. Well, its internalized by me questioning what I know. Really being able to honor the huge immigrant population in Fremont and knowing that there are people who care. It’s not just a place where people are apathetic, because I’m a part of building that with people. And that’s what feels really great. And it makes me feel more hopeful for sure for Fremont, and also for communities where organizers don’t always reach, because it’s not at a city center or at a place where really progressive or radical thought is being created, and its where outreach is really, really necessary.

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Acknowledgments Endnotes 1. Adrienne Rich, An Atlas of the Difficult World, Poems 1988–1991 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1991), 6. 2. Mahasweta Devi, Imaginary Maps, trans. G.C. Spivak (New York: Routledge, 1995). 3. Ibid., xi.

4. Ibid., xvi.

5. Ibid., xxv.

6. Ibid., xxvi.

7. Manissa M. Maharawal and Erin McElroy, “The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project: Counter Mapping and Oral History toward Bay Area Housing Justice,” Annals of the American Association of Geographers 108, no. 2 (September 2017): 380–9.

8. Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, “AEMP Handbook,” in Moshoula Capous-Desyllas and Karen Morgaine, eds., Creating Social Change Through Creativity (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 289–308. 9. kollektiv orangotango, This Is Not an Atlas: A Global Collection of Counter-Cartographies (Berlin: Transcript-Verlag, 2018); Rebecca Solnit, Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2020)

10. Severin Halder, “Editorial: This Is Not an Atlas,” in kollektiv organgotango, This Is Not an Atlas, 12–16. 11. Unequal Cities, accessed March 11, 2020, Chapter 1 Endnotes 12. Mindy Fullilove, “Root Shock: The Consequences of African American Dispossession,” Journal of Urban Health 78, no. 1 (2011): 71–80.

13. Paula Chakravartty and Denise Ferreira da Silva, “Accumulation, Dispossession, and Debt: The Racial Logic of Global Capitalism—An Introduction,” American Quarterly 64, no. 3 (September 2012): 361–85. 14. Cedric J Robinson, Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000). 15. Clement Lai, “The Racial Triangulation of Space: The Case of Urban Renewal in San Francisco’s Fillmore District,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 102, no. 1 (2012): 151–70.

16. Christina Hanhardt, Safe Space: Gay Neighborhood History and the Politics of Violence (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013). 17. Chester Hartman, Yerba Buena: Land Grab and Community Resistance in San Francisco (San Francisco: Glide Publications, 1984). 18. Jodi A. Byrd, Alyosha Goldstein, Jodi Melamed, and Chandan Reddy, “Predatory Value: Economies of Dispossession and Disturbed Relationalities,” Social Text 36, no. 2 (2018): 1–18.

19. James Ash, Rob Kitchin, and Agnieszka Leszczynski, Digital Geographies (Los Angeles: Sage, 2019); Craig Dalton and Tim Stallmann, “Counter-Mapping Data Science,” Canadian Geographer / Géographe Canadien 62 (2018): 93-101.

20. Nancy Puloso, “Whose Woods Are These? Counter‐Mapping Forest Territories in Kalimantan, Indonesia,” Antipode 27, no. 4 (1995): 383–406. 21. Kollektiv Orangotango, This is Not an Atlas: A Global Collection of Counter-Cartographies (Berlin: Transcript-Press, 2018). 22. Sarah Elwood, “Critical Issues in Participatory GIS: Deconstructions, Reconstructions, and New Research Directions,” Transactions in GIS 10, no. 5 (2006): 693–708.

23. Katherine McKittrick, Demonic Grounds: Black Women and Cartographies of Struggle (Minneapolis: 63 /

University of Minnesota Press, 2006).

24. Jennifer Rosdail, “The Quad: A Newly Defined Meta Hood,” Jennifer Rosdail Real Estate (blog), accessed May 19, 2020, 25. Paul Carr, “Travis Shrugged: The Creepy, Dangerous Ideology Behind Silicon Valley’s Cult of Disruption,” Pando, October 24, 2012, accessed March 11, 2020,; Eric Stanley, “The Affective Commons: Gay Shame, Queer Hate, and Other Collective Feelings,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 24, no. 4 (2018): 489–508.

26. Erin McElroy and Alex Werth, “Deracinated Dispossessions: On the Foreclosures of ‘Gentrification’ in Oakland, CA,” Antipode 51, no. 3 (2019): 878–98. 27. Clyde Woods, “Life After Death,” Professional Geographer 54, no. 1 (2002): 62–66

28. Ananya Roy, “The City in the Age of Trumpism: From Sanctuary to Abolition,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 37, no. 5 (2019): 761-778; Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “We Should Still Defund the Police,” New Yorker, August 14, 2020, accessed August 14, 2020, https://www.newyorker. com/news/our-columnists/defund-the-police. 29. Partially based on research conducted by the Urban Displacement Project.

30. Mark DiCamillo, “Half Say Housing Affordability an ‘Extremely Serious’ Problem in Their Area. Majority Have Considered Moving Because of High Housing Costs, 25% Out of State,” Berkeley IGS Poll (September 2017), accessed June 22, 2020, 31. For a very useful history of these broader crises, see Robert O. Self, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003).

32. Mike Jacob, “Tenants Want a Temporary Ban,” Oakland Tribune, January 25, 1980, A-11; for future researchers, I have compiled Oakland Tribune cited articles here: 33. “Watergate Tenants Open Drive to Recall 2,” Oakland Tribune, May 8, 1979, 32; “Tenants to Appeal Condo Conversion,” Oakland Tribune, March 22, 1979, 19; Brenda Payton, “Council Switch on Condos Stuns Tenants,” Oakland Tribune, April 20, 1980, A-1. 34. “Housing Finance Crisis Now Upon Us, Claims Cal Prof,” Oakland Tribune, June 14, 1981, F-7.

35. City of Oakland Community and Economic Development Agency, Consolidated Plan for Housing and Community Development: July 1, 2000—June 30, 2005, June 27, 2000, accessed May 19, 2020, https://

36. Puck Lo, “Ten Years of Just Cause Oakland,” Oakland North, September 23, 2009, accessed March 11, 2020, 37. Lo, “Ten Years of Just Cause Oakland.”

38. “Measure EE: ‘Just Cause’ Eviction,” League of Women Voters in California, November 5, 2002, accessed May 19, 2020, 39. James Sobredo, “The Battle for the International Hotel,” FoundSF, accessed March 13, 2020,

40. Calvin Trillin, “Some Thoughts on the International Hotel Controversy,” New Yorker, December 19, 1977, accessed March 13, 2020, 41. Al Robles, Rappin’ with Ten Thousand Carabaos in the Dark (Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 1996). 42. Special thanks to Sam Rabiyah for his work on the online web map.

43. Agustín Cócola Gant, “Holiday Rentals: The New Gentrification Battlefront,” Sociological Research Online 21, no. 3 (2016): 112-120.

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Indigen Geogra of Resi

nous aphies stance —2 —


All land in what was recently claimed as the “United States” is Indigenous land. It has always been and will always be Indigenous land. This is no less true in the San Francisco Bay Area. What is now known as the Bay Area spans the traditional, ancestral, stolen, and unceded territories of the Ohlone peoples. This chapter highlights the political and cultural work of Ohlone and other local Native leaders, from the protection of urban sacred sites and land reclamation to housing, Two-Spirit organizing, and Indigenous diasporas. The Bay Area is home to diverse Indigenous communities who have been resisting displacement for centuries. We center Indigenous resistance to urban dispossession to better understand how racial capitalism functions in tandem with the ongoing dispossessions of settler colonialism. We ground this chapter in an understanding that settler colonialism—as a structure—is ongoing. In the US, Native struggles are often seen as less urgent, as only existing in the past, as affecting only a small number of people, or as isolated to reservation issues. Colonialism is understood as a “legacy” or collapsed with US imperialism and colonialism “elsewhere,” rather than as a persistent, ongoing, historically present yet incomplete project “at home.” This chapter seeks to disrupt, disorder, and expand conversations about urban displacement by centering Indigenous geographies of the San Francisco Bay Area. We insist that the histories, geographies, and visions of Indigenous peoples need to be centered in organizing against gentrification and displacement. This combats the sys-

67 /

tematic erasure of urban Indigenous life but also allows us to ask new questions and imagine new possibilities. How might putting Indigenous urban geographies in conversation with Black, Latinx, and other geographies enable us to boldly envision more livable urban futures? All too often conversations about displacement and urban life omit the presence of Indigenous peoples and are disconnected from colonial histories of Indigenous dispossession and genocide. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Ohlone peoples are actively resisting colonial-capitalist forces to continue to root their communities on their ancestral territories. Centering Indigenous geographies, sacred sites, landmarks, and place-names interrupts colonial geographies—which are so often naturalized in American society. They ask us to remember the impermanence of colonial borders and imagine new and different ways of orienting to space and place. This chapter does not follow a linear historical trajectory in its recounting of Indigenous geographies of the Bay Area. We present stories in this chapter in a way that challenges conceptions of progressive time that too often locate colonialism in the past. The chapter shifts between histories of colonial dispossession and contemporary stories of eviction and organizing to highlight their interconnections and the long, ongoing history of Indigenous dispossession and resistance. In doing so, we seek to dislocate the ways that conversations around urban displacement are too often framed as a phenomenon that occurs in the post–World War II context. This framing disconnects urban dis-


\ 68

possession from longer histories of settler colonialism and racial capitalism, the systems that produce the conditions that make gentrification possible. As Ohlone leader Corrina Gould highlights in this chapter, struggles against settler colonialism and gentrification are connected, gentrification being one of the latest iterations of colonial-capitalist dispossession. We hope this chapter can provide an example of how conversations around urban displacement can be conducted with greater depth, nuance, and accountability to Indigenous communities on whose ancestral territories we organize. We have aimed to represent narratives of the lived experiences of dispossession that Indigenous peoples, including women, queer, and Two-Spirit people experience in the San Francisco Bay Area. These intersectional accounts of urban life, which offer a multilayered understanding of how dispossession is lived, embodied, and resisted by Indigenous people in the Bay Area context, are far from complete, definitive, or exhaustive. The chapter begins with the testimony of Corrina Gould, Chochenyo Ohlone leader and spokesperson for the Confederated Villages of Lisjan, who has been a central part of Indigenous resistance in the East Bay for decades. Gould recounts the three periods of colonization that occurred in California and how the presence of Ohlone peoples in the Bay Area has been strategically invisibilized. From there, Gould discusses walks that she, fellow activist Johnella LaRose, and other Indigenous leaders took around the shellmounds of the Bay Area and how they currently are fighting to save the West Berkeley shellmound, an Ohlone sacred site, from further desecration and development. Gould’s stories are accompanied by an illustration that depicts the sacred shellmound sites along the shoreline of 69 /

the San Francisco Bay Area. From there, the piece “The Indigenous and Displaced” follows Joe Waukazoo, a resident of Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, and tells his family’s story, as they struggle to remain in Oakland amid the housing crisis and cuts to the social services they depend on to survive. Written by Julian Brave NoiseCat, a member of the Canim Lake Band Tsq’escen and a descendant of the Lil’Wat Nation of Mount Currie, this piece highlights the ways urban Indigenous communities are impacted by gentrification and displacement. The two following pieces trace how colonization and assimilation have been implemented over time to remove Indigenous peoples from their land and destroy kinship lines. In her piece, “Missionization, Incarceration, and Ohlone Resilience,” Hoopa activist and scholar Stephanie Lumsden powerfully traces the violence of the Spanish mission system as California’s first carceral regime, which laid the groundwork for the prison-industrial complex in California. Katie Keliiaa, a member of the Yerington Paiute Tribe and a descendant of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, uses extensive archival research to document the experiences of Indigenous domestic laborers in Oakland and Berkeley in the 1930s–1950s as a method of colonial and white supremacist cultural assimilation. She examines how the invisible and forced reproductive labor of young Indigenous women from boarding schools in wealthy white homes was part of wealth accumulation in the Bay Area, while also highlighting moments of resistance. Next, a roundtable conversation among members of Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS) highlights the significance of the San Francisco Bay Area for Indigenous LGB, queer, trans, and Two-Spirit communities. They reflect

on the organization’s decades of struggling at the intersection of multiple oppressions, discussing the ways the Bay Area housing crisis has made it increasingly difficult to maintain a homespace for its members. Kanyon Sayers-Roods, a Costanoan OhloneMutsun and Chumash artist and activist, offers an introductory toolkit around protocol for living respectfully on Ohlone land. Corrina Gould also outlines some examples of how settlers living in the Bay Area can support the Ohlone peoples through

reparations. Finally, Johnella La Rose and Gavin Raders recount how they came to collaborate as members of the organizations Sogorea Te’ Land Trust and Planting Justice and the process of returning the land they cultivate in Sobrante Park, Oakland, to Ohlone stewardship. Lastly, we hope this chapter will help activate conversations about Indigenous geographies in the Bay Area and beyond and illuminate ways to work in solidarity with Indigenous communities in the places you call home.



We come from the land. We are the people that were put here. My ancestors have always been here as a part of this place. There is a funny thing—this word that folks have just really wanted to say in the last hundred years, maybe less than that—but they really started talking about genocide as a thing that happened, and not just to Jewish people but to many people, and it continues to happen all over the world to people of color, to people who are connected to the land. My ancestors were colonized three times really quickly. Although we often talk about the colonization that happened on the East Coast of what is now called the United States 520-something years ago, but here in the Bay Area it’s been less than 250 years. My ancestors were enslaved first by the missions, the Spanish. They came here with this idea of taking the land. They didn’t come here in hopes of saving these savage people but to enslave the people that were here on this land in order to save the land from being taken by the Russians, who were encroaching on that land from up north. When that happened, a lot of times what people are taught about the history of what happened to California Indians from the bottom of California all the way up to a little bit past here in Sonoma, we’re taught that the missions came here with this great idea of saving these savages from themselves. For thousands of years, we were taught that my ancestors wandered about. Wandered about what? Like we had no thoughts in our minds, right? But we were actually able to be self-sustaining, and we had 71 /

sovereignty and language and music and religion and connection to the land that we’re on. For thousands of years that happened before the Spanish got here with their Jesus and with the mass murder of people and rape and the imprisonment of people. The first prison-industrial complex was the mission system here in California. They came here without thinking that we were human beings because of the doctrine of discovery, which is still used against us. They say that we people of color are less than human. That it allowed people to go all over the world where people of color were and take their lands, because they didn’t have any idea how to run those lands, because they were half human. People in the world are still using this doctrine of discovery by the Catholic Church against Indigenous people all over the world. So colonization with the Spanish happened for about a hundred years. In that time, they were able to wipe a lot of the language away, the way that we live, the food that we ate, all of those kinds of things that went with the way we dressed. I would like to put this correlation between what is happening right now in our land and what happened to my ancestors then. Because today we have so many of our brothers and sisters and relatives living in tent cities. But they’re still living, and that is their home for this moment. And they should be afforded dignity in living that way, because that is how they’re living. And we should not turn a blind eye to that. What happened, a little more than two hundred years ago when the Spanish came was that they believed that






Kabemali Konhomtara

CHAPTER 001 Libayto Puttoy











Quenemsia Anizumne








Omiomi Pusuluma

Tamal Aguasto

Huchiun San Aguasto Pablo Bay Carquin





Guaypem Musupum








Gualacomne Ululato

Caymus Calupetamal



Jalalon Julpun


Tatcan Huchiun


Yelamu Urebure Aramai

San Francisco Bay

Pacific Ocean
















Luecha Taunan







Tayssen Pala






Chaloctaca Sayanta Acssaggis


10 mi


Matalan Partacsi



Pitac Chitactac


Aptos Cajastac




was not a sufficient way to live with my ancestors, and through gun and sword took us away from that form of living and put us into creating the prisons in which we lived, the mission systems. We haven’t gotten that far from where we were two hundred some years ago with the colonization to happen on these lands. Shortly after the Spanish churches were having their lands taken from them, their lands that were stolen, Mexico came in and stole the lands from them, took that land and now it is called Mexico. First it was Spain and now it is Mexico. Mexico took that land and gave it to the gentries of Mexico, huge swaths of land all over the Bay Area. My great-grandfather, who was one of the last speakers of the language lived and died on Peralta land. So what happens is that you learn about these things, but you never are taught about them in school. So there was a whole war that happened. Mexico and America had a war. They fought over those lands. Mexico lost. There was this Treaty of Guadalupe de Hidalgo that was written, and in that treaty it said that the Indigenous people 73 /

of the lands were supposed to get some of the land to go back to. And what was now the United States agreed to that. And the United States always has lied when it came to treaties. By the time they got to California on the westward expansion it was not about creating treaty with Indians any more. It was about mass extermination. It was about killing off my ancestors and any California Indian that existed. It was about creating laws which allowed $1.7 million to be paid by the federal government to kill off Natives at $5.25 an ear less than two hundred years ago. It allowed for the slavery of Native California Indians to happen, because Native California Indians could not say anything against a white man in court. It allowed for people to go into village sites and to kill off the adults and to sell the children at $200 a head for young girls and $75 for young boys until they came of age: twenty-five years for the young men; thirty years for the young women. It caused displacement of our children and our family structures, and less than two hundred years ago, when all the stuff you see outside

and what is now called Oakland in the Bay Area was created. So we have to talk about genocide and what that means and how is that a part of the colonization process. How are laws created in order to allow this to happen and continue to happen, because now genocide is not just about outright killing people. It is about erasing them in your history books. It is not about allowing them to be human beings, because we’re not a federally recognized tribe. That means the government does not see us as Native people. I’m a figment of your imagination, and I do not exist. All the time we find out there is history that happened on this land we lived on, and we would never know who the Indigenous people were unless we went and sought that out. Wherever you come from in this country, whatever land you stand on, you’re on stolen land. This land was never given to what is now called the United States of America. This is a false government that is on this land. There are over seven hundred sovereign nations that live here that were here before that had names for these places that had their own language and own spirituality. Sometimes you find in the history—the diaries of the Spanish—when they came here they were so good. The Catholic Church created all these wonderful things. They created this way of knowing who they stole from which village, when they got baptized, and who they were forced to marry, and who their children were. For me, I could actually tell you my lineage all the way back to first contact and where my ancestors originated from, because the Spanish kept those records. But we’re still not considered Native people here, and we cannot have a voice in what happens on our own land. Probably not more than twenty years ago people didn’t even know that Ohlone people still existed. It wasn’t until we created these walks to sacred sites, and we began to do the work around

sacred sites, in fact, in the Bay Area that this even happened. Over a hundred years ago this crazy guy named Nels Nelsen created a map. He worked for University of California, Berkeley. He created a map of all our shellmounds, our sacred sites, our burial sites in the Bay Area. Over a hundred years ago he realized that these were important places. Why? Who knows? But over one hundred years ago, in 1909, he created this map, because at that time there was so much destruction and building upon this land that he knew that they would never exist again. He created this map of 425 of our shellmounds. Virtually none of them exist today. They’re all under cement, asphalt, and railroad tracks and bars and schools. But still, in 2005 to 2009, we walked those shellmounds from Vallejo down to San Jose up to San Francisco, praying at these sacred sites that still held our ancestors. Thousands of our ancestors staying in cardboard boxes and lockers at University of California, Berkeley, San Francisco State, the universities and museums all over the Bay Area hoarding my ancestors and not allowing us to put them back into the ground. So we have to fight for these places that are special to us, that are important. Because we are, after all, still human beings. No matter where you come from in this world, wherever you originate from there is original teaching about how you were supposed to be in space and place. What your relationship is to that land, what your obligation is. We have obligations still to pray at these sacred places, to pass that on to our children and our grandchildren. For the healing of this land and not just for us but for whoever now lives in our territory. It has been because of the allies and accomplices in our lifetime that have come together to put this word out that we still exist. That has helped the Ohlone people exist altogether in this kind of a way. We’ve come a long way, and we have \ 74

a long way to go still. I think right now it is more important for me, because I have grandchildren. Those grandchildren know where the places and spaces are. That we still take them to the places and pray. That the language is coming back through dreams and through my daughter’s education. It is a work of resistance, because we are not supposed to exist. The colonial project tried to wipe us out through genocide, through erasure through history books, through telling us that we didn’t exist or belong anymore on our land. To wake up every single day on my own territory and to know that this government that took it over doesn’t acknowledge us or our sacred places: it’s a horrific thing to have to deal with every day. To know with all of this development that’s going on with the five or six different twenty-sixstory buildings happening right here in downtown Oakland. To know that they may hit some of our burial sites at any time and not think about having to do anything but continue to build. We are working on the West Berkeley shellmound right now. A piece, a little 2.2 acres of land that now is capped by a parking lot, that is still sacred, because it is the first of 425 shellmounds that ring the Bay Area. It was the first place that my ancestors put a fishing line into the bay. The very first place that babies cried along the bay. The very first place that there was a burial site created. So for me everything that happens on this territory, whether we’re fighting for the Indigenous rights of Palestinians or my brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico or for Black Lives Matter or for the LGBTQ folks that are here with us, whatever the issue is, we are related, because you are on our territory. We share this land now, and it’s important for us to remember the sacredness of what we do and our work. When we look back at all of the great leaders, we know that there was a

spiritual connection that they had, that they come from this way. And I think that when I began to do these talks recently and began to start talking about what is our spiritual connection. How do we have that connection with ourselves, so that we can do the work, that we can continue to do this work and sustain ourselves in different kinds of ways.

CORRINA GOULD is the spokesperson for the Con-

federated Villages of Lisjan. She was born and raised in Oakland, California (the territory of Huichin), and, with Johnella LaRose, is the cofounder of Indian People Organizing for Change and the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust. Her current focus includes sacred sites protection and creating a women-led land trust within the urban setting of her ancestral territory in the Bay Area.


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77 / intertribal friendship house, photo by kristen murakoshi

On a July afternoon in 2017, Joe Waukazoo, a tall and athletic sixty-two-year-old, jaywalked across 31st Avenue in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood. He paused before the skeleton of the Ghost Ship, a warehouse turned artist collective, burned hollow in a blaze that took thirty-six lives on a December night in 2016. He stops here often to pay homage to the victims, mostly artists. “This is like a collision of two kinds of forces,” Waukazoo told me. “You got the gentrification, and you got the community.” No American place offers a clearer vantage point on that conflict than Oakland. The city is caught in a boxing match between the invisible hand of Silicon Valley capitalism and the defiant fist of Bay Area radicalism. As Ivy League–educated millennials brandishing computer science degrees move in, rents shoot up. Investors looking to cash in on the latest California gold rush are developing properties throughout the city. Speculators want to brand West Oakland, former headquarters of the Black Panther Party, #WeOak. In East Oakland’s historically Latino Fruitvale neighborhood, the trajectory is the same. Every few blocks, a bar or restaurant has popped up to tap the wallets of the new techie settlers. In this zero-sum game, where new residents and businesses move in and old ones are displaced, Waukazoo lost his home. “I was just priced out of the market. I didn’t have money for rent, and that’s the bottom line,” he told me, somewhat oversimplifying things. Now, he spends his days hanging out at a bus shelter, just across the street from the Ghost Ship. His story echoes many across the city. As the workers, artists, and hustlers who made Oakland its gritty self are priced out, homelessness has shot up. At the same time Joe lost his home, an estimated 5,629 people were sleeping in doorways and empty lots in Oakland’s Alameda County, up 39 percent from two years earlier. Slow-food eateries and ar\ 78

tisanal boutiques appeared in old neighborhoods, while tent camps sprouted under BART tracks and freeway overpasses. Waukazoo is even less visible than his fellow street folk, because he is Native American—Lakota and Odawa. He is an urban Indian—a demographic that has no place in the public imagination. Native people are generally relegated to history books or remote reservations, not row houses and apartment complexes. They fight cowboys and pipelines, not landlords and rents. But according to the US Census Bureau, seven out of ten Native Americans—or 3.7 million people—reside in cities. More than sixty-six thousand urban Indians live in the Bay Area alone. I used to be one of them. As a traditional powwow dancer, I learned many of my original moves watching Waukazoo high-step through Thursday night drum and dance practice at Oakland’s Friendship House. With nearly one in four Bay Area Indians living in poverty, Native people are the region’s most impoverished racial group, according to PolicyLink. As Silicon Valley transforms the Bay Area into a boundless Google campus, the urban Native population is shrinking, down by 19 percent from 2000 to 2010. But Native Americans cannot escape the housing crisis by fleeing cities. On the reservations and in the border towns of Indian Country, the problem is equally acute. In the twilight of the Obama administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimated that these communities urgently needed sixty-eight thousand new units—thirty-three thousand to eliminate overcrowding and thirty-five thousand to replace deteriorated stock. The Waukazoo family—Joe and Marlene, their eldest daughter Phyllis and eldest son Joseph Jr.—has been stretched to the breaking point by two housing crises. Joe and Phyllis live in rapidly gentrifying Oakland. Marlene Waukazoo, née Sandoval, divorced 79 /

Joe two decades ago. She lives with Joseph Jr. and her extended family in Torreon, New Mexico, where quality shelter, electricity, and running water are hard to come by. The housing crisis is one of the most discussed global political, economic, and social problems of our time. Yet people like the Waukazoos rarely feature in any of its narratives. The politicians, pundits, and professors focused on the urban housing crisis overlook or omit urban Indians. Meanwhile, housing problems on reservations are equally out of the frame. In an era of inequality, the Waukazoos— struggling for visibility, dignity, and basic housing security—represent some of the most forgotten of our nation’s forgotten people. From the earliest days of white settlement, fortunes have been made and dynasties built on land taken from Native Americans, this continent’s first victims of gentrification. Over the coming decade, 2.1 million people will settle in the Bay Area. By 2040, in a story as old as America, this space-constrained, affluent megalopolis of 9.3 million will displace our nation’s forgotten, including untold numbers of Native families like the Waukazoos. Joe Waukazoo, like many Native people, considers Oakland home. He came to the Bay Area in 1964, when he was just a child, with his mother Muriel, his sister Sally, and his brother Martin. Muriel, who died in 2005, was a legendary matriarch in Oakland’s Native community; everyone called her Grandma Waukazoo or just Grandma. Her family remains prominent here. Martin runs the Native American Health Center, kitty-corner from the Ghost Ship, and his wife Helen is CEO of the Association of American Indians of San Francisco. The Waukazoos were part of the first generation of Native people relocated to the Bay Area under the federal Urban Indian Relocation Program. The program, established in 1952, encouraged Native

Americans to leave reservations for cities and assimilate into the laboring classes. Many who were part of this socially engineered diaspora settled in Oakland, where, in 1955, they established the Intertribal Friendship House (IFH), one of the first urban Indian community centers in the country. IFH, which lies a couple miles northwest of the Ghost Ship, has served as the political, social, and cultural heart of Oakland’s Native community ever since. IFH played a central role in organizing and supporting the dramatic Native occupation of Alcatraz from 1969 to 1971, which brought national attention to broken treaties and the cause of Indigenous rights. The occupation of Alcatraz was the Indigenous rights movement’s equivalent of the Montgomery bus boycott, and IFH was the communal fortress where the real planning and community building of the movement went down. The day I met up with Waukazoo, he took me to his bus shelter hangout, where we found a few other homeless Native folks: Georgina Yazzie, Yolanda Ellenwood, and Fern Martin. Martin used to sleep at the Ghost Ship once in a while. I took their photo, while they joked that they were going to be on the cover of Esquire and People magazine. They asked if I knew some of their nephews around Oakland. I knew a few—childhood friends whose names conjured up memories from years past. They asked if I was available for any of their nieces. I laughed. We talked about where each of us “come from”—a phrase that, in the Native world, means, “My people are X nation and come from Y community or reservation.” I thought about my own nations, the Secwepemc and St’at’imc, and my own communities, the Tsq’escenemc and Lil’wat—proud strongholds that defy Native invisibility. Waukazoo and Georgina Yazzie, who is Navajo, started in about clans. “There’s four of them,” Yazzie explained. “Two

from your mother and two from your dad.” “Right, right,” Waukazoo said. “You have to know how to introduce yourself in a certain way.” “Exactly, exactly,” Yazzie responded. “You don’t want to get lost in that part, because you have to know your clan for when you go back home. It’s very sacred—you have to know.” Later, I drove Waukazoo down to IFH for the dinner that is served every Thursday before drum and dance practice. “It’s changed since I came here for the third time in 1997,” he said, as we ate fry bread and buffalo stew. “We still had, at that time, an Indian basketball league and all that. . . . That shows you the number of Indians around then, but there’s nothing like that now.” He continued, “A lot of people go back to the reservation. That’s always been a thing.” But Waukazoo felt at home here in what some call the “urban rez.” He had no plans to go anywhere. Four blocks away, Phyllis Waukazoo, thirty-seven, buzzed me into the faux-adobe Seven Directions apartment complex just down the street from her father’s bus shelter hangout. The complex is home to thirty-six low-income families. Built with funding from the City of Oakland and private sources by the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, in collaboration with the Native American Health Center, in 2008, it is the first combined housing, health clinic, and cultural center in the nation designed to serve urban Indians. The building, which features a courtyard ceremonial space, stained concrete medicine wheel, and two totem poles, is home to just three Native families. The rest of its residents are other low-income people of color. I took the elevator up. Phyllis, her daughter Kayden, her baby son Luciano, and I sat in her combined living room and kitchen and caught up over tacos from a truck down the street. “It’s nice, the lady across the way is like an auntie,” Phyllis, her long black hair tied into a neat bun, \ 80

said. “I go over sometimes and talk to her. Or if I need her to watch my son for five minutes, she’ll watch him.” Phyllis and Joe won a lottery to live here when the building first went up. If their number hadn’t been called, Phyllis would have moved back to Torreon. “We almost didn’t make it in,” she recalled. “At the very last minute they told us we didn’t qualify, so we kind of had to make a little fuss, and then they fixed it up.” That was just the first time Phyllis would have to argue her case to avoid losing her Section 8 home. Established by the Housing Act of 1937, Section 8 is administered through vouchers that provide rental assistance to low-income tenants. Qualifying residents spend 30 percent of their income on rent and receive a federally subsidized voucher to cover the rest. The voucher is capped at the “fair market rent,” calculated annually for each metro area by HUD. In the decades since the 1970s, cities turned away from public housing projects, making Section 8 essential for keeping poor residents off the streets. Today, more than 2.2 million low-income families rely on the program. Phyllis has “project-specific” Section 8. Unlike the more common housing choice vouchers, which can be used on the open market, her vouchers are attached to the Seven Directions project. Her rent was set at $685, based on her income when she moved in. Phyllis had steady employment for a decade, but she recently lost her job. Section 8 is designed to cope with that kind of financial shift, but the sluggish bureaucracy did not adjust her rent, which should be $420, based on her current income. Then she gave birth to Luciano, who has Down syndrome. The extra economic and emotional expense added to the strain on the household, and 81 /

shortly thereafter Luciano’s parents split up. By the time Joe Waukazoo moved out, things were falling apart. “Right now, I get TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) for Kayden, I get unemployment, and then I also get SSI (Supplementary Security Income) for him (Luciano),” Phyllis explained. “So that’s about $1,400. And then about half of that goes to rent,” she added, calculating her income. The scant remainder—supplemented by food stamps—has to cover everything else they need, from groceries to the phone bill to clothes and school supplies. Waukazoo’s departure left his daughter in violation of a strict Section 8 rule regarding the number of occupants in her unit. Management told her that if she didn’t find a family member to move into his room, she would be forced to move out. There is a long waitlist of families eager to take her spot. Suddenly, the bureaucracy built into Section 8—a program designed to shelter the most vulnerable—turned into yet another attack on a household facing heart-twisting hardship. The Waukazoos may seem unlucky, but their story is not an uncommon one for Indigenous people in the United States and across the Anglo-colonized world—in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. To be poor and Indigenous in a city or on a reservation is to live with the constant threat of displacement. It is not so much a choice about where to live as it is a trade-off between modes of survival. “There’s a lot of families that don’t have nowhere to stay,” Phyllis Waukazoo told me in her living room. “I’ve met so many people out here that’s going through the same struggle.” The story of Indigenous displacement and survival is America’s origin story. Centuries ago,


Indigenous people fought to protect their territories from invading settlers. Today, long after the cowboys, wagon trains, and railroads have vanished, the daily fight to defend Indigenous dignity and hold on to what is ours continues. For Indigenous people, the crisis of the home is intergenerational. This is what scholars, policymakers, and even activists too often misunderstand about the housing crisis: today’s problems do not represent momentary inequities. They are structural constants, deeply rooted in the system. They cut into Indigenous families over generations, not just economic and political cycles. How else to explain the origin of this country than as continent-sized gentrification, entailing the deliberate displacement of Indigenous homes? How else to view the socially engineered postwar diaspora of Native families to cities like Oakland? How else to tell the story of the Waukazoo family and so many others around the world today?

Stretched to the breaking point by urban and reservation housing crises, Native families face limited and tough choices. Why? Some blame economics, others government. I myself wonder if there is something radically challenging—even fundamentally unsettling—about respecting the Indigenous home in a nation premised on its theft. After one of our interviews, Joe Waukazoo sent me a note titled “My Gentrification Process.” In it, he wrote: “What I showed you yesterday is the remaining bottom rung of the economic ladder who nevertheless are still human beings despite their own personal problems. I help them, because it helps me, and so that is how the love goes around.” JULIAN BRAVE NOISECAT is a correspondent for

Real America with Jorge Ramos, contributing editor for Canadian Geographic and freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Guardian, the Nation, the Paris Review, the Walrus, and many other publications. \ 82

Santa Rosa




Novato San Pablo Bay


18 06




Walnut Creek Oakland

18 06



San Francisco Bay




Pacific Ocean

San Mateo




Palo Alto

17 86



San Jose




San Gregorio

17 96



10 mi




The Catholic mission system was the first carceral regime in California, and it facilitated the displacement of Indigenous sovereignty, as well as the dispossession of Native land. Conquest and colonization began in California with the Spanish mission system in 1769. The mission system ushered in an era of apocalyptic violence, wherein Spanish missionaries decimated the lives of Indigenous peoples. During this time the Spanish Crown asserted its sovereignty by colonizing California, attempting to forcibly convert the Natives into Catholic subjects and exploiting their labor. To this end, Spanish soldiers hunted and captured Indigenous peoples and forced them to build twenty-one missions along the coast from San Diego to San Francisco, where they were incarcerated and enslaved under the Franciscans. Once they were in the missions, Indigenous people were subjugated by the Franciscans, who violently regulated every aspect of their lives. An essential part of the conversion process was the brutal disciplining of the Native body; corporal punishment was a fundamental part of the gendered racial terror that characterized the mission system. Enslavement and conversion in the mission system was a horrendously violent process for Native women in particular, since the Spanish raped them and murdered children as tactics of conquest. Targeting Native women for sexualized violence as a way of subjugating entire Native communities has yet to cease in California. California Indians resisted their incarceration in the mission system with rebellions, escape, abortion,

suicide, and poor efforts at labor, and, as such, the Spanish were never completely successful in their effort to convert Natives to docile neophytes. In fact, many Native groups organized resistance efforts that resulted in their escape and the near destruction of the mission, such as the Tongva rebellion against the San Gabriel Mission led by a Tongva woman named Toypurina. Toypurina remains an important symbol of California Indian resistance today. Unfortunately, the Spanish were successful at exploiting Indian labor through the presidio, rancho, and pueblo systems; many of the colonizers became wealthy landowners as a result of the ruin of Indigenous lives. This pattern of dispossessing California Indians of their land and then exploiting their labor continued well into the twentieth century and facilitated the development of the capitalist economy and settler accumulation of wealth. Mission Indians were literally worked to death for the benefit of the colonizers, and their mortality rates reached over 70 percent. Disease was largely to blame for the high mortality rates in the California missions, due to the unsanitary conditions of the living quarters, malnutrition, and abuse. Between 1769 and 1821, the majority of coastal Native peoples had been brought to the missions; during this time their population had dropped from seventy thousand to about twenty thousand. The destruction of California Indian peoples during the mission system was nothing short of genocidal. When California was ceded by the Spanish to the new Mexican government in 1822 Indians were \ 84

promised full citizenship and equality under the law. However, the Mexican government was an improvement for California Indian peoples in name only, and their labor continued to be exploited under both the feudal system of wealthy landowners and by the mission system. The mission system was eventually abandoned, although not completely until decades later, in 1848, when Mexico lost control of the California territory after the MexicanAmerican War ended, and they signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ceded California to the United States. After the war ended, Anglo-American settlers began immigrating to California en masse bringing unprecedented destruction to Native peoples with them. The Ohlone peoples, Indigenous to the Bay Area, were forcibly taken or coerced into either Mission San Jose, which was established in 1797, or Mission San Francisco de Asis, established in 1776. Ohlone labor, like Indian labor across the mission system, was exploited to build and maintain these missions. Once there, the Ohlone suffered the violence and devastation that was endemic to the mission system and lost large portions of their population to disease. In spite of the massive upheaval of their way of life, the Ohlone resisted and found ways to continue being the Ohlone people; their resistance continues into the present. When the mission system was dissolved by the Mexican government in the 1840s, the Ohlone remained on their ancestral lands and lived on rancherias with other displaced California Indian peoples in the East Bay area. However, the mission system was not the end of colonial violence inflicted upon the Ohlone and other California Indians. As poetically stated by Jeannette Costo, “Now there began the terrifying events of the Gold Rush. And like the genocide of the missions, it is filled 85 /

with blood and tears of the Native people of this state.” In spite of attempts at resistance, Indian people were overwhelmed by settler violence, and their populations were nearly annihilated; by 1850, two hundred thousand settlers had made their way to California and had killed at least eighty thousand Native people. California Indians were killed indiscriminately by armed settlers who were desperate to appropriate land for themselves. As California neared statehood, the state legitimized the genocidal means of appropriating Indian land by using the law to criminalize Indians and displace Indigenous sovereignty. Perhaps the most important Indian law in California was An Act for the Government and Protection of Indians passed by the state legislature in 1850.1 This law devastated the ability of California Indians to maintain self-determination over their own bodies and placed them under a system of slavery facilitated by the state, while the state simultaneously denied that Indians were enslaved. Under this law all aspects of Indian life, including Indian land, Indian labor, and most importantly Indian children, were subjugated to the control of white citizens. The Indian Act rendered Native people synonymous with criminality, legitimized Indian slavery, and legalized corporal punishment of California Indian people. Under the legal regime of the settler state Native peoples’ mobility was surveilled and policed with vagrancy laws that made it illegal to simply be a Native person in most public spaces. When Native people were charged with vagrancy, their labor was auctioned off to white settlers, and they were forced to work for a period of time. Importantly, the Indian Act bore a striking resemblance to the Black Codes of the antebellum South, which criminalized Black vagrants, auctioned their labor to whites, and prevented them from testifying in court.

During the 1850s and 1860s, between three and four thousand Indian children were kidnapped and sold for their labor. California Indian children were specifically targeted by this law, which used the language of custodianship to incarcerate them in white homes as a readily exploitable class of domestic laborers. The theft and exploitation of Indian children was a systematic way for the State of California to interrupt the continuity of Indian families, identity, and sovereignty, as well as a way to create a class of domestic laborers who were compelled to do reproductive work for settlers. During this genocidal era in northwestern California, it was estimated that one out of every four white homes had an Indian child who had been kidnapped and sold into slavery. Enslaving Indian women and children for domestic labor was a well-established practice that settlers exploited to maintain a future for themselves. By 1858, kidnapping Indian children from Northern California and selling them on auction blocks in larger cities like San Francisco had been a regular practice for years. The history of conquest and genocide in California is filled with unspeakable violence, but despite all that Native peoples lost, they still persist. In the East Bay, a dynamic and resilient Ohlone community remains, still committed to living their lives as Ohlone people. However, as has been the case since settlers first came to California, the Ohlone must struggle against their ongoing displacement and dispossession by the settler state. Settler law grants the state legitimacy and displaces Native sovereignty, so the law itself must be understood as a tool of colonization rather than an instrument of justice. This means that the law has been implemented to maintain the violent settler colonial hegemony that undergirds the state. The law works to subjugate

Indigenous people to the will of settler society and simultaneously naturalizes their subjugation by erasing larger historical narratives of displacement and dispossession. The development of the prison regime in California is often discussed as a new phenomenon, and one that has little or nothing to do with Indigenous displacement. However, the legacy of genocide and dispossession reveals that incarceration has long been a tactic of the state to legitimize its illegal occupation of Native territories. If we are to do the urgent and vital work of prison abolition and decolonization, then we must bear this history in mind while we move beyond the state.

STEPHANIE LUMSDEN is member of the Hoopa Valley

Tribe in Northern California. She received her Master’s degree in Native American Studies from the University of California, Davis and is a PhD student in Gender Studies at UCLA. Her dissertation addresses the relationship between the prison-industrial complex and settler colonialism in California. Stephanie is a proud member of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners. \ 86

Unsettling Domesticity: Native Women and US Indian Policy in the San Francisco Bay Area CAITLIN KELIIAA

In the San Francisco Bay Area, behind the façade of luxurious homes, lie traces of a once thriving project of government assimilation. From 1918 to roughly 1942, the Bay Area Outing Program coercively recruited over a thousand Native women from US Indian boarding schools to work as live-in housemaids in affluent homes across Berkeley, Oakland, and the greater Bay Area. In exchange for room, board, and menial pay, young Native women—as young as fourteen—cooked, cleaned, and served as caretakers in the private homes of their employers. Established by the US government as an extension of boarding school policy, this far-reaching system was designed to civilize Native girls and women through domestic work. It established a readily available exploitative labor market. In practice, domesticity intended to control and produce compliant Indian people. Indian children, as the future of their race, and particularly young women as procreators of that race were especially targeted. Outing matrons who operated the program embraced decidedly Victorian ideals of sexual restraint and strict codes of conduct. Though these nineteenth-century ideals were somewhat passé at the start of the program, they were considered especially useful for controlling and shaping Native women. While the Bay Area Outing Program began in the early twentieth-century, its genealogy is crucially connected to colonial labor policy and practice in California. Colonial institutions like missions and ranchos demanded Indian labor and established an entrenched system of Indian slavery. Later, American policies like the 1850 Act for the Government and Protection of 87 /

Indians legalized the peonage system from the Spanish and Mexican eras.2 Nationally, outing and gendered labor were the cornerstones of “education” at Indian boarding schools. These settler institutions expected Indian boys to construct the dormitories and Indian girls to clean them. Generally, the Bay Area Outing Program employed women from various tribes, with a majority from California, the Pacific Northwest, and the Southwest. Some women outed in their early twenties and thirties, yet most were adolescents, roughly fourteen to nineteen years old. On average, wages were twenty-five dollars per month but ranged anywhere from ten dollars to eighty dollars per month. However, students only received one-third of their wages. Positions were concentrated in the East Bay, especially in the affluent city of Piedmont. Some girls outed for short stints during seasonal breaks, while others worked for the same family for years. In the early twentieth-century, impoverished Native communities had little access to employment or wagework. Therefore, many Native women gravitated to outing in the Bay Area for an income, and some became breadwinners for their families. City life was also attractive—bright lights, new people, movie theaters, shops, and trolley cars. But this promise came at a cost. Outing was exploitative, labor-intensive, and isolating. Native women were subject to daily surveillance from their employers and outing matrons who managed the program. And the crucial difficulty of live-in work was the “on call” nature of employment at all hours of the day. Finally, outing matrons rarely conducted home visits to ensure girls’ safety.

Therefore, outing presented both a promise and a predicament—the guarantee of wages bound to the likelihood of undesirable conditions, surveillance, and lack of agency. Amid profound coercion and substantially difficult circumstances, Native women and girls pushed back. They expressed their dissatisfaction, stayed out past curfew, quit, and resisted in the ways they knew how. The following stories capture Native women’s testimony and uncover their crucial agency and autonomy. On Tuesday, June 7, 1927, the Oakland Tribune published an article in tall, prominent font announcing, “They Will Prove Studies in Housework.” Below, a photo of five young Indian girls with short bobs surround a tall woman—Matron Bonnie Royce—featured front and center. One young girl, Ruby Wilder looks up, almost adoringly to Matron Royce. To her left, Delphine Holbrook smiles past. A lofty young girl, Belma Barbar stares off into the camera. A pair on the right—Rosie Pete and Ruby Paradise—smile, as if just having exchanged a joke. The brief article declares, “Indian Girl Students Here” and reports, “Forty Indian girls from the Carson Indian school at Stewart, Nevada, will put their knowledge of domestic science to good use in Oakland during the vacation period. They arrived here today as the guests of the US Indian Service and will do housework in various homes of this city to add to their practical knowledge along domestic science lines and to earn spending money for the next school term. Mrs. B.V. Royce, outing matron of the U.S. Indian Service, assisted in finding places for the Indian girls. The average age of the members of the group is 17 years, and they are completing their first year of high school work. Most of them belong to the Paiute or the Washoe tribe. They plan to return to the Carson school on September 1.” These particular choices of words such as “good use” and “guests” convey the outing program as a


charitable act of goodwill. Young Indian girls were simply working to apply their “practical knowledge” to earn spending money, and Matron Royce was simply “assisting” them. In fact, girls were not “guests” in the homes of their employers—they were child laborers. They were not under the compassionate “care” of Matron Royce—but under her wardship and surveillance. The outing program, though positioned as benign or beneficial, was coercive and exploitative. In reality, outing equated labor exploitation and enforced servitude, and Native women overtly resisted this domesticating assimilation project. Harriet Cleveland, a Klamath girl from Susanville, California, was twenty-four when she arrived in the Bay Area in 1932. In early correspondence with Matron Royce, she was forthcoming about her wishes—a child-free home in San Francisco or Oakland at the rate of sixty-five dollars or more per month. Within a month, Royce placed Cleveland at Mrs. Berglund’s home outside of rural, Napa, California, at fifty dollars a month. Cleveland lasted in the position about two months before she had had enough. In a letter to Matron Royce, Cleveland expressed her dissatisfaction: I am leaving my place the 11th of June—I do not like it here. She will not let me have a day off or one Sunday in a month even. The work is too much for the \ 88

“THEY WILL PROVE STUDIES IN HOUSEWORK,” OAKLAND TRIBUNE (JUNE 7, 1927), p. 42 Left to right: Mrs. B.V. Royce, outing matron in the US Indian Service, is here seen with a few of the forty Indian girls of the Carson Indian School who will work in Oakland homes during their vacation period. Left to right: Delphine Holbrook (Washoe), Belma Barbar, Ruby Wilder, Mrs. Royce, Rosie Pete (Shoshone), and Ruby Paradise (Shoshone)

money she pays me. I also sleep in the same room as the baby and I am up all hours of the night. I never get through with my work ‘till 9:30 in the night. . . . I’ll be awfully glad if you’ll keep me in mind about another place in Oakland or in the city only. As promised, Cleveland left Napa on the June 11. Records show that she did not return to the outing program until two years later to work at a home in San Francisco. There she earned a whopping eighty dollars a month, over three times the average outing wage. Native women like Cleveland knew their value and would not settle for less. Aside from low wages and poor conditions, Native women in the outing program faced unique issues directly related to live-in work. New mothers experienced difficulty in raising their own children in their employer’s home. In spring of the 1928, eighteen-yearold Daisy Plummer, a Paiute student from Stewart Indian School, came to the outing program. Plummer had a brief first stint and was apparently sent back to 89 /

Stewart. Records do not reveal the particular infraction, but, on May 20, 1929, Plummer wrote from Stewart Indian School professing her apologies to Matron Royce. Plummer admitted “what a mistake” she had made while in the Bay Area: “I am awfully sorry and sad today and I really to goodness don’t know what I’ll do if I stick around here. I’d rather work that’s all. I miss the girls there now. Seems to me I am in a serious trouble or put in prison.” For Plummer, the outing program was a freedom compared to the “prison” of boarding school life. She pleaded, “I just can’t stand it here any longer. It’s awfully lonesome for me no matter if the girls are nice to me. Every time I think of Oakland I had to cry and cry. I was not even sick when I was at Mrs. Linden’s. Only thing bother me was the cold. But now I feel over it.” Apparently, the conditions were poor at her outing placement, but even worse at Stewart. Plummer begged Matron Royce for another chance, “I have disobeyed you Mrs. Royce . . . please could you let me go back there and work. I will promise you I will listen to you.” Plummer’s calculated appeal worked, and Royce granted her another chance. When Plummer returned to the outing program later in the year, she became pregnant with her first child. In January 1930, she delivered a healthy baby girl. Plummer and her baby recovered at the Salvation Army Home in Oakland. In a letter to Royce, Plummer was apologetic again, but this time inspired to advocate for better wages, “Mrs. Royce I really do hope that I will get better money this time so that I may bring my baby up in a right way. And I often get so discouraged sometimes but I am trying to forget the past and I know that I am going to be a better girl, I realize my mistakes and I know better now.” However, things got worse. Two months later, Plummer got word that Royce intended to take her child away. Royce believed Plummer to be irresponsible and foolish, and that her child would be better

off in someone else’s care. In a March 25, 1930, letter, Plummer scolded the matron, “I was told about two weeks ago that you said you was going to take my baby away to some institution. Now Mrs. Royce, I really don’t like that. . . . I’m going to stand by my baby no matter what happens. . . . I guess you don’t know how I love my baby. . . .You may think it’s best but not with me. . . . If [you] try that misses [sic] Royce, I’m going to write soon to father and he will probably come down and help me out. Because my father doesn’t want me to do that at all.” Despite Plummer’s warnings, Royce continued to intervene. By May 1930, she had arranged for the Ladies’ Relief Society nursery to board the baby. But like most Native women in the outing program, Plummer refused the offer—much to Matron Royce’s disapproval. The next month Plummer was in trouble again, and Royce, who was often aggressive with sexually active girls, was particularly livid. On June 21, 1930, in a letter to Superintendent Parrett of the Walker River Agency, Royce accused Plummer of being “irresponsible” and “slovenly in her work.” Apparently, the new mother was so overwhelmed with her parental duties that her work suffered, and she was caught socializing out late among “bad company.” Royce added, “a negro is the latest.” Reportedly, Plummer was unable to keep a place, and Royce forced her to labor at a neighbor’s home. There, Plummer apparently “sulked and refused to come out of her room.” Royce was compelled to take action. The matron declared, “I was therefore forced to place her in the Detention Home where she is at the present time.” As if a disposable commodity, Royce felt that Plummer was no use to the outing program. An uninhibited, untidy, sexually active housemaid was a barrier to all the civilities the outing program was envisioned to impart. Without the prospects of wage labor, the promise of “uplift” would be lost. And like many girls

in the outing program, Plummer was incarcerated. She and baby were sent home shortly thereafter. Plummer’s efforts to turn a new leaf were insufficient for Royce, who saw the young woman as uncontrollable and reprehensible. Plummer’s case reveals the inner workings of the outing system. Gendered domestic labor was designed to break the Native family structure and allow parents entrance into society through labor exploitation. Native women who frustrated these rules suffered the consequence of incarceration. The problematic history of the Bay Area Outing Program demonstrates how domesticity is a site of struggle. Ostensibly domestic training worked to uplift Indian women’s lives and create good Americanized citizens. In reality, outing meant labor exploitation and enforced servitude. It must also be said that, for some, engaging the Bay Area Outing Program meant putting food on the table and being able to provide for one’s family. Despite the calculated mechanics of this settler project, Native women challenged their liminal standing and resisted. They negotiated this contentious program profession, while asserting their individual needs. Native women complied, contested, and actively unsettled domesticity.

CAITLIN KELIIAA is a Bay Area Native and was born

and raised in Hayward, California. Dr. Keliiaa is an assistant professor in the Department of Feminist Studies at UC Santa Cruz. Her book project examines a twentieth-century San Francisco–based Indian labor program. In her analysis, she centers Native women’s voices to demonstrate the subtle and overt ways women and girls negotiated and challenged an entrenched system. She is Yerington Paiute and Washoe and her tribal communities inform her scholarship. \ 90

“2019 BAAITS Powwow,” photo by AJ Goldman

Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits: A Conversation on the Intersections of Displacement RUTH VILLASENOR, AMELIA VIGIL, DEREK SMITH, AND CAROLYN KRAUS

This conversation took place in spring 2018 among Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirit (BAAITS) leadership Ruth Villasenor, Amelia Vigil, and Derek Smith and interviewer Carolyn Kraus (BAAITS member). BAAITS is a community-based volunteer organization that exists to restore and recover the role of Two-Spirit people within the American Indian/ First Nations community by creating a forum for the spiritual, cultural, and artistic expression of TwoSpirit people, offering culturally relevant activities for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Native Americans and their families and friends. TwoSpirit refers to the commonly shared notion among many Native American tribes that some individuals naturally possess and manifest both masculine and feminine spiritual qualities. We shared a meal together and took the opportunity to discuss the challenges, deep healing, and celebrations that the BAAITS community/organization has experienced. Themes that emerged include community displacement, indigenous (in)visibility in the San Francisco Bay Area and in LGBTQQI2-S community, BAAITS history, and the ways that BAAITS works to make/hold physical, as well as metaphorical, space/place for Two-Spirit people. DEREK SMITH: It’s important to first honor the actual original people from this land, which isn’t me and isn’t most of our tribes. Most of us aren’t California Native. We always start by honoring the first peoples of the Bay Area, Ohlone people, but 93 /

we [BAAITS] are making do for a lot of reasons in the Bay Area community. BAAITS has been an organization that serves as a gathering space, as a welcoming space for [Native American] people who are new, maybe from the reservation. We get a lot of folks who are coming through the Friendship House Substance Abuse Treatment Center, and then settling into the Bay Area. Now that BAAITS has been creating a powwow space, especially a gender-inclusive community powwow, we are creating temporary spaces of welcome and belonging for Native people. Our office was literally a closet. I think it was like six foot by five foot or something, in the San Francisco LGBT Center. We were there for twelve years; I think we were one of the founding members [of the San Francisco LGBT Center]. We would have our meetings and gatherings there and rent space to have movie nights or regalia making and that sort of thing. We heard rumors that the space was going to change, and we might have to move. For many years, we were hearing rumors from the staff there that it might not be forever. So we were always prepared for the possibility of moving. Ultimately, I think it was probably five years ago, we were told that they were definitely going to be tearing the LGBT Center apart and remodeling it. And what they’ve done since is made many fewer but larger offices for nonprofits. So we were asked to pack up and remove ourselves while they were remodeling. But it was very clear that they weren’t really asking us back. They weren’t really making a space for us. They were


making it very clear that they weren’t going to have as many nonprofit spaces. So it’s kinda like BAAITS, as this LGBT Community of Color/Native American space that was a founding tenant of the LGBT Center, was also losing our home. We ultimately just put all of our belongings—all this historical stuff from our organization, which has been around since the late 90s—we just packed it up, and it’s in a storage unit right now. It has been there for years, because we don’t have a space anymore. And since we don’t really have staff, we haven’t really prioritized doing that. But it’s really tough to find a space for a nonprofit. RUTH VILLASENOR: At the LGBT Center we saw development all around. We started seeing condos being built all of a sudden. We knew that it would affect the LGBT Center. . . . They used to tell us they had these different plans for the top part of the building. . . . It was really curious to me that all of a

sudden. . . we were given such short notice. They just called us and said, “Well, you know. . . and then we’ll give you an opportunity to come back.” But I don’t think they really did, right? Did we ever get a call? [laughs] DEREK SMITH: The powwow was a newer development for us in trying to create and make a space visible and invite people from all over to come and just be with us and participate in ceremony, and participate in joy, and participate in vendor craft sales and food and dance and drumming. And that’s been another big challenge for us to find a home. We moved the powwow from the LGBT Center initially to a church in Oakland the second year, to SOMArts in the Mission, to Daly City’s Cow Palace. Then we settled on our place in Fort Mason, and now we’ve been, for the first time ever, three times in a row in the same location at Fort Mason. So this is another \ 94

slice of how space works. I think economics really falls into all this; the LGBT Center wanted to ramp itself up, to get fancier. They just ended up getting higher paying tenants with a larger space. And we went through the same thing with the powwow. At Fort Mason, every year, the price goes up more and more. It’s kind of paternalistic, because they say it’s an effort for us to become more self-sustainable. They’re saying, “We’re jacking up the price, because we know what’s best for you.” That will help you to make more money and support your event. As Native people not having a place of belonging, we’re always having to make one. That’s why we love where we’re at with Fort Mason, because so many Indigenous people are military veterans and have served this country that’s been betraying Native people for generations. So a retired fort, which is now an art center, which overlooks Alcatraz, where the American Indian Movement protests occurred in the late 1960s. . . this space in San Francisco for this LGBT Native group, makes so much sense. It kinda feels like a home. So in a lot of ways, I think we’re hopeful about taking our space back. We keep elbowing and taking back a space that we think we belong in as much as anybody else. CAROLYN KRAUS: It’s striking that the BAAITS trajectory of displacement follows the overall trend of displacement in the Bay Area. Losing the San Francisco LGBT Center space, having to put all of the organization’s belongings in storage, and then having to move around for the powwow. AMEILA VIGIL: Decolonization is a buzz term. But, also, how does BAAITS embody this way of decolonizing, within the framework that we exist in, an urban setting? Our mission is pretty clear. The rampant homophobia that exists within First Nations/Native communities is a by-product of colonization. So, in essence, BAAITS, as an organization, is trying to de95 /

colonize a lot of what’s happened in our communities. I think with the powwow, this also is represented in the degendering of the dance categories, and so there’s definitely a place to tether [decolonization to] not only the language that is being used here but the ways in which gentrification is affecting our organization. There’s a way to tether that in how closely related we are to decolonizing within our own communities and within the spaces that we create and how incredibly valuable those spaces are and what our organization has been doing. Also, the colonization is still so active. The Fort Mason Center has been a [BAAITS Powwow] home for the last three years for us. But their engagement in raising the prices there every year is an act of gentrification, of pushing us out. We’re doing what we can to stay, because the powwow has grown so big. But we may get to the point, drawing parallels around what people have experienced in housing instability, where we can’t afford to keep it happening. CAROLYN KRAUS: BAAITS has finally found a place that’s working for the powwow. For many reasons, this is a good gathering space. It’s in San Francisco, and there’s such a strong legacy of the San Francisco Bay Area being a gathering place for queer, trans, and Two-Spirit folks. It should be respected that that space be reserved annually for the BAAITS powwow and not be priced up every year. DEREK SMITH: There’s so much [in our community] about place. Restoring and recovering the place of Two-Spirit people who hold a traditional place as this in-between, go-between connectors and making it work in our communities. People who walk multiple worlds and figure things out to make paths for others. I think that’s really what we keep doing with place. We see these people who are family members and friends, who often come from reservations.

Sometimes it’s through substance use. Sometimes you’re trying to find a queer spot, like a gay mecca, and you’re going to make your way here. And then you find out you’re completely alone, and you don’t really fit here either. It’s, like, the Castro is white, the rez is red, and the rez doesn’t allow you to be queer, and the Castro doesn’t allow you to be Native, so finding space is so important for us Two-Spirit people, we try to make and create these spaces. We become pretty acclimated to being intermediaries [between Native spaces and white spaces]. As Ruth says, there’s also a wear and tear that happens in doing that all the time. It’s an ongoing struggle to find those spaces and make spaces. It’s definitely not easy. Especially when you have your partners leaving. But there’s some really good . . . positive stuff: we have some amazing warriors with us, like the San Francisco Arts Commission, who’s been really supportive of us. I think it’s because they know better than anyone. No one knows better than artists how awful the economic system is and how awful things have been in the Bay Area for the arts community, and that’s where we live too, because so many of our members are involved in the arts. Whether it’s traditional dance or regalia making or they’re vendors selling their wares to get by. Those are people who are really struggling and really disappearing, and adding on top of that if you’re queer and if you’re not from here but from a home reservation community. AMEILA VIGIL: BAAITS, being an urban Indigenous organization, does the inverse as well, which is that individuals who have been raised outside of their culture are finding space at [BAAITS] to be who they truly are, be their true selves, and so in that vein. . . there’s a way in which things are decolonized on both ends, right? I think it’s important to recognize, how an urban center in general can bring people together who come from an urban place but also for those

who move to an urban center. And BAAITS holds space for all of them simultaneously. And we don’t live in a world where duality is even really praised or recognized, let alone the multidimensional subjects that can come up when talking about what we’re talking about. CAROLYN KRAUS: As we’re talking in part about gentrification and displacement, this raises: What is that forcing our communities into? Displacement creates unsafe access to health care, unequal access resources, and forces people to struggle for housing. When people find new housing situations they also have to build new community. People are often either returning to reservations or having to go further out from the urban center, which can make it more difficult to participate in BAAITS and other community events in the Bay Area. AMEILA VIGIL: I would say gentrification also affects the ability for BAAITS as an organization to take the next step around being a more independent 501c3, because, as Derek mentioned, we’re an all-volunteerrun organization, and if we had the ability to have some relief or leisure in our personal lives, where we weren’t required to work so diligently in order to afford to stay within the Bay Area, this organization might be in a different place, where we could offer more resources and become a service-oriented organization. But it’s not possible when all of us are working full-time jobs and worried about housing. . . I think it’s another point to how gentrification really affects the stability and longevity of what we’re doing and stunts our hopes [for the organization] to grow. DEREK SMITH: I remember years ago when I started with BAAITS we didn’t have any income at all. So even $178 to pay the rent was really hard. We had no money; we would literally pass a can around as the board members, so we could try to come up with the \ 96

money, and we would always pull together a drag show and find some friend or connection that could turn into a bar temporary event. We’re going to raise money for BAAITS, here’s what we’re all about. For me, it’s very much like our traditional way of making do. I always think of all of our grandmas, doing commodity food and getting this mealworm flour and terrible buckets of lard and turning it into something that works to keep our families fed. That’s to me what this drag show thing is like. There were times when we had nothing, but to keep the lights on and keep our rental space and all that, to have something, we maintained. And it was a tough stretch. We can be really proud now that we have big events, with five thousand people showing up at our powwow. This greater visibility. And [San Francisco] Pride, that’s another vignette about change, right? Where this was Harvey Milk and a couple of homos who were ready to be called “fags” and whatever as they marched down Market Street in the 1970s. And then even ten or fifteen years ago, when BAAITS was marching, we were very important in that we start prayers and kickoffs for the Pride event, because we’re kind of nondenominational. We’re important to the event. Then there’s also us getting pushed back to 180th [in San Francisco Pride Parade order], right? Cause there’s five thousand Google employees and five thousand Apple employees that have to show up as part of this corporate thing. Not to begrudge them at all, but, you know, we’re a group that has like twenty, twenty-five people. We’ve always been in the Pride parade. Way before it was cool to be corporate and LGBT-friendly. Or way before Apple was even a thing. And so we continue to take up some space. A lot of individual people move out and are done at some point, they reach a breaking point, and each of us might individually have that. And, as you’ve said, community members become ill and have to go back 97 /

to their home community. What is the breaking point where you just can’t stretch anymore and make it? We could be close to it. I know a lot of organizations have left. They’re done. Organizations have folded. It’s required a tremendous amount of resilience to keep going and keep existing. CAROLYN KRAUS: Yeah, and then there’s the challenge in the Bay Area to keep existing in the context of the ever-amassing wealth of tech companies at the same time. AMEILA VIGIL: My involvement with BAAITS has been in the last five years, and it’s within the same five years that all of the wealth has really started to run amuck within the city. As a San Franciscan, raised in San Francisco, across the city, it’s been rapid construction. The moment that they lifted the building height capacity, wealth came in, and everything is shooting up. But I think there’s also been this interesting push of attention on BAAITS . . . as a show for diversity, which I think has been a double-edged sword. We’re being contacted by people who are seeking out the organization. And yet are they seeking out the organization to look inclusive? To check a box? Are they seeking out the organization with really solid and good thinking behind it, really intentional thinking behind it? I think Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project is really important to note here, because, you know, they’ve taken their skills and some of their space and really turned it for us. Applying for grants for us, encouraging us to do video documentation. I think what Derek was talking about passing the hat around in the beginning stages [of BAAITS]. I’ve heard from previous members that that’s what people were doing to feed the community members who were dying of AIDS or who were sick or who couldn’t go back to their home communities because of homophobia. But within the last five years, you can see the way


that gentrification destabilizes an environment, in an already shaky context, because of the way colonization and oppression sit so heavy on our communities. DEREK SMITH: You talked about this ongoing survival mode. I think a lot of people are still in shock, and there are so many things that we don’t realize what we had until they’re gone. The things that we appreciate, and sometimes that’s individual people who leave us, they’ve passed. Sometimes it’s because they needed to move to a place they could afford. We’re going to lose people. They won’t be able to maintain, even if their income is the same and everything, just because someone’s now playing this economic poker game. It sucks. CAROLYN KRAUS: Truly, it’s a concern for me, when I think of our Two-Spirit elders, and I want to ensure that people who’ve been in SROs [single-room occupancy] or people who have been pushed out of San Francisco don’t continue to be pushed further and further away from their communities. We’re all

working to show up for the care that they may need at different times in their lives. Ever since being a part of Native American AIDS Project, I have understood that one of my roles in my community is to take care of my elders as they’re aging up. DEREK SMITH: I think that’s a beautiful point about home being both a place and a people. We carry our home, if it’s our homeland, we carry it with us. We don’t necessarily have to be in it, cause there’s some other reasons. And, as you say, our family of choice, like our family of need. It’s really hard to overstate that importance of people seeing. . . Ruth, you say this all the time about “how important, how great is it that someone can see, like a queer kid, or a questioning kid, can see us.” Sure, we’re old farts doing this, but we’re Two-Spirit people who are thriving. The spaces that we create are very important to people. They’re important to us, but we also kind of take them for granted in some ways, because we’re so used to having them, because we helped to create them, \ 98

and we know they’ll keep going as long as we are willing to make them. But for people who come from a small place and are here temporarily or are traveling through, it is so powerful seeing their faces. It used to just be Pride, and now it’s experiencing our powwow, they just can’t believe it, and you see this lightness of being in a space where they’re actually okay— safe, themselves, fulfilled, spiritually connected, supported, and among people that get them or just don’t even care how they are, just loving them and accepting them unconditionally. That’s important. That place of home is something that’s really hard to find, particularly when you’re in between worlds. AMEILA VIGIL: I think you’re trying to center [the conversation] in gentrification, but I perceive it to really be about colonization and the active strategic efforts to complete the genocide of Indigenous and First Nations people, because what we are not talking about is the white supremacist framework and the ways that it has infiltrated our communities. And it’s highly prevalent, deeply tied to homophobia, and affects our organization and the Two-Spirit communities. DEREK SMITH: That’s why we’re so powerful. It really is resistance, what we’re doing: that’s creating our powwow, holding on to our traditions, moving for the things we really believe in, making a space and, more and more, feeling like we own it—that this is our space. We make the rules. We make decisions. We forge ahead. We invite people here. I can’t imagine, in what is now the San Francisco Bay Area, I don’t know that there’s necessarily been a larger Native gathering than ours—that’s historic. We’re becoming and rebuilding. It’s about a tradition of making a space again that probably hasn’t existed in this communal way in a very long time. It’s really an honor, and it’s a special thing for us to be doing year after year, making the space. 99 /

AMEILA VIGIL: Look how rich this conversation has been, with the people in this room. I can’t help but want to have my closing statement talk about those who are not present—not just those who have passed on but those who have left the Bay Area because gentrification won. White supremacy won. Or those who have taken their own lives, because of the all of the ways that the layers that lay heavy have won— and when we think about who is not in the room, we have to recognize some of them are not in the physical form yet. They haven’t been born. They’re waiting to be here. Some of them have passed on. Some of them literally cannot be here, because these dynamics are just taking their toll and there is a privilege to be able to sit here and talk about it in this way, with each other—because of how immobilizing [fighting for] survival can be.

RUTH VILLASENOR, a Chiricahua Apache, Mexican

woman who identifies as Two-Spirit, has been a member of BAAITS for nineteen years. A filmmaker [Traditional Indigenous Values], a community activist, and KQED 2003 local hero, she continues her lifelong commitment to bridging communities, bringing cultural awareness to non-Natives, and helping our Native community remember traditional roles of multiple genders that predate colonization. AMELIA VIGIL is a San Franciscan, Two-Spirit, Latinx,

pun-loving, playful performance artist, poet, outdoor educator, rock climber, and identical twin. Her Indigenous heritage is Picuris Pueblo from her father and Purepecha from her mother. She has been involved with BAAITS since 2013 and joined the board of directors in 2015. Her advocacy and support of Indigenous self-determination is a constant in her life. Amelia has earned two associate degrees from Feather River Community College, one in Liberal Studies and the other in Outdoor Recreational Leadership, as well as a Bachelor’s in English from Mills College. Currently, she serves as the events and communications manager with Outward Bound California and recently completed a 114-mile journey of the Nuumu Poyo with Indigenous Women Hikes. DEREK SMITH is a public health community builder of

Anishinaabe descent who lives in the Tenderloin of San Francisco. He is a former cochair and ongoing powwow chair and serves as secretary of BAAITS. CAROLYN KRAUS (interviewer) is a mixed-heritage

Anishinabekwe (Bahweting Anishinaabe) who has lived in Oakland, California, for half of their life. They are training to become a doctor-healer. They were formerly on the staff and later the board of the Native American AIDS Project in San Francisco, which was formerly a home for many Native American LGBTQ2-S people and people living with HIV. \ 100

101 /

The Ohlone Protocols on the previous page is an adapted excerpt from Pocketguide to Ohlone Solidarity—For Both Native and Non-Native Allies and Accomplices, a zine created for by Kanyon Sayers-Rood, with Gregg Castro and Emmy Olivo. There are a little over one hundred Native Californian tribes that are federally recognized. There are about twice as many tribes that are not federally recognized. Federally recognized tribes have rights to land, free and accessible health care, casinos, schools, and other institutions that aid in protecting cultural aspects and practices such as language, religion, and arts. Federally unrecognized tribes, including all Ohlone tribes and language groups, have none of the previously mentioned rights. That means that across all Ohlone land, sacred sites, Native peoples, and cultures do not have federal protections, leaving the communities to advocate for themselves.



KANYON SAYERS-ROODS is Costanoan Ohlone-


Mutsun and Chumash; she also goes by her given Native name, “Coyote Woman.” She is an artist, poet, published author, activist, student, and teacher. The daughter of Ann-Marie Sayers, she was raised on her family’s Indian Canyon trust land, which is currently one of the few spaces in Central California available to the Indigenous community for ceremony. She is motivated to learn, teach, start conversations around decolonization and reinidgenization, develop permaculture, and to continue doing what she loves—art. \ 102

Reparations: Solidarity with the Ohlone People CORRINA GOULD

Excerpted from Corrina Gould’s lecture at Colonization and Resistance, a panel organized by the Catalyst Project in Oakland, March 2018 What do reparations look like? Reparations mean ya’ll go home. The crazy thing about that is that many people don’t know where the hell home is. Then I think that your job then needs to be whose home are you on, and how do you work with those first original people of that land. I think that has to be folks’ jobs, that they need to figure out what that place is. What was the name of it? What was the language that was spoken there? Who are the leaders of that area, and how can you be of service to those organizations or those folks that are working in their land? I think you need to be an accomplice to the work that is happening, that’s there. That’s part of reparations. It’s part of giving back, part of who you are to some of the folks who have been invisibly. . . that had genocide put on them, that had all these other things in this place. When we talk about taking over land here in Oakland, what does that look like? Our land is urbanized, so it’s like we would have to take down this entire government, which I think needs to happen. I think it’s a made-up government that should not have been put in place, that is now using corporations to destroy the entire world, and that eventually enough of us will be woken up to take the whole goddamn thing down. I also think about what is giving back land. Somebody said something about giving back land— we created the first Indigenous women’s land trust in an urban area, the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust. That was with a whole bunch of people. There were dreams that happened on that land when we took it over and things that needed to be put in place that 103 /

the ancestors said here’s another tool that you can use. You’ve been doing these walks, you’ve been organizing folks around a bunch of different issues, but this is a tool to try to get some of your land back. We have talked about the thousands of bodies that were in these institutions that were stolen and being imprisoned, but even if we were to get them back, we have no land base to rebury them. That was one thing that we needed to figure out. Then there’s this whole idea that there’s spiritual centers and there’s arbors and roundhouses that have not been here for two hundred years, where we are supposed to pray, and we are supposed to sing songs, and that has to happen on some land. We need a land base in order to do this work. The Sogorea Te’ Land Trust was created for us to do that work. But then we began to look around the Bay Area and all of the different people that have been displaced and all of the different folk that now live in our territory that have been marginalized and need places to be. Places to stand. Places to sit. Places to think. Places to grow food. Places for us to be part of the land again. I think one of the most important things that the occupation taught us was the reconnection of human beings to land and what that means. To disconnect ourselves a little bit and to live in community with one another, the importance of bringing that into an area. The land trust will do that, we hope, with the help of others. The first piece of land was given back to us a couple of weeks ago through the collaboration with Planting Justice, the crew of folks who are working with formerly incarcerated people and giving them jobs. And there was some difficulty that was happening there on that land. They asked us to come

again and bring back a school and gardening and having a roundhouse there if we want to on 38th Avenue in Oakland. So these are the ways that we can do this, if we began to imagine things outside of these blocks that folks created. We did not create these little tiny blocks of land. This land was open for all of us to use, so now we need to come together. We talk about reparations and giving back land. This is how we do it. We do it one lot at a time, one #SHOFARS4SHUUMI, CREATED BY RABBI DEV NOILY

over and to work with them, and so we did. Out of that conversation, they decided to give us a cultural easement onto the back part of the two acres on 105th Avenue, which is walking distance from my house, which is along the Lasjan Creek where my ancestors have always been. So this, for me, is a blessing, and it’s like an honor that this is happening and a miracle. What does that mean? That means that Planting Justice also said: What else are we going to do is we’re going to pay off this land, and we’re going to deed over the title to Sogorea Te’ Land Trust? We’re looking at getting other land on the same block to do aquaponics and to provide jobs and housing for people, to have that land also be given back. So that’s what it looks like to give land back and work in collaboration with Indigenous people from here. You have a piece of land that needs to be worked. I have a friend who is creating this crazy idea across her backyard and two other people’s backyards, where they’re going to open up a creek

house at a time, one corporation at a time, one little bit at a time. Then we work that land together to create healing here for everybody that lives here. And I’d be happy to talk to you guys about that some more. There’s another thing we created along with accomplices and allies is this thing called Shuumi tax. And Shuumi in our language means a gift. And the Shuumi tax was created for people that are living in our territory that want to see this vision happen and will pay a tax on the land that they’re living in. And so you can go to our website and you can find out about how you might be able to participate in that. But it’s a way for us to think about: How do we live outside of the box? How do we take care of our own place here?

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Gill Tract Farm Yalambojoch

Rammay Garden


Lisjan Creek

East Bay Waterways and The Rematriation of Ohlone Land 0 105 /

1.5 mi

— Site Under Ohlone Stewardship (Sogorea Te’ Land Trust) Data: San Francisco Estuary Institute and Aquatic Science Center (SFEI ASC). 2017. "Bay Area Aquatic Resource Inventory (BAARI) Version 2.1 GIS Data." Accessed 1/1/2019.


The following are excerpts from a conversation between Johnella La Rose of Sogorea Te’ Land Trust and Gavin Raders from Planting Justice recorded in May 2018. Sogorea Te’ Land Trust is an urban Indigenous women-led community organization that facilitates the return of Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone lands in the San Francisco Bay Area to Indigenous stewardship. Sogorea Te’ creates opportunities for all people living in Ohlone territory to work together to reenvision the Bay Area community and what it means to live on Ohlone land. Planting Justice is an organization creating family-sustaining careers that cultivate food sovereignty, economic justice, and community healing. They create space for people impacted by mass incarceration and other oppressive systems to envision and work for personal and community transformation through land reclamation, ecological design, and urban food/medicine production. The two organizations began a partnership in 2017, and Planting Justice has committed to returning the two-acre plot of land they cultivate in the Sobrante Park neighborhood of East Oakland to Indigenous stewardship. When asked about how they began to collaborate on the farm, the following conversation ensued. JOHNELLA: My longtime friend Diane Williams (a respected Native woman in the East Bay Indigenous community) introduced Corrina Gould, (cofounder of Sogorea Te’ Land Trust) and me to Planting Justice in 2016. Diane had done prison work in the 1970s with

the San Quentin American Indian Cultural Group. Planting Justice prison reentry program mirrored some of the prison work we had done in the past. Diane and I visited Native women incarcerated at Dublin Federal Correctional Institute for many years. We were able to participate in talking circles, sweat lodge ceremonies, as well as providing resources for the women when they were released from prison. I think the most important thing we did at Dublin was build relationships with our Native sisters and let them know they were not forgotten. We understand the deep connection between incarceration and the taking of our land. Diane remembers the lessons of our medicine people, whose words were: “Include those most in need in your prayers, keep the incarcerated in your prayers”—and Planting Justice is doing this good work. There were many times Corrina and I would drive by on 105th Avenue and wonder: “Who owns this land, and why isn’t it being used?” Later, we began to see that someone was working the land, but it would be a few years before we would meet Haleh and Gavin. Diane began working at Planting Justice. In September 2016, Planting Justice folks traveled to the Standing Rock reservation to join Indigenous people and supporters in fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. On their return home, there was a conversation about land ownership and Planting Justice responsibilities to the Indigenous people living in Oakland. Corrina and I have done sacred site work for twenty years, and in that time we have struggled \ 106

with the question of land: How do we get access to our own lands? Many times, we have had to rent land here in the Bay Area to have our prayer ceremonies. After the 109-day occupation of the Sogorea Te’/ Glen Cove, Corrina attended a Native American land trust meeting in Southern California and found that all of the land trusts were in the hands of men, which is contrary to our traditional ways, where women and men made decisions about land that would benefit everyone. Corrina came back and said, “We need to start a land trust.” We really did not fully understand what that meant at the time but soon realized if we had had a land trust in 2011 when the occupation was taking place, then the 4,500-year-old village of Sogorea Te’ would be under our care. In August 2017, a meeting was arranged between Sogorea Te’ and Planting Justice. I wanted to work on the farm and hopefully start a conversation about how to share the land, which sits on Lisyan territory. Standing Rock changed the hearts and minds of many people, and I believe these experiences opened the door to a partnership between Sogorea Te’ and Planting Justice. GAVIN: Haleh and I cofounded Planting Justice together in 2009. This collaboration, like Johnella said, was really Diane Williams’s brainchild. Things came into more focus on the drive out and back from Standing Rock in particular. We were deeply impacted by everything that was happening there, the spirit of resistance and the recognition that the struggle is everywhere. It’s here and everywhere—that all land is sacred; that all land in the United States is stolen. That the land in the Bay Area where we work and live is all unceded land. And so, what is our responsibility as people who have an organization that has the title to land? I’m so glad that Diane was here to introduce us to Johnella and Corrina. It was just the right timing when Diane mentioned that she wanted to bring 107 /


Corrina and Johnella here; it was basically at the same time that Haleh and I were having conversations about Sogorea Te’ Land Trust and what was our responsibility. I think we went into that meeting curious and open to what was going to be suggested and willing to find some way to give the land back. That meeting was really heartfelt—Johnella let us know that she wanted to be here and help with the nursery, and Sogorea Te’ Land Trust would contribute Johnella’s salary. It was at a point when we really needed a lot of help. We were really overwhelmed by the generosity and knew that Sogorea Te’ Land Trust deserved to have this land, but we didn’t yet know how to make it happen. We’re still figuring it out. I think the vision that they have is to have a patchwork of lands throughout the Bay Area that are guaranteed to be in Indigenous stewardship. The land will be used for the benefit of all life, for ceremony, and to uplift people’s needs. That’s exactly what is missing in the Bay Area and in a lot of cities that have just developed and developed with profit being the main motivation. JOHNELLA: At first, we weren’t quite sure what we were going to do with the space. We talked about having a cultural easement onto the property and possibly have a sweat lodge there. We thought we

should build an arbor, a spiritual center where Ohlone people can gather to have ceremony. For over two hundred years the Ohlone people were not allowed to pray or practice any of their traditional lifeways, all the roundhouses, California Native peoples’ spiritual prayer places, were destroyed by the mission system. We are making this offer of a sacred place where people can come and pray. Protocols will be in place. These instructions will teach us how to behave in these spaces, how we should treat one another in words and in actions. This is very important, because these new ways of being will change our relationship to the land and to each other. We are all learning, and mistakes will be made, but we are trying to shake off some of the damage that has been done to us all. The Confederated Villages of Lisyan will be giving direction. We want to create a safe place where people can come and bring their children and families, offer prayers, listen to one another’s stories, and get reconnected to the land. This relationship with Planting Justice is an opportunity to see what we can build together. The goal is not to own the land but to take responsibility for the land and to move from ownership to something greater that serves us all.

cultural easement on just a portion of the land, we then decided, well what would be best for Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, and I think best for everybody, is for Sogorea Te’ Land Trust to have the title to the land. So our intention now is to pay off the $600,000 that we owe to transfer the title of the land, for the full two acres, to Sogorea Te’ Land Trust. And to have Sogorea Te’ Land Trust give permission to Planting Justice to be able to continue having the nursery and farm here. That’s the way that I’ve heard Johnella and Corrina talk about it and what they’ve done in West Oakland with other folks. It’s a whole different conception, taking the land back. It’s actually just opening up space for ceremony and for the work that needs to be happening for the community, opening it up for Indigenous stewardship forever. And I can see this spreading, because there’s a lot of community organizations that are desiring to do important work. And part of that work is recognizing the harms and genocide that are still impacting this land today. What does it really look like to have that integrity as an organization or as a movement and to still be able to carry out the visions and the work that organizations want to do?

GAVIN: Even though Planting Justice has the title to the land, the lender who has the loan on it, has a lot of power still. According to the lender, if there’s a cultural easement on the property and Planting Justice goes under and the lender takes the land back, their ability to be able to resell the land is slim with this cultural easement on it. So, basically, we have to pay off the loan first, before an actual legal act can happen. A cultural easement doesn’t transfer the title of the land over, but it allows for a certain part of the land to guarantee access that will carry with the title forever. If someone were to sell this land later, there would be an easement that would always be with Sogorea Te’ Land Trust. But rather than give a

JOHNELLA: Yes, and Corrina and I have had many conversations about our responsibilities as women to the land. Our deep imagining of what can be has brought us to this place. At one time, all humans were connected to the land, we were gazing at the stars, communicating, receiving messages from the water. Our connection to land is essential to our very existence, and we are learning to be in relationship with our relatives, the plant nation here in Lisyan territory. We want the Lisyan arbor to be a welcoming place for people. We want to grow food, medicinal plants for healing and for ceremony, we want to learn their names in the Chechenyo language, and we want to share this with others. When we went to the Village \ 108

of Sogorea Te’ to protect it from further development, we thought we were going there to save the land, but that is not what happened. The land saved us. We believe the same can happen here. GAVIN: Being in community with incarcerated people and formerly incarcerated people for almost ten years doing this work, it’s understanding that there’s so much dehumanization that happens out on the street here. The way that human rights are deprived structurally and systemically from people and how that impacts people psychologically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, on all those levels. How not having access to land and having that stripped from people plays a big part. And the way that land actually connects us to spirit and connects us to life. Being landless people, renters, or, you know, having to move from place to place, moving every year, getting kicked out and being evicted or what have you, it’s a really dehumanizing process, and it strips us from our relationship to land, which is actually what makes us human. It’s only been a couple hundred years where people have been denied access to land globally. I view Planting Justice as being able to create space, just open up space, use our privilege, use what’s available to us, utilize different legal structures strategically, which I see Sogorea Te’ Land Trust doing with the land trust. How nonprofit organizations can work with foundations or donors but not relying on that, by actually creating a yield and doing something meaningful with these social enterprises, with the nursery and the farm and the other things that we do. Doing this with people who have been most impacted by structural violence. Making space for them to live out their dreams. So many people who work here, who are incarcerated and would tell me that for years and years they would just go to bed thinking about what they wanted, what they would want to do if there were no constrictions on them, 109 /

the types of things that they would want to do in the community. But then coming home and being denied access to land and housing and food stamps or jobs and all those things, then you’re just thrust back into the violence of it all, of just trying to survive, and you can’t actually live out those dreams. So what can I do to help make space for people to do the things that they know need to happen. And part of that is the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, because they’ve all been dreaming this up for a long time, and there needed to be some organization or some person who was going to be, like, “Yeah, let’s do that and show other people why this is better for everybody,” so that other people, other organizations, start to do it too—and that’s starting to happen. JOHNELLA: In ceremony we are told to “use your good mind and your good heart.” I believe that is what we are doing here at Sogorea Te’ Land Trust and Planting Justice. We are trying to remember our deeper relationships to Mother Earth and to each other. GAVIN: And I think what’s happening here is a reimagining of what is possible. That it’s just really what we decide to do. And to not give up. And it might not happen the way that you thought it would, but something’s going to change. And that’s what’s happening here. We didn’t exactly know how we would do it and what it would look like, but we knew that it was what needed to happen. We don’t know what Oakland’s going to look like when Indigenous people get stewardship back. And this is sort of inevitable. The capitalist structures and systems that we’ve inherited, which we’re also contributing to, they are not going to last. The food system is crumbling. We’re going to see that in our lifetimes. In California, between agriculture, the desertification, and climate change, we’re going to have to figure out new


ways of living in community, feeding ourselves, and meeting our basic needs. And we have a lot to learn from the Indigenous people, whose land we’re living

JOHNELLA: In deep East Oakland many people are left to fend for themselves. Like Gavin was saying, these systems are beginning to crumble, and we must be ready. Last week, we had a group of high school students volunteer at Planting Justice. We talked about the Sobrante Park neighborhood being hemmed in by the freeway and the railroad tracks in this conversation. We also talked about how there were no grocery stores nearby to buy vegetables or fruit—this is a problem. I think we landed in the right place. Making sure that we provide something, that we’re not stranded in the event of a disaster like what happened after Hurricane Katrina. This is the work of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust—to secure land, create spaces for ceremony and prayer, and grow food that will nourish the coming generations here in Oakland.

on. At some point, there’s going to be some form of reparations. I feel like that has to happen. People are making billions of dollars just in interest from their investments that are only possible because this land was taken. I feel like that kind of political awakening or social awakening is happening, and there’s little steps along the way. And this is, I don’t want to overblow it, this is just a tiny, little part of a million other things that are happening right now that are also moving this ahead. But something’s changing in the culture. Young people who are coming of age right now are seeing that and saying, “No, actually, that’s not what I want to be like. That’s not how I want to be in a relationship to other people or to the planet.” And so there’s just really this ripe kind of moment. Because, again, those structures are failing us. We don’t have all the answers, but we’ll keep going and put our best effort into it.

JOHNELLA LAROSE is a Shoshone Bannock and Car-

rizo woman who has been organizing in the East Bay Native community since the 1980s. She is the cofounder and lead organizer of Indian People Organizing for Change and Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, with Corrina Gould. GAVIN RADERS is a cofounder and codirector of Plant-

ing Justice, a father to two amazing daughters, a social justice activist, and a permaculture demonstrator / teacher. For the past seventeen years, he has dedicated his life to peoples’ movements for peace and social / economic / racial / environmental justice. \ 110

Chapter 2 Endnotes 1. An Act for the Government and Protection of Indians April 22, 1850, (Chapter 133, Statutes of California, April 22, 1850),, accessed May 19, 2020, 2. Ibid.

“Save West Berkeley Shellmound,” by Epli photography 111 /

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Health & Environ Justice

& nmental —3 —


We developed this chapter with the aim of illuminating relationships between the Bay Area displacement crisis and issues of environmental and health injustice. In particular, we wanted to illustrate how structures of racism and capitalism deliberately and disproportionately expose poor and working-class communities of color to evictions, toxic environments, and other illness triggers that undermine community health, well-being, and quality of life. We also wanted to center examples of community-rooted movements with the hope of conceptualizing health and environmental justice from these counternarratives. We could not have imagined when we began compiling the chapter in 2016 that by the time of publication we would be in the throes of a deadly pandemic. However, we could have foreseen the pitfalls of the government’s overreliance on a strategy of “shelter in place” given the structural and geographic inequalities that determine who has the means to safely “shelter in place” and who does not. The fact that Black, Latinx, and unhoused people in Richmond, the Mission, the Bayview, Fruitvale, and elsewhere across the Bay Area are disproportionately being infected, hospitalized, and dying from COVID-19 in a region applauded for its swift public health action is not surprising when racial capitalism is understood as a fundamental cause of disease.1 As the proliferation of health disparity maps form lasting impressions of this moment, we must be mindful of how these cartographies can reinforce reductive depictions of communities as unhealthy or unlivable due to individual choices and behaviors rather than making visible the underlying political economic inequalities that require structural change. This chapter explores a wide range of health, housing, and envi115 /

ronmental struggles in the Bay Area as they map onto gentrifying landscapes and argues that displacement is both an issue of health and environmental justice. We begin with a map of differences in life expectancy at birth by census tract to underscore the cumulative impacts of social inequalities on health, which is premature loss of life. Oral histories are woven throughout to draw attention to the lived experiences behind data points, in this case to illustrate the destabilizing and distressing effects of eviction and forced relocation on health. The subsequent sections tie together academic, community, and artistic perspectives to illustrate the uneven geographies of health, wealth, toxicity, foodways, violence, and resistance. Ultimately, by presenting these themes we call for a liberatory praxis of public health—one informed and driven by the collective experiences, needs, and shared power of communities, particularly those most disadvantaged by our current structure. This is what will be needed to envision and manifest a more just future.

Life Expectancy at Birth by Census Tract NO DATA 64–65 YEARS 65–70 YEARS 70–75 YEARS 75–80 YEARS 80–85 YEARS 85–90 YEARS 90–94 YEARS


Cheryl’s Story The following is an excerpt from an oral history collected as part of the Narratives of Displacement Oral History Project by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project “I lived in San Francisco for . . . wow, that’s a little scary to think about. I’ve lived in San Francisco for almost, like, thirty years and lived in the same apartment in the Mission from which I was recently evicted for almost twenty-three years. I literally had a hole in the hallway ceiling for, like, ten years. Rainwater had come through the kitchen ceiling one really bad winter in, like, 2005. The place needed some repair, and I kept just saying, “I don’t want to leave, but I don’t want to live in a rotting environment.” So we had that conversation two or three times, and then they came out once and just basically offered me, I can’t even remember what it was, something like three thousand dollars, which is ridiculous. And then, finally, they said, “You know that we could evict you, and we would only have to pay you. . .” I think it’s maybe $4,000 is the city requirement. “Because we’re moving a family member in, we’re not going to have to give you much money, and you know we could do that.” So that’s how I came to leave. And it’s . . . it’s a tough thing when it’s not your decision. And the housing market was really, really tight. Looking for housing was really painful. You know, I had my life at a certain level. I was able to cover my expenses. But I don’t live with a lot of. . . um, with a lot of cushion, you know. Not too many things can go wrong before . . . I just don’t have a lot of extra resources. It’s not that easy to find a place that you can afford. It’s not that easy to find a place that you want to live. But even finding places that I wouldn’t want to live, I still couldn’t afford them. 117 /

It was tough. I finally started looking in the East Bay. That was really difficult and kind of traumatic. I mean, not to . . . I mean it’s not overdramatizing it, cause it is traumatic. It’s a lot to deal with when it’s not your choice to lose your home, to not have your neighbors that provide some little network and safety net for you. And it impacts every part of your life. It impacts my health care, because I was using Healthy San Francisco, which you can only use if you’re in San Francisco. So it impacts your doctor and what you’re able to do around your health. And your, just. . . your feeling kind of community and a place to be. I just hadn’t realized until I wasn’t there that it just really makes a difference. Now, I feel isolated. I feel isolated. What can I say? Feeling isolated really, kind of, just impacts your emotional state all of the time. It’s hard to spontaneously do something with friends, cause that’s scattered. So I feel . . . I feel isolated personally. I feel disconnected, from a queer perspective. It’s funny, I was just in the city the other day, and there’s just like this little rush of “oh, it’s Pride month and stuff is happening,” and I feel so disconnected from that. Just . . . just . . . physical distance makes this connection. And to understand that when you . . . when you evict somebody, you’re changing their whole lives, and that it’s not just a place that somebody goes and sleeps. It’s. . . they’ve made a little investment, watched their neighbor’s kids, and they planted trees, and they volunteered at the local school, and, you know, they’re parting with that.”

And to understand that when you . . . when you evict somebody, you’re changing their whole



that it’s not just a place that somebody goes and sleeps. It’s . . . they’ve made a little investment, watched


neighbor’s kids, and they planted trees, and they volunteered at the local school, and, you know, they’re parting with that.



In 2017, members of AEMP envisioned (Dis)location as a repository for storytelling about the past, present, and possible futures of San Francisco from an artsbased approach. Collectively, we decided that the first chapter would focus on the alarming displacement of Black residents to highlight the political, cultural, and artistic contributions of Black residents to the city. We titled the chapter “Black Exodus” to move away from the depoliticized language of so-called “Black out-migration” and with the aim of placing the current moment of displacement within the longer issues of Afro-descendant peoples being forced out of places of significance since slavery. We aimed to highlight Black resistance against these forces. While collecting stories from Bayview Hunters Point, the neighborhood with the largest proportion of Black residents, we realized how segregation, disinvestment, environmental degradation, and the devaluing of Black lives relate to the present phase of redevelopment via Black displacement. This piece uses resident narratives to tell part of the story about the Bayview community’s continued fights against anti-Black racism and environmental violence and for their right to live and to breathe in the city. The Hunters Point Naval Shipyard is a significant site in the history of Black San Francisco, because the 1940s World War II economies brought new opportunities for Black people escaping racial violence in the US South. Shipyard jobs led to a massive increase in San Francisco’s Black population. Employment at the shipyard came with a heavy price in the form of toxic exposures, including to 119 /

radioactive contaminants when the site served as a radiological defense laboratory. Shipyard workers and Black families who were constrained to living in the surrounding area due to racist and exclusionary housing policies have shouldered the environmental health burden of the site and other toxic facilities in the area. In 2018, the shipyard came under national scrutiny when whistleblowers exposed fraudulent activities in the cleanup of the superfund site. Resident activists highlight the difference in political and media attention the current scandal has drawn now that a multimillion-dollar real estate development is at stake, while they have been sounding alarms on the issue for years. The shipyard is but one site of environmental justice in Bayview Hunters Point. The following oral history excerpts from three environmental justice activists, Dr. Raymond Tompkins, Michelle Pierce, and Bradley Angel, highlight the multiple environmental health hazards, resulting health disparities, and sites of ongoing struggles.

Bay Area Pollution Burden > 90–100


> 80–90 > 70–80 > 60–70 > 50–60 > 40–50 > 30–40 > 20–30 > 10–20 > 0–10


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Elementary K-8 Census Tracts

Middle High Charter

60 30





45%................... 30%..................... 15%....................... 7.5%......................




80 100

Census Tracts




41.8 (AVG)


70 35

Census Tracts




60 30










Census Tracts

Asthma Percentile

50 25



1 mi


Census Tracts

Census Tracts




















Census Tracts


Census Tracts











Asthma Cases Per Census Tract

Asthma Percentile











Poverty Percentile

DATA SOURCES: CalEnviroscreen (2017)


San Francisco (2016-2017)


San Francisco Unified School District ts


Asthma Cases Per Census Tract

Asthma Percentile

Census Tracts



INTERVIEW WITH DR. RAYMOND TOMPKINS “In Bayview, the shipyard was the economic driving force for many decades until they shut it down in the 1970s. You had Bechtel steel. You had all these different industrial complexes supporting the industrial complex industries—heavy industries out here. You had the stock—you had the stockyard. All the cattle and . . . There was a smell that I smelt at Ingleside. Death has its own unique smell, and they be killing the cows. It would travel from here all the way over by the zoo. That’s how strong it was. Then you have the tanning industry, so you had a lot of the heavy industry. They got rid of all the old industry, but you have about 90 percent of the light industry, as they call it, still here or between 101 and 280 [freeways]. You have this whole industrial complex there. And then if you go out, just around the other side here you have three cement factories, and they’re going to put three more out here to build downtown. But all that dust blows into the neighborhood. And you have [Dr. George Washington] Carver Elementary School; the asthma rate there is 60 percent higher than the national average, for asthma at just one elementary school. At one point, in 1998, when Dr. Palmer and I were doing our volatile organic compounds studies, and we grabbed some of the kids from Carver Elementary School. At that time, 55 percent of the babies in first grade were asthmatic, as defined by a physician. I come back to school ten years later, because I went to school with the principal out at San Francisco State, to see how things had gone and say hi to old friends, and 85 percent of the babies in the first grade are asthmatic as defined by a physician—a 30 percent increase in asthma. We know the Air District and the San Francisco Health Department agreed that particulate exposure to fine dust . . . you can’t see the invisible stuff through

this exposure. Pulmonary and heart attacks are a byproduct of this exposure. And in Bayview Hunters Point, according to a doctor at the public health department, not me, grumpy old Black professor, the Bayview has the highest heart attack and stroke and pulmonary disease out of all eleven districts in San Francisco. My contention: it is directly a correlation between the disease outcomes and pollution exposure. Several reports say that life expectancy for a person living in Bayview Hunters Point versus a person living on Russian Hill is fourteen years less. You died fourteen years earlier if you live in Bayview. In West Oakland, it’s eleven years. In Richmond, with all the oil refineries, it’s nine years. Bayview has the worst in all of the Bay Area—in all of the Bay Area. Then you’ve got to ask the question, as a child would: Why? Again, it’s my contention of what’s here. We are still fighting World War II, from the radiation exposure that’s coming off of a shipyard and some of the chemicals. So, hopefully, with the Air District we’re going to do a real detailed mapping, lot by lot. I’m getting residents and those of us who lived out here giving that old history along with the young history. Hopefully we can get some of these younger people to go into the sciences as they engage in a real research to set up real policy, real research to help generate real policy reflecting the conditions that exist in this community. This is what I’m currently engaged in with the Air District and with my colleagues in San Francisco State, and hopefully also with some folks over at University of California, Davis, as well, so you have a strong body of scholars looking at and looking for the truth and how do we apply policy to save lives.”

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INTERVIEW WITH MICHELLE PIERCE, BAYVIEW HUNTERS POINT COMMUNITY ADVOCATES “I have lived in San Francisco my whole life, in the southeast corridor. I was born on Potrero Hill, and then, when I was almost five, we moved out here to Bayview, which is where we still live now. My mother was born and raised here—she was actually born in the Fillmore. My father moved from the Midwest to here. So, yeah, I am a third generation San Francis-

can. My mother worked for the San Francisco Public Health Department and later started the Bayview Hunters Point Community Advocates with other community members. What happened was, as she would go to her meetings with government agencies, their technical people would try to outspeak or out-science the people who were showing up, the advocates, and she would give me whatever documentation they brought, or she would read her notes back to me and ask me to interpret what they were



saying and what my impressions of possible impacts to communities might be from what they were saying, and I would do that interpretation, and more groups around the Bay Area used me in that way too. I spent a lot of my time at City College here in San Francisco translating technical documents for social justice and environmental justice groups, so that they could go back to whoever they were negotiating with and say here’s what this actually means. One of the first major victories that environ-

mental justice groups had was getting that PG&E Hunters Point Power Plant cleaned up. They were probably more savvy than the people they were fighting by the time the plants closed. The most critical factor that helped get those power plants closed was the passion of the community to really fight to make it happen—persistence on the part of the community. Stop trying to, you know, play us or make us look silly and actually come to the table and talk to us. So it’s been almost twenty years, right?”

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INTERVIEW WITH BRADLEY ANGEL, GREENACTION FOR HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE “ Well Bayview Hunters Point has historically been a low-income predominantly African American community of color in southeast San Francisco. It was seen as kind of the forgotten part and I think the disposable part of San Francisco in the minds of some, including heavy industry and the military that used Bayview Hunters Point as a place to essentially run dirty industries and get away with it. It’s where the Navy ran the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and contaminated the area thoroughly with radioactive and toxic waste. But Bayview Hunters Point is not just the shipyard. It’s not just the illegal and so-called legal dumping that happened. It had the dirty power plants, the notorious and infamous and now gone PG&E Hunters Point Power Plant right across from Hunters Point public housing. It had tons of and still has many, many underregulated and unregulated businesses. It’s right next to the Port of San Francisco. It’s surrounded by two freeways, so a lot of diesel traffic and pollution and carcinogens coming out of that and pollutants that cause asthma. In addition to all the pollution, you add in the poverty. You add in racism. You add in other societal injustices. Lack of access to healthy food. And what you get is the picture postcard of environmental racism and injustice. As a result of this legacy and pattern and practice of racism and injustice, not only do you get people polluted, but the pollution has real life and death impacts. So Bayview Hunters Point, it’s a fact that it has some of the absolutely worst health indicators in the area and so high rates of cancer, of asthma and other respiratory and heart diseases, and many other health problems. So, because of all that, it’s ultimately sparked a lot of awareness among residents. That’s what’s going on, and that’s why Greenaction, although we work on so many issues and so many communities around the West, we believe this is one of the most outrageous 125 /

and serious threats to public health and the environment and justice. When I first moved to San Francisco in 1976, long before there was a Greenaction, I became involved . . . you know, from some friends I had heard about this incredible struggle in what was then the last remnants of Manilatown, on Kearny Street on the edge of Chinatown, and there was this beautiful place called the International Hotel. Elderly Filipinos and others and being evicted, because the landowner wanted to build a parking lot. Right. You know, the town is gone. But we saw what happened in the Fillmore District in San Francisco, which used to be a vibrant African American community. That’s history. It’s gone. And, so, this is a fight for the health and life and Bayview Hunters Point. And what’s really troubling but also inspiring to us is that there’s been a lot of. . . despite all this bad stuff, there’s been a lot of victories in Bayview Hunters Point. The PG&E Hunters Point Power Plant is gone. And now that power plant has gone, they actually have a view of San Francisco Bay now, without looking at that dirty power plant or inhaling its fumes. Now all of a sudden that that power plant is gone, Greenaction in the Hunter’s View public housing tenants really watchdog and force PG&E to do a pretty decent cleanup. But what do you know? All of a sudden, the government goes, oh, yeah, now we can refurbish this dilapidated public housing, and they’ve got the Jon Stewart company to build, nice new units there. But the deal was many of them would be market rate. So guess which units got the best view at the top. And guess where the long-term residents who they couldn’t evict ended up? The new residents got the nicer views, and the people of color who suffered and struggled for so many years, they got pushed down the hill. So even in so many ways, gentrification and pollution are kind of the double whammy in a most serious life and death way on Bayview. But the struggle lives on.”

“So even, you know, in so many ways, gentrification and pollution are kind of the double whammy in a most serious life and death way on Bayview. But the struggle lives on.”


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Asian Pacific Environmental Network: Power Building against Environmental Racism in the East Bay VIVIAN YI HUANG, MEGAN ZAPANTA, AND ALVINA WONG

Founded in 1993, the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) has been fighting—and winning— struggles for environmental justice in Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities for over twentyfive years. APEN reaches thousands of API community members across the state with critical policy and electoral campaigns and develops deep leadership and power in immigrant and refugee communities in Oakland and Richmond. In Richmond, APEN organizes youth and Mien and Khmu refugees to advance a Just Transition away from an economy based on profit and pollution and toward a resilient and life-affirming one.2 For over a decade, APEN and allies, such as Communities for a Better Environment, organized to stop Chevron from expanding their Richmond refinery, which is one of the largest polluters in the state. Although

Chevron eventually secured approval for a revised project, communities won $90 million in community investments and built a progressive majority on city council. Now, the Richmond Our Power Coalition, comprised of diverse organizations working a Just Transition, is looking ahead to building a strong, local, living economy with community solar housing cooperatives and community governance. In Oakland Chinatown, APEN is building the power of poor and working-class Chinese immigrants who have been in Oakland Chinatown for generations. Over the past decade, developers have displaced longtime residents to construct luxury high-rise condos. In 2017, the Oakland A’s owners proposed building a stadium megadevelopment, with high-end shops and hotels for tourists at Laney College, which would have driven up housing prices and displaced more residents and businesses, as well as putting residents’ health at risk during the building process. As part of the Stay the Right Way Coalition, APEN organized Chinatown community members to partner with Laney College students and faculty and Eastlake residents to determine their own futures. They built tremendous public pressure and forced elected officials to stop the stadium megadevelopment from happening at that location.

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Housing and Dignity Zine: The Village and Anti-Tuff Shed Encampments VILLAGE MEDIA EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATION TEAM

Overwhelmed by the growing homeless crisis, #FeedthePeople started when Needa Bee and her daughter Joyous gathered friends and family with one simple mission—to show love on the streets. In January 2016, with a friend, they started sharing a hot, home-cooked meal with two encampments in Funktown and the Lake. Within six months, dozens of people were joining them, and every Wednesday the meals were accompanied by supplies, hugs, and support for neighbors living on the street. They saw the needs beyond food and started to provide advocacy and to show up to defend the encampments and document harassment by police and politicians and newly arrived xenophobes. On the morning of Saturday, January 20, 2017, a network of Oakland community members—both housed and unhoused—took over the neglected public plot at Marcus Garvey Park in West Oakland. We intended to move in small homes, a hot shower, a healing clinic, and other services—declaring it a people’s encampment for those who need housing 129 /

and services and their basic needs met. The group— which included folks living on Oakland streets, activists from #FeedthePeople and #Asians4BlackLives, allies of both organizations, and residents and families from across Oakland—said that the move-in demonstrated their ability to provide what the City of Oakland would not provide to its most vulnerable residents. In the early morning of February 2, 2017, Mayor Libby Schaaf and her administration sent a bulldozer and eighty pigs in riot gear to raid and bulldoze the Village. We were cited with eighteen code violations. All sixteen residents of the Village were displaced back onto the streets. But the mayor’s violent action and criminalization of Oakland’s humanitarian efforts merely turned our direct action into a powerful movement. The Homeless Advocacy Working Group (HAWG) was born from that action. The Village shifted gears from direct action to advocacy and lobbying to legitimize and protect its vision. HAWG’s

ing for unity. We never were able to gain control of the site. We never were able to properly establish housing and services and do a proper intake. And the people herded onto the land were never allowed to decide for themselves whether or not they wanted to be part of the Village. Despite obstacles created by the herding of so many humans and consistent attempts of the administration to obstruct us, we pushed forward and broke ground on January 13, 2018.

position is that housing is a human right, that there are enough public resources to house all of Oakland’s homeless, and that homelessness should not be treated as a crime but rather a human rights crisis. On October 3, 2017, city council unanimously passed the Shelter Crisis Declaration, which deregulated building codes and permitting processes to allow for the immediate building of emergency shelters for the homeless. The ordinance declared that the administration was to provide the Village and other community organizations with the land and support necessary to make this a reality. In early November 2017, without communicating with us, Joe Devries, assistant to the city administrator, gave orders to the Department of Public Works and the Oakland Police Department to close down six encampments from 14th Ave to 94th Ave and herd the residents onto the parcel we had accepted. When we questioned the administration about their inhumane and questionable actions, we were told to evict the massive curbside community. Instead, we spent October to January providing hot Sunday brunch and provisions to the encampment, building relationships with the residents, designing houses and a blueprint for the site, addressing and dealing with day-to-day crises, and advocat-

Editors’ note: On December 6, 2018—the day after members of the Housing and Dignity Village and over fifty supporters successfully warded off an eviction—the City of Oakland again evicted the autonomous, women of color-led encampment from their then location in deep East Oakland. We included this story because it shows the possibilities of collective people power against injustice and demonstrates the threat that organized oppressed peoples pose to the neoliberal, racial capitalist state. Unhoused residents of color and their allies took matters into their own hands. The Housing and Dignity Village exposes the failures of the state and its violent logic of destroying the homes and social support systems that these residents put in place to maintain the increasingly privatized, inaccessible, and inadequate city options. The Housing and Dignity Village’s continued fight shows us that housing is a health resource not a commodity and calls for an end to social services systems that deny the human dignity of individuals most marginalized by social inequities.

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Gentrification, Evictions, and HIV in San Francisco FINN BLACK

In the 1990s, San Francisco was a major center of the AIDS epidemic in the United States. In 1992, the city experienced a high of 2,332 new HIV diagnoses.3 In 2016, the number of new HIV diagnoses in San Francisco reached a record low of 223.4 San Francisco’s decline in new HIV diagnoses is widely attributed to the city’s Getting to Zero initiative, which aimed to eliminate new HIV infections, HIV-related deaths, and HIV stigma from the city by 2020.5 As an affluent city, San Francisco has a wealth of resources for preventing and treating HIV. The irony of Getting to Zero, however, is that these resources target populations that are increasingly unable to afford the cost of living in San Francisco. By the end of 2016, 36 percent of people living with HIV (PLWH) who were San Francisco residents at diagnosis (5,768 individuals) had moved away from the city (Table 1). Of these individuals, fifty-nine percent left in the five-year period from 2012 to 2016. Those individuals who remain in San Francisco face an increasingly unaffordable housing landscape, with 2.4 percent of San Francisco PLWH currently

homeless and 78 percent at risk of becoming homeless,6 in a situation where San Francisco only has enough subsidized housing to serve about 10 percent of PLWH who need it.7 Taken together, these statistics suggest a dual narrative, where large numbers of PLWH are displaced from San Francisco, while those who remain struggle to stay housed. Although HIV infections in San Francisco are declining overall, the shrinking population of PLWH might be partly responsible for this decline and, therefore, be skewing the statistics and making it appear that the rate of new infections is also declining. Meanwhile, insecure housing and displacement among PLWH who remain in San Francisco pose serious challenges to ending the epidemic. Homeless PLWH are much less likely to receive adequate medical care; in San Francisco, 74 percent of housed PLWH have their infections controlled by medications, compared to only 31 percent of homeless PLWH.8 Not being on HIV medication not only leaves individuals vulnerable to health complications but also makes it more likely


131 /




































for them to transmit HIV to others. While lack of housing makes it less likely for PLWH to receive medical care, policing of marginalized populations in gentrifying neighborhoods further drives HIV transmission by making it harder for individuals to access harm reduction services and by forcing stigmatized behaviors—like sex work and injection drug use—into less safe spaces.9 Wealth inequity and policing together fuel the continued HIV epidemic. The information presented in this section was obtained from secondary analysis of publicly available HIV and eviction data supplemented by oral history interviews with long-term HIV survivors in San Francisco. Taken together, this information paints a complex picture, where HIV risk and treatment determinants do not merely take place at the scale

Map of PLWH

of individual bodies but are closely intertwined with social, political, and economic factors. It is not enough for public health officials to consider who is at risk for HIV, who is or is not taking medication, or where incidence rates are high. We must also focus on changes in the urban environment, as well as the structural oppression and political economic processes that drive those changes. San Francisco’s HIV epidemic is concentrated along Market Street in the Tenderloin, Nob Hill, Downtown, South of Market, Mission, and Castro neighborhoods. With the exception of the Castro, a heavily gentrified neighborhood that is largely home to older, affluent gay white men, these neighborhoods are socioeconomically vulnerable and experience high rates of eviction. In 2016, fully 66 percent of San Francisco PLWH lived in Department of Public Health (DPH) designated economically vulnerable neighborhoods.


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“ . . . you know, housing is health care. If you’re homeless, HIV-positive or not, it’s going to affect your health. Like showing up for appointments, if you can even make appointments. One of my friends that’s my age or around my age, he moved out of the city. He had to move, but he lost his sense of community, his friends, the culture he loved.”

HIV Migration vs. HIV Providers

Ryan White HIV Providers 10–20 20–30 30–40 40–50


133 /

HIV Migration > 1000 LOSS > 250–1000 LOSS > 100–250 LOSS > 50–100 LOSS > 10–50 LOSS > 10–50 GAIN > 50–100 GAIN > 100–250 GAIN > 250–1000 GAIN > 1000 GAIN

“Evictions are the single largest legal issue that my clients face.” —anonymous lawyer at AIDS Legal Referral Panel Although we know a large number of San Francisco PLWH have left the city, inconsistencies in data collection practices between public health departments make it challenging to study where people are moving to. There is, however, a rough way to estimate patterns of movement within California as a whole. Because HIV is not curable, there are only three ways for the number of PLWH in a given area to change—when new people are diagnosed, when known PLWH die, or when PLWH move into or out of a region. To estimate net movement of PLWH into and out of California counties over a five-year period, I compared the increase in total cases for each county to the number of new infections and deaths. We can assume that changes in the number of HIV cases that cannot be explained by new diagnoses and deaths are due to migration into or out of an area. The top five counties that have experienced a net out-migration of PLWH are San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Clara, and Kern, while net inmigration was greatest in Riverside, San Bernardino, Sacramento, Sonoma, and Contra Costa Counties. Overall, PLWH are moving away from coastal counties and into inland counties, especially in the Central Valley and Southern California. Notably, federally funded HIV service providers are largely concentrated around the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, while inland counties tend to have fewer resources. The information presented in this section was obtained from secondary analysis of publicly available

HIV and eviction data supplemented by oral history interviews with long-term HIV survivors in San Francisco. Taken together, this information paints a complex picture, where HIV risk and treatment determinants do not merely take place at the scale of individual bodies but are closely intertwined with social, political, and economic factors. It is not enough for public health officials to consider who is at risk for HIV, who is or is not taking medication, or where incidence rates are high. We must also focus on changes in the urban environment, as well as the structural oppression and political economic processes that drive those changes.

“The homelessness [in San Francisco] is only growing, and us HIV-positive folks, long-term survivors, we’re all baby boomers, and we’re all aging, and the mental thing is changing. When I was homeless, keeping my appointments, I mean, it’s nerve-racking just having an apartment and eating every day. Like, when I was homeless, the worst part was regardless of how much sleep I got, I never felt rested. I never felt rested. And being older, I can understand someone with HIV just turning in the towel.”

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MAPPING THE UNEQUAL LANDSCAPES OF HEALTH AND BIOMEDICINE IN THE BAY AREA’S BIOHUB Health care is a booming industry in San Francisco, a city that imagines itself at the forefront of medical progress.10 Spurred on by federal science policies that encourage the commercialization of research (e.g., the Bayh Dole Act) and the convergence of biotech and infotech in Silicon Valley, today the envisioned future promises medical information and treatments tailored specifically to individual patients. While many of the promises of these investments and new technologies are still future-oriented, communities today are already living with their material effects. These are most spectacularly visible in the build-up of lustrous new laboratories and start-up “incubators” in architect-designed buildings at the north end of the Third Street corridor, home of University of California, San Francisco’s (UCSF) new Mission Bay Campus and the pharmaceutical incubators and biotech companies that have gathered around it. However, at the other end of this corridor, just a few miles south, the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood remains one of the city’s most marginalized communities. We are a team of sociologists working out of the Science and Justice Research Center at University of California, Santa Cruz who study the interweaving of science, technology, economy, and society, and the creation of urban healthscapes.11 One member of our team, who lives in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, has biked along the Third Street corridor over the last decade and a few years ago began to think about the reasons for the huge differences between 135 /

its north and south ends. We see Third Street as a microcosm that can help make visible how intensifying investments in biotech and its speculative futures are affecting health care institutions and community health outcomes. By considering both those gleaming buildings in San Francisco’s most active centers of investment today and the Superfund sites at their margins, we can ask the pressing and urgent questions: Who will be served by high-end personalized medicine in the customized spaces of care on one end of the street? And what will happen to communities who have historically borne a disproportionate amount of the ill health created by San Francisco’s investment in science and technology—from nuclear weapons research to biotechnology—on the other end of the street?12 THE BIOTECHNOLOGY REVOLUTION The website defines biotechnology as “a broad discipline in which biological processes, organisms, cells or cellular components are exploited to develop new technologies. New tools and products developed by biotechnologists are useful in research, agriculture, industry and the clinic.”13 In their embrace of the “biotechnology revolution” over the last few decades, scientific, corporate, and political elites in places like the Bay Area, Boston, Singapore, and Beijing have transformed neighborhoods, cities, and entire regions into global centers of investment in biomedical science.14 For cities, universities, and start-up companies, biotech and its generation of new lively forms of speculation and capital—dubbed “biocapitalism” by anthropologist of science Kaushik Sunder Rajan—offered opportunities for growth in the wake of


the decline of other industries.15 In San Francisco, the city’s shipyard and port, once the largest on the West Coast, had remained largely dormant for decades. In the 1980s, city leaders began to imagine a revitalization of these derelict lands at the north end of Third Street, pouring their hopes for economic prosperity into the biotech and health care industries. Our project brings into view for public debate and discussion the effects of the resulting financial and ideological investments in an imagined “future of medicine,” and how they are changing the political landscapes, built environments, and the health of the residents of the Bay Area right now. We use the concept of “healthscapes” to grasp the patchy, unequal, and stratified ways that people and institutions go about doing the work of “health.” The idea of uneven healthscapes helps us trace how the landscapes of health and health care are produced by specific culturally and socially inflected practices that arise in particular places and at particular times and create uneven effects.16 We ask how the technological, medical, political, and economic practices that make up these healthscapes reorganize the spaces, places, landscapes, horizons, and practices of public

health and health care. To do this, we are compiling social histories of biomedical places and analyzing the differential and contradictory ways in which speculative investment in biotechnology and biomedical science is impacting the health of Bay Area communities. This has entailed interviewing not only researchers, health care providers, and administrators at UCSF but also community health leaders. Reconstructing histories of community health movements and their embrace of healthy equity since the 1960s, we can imagine and consider the effects of challenges to prevailing biomedical imaginaries of health care. In the next few pages, we map these shifting landscapes, highlight cracks and contradictions built into the foundations of these futuristic visions, and detail how these historical tensions and current resistance efforts are shaping the healthscapes of the Bay Area. With critical attention focused largely on Facebook, Uber, Google, and the other social media titans, the role of the health care sector in remaking San Francisco has been largely overlooked. Yet in today’s “postindustrial” economy, health care spending accounts for about 20 percent of total US GDP.17 Indeed, critical observers of \ 136

biomedicine in the US argue that health is simultaneously “a market to be grown” and a ballooning national cost that must be controlled.18 Increased spending does not necessarily translate into increased access to care or improved health outcomes. Further, even increased access to medical treatment only partially accounts for better outcomes.19 Other structural and social determinants of health significantly impact the distribution of health inequities. For example, over the last decade, biotech speculation and the rise of molecular biomedicine in Mission Bay have displaced communities and their visions of health, threatening a further deterioration of health outcomes. Today, biotechnology and life science investment are booming in the Bay Area. Billions of dollars

of biotech funding flows through the city, and the dollars are concentrated in the Mission Bay neighborhood that houses UCSF’s new campus and many of its spin-off companies. In 2016 alone, venture capitalists invested $4.4 billion in California biotech, with more than 70 percent of that figure coming from the San Francisco Bay Area.20 The map on the right represents a snapshot of some places key to our story. We do not (and cannot) represent here every company and place of interest, especially since there is so much turnover and transition. Even three years ago, news articles discussed how Mission Bay’s “Biotech Hotspot” was running out of room.21 Genome sequencing giant Illumina, for example, recently moved from its prominent spot at 16th and 3rd to nearby Foster City.22

“Hot Spots” of Biotech Speculation & Investment MAP BY EMILY CARMELLI, ADAPTED FOR PRINT BY ADRIENNE R. HALL

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St re e ar ke t



San Francisco SAN FRANCISCO Healthscapes: HEALTHSCAPES


IndieBio - Life Sciences Accelerator


h 6t

3rd Street Health Clinics Key Places UCSF Mission Bay Campus

et re St

Bioscience Laboratories

South of Market

MAP BY MOLLY ROY Incubators & Accelorator/Labs

Prosetta Biosciences

To w


en d



Mission Bay






16th Street



Potrero Hill



New Generation Health Center


3rd Street

Numerate, TeselaGen


MBC Biolabs

Mission District



Potrero Ave

24th Street

1/2 mile


Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital

Dogpatch Nektar Therapeutics

3rd Street


Bayer CoLaborator


Uber Celgene Corporation Uber Gladstone Institutes Genentech Hall Chase Center QB3 GARAGE @ UCSF Uber Nurix Assembly Biosciences Synergenics Gemmus Pharma, Fibrogen Precision Cancer Medicine Building Clovis Oncology Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Vir Biotechnology 280 UCSF Betty Irene Moore Women's Hospital

Bernal Heights

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital


Bayview Stre e




Southeast Health Center



Bayview Hunters Point Clinic




Hunters Point

500 ft

UCSF BY THE NUMBERS 23 ● Ranked no. 1 in NIH funding among public institutions ($594 million in 2017), no. 2 in NIH funding overall (behind Johns Hopkins University), no. 1 in NIH research funding ($527 million in 2017) ● $8.9 billion estimated economic impact on the San Francisco Bay Area ●S an Francisco’s second largest employer (after the City and County of San Francisco) ● $2.3 billion endowment ●$ 5.4 billion in revenue (60 percent from the Medical Center)

CONSTRUCTING A HUB FOR BIOTECH IN THE BAY How did San Francisco reimagine its future as gleaming new buildings and billions of dollars in investment devoted to the generation of health and wealth? Policy and planning decisions in San Francisco, in California, and at the federal level were in the works long before personalized precision health care became the prevailing vision for the “future of medicine.” As some established public health care facilities like San Francisco General Hospital were being compelled to move or bear the costs of earthquake retrofitting, they were also feeling the effects of a different kind of seismic shift.24 Health care was becoming an important industry in and for San Francisco, and the very meaning of “public health” was being shaken up in the process. With top-quality health care increasingly linked to biotechnology research, individualized treat139 /

ments, and a wealth of data and investment dollars, “public health” continues to look increasingly private. For example, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan recently committed $3 billion to “cure all diseases in our children’s lifetime,” including a donation that resulted in San Francisco General Hospital being renamed in their honor.25 While this transformation is far from in name only, names, including the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, do help tell the story of how even institutions funded by the public and focused on public health and basic research tie their fortunes—and their ability to provide needed health services to the public—to marketability and private wealth. This shift is embodied in UCSF’s Mission Bay Campus, which rapidly transformed the bayside landscape, beginning with the completion of its first building, Genentech Hall, in 2002. A nineyear-long patent dispute over the drug Protropin® brought by UCSF, a public university, against Genentech, a private company, led to a $200 million settlement. As part of this settlement, Genentech gave $50 million to UCSF to help fund the new research building on the Mission Bay campus, but Genentech was given the right to name it.26 Genentech chose to name UCSF’s new building after itself. SFGate claimed the Genentech Building embodied a shift from “pure science” to translational research that would bring new medical products to market: “If the university can pull it off—and biotech companies and drug industry firms can be lured to the surrounding area—San Francisco will be at the forefront of creating new medical products to deal with human health and disease.”27 The building, christened Genentech Hall, stands today at the center of campus, a symbolic reconciliation—or so both sides pointedly portrayed it—of two long-term protagonists of biopharmaceutical research.28

Mayor Willie Brown called UCSF Mission Bay “the new Gold Rush,” envisioning the campus’s central role in securing economic prosperity for San Francisco well into the future.29 The new campus concretized a vision that intimately links public with private, city with university, and health with investment in cutting-edge science. In 2010, private wealth once again left its mark on UCSF Mission Bay when Salesforce founder Marc Benioff gave the first of two $100 million donations to UCSF to help fund construction of a new children’s hospital. Benioff, a basketball fan, later sold rights to the Warrior basketball team to build across the street, a decision many at UCSF saw as threatening the ability of the hospital to function, especially on game days.30 Yet these are the tradeoffs that attend private entrepreneurial investments in health—they reflect the private cares and whims of individuals not collective visions of public health. Today, the UCSF Benioff Children’s hospital stands as one part of a new hospital complex that opened in 2015. The newest addition to UCSF Mission Bay, the Bakar Precision Cancer Medicine Building (PCMB), opened to patients in June 2019 and will further cement UCSF Mission Bay’s commitment to cutting-edge, research-driven, individualized health care.


Precision medicine is a “big data”–driven movement that is in step with larger trends in the privatization, profitability, and individualization of health care. UCSF leaders, most prominently then chancellor Desmond-Hellmann, mobilized at the national level to produce plans for reshaping the entire health care system with new molecular and genomic technologies.31 These new buildings in Mission Bay stand as testament to San Francisco’s major role in the shifting twenty-first-century landscapes of biomedicine and health care. Upon its construction, Genentech Hall was considered one of the most advanced research facilities in the world. Scientists designed its interior with a specific view of health care in mind, to allow flexibility, collaboration, interaction, and interdisciplinarity.32 The extra space increased UCSF’s ability to apply for federal grant money, in turn allowing them to pursue more lucrative biotech projects. The PCMB is designed for “patient-centered personalized medicine,” allowing patients to see multiple specialists in the same building.33 The buildings tell the story of a new economic engine and a larger shift toward highly “personalized” treatment. UCSF leaders argue that its Mission Bay campus “represents both a scientific renaissance and a significant revitalization of a once-blighted area.”34 However, some prominent researchers at UCSF disagree, arguing that the current investment in shiny new buildings and expanded research capacities has hidden costs, placing a greater burden on researchers to obtain large NIH grants and secure funds from wealthy donors (such as Benioff) and decreasing incentives to engage in creative research.35 Beyond these “toxicities” for researchers,36 UCSF’s “San Francisco success story” of urban development and high-tech health care is also implicated in the production of uneven healthscapes in surrounding neighborhoods and across the city. \ 140

Mission Bay Biotech History Timeline

Pre–Biotech Industry History: Railroad Tracks/Port

Mission Bay began as marshland and was slowly filled in during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when it served as the home of shipbuilding and repair industries. In the late 1970s, Santa Fe Pacific Realty began pursuing a partnership with the city to develop the land. In 1994, the Mission Bay Plan reimagined Mission Bay as a hub for the growing biotech industry, including UCSF’s new medical and research campus. [1985] The FDA approves Genen-

[1980] The Bayh-Dole Act, or Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act, is passed. The act provides new avenues to private profitability for research conducted with public funds, incentivizing researchers to pursue more lucrative research projects. Universities, including Stanford and UCSF, become major beneficiaries.37

tech’s Protropin®. Somatrem, a biosynthetic growth hormone, marketed under the name Protropin®, is approved to treat growth hormone deficiency, estimated to affect ten to fifteen thousand American children. The drug receives orphan drug status for the treatment of Turner’s Syndrome, becoming the eighth drug granted this status in the United States. It also becomes the subject of a lawsuit between Genentech and UCSF that is eventually settled in UCSF’s favor.39

[1983] The Orphan Drug Act (ODA) amends the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to encourage the production of orphan drugs. Orphan drugs, which treat diseases affecting relatively few people, raise profitability concerns for pharmaceutical companies. The costs of research and development can outweigh profits from drug sales. The ODA provides financial incentives—including tax credits, research and development grants, and a seven-year period of exclusivity—for designated orphan drugs. This makes personalized treatment more profitable and contributes to its increasing prevalence.38 141 /

[1990–2001, 2003] The Human genome is sequenced. In February 2001, the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium publishes the first draft of the human genome in the journal Nature. A startling finding of this first draft was that the number of human genes appeared to be significantly fewer than previously estimated, which ranged from 50,000 genes to as many as 140,000. The full sequence was completed and published in April 2003.42

[1987] Genentech sues the FDA for clarification about orphan drug policy. Noting the difference between new biologic protein pharmaceuticals and conventional drugs, Genentech files a lawsuit to clarify the ODA definition of drug. The lawsuit represents a move to secure ODA benefits specifically for recombinant biologics and protein pharmaceuticals, paving the way for their subsequent proliferation.40 The profitability of orphan drugs has exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations, due in large part to the manipulation of the system by drug makers.41


[2007] The Health Care Security

[1997] UCSF approves land contributions from Catellus and the City of San Francisco. In May 1997, the regents of the University of California authorize the acceptance of a property contribution for UCSF’s Mission Bay site from the Catellus Development Corporation—29.2 acres—and the City and County of San Francisco—13.2 acres. The following year the city establishes the Mission Bay North and South Redevelopment Project Areas. UCSF later acquires an additional 14.5 acres in Mission Bay.44

Ordinance (Healthy San Francisco) passes. The San Francisco board of supervisors unanimously agrees to adopt the Health Care Security Ordinance, which created the Healthy San Francisco program. This program offers coverage for basic preventive health services and emergency treatment at San Francisco General Hospital to all uninsured residents of San Francisco regardless of employment or immigration status.

[2007–2008] The global finan[1994] SB 1953 passes. Following the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the California state government passes SB 1953, revising a 1983 Seismic Safety Act to include new requirements specifically for acute care hospitals. This requires retrofitting older acute care facilities or building new compliant structures to house acute care facilities. The new law directly affected San Francisco General Hospital, completed in 1976.43

[1999] The UCSF/Genentech lawsuit is settled. In November 1999, Genentech agrees to pay $200 million toward settlement of a patent infringement lawsuit with UCSF over marketing of two growth hormone drugs, Protropin and Nutropin. Fifty million dollars goes toward a new research building, Genentech Hall, which opened in 2003 as the first research building in UCSF Mission Bay.45

cial crisis occurs. Beginning with an American subprime mortgage crisis and the resulting collapse of Lehman Brothers, the world plunges into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Much of the land along Third Street in Mission Bay is subsequently purchased from Alexandria Real Estate Equities by Marc Benioff’s Salesforce. Salesforce later sells much of the land to other developers for a profit. This includes land for Uber’s new headquarters and the new Golden State Warriors stadium.46

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[2010] The Benioff Children’s

[2008] Proposition A passes in San Francisco, with 84 percent approval. In response to seismic safety requirements, the proposition appropriates $887 million.47

Hospital is launched. Marc Benioff, founder of Salesforce, and his wife Lynne give $100 million toward a total $600 million goal to help fund construction of a new children’s hospital at UCSF Mission Bay. The UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital is part of the UCSF Medical Center, a new $1.5 billion hospital complex at the Mission Bay campus that opens in 2015, a year after the Benioffs pledge another $100 million to help merge Children’s Hospital Oakland—now UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.49

[2015] President Barack Obama announces US Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) during his State of the Union address. The initiative’s mission is to bring about a new era of medicine that focuses on providing individualized treatment and prevention strategies. It places a special emphasis on the generation, portability, and sharing of patient data. In autumn 2016, the name of this national initiative is changed to All of Us.51

[2010] The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare,” is passed into law. As a result of its implementation in California, Medi-Cal (California’s Medicare) enrollment increases by about 3.8 million people. The ACA reduces enrollment in Healthy San Francisco by as much as 60 percent. Increased access to health insurance for many Californians has complex effects but generally improves health care outcomes.48

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[2015] The San Francisco Gener-

[2011] The report Toward Precision Medicine is released. The National Research Council’s Committee on a Framework for Developing a New Taxonomy of Disease report describes a paradigm shift to precision health care. The report focuses on the integration of medicine with data-intensive biology. Going beyond their call to develop prospects for a new taxonomy, the committee claimed that the report had significant implications “far beyond the science of disease classification . . . for nearly all stakeholders in the vast enterprise of biomedical research and patient care.”50

al Hospital is renamed the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (ZSFG), when Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan give the largest ever private gift to a public hospital, $75 million, to San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), primarily to outfit Proposition A–approved additions. A small number of SFGH nurses protest the name change, noting that public contributions to the hospital are far larger and seeing a potential conflict between Facebook’s data collection practices and hospital patients’ peace of mind.

[2015–2016] The Mission Bay Alliance (MBA) pursues a lawsuit against Golden State Warriors’ new stadium. The group specifically complained of blocked access to UCSF Mission Bay hospitals and claimed that UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood illegally signed a memorandum of understanding with the Warriors organization, bypassing the approval of the University of California Board of Regents. Several court decisions rule against the MBA in favor of the new stadium. Mayor Ed Lee praises the stadium as the first NBA arena built on private land with private funds, and UCSF vice chancellor Barbara French praises the economic diversity that the stadium will bring to Mission Bay.52

[2017] Construction begins on UCSF’s Precision Cancer Medicine Building (PCMB). The PCMB is intended to combine patient-centered design with cutting-edge cancer treatment to streamline cancer patients’ experience, including the need to move between different testing sites and visit with a range of specialists.

[2016] The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub is founded, with a $600 million donation from Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. The Biohub is located in a space that once belonged to another biotech company, Illumina, and is headed by UCSF and Stanford professors. It provides grants to scientists and engineers who pursue especially high-risk, experimental projects that may not provide a return on investment.53

[2017] The New Generation Health Center relocates. After threat of closure from UCSF for “financial reasons,” the youth reproductive clinic, the New Generation Health Center, relocates to share a building with the Homeless Prenatal Program. Following a petition to save the clinic, the move is made possible by a partnership between UCSF and the San Francisco Department of Public Health.


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CONTRADICTIONS AND EMBEDDED INEQUALITIES As they rebuild physical landscapes, speculative investment in biotechnologies that seek to realize a vision of personalized precision medicine in the Bay Area and nationally have diminished and displaced alternative ways of intervening in the health of communities. While huge sums of money go into a “precise” and increasingly privatized vision of health care, these shifting funding priorities, along with low reimbursement rates and gentrification, threaten established community clinics. While promoting health care as a major driver of San Francisco’s prosperity, UCSF (along with other major Bay Area employers like Facebook and Salesforce) relies on uninsured contract labor.54 And while UCSF claims it has revitalized a “once-blighted” area of the city, street encampments have provided precarious shelter for thousands of San Francisco residents just adjacent to the sparkling buildings of Mission Bay. Community members built a street encampment known as “Box City” across the Caltrain tracks from UCSF Mission Bay, creating their own makeshift shelters from pallets, boxes, and other found materials.55 The destruction of Box City is just one example of the forcible displacement of street encampments in the Bay Area. An estimated 7,500 San Francisco residents are unhoused according to the latest Point-in-Time Count in January 2017.56

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Of the approximately 7,500 unhoused, 18 percent reported eviction, increased housing costs, or foreclosure as the primary reason for homelessness. Among the many dangers homeless persons face, including those in temporary housing, safety, storing medications, eating healthfully, and going to the doctor are difficult when trying to find a place to sleep each night.57 To its credit, unlike most jurisdictions in the US, the City of San Francisco has worked to provide citywide universal basic health care coverage since 2008 through its Healthy San Francisco program. Yet health inequities still map onto the most marginalized neighborhoods and communities, especially among people experiencing homelessness.58 “Universal” health care does little to prevent poverty and unequal social conditions from becoming disease.59

“[Of course] Dr. Chan would realize the importance of providing care to those who work on Montgomery Street and those who sleep on Montgomery Street. Those that live in the high-rises, and those that live under the underpasses would get the same quality of care, the same first-rate care that they all deserve.” —Jackie Speier, San Francisco congresswoman, at ZSFG ribbon cutting. 60

“Yes, [Mark Zuckerberg] gave $75 million, but the people of San Francisco paid nearly $900 million. . . . [T]hey sold us out cheap, when the people of San Francisco are paying more than ten times as much as the sixth richest person on the planet. The goal of it is to privatize literally and figuratively. . . . And the irony . . . is Facebook is willing to steal people’s identities as well. I really do think it’s more than a metaphor. It’s the stealing of our identity as a public health institution that serves the public.” —from an interview with a ZSFG nurse NURSE PROTESTERS COVER UP A SIGN HONORING MARK ZUCKERBERG AT ZSFG, PHOTO BY KATHLEEN COLL

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Diabetes/Health Care Disparities by Zip Code

Age-Adjusted Hospitalizations for Diabetes among Adults (18 and older) by Zip Code, 2012–2014

RATES PER 10,000 RESIDENTS 0 0.01–5.54 5.55–7.06 7.07– 13.28 13.29–24.43

Source: OSHPD PDD 2012–2014. San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership. Community Needs Assessment Appendices 2016, p. 105

The San Francisco Department of Public Health expresses a commitment to “community-based care for all” at ZSFG.61 Still, local policies fail to address the root causes of many health inequalities, including poverty and housing deprivation. As billions of government and private investment dollars are poured into the promise of “advancing care worldwide,” community clinics that have prioritized more vulnerable and marginalized communities for decades are facing financial hardships and pressures from 147 /

the city and UCSF to downsize or relocate. In 2016, UCSF threatened to close New Generation Health Center, a clinic that provides low-income youth with accessible reproductive health services. Community protest kept the doors open, forcing an agreement with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and a merger with the nearby Homeless Prenatal Program.62 The clinics’ doors remain open, but it’s space and hours have been cut.63

of elimination or forced consolidation. Is there room for the institutional sustainability of these community health clinics within this shifting terrain of health care, now strongly linked to profitability from clinical services? Or will they be forced to continue fighting to keep their doors open in the face of renewed threats of closure, as health care increasingly becomes the privileged domain of new biomedical institutions?


“These small clinics have acted as a safety net for these vulnerable populations. If we are truly a sanctuary city, how are we taking away this basic human right?” —Joi Jackson-Morgan Joi Jackson-Morgan, director of the Third St. Youth Center and Clinic, poses an important question about whose health is prioritized, even as the California professes sanctuary and care for all.64 Threats to community health clinics, including New Generation and the Arthur H. Coleman Medical Center (detailed in the following pages), illustrate the multilayered contradictions embedded in the Bay Area’s healthscapes. As healthscapes in San Francisco are increasingly dominated by the paradigm of precision medicine and research-based health care, these low-cost community health clinics face choices

INTERTWINED ERASURES AND RESISTANCE MOVEMENTS The landscape of health care in San Francisco has been formed through long-standing tensions over health, wealth, and who benefits from the development and adoption of new biomedical technologies. However, as particular visions of the biomedical future build momentum and take hold in the public imagination, dissent and competing visions are pushed to the margins, and their histories risk being forgotten. Reading against the grain of prevailing visions of health and health care can help us re-center these marginalized struggles and movements. Through this process, we develop a better understanding of healthscapes as they are actually lived and of how resistance movements continue to shape the futures of health and wealth. Along the Third Street corridor, rapid biomedical expansion interacts with a rich history of Black health activism. Documented histories of restorative health practices stemming from African American civil rights movements are buried within dominant narratives of biomedical progress, which nonetheless promise profitable innovation and health care “for all.” These resistance efforts have, however, long imagined more just and equitable approaches to fostering community health. For example, a May 1974 Health Center Fair in Bayview brought together local residents and health leaders to address neglect of the neighborhood and “the lack of adequate health facilities in the Hunters \ 148

Point Bayview area.”65 As one present-day Black health leader in the Bayview told us, Black health is not simply about “health” in the narrow sense but about community resources and the ability to make one’s own decisions.

“This is all about racism and money. It’s not about health. If we get those two things together, we won’t be sick. . . . [T]hese disparities wouldn’t be there if we could just be family, if we could just be community, if we could have economic control of where we live and not feel barriers to housing, where we’re going to live. . . . [P]eople are fighting to keep Black health care alive . . . and fighting to be at the table to have resources sent to the community, especially when we are the minority as far as the vote. Black people in San Francisco are now less than 5 percent. We can’t vote in our best interest.” —from interview with Bayview Hunters Point Black community health leader Inheriting the traditions of health activism in Bayview Hunters Point, new forms of resistance arise to challenge the recent turn to highinvestment, high-return biomedicine, as well as the ongoing gentrification that threatens the health of communities. At the south end of Third Street stands the Arthur H. Coleman Medical Center. Established in 1960 by Dr. Coleman as a response to the exploitation and violence experienced by Black patients in health care settings, it was the first Blackowned medical practice in Bayview Hunters Point. In 2016, the Coleman family lost the building in a tax 149 /

lien sale. Since then, the federally funded Marin City Health and Wellness Center (MCHWC) has operated the Bayview Hunters Point Clinic in the Coleman building, and the organization is “investing over $2M to bring the building to current code.”66 The building


was recently bought by a real estate developer, but the clinic’s supporters fought for and won the right to protect and preserve it as a historic landmark. On July 24, 2018, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved Landmark Status for the building. In August of that year, MCHWC, led by CEO JayVon Muhammad, who lived part of her life in Bayview, held a ceremony to celebrate this victory.67 For the Bayview Hunters Point community, gentrification is itself a public health crisis. The same community health leaders and advocates at the Bayview Hunters Point Clinic are fighting the displacement of the community’s African American residents. Let’s just look at one example of what this anti-gentrification movement is combatting: a developer, Lennar

Corporation, and one of its spin-off companies, FivePoint, are actively trying to develop Hunters Point into an upscale bayfront community of green parks with thousands of residential units and commercial real estate. They have even taken Hunters Point out of the name of this new development plan—the San Francisco Shipyard.68

“Gentrification is breaking down community and family supports as historic residents are priced out of the neighborhood where they (and their parents and grandparents) have lived. Poverty makes people sick, and the trauma related to poverty and displacement caused by gentrification has created a public health [crisis].” —Bayview Hunters Point Clinic on gentrification as a public health crisis.69


ongoing threats of development, gentrification, and Residents have also organized a number of community groups fighting for health justice, such as the Bayview Hunters Point Mothers Environmental Health and Justice Committee, which, in 2004, published a searing report on environmental racism and health injustice in Bayview Hunters Point.70 More recently, in 2017, the committee worked with other groups to expose the cover-up of radioactive material in Hunters Point shipyard. Some residents are pursuing a lawsuit, and the scandal is continuing to make national news.71 In September 2018, the committee, along with other environmental justice groups, hosted a protest in front of Lennar Corporation’s Shipyard Welcome Center in Hunters Point. Their banner read: “Lennar: Stop Contaminating & Driving Displacement in Our Communities!”72 As these community activists well know, health is never simply about clinical health care. Residents of Bayview Hunters Point continue to fight for health and environmental justice amid

environmental racism. Other forms of resistance more closely linked to biomedicine are also emerging. Even deep within the pristine spaces of Mission Bay’s biotechnology and precision medicine wonderland, there are challenges to the dominant visions that have guided the neighborhood’s recent transformation. At least three nonprofit pharmaceutical companies have formed within and outside of this landscape. Housed just off Third Street at Bayer’s CoLaborator incubator, one such company, Fair Access Medicines, foregrounds ethics in a way that seems at odds with the high-priced blockbuster drug model that often drives Mission Bay’s biomedical complex. Founded by a former Genentech employee, Fair Access Medicines attempts to tackle the problems created when profit incentives lead to increasing patient costs and limited access to lifesaving drugs. \ 150

Despite the fact that insulin is the first drug produced using recombinant human DNA, the price of the drug has not decreased as patents have expired. On the contrary, increases in the cost of insulin have led to situations where some patients are forced to ration their supplies, with sometimes fatal results.73 Fair Access Medicines is attempting to

combat this trend and make insulin affordable for all. These different forms of resistance are all concerned with the inequity and expense of the current health care landscape. They are buoyed by histories that show how collective efforts to imagine more just and equitable health care futures can shape the face and future of medicine. Raising their profiles elevates both their hard-fought struggles and the stalwart visions that fuel communities of resistance. Community health activism is vital in the face of huge investments in precision medicine, which, though universalizing in its rhetoric, threatens to produce stratified outcomes consistent with other forms of privatized health care. These forms of resistance can help to usher in a “future of medicine” that is more than a marketable slogan. The healthscapes of this future are not a predetermined outcome but an open-ended question.


“The pharmaceutical industry has become a financial vehicle for making money. The bottom line is to generate returns to investors at the maximal rate, so the board of directors of a pharmaceutical company have fiduciary responsibility to the organization, just like a tire manufacturer or a banker, and there's not really necessarily any philosophical underpinning or public good. . . . Nobody's saying this should be done for nothing. It should be done for a fair price with people's health in mind.” —Founder of a non-profit pharmaceutical company

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Police Violence Is a Public Health Issue: A Three-Year Struggle within the American Public Health Association EMMA RUBIN, JADE RIVERA, AND LIZ KROBOTH

This essay chronicles how a group of public health students, researchers, and health workers pushed the largest US public health professional organization to take a bold stand against police violence. Our struggle culminated in November 2018, when the American Public Health Association (APHA) approved a policy statement reflecting visionary social movement demands, including the demand to defund the police. We hope that sharing our process will encourage others who wish to advance radical demands in “helping professions” or through national professional organizations. Our collaboration started in 2015 at San Francisco State University. Inspired by the uprising in Ferguson and coalescing Black Lives Matter movement and angry about police killings in the San Francisco Bay Area, three of us used an assignment in our Master’s in Public Health program as an opportunity to sketch out a campaign to move 1 percent of San Francisco’s police budget to social programs. We practiced fusing public health framing with a social movement call, modelled after the LA Youth Justice Coalition’s 1% for Youth Campaign and inspired by Rachel Herzing’s article “Big Dreams and Bold Steps toward a Police-Free Future.”74 That semester, Liz and Emma met Cheryl Conner, a physician presenting at a session on racist police violence sponsored by the Black Caucus of Health Workers at APHA’s 2015 annual meeting. Cheryl proposed the idea of revising the then current APHA policy statement on police violence adopted in 1998, centering an anti-racist perspective. The statement we originally drafted and the 153 /

version that ultimately passed begins by describing the harm caused by policing, including injury and death, community and individual trauma, and chronic health impacts.75 The statement next discusses the history and current function of policing as a mechanism for attempting to control communities of color, poor and working-class communities, and people whose bodies or behavior do not fit the agenda or norms of the ruling class. Then the statement critiques mainstream liberal reforms to policing (community-oriented policing, improved police training, technological fixes like body cameras) and calls for changes such as demilitarization and divestment that decrease the institutional power of law enforcement. Finally, it demands that we reimagine public safety as grounded in social investment in and self-determination by oppressed communities. None of these ideas were new—they have been understood and discussed in communities and social movements for years—but they were new to the APHA policy process and to most discussions of policing within the public health field. While we drew from peer-reviewed scholarly sources in the statement, we strove to prioritize solutions and critiques articulated by social movements, recognizing that those who have lived with the harms of police violence and organized against it have deep expertise too frequently unrecognized or erased in academic literature. We consulted with groups organizing around police violence, criminal justice reform, and connected issues and sought their input and endorsement.

It is important to note that our goal from the beginning was agitation within the APHA and the public health field. We didn’t expect the statement to pass, given its content. Rather, we wanted to force a discussion of police violence that centered critical anti-racist, class-conscious, and even abolitionist perspectives. In analyzing law enforcement violence, we wanted to beg the question of whether policing provides or has ever provided real safety to marginalized and oppressed people. We wanted to stake out a position that both critiqued reformist approaches and moved beyond them to call for an ideological and material divestment from law enforcement—and, more broadly, systems of punishment, surveillance, and social control. This orientation meant choosing to struggle over ideas with APHA members rather than seeking to compromise in order to pass any statement on police violence, even one that further legitimized the institutions of policing. After the first year, when the statement was adopted on a contingent basis for a period of one year, it became clear that we had hit a nerve. Our initiative inspired both passionate support and profound resistance, which surfaced as comments that were victim-blaming or rooted in “blue lives matter” ideology and claims that the statement was not evidence-based, despite positive recommendations from the APHA’s science-focused review committee. We also heard silence from some quarters of the APHA, which we interpreted as resistance. At the same time, we found that there were people within the APHA who were hungry for a vehicle to advance more radical visions. This group included young people like us and people who had been struggling to push the APHA for decades. Our core team, as well as our circle of collaborators and supporters, grew, and we started referring to this group as the “End Police Violence Collective.” We countered resistance within the APHA through deep engagement with the APHA’s estab-

lished policy process. We went through at least eight major rounds of editing in response to requests from the APHA leadership and membership. We carefully documented our reasons for rejecting suggestions that we felt would undermine the spirit of the statement, as well as the numerous changes that we did make. This process was important to show that we were taking the established process seriously and working in good faith, which provided important leverage to persuade potential allies to support the statement. Through this process, some leaders who were once skeptical about the approaches recommended in the statement were able to see them as consistent with a public health framing. In addition to participating in numerous rounds of edits, we also integrated ourselves into an appointed work group formed by the APHA leadership in early 2018. Many APHA members and leaders were unhappy with the decision of the governing council not to adopt the statement in 2017,76 and the APHA leadership was under pressure to take some form of action. This work group was tasked with developing an alternative statement on police violence. We worked hard within that group to continue to push for a non-reformist statement and contributed substantially to a draft. Ultimately, when that version of the statement did not move forward, our own group’s statement was well-positioned to pass. Alongside writing and research, organizing and mobilization was a consistent, parallel track of the work. This proved to be essential to increasing support for the statement and provided space for the membership to engage in the discourse that at the time was radical for the APHA. We circulated the statement for endorsement to every APHA component we thought would be supportive or have a connection to the issue (and followed up year after year). The number of endorsing and sponsoring groups increased over the years, from a dozen our first year \ 154

to twenty-one in 2018. We also identified individuals who could influence elected APHA component leadership and asked them to push on our behalf. We got hundreds of individual endorsements and dozens of organizational sign-ons outside of the APHA to demonstrate the scale and diversity of those invested in the APHA’s stance on this issue. Some of these organizations, most notably Critical Resistance, became partners in our organizing efforts. Each year, our organizing culminated at the annual APHA conference where the statement was voted on. We mobilized our supporters to show up to public hearings on the statement, which were consistently packed to standing room only and full of passionate testimony—mostly for but also against the statement. We met with the APHA components and attended their business meetings. We printed and distributed a thousand ribbon badges for conference attendees that said, “End Police Violence.” We presented critical research on police violence in scientific sessions. And every year for three years, we organized a demonstration outside of the conference building on the day of the vote on the statement. The first year, we were told that this level of engagement around an APHA statement had rarely been seen; nearly every component in the APHA was debating it. The support garnered for this statement was no doubt in great part due to the national consciousness created by the Black Lives Matter movement. Our work was also part of a broader move within APHA toward greater consciousness and action around state violence and racism, including through the anti-racism initiative of 2016 APHA president Dr. Camara Jones and evidenced by a growth in the APHA’s Justice and Incarcerated Health Committee and increased attendance at related sessions. While engaging in the spaces established by the APHA, creating accessible spaces outside of the APHA allowed us to communicate on our own terms. We cre155 /

ated a website so that anyone could access the statement, and during the last year we maintained an active Twitter presence (@endpolviolence) that allowed us to gather more supporters, put pressure on and clap back at the APHA, and advance the core arguments in the statement. During the third year, in collaboration with the Public Health Justice Collective, we organized a “shadow conference” at the Centro Cultural de la Raza, a politicized community space in San Diego. We invited speakers from community organizations in San Diego, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as critical scholars and health workers, including Alex Vitale, author of The End of Policing. The half-day event, Health Equity Now: Ending Police Violence, happened at the same time as the APHA conference, and was an opportunity to highlight the expertise of people impacted by and organizing around police violence and unabashedly talk about community self-determination and police abolition. Strategically, we held our conference outside the conference center where the APHA was meeting and charged no entrance fee, making it accessible to community members, as well as to APHA conference goers. About two hundred people attended. Organizers from the Youth Justice Coalition brought a public art piece they had created—which was a beautiful full circle experience for us, since their work was an early inspiration! We were elated when 87 percent of those serving on the governing council voted for our statement in November 2018, ensuring its adoption as a permanent APHA policy. Health workers and grassroots organizers have been using the statement in their campaigns and other work, and public health students have been inspired to do further research on police violence. As we edit this essay in June 2020, “defund the police” has become a rallying cry of sustained nation-wide mass protests. The reach and popularity of abolitionist ideas, as well as the movement’s progress toward

implementing them has far surpassed what we could have imagined possible in such a short time. Both the uprisings in the streets and the sustained organizing are to credit for this leap, and we are proud to have played some small part in advancing these demands in the public health field. As we move social change and, ultimately, a just world we have yet to experience, one important takeaway is that there is a role for all of us in social change; public health professionals are in the struggle using their expertise and place in the world. As for advice for those reading this, the questions are: What organization or body can you move, and who’s down to ride with you? Maybe it’s your neighborhood association or student organization, your local or national union, or your professional organization. We’d like to end by acknowledging some of the many people involved in this effort. Our coresearchers and coauthors in crafting the statement over its many iterations included Julianna Alson, Omid Bagheri Garakani, Charles Cange, Cheryl Conner, Kelsey Donnellan, Catherine Duarte, Nancy Krieger, Shambreia McBrayer, Christine Mitchell, Cesar “che” Rodriguez, Jamel Russell, and Sophia Simon-Ortiz. Along with some of those listed above, Alana Black, Sari Bilick, Alexis Cooke, Felipe Findley, Jess Heaney, Monique Hossein, Vivian Yi Huang, Mark-Anthony Clayton-Johnson, Karlos Schmieder, Katherine Schaff, and Lana Tilley were among the core organizers of the “shadow conference” and carried out other organizing and communication work. Many others were consulted on strategy, helped with organizing and mobilization, provided feedback on drafts of the statement, and donated to make the shadow conference possible. This victory is sweeter for being shared!

“In analyzing law enforcement violence, we wanted to beg the question of whether policing provides or has ever provided real safety to marginalized and oppressed people. We wanted to stake out a position that both critiqued reformist approaches and moved beyond them to call for an ideological and material divestment from law enforcement—and, more broadly, systems of punishment, surveillance, and social control. This orientation meant choosing to struggle over ideas with APHA members rather than seeking to compromise in order to pass any statement on police violence, even one that further legitimized the institutions of policing.”


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NO. Body cameras




NO. Advocates of

NO. This is based on


NO. More community


NO. More training will

NO. This furthers the


NO. This will increase


NO. In some cases,

NO. Overseeing the

NO. Some argue for

NO. This further


NO. Prosecuting police

NO. Individualizing

NO. Often, media

NO. This reinforces the


157 157 / /

These charts break down the difference between reformist reforms which continue or expand the reach of policing, and abolitionist steps that work to chip away and reduce its overall impact. As we struggle to decrease the power of policing there are also positive and proactive investments we can make in community health and well-being. this has been adapted from a critical resistance publication /

Equipping police officers with body cameras will require more money going toward police budgets.

community policing argue that departments will have to hire more cops to be in neighborhoods and in the community.

require more funding and resources going to police to develop and run trainings.

there would be an increase in funding, whereas in other cases, there would be no change.

does not lead to changes in funding or resourcing police.

are pitched as making police more accountable, increasing the idea that policing, done “right,” makes people safe.

the belief that policing is focused on keeping people safe, and the violence of policing is caused by a “breakdown of trust” with the community

belief that better training would ensure that we can rely on police for safety, and that instances of police harm and violence occur because of lack of training.

police through a board presumes that cases of excessive force, killing, lying, planting false information, etc. are exceptional occurrences rather than part of the daily violence of policing.

police violence creates a false distinction between “good police,“ and “bad police” rather than challenging the assumption that policing creates safety or examining policing as systemic violence.

Body cameras provide the police with another tool, increasing surveillance and increasing police budgets to acquire more gadgets.

Cops are trained in additional tactics and approaches.

all of these.

Civilian Review Boards “with teeth,” the power to make decisions and take away policing tools and tactics. However, a board with that level of power has never existed despite 50+ years of organizing for them.

attention in high profile cases leads to more resources and technology, including body cameras and “training.”

REDUCE THE SCALE OF POLICING? Police can turn off body cameras and, when used, footage often doesn’t have the impact that community members want, or is used for surveillance.

police means that the scale of policing will increase, particularly in Black, Brown, poor neighborhoods, where there is perceived “mistrust.”

the scope of policing, given the type of training. For instance, some advocate for police to be trained on how to respond to mental health crises, furthering the idea that police are the go to for every kind of problem.

entrenches policing as a legitimate, reformable system, with a “community” mandate. Some boards tasked with overseeing them become structurally invested in their existence.

prison industrial complex by portraying killer/ corrupt cops as “bad apples” rather than part of a system of violence and reinforces the idea that prosecution and prison serve real justice.



INCREASE community-based budgets, as municipalities no longer pay for policing’s harm against community members.




YES. It challenges

YES. Access to paid

YES. The less financial

the notion that policing violence, and the administrative costs it incurs, are essential risks of creating “safety.”

administrative leave lessens the consequences of use of force and presumes the right of police to use violence at all.

support for police undergoing investigation for killing and excessive use of force, the less support for policing.


YES. This can

YES. It challenges the

YES. It reduces the



YES. This can

YES. It challenges the

YES. It creates pres-



YES. This can

YES. It challenges

YES.. Weapons

YES. This stops police


YES. This can

YES. It challenges

YES. Weapons

YES. This stops police


YES. If we decrease

YES. Prioritizing

YES. If we decrease

YES. If we decrease


INCREASE community-based budgets, as municipalities no longer pay for policing’s harm against community members.

INCREASE community-based budgets, as municipalities no longer pay for policing's harm against community members.

INCREASE community-based budgets, since we won’t have to pay for cops learning how to better make war on our communities.

INCREASE community-based budgets, since we won’t have to pay for cops learning how to better make war on our communities.

funding for policing, this will decrease its resources.

notion that killings and excessive force are exceptions rather than the rule.

notion that policing and all its costs are essential components of safety. Community members should not pay for its inevitable violence.

the notion that we need police to be trained for “counterterrorism” and other military-style action and surveillance in the guise of increasing “safety.”

the notion that we need police to be trained for “counterterrorism” and other military-style action and surveillance in the guise of increasing “safety.”

funding resources also creates space to imagine, learn about, and make resources that actually create well-being.

abilityof police forces to move around or re-engage cops known for their use of violence.

sure for police to account for their actions, at least financially and limits legitimacy of policing violence as inevitable.

trainings and expos are used to scale up policing infrastructure and shape goals for future tools, tactics, and technology.

trainings and expos are used to scale up policing infrastructure and shape goals for future tools, tactics, technology.

funding for policing, this will decrease the expansion of tools and technology.

from increasing their legitimacy, capacity, and skills as “the blue line” in order to expand their reach over our daily lives and community spaces.

from increasing their legitimacy, capacity, and skills as “the blue line” in order to expand their reach over our daily lives and community spaces.

funding for policing, this will decrease the size, scope, and capacity of systems of policing.

YES! \ 158 \ 158

Better Neighborhoods, Same Neighbors

Better Neighborhoods,


Truly Affordable Housing

Whether you are an elder on a fixed income, a janitor or cook earning minimum wage, or a starting teacher earning $24 an hour, affordable housing must be accessible at a range of incomes. Public investment to acquire and develop these sites is critical to ensure our neighborhood remains affordable, economically diverse, and stable against the forces of displacement. Current Use existing use

place of worship

empty lots

gas stations

Community Scale Economic Development

Throughout our thriving corridors, new retail businesses should create quality opportunities for people that are already here and not just cater to high-end consumers. This means culturally relevant financial planning and supportive services, affordable long term leases, loans for rooted and new businesses, and opportunities for low-income entrepreneurs to launch community-serving businesses and worker owned cooperatives. New businesses must provide dignified and fair pay at every job, and meet consumer needs such as family entertainment venues, at price points that are affordable to area incomes.

Map not to scale

159 /

Vibrant Public Spaces

Healthy communities require public places to sit together, socialize, play, tell stories, share, learn and regenerate our cultures and traditions. There are numerous under-utilized spaces throughout our neighborhoods where our City and community can partner to create public, green, comfortable, and inviting recreational spaces filled with amenities, art and community programming.


Same Neighbors Meeting Community Needs & Keeping CBOs Strong

Community based development is about meeting peoples’ needs. Organizations in our district provide childcare, health services, workers’ rights education, job search assistance, English classes, and arts programs, just to name a few. Our City and community can partner to ensure long term, stable and affordable spaces for existing and new organizations to meet the needs of neighborhood residents.

Opposing Luxury Housing Development

All housing that is developed in District 11 should be affordable to the people that live here now, today. That means we say no to development that gentrifies our neighborhoods or prioritizes profits over peoples’ needs. We must hold all development accountable to true affordability and stop the displacement of our communities.

People Powered Community Development

Our District is advancing numerous equitable community based development initiatives. Whether it be a new cooperative urban learning farm by Crocker Amazon Park, launching a community workforce center, Excelsior Works!, moving two new 100% affordable housing projects at the Balboa Upper Yard and the Valente Marini Perata Mortuary, or sustaining a community cooperative, Bicis del Pueblo, we want to promote places for community to lead, thrive, and do much more!


have lived in this neighborhood for fifteen years, and you can see how everything is going up except us, we are being left behind. The rents continue to rise, but our wages stay the same. We are forced to double and triple up with our families, but our dream is to have a home for ourselves. ” —Ricardo Arellano, CUHJ Housing Justice Action Team

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¡PODER! is a grassroots community organization that works at the intersections of environment and land use, affordable housing, health, and community planning to improve the lives of Latinx immigrant families and youth in San Francisco’s Mission and Excelsior neighborhoods. ¡PODER! was born out of environmental justice and other community movements in 1991. In the Spring of 2016, ¡PODER! and San Francisco District 11 residents walked the streets of their neighborhood with clipboards and pens and imagined the possibilities of a neighborhood transformed to meet their needs. Today, Better Neighborhoods, Same Neighbors has become a framework and vision of people-led organizing for community-based solutions. Special thanks and recognition to Communities United for Health and Justice Alliance member organizations: Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, and the Filipino Community Center and Design Action! The full map is also available on PODER’s website at HTTPS://WWW.PODERSF.ORG/RESOURCE/ BETTER-NEIGHBORHOODS-SAME-NEIGHBORS.

161 /

“Community mapping allows

us to explore the historical context of migration (forced or otherwise) by examining the socioeconomic decisions and conditions that facilitate displacement from our home countries, only to experience housing crises, evictions, underemployment, workers’ rights violations, youth criminalization, racial tensions, state violence, and anti-immigrant regimes. Backed by an organizing base, community mapping can create political space that activates and locates historically marginalized voices at the center of conversations about city and neighborhood development. It allows people to envision the growth of resistance beyond survival and thriving. It enables people to define their own needs, determine what progress looks like, invite partners into that work, and demand that political leadership be accountable to its merit. ” —JESSIE FERNANDEZ

Mapping East Bay Food Justice MARGO RIVERA-WEISS

Patterns of Green Gentrification ROBIN BEAN CRANE

I came to these questions wearing several hats. As a gardener (at Canticle Farm in Fruitvale and in the Bay Area Farmer Training Program), I found myself constantly questioning farmers in my community about how they navigated their role in gentrification. I decided to start recording our collective grappling, in hopes that more residents would start to hone our greenwashing radar and prevent unintentional displacement. I then incorporated this into my work as a visual storyteller with the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project’s (Dis)Location project, where I focus on cases of environmental racism in which communities navigate “green gentrification,” as they fight to improve their neighborhood. In the current urban landscape, there is a dire need to redistribute environmental benefits and burdens. Low-income communities of color have less access to parks, bike infrastructure, street trees, trash cleanup, farmers’ markets, and other elements of “sustainable development.” They also bear the burden of a disproportionate clustering of polluting industry and toxins. But the work of cleanup and reinvestment 163 /

can perpetuate injustice if we don’t carefully navigate the nuances of green gentrification. We’ve all seen the collateral damage of wellintentioned “green” amenities—a community garden comes into a neighborhood and the surrounding land values double. People fight for healthy food options, and soon the community they were meant to serve can no longer afford to live there. We see how these necessary projects have been co-opted into the neoliberal housing system and commodified. All too often, greening the landscape attracts wealthier, whiter populations, leading to spikes in property values. This “green” growth can then displace the very communities in need of these amenities. Thus, histories of racialized disinvestment create a tragically unfair context for reinvestment—a complex and troubling paradox of green gentrification ensues. Those who survived toxicity and even fought for healthier streetscapes get pushed out. Without careful inspection, we risk contributing to the greenwashing and whitewashing of affordable, vibrant neighborhoods.

As we demand the cleanup of toxic sites and the investment in regenerative, resilient infrastructure, we must ask:

WHO IS THIS FOR? WHO OWNS THIS LAND? WHO WILL PROFIT AS THE LAND VALUE INCREASES? WHO MAKES DECISIONS ON THIS PROJECT? ARE LONG TERM RESIDENTS GIVEN AGENCY BEYOND SUPERFICIAL CONSULTATION? WHO IS THIS MEANT TO SERVE? DOES THE DESIGN FIT THE CULTURE OF THE EXISTING COMMUNITY? There is a blurry but crucial distinction between types of green growth, a spectrum of community needs versus corporate greed. These questions can help discern where a project falls on this green gentrification spectrum.

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From the Concrete Grew a Sunflower: A Mini Guide for Community Gardening ALIYA SHAHEED

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photo caption tk

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Chapter 3 Endnotes 1. Whitney N. Laster Pirtle, “Racial Capitalism: A Fundamental Cause of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Inequities in the United States,” Health Education & Behavior (April 2020): 1–5.

2. According to the Climate Justice Alliance, Just Transition strategies “were first forged by labor unions and environmental justice groups rooted in low-income communities of color, who saw the need to phase out the industries that were harming workers, community health, and the planet, and at the same time provide just pathways for workers to transition to other jobs. It was rooted in workers defining a transition away from polluting industries in alliance with fence line and frontline communities”; for more, see “Just Transition: A Framework for Change,” Climate Justice Alliance (website), accessed March 14, 2020, 3. HIV Epidemiology Annual Report 2017 (San Francisco, Department of Public Health, Population Health Division, 2018), accessed March 14, 2020, 4. Ibid.

5. This goal was not reached and was retroactively changed to a 90 percent reduction in new HIV infections by 2020; Getting to Zero San Francisco, accessed March 14, 2020, 6. HIV Epidemiology Annual Report 2017.

7. Learning for Action, City and County of San Francisco HIV/AIDS Housing Five Year Plan (San Francisco: Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development City and County of San Francisco, 2014), accessed May 20, 2020, 8. HIV Epidemiology Annual Report 2017.

9. Tim Rhodes, Merrill Singer, Philippe Bourgois, Samuel R Friedman, and Steffanie A. Strathdee, “The Social Structural Production of HIV Risk among Injecting Drug Users,” Social Science Medicine 61, no. 5 (October 2005): 1026-44. 10. Wendy Lee, “Tech Isn’t Biggest S.F. Industry; Health Care Is,” SFGate, November 18, 2014, accessed May 20, 2020,

11. Adele E. Clarke, “Thoughts on Biomedicalization in Its Transnational Travels,” in Adele E. Clarke, Janet K. Shim, Laura Mamo, Jennifer Ruth Fosket, and Jennifer R. Fishman, eds., Biomedicalization: Technoscientific Transformations of Health, Illness, and US Biomedicine (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 161–94. 12. Lindsey Dillon, “Race, Waste, and Space: Brownfield Redevelopment and Environmental Justice at the Hunters Point Shipyard,” Antipode 46, no. 5 (April 2013); Jenny Reardon, The Postgenomic Condition: Ethics, Justice, and Knowledge after the Genome (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017). 13. “Biotechnology,”, accessed March 14, 2020,

14. Aihwa Ong, Fungible Life: Experiment in the Asian City of Life (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016); Charis Thompson, “Asian Regeneration? Nationalism and Internationalism in Stem Cell Research in South Korea and Singapore,” in Aihwa Ong and Nancy N. Chen, eds., Asian Biotech: Ethics and Communities of Fate (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010). 15. Kaushik Sunder Rajan, Biocapital: The Constitution of Postgenomic Life (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006). 16. Clarke, “Thoughts on Biomedicalization in Its Transnational Travels.”

17. Luca Lorenzoni, Annalisa Belloni, and Franco Sassi, “Health-Care Expenditure and Health Policy in the USA versus Other High-Spending OECD Countries,” Lancet 384, no. 9937 ( July 2014): 83–92. 18. Joseph Dumit, Drugs for Life: How Pharmaceutical Companies Define Our Health (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012); Elisabeth Rosenthal, An American Sickness: How Health Care Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back (New York: Penguin Press, 2017). 19. Sandro Galea, Melissa Tracy, Katherine J Hoggatt, Charles DiMaggio, and Adam Karpati, “Estimated Deaths Attributable to Social Factors in the United States,” American Journal of Public Health 101, no. 8 (August 2011): 1456–65; Paula Braveman and Laura Gottlieb, “The Social Determinants of Health: It’s 169 /

Time to Consider the Causes of the Causes,” Public Health Reports 129, no. 1 ( January–February 2014): 19–31. 20. San Francisco Center for Economic Development, “San Francisco Center for Economic Development,” accessed June 20, 2020, 21. Mark Terry, “Bay Area’s Mission Bay Biotech Hotspot Is Running out of Room,” Biospace, February 29, 2016, accessed March 14, 2020,

22. Megan Molteni, “Biotech Gets Some Silicon Valley Shine at Illumina’s New Campus,” Wired, April 19, 2018, accessed March 14, 2020,

23. Economic & Planning Systems, “A Study of the Economic and Fiscal Impact of the University of California, San Francisco,” October 2016, accessed March 17, 2020, 24. Sabin Russell, “Hospital Building Boom Ahead/Earthquake Safety Forcing Private, Public Medical Centers to Rebuild or Retrofit,” SFGate, June 8, 2003, accessed March 17, 2020, y7a37owd.

25. Mark Zuckerberg and Chan Priscilla, “A Letter to Our Daughter,” Facebook, December 1, 2015, accessed June 30, 2020,; Jocelyn Kaizer, “Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Funds First Crop of 47 Investigators,” Science, February 7, 2017, accessed May 20, 2020,; Diana Crow, “Silicon Valley Meets Biomedical Research in the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative,” Cell 169, no. 5 (May 2017): 767–69. 26. Marcia Barinaga, “Genentech, UC Settle Suit for $200 Million,” Science 286, no. 5445 (1999): 1655.

27. Ken Garcia, “UCSF’s New Scientific Melting Pot: Genentech Hall to Foster Collaboration,” SFGate, November 5, 2002, accessed March 17, 2020, 28. Sally Smith Hughes, Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), 154.

29. Ken Garcia, “UCSF’s New Scientific Melting Pot: Genentech Hall to Foster Collaboration,” SFGate, November 5, 2002, accessed March 17, 2020,

30. Matt Richtel, “A Basketball Arena Battles for San Francisco’s Heart,” New York Times, September 5, 2015, accessed March 17, 2020,

31. Kristen Bole, “Tech, Health, Policy, Finance Leaders to Launch Precision Medicine Initiatives,” UCSF, May 1, 2013, accessed March 17, 2020,; National Research Council, “Toward Precision Medicine: Building a Knowledge Network for Biomedical Research and a New Taxonomy of Disease,” National Academy of Sciences, 2011, accessed March 17, 2020, pubmed/22536618. 32. Daniel S. Levine, “Mission Bay’s Genentech Hall Emerges from the Lab,” San Francisco Business Times, September 22, 2002, accessed March 17, 2020, 33. Andrew Schwartz, “UCSF Precision Cancer Medicine Building Design Focuses on Patient Experience,” UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, March 20, 2017, accessed March 17, 2020,

34. Lisa Cisneros, “UCSF Mission Bay: A San Francisco Success Story,” UCSF Campus News, 2013, accessed March 17, 2020, 35. Henry R. Bourne, “Opinion: Expansion Fever and Soft Money Plague the Biomedical Research Enterprise,” PNAS 115, no. 35 (August 2018): 8647–51. 36. Ibid.

37. University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute, “Bayh-Dole Act at a Glance,” accessed June 20, 2020,

38. “Public Law 97-414, Jan. 4, 1983 (Orphan Drug Act),” Government Publishing Office, January 4, 1983, accessed March 17, 2020, 39. “FDA Approves Genentech’s Drug to Treat Children’s Growth Disorder,” October 18, 1985, BioSpace, accessed March 17, 2020, 40. Mark Crawford, “Genentech Sues FDA on Growth Hormone; Company Fights FDA Approval of

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Second-Generation Eli Lilly product; Congress May Alter Orphan Drug Act,” Science 235, no. 4795 (March 1987): 1454–1456.

41. Sarah Jane Tribble and Sydney Lupkin, “Drugs for Rare Diseases Have Become Uncommonly Rich Monopolies,” NPR, January 17, 2017, accessed March 17, 2020,

42. “International Consortium Completes Human Genome Project,” Whitehead Institute, April 14, 2003, accessed May 20, 2020,

43. Alfred E. Alquist, “SB 1953,” February 25, 1994, accessed March 17, 2020,; San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, Institutional Master Plan: Update (San Francisco: City and County of San Francisco Department of Public Health, 2014 [2006]), accessed May 20, 2020, 44. “Mission Bay,” UCSF, accessed March 17, 2020,

45. Rex Dalton and Quirin Schiermeier, “Genentech Pays $200m over Growth Hormone ‘Theft,’” Nature 402, no. 335 (1999), accessed March 17, 2020,

46. Patrick Hoge, “Updated: Uber and Alexandria Buy Salesforce’s Mission Bay Land Near Warriors for Global Headquarters,” San Francisco Business Times, September 4, 2014, accessed March 17, 2020, https://

47. “Proposition A: San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center Earthquake Safety Bonds,” San Francisco Ballot Propositions Database, November 14, 2008, accessed May 21, 2020, https://tinyurl. com/ycluj437. 48. Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), “The Affordable Care Act in California,” PPIC, January 2018, accessed March 17, 2020,

49. Kate Vidinsky, “Marc Benioff Announces $100 Million Gift to Build New Children’s Hospital at Mission Bay,” UCSF Campus News, June 23, 2010, accessed March 17, 2020,; Jill Tucker, “Benioffs Donate Another $100 Million to Children’s Hospitals,” SFGate, April 8, 2014, accessed March 17, 2020, 50. National Research Council, “Toward Precision Medicine.”

51. Office of the Press Secretary, “Fact Sheet: President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative,” White House, President Barack Obama, January 30, 2015, accessed March 17, 2020, 52. Maxwell Coyle, “UCSF Chancellor Sued Over Warriors Arena,” Synapse: UCSF Student Voices, January 5, 2016, accessed March 17, 2020,; Roland Li, “Warriors Win Second Court Decision in S.F. Arena Battle,” San Francisco Business Times, November 29, 2016, accessed March 17, 2020, 53. Antoinette Siu, “Staked with $600 Million, the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub is Writing New Rules for Life Science Research,” San Francisco Business Times, February 23, 2017, accessed May 11, 2020, https://tinyurl. com/ydhtpqe4.

54. Chris Benner and Kyle Neering, Silicon Valley Technology Industries Contract Workforce Assessment, University of California (Santa Cruz: Everett Program, A Social Innovation Lab at UCSC, 2016); Emily Green, “SF Supes Condemn UCSF Over Dismissed Immigrant Janitors,” San Francisco Chronicle, updated August 30, 2016, accessed March 17, 2020,; Emily Green, “UCSF Hires 2 Dozen Janitors Who Complained, Lost Their Jobs,” SFGate, September 1, 2016, accessed March 17, 2020, https:// 55. Joe Kukura, “Box City Homeless Encampment Gets Evicted,” SF Weekly, January 6, 2017, updated October 1, 2017, accessed March 17, 2020,

56. Applied Survey Research (ASR), San Francisco: 2017 Homeless Count and Survey: Comprehensive Report, accessed March 17, 2019, 57. San Francisco Department of Public Health, San Francisco Community Health Needs Assessment 2016 (San Francisco: San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership, 2016).

58. Ibid.; San Francisco Department of Public Health, San Francisco Community Health Needs Assessment 2016: Appendices (San Francisco: San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership, 2016), accessed May 21, 2020, 171 /

59. Claire Conway, “Poor Health: When Poverty Becomes Disease,” UCSF News Center, January 6, 2016, accessed May 21, 2020, 60. Edwin Lee, Mayor Lee Celebrates Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, YouTube, November 24, 2015, accessed May 21, 2020, 61. Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, accessed April 6, 2020,

62. Kristen Bole, “UCSF and City Extend Support for New Generation Health Center,” UCSF, May 10, 2016, accessed April 6, 2020,; Victoria Colliver, “UCSF to Close Clinic Serving Low-Income Youths,” San Francisco Chronicle, March 28, 2016, accessed April 6, 2020, yclyxpu7; Elizabeth Fernandez, “New Generation Clinic to Co-Locate in Homeless Prenatal Program,” UCSF, May 17, 2017, accessed April 6, 2020, 63. Laura Waxmann, “Threatened with Closure, UCSF Youth Health Center Finds New Home,” Mission Local, May 17, 2017, accessed April 6, 2020, 64. Ibid.

65. “Health Center Fair in Hunters Point,” diva: Bay Area Television Archive, May 11, 1974, accessed May 21, 2020,

66. Bayview Hunters Point Clinic, accessed May 11, 2020,

67. Melanie Hamburger, “NeighborFest Grand Opening Aug 11,” Marin City Health and Wellness Center, July 27, 2018, accessed May 21, 2020, 68. “Five Point’s SF Shipyard and Candlestick Point Communities Achieve Major Milestone with Unanimous Approval of San Francisco Board of Supervisors,” businesswire, June 28, 2018, accessed May 11, 2020, 69. Marin City Health and Wellness Center, “Gentrification: A Public Health Crisis,” Bayview Hunters Point Clinic Facebook, February 8, 2018, accessed May 11, 2020, events/1993147050927666. 70. Bayview Hunters Point Mothers Environmental Health and Justice Committee, Huntersview Tenants Association, and Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, Pollution, Health, Environmental Racism and Injustice: A Toxic Inventory of Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco (San Francisco: Bayview Hunters Point Mothers Environmental Health and Justice Committee, Huntersview Tenants Association, and Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, 2004), accessed May 21, 2020, y8me92gp.

71. Jason Fagone and Cynthia Dizikes,”Radioactive Object Found Near Homes at Hunters Point Shipyard,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 30, 2018, accessed May 11, 2020,

72. “Bayview Hunters Point Action against Pollution and Gentrification! Take Action for Environmental, Climate & Social Justice,” 350 Bay Area, September 9, 2018, accessed May 11, 2020, ybdhq8vm. 73. Bram Sable-Smith, “Insulin’s High Cost Leads to Lethal Rationing,” NPR, September 1, 2018, accessed May 11, 2020,

74. Rachel Herzing, “Big Dreams and Bold Steps toward a Police-Free Future,” Truthout, September 16, 2015, accessed May 11, 2020, 75. Addressing Law Enforcement Violence as a Public Health Issue, November 13, 2018, accessed May 11, 2020, APHA policy statements must follow a format of: 1) problem statement, 2) evidence-based strategies to address the problem, 3) opposing arguments/evidence, and 4) action steps.

76. The governing council is a key decision-making body within the APHA; individuals serving on this body have been elected to represent one of APHA’s membership groups, known as “components.” \ 172

Gentrific & State V

—4 —

cation Violence


Inspired by Lacino Hamilton’s article “The Gentrification-to-Prison Pipeline,” this chapter looks at policing, surveillance, and imprisonment as tools foundational to processes of gentrification. While writing about contexts of Detroit’s gentrification, Lacino’s analysis gestures to the histories of dispossession of settler colonialism and slavery across North America and within the Bay Area. As Lacino writes, “gentrification and colonialism are the same processes” and have “created large populations of internal refugees and displaced and disappeared people” into prisons and jails across the country. The rise of the prison-industrial complex and neoliberal gentrification are, thus, expansions of the historical and ongoing dispossession of racialized and Indigenous peoples, connecting the ways that the prison-industrial complex is shaped by the afterlife of slavery and the ongoing processes of settler colonialism. As the contributions in this chapter show, in the Bay Area, the racialized nature of gentrification and policing emphasize their intertwined histories as reflected in criminalization and displacement of Black and Latinx communities. At the same time, grassroots activists and organizers are working daily on the front lines of cities across the Bay Area to dismantle these structures. Lacino writes, “We will only rid society of prisons when we also find a way to abolish gentrification” and “abolishing the gentrification-to-prison pipeline requires us to take on the founding of a new society.” This chapter seeks to be in conversation with those doing this


work. It includes work in many forms and from many people that engages with struggles against hierarchies of violence and force that are continually used to make way for gentrification in the Bay Area, most often along lines of race. It includes contributions on militarization, imprisonment, police murders, racist and speculative municipal policy, criminalization of poverty/precarity, police and military budgets, community accountability, and much more. Taken in conversation with one another, the pieces of this chapter seek to recognize the links between processes of criminalization, imprisonment, speculation, and dispossession in Bay Area communities in an effort to support ongoing struggles to abolish these structures. As such, the “gentrification-to-prison pipeline” can be read not just as a metaphor highlighting a reified process through which people are evicted, criminalized, and then imprisoned within gentrifying cities and spaces. Instead, the vision of transformation that Lacino ultimately demands of anti-gentrification struggles requires that we continue to resist prisons, policing, and surveillance, as we fight for our right to the city.

The Gentrification to Prison Pipeline LACINO HAMILTON

This is the fifth piece in the Truthout series “Severed Ties: The Human Toll of Prisons.” The series dives deeply into the impact of incarceration on families, loved ones, and communities, demonstrating how the incarceration of more than two million people in the United States also harms many millions more—including 2.7 million children. When I was asked to write something “personal” about being sentenced to a prison term of fifty-two to eighty years, and the time I have served thus far, I was torn. During the last twenty-three years of having to always chase after something, hide something, and hold my ground against something or someone, I have always shied away from autobiographical ways of speaking and writing about this real-life nightmare. But I believe personal stories like mine are important, because they give a human face to the pain and misery of imprisonment experienced by incarcerated people as a whole. It’s a failure of both local and national media, as well as institutions of higher learning, that an essay such as this is considered necessary. Our society has launched onto a path of caging and torturing an unprecedented number of men, women, and children en masse, and the people who are supposed to critique and shed light on this draconian practice have largely neglected to do so, at least in a way that is commensurate to the crisis. From time to time, there is reporting on some major problem of imprisonment, but, in my opinion, the reporting rarely conveys the connection between the specific crises they describe and the root cause of imprisonment itself. For example, in relation to the US leading the world in imprisonment, many issues have been the subject of inves-

tigative inquiry, including: the disproportionate number of imprisoned poor people; long-term consequences, including: constructing a permanent underclass; the expected cycle of imprisonment from generation to generation; the decline in births among groups that are overrepresented in America’s many jails and prisons; the schoolto-prison pipeline; the connection between race and imprisonment; the pay-to-play nature of the criminal justice system. But few of these matters are linked directly to the imperatives of economic expansion, monopoly capitalism, imperialism, and the pursuit of superprofits. The net result is a lack of clarity. By telling my own story—a story shared by the many working-class Detroit residents who were forcefully displaced by the brutal “redevelopment” of the city’s Cass Corridor area—I hope to shed some much-needed light on how the capitalist profit motives that drive gentrification are a core cause of mass incarceration in this country. CITY PLANNERS WREAK DISASTER ON THE CASS CORRIDOR IN DETROIT I first learned about people, about cruelty, about forced sacrifices, about being a hard worker to build a life for others, about who is and isn’t important, and about fair speech and diabolical actions during the 1980s and 1990s, in my hometown of Detroit, Michigan, under conditions of gentrification. I saw with my own eyes how economic and social development dismantled the downtown Cass Corridor area and made internal refugees of American citizens, many of whom have joined me here in prison. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the Cass Corridor was suffused with vibrancy, joy, and \ 176

a tolerance of others that was clearly connected with Detroiters’ self-esteem and a general sense of optimism about the future. When Detroiters elected their first Black mayor, Coleman A. Young, in 1974, first-time home ownership was at an alltime high and conflicts that had plagued Detroit’s labor movement for over half a century appeared to have been resolved. THEN LIFE CHANGED I don’t know which came first, but the changes came hard and fast: mortgage foreclosures, the imposition of tax liens, governments using eminent domain to seize property, the reduction and gutting of city services, city officials ignoring an influx of drugs and prostitution, rampant homelessness, and the increased presence of courts and prisons in our lives, but I am certain we were being pushed out of the Cass Corridor, displaced through a complex network of public and private interests. In the mid-1980s, Detroit mayor Coleman Young announced that city dollars would be used to finance the development of downtown hotels, so that Detroit could attract convention business. Homes were foreclosed. Businesses were dismantled. And everyday decision-making power was shifted from families and local business owners to state legislators, venture capitalists, and a combination of financial institutions and interests. It was as if a number of bombs just went off. Almost overnight the Cass Corridor resembled a war zone. Vehicles that swept city streets and removed trash could be seen broken down on the side of the road. The stench from mountains of trash was unbearable. Two of the three supermarkets that provided food to the two thousand or so residents of the Cass Corridor were burned down, never to be rebuilt. The city shut off power lines needed to keep the street lights on, giving a whole new mean177 /

ing to the word darkness. Then many men in the neighborhood took to scrapping, and the power lines were the first to go. At night on some streets, it was impossible to see three feet in any direction. I don’t think anyone felt safe, including me. Three of the area’s four schools—Burton Elementary, James Couzens Elementary, and Jefferson Junior High—looked more like abandoned factories than places of learning. Disinvestment made it appear as if every essential service required for a decent and safe living had come under rocket fire. The immediate objective seemed to be to create unlivable conditions. The longer-term objective seemed to be to force us out of the Cass Corridor so it could be “renewed,” the new phrase at the time meant to hide and shift public dialogue in a direction favorable to economic power. To accomplish these twin goals, city officials became the linchpin of a strategy that involved radically reducing municipal spending—including spending on health, education, and welfare—combined with giving greater resources and authority to police and prosecutors and expanding the criminal code before embarking on imprisoning many of the casualties of renewal. I knew we were being pushed out but was clueless about what to do to push back. I just accepted the fact that we were being uprooted. Families were being broken apart, and social stability was being destroyed. I did not have much help, not even from my parents. Both were incapacitated: my mother was dependent on drugs, and my father was in prison. I had to improvise and fell into a lot of desperate activity. I learned how to make do with whatever resources were around—wit, audacity, determination, and the drug trade. It was a confusing time. A climate of heavy-handed abusive policing intensified, as the police attempted to run

us out of the Cass Corridor. Eventually, Detroit police arrested me, and my decades of incarceration began. GENTRIFICATION’S HUMAN COSTS When Detroit mayors Coleman Young and Dave Bing began to publicly acknowledge the need for the city to both shrink and radically reinvent itself, they were committing to additional outcomes besides “economic and social development.” Where were we, the poor, working-class, predominantly Black population, supposed to go after being pushed out? A few families relocated and found housing in other parts of Detroit. A few moved to other cities. A tiny fraction moved to other states. But the overwhelming majority of families could not just up and relocate. Some were housed in shelters and others in emergency placements. Many became homeless, living in makeshift tents that were considered eyesores and nuisances and were ultimately targeted for forced removal. Foreclosing on mortgages, canceling leases, and raising rents to prices that longtime residents could not afford, forcing them to relocate, was not necessary in some cases. Removal didn’t exclusively mean physical displacement. There was also cultural displacement. For example, it was a different kind of forced removal that took place when my friends and I did not feel welcome in houses of worship and social clubs built primarily to cater to white dispositions and cultures or when we did not feel welcome in restaurants and retail stores built to cater primarily to affluent tastes and lifestyles. The Cass Corridor became the shining example of how urban renewal could supposedly benefit Detroit. But before the 1980s came to a close, the emptiness of that claim was clearly apparent. The Cass Corridor became a virtual ghost town. There were two basic factors behind this: first, the ab-

sence of an income-generating strategy for the poor and working-class people who historically took up residency there and, second, the absence of a democratic system by which area residents could participate in decision-making about the neighborhood. We were cut out of decision-making about the future of the place where we lived, learned, worked, loved, dreamed, created, and did our best to resolve conflicts surrounding our lives. Perhaps we should ask society: What did all this development really mean? How does gentrification alter the experience of everyday life? How does it affect the concepts of social participation, community, and self-worth? How does it change education, work, family life, and leisure? What are the implications for the environment, human health, and disease? How does it serve to homogenize subcultures? Or, on the contrary, does it promote diversity and inclusiveness? And considering that gentrification (capitalist-sponsored development) influences competition, who gains and who loses? This does not mean that all “development” is undesirable—but, rather, that every plan to gentrify a neighborhood or section of a city will necessary have predetermined destructive effects. It also means that social planners, policy makers, bankers, venture capitalists, elected officials, corporations, and others who partake in gentrification schemes are aware of the consequences of such development and choose not to share these consequences with the public. These consequences are often hidden from investigative inquiry through the imprisonment of those who are displaced. I call this the gentrification-to-prison pipeline. THE DIRECT LINE FROM DISPLACEMENT TO INCARCERATION Forcing people to evacuate a neighborhood or entire section of a city cannot be achieved dem\ 178

ocratically. It is inconceivable that anyone would vote to displace themselves, right? This explains why police, courts, and prison are often used to remove and disappear some people. I was either stopped, arrested, and/or conveyed to the police station once or twice a month by regular beat police for the ten years I lived in and frequented the Cass Corridor, supposedly for “identification purposes.” Mind you, these same beat police worked the area for decades and were familiar with me, my friends, and members of my extended family. I was told that if I did not like the treatment, I could always move. A number of comprehensive studies admit that neighborhoods in Detroit, Baltimore, Brooklyn, and Chicago, among other places that have undergone gentrification, created large populations of internal refugees and displaced and disappeared people. Unfortunately, these studies do not say to where they disappeared. A much more nuanced understanding of the social role of “redevelopment” is required for society to give up the usual way of thinking about imprisonment being the inevitable consequences of crime. For many of my friends and neighbors and me, imprisonment did not result from inevitable “crime” but was linked to the agendas of social planners, politicians, and real estate developers and was the result of the extraordinary powers given to the police and courts. Years after I was imprisoned, local newspapers and television stations began reporting that according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for 1998, one in every thirteen murder arrests in the United States was made by Detroit police. Several investigations were launched around what were called dragnet arrests. These involved mass roundups and lockups of any potential witnesses until they talked. And if they did not talk, many were beaten and charged with manufactured crimes, like 179 /

I was. I regret not running when I saw the roundup vans coming on July 8, 1994. Normally, I would have, not because I had done anything wrong, but because I knew that at a minimum I would be harassed. I never imagined I would be locked up, beaten, and charged for a crime of which I had no knowledge. The state’s star and only witness was a jailhouse informant who testified in numerous cases, claiming to have received uncoerced confessions. If that is not unbelievable and tragic enough, the same thing also happened to several dozen other Cass Corridor residents who disappeared around the time I did. The grim reality of gentrification for a large portion of the Cass Corridor’s population has been evident for years. In the eyes of city officials and the big corporations that now control that section of Detroit, the “limits of development” did not call for public participation but for confinement. We were viewed as obsolete commodities that had to leave whether we had some place to go or not, and many of us didn’t. This is how the City of Detroit’s approach to “social development” came to rely so dramatically on the bricks and mortar of prison at the expense of other responses that would have been both more humane and more effective—such as social development with people not profit in mind. If we are willing to take seriously the consequences of a justice system that is the extension of money and power, it should not be difficult to reach the conclusion that an enormous number of people are in prison simply because someone else’s vision for the future did not include them. We were sent to prison not so much because of the crime we may have indeed committed but largely to allow for the expropriation of land (i.e., gentrification), which required getting rid of the people who lived on the land. Social development, urban renewal, and the like are just new words for what sociolo-

gists in the past called imperialism and what we can loosely refer to as colonialism. Gentrification and colonialism are largely the same processes, because they share the same goals—dislocation, expropriation, and the pursuit of profit. My community’s experiences suggest that gentrification can and often does have a substantial impact on citizens returning to the larger society. Almost twenty-five years later, many of those who were forced out of the Cass Corridor and relocated to Michigan prisons are now being released. Released not only to a world that has left them behind technologically (as prison offers little more than a GED) but to a Cass Corridor that has erected nearly insurmountable barriers to education, housing, recreation, and social services for working-class and poor people, prison’s majority clientele. People are being released into a permanent undercaste. This is how gentrification succeeds in disappearing working-class and poor people to make way for a more affluent population. In The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, author Michelle Alexander writes that “prisoners returning ‘home’ are typically the poorest of the poor, lacking the ability to pay for private housing and routinely denied public assistance.” In other words, those of us who are able to get out usually lack access to the type of assistance that could provide some much-needed stability in our lives. Alexander goes on to write that “for them ‘going home’ is more of a figure of speech than a realistic option.” Gentrification not only forces people out but also prevents them from coming back. In moving toward a more complete understanding of why imprisonment patterns have been so persistent, we cannot limit our attention to characteristics of individuals and families, to policies targeting individual poverty, or to macrolevel forces leading to growing income

inequality. We must also consider places. We must consider the various forces that affect neighborhoods, cities, and the ways that the trajectories of people and places are connected over time. The conditions and circumstances that influenced my imprisonment have helped me to think outside the conventional framework of prison abolition. I believe we will only rid society of prisons when we also find a way to abolish gentrification. Prison abolition has to be seen in the context of the broader set of economic and political forces that have served to maintain imprisonment trends for the last several decades. Abolishing the gentrification-to-prison pipeline requires us to take on the founding of a new society.

\ 180


THE SPREAD OF ANTI-HOMELESS LAWS IN CALIFORNIA In response to the explosive growth of homelessness across the US in the 1980s and the judicial overturn of Jim Crow, anti-Okie, “ugly,” and vagrancy laws that traditionally empowered police to manage the downand-out, US cities created new policies to restrict a wide variety of behaviors associated with homelessness, including panhandling, sleeping in parks, and sitting on sidewalks. Nearly forty years later, these laws are spreading at an unprecedented rate and are now common in a cross section of California cities. First evicted from the private spaces of the housing markets elaborated throughout this atlas, this section illustrates the secondary evictions from public spaces into the carceral net faced by the hundreds of thousands of Californians who find themselves unhoused each year. Featured in this map is data from a recent study by University of California, Berkeley, which, in 2016, found 592 anti-homeless laws in its survey of California’s fifty-eight most populous cities. All fifty-eight cities have at least one municipal code prohibiting standing, sitting, or resting, as well as prohibiting some form of begging and panhandling. Over 15 percent restrict sharing food with people who are in public places. Fifty-nine percent of current restrictions on homeless activity have been enacted since 1990, and fifty-eight laws were enacted from 2010 to 2016 alone. Most California cities have at least ten such ordinances on their books. The two cities with the most anti-homeless laws are Los Angeles, which has twenty, and San Francisco, with twenty-four. While, taken on its own, each law may seem lim181 /

ited in its strictures on targeted behaviors, collectively, they effectively criminalize homelessness. As legal scholar Jeremy Waldron presciently wrote over twenty years ago, “What is emerging—and it is not just a matter of fantasy—is a state of affairs in which a million or more citizens have no place to perform elementary human activities like urinating, washing, sleeping, cooking, eating and standing around.” By redefining what is acceptable behavior in public space, cities are effectively annihilating the spaces in which the homeless must live, or what geographer Don Mitchell has described as the “annihilation of space by law.” What is behind the rise in anti-homeless laws? Most ordinances are promoted and bankrolled by merchant and real estate associations, Business Improvement Districts, big employers, and chambers of commerce. On the one hand, anti-homeless laws serve as a class strategy organized through the state to curb visible homelessness, which by disrupting property values, spaces of bourgeois consumption, and tourism is a threat to continued capitalist accumulation. On the other hand, they ride the wave of a broader penal populism that supports increased quality of life policing that have proved popular among liberals and conservatives, working-class and elite. When anti-homeless laws fail to pass in city councils, they often go onto succeed as ballot initiatives, as San Francisco’s most recent anti-camping ban did in 2016. THE ENFORCEMENT OF ANTI-HOMELESS LAWS IN SAN FRANCISCO Once anti-homeless laws are passed, how are they activated and enforced, and what are their impacts on the unhoused?

Anti-homeless laws can be enforced at an officer’s discretion. This helps explain why poor and gentrifying areas, which have more police officers assigned to the sidewalks, experience increased criminalization. Anti-homeless laws are also mobilized by politicians looking to clear areas for special visitors or large sporting events and conferences. However, the tightest link between gentrification and the criminalization of poverty is the fact that the majority of homeless-police interactions in San Francisco are initiated by residents and workers who report homeless-related concerns to 911 or 311, the city’s nonemergency customer service line. The maps in this section depict the extraordinary growth of calls to 911 and 311 labeled “homeless complaints” by the city’s Department of Emergency Management. The maps comprise all the 911 and 311 calls dispatched to police and the department public works in a typical week, in this case, the first week of March 2013 and March 2018. These calls do not include all enforcement that may involve homeless individuals, such as drug, property, or violent crime, but rather only quality of life infractions in which anti-homeless laws were the most serious offense. We also include the 311 calls that are responded to by sanitation workers, because they too are a form of criminalization. Sanitation sweeps are most often experienced by the unhoused as forms of punishment, and frequently result in displacement and the loss or destruction of personal property, none of which could be legally carried out without the mandate of anti-homeless laws and the threat of police intervention. In 2011, 911 dispatches to police for quality of life violations involving the unhoused totaled 57,374. By 2017, the last full year data was collected, there were 98,793 police dispatches for homeless complaints. In this same period, there was an even greater increase

in complaints to the city’s 311 service request line. Reports categorized as “homeless concerns” grew from 9,590 in 2012 to 84,486 in 2017. As depicted in the maps below from two typical weeks, one in 2013 and the other in 2018, police responded to 911 calls 1,289 times during the first week of March in 2013 and 2,014 times that same week in 2018, while 311 requests surged from 201 to 1514 for the same weeks. The overlays denote areas of gentrification and boundaries of Business Improvement Districts, which are tightly correlated with the concentrations of calls. Despite this surge in complaints and journalism portraying San Francisco in the throes of an unparalleled “homeless crisis,” the city’s homeless population has remained relatively stable. The overall population according to the city’s point in time count grew only 8 percent from 2011 to 2017, from 6,455 to 6,986.1 Even more significant is the fact that from 2013 to 2017, when 911 dispatches increased at their fastest rate, the unsheltered homeless population increased by only 1 percent. What these numbers suggest is that the increasing criminalization of homelessness is not driven by a growth of homelessness but by the increase in complaints. As the maps depict, the homeless “removals” are most concentrated in areas of ongoing or advanced gentrification and exclusion. They are also more concentrated within the boundaries of Business Improvement Districts. These entities garner a tax to pay for additional sanitation and security from the merchants in their district, who in turn call on the police to handle homeless concerns. This suggests a link between increased gentrification and development and the increase in criminalizing the unhoused, which has limited the ability of those experiencing homelessness to hide from public sight and has supported the influx of new whiter higher \ 182

Healthy Street Operations Center (HSOC) Dispatch Incidents

MAP 1: Healthy Street Operations Center (HSOC) BUSINESS Dispatch Incidents - March 2013 IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT (BID) BOUNDARY 911 DISPATCH 311 COMPLAINT

Spatial distribution of homeless complaint calls for 911 and 311 in first week of March 2013 correlated with overlays of gentrification levels (Urban Displacement Project 2018) and Business Improvement Districts.



Healthy Street Operations Center (HSOC) Dispatch Incidents

MAP 2: Healthy Street Operations Center (HSOC)BUSINESS Dispatch Incidents - March 2018 IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT (BID) BOUNDARY 911 DISPATCH 311 COMPLAINT

Spatial distribution of homeless complaint calls for 911 and 311 in first week of March 2018 correlated with overlays of gentrification levels (Urban Displacement Project 2018) and Business Improvement Districts.



\ 184

socioeconomic status residents and workers who have been shown to more regularly call on the police and city services than other groups. The impact of the police and sanitation workers responses to complaints is widespread, with lingering consequence for the majority of those experiencing homelessness in San Francisco. A community-based survey and interview study of 350 homeless individuals completed by the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness and University of California researchers in 2015 found that through incarceration, citations, and move along orders this enforcement lengthened homelessness, perpetuated poverty, and deepened inequality, by creating barriers to accessing services, housing, and jobs. On any given night, over 20 percent of San Francisco’s jail is occupied by the unhoused. In 2016, there were 11,920 citations issued for illegal lodging, blocking the sidewalk, or sleeping or sitting in public. The survey found that over 70 percent of those experiencing homelessness had been forced to move from public spaces, 69 percent of all respondents had been cited in the past year, and 22 percent received more than five citations. However, only 10 percent of those surveyed were able to pay their last ticket. Each unpaid citation at the time resulted in an additional $300 civil assessment, suspension of a driver’s license, and a bench warrant for a person’s arrest. The far more frequent move along orders were reported to be equally and sometimes even more devastating than citations or arrest, leading to the loss of priceless mementos and valuable property. More than half of those residing on the streets or in the parks reported having their property taken or destroyed by officials at some point in the past year. Those interviewed described move along orders leading to assault, rape, and increased tensions as a result of moving into unfamiliar territories. In the 185 /

case of arrests, citations, move along orders, and destruction of people’s property, the survey found that people of color, those who were transgender, and those with physical and mental disabilities were disproportionately impacted. All of this is occurring in a city where most of the unhoused have no choice but to exist in public space. Despite the rhetoric of those on the streets being service resistant, there is a lack of shelter, which is at functional capacity each night, with waiting lists whereby it takes an individual over a month to reach the front of the line, and an affordable housing crisis of historic proportions. ENDING THE CRIMINALIZATION OF HOMELESSNESS One strategy to roll back the criminalization of homelessness is to remove the ability of localities to pass and enforce the sort of laws discussed here. This can be done through judicial challenges that find city policies in violation of people’s civil rights. In August 2015, the US Department of Justice filed a statement of interest on the side of homeless plaintiffs charging the city of Boise with “cruel and unusual punishment,” because the city cites and arrests people who sleep in public space when there are no available shelter beds. A decision that echoed several reports by the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights and was recently upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Unfortunately, the relief from criminalization gained from these rulings is often limited and temporary in spite of lengthy and costly proceedings. The most common result is an injunction on criminalization until cities find workarounds, payouts to a lucky few, and, at best, a changed protocol that provides greater due process. Therefore, another strategy to effectively nullify local anti-homeless ordinances is to rescale the







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struggle from the city to state government. Since 2013, coalitions organized through the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP) have brought Right to Rest legislation to state houses in Oregon, Colorado, and California that would make it illegal to cite or arrest those resting in public spaces. Just as most judicial cases are initiated through local community organizers, so were these pieces of legislation. With the growth and generalization of anti-homeless or-

Anaheim Carlsbad El Cajon

Chula Vista

dinances, a state law would be far more consequential in rolling back the criminalization of homelessness at this late stage. In the meantime, local Bay Area organizations like the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness, Berkeley’s First They Came for the Homeless, and Oakland’s The Village expose, politicize, and work to reform their respective city’s policing, judicial processing, and sanitation policies to end the criminalization of the unhoused. \ 186


In December 2015, San Francisco police in the Bayview neighborhood executed Mario Woods, a young Black disabled man. In the days that followed, this artwork was created by disability justice organizers Patricia Berne, Leroy Moore, Natasha Lynné Simpson, and Kiyaan Abadani, as well as Black Lives Matter Bay Area, in collaboration with Micah Bazant.

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Police Killings in San Francisco and Oakland ANDREW SZETO


In early 2014, at the height of a renewed anti-gentrification movement, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) killed Alex Nieto, a young Latino man, on Bernal Hill, near the Mission District. His “death by gentrification,” as writer Rebecca Solnit later described it,2 became the catalyst for centering the ways that policing by the state and vigilantes operated in tandem with the eviction and displacement of historic communities within gentrifying neighborhoods like the Mission. This map highlights the racial disparities of police killings in San Francisco and reflects the ways anti-gentrification activists pushed housing

rights activism to also challenge state violence. The map was originally produced in 2014, using newspaper databases to find the incidents of police killings and the stories behind them. We took the time to search newspaper articles, because the list that the police provided in response to an information request was incomplete. Sometimes accomplices or companions at the scene are charged rather than the death being attributed to the police, as in the 1998 case of seventeen-year-old Sheila Detoy, in which the driver of the car that she and her unarmed friends were in was charged with causing Sheila’s death. \ 188


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Working with the Gongora Family, Patrick Piazza originally created a poster in support of the Justice for Luis movement. Luis D. Gongora Pat was executed by the San Francisco police on April 7, 2016, when two plain clothes cops responded to a 911 call. Marina Perez-Wong and Elaine Chu (Twin Walls Mural Company) worked with the Gongora Family to develop Patrick’s poster into a mural design. The six ex-votos surrounding the center image tell the story of Luis’s life, from being born in Yucatán through moving to San Francisco to find work to his eviction and execution while living in a tent encampment on the streets. Clarion Alley Mural Project, with assistance from Adriana Camarena, helped facilitate the painting of this mural in solidarity with the Gongora family.


HOMIES ORGANIZING THE MISSION TO EMPOWER YOUTH (HOMEY) was formed in 1997 by a group of formerly incarcerated youth, active gang members, organizers, and community members interested in combating mass incarceration and youth violence. HOMEY partnered with The Justice for Amilcar Coalition and artist Carla Wojczuk, to organize a mural in honor of Amilcar Perez Lopez. Like Alex Nieto the year before, Amilcar Perez Lopez was shot and killed by plainclothes officers in 2015. Amilcar was a twenty-one-year-old Ch’orti’ Mayan immigrant from Guatemala. He was killed only fifteen feet away from his home in the Mission. The finished mural, "Alto al Fuego en La Misión" (painted by artists: Adrianna Adams, Anna Lisa Escobedo, Lucía González Ippolito, Sonia "G" Molina, Flavia Elisa Mora, Cristian Muñoz, Pancho Pescador, and Carla Elana Wojczuk) can be viewed at 24th and Capp Street. \ 192


DOLLARS BY WIRE A migrant day laborer waiting for work on Cesar Chavez Street once told me that migration was like a thread. “A friend or family member tells you there is work here. They pull you in, and you pull in the next guy, and the next guy pulls in the next one. It’s a thread that winds onto itself.” Luis Demetrio Gongora Pat was pulled into San Francisco by José, who was pulled in by their older brother Carlos. Carlos was pulled in by a friend also named Luis from Oxkutzcab, and Luis had been pulled in by another Mayan from the same town. The legend goes that Mayans have been pulling each other into San Francisco since Tomas Bermejo of Oxkutzcab and his Elmy founded Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant on Geary Boulevard in the Richmond District, in 1965. Since then, Mayans from Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula have been arriving to the Bay Area to work in restaurants as janitors, dishwashers, busboys, line cooks, chefs, and managers. AN OPPORTUNITY Luis first laid eyes on Carmen May Can at a town dance, she was fourteen, and he was fifteen. “He was entering the hall to dance, and I was exiting when he saw me.” Luis would ask to walk with Carmen down the street. “He was very stubborn,” she laughs. “My father finally accepted him since he knew the Góngora family.” Six years later, Carmen and Luis married. José married Isabel Yeh Poot soon after. The young couples began having children. Carmen remembers, “Luis loved to be with his children at the town festivals. I would carry Luis Jr., and he would 193 /

carry Angel. He walked around with that child so much!” Rossana, the youngest daughter, arrived two years after Angel. José and Isabel also had children, a son and two daughters. The Mayan lifestyle provided for many things, but it did not grow cash. The families needed money to buy shoes and other necessities once the kids started school. Luis started going to Cancún to construction jobs while the crops were growing. In 2002, José was in Oxkutzcab on an errand. Oxkutzcab is just south of Teabo, and while there José visited his sister-in-law. His older brother Carlos happened to call from San Francisco. “There was an opportunity to go north, which I felt I could not miss,” said José. Luis was in Cancún at the time. There were no cellphones, not even phones in Teabo. Without a way to communicate this opportunity to Luis, José left. When Luis returned, he struggled to keep the milpa going on his own, eventually figuring out a way out to head north after José. The fate of one brother was tethered to that of the other. LOOSENING Doña Carmen explains how things changed after Luis and José left. “Oh!” she declares with exasperation, “It was so difficult. We had to buy everything. We had to buy wood. We had to buy corn. We had no fresh cut corn, so there was no more atole. You need fresh cut corn to make atole. There is none. We now buy Mixtamal [a brand of prepared corn masa] to make tortillas instead of making our own.” Before the two youngest Gongora sons migrated, the family had a subsistence farming cycle of life.

would arrive with sacks of corn that needed to be shelled and washed in preparation for milling the next day. Their homes were huts made with wood and palm trees, their kitchens were fire pits, and their beds were hammocks that they wove themselves. The family barely needed cash. In the afternoons, Luis helped with the children. “Especially Luis Jr.,” recalls Doña Carmen. “He had never learned to read, but he would tell Luis Jr., ‘Say what your mother is saying.’” Luis Jr., prompted by his father’s instruction, would recite his arithmetic tables, which he knows to this day. When Luis Jr.’s father decided to strike north, Doña Carmen tried to stop him, insisting, “You are going to get lost. You can’t even read the signs.” Luis responded confidently, “I look at signs and I record them. I don’t get lost.” Luis made it up north, where he worked successfully as a dishwasher for a steady ten years at Mel’s Diner at 4th and Mission Streets.

The day started at the rooster’s call, with José and Luis going off to tend the milpa, cut wood, and harvest corn. At the same time, the women in the house would wake to get the children ready for school. They would spend the rest of the morning sweeping, washing dishes, laundering, preparing food, tending to the patio animals, and running the occasional errand. Doña Estela, mother of Luis and José, would mill the corn with limestone. By noon she would be making tortillas for the midday meal. Don Demetrio, father of Luis, was the town merchant and butcher, which allowed him to provide meat for the family. When the children returned from school at 3:00 p.m., they would be fed, before sitting down to do their homework. While the women waited for the men to return, they would embroider and make clothes. The men

LOVE ON THE LINE Doña Carmen would feel when Luis was about to call. “I would just have to think, ‘He has not called,’ and the phone would ring.” During the fourteen years of his migration, every third day, Luis Gongora Pat would call his wife, sometimes at night, sometimes at dawn, depending on his shift. Since the phone was in José’s home, his sister-in-law would pick up first. “Who’s calling?” Isabel would ask. “Some crazy guy,” he would answer playfully. Luis was generous, even with his neighbors, instructing Doña Carmen when he sent money back home to “give old Don Chilon thirty pesos for his beer.” She reminisces, “Or during Christmas, it is our custom to share candied fruit with your neighbors when you set up the altar to Baby Jesus. Maybe even share tamales or turkey tacos. Luis would tell me to buy turkey meat, even when it was expensive at \ 194

Christmas, so I could give to the neighbors. That was Luis, always sharing.” FRAYED Luis lost his job at Mel’s around 2013, when the Mayan manager left, and there was no one there to help him understand orders. At the time, his brother José helped manage a property in Placerville. Every two weeks he returned to the apartment he and Luis shared, at the corner of Valencia Street and Market Street. One day José returned and found the locks changed and their all of their furniture and belongings in the dumpster. He picked up a portrait of his family and an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and that night he slept on the street. “For three months, we did not hear from them. José called first,” said Doña Carmen. The family in Teabo learned the brothers were on the street. Remittances became scarce. José was helped back on his feet by his cousin Luis Poot Pat, and they planned to help Luis next; maybe even raise funds to send him back home. Meanwhile, José visited Luis often at his home in an encampment on Shotwell Street near 19th, sharing breakfast and phone calls back home. Doña Carmen thought nothing of Luis’s troubles. “He still called, and he still sent money. He said he 195 /

was coping by recycling cans.” She took up housecleaning jobs in Merida and embroidered for extra money. “But I thought to myself, ‘He has worked so hard all his life. He can take a break. If he doesn’t have work now, he’ll find work later.’” BROKEN TELEPHONE A young woman in the Foxy Lady store on Mission Street once told me that all her life her father was just a voice over the telephone. She came looking for him to San Francisco, wanting to know him, but she had barely arrived when he deployed to the first Gulf War on promise of citizenship. He was killed. I asked her, “How did you feel when you learned your father had died?” “I don’t know,” she said sincerely. “He was a voice over the telephone.” In early April 2016, the phone rang. It was José who spoke to his wife Isabel. Isabel hung up and crossed the patio to Carmen’s house. She found her in the kitchen and told her Luis had died, killed violently by police. A week before he was murdered, Luis had called, asking for Rossana, but both mother and daughter were out. A few weeks before then, he had talked to his mother Doña Estela and told her

he had found a job. Idyllic Teabo turned into hell for the family. The news exploded, and so did the gossip: Mayan killed by police. Doña Carmen fell ill and was taken to the hospital. In her absence, neighbors speculated about everything, including the idea that the family had been kidnapped. A government official advised Doña Carmen to refuse the repatriation of the body to preserve evidence. Doña Carmen struggled to understand her duties in the face of a killing that demanded justice. A lawyer was sent by the Mexican Consulate to have her sign papers. When she stalled on signing off on the body, Luis’s extended family mistook her efforts to claim justice as lack of love. She was devastated and caught in a multiplication and escalation of trauma. The body of the deceased finally arrived at the start of the town festivities for the Cruz de Mayo, Luis’s favorite town affair. His remains were carried into the temple in a crush of people, who had arrived for the town festival and instead found a funeral. On November 3, 2016, Doña Carmen wore the last hipil Luis ever bought her, three years before his death, to a press conference in Merida, Yucatán. San Francisco supporters had organized this event with Adante Pointer, her African American lawyer. We wanted to give Luis’s wife and children a chance to set the record straight in the Mexican media about his unjust killing, based on witness testimony and his autopsy. Luis was alone and causing no harm. He was shot to the back with five large hard rubber bullets, while sitting. As he stood in fright, he was shot down with seven metal bullets. For no reason, his conscious life was taken by an execution shot to his head as he lay injured on the ground. It took hours more for him to die. According to the medical examiner’s report, Luis was shot shortly after 10:00 a.m. He died in San

Francisco General Hospital after surgical procedures nearly three hours later at 12:42 p.m. THREADED ALTAR By its nature, thread tangles. This year for Day of the Dead in San Francisco, José and I worked alongside artist Paz de la Calzada on threading an altar for Luis Demetrio Gongora Pat at SOMArts. We dyed a giant spool of cotton thread in my home into various colors. Once dried, José adeptly untangled the thread by applying his hammock weaving skills to the task, creating coils to work with later. During our installation, José would pass along untangled thread, and Paz and I would gently stitch the thread to the embroidered text on two Day of the Dead altar cloths. Both altar cloths were handmade in the Mayan mestizo tradition by Luis’s cousin Luli, with religious iconography and the name and dates of birth and death of the deceased embroidered on. The text on the altar cloths reads, “Honor and Justice for Luis Gongora Pat.” A protest was embedded in her artwork. We strung our threads from the protest text on the altar cloths to the embroidered textile of a hipil. The hipil was richly embroidered with bright red cardinal birds. It had been given to me as a gift from the family of the deceased in Yucatán and San Francisco. Cardinals do not migrate, like Doña Carmen, who remains in their hometown of Teabo, Yucatán. Threading for the beloved muertito, we linked the worded protest of the altar clothes to the handwork of the Mayan women of Teabo. Back in Teabo, Doña Estela grieves her murdered son Luis, and she misses and fears for José. “My mother is always telling me to return,” says José. But he knows that what she also misses is the way they used to live, self-sustained in relationship to nature, informed by an ancient Mayan cosmovision of a good life. He adds, “She says I only send her money now.” \ 196


An unsettling tool is being used in Oakland and cities across California that uses municipal ordinance to write into law another link between gentrification and state violence. The nuisance eviction program in California, named differently in each city that adopts it, serves as a means for the city to criminalize and displace certain residents in a speedy and cost-effective way by deeming them a “nuisance.” The ordinance allows a city attorney to intervene in the landlord-tenant relationship in cases involving nuisance by putting pressure on landlords to abate the nuisance by evicting the tenant, sometimes allowing for partial eviction of selected “problem tenants.”3 Piloted in Los Angeles County in 1997, with its most recent iteration signed into state law in September 2014, this program grants extrajudicial powers to the city attorney, in addition to the right property owners already have to pursue their tenant’s eviction. Landlords who are not complicit in either evicting the tenant or signing over this right to the city are penalized with fines of up to $25,000. The program was piloted in districts in Los Angeles and Long Beach, chosen for the local “severity of the problem and the widespread use of rental housing to facilitate drug trafficking.”4 Since then, the program has expanded to include Sacramento and Oakland, and several nuisance categories have been added to the list of legitimate grounds for eviction, including crimes related to possession of a weapon or ammunition, “gang-related crimes,” and acts associated with sex work.5 197 /

Due to very neglectful documentation, it is difficult to find precise and coherent information on the process. This is apparent not only when looking through the log of the city’s “Nuisance Abatement Division” but also when reading associated police records. This lack of transparency points to an avoidance of accountability from those who stand to gain from this program: the city and property owners, at the expense of renters and residents. OAKLAND’S NUISANCE EVICTION ORDINANCE In 2004, Oakland enacted the Nuisance Eviction Ordinance (NEO), modeled after the 1997 pilot program in Los Angeles County. The city’s municipal code states that the goal of the ordinance is a “more expeditious, less costly, and more targeted approach to removal from the rental property [of] tenants committing a nuisance by engaging in illegal activity.”6 It targets both residential and commercial residents. The ordinance imposes a mandatory obligation on landlords to not allow their properties to be used or maintained for any “Drug-Related Nuisance, Gambling, Gang-Related Crime, Illegal Drug Activity, Illegal Possession, Sale, or Use of Weapon, Violent Crime, Threat of Violent Crime, Illegal Possession of Ammunition, Pimping, Prostitution, Pandering, and Solicitation.” 7 The City of Oakland encourages its residents to report anything they would consider a nuisance, not only those things included in its list of legitimate grounds for eviction. The city has received and acted on complaints about dogs barking, excessive noise, litter, graffiti, loitering, weeds and

trash yards, public drunkenness, and many other issues. Other types of nuisance, including illegal cabarets and pool halls, are not the official list but have been used as the basis for eviction, according to city data. Here’s how the process works. When the city attorney gets a nuisance complaint, in most cases from law enforcement, a thirty-day notice is sent to the property owner and the tenant, which serves as a warning and obligates the owner to act by either filing an appeal or starting the eviction process. In some cases, the owner will take steps to negotiate with the tenant to abate the nuisance before moving forward with an eviction. To move forward with an eviction, the owner sends a “notice to quit” to the tenant, who generally has three days to move out. If the tenant does not vacate the property within that time, the city attorney or the landlord can file an unlawful detainer action through the court. It is incredibly important to note that in many cases tenants leave before this step is taken. Out of all incidents we reviewed, only one in five cases progressed to the “voluntary vacate” state, which means a large portion of tenants receiving a warning notice in California left their homes without attempting to file an appeal. As suggested by the California Research Bureau, which provided this data, “such letters are an effective means to remove [tenants] from the property without initiating an eviction.”8 In other words, eviction through intimidation is faster and cheaper than going through institutional channels. What the ordinance does not discuss is that it, in effect, permits landlords to harass and discriminate against tenants, something renter protections are supposed to prohibit in most of the cities concerned. Not only is the outcome of the Oakland program highly racialized, with 80 percent

of the evictions targeting non-white tenants, according to the California Research Bureau Report, but immigrant tenants are also much less likely to file an appeal, being too “fearful of asserting their rights” and, thus, especially vulnerable to displacement.9 However, the report refuses to make any statement about “whether nuisance evictions have been unfairly applied to minority tenants,”10 as the documentation is so incomplete. Not only does the program provide solid grounds for harassment by landlords, it also appeals to anyone passing through the neighborhood to suspect, report, and criminalize undesirable residents. The NEO program is designed to open up the reporting process to anyone; reporting a nuisance is encouraged and easily done by phone, email, or with an app. It is therefore an excellent tool to distribute the responsibility for criminalizing unwanted tenants and restructuring a neighborhood. Ironically, nuisance reporting forms include a section for “community contacts,”11 suggesting that the procedure is meant to occur in some way in accord with, and maybe even on behalf of “the community.” This column is left empty throughout the entire dataset, which demonstrates that this is an empty promise that is only included on the form for rhetorical purposes. This unregulated reporting process is particularly concerning, because Oakland’s ordinance explicitly states, “the crime solicited need not actually be committed for solicitation to occur.”12 This means that, in some cases, a police report is created without any crime occurring. An arrest made with probable cause for any of the actions characterized as nuisance in the NEO constitutes enough evidence for the city attorney to initiate an eviction. This bypassing of due process is perhaps the most egregious aspect of this ordinance. Fur\ 198

thermore, the ordinance’s extremely weak reporting requirements signal a certain arbitrariness— that the city attorney’s office is quite uninterested in what actually happened and more concerned that the tenants are cleared despite, in some cases, never being convicted of the initial reported crime. OAKLAND AMENDS ITS ORDINANCE TO INCLUDE SEX WORK In 2014, the NEO program began targeting sex workers in Oakland. In September of that year, Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker penned an expanded NEO to include a wider range of nuisances, including “prostitution” and solicitation, thus creating new vulnerabilities for sex workers who already faced increasing criminalization of their work. Oakland’s expansion of its ordinance made clear that sex workers were unwanted within its city limits, and sex workers had little legal recourse to stay. Once an eviction is triggered under the NEO, the tenant does have the right to a jury trial, but only if they challenge the eviction in court. In most cases this requires access to an attorney and a willingness to open your activities to investigation by the court, which for sex workers means facing further criminalization, as acts of prostitution are criminalized all over the United States at state and municipal levels. Oakland city officials in large part have justified expanding the extrajudicial powers of the city attorney by arguing that it is in service of protecting the community, as described by Supervising Deputy City Attorney Richard Illgen: “Our concern with a lot of the action we take is for the protection of people in the rental units and the surrounding community. We’ve heard from a number of tenants who are happy we’re doing this, because they’re scared to death of other tenants on their 199 /

property.”13 In response to harsh criticism from sex workers’ rights advocates to this expansion of the ordinance, city officials claimed to be primarily using the law to target hotels and motels, a claim that does not bear out in the Nuisance Reports database, which lists almost exclusively residential addresses. Illuminating the real reason for the expansion of the ordinance, City Attorney Barbara Parker argued that prostitution harms the city’s businesses and property values and called it “part of the City’s efforts to eradicate . . . prostitution from Oakland.”14 As the map shows, the ordinance fills a gap in the policing of sex work. When comparing the NEO data to the Calls for Service data of the Oakland Police Department in the map below, there are only a few visible geographical overlaps. Reports of nuisance are concentrated in downtown Oakland and scattered throughout East Oakland, while Calls for Service, which usually trigger a police presence, are being made most often in West Oakland and along International Boulevard in East Oakland, a “known prostitution stroll.”15 This could indicate that the much more visible forms of street sex work that have long been targeted through street policing have already been pushed out of the central and gentrifying parts of Oakland. The NEO now allows targeting less visible spaces of indoor sex work. In this regard, the NEO is just another means to help push the unwanted further out of the city. For those concerned, this implies geographically separating people from support networks and pushing them out of potentially safer (indoor) working spaces. The NEO targets all those who are known to be the primary subjects of criminalization in the US. Working closely with law enforcement, this ordinance is an effective way to physically restructure

the city according to the hegemonic desires of tidy white upper-class neighborhoods. It is both a way of intimidating and/or forcing vulnerable tenants out of their homes as their neighborhood gentrifies and an attempt to regulate crime geographically, by displacing “problem” tenants from these neighborhoods. This means ignoring the structural context and the outcomes for those targeted; here, alleged delinquency is punished with further destabilization. Instead of providing public resources to repair the violence of gentrification in neoliberal housing markets, the NEO serves as a means for the city to encourage and speed up the process, cleanse neighborhoods of selected “problem” tenants, and displace unwanted activity. Nevertheless, the program maintains its strength and legitimacy, as it makes displacing undesirable residents all the more seamless for those already benefiting from processes of gentrification.

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San Francisco Bay

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Nuisance Eviction Ordinance Reports and Calls to Police in Oakland






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St. James Infirmary: Statement of Support for APHA’s “Addressing Law Enforcement Violence as a Public Health Issue” ELI SHOECRAFT AND PIKE LONG

In November 2018, the American Public Health Association formally endorsed a policy statement, “Addressing Law Enforcement Violence as a Public Health Issue,” which acknowledges that law enforcement–centered approaches to public health disproportionately target marginalized communities. As a peer-based, sex worker–led organization, we support public health approaches that engage with our community, and we are keenly aware that criminalization and policing only serve to further harm those who are already at the margins of society. We know first-hand that, as sex workers, contact with law enforcement is usually something to be avoided at all costs. For most of us, the fear of being arrested and/or assaulted by police officers “in the line of duty” comes second only to the fear of being assaulted or killed by a civilian while doing our jobs. In spite of San Francisco’s relatively hands-off approach to enforcement of prostitution laws, the past year has been a nightmare for those who work the historical strolls of Capp and Shotwell Streets.16 In April 2018, Congress passed a new law, FOSTA/ SESTA that effectively shut down online ad sites— most notably—where sex workers could meet and screen clients from the safety of their homes.17 In the weeks that followed the shutdown, sex workers, who were suddenly faced with the option of either starving or going outside to find work, took to the streets in droves. St. James Infirmary’s outreach staff, which has conducted outreach to street-based sex workers for years in this 203 /

corridor, immediately noticed a serious increase in the number of workers we saw and engaged with. Given the ongoing gentrification that the Central Mission has steadily experienced over the past fifteen years, it should come as no surprise that a well-organized group of well-to-do neighbors immediately raised the alarm about the new influx of street activity, demanding meetings with the police captain, Mission supervisor Hillary Ronen, the district attorney, and other city officials to “eradicate the prostitutes [sic] from their [sic] neighborhood.” They demanded an immediate police crackdown and offered suggestions including full-scale “stop and frisk” checkpoints for cars and pedestrians, while still somehow claiming to stand in solidarity with their undocumented migrant neighbors. While they didn’t get their checkpoints, the Mission police leadership did respond by launching a “Sex Worker Abatement Task Force,” a team of twenty officers dedicated to targeting sex workers, pimps, and clients in the Capp Street corridor. Marginalized communities often mistrust law enforcement, as a result of witnessing, having historical knowledge of, and being the victims of abuses of power. Contact and involvement with the criminal legal system more often exacerbates rather than mitigating the cycles of trauma, poverty, and violence that too many people who trade sex experience. Since the launch of the task force, the St. James Infirmary outreach team has had a much more difficult time locating and connecting with sex workers

to get them the harm reduction and hygiene supplies that allow them to work more safely. While the temporarily reduced street presence of sex workers (in this neighborhood; we know that they are still out there working someplace else) may be a win for those who consider them a nuisance, it is a disaster for those of us who care about public health and human rights. People who engage in street economies don’t stop needing to eat and clothe themselves when police presence increases; rather, desperation can lead them to engage in increasingly risky activity in order to survive. This is one reason why we balk when we hear proposals to target clients (as opposed to sex workers themselves). Regardless of what one might feel about the morality of sex work, we know that policing initiatives that target buyers of sex intensify unsafe conditions for people who trade sex. These conditions include rushed negotiations that increase rates of HIV and violent encounters, a higher potential for trafficking situations, and increased poverty and reduced ability to turn down offers when a client base is unavailable. When pressed on the utility and humanity of the added police presence in the Capp Street corridor, the Mission police captain has claimed that many of the workers are offered diversion from arrest through a program called “LEAD,” which stands for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion. Though we support the intention of LEAD programs to provide social services rather than incarceration, the fact that they are initiated by law enforcement means that they violate numerous social work ethical standards, welcome profiling, and are unable to prioritize the safety and self-determination of people who trade sex. Police are not social workers, and police-centered initiatives reinforce inequalities in key determinants of health. As noted in the APHA statement, programs that initiate police contact with

marginalized communities increase opportunities and risks for physical and psychological violence. We seek to hold law enforcement accountable with efforts like the 2017 Prioritizing Safety for Sex Workers policy, but we know that relying solely on policing reform to uphold the safety of our communities is not best practice from a public health standpoint. While we agree that providing access to resources is a needed alternative to incarceration, St. James Infirmary stands by the recommendations of the American Public Health Association. The APHA recommends the decriminalization of “activities shaped by the experience of marginalization,” including sex work and the implementation of community-based programs to address violence and harm that do not involve law enforcement contact. We believe these are necessary steps to combat stigma and the systemic oppression of people who use drugs, people experiencing poverty, and people who trade sex. Ultimately, we view sex work as a form of labor worthy of the same rights and protections as any other labor sector. When workers of all kinds have the ability to organize together, they can demand safe working conditions and better wages, get support from each other, and have greater autonomy over the types of work they do. When sex workers are not shamed, criminalized, and branded for the way they earn a living, we are better able to work toward the kind of life that we want for ourselves— however that may look.

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Gaby is a Spokane-Kalispel Native American and a homeless single mother who is also a sex worker at corners of the Mission District, where this trade has been plied since at least the late 1960s. This happens also to be one of the most gentrified neighborhood corners, where new residents have a “zero tolerance” policy for sex workers and their clients. RENEGADE A street sex worker without a pimp is called a renegade. “It’s more dangerous, because at the end of the day you don’t have any protection.” Gaby was recently threatened with a knife to the neck. “It’s the most dangerous thing that has ever happened to me. He took my money back. Basically, he got free service,” she says, dejected. “Only because of the experience I have, I know how to stay safe.” Gaby pulls two shifts, an evening and morning shift, with a break in between. She avoids the peak service hours: “I’m not making anything at that time, and there are too many pimps out there. I don’t want to get hemmed up. Some might be part of a sex ring.” SURVIVAL SEX WORK The sex industry encompasses a wide range of jobs, including peep shows, pole and lap dancing, masseuses, pornography, and full-service escorting. Sex workers stories are likewise varied. In the City of San Francisco, the sex positive movement has succeeded in showing the public that empowered female and male sex workers carry out the vast array of sex work. But this tends to overlook that smaller percentage of sex work where race, ethnicity, and poverty is determinative of the level of empowerment of a sex worker over their work. Out on the street corners, girls cut their teeth in 205 /

the business for the first time, or the poorest survive. Pike Long, deputy director of the St. James Infirmary, explains that “many who work closely with sex workers use the term ‘survival sex work’ to describe more precarious work like Gaby’s.” Attending to the needs of survival sex workers—commonly women and transwomen—is one of the main focuses of St. James Infirmary’s outreach and programming. In developing services, St. James holds to the main mottos of the sex worker movement: “Rights not rescue!” and “Nothing about us without us!” At the core of any successful harm reduction program with people in conditions of vulnerability in the city is the exercise of their right to self-determination. DAY LABORER LODGINGS The greatest risk to Gaby and her family right now is homelessness not her work. “The first step to my stability would be to get a home. I’m tired of being on the wait lists, but it pushes me to go toward what I want. I want to be without government assistance. Who wants to be on welfare for the rest of your life? I can make that in a day. I’m looking for just a little room to rent; up to $1,000 a month or less is what I could afford. I would like to stay with just another woman.” When Gaby first arrived in the Mission, it was still possible for day laborers, including street sex workers, to find and afford a room to house themselves and even their family. But rooms are hard to come by in the gentrified Mission, and even more for someone who makes a clandestine living. “All these places that rent to people, they want proof of income. Working under the table, I just can’t give it.”

TOLERANCE In May, a group that calls itself the Central Mission Neighborhood Organization (CMNO) went door to door in the vicinity of the traditional sex work corridor handing out a flyer to promote a meeting for “tackling the prostitution issue in the Central Mission.” The leading voices of the CMNO are wealthy gentrifiers who have bought homes in the zone, including an executive who works for a sustainable clothing company, an executive at Pinterest, and, of course, a realtor. The organization has been active on Nextdoor and Facebook since approximately 2010. The CMNO has worked in an insular fashion, lobbying the past and current District 9 Supervisor, the San Francisco Police Department, and the Department of Public Works to solve problems on “their streets”—without calling in organizations with expertise in providing services to the homeless people and sex workers in the Mission.

I attended the second meeting of the CMNO on June 18 at the Mission Rec Center on Harrison Street. The meeting agenda stated that “Safe streets=Zero tolerance for street prostitution in our zone.” To CMNO members' surprise, the meeting was also attended by a significant number of queer radical organizers who lived in the Mission. “As a mother, as a lifelong Mission neighbor,” said one radical mother, holding a toddler, “I am very concerned that there is a call for more policing of sex work.” As the meeting progressed, the language changed to discuss the issues. The new members explained that the word “prostitute” was offensive to many sex workers and obfuscated the fact that sex work is work, and they asked not to refer to the homeless as encampments to be swept. The meeting was an exercise in building tolerance by acknowledging the basic humanity of our neighbors. We all survive together in this capitalist, \ 206

racist world, whether unhoused or housed, whether we earn our wages as corporate whores, whether we are wives obliged to sleep with husbands or survival sex workers. Solidarity is key. GOOD CUSTOMERS Known customers make Gaby’s work safer. She already has a few regulars. “Many are married. Many of my customers are immigrants. Their wives are far away. They don’t want to have a girl here. They just want that physical attention for a moment. They also don’t want to keep looking for girls. It’s scary for them to pick up a girl. Some have pimps looking to rob them. Latino immigrants are particularly vulnerable. A regular customer comes around two, three times a week. But regular or no regular, just give them good service, and hopefully they’ll call you back.” STRUGGLE DAYS I ask Gaby what it would mean if cops cracked down on prostitution on Mission streets. “It would be really hard. Say I then had to get normal work, I would have to work at least a week before I got paid, more like two weeks, because most jobs give only two checks a month. I don’t know how I would be expected as a single parent to make it during that time. Then I’d need to keep that job. It would also need to be a nightshift, so I could be with her.” Regarding the CMNO flyer, she responds, “I work every day. If I take a day off, it means no money. There have been struggle days. I don’t think people understand what it is to struggle; to have to steal cereal and milk so your daughter can eat; to risk having her being taken away from me. My two sons were once taken away by CPS; it was traumatizing to them and me. The best interest of the child is to stay with their mother. My daughter is afraid of police.”

207 /

DANCING WITH WOLVES Our interview wraps up and we cross 24th Street to go our separate ways. At the crosswalk, I ask Gaby if she has a Native American name. “No, because you have to do a ceremony, and I haven’t. But if I did, I would be called ‘Dancing with Wolves,’” she says wistfully, “because I am like a wolf. No, I am like a lion. I am lionhearted!” MISSION LEGACY BUSINESS I walk the length of Capp Street, from 16th Street to 24th, once during the day and once at night, wondering how far back this hustle has existed on Mission streets. “I know they’ve been there since at least 1972,” an old school Mission homeboy tells me, “I know, because I was raised a block away from Capp and 20th, and I would go find my dad over there to ask him for money. He would be there, hanging out with the women.” Articles about the multicultural youth population of “Negroes, Spanish-Americans, poor whites, Indians, Filipinos, and Samoans of the neighborhood” in the Mission from the 1960s also mention pandering and prostitution as common jobs for poor youth in the deteriorated neighborhood.18 The prospect of Gaby and other renegades like her having to risk everything to work in the vastly more dangerous Oakland streets because of the inconvenience perceived by some gentrifiers leaves us with only one solution. Actually, it is a resolution that Supervisor Hillary Ronen should consider and introduce: Considering the historic presence of sex work during the rise of the Mission Latino Cultural District, and in line with other efforts to preserve its culture and character, the City and County of San Francisco hereby declares sex work a legacy business of the central Mission District.


Charles Oshinuga lived in Oakland, by way of Los Angeles, before he was evicted in 2013 and forced to move to Richmond. Charles says he grew up poor, moving around various parts of Los Angeles, until he ended up in the far inland desert stretches, on the outskirts of the city. Because of his experiences growing up, he wanted his career to reflect his values. In particular, he wanted to help protect and advocate for other poor people, especially the homeless. So he became a lawyer and eventually found his way into anti-eviction legal work. But, in 2013, Charles was himself evicted from his home in North Oakland, and though he tried to fight his landlord with all the skills he’d developed as a lawyer, he became too overwhelmed to continue the battle in court, and he finally decided to move to Richmond. Charles misses Oakland—not so much the Oakland that exists now and as it is being developed by the rich but the Oakland he moved to many years ago, with its people and food and corner barbershops. At one point, he asked me, “What is Oakland culture to you?” He says he asked this because he’s not even sure what it has become, and when he thinks of Oakland, he’s not sure what its culture really is anymore. CHARLES: So, I was tired of commuting to Ukiah (from Oakland), and, you know, the criminal system is such that when I won a case I felt like I just threw an ice cube into hell. You know, I didn’t cool down hell. It’s such a fleeting feeling, and it didn’t really change anything. And I thought if I really wanted to impact the criminal system, it would have to be from the outside of the system rather than from the inside, because it’s just so broken. I realized that one of the common threads that tied most of my clients together was housing and stability. And a lot of the people who commit or allegedly have committed offenses were in a phase of crisis. They did it out of necessity. Their housing or their life wasn’t stable. I

noticed that housing played a huge role in that, so I decided to look for housing jobs. I’d never thought about it until then. I applied to the Eviction Defense Collaborative in San Francisco, and I got the job. It’s funny, my clientele are the same people, you know, the same exact people experiencing the same thing . . . people on the precipice of a criminal act. Because it’s, like, if I lose this house and I’m homeless, what am I going to do to survive? And there are only certain ways you can survive on the streets. It’s either you escape the reality through drugs, you take what you can through thieving or whatever means there are, or you suffer. I guess you can endure, and hopefully your luck changes until you get another house and stuff like that. The laws are very poor though; when you are evicted it goes on your record, and so not only does it ruin your credit, but it also ruins your rental history. So now you have an eviction on your record, and it’s going to make it hard for you to rent, and your credit’s bad, so you can’t rent on your own. It’s a system that’s set up to make you fail.

\ 208


The prison-industrial complex and gentrification are most clearly interconnected in policing and imprisonment systems. In San Francisco, we see how the criminalization of homelessness, sex work, and the displacement of Black and Latinx communities are reflected in the populations that make up the city’s jails. Whereas the Black population is just 3 percent of the total population in San Francisco, Black people make up more than half of the jail’s population. This is the result of the ways that racist policing and gentrification work hand in hand to produce surplus and excess populations, even as the city continues to be hailed as liberal, progressive, and even radical. This map shows the zip codes of where people imprisoned reported living before they were arrested and jailed. Over 20 percent of those in the jails did not have an address or were unhoused. Neighborhoods like the Mission, Fillmore, Tenderloin, and Bayview, where gentrification has brought along increased policing and criminalization, are also the locations that have the most representation in the jail’s population. 209 /

1.5 mi



Jail Population By Zip Code


2% 4% 6% 8% 10 %





94108 94104


94115 94121



94102 94117





94107 94110


94131 94127





NEIGHBORHOODS BY ZIP CODE 94102 94103 94104 94105 94107 94108 94109 94110 94111 94112 94114 94115 94116

Hayes Valley / Tenderloin / North of Market South of Market Financial District Rincon Hill Potrero Hill Chinatown Polk / Russian Hill Inner Mission / Bernal Heights Embarcadero Ingleside-Excelsior / Amazon-Crocker Castro / Noe Valley Western Addition / Japantown Parkside / Forest Hill

94118 94121 94122 94123 94124 94127 94129 94130 94131 94132 94133 94134 94158

Inner Richmond Outer Richmond Inner Sunset / Outer Sunset Marina District / Cow Hollow Bayview / Hunters Point St. Francis Wood / West Portal Presidio Treasure Island / Yerba Buena Island Twin Peaks / Glen Park Lake Merced North Beach / Chinatown / Alcatraz Visitacion Valley / Sunnydale Mission Bay \ 210


This map shows how much each Bay Area county made from Pentagon contracts from 2000 to 2016. For each county, the total amount, the number of contracts, and the average contract size is listed. For more details on defense contract recipients, please visit HTTPS://LOCALWIKI.ORG/ FORTRESSBAYAREA/BAY_AREA_MILITARY_CONTRACTS_BY_COUNTY



“Dismantle, change, build” is the refrain that succinctly describes Critical Resistance’s abolitionist praxis. To us, abolition is both a long-term vision and a strategy that can be applied in the day-to-day work of organizing—and winning—campaigns in our communities. We are a national organization, but the work of dismantling, changing, and building happens locally through our chapters. One example is the Stop the Injunctions Coalition (STIC), which existed from 2010 to 2012 in Oakland to fight the use of gang injunctions across the city. Critical Resistance Oakland worked in coalition with over a dozen other groups to resist the criminalization of Black and Brown communities and demand reinvestment in their well-being and self-determination instead. Through a multipronged abolitionist strategy, STIC successfully made Oakland the first city in the country to completely end the use of gang injunctions and a policing tactic. We compiled responses from organizers in STIC to gain insights into what has happened since the victory. Organizers share their lessons from this recent historic campaign against policing. To clarify briefly: “policing,” in an abolitionist framework, is just one of the many institutions and social practices that constitute the U.S. prison-industrial complex (PIC). By framing this project as an inquiry into the strategy of anti-policing insurgency in the East Bay Area, our respondents explore its implications in the broader movement for PIC abolition. The organizers point out that STIC was not an isolated campaign but, rather, built upon the “dual power” generated by prior work against the policing of Oakland youth and parallel struggles against solitary confinement in California prisons. Moreover, the legacy of the Black 213 /

Panther Party—whose vision called for abolishing the racist capitalist state, ending US imperialism, and domestic warfare, and decriminalizing liberationist and sovereignty struggles—runs deep within the grassroots political cultures here in Oakland. STIC built upon this genealogy of resisting state violence by persistently invoking Oakland’s lineage of liberation movements without mystifying or appropriating them in an exploitative way. This is important to highlight because many tendencies of the establishment left are currently domesticating the history of these movements, the story of the Black Panther Party in particular. We actively strive to be nonparticipants in this new wave of Panther appropriation, opting for a relation to our local histories that learns from rather than systematizes or naively mimics the Party’s approach to praxis. Since the very last gang injunctions were taken off the books in 2015, anti-policing work has only grown stronger in Oakland. The coalition’s strategy of demanding an end to policing, as well as a reinvestment in communities, created a genuine space for healing and well-being in anti-policing work. This grew into new organizations like Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ) and projects like the Fruitvale community garden. In 2014, Critical Resistance Oakland also launched the Oakland Power Projects, which worked with community members who were impacted by the gang injunctions to further build community power and well-being without relying on the police. The Oakland Power Projects has worked with health care providers to develop workshops and toolkits for building community power to intervene in health

crises without police and 911. Additionally, we created a workshop called the “Abolition of Policing” to continue popular education around strategies to make PIC abolition a reality. As we continue organizing against policing, prisons, and surveillance in the Bay Area, it is crucial to remember and learn from the fight against gang injunctions. Seize the time! This work is far from over. CRITICAL RESISTANCE OAKLAND: What did you learn from STIC about the ways the PIC operates and the ways it could be resisted? SAGNICTHE SALAZAR: One huge lesson that I learned from the work with STIC was the connection between policing, prisons, and gentrification. Learning about the dynamics around the country around gang injunctions and how in cities that have been gentrified there has been a prerequisite of increased policing and policies to either lock up or scare off a population was incredibly clear. It was also really clear how certain communities get demonized and dehumanized, as a way to build up a rhetoric and a story that justifies the need for increased policing. Fear and the false sense of safety that cops and prisons create for some people have been the gateway to allow cops license to do inhumane operations that disrupt entire communities and engage with individuals in inhumane ways. This story of fear for lack of safety is never backed up by actual dynamics on the ground. For example, in Oakland youth crime has decreased tremendously, yet the fearmongering around the street violence has used youth as a scapegoat to justify the increase of curfews and increase policing. Though I already knew the power of centering and empowering the voice of those most impacted, it was definitely a revitalization for me, the power of educating, organizing, and bringing to the forefront

those most impacted. Working with the guys that were listed on the injunctions was not only powerful for our community in the Fruitvale, it led to the creation of an organization, invigorated and created a sense of urgency to youth organizers, by showing a tangible need for action, by bringing the guys around, and it led to the building of new leaders, as guys on the injunction list saw a whole community backing them up. Though there were many more lessons, one other lesson I want to highlight is the strength of having a multipronged strategy. Doing work where we had grassroots organizing, legal, and media work led to Oakland being the first city in the country to defeat a gang injunction, and it allowed services to be provided to the guys on the list, while never compromising our message and larger goal to remove the injunctions completely. WOODS ERVIN: Part of doing work with STIC was learning about the history of policing and the targeting of street organizations/gangs as part of validating police expansion. I learned about the sinister use of city civil court orders for the purpose of targeting Black and Brown communities— removing one’s right to legal representation when being identified as deserving of added policing. Also, I learned a tremendous amount about the gang validation process—the ways that almost any combination of attributes can arbitrarily get you validated and the impossibility of getting off—as well as the increased likelihood of imprisonment with police contact and penalties while in prison because of said validation. I also learned about the ways in which a city can blanket target a specific area for an extra layer of policing and the impact that this has on communities of color. The gang injunction on some members of the community also affected everyone associated with \ 214

those people within the area of the injunction. This dramatically increased the likelihood of community members leaving their neighborhood because of the experience of intensified policing. Unsurprisingly, the boundaries of the North Oakland Injunction are the exact same boundaries of the touted “NOBE,” [North Oakland, Berkeley, and Emeryville], otherwise known as the hippest place to live in the East Bay. The direct link between policing and gentrification was made very stark by watching this development unfold during our fight. On a more positive note, I learned some powerful lessons in resistance, definitely via youth organizing. I learned about the history of Prop 21 in the Bay and the impact of youth organizing that went into protesting the passing of this law in the state. This left behind a number of linked youth organizations with a tradition of organizing for youth self-determination. Due to this tradition, we were able to engage youth as a coalition via multiple workshops provided in schools and community centers. The youth then mobilized this information accordingly, self-organizing walkouts on protest days and becoming a powerful force when the city proposed a curfew as part of policing package alongside the gang injunctions. Lastly, the work that was done by the legal team in relationship with the community organizers really helped me to understand the potential for inside-outside strategy. The way that the attorneys prioritized the needs of the codefendants on the injunction list, while working to not undermine what the coalition was doing, made our work that much stronger, ensuring that we’d be able to achieve our goals. JAY DONAHUE: One of the biggest things I learned from organizing with the Stop the Injunctions Coalition is historically the PIC is used to enforce the larger overall project of social and economic control 215 /

of people of color, poor people, queer people, and others. Gang suppression tactics began to be used heavily in the 1980s to target street organizations that are ultimately the descendants of radical Third World left organizations of the 1960s and 1970s. The 1980s saw a confluence of government disinvestment in social and economic programs, the systematic movement of drugs into urban areas (sometimes directly related to US foreign policy), and continued repression of Third World left movements for self-determination. It was this confluence that set the stage for the war on gangs, which was really another era of the war on the self-determination of people of color. We can draw parallels from how gang injunctions work in cities like Oakland and Los Angeles, particularly when we look at the geographic locations targeted for injunctions. In the case of the North Oakland injunction, the area, a historically Black neighborhood, was being targeted for gentrification. The injunction was a way to make living in that area for Black people untenable and to further push out that community. The city also knew that because of years of repression and targeting that there was a lack of community organizing infrastructure and political power in those neighborhoods. Similarly, the San Antonio and Fruitvale neighborhoods where the East Oakland gang injunction was placed were also being targeted for gentrification; however, there is a long history of strong community organizing and cultural resistance in these neighborhoods, which I believe the city underestimated. I also learned, or, rather, it was reinforced, that because the PIC works in many ways or has many tentacles, that it reaches into every aspect of our lives, there are many places to attack the PIC and many ways to fight. I think we saw this quite clearly in the three-pronged strategy that STIC employed. We had a grassroots strategy that used mobilizations, art


and culture, and work with youth as tactics. We had a media strategy that sought to both lift up the voices of those most impacted by the injunctions (those named and their family members) and to bring the language that we were using around the injunctions into the mainstream (for instance, the use of the word “controversial” in the media). Finally, we had a legal strategy that worked to get people named in the injunction off but that also understood its limitations in the face of organizing against the PIC. CRITICAL RESISTANCE OAKLAND: How did PIC abolition inform your work during the campaign and after? SAGNICTHE SALAZAR: Though we read in books how the demonization of a scapegoat population allows for the creation of policies that lead to mass incarceration, often without any factual data, the gang injunctions showed me how this works in real time and real life. Many of the guys on the gang injunction list who were deemed the toughest criminals that we the city needed to fear, were often never even in gangs, and the only fault they had was being born in the “wrong neighborhood.” This was not a story

anyone could tell those of us in the Fruitvale; these were our realities. We knew and grew up with the men that were named on that list, and many of them were squares that might have had minor offenses and or had been pushed out of Oakland schools. Yet the gang injunctions were creating the story that if we locked these folks up our communities would be safer. We know what jails do to our folks, and we know that policing and jails will only bring about more trauma and violence in our community, so our work in this campaign was also about educating our community, not only about the injunctions and about the lies that they had sold our community but also about the actual impact of policing and prisons. With the guys on the list and other community, a huge effort of our campaigns was to publicize and show to our own community both the fact that we already have solutions that do not include prisons or cops and what those solutions look like. Through block parties, murals, and responding to instances of violence on the street, we were able to galvanize community around the importance of our own solutions and the dangers of us supporting the PIC and relying on or supporting police. \ 216

WOODS ERVIN: I learned about how the city and country targets those they identify as gang members, labelling them as the “worst of the worst” and deserving of an extra layer of policing, thereby validating the existence and expansion of the PIC. PIC abolition demands of us to imagine a world without punishment—meaning that even those deemed the “worst of the worst” require community to think expansively about those that make up community, what are root causes of harm that need to be addressed, and a community member’s capacity to transform and change after engaging in harm. This politic urges us to start with those the state deems “the worst of the worst” and work to do our strongest organizing here to reveal the PIC as an agent engaging in massive perpetual harm for the purpose of maintaining the socioeconomic status quo. This came into play a year later, when the 2011 hunger strikes were launched by the organizers at Pelican Bay. There is a through line via the CalGang database specifically but through a larger politic that connects the gang injunctions via gang validation to the prison within a prison—solitary confinement or administrative segregation. The struggle the hunger strikers took against their treatment within solitary confinement meant combating this narrative of “the worst of the worst” inside of prison, reclaiming their own dignity and humanity through their struggle with the California Department of Corrections. It also served to reframe who was the true perpetrator of egregious harms, given that they were willing to starve themselves rather spend any more time being treated the way that the California prison system treated them. This politic definitely informed the communications and organizing work that CR was able to participate in to support of the strikers winning their demands. 217 /

JAY DONAHUE: I think the coalition overall and Critical Resistance more specifically really pushed to maintain abolitionist strategies as part of this campaign. We did this is a few ways, so maybe I’ll touch on just a couple. First, we resisted the pitting of one group of people who were named against another. This happens often in struggles against the PIC, where one group of people is “bad” and deserves the punishment the state is seeking and the other is “good” and deserves to be spared this punishment. This showed up in the injunctions struggle, as the city and the courts attempted to differentiate between people they believed to be truly part of a gang and those who were falsely accused. We worked to turn this false and divisive framework on its head, by bringing all of the named people to the organizing table, while simultaneously providing historical and current local context for the emergence of street organizations in Oakland. Additionally, we sought to center the messaging for the campaign around the fact that injunctions are attacks on communities of color and youth of color. This campaign took years to achieve the final victory of the city taking the injunctions off the books as a tool for policing in Oakland. CRITICAL RESISTANCE OAKLAND: How do you see STIC’s anti-policing work to be part of ongoing liberation struggles in Oakland? SAGNICTHE SALAZAR: I think the work of STIC led to the creation of strong alliances around the city around anti-policing work, abolition work, and work to support homegrown solutions. These alliances have stuck around and strengthened work around gentrification, building up and building on solutions like community gardens, community response, safety models, and the work around the larger fight around policing and the militarization of cops.19

The lessons learned through this campaign and the success this campaign have strengthened our ongoing work in the city and have served as a model to follow in other campaigns where we want to serve the people without compromising our values and larger goals. Also, the success of the campaign led to the creation of CURYJ (Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice), which is an organization that employs gang-impacted youth to do antiviolence work in the community, and it has at its leadership guys who were named on the injunction list and got politicized. This organization is still around today and continues the work around education and organizing to heal our communities and battle the PIC in its different forms. WOODS ERVIN: There are two ways that the legacy of STIC lives on within CR. First, with our organizing in the Stop Urban Shield Coalition. There’s an overlap in organizations and organizers, a sharp articulation of the negative impact of policing on communities of color, whether it be everyday policing to extreme instances of policing and the way that scapegoating and fearmongering is mobilized to expand police powers. Also, the anti-policing work of STIC lives on through the Oakland Power Projects.20 The Oakland Power Projects were developed directly after STIC closed with a people’s victory. Part of the project’s initial development was by interviewing allies that mobilized as part of STIC in order to determine what is a project that articulates what Oakland needs more of while eroding the power of policing. This question and dreams and schemes with STIC allies led to shaping out this project, which asks community members to decouple policing from what it claims to do and lift up and fund resources that actually keep communities safe, healthy, and whole.

JAY DONAHUE joined the Oakland chapter of Critical

Resistance in 2007 and has fought the violence of policing and imprisonment through local campaigns and coalitions, including Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition and the Bay Area Committee to Stop Political Repression. As part of the Stop the Injunctions Campaign, he did media and communications work. Jay currently lives in Geneva, New York. WOODS ERVIN is a black genderqueer trans person

and organizer. Woods is currently doing active work to dismantle the prison-industrial complex and come up with transformative practices for addressing legacies of community and systemic harm with Critical Resistance. Woods uses they/them pronouns. SAGNICTHE SALAZAR is a first-generation undocu-

mented migrant Xicana from East Oakland by way of Guadalajara, Jalisco. He is a grassroots organizer and educator who has dedicated the last eighteen years of his life to organizing for cultural, educational, work, and human rights of Raza communities and communities throughout Oakland. He organizes with Xicana Moratorium Coalition, developing Xicana change agents and building with different communities through various coalition work. He was the Dean of Restorative Discipline and School Culture at Castlemont High School and is now the Director of Restorative Discipline at Elmhurst Community Prep in East Oakland.

\ 218

Policing and Place-Taking in Downtown Oakland Nightlife ALEX WERTH CARTOGRAPHY BY AUSTIN EHRHARDT

Ghost town. Desert. Dead. Residents often recall that, until recently, Downtown Oakland was abandoned after dark. Indeed, between the desolation of disinvestment and destruction of urban renewal, the area suffered from organized neglect. But the discourse of the “ghost town” disavows the fact that, through the 1980s and 1990s, a dedicated set of cultural impresarios stewarded a landscape of nightlife that included dive bars, blues joints, and upscale dance clubs. In 2001, the first year for which data are available, there were twenty permitted cabarets in Downtown Oakland; of these, sixteen of twenty (80 percent) were owned by people of color, eleven of twenty (55 percent) of them Black. It wasn’t that there were no crowds, then, so much as the wrong type. The City of Oakland, anxious to make the area more amenable to tourists and investors, wanted the crowds to be wealthier and white. Creating a vibrant but “secure” nightlife thus became a core political concern during the 1990s and 2000s, one financed by Mayors Elihu Harris and Jerry Brown. This agenda was amplified by a new crop of business districts, which, between 2007 and 2013, took root across roughly half of Downtown. The area has since seen unprecedented investment in bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. But the now vaunted narrative of “placemaking” overlooks related processes of place-taking. Between 2001 and 2016, the overall number of nightclubs increased from twenty to twenty-eight. In line with Brown’s drive to redevelop the Uptown District, the center of activity moved north from Jack London Square to the area around the Fox Theater. But the percentage of Black219 /

owned clubs, either in whole or in part, plummeted from 55 percent to 36 percent, while white-owned ones rocketed from 20 percent to 61 percent. This shift in racial patterns of ownership aligns with notions of gentrification as an increase in residential and commercial rents, forcing the displacement of lower-income communities and communities of color. A closer look reveals that the displacement of nightclubs owned and enjoyed by people of color didn’t just result from an upsurge in rent; rather it was driven in most cases by routine but racialized patterns of municipal regulation and policing. The modalities—which are still ongoing—varied widely. At venues like Sweet Jimmie’s, they involved labeling club-related crowds as “sideshows,” sending in police, and passing the cost to the owner. At venues like Bella, tactics involved blaming the club for violence on the street and forcing the owner to agree to onerous operating conditions to remain open. At others, tactics involved monitoring for hip-hop events and requiring clubs to hire exceptional numbers of cops, often at overtime rates, to receive an event permit. The mechanisms have been varied; the outcomes have not. During this period (2001–2016), thirteen of twenty-one (62 percent) of the Black and Latinx-owned clubs that closed did so due to disruptive forms of governmental supervision and control. By contrast, among all the other clubs that closed, only two of fifteen (13 percent) involved such government action. Black popular music continues to move crowds throughout the district. But today at least half the venues spinning rap, R&B, and dancehall are owned by whites. In 2001, none of them were.









Club Ownership By Race

30 25 20 15 10 5

2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 Year

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Club Closures by Owner Race 2001–2015





BENCH & BAR ( ) CLUB 21 ( )









Lake Merritt















.15 mi









Asian/pacific Islander Multiracial



221 /

221 /





Arab/middle Eastern



White Unknown Municipal Action










BAR 355












Lake Merritt











Club Closures by Owner Race 2016




.15 mi




Black Latinx


Arab/Middle Eastern



Asian/Pacific Islander Multiracial White




Unknown r




Municipal Action \ \222 222


As with many metropolitan police departments throughout the United States, Bay Area police increasingly seek to incorporate more advanced— and, simply, more—technologies to surveil residents and predict where crimes might occur next. For example, as journalist Cyrus Farivar has chronicled, since 2010, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) has utilized automated license plate readers (ALPRs) to monitor Bay Area drivers. Often stationed atop traffic lights or police patrol cars, ALPRs in Oakland gathered in excess of 4.6 million readings of more than a million unique license plates from 2010–2014. Using this data, it becomes possible to create detailed pictures of drivers’ lives and patterns of movement, where even a limited data set per license plate can allow someone querying the database to predict a driver’s residency within a few-block radius.22 In recent years, the OPD has also come under fire for its use of Geofeedia software to monitor activists’ social media accounts, particularly during Black Lives Matter protests in 2014–2015, and for plans to create an expansive Domain Awareness Center to integrate and store data collected through various surveillance projects.23 Within Bay Area policing, algorithmically driven technologies most often associated with their applications in US intelligence gathering in warfare are deployed to identify, catalog, and track residents, reproducing notions of threat and suspicion along race and class–based lines. These data-driven policing practices have drawn criticism from Bay Area journalists, activists, and residents 223 /

for their potential to violate individual privacy, chill political dissidence, and as the digital face of police militarization. This pushback has recently resulted in the passage of Oakland’s Surveillance and Community Safety Ordinance, touted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation as the “new gold standard” in police reform, expanding the definition of what constitutes surveillance technologies and increasing transparency and community oversight before the OPD can acquire and use new surveillance technologies.24 Further, the ordinance requires the OPD to conduct assessments regarding whether and how those technologies disproportionately impact particular communities and demographics, as it is typically the poor and communities of color that bear the overwhelming burden of surveillance and policing.25 While it is not without merit that reforms such as the Surveillance and Community Safety Ordinance seek to curtail the unchecked acquisition and use of surveillance technologies by Oakland police, I suggest that it is necessary to situate data-driven policing practices within a longer history of colonial policing and surveillance, echoing scholars that call into question the historical and practical distinctions between war power and police power.26 Further, I suggest that to do so requires turning away from an understanding of the digital as superseding, wholly distinct from, and eclipsing the nondigital. The use of ALPRs to disproportionately target Oakland’s Black and Brown communities is, then, part of a broader arc of co-

lonial surveillance that includes practices ranging from biometric and drone surveillance in the US war on terror to, as Kim TallBear describes, from constructions of Indigeneity in nineteenth-century Indian rolls and contemporary DNA databases to the biometric practices of branding in American slavery discussed by Simone Browne.27 In this way, as Browne argues of biometric surveillance, digital practices of “racializing surveillance” must be situated in relation to their historical antecedents and the other, perhaps less immediately recognizable, forms they might take.28 Thinking with a genealogy of the algorithm as protocol,29 I then reflect on what it might mean to dwell in the gap between digital and nondigital modes of colonialist computation, sorting, and classification. Specifically, I examine the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. There, more than ten thousand Native American skeletons are boxed, bagged, and stacked beneath the swimming pool of the Hearst Gymnasium, a collection that has grown in recent years despite the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990. Placing the database of the Hearst Museum alongside the seemingly more conventional digital police databases mentioned above, it becomes possible to understand how digital and nondigital databases alike emerge through practices of biometric extraction and data-driven racialization. I was first pressed to think about how the Hearst Museum enacts a mode of colonial biometric data collection by the work of a colleague at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Claire Urbanski. Many of the Native remains that make up the Hearst Museum’s collection have been excavated from their resting places in shell mounds around the East Bay, as Indigenous Ohlone land is subjected to ongoing processes of dispossession

through infrastructure projects and real estate development. Urbanski interrogates this warehousing of Native remains through the framework of “indefinite detention.” Describing storage practices where skeletons are dismembered and stored by bone type to maximize space, Urbanski argues, “A carceral logic informs the shoving of skulls into one old cabinet, skeletons in another. . . [W]hat could have been the forgotten underbelly of a swimming pool is now utilized as a detention center for the dead.” 30 For Urbanski, these extractive colonial practices persistently surveil and police the lines between life and death, colonizer and colonized, and knowing and unknowability, as they transform the remains of the dead into sites of value for the settler state. In addition to pointing toward the carceral logics that pervade colonial practices of policing and dispossession, Urbanski’s work led me to consider how these practices of dismemberment and storage are also indicative of a colonialist database and algorithmic logic. Within the Hearst Museum’s collection, the remains of colonized bodies are dismantled for the purposes of sorting, organization, and, importantly, access. Here, the dismemberment of the skeleton—storing skull with skull, separately from other bones—transforms the ancestral body into a series of vectors that are endlessly reimagined as they are redeployed by various disciplines in and for the colonial university. The data they are imagined to house is transformed into information having both epistemological and financial value, a capacity for value constructed as activated only through the bone’s endless ability to enter into relationships with disciplinary and scientific protocols, algorithms that are shaped and perpetually redesigned through economies of academic knowledge production. \ 224

I want to be clear that I do not mean to set up an analog between the digital biometric database and the nondigital one to demonstrate that they are one and the same through an anachronistic accounting of colonial histories. Neither do I mean to flatten distinctions between the database and the archive. Rather, I point to these modes of biometric surveillance, sorting, and computation as similar yet incommensurable algorithmic practices. The algorithmically driven biometric database emerges through racialized and racializing practices of data-based extraction and expropriation from the colonized body, a historical and ongoing arc of data-driven racialization that includes eugenics and scientific racism, financialized risk assessment, census-taking and aerial surveying, and predictive policing. Disarticulating the algorithmic from an origin and dominion in exclusively digital registers allows us not only to point toward the consonance of colonial policing practices as they historically emerge, intensify, and appear to transform themselves but also to then place the digital and nondigital in dialogue as concepts that do various kinds of work within colonial projects of state-building and violence. Refusing the false distinctions generated by ideas of the digital and nondigital and, instead, dwelling in the gap that is imagined to separate them, we might more usefully interrogate the algorithmic as emerging through what Isabelle Stengers describes as “an ecology of practices.” For Stengers, thinking through ecologies of practices requires both thinking “through the middle” and “with the surroundings.”31 As we interrogate data-driven policing and racialization, this might be thought of as necessitating an attunement to material, place-based, and historical specificities, while refusing the seduction and totalizing impulses of technofetishism. We might think of 225 /

the algorithmic, then, as a concept that emerges through entanglements of practices that are never only digital, even if increasingly never only not. Adopting an attention to practices also allows us to interrogate and destabilize our own investments in the algorithmic and the digital, even as we take seriously the manifold ways that they are entangled with and produced through everyday practices of policing and surveillance. What forms of complicity might these investments highlight or occlude? Moreover, how, through an attention to practices, can we more carefully account for histories and presents of data-driven violence that persist across multiple registers—from the digital to the nondigital, from the military through the museum to the university, and across spatial and temporal imaginaries that would hold separate deeply entangled settler and imperialist geographies and histories?

Right: “Abolish ICE” by Matt Torres

\ \226 226

Chapter 4 Endnotes 1. Applied Social Research, 2017 San Francisco Homeless Count & Survey (San Jose, CA: ASR, 2017),

accessed May 11, 2020,

2. Rebecca Solnit, “Death by Gentrification: The Killing That Shamed San Francisco,” Guardian, March 21, 2016, accessed May 12, 2020,

3. Rebecca E. Blanton, Unlawful Detainer Pilot Program: Report to the California Legislature (Sacramento: California Research Bureau, 2011), 6, accessed June 1, 2020, 4. Ibid., 7. 5. Ibid., 5.

6. City of Oakland, Code of Ordinances, Title 8—Health and Safety/Chapter 8.23—Eviction for Nuisance and Illegal Activity, accessed May 12, 2020, 7. Ibid.

8. Anne Neville, Tom Negrete, Patrick Rogers, Tonya D. Lindsey, and Carley Herron, A Review of the Unlawful Detainer Program (Sacramento: California Research Bureau, 2016), 5, accessed May 12 2020,

9. Western Center of Law and Poverty, quoted in Benjamin Tang, A Review of the Unlawful Detainer Program: 2018 Update (Sacramento: California Research Bureau, 2018), 7, accessed May 12, 2020, 10. Ibid., 5.

11. Case Load Tracking Log, Nuisance Abatement Division, December 2016.

12. “Oakland Landlords Are Now Required to Evict Sex Workers,” Global Network of Sex Work Projects, November 3, 2014, accessed May 12, 2020,

13. Kriston Capps, “Oakland Can Now Order Landlords to Evict Sex Workers,” City Lab, October 22, 2014, accessed May 12, 2020, 14. Sam T. Levin, “Oakland’s Threat to Sex Workers,” East Bay Express, November 12, 2014, accessed May 12, 2020,

15. Lisa Veale, “Sex in the City: The ‘Gentrification’ of Sex Work,” July 1, 2015, accessed May 12, 2020, 16. Hannah Albarazi, “How Sex Workers Made San Francisco Safer for Everyone,” Next City, October 25, 2018, accessed June 1, 2020,

17. H.R.1865—Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017,, April 11, 2018, accessed June 1, 2020,

18. “Rebel Youths Find Way to Fit in Society,” Chicago Tribune, June 2, 1968, accessed May 13, 2020,; Rufus Byars, “Mission: A School on the Border Line,” Sun Reporter, November 8, 1969, 19. The Stop Urban Shield Coalition has actively organized against one of the largest military weapons and trainings expos held in Alameda County since 2014, building on the anti-policing frameworks of STIC; for more information, see the website, accessed May 13, 2020, 20. For more information, see the Critical Resistance website, accessed May 13, 2020, https://tinyurl. com/yb2lvy6o.

21. “Intervention Symposium: ‘Algorithmic Governance’; Organised by Jeremy Crampton and Andrea Miller,”, May 19, 2017, accessed May 13, 2020, 22. Cyrus Farivar, “We Know Where You’ve Been: Ars Acquires 4.6m License Plate Scans from the Cops,” Ars Technica, March 24, 2015, accessed May 13, 2020,; 227 /

also see Dave Maass and Jeremy Gilula, “What You Can Learn from Oakland’s Raw ALPR Data,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, January 21, 2015, accessed May 13, 2020, 23. Ali Winston, “Oakland Cops Quietly Acquired Social Media Surveillance Tool,” East Bay Express, April 13, 2016, accessed May 13, 2020,; “US Start-up Geofeedia ‘Allowed Police to Track Protesters,’” BBC News, October 12, 2016, accessed May 13, 2020, ydctm7mn; Darwin Bond Graham and Ali Winston, “The Real Purpose of Oakland’s Surveillance Center,” East Bay Express, December 18, 2013, accessed May 13, 2020,

24. Nathan Sheard, “Oakland: The New Gold Standard in Community Control of Police Surveillance,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, May 18, 2018, accessed May 13, 2020,; also see Cyrus Farivar, “How Oakland Sets the New Standard for Meaningful Police Tech Oversight,” Ars Technica, October 2, 2018, accessed May 13, 2020, 25. Oakland’s poor and communities of color, for example, were disproportionately impacted by the use of ALPRs. As police patrol vehicles spend more time patrolling these areas, vehicles in these communities were more likely to encounter ALPRs than were drivers in white and more affluent neighborhoods; see Maass and Gillula, “What You Can Learn from Oakland’s Raw ALPR Data”; also see Brian Jordan Jefferson, “Predictable Policing: Predictive Crime Mapping and Geographies of Policing and Race,” Annals of the American Association of Geographers 108, no. 1 (2017): 1–16.

26. See Mark Neocleous, War Power, Police Power (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014); Tyler Wall, “Ordinary Emergency: Drones, Police, and Geographies of Legal Terror,” Antipode 48, no. 4 (2016): 1122–39; Ruth Wilson Gilmore, “Race, Prisons, and War: Scenes from the History of US Violence,” Socialist Register 45 (2009): 73–87; Micol Seigel, Violence Work: State Power and the Limits of Police (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018); Laleh Khalili, Time in the Shadows: Confinement in Counterinsurgencies (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013); Stuart Schrader, “Policing Empire,” Jacobin, September 2014, accessed May 13, 2020, policing-empire; Karen Kaplan and Andrea Miller, “Drones as ‘Atmospheric Policing’: From US Border Enforcement to the LAPD,” Public Culture 31, no. 3 (September 2019), accessed May 13, 2020, https://; Andrea Miller, “Shadows of War, Traces of Policing: The Weaponization of Space and the Sensible in Preemption,” in Ruha Benjamin, ed., Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life, (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019), 85–106. 27. See Kim TallBear, Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013), 56–57; Simone Browne, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015), 89–129. 28. Browne, Dark Matters, 109–16.

29. See Alexander Galloway, Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004); Ted Striphas, “Algorithmic Culture,” European Journal of Cultural Studies 18, nos. 4–5 (2015): 395–412; Tarleton Gillespie, “The Relevance of Algorithms,” in Tarleton Gillespie, Pablo J. Boczkowski, and Kirsten A. Foo, eds., Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014), 167–94; Paul Dourish, “Algorithms and Their Others: Algorithmic Culture in Context,” Big Data & Society ( July–December 2016): 1–11; “Intervention Symposium”; Louise Amoore and Rita Raley, “Securing with Algorithms: Knowledge, Decision, Sovereignty,” Security Dialogue 48, no. 1 (2016): 3–10. 30. Claire Urbanski, “Ancestral Detention: Settler Desire and the Carceral Logics of Grave Theft and Museum Containment,” paper presented at Society for Radical Geography, Spatial Theory, and Everyday Life Annual Conference, Oakland, CA, March 2016. 31. Isabelle Stengers, “An Ecology of Practices,” Cultural Studies Review 11, no. 1 (2005): 187.

\ 228

Transpo Infrastru & Econo

—5 —

ortation, ucture, omy


Infrastructure is both a condition for dignified life and a display of unequal power. The same infrastructure system that unites two distant places can divide the spaces in between. These systems are technically complex, costly, and politically divisive, and they outlast their initial purpose to become visual markers of previous eras. The environmental, economic, and social costs of moving people, products, energy, and water is often enormous; the cost of not moving these things is often—but not always—greater. The history of opportunity and inequality in the Bay Area can be written and read through our infrastructure systems. In the sections that follow, we present this history through the lenses of transportation, energy, and employment. We map bits and pieces of 150 years of infrastructure, showing maps of what was, what is, and what was imagined to be but was never achieved. This last part is vital. We plan for, imagine, and construct on paper far more than we build in real life. Sometimes this is because bad ideas get defeated; other times, because good ideas never see the light of day. Ideas about what to build and where come from too few places. Is this due to the lack of education about core systems? How many of us learned about sewage in school? Or is this a reflection of “what counts” as knowledge and the dominance of the voices of those who speak the loudest? Resistance, on the other hand, comes from everywhere—left and right and center, big business and big labor, homeowners and community groups of every shape and size and color. Sometimes resisting infrastructure prevents a great injustice; other times, it perpetuates one. Often it does both: we may resist 231 /

projects that would make a bad situation worse but, in doing so, fail to take steps to improve the systems that need fixing. It is impossible to think about infrastructure without thinking about history. Infrastructure lasts, and so does its political legacy. We feature two snippets from oral histories in this chapter, one from Bonnie Wills, an African American woman born and raised in Oakland, whose West Oakland was torn apart by the transportation infrastructure that helped white families suburbanize. But the political rebellion against this infrastructure did not affect already well-resourced white suburbia—instead, it impacted places like Antioch, where a generation of African Americans, Latinxs, and other communities of color would move for their own slice of the American dream. When they arrived in the suburbs, the infrastructure needed to sustain them simply wasn’t adequate or was absent entirely. We also include an oral history of Mira Ingram, a longtime queer San Francisco resident with disabilities whose access right to the public realm has been limited by the use of public bus stops by private technology company shuttles—“Google buses,” so to speak. Also included in this section are essays about resistance to the privatization of public bus infrastructure for these shuttles. Finally, Adriana Camarena’s essay connects the imposition of “red lanes” (bus priority lanes) in the Mission District of San Francisco to the neighborhood’s historical redlining, showing how even ostensibly beneficial public improvements cannot be divorced from historical patterns of racism that accompany their deployment. Looking to the past allows us to envision our collective futures. By reflecting on history, we gain

an understanding of what has happened in order to understand what may happen. As infrastructure becomes the mechanism for the sustainability, resilience, and climate adaptation strategies of the twenty-first century, this is precisely the moment when we may need to “go back” to the future to reclaim valuable ideas and practices once abandoned. The policies that propel us into the future may be partly embedded in the past; only in this way can we envision a path forward.

\ 232


Despite the attention paid to major cities like San Francisco and Oakland, the Bay Area has always been a regional metropolis. Benicia and Vallejo were the first two capitals of the state, and virtually every significant city and town in Northern California was on the map by the late nineteenth century, usually alongside a train line, and often connected by ferry or boat to other parts of the Bay or Delta. As San Francisco began to grow exponentially, transportation systems to move people within cities became as important as those that move people between cities. This is evident in Masoomeh Sharifi Soofiani’s map of historic transportation infrastructure in the 1930s, just before the building of the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge. We can see San Francisco and Berkeley/Oakland’s municipal systems of streetcars and trolleys alongside the larger train network. We can see that water travel was far more central than today—both the international ocean routes that helped make Angel Island the main entry point for immigrants from Asia and the ferry lines that connected an always sprawling region. Many of the ferry lines and most of the streetcars are now gone, especially in the East Bay. In the decades that followed the period captured by this map, the automobile and the highway would dominate. Streets would be widened, streetcar tracks would be pulled up, and traffic flow would take priority over place. Oakland, and in particular its African 233 /

American community in West Oakland, would be torn apart for Interstates 80, 580, 880, and 980 and the suburbanization that these highways helped enable. San Francisco’s western neighborhoods would rebel against highways beginning in the 1960s, but not before the Embarcadero Freeway cut the city off from the waterfront that made it and highways blanketed the industrial southeast. Sleepy rural towns in Contra Costa and Alameda County would suddenly become classic American postwar suburbs. Part of what made automobility and highways so prevalent and popular was that they were seen as modern, as opposed to the train and ferry and trolley, with their nineteenth-century origins. But they weren’t the only hypermodern system that was proposed or built. Jake Coolidge’s rendering of the original 1956 plan for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system shows BART as it was originally envisioned, a truly regional network that would have wrapped around the Bay and connected all nine counties. This BART vision was ultimately undone by many forces. Santa Clara County dropped out first, in the early 1960s, taking San Mateo with it and making Marin County and places north financially unfeasible. A 1979 fire in the Transbay Tube, just five years after the system fully opened, killed expansion plans to eastern Alameda and Contra Costa. Airport connections, which largely serve the middle and upper classes, took priority over extra stations in low-income communities, extensions to increasingly










Bay Area Historic Transportation Infrastructure












Miles 16



diverse suburbia, or programs to make BART more accessible and affordable. This period in the 1960s and 1970s was critical, as all over the Bay Area, rich and poor, white and nonwhite, began to rebel against big ideas like BART, whose construction devastated Seventh Street in West Oakland and Mission Street in the Mission without stemming the flow of auto traffic from the white suburbs. Numerous highways and bridges were proposed and rejected, often for good reason. Environmentalist ideas grew in importance, the financial costs became more egregious, and the human impacts were increasingly evident. But resistance to bad ideas also made a truly regional vision impossible. The end result was a region that is a global case study in fragmentation. As we can see in a map produced by SPUR in 2015, the region, where 29 percent of commuters cross a county boundary to get to work, is served by over two dozen different transit agencies. This fragmentation, this lack of a grand vision or regional system, would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Many of these agencies exist because there was an unaddressed need and no larger body to meet it. Meanwhile, the spirit of the current age is that “code is the new concrete,” and that the “Internet of Things” will solve our “mobility stalemate.”1 Wealthy companies have increasingly taken matters into their own hands during the past two decades, producing one of the most infamous transport systems in the country: private tech company shuttles or “tech buses.” In places like San Francisco, these buses have often used public stops, at times even blocking access to Muni buses for people with disabilities. Kristin Miller’s map of “Google Bus” stops—Google is one of a number of companies that contract these services for employees—is purposefully rendered in the same 235 /

BART design scheme that is so familiar to regional residents. The issue is not private transport, for much of the region’s transport infrastructure, including most of the systems in the Historical Transit Map, was originally privately built and operated. There is a major difference between private operators and private users, between transport by the few for the many and transport by the few for the few. Rather than use their immense economic and political power to build a coalition for regional transit expansion (and consolidation), tech firms like Google simply built a parallel system for themselves.

The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit system based on the original 1956 plan


Napa County


Bellevue Wilfred

based on the original 1956 plan

Rohnert Park Trancas




Penngrove Corona





Fa i r fi e l d

Green Valley

South Napa

Union Av

Solano County

Lewis Brown Dr Novato

Village Dr


American Canyon

Redwood Georgia & Amador




The San Francisco Bay Area Transit system

to Riv e

Santa Rosa

Va l l e j o



San Pablo Bay

Lucas Valley Rd

Grizzly Bay

Glen Cove 9th & Military

Sa c

Maritime Academy

ra m en

Lemon Ignacio


Benicia Be ez tin ar -M e ia g id Br


4th & Tamalpais



San Rafael

San Rafael Harbor

Sa n

Larkspur Ferry

Ra f



Contra Costa


Pt Richmond

Corte Madera




Lone Tree


Pleasant Hill

41st St

2nd St

Oak Grove Waldon

El Cerrito Del Norte MIll Valley


El Cerrito Plaza


Albany Sacramento Marin City/Sausalito


Walnut Creek







Balboa Park Daly City Colma McLellan Chestnut

Sycamore Valley



San Ramon


4th & King Mission Creek Express Service - Weekday Commute Hours Only

Junipero Serra



Randall Glen Park

Transbay Terminal

California High Speed Rail connection



16th & Mission 24th & Mission

Lake Merritt



Fillmore Van Union Sq Ness Powell Civic Ctr 3rd St Gough UCSF Cole Castro


12th St


11th Av

15th Av Noriega

19th St

West Oakland

Transbay Tube


Lombard North Beach



Rockridge MacArthur



San Francisco



Children’s Hospital


Golden Gate


29th Av







North Concord



Barrett rid

ve Ri

Vine Hill

Market Av

Irene & Kerner






Montalvin San Pablo

Marin County


c ni

Crockett Marin Civic Ctr



Bollinger Canyon

Potrero Hill 98th



San Leandro

Hegenberger Williams


Oakland Intl Airport

Bayshore Brisbane


Grand Av


Alameda County


Eden Landing

San Francisco Intl Airport

Sylvan Av






Las Positas


San Francisco Bay

Oyster Pt

Tassajara Dublin

San Lorenzo

South San Francisco

South Hayward

San Mateo Bridge

Union City


California High Speed Rail Connection

San Mateo County

West Dublin

Castro Valley

Bay Fair

Mission Bl


Foster City



Fremont Bl



Fremont Civic Ctr

San Mateo


Hayward Park



n to

m Du

e n


in su

North Fair Oaks

San Carlos

East Palo Alto

ge id Br

Warm Springs

r ba

Dixon Landing Milpitas


Redwood City



Silicon Valley


Menlo Park Palo Alto

Pacific Ocean

San Antonio

California Av Arastradero Edith

Alum Rock

Mineta San José Intl Airport (via shuttle)


Mountain View




Bascom Campbell


By Jake Coolidge. This version completed 2018; previous versions completed in 2011 & 2014. Based, in part, on the original Bay Area Rapid Transit plan, Regional Rapid Transit, published in

Race St Fruitdale

El Monte

This diagram is expressly not intended for navigating the extant BART system; most of the system depicted does not exist!

Downtown San José San José Diridon California High Speed Rail connection

Santa Clara

Express Service - Weekday Commute Hours Only




College Park


Winchester Rainbow



De Anza


San José

Hacienda Los Gatos

California High Speed Rail service to Los Angeles via Fresno, Bakersfield

Santa Clara County

\ 236


Bay Area Public Transit Agencies Santa Rosa CityBus Capitol Corridor City Coach

Sonoma County Transit


FAST Petaluma Transit

Rio Vista Delta Breeze






San Francisco Bay Ferry


TriDelta WestCAT

Golden Gate Transit & Marin Transit





County Connection

T AC Transit




Union City Transit





Dumbarton Express




I (f


N tu


Bay Area Fragmented Transportation 0

er services,


10 Miles


hi C g A h-

s pH e eS R d







Source: Metropolitan Transportation Commission, based on Federal Transit Administration National Transit Database, 2012.



237 /

APRIL 2015


Google Bus Stops in the SF Bay Area This visualization is based on a publicly available Google map of coporate bus stops from Spring 2013. It is intended to show the range and scale of the Google bus network. Some stops have been condensed for clarity and bus lines assume the shortest highway routes between stops.

Interview with Bonnie Wills SALIMA HAMARANI, 2016

Bonnie Wills has moved around during her lifetime, but she has always come home to West Oakland. Now, she is an old-school townie, and she has watched how it has changed over the decades: who has left, who has stayed, who has moved in, who has been pushed out. She has watched Black Oakland disappear. Here she shares her thoughts on her life, her trips out of Oakland, and her decision to move back and stay in the town of her birth.

about three years and never really felt comfortable. I felt like I was away from home, further away from the water. I like being around water. SALIMA HAMARANI: And what was it like in West Oakland back then?

BONNIE WILLS: I was born at Highland Hospital, but my mother lived in West Oakland. I mean we’ve essentially lived in West Oakland all of my life. When I was growing up, this was my grandfather’s house. My mother actually owns the house around the corner. Now, we own it.

BONNIE WILLS: It was a thriving Black community. Seventh Street was like that street that we all went to, primarily because there were Black businesses, and there were places to just hang out. There were restaurants, there was a supportive Black community in West Oakland. My grandfather actually had a store on the corner of 8th and Market, I believe it was, when I was growing up. So, I wasn’t really aware of any racial disparities growing up, because everyone around me was like my family. So I kinda thought the whole world was like my community. Yeah, strong family ties, strong community ties, you know; there was no autonomy.

SALIMA HAMARANI: And what was it like growing up in Oakland? What year was that?

SALIMA HAMARANI: You mean from your family, because everyone had family around?

BONNIE WILLS: I was born in 1947. And when I grew up in Oakland, in my younger years, I wasn’t aware of races, my community was primarily a Black community. . . . I was here at this house a lot, because my grandmother was very doting on me, and I had a great aunt that lived three doors down, my grandfather’s sister. So, I grew up here, but this wasn’t my primary residence. My mother owned a house on Apgar Street until BART bought it from us. So that’s primarily where I grew up—we also lived on 10th Street when I was a very little girl. By the time BART bought my mother’s home, I was married, and I had children, but I always lived in West Oakland. Lived in East Oakland once for

BONNIE WILLS: And from neighbors. I mean, it was a natural thing for a neighbor to knock on our door to borrow our sugar, butter, whatever. And it was a natural thing for us to know, in the community, the parents who didn’t provide for whatever reason. And so, we. . . we always had kids eating at our house. We knew their mother wasn’t gonna be home or wasn’t going to fix something to eat, so they ate with us. You know? Christmas presents for my brother and me, my mother would take out from under the tree to give to the kids. ‘Cause, well, ‘cause their mother can’t afford to buy them anything. And it never occurred to me that my mother worked two jobs. She couldn’t afford

SALIMA HAMARANI: My name is Salima Hamarani and it is Wednesday, June 8, and I am interviewing Bonnie Wills, who lives in West Oakland. So, Bonnie, were you born in West Oakland?

239 /

to buy anything either, but. . . but it was, it was that kind of supportive relationships that we knew. It was the way to survive, especially in poverty. There was an unspoken agreement to share. And that’s what we did. I mean, it was just a normal thing. My aunt and uncle down the street moved here from the south, where he was the principal of the Black school and she was a teacher. When they moved here, they would not allow Blacks to have teaching credentials, even though they both had college degrees. She ended up doing day work, and he worked as a janitor at the courthouse. SALIMA HAMARANI: But what about the schools around here? BONNIE WILLS: There was a school around the corner that my mother went to as a child. it’s now condominiums. You know the schools—what I didn’t know, what I know today but didn’t know then—is that the schools were not adequate, in terms of teaching children of color what they really needed to know, you know. And I don’t mean that there weren’t individual teachers that did, but the system itself wasn’t set up for that. It was set up more to be diseducated than to educate. So the children were often passed on when they didn’t need to be, or like me, who sat in a classroom that was a fourth- and fifth-grade class, and as a child I was an avid reader. So I was beyond the fourth grade. They just moved me to the other side of the room; then I was in fifth grade. SALIMA HAMARANI: But the teachers there, were there Black teachers, or. . .? ‘Cause you said they couldn’t get credentials here?

whatever jobs they could find? BONNIE WILLS: Right. They worked, she as a domestic, and he worked as a janitor, and they had seven children, and they sent all seven to private school. Their sacrifices were many. SALIMA HAMARANI: That’s pretty amazing. BONNIE WILLS: It is amazing, because now I know my elders were my best teachers. SALIMA HAMARANI: What did your. . . did your family move from somewhere to West Oakland? BONNIE WILLS: My family migrated from the South in. . . the early 1940s, to the San Joaquin Valley. So, I have lots of relatives in Merced, Fresno; in fact, we have family reunions every year and. . . It’s interesting. I’ll show you before you leave; I have picture of a family reunion when I was about five, and there are about fifty people. . . and then I have a family reunion picture, about fifty years later, and there are about three hundred people. SALIMA HAMARANI: Wow. BONNIE WILLS: (chuckles) SALIMA HAMARANI: And do all eighteen of your grandkids come ‘round to the reunions if they can? BONNIE WILLS: Oh, yeah. Everybody that can comes. SALIMA HAMARANI: That’s amazing.

BONNIE WILLS: Right, you could get credentials by the time I went to school, but when my great aunt and great uncle came, they could not. SALIMA HAMARANI: So they ended up working \ 240

Interview with Mira Ingram ZEPH FISHLYN

Mira Ingram grew up in Orange County, where she never felt like she quite fit in. As a queer punk, she found very few people she could relate to and moved to San Francisco in search of a more accepting, safer environment. When she first arrived, she was struck by how everyone seemed to be part of a community, no matter how “crazy” or different they were. With the influx of money and newcomers, she feels like exclusion has grown in the city. Beyond losing people, San Francisco is losing a lot of things that peoples struggled for, including equal rights and community solidarity. As a person with a disability, she has experienced firsthand how tech buses violate the rights of people like her, blocking MUNI buses, often making it impossible for her to access bus wheelchair ramps. She identifies this problem as the result of a loss of consciousness. ZEPH FISHLYN: Where are you from, and when did you come to the Bay? MIRA INGRAM: I’m originally from Orange County, I grew up there. And then I moved up here in 1991, and I lived in the Bay Area, a little bit in San Francisco, a little bit in Oakland, and a little bit in Berkeley, but, in the end, I was mostly living in San Francisco. So then I lived here till 1997, when I got the eviction. That was when. . . it was like at the time where I actually looked for other places to live with a friend of mine, and a couple of places we went to, there would be people there coming with like a year’s worth of rent in cash, you know, and as soon as we would get in there, they would be handing them the year’s worth of rent in cash, and we didn’t even have a chance; it would be over with. ZEPH FISHLYN: What brought you to the Bay Area? MIRA INGRAM: I was twenty-five, I think, and a 241 /

lot of things brought me up here. I didn’t really feel safe in Orange County, because I was queer, and because I looked punk, and I’d get harassed for it, ‘cause everything there is so conservative. I never felt comfortable, I never felt there was people I could relate to. There were only a few little social groups I could fit into. One of the things that I like about San Francisco, there’s like all these mentally ill people, but they have so much more acceptance. In any other big city, they would probably be put in jail. Here, people will help people out and be, like, more accepting of people who are really crazy and stuff. . . and that’s really cool, how it seems like everybody is part of a community . . . or it was that way more, how everyone was part of the community. Now all those people are being excluded. So home would be a place where there’s not the exclusion. One thing, I guess I don’t know how to word it, but it seems like with all these richer people moving in here, it’s a lot more than just losing the people here, it’s like a lot of the things that people struggled for, like, for equal rights and everything are going away with that too. Like, one of the things I noticed about those tech [shuttle] buses in particular is that the city just lets them come in and operate here, but they don’t pay any attention about how it violates the rights of people with disabilities, like me. I would never even try to ride a MUNI bus [public bus] during the tech [shuttle bus] time because when those tech shuttles come up [to a stop], they block the MUNI from getting up to the curb to put the [wheelchair] ramp out. I can’t tell you how many doctor appointments I’ve missed and lab tests appointments, because I couldn’t get there.

I think like, twenty years ago, it would have been an issue, and there would have been more of a disability consciousness around it. When, really, it’s affecting my ability to get to the doctor . . . it’s a loss of consciousness and awareness of other people that’s missing too, and that’s really sad.



Transportation is always visible. The noise of urban and suburban life is mostly the noise of people and things moving about. Traffic reports are built into every form of morning and evening news. Congestion affects most of us, and the struggles to move about are part of everyday life. Debates about ridesharing, scooters, tolls, traffic, transit extensions, and gas taxes are part of our political life. Even if we are not experts in how mobility operates technically or politically, it is always visible. The same cannot be said for systems like water, sewage, or energy. Debates about less visible infrastructure only reach the headlines when they touch on big issues and grand ideas—a proposal to build new tunnels in the Central Valley to divert water south or a plan to make energy systems greener. The everyday nature of these vital systems is often forgotten. So is their history. Water infrastructure was foundational to making the Bay Area, and not simply because you can’t build an urbanized region in a semi-arid climate without getting creative with water infrastructure. The politics of water is inseparable from the more foundational political economy of urbanization, and water reflects so many of the rivalries and divisions baked into the built environment of the area. Nick Lee’s re-rendering of a classic cartogram of Northern California water systems shows two of the most significant urban water systems in the United States—San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct and the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s (EBMUD) 243 /

Mokulumne Aqueduct. San Francisco’s famously came first, as the 1906 earthquake made clear that the city’s water system was inadequate. The battle over Hetch Hetchy, which flooded a valley that famed naturalist John Muir felt rivaled Yosemite Valley in beauty, would divide the region’s early environmentalists and would ultimately be Muir’s last major fight. As a region that is so proud of its environmental history and so focused on its most famous city, the story of Hetch Hetchy is well known. Often forgotten is the equally important story of the EBMUD. In the second half of the nineteenth century, San Francisco was home to more than half of the population of the nine counties—and much of its wealth. Talk of a consolidated region, whereby the other cities in the region would be annexed to San Francisco, grew louder in 1898, when Manhattan, then the largest city in the United States, merged with Brooklyn, the third largest, along with the more rural Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. Oakland leaders resisted this consolidation, and the post-1906 population boom in the East Bay gave them more leverage. But they too lacked water, and a 1923 fire in the Oakland Hills showed just how limited a system based on small private water companies could be. Not coincidentally, this was the same year the dam at Hetch Hetchy became operational. If San Francisco controlled the water, it could potentially control the East Bay. In 1923, the East Bay cities formed EBMUD, which constructed the Pardee Dam and the Mokelumne Aqueduct between 1926 and 1929, to be

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followed by the Camanche Dam in 1964. Today, the Hetch Hetchy and EBMUD systems provide water to more than 3.5 million people. The rivalry that created these two parallel systems required unprecedented cooperation between East Bay cities and led to another important innovation in political and physical infrastructure—the East Bay Regional Parks District. Water and open space may have been at odds in Hetch Hetchy, but they were allies in the East Bay hills. Sewer systems are equally integral to the politics of development, since all of this water is only useful for urban areas if it does not accumulate as waste. Sewerage is arguably the most hidden and least understood and appreciated system we have. Both the water that flows through the built environment for our use and the rainwater flowing off of our streets and through our gutters must be treated before discharge lest they further foul our already impacted waterways. Sewerage is complex, expensive to build and maintain, and all of us depend on it every day, even if we don’t notice it. Maya Ellington’s series of maps on San Jose’s sewer system shows the ubiquity and complexity of this hidden system, including both sanitary and storm sewers. Silicon Valley is home to one of the largest wastewater treatment plants in the country; the main treatment plant serves 1.4 million people spread across eight cities and various parts of unincorporated Santa Clara County. Like water, the provision of this vital service upon which we all depend cannot be separated from the orchestrations of power, or from the basic physics of a system. In sewerage, the metaphor “shit flows downhill” is reality. Santa Clara Valley drains from south to north, and it is this fact that helps explain how San Jose, not San Francisco, is the largest city in the region. San Jose built and controlled the sewerage infrastructure at a strategic point where much of the Valley to 245 /

the south drains into the bay. City and county leaders then adopted a Los Angeles–style pro-growth policy in the postwar era, turning a valley famous for fruits and nuts into one famous for subdivisions and microchips. But for developers building in unincorporated areas or homeowners already there, access to sewerage came on one major condition: allow annexation by San Jose. Water and sewer are often run by the same agency, but water can be piped in from long distances, while sewerage is necessarily more localized. Systems are also often very different in different places, depending on location, available technology, local culture and politics, and more. The same is true of energy provision. Fernando Navarro’s maps of Northern California energy infrastructure show the vast heterogeneity of the system. The Bay Area depends on massive lines connecting it to Sierra Nevada hydropower, as well as generating its own wind power in Solano County, on the Altamont Pass, and elsewhere. We burn biomass and gas and generate electricity from solar power. On the map of retired power plants, we can also see the deep and often racialized map of coal-fired power plants and the resultant pollution. No system, least of all one that powers homes, businesses, and mobility for ten million people, is ever free of the history and politics of racism and inequality. As with transportation, we have to read the maps of energy, water, and sewerage for what doesn’t exist, as much as what does. All three systems could allow possible decentralized forms of delivery: solar panels on roofs, grey water treatment systems, composting toilets and old-fashioned septic tanks, localized pumps and recycled water. But we must be careful in our approach to “alternatives”: while certain forms of decentralized systems can be more efficient and more environmentally sound, they are not substitutes for equitable collective provisioning.

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Stormwater Discharge Point

Location point where stormwater runoff flows to surface of the ground.

Stormwater Fitting

Facilities that contain equipment to pump stormwater fluids from one part of the city to another.

Stormwater Detention

Facilities that collect water from the city and release it at a slower rate than it enters the collection system.

Stormwater Culvert

Structures that that allow stormwater to flow under a road, railroad or other obstruction from one side to the other.

Stormwater Lateral Line

Underground pipes that connect water flowing from buildings to the main pipeline.

Stormwater Gravity Main

Underground pipelines that are unpressurized and rely on gravity to move stormwater through the main.




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Sanitary Pump Station

Facilities that contain equipment to pump fluids from one part of the city to another.

Sanitary Network Structure

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Underground pipe system for transporting sewage from buildings to treatment facilities or disposal.

Sanitary Fitting

Used in sewage pipe systems to connect straight pipe or tubing sections, to adapt to different pipe sizes or shapes, or for other purposes such as regulating fluid flow.

Sanitary Pressurized Main

Main underground sewage pipelines that are pressurized using pumps for areas where gravity flow is not sufficient to move sewage through a gravity line.

Sanitary Gravity Main

Underground sewage main lines that are unpressurized and rely on gravity to move water through the main.




2 Miles

Map created by: Maya Ellington Source: City of San Jose

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Sanitary Maintenance Holes

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Sanitary Pump Station

Sanitary Network Structure Sanitary Fitting

Sanitary Pressurized Main Sanitary Gravity Main Streets

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0.15 0.3


Northern California Retired Power Plants

249 /

Northern California Energy Infrastructure

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Another way of envisioning the fragmentation of the region is to look at where people work, how that work is changing, and the relationship between where people live and where they work. One major limitation to the data on employment and commuting is that other kinds of work, from child-rearing to the “gig economy,” and other kinds of journeys, like daily errands or socializing, remain invisible. Still, this data shows us how the major elements of the regional economy are put together and how they are changing. In economic geography, the urban scale is often defined by the spatial footprint of the daily commute. These journeys always spill over city boundaries, but there tends to be a degree of order—people tend to live as close to work as they can or vice versa. A region, on the other hand, reflects the broader division of labor, with each urban area within it having its own “identity” based on what it produces. In practice, we can see this: Menlo Park, Mountain View, and Palo Alto for venture capital and computer systems design, Fremont for high-tech manufacturing, Antioch, Martinez, Pittsburg, and Richmond for petrochemicals and energy generation. But these identities constantly change in response to broader economic and technological change; by the same token, they often also shape these changes. Moreover, in the Bay Area, we see the urban and regional scales collapsing into each other, and this change differs by the kind of work. Chris Henrick’s maps show the change over time in the location quotient of jobs in a given industry by census tract.2 Some industries are more prone to clustering than others and to growth within these 251 /

clusters, with professional service jobs most tightly agglomerated, although the growing clusters along the I-680 corridor are clearly visible. Others are more dispersed. As we can see, while production and materials moving employment has shrunk in the region as a whole, this deindustrialization is highly uneven. Since 2002, manufacturing employment especially has concentrated, even increased, in the southern East Bay’s high-tech manufacturing cluster around Tesla and Seagate (formerly the Solyndra plant). This growth builds on existing infrastructural links, particularly railroads and highways, which made Southern Alameda county one of the region’s manufacturing centers in the middle of the century. At the same time, we can see retail and hospitality shifting outward, with the growth of suburban shopping centers along major highways. In such cases, the regional jobs mix is peppered throughout the urban fabric, seemingly at random. In parallel to this changing geography of job clusters is the “entropy” of traditional commutes. In the idealized picture of a city, commercial activity occurred within a well-defined center surrounded by residential areas and connected by transport infrastructure. This simplified city never really existed, especially in the Bay, where the residential and industrial suburbs of each core city have overlapped since the 1960s. But even the typical ebb and flow of commuters from housing to work and back has become scrambled, and the daily commute has become regional, leading to starkly uneven transport burdens. The commute corridor between San Francisco and Silicon Valley now sees two-way


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traffic jams at commute hours, and commutes have grown longer for low- and middle-income workers, while some high-wage workers have traded higher housing costs for the ease of walking or cycling to work. Unusual for a city its size, San Jose’s population drops during the day, as workers commute to surrounding small, low-density cities that function as its effective “downtown.” New centers in the I-680 corridor have pushed the outer bounds of the daily commute into counties not previously included in the official definition of the Bay Area. Gentrification, displacement, and the availability of low-cost housing on the urban fringe leads to “super commutes” that may cross most of the region. Alasdair Rae’s maps of Brentwood, Tracy, and Fairfield reveal this phenomenon, showing how the commutes between home and work in outer areas 253 /

are spread all over the region. In each location, more than half of the employed residents work outside their home county, sometimes several counties away. Some work in a separate region entirely. And while, on balance, most people still do work within thirty minutes of home, travel times to work have increased unevenly across the region over the past twenty years. In parts of Contra Costa County, as many as 40 percent of workers travel more than an hour to work.

Bay Area Commute Flows 2017

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Inter-County Commuting Patterns Within the Nine-County Bay Area

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Commute Paths of 150 or More Workers By Destination County Alameda Contra Costa Marin Napa San Francisco San Mateo Santa Clara Solano Sonoma Data: US Census Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Origin-Destination Employment Statistics (LODES) 2017, https://lehd.

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Infrastructure invites resistance, even if the forms of infrastructure pursued today, particularly in the Bay Area, have changed dramatically from the era of urban renewal, freeway construction, and BART. . . . The inequalities embedded in today’s infrastructure plans are subtler and more often hidden by a depoliticized frame of “sustainability.” 267 /

Resistance and Envisioning Our Collective Futures JOHN STEHLIN AND DELAND CHAN

Looking to the past is an exercise in envisioning our collective futures. Reflections of the built and unbuilt enable us to see what has happened in order to grasp what may happen. In our journey through 150 years of infrastructure history, we now look ahead to the next 150 years. Discussions of infrastructure today are centered around the “buzzwords” of sustainability, resilience, and climate adaptation. This is the moment when we may need to “go back” to the future; knowing our histories enables us to forge ahead into the future. Rarely do we build infrastructure and walk away from it; the remnants of discontent are ever-present and embedded in our concrete, glass, and steel. Infrastructure continues to have political effects, especially as the social and economic conditions that led to its production have shifted. As a set of monuments, infrastructure surfaces grievances related to its initial construction and ongoing purpose. These grievances—born from contestations and resistance—are continual works in progress, an ongoing and evolving fight among many interests battling it out in a political arena. Infrastructure invites resistance, even if the forms of infrastructure pursued today, particularly in the Bay Area, have changed dramatically from the era of urban renewal, freeway construction, and BART. A new wave of infrastructure, riding a massive flow of capital and migration “back to the city,”3 is inspired by the hope of righting the wrongs of the automobile era. But some have pointed out that the “smart growth” paradigm—which informs Plan Bay Area, the region’s housing and transportation plan—

and the related “complete streets” philosophy, both of which combine transit-oriented development, “placemaking,” and enabling low-carbon mobilities like walking and cycling, reproduce social inequalities and contribute to the displacement of low-income communities.4 The inequalities embedded in today’s infrastructure plans are subtler and more often hidden by a depoliticized frame of “sustainability.”5 They involve less the wholesale demolition of entire neighborhoods and more the privileging of an individualized, consumerist version of environmentalism, including the creation of infrastructure that supports this form of life. Scholars have referred to this process—which converts sustainability and climate adaptation “solutions” into market value— as ecological gentrification,6 eco-gentrification,7 or green gentrification.8 But the political capacity to shape how space is organized through infrastructure is profoundly unequal in distribution, socially, institutionally, and geographically. We can see this in conflicts over recent plans for bus rapid transit (BRT) in Oakland. In 1999, the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) began exploring implementing BRT service from San Leandro to downtown Berkeley via International Boulevard and Telegraph Avenue. Its main selling point to cities, and often developers, is that it provides the experience of light-rail—a cherished “growth machine” development tool—without the cost.9 By the late 2000s, opposition began building among largely white merchants in rapidly gentrifying North Oakland and on the south side of the University of California, Berkeley campus, citing traffic \ 268

congestion concerns, while there was some hope in East Oakland that bus service would improve.10 Meanwhile, when planning began in East Oakland in 2010, Black and Latinx merchants along International Boulevard began raising concerns about projected parking losses and disruption to business, while a number of activists also critiqued the “placemaking” element of BRT as a gentrification tool. Ultimately, the concerns of the Berkeley merchants prevailed and the city refused BRT, leading to a radically reduced and much less effective project running solely between San Leandro and downtown Oakland. Meanwhile, concerns about gentrification and its impacts on the livelihoods of all who live on, work on, and make use of International Boulevard remain very much alive.11 At a broader scale, efforts to align housing and transportation investment in the Bay Area, known as Plan Bay Area, have played out along similar lines. Plan Bay Area’s smart growth approach, designed to concentrate investment around areas accessible to transit, called Priority Development Areas (PDAs), has been criticized as fueling gentrification by steering development toward urban core neighborhoods with high concentrations of low-income renters.12 But some of the places that have resisted Plan Bay Area most ferociously are not those at risk of displacement, but small, wealthy suburban or quasi-rural towns like Orinda in Contra Costa County, which have the resources both to fight the plan and do without its benefits. Between 2011 and 2013, activists in Orinda affiliated with the Tea Party stormed public meetings and denounced the plan as an infringement on their property rights, values, and quality of life. Four lawsuits against the plan were filed, two by Tea Party affiliates, one by the Sierra Club, and one by the Bay Area Building Industry Coalition.13 Ultimately, 269 /

the plan was adopted in 2013, but Orinda was for the time being left without PDA. 14 In the next 150 years, the Bay Area will be challenged by earthquakes, sea level rise, and greater frequency and intensity of climate-induced extreme weather. As cities respond with sustainability, resilience, and climate adaptation policies, often as a way to attract capital investment, this begs the question: Infrastructure for whom, by whom, and how? Given that poor communities bear the brunt of environmental burdens and are more vulnerable to climate-induced disasters—yet they also lack privileged channels to engage in the planning process—infrastructure becomes a double-edged sword. Working-class and poor people of color in the Bay Area are often forced to choose between two equally unappealing futures: infrastructural development carrying the risk of displacement, or chronic underinvestment and lack of access to services that would provide the minimum standards for a dignified quality of life. Meanwhile, wealthy, largely white communities reap the benefits of access to one of the world’s most dynamic economies while rejecting any project that would benefit the broader region. These vignettes push us to ask: Under what conditions is resistance successful? What does it achieve? Whose interests does it center? Resistance to date has often been short-term and reactive, replicating systemic patterns of inequity and uneven access to political participation, while also framed in the media as irrational, eliding the historical role of infrastructure in cementing these inequities. In winning the battle, the war is lost, and the losers, yet again, are low-income and/or communities of color. The wealthy of the Bay Area have become adept at appropriating narratives of infrastructural harm, an unaccountable bureau-

cracy, and a lack of “community” consultation, obscuring the power relations that give their voices more weight than others.15 Even when they lose a particular fight, they tend to keep what they already have. Conversations about the future of infrastructure in the Bay Area need to be clear about the kinds of infrastructure that need to be built, the scale at which they are needed, and who they serve. A light-rail line designed to enrich nearby landowners or comprehensive, affordable mass transit that is safe and accessible for all? Energy efficiency retrofits that add value to already expensive houses or a commitment to decent and affordable low-carbon housing for all? A high-stakes, winner-take-all regional economy or green jobs for those who want them and a dignified life for those who do not? This work is a tale of tomorrow’s infrastructure, a story yet to be written.

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In the piercing cold days of February, I walked the length of Mission Street, up the east side and down the west side, from south to north, from Cesar Chavez Street to Duboce Street. I stopped at the That’s It bodega at Mission and 23rd Streets, where the sign says, “The Center of The Miracle Mile.” The “Miracle Mile” was the moniker given to Mission Street during its ascendance from the 1920s to the 1960s. Here I saluted a past when Irish, Italian, Scandinavian, German, Russian, and other immigrant workers of European origin living in the neighborhood went bargain hunting on Mission Street. During this period, the Mission was colored red for “hazardous” and crosshatched as “industrial” on maps issued by the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) from 1937 to 1940. HOLC was a key New Deal agency, whose categorizations heavily influenced credit and investment decisions by financial organizations. Studies since the 1980s have shown that redlined areas corresponded to where racial minorities and working-class populations lived. As a result, HOLC classifications reinforced racial and class segregation that perpetuated wealth disparities for future generations. Fittingly, HOLC described the core Mission District as “an inharmonious conglomeration of old houses, bungalows, flats, and apartments, sprinkled with shops, markets, and small industrial establishments” in “detrimental” proximity to the packing district in the east and the Southern Pacific Railway line that traversed the neighborhood. HOLC went on to declare that because of its “decadent condition, few mortgage institutions will entertain applications for residential loans in this area.”

After World War II, with low-cost mortgages available to veterans under the G.I. Bill, upwardly mobile European workers moved out to buy property in the suburbs. In the wake of their exodus, the Latino working class—traditional inhabitants of the old “Latin Quarter” of North Beach—moved into the vacated cheaper rundown residences of the Mission. Through each rotating generation of workers, stores adapted their wares to the dominant ethnic preferences. By the 1960s, the signs on Mission Street started displaying Spanish to keep up with the growing working population of Latin American origin. Grocery stores, hair stylists and barbers, butchers and fishmongers, money senders and check cashiers, shoe and clothes shops, movie houses, dentists, doctors, accountants and lawyers, travel agencies, thrift stores, jewelers, photography studios, pawnshops, and nonprofit agencies have been serving the servants of the City by the Bay for over one hundred years on Mission Street. That was it! Until now. I walked on Mission Street three more times, both ways, tallying the number of store fronts that are closed, the number of store fronts that are now upscale pubs, bars, and restaurants, and the number of sites under construction slated to be future condos and new posh storefronts that serve wealthy tech workers with expensive taste and disposable income. I got curious and walked again, scouting for what remains of hotels, mixed residential rental units, and family-serving businesses on the cheap. I return with a warning: speculators are preparing a final assault on the last vital spaces and services for the working poor on Mission Street. \ 272

ANCHOR In those cold February days, I visit Peter Papadopoulos and Christopher Gil at the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), a nonprofit organization that has been promoting economic equity and social justice in the Mission District for forty-five years. We compare notes on Mission Street. My research using a realtor weapon, the Property Shark website, shows that the selling prices of single home dwellings and condominiums, which have respectively hit an alarming $1,992 and $1,092 per square foot median selling price, are the driving force of gentrification. Harder to flip and to sell but following the same trend, the mixed residential and commercial units have a median selling price from $500 to $548 per square foot. Checking on Property Shark, I also note that the closed commercial storefronts seen on Mission Street have already changed hands several times in recent years between trusts and LLCs set up by real estate speculators and owners to prepare their land assault. Peter explains that MEDA is working to prevent Mission Street from meeting the same fate as Valencia Street, where family-serving business were flipped into luxury retail stores and upscale eating and drinking venues. They work with incoming merchants on Mission Street to meet community standards and promote legislation that slows down commercial turnover. The intent is to anchor the corners of Mission Street to allow for cultural place-keeping. MEDA also collaborates with the city’s Small Sites Program to purchase low-income residential properties that may otherwise be bought to be flipped. Still, MEDA can only buy what is for sale and feasible to buy. Without another community uprising demanding a more decisive stance by politicians in City Hall, there will be a wholesale sellout of the Mission District, a historic Latino, multicultural, working-class safe haven. The uprising is in the works. 273 /

RED BUS LANE The red transit-only lane on Mission Street from 14th to 30th Streets was concluded in May 2016 by the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA). The focus of the red bus lane was narrow: move buses and the people on them faster. But the plan didn’t go over well in the community, because the Mission is a magical place with a long memory. The red bus lane on Mission Street operates on three basic principles to minimize car cruising: forced right turns for cars every few blocks in the northbound direction, no left turns, and a forced right turn on Cesar Chavez Street. The results of the red lane are that Muni buses now move two minutes faster, and the daytime Latino businesses on Mission Street that serve local families are suffering dramatically from the diminished ability of customers to arrive at and park near these stores. Meanwhile nighttime pubs, bars, and restaurants catering to wealthy tech workers and tourists are opening in increasing numbers. The rising booziness of Mission Street is a slap in the face to Mission organizers who worked hard through the 1980s and 1990s to create the most restrictive liquor laws in the city. Their work served to reduce access and exposure of youth to liquor abuse and to support ongoing recovery programs. Adding insult to injury, the red bus lane rules make lowriding on Mission Street all but impossible. In the peak years of 1979 and 1980, Fridays and Saturdays saw a line of low and slow red taillights facing off against the oncoming bumpity-bump string of headlights, as Latino youth spilled out into the streets, from Silver Avenue to 14th Street. Mission Street became the lowriding mecca of Northern California with regular clashes with police, who used the neighborhood to train rookies to crack Brown and Black skulls. The Mission lowriders fought and won a legal battle against police to end racial discrimination and uphold their right to self-expression. The sudden

prohibition to cruise in a handcrafted wheeled artwork was yet another example of cultural erasure due to the red bus lane. On January 25, Our Mission No Eviction organized a march to city hall to “Save Mission Street!” A coalition of organizers and students stood at the helm. Among them walked Roberto Hernandez, a lowrider and an old school Misionero organizer,

forged in the fires of past Mission struggles. Down Mission Street we went, chanting, “Whose street? Our street!” Upon the red lane we walked, slow and pedestrian, in a left-leaning march, resisting all forced turns to the right, remembering what Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta used to say: “¡Sí, se puede! Yes, we can!" \ 274


On December 9, 2013, the creative direct-action collective Heart of the City organized with tenants and housing rights advocates to blockade a doubledecker “Google bus” on 24th and Valencia Street in the Mission District of San Francisco. These oversized private shuttles, used by many tech companies but all generally referred to as “Google buses,” drew ire from residents across San Francisco. Blustering along narrow neighborhood streets, they were the most strikingly visible symbol that the tech industry was impacting our city, amid a new wave of displacement and a massive increase in evictions. The tactic of stopping the white, unmarked, doubledecker behemoths in their tracks spread, becoming a megaphone for a populace facing the loss of their homes, communities, safety net, and culture. Earlier that year, the collective had organized our first action at the 2013 San Francisco Pride parade. Positioned amid the various corporate tech contingents, we drove a fake Google bus lined with banners reading “Gentrification Eviction Technologies OUT,” trailed by a blown-up version of Brian Whitty’s Ellis Act Eviction map. It was six months later that we decided to escalate our tactics. On that cold December morning, we surrounded the bus on 24th Street dressed in fluorescent vests with street signs reading: “Warning: Two-Tier System” and “Stop Displacement Now.” Posing as the imaginary San Francisco Displacement and Neighborhood Impact Agency, we issued a fake ordinance using actual regulations that the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority (SFMTA) should have been enforcing for 275 /

years. The Curb Priority Law states that no vehicle other than Muni buses can park in Muni zones unless they have a permit; if they do so, they’ll receive a $271 fine. The faux ordinance took this infringement and applied it to SFMTA’s estimates of how many times private shuttles stop per workday—approximately 7100 times in over 200 Muni stops—which would have equaled roughly $1 billion in fines over the two years during which the program had drastically expanded before the action. The Heart of the City collective demanded that the tech industry be forced to pay for its impact and stated that the money should be used to fund affordable housing, eviction defense, public transit, and anti-speculation initiatives. When over a hundred media outlets blasted the story, it forced city officials to issue statements. Mayor Ed Lee addressed the controversy by toeing the line: “People, stop blaming tech, tech companies. They want to work on a solution. I think it’s unfortunate that some voices want to pit one economic sector they view as successful against the rest of our challenges.”16 Debates on the housing crisis and who was to blame were ignited all over social media and the comments sections of news articles. This media frenzy drew journalists from all over the world, highlighting the many communities resisting “Big Tech” and its contributions to rising rents and evictions. Multiple tech shuttle blockades followed, with members of groups like Eviction Free San Francisco, Senior and Disability Action, Our Mission No Eviction, the Last 3 Percent, Gay Shame, and even random passersby joining in the action.

The tactic also spread to Oakland, Seattle, and San Jose, cities experiencing similar problems from tech gentrification. In February 2014, investigative journalist Tim Redmond uncovered emails showing that SFMTA had given Google and other shuttle companies a “handshake” pass for years, which verified the “twotier system.” The emails also showed SFMTA had started giving Google more tickets after our actions, and that Google had hired a the highly influential public affairs firm Barbary Coast Consulting to try and dismiss the few tickets they had received.17 The response of tech and big business advocates was to regurgitate the mantra that private shuttles take cars off the road and are, thus, environmentally friendly.18 This greenwashing strategy ignored big tech’s history of lobbying Silicon Valley politicians to build giant corporate campuses for high-wage tech workers, with no plan to house them. The regional governments effectively exported their housing problem to San Francisco, Oakland, and beyond, while the industry and its representatives refused to account for all the displaced lower-wage workers now driving hours to their jobs in San Francisco. After three months and multiple blockades on both sides of the Bay, the press finally “got” activists’ anti-displacement message, and public opinion started to turn a critical eye on big tech extracting more from the community than it returns. Thus, the Heart of the City collective had more liberty to boost our level of theatrics and layers of parody. Our 2014 April Fools’ Day action purposefully preceded the appeal of the SFMTA’s Commuter Shuttle Program at the board of supervisors meeting. Here we launched Gmuni, a faux Google pilot program that would allow the public free access to ride the private shuttles illegally utilizing our public bus stops. Our program “representatives” handed out Gmuni passes,

and acrobats dressed in Google-colored spandex effectively blocked the bus as participants tried to board at 24th and Valencia Street. Performance artist Annie Danger confused the cops with her impeccable and hilarious rendition of a Gmuni CEO, while our stilt-walking Google/DARPA surveillance robot loomed over the crowd. Once again, we captured the media’s attention, though this time adding a little levity to a dire situation.19 Those pushing the April 1 appeal of the Commuter Shuttle Program lost the board of supervisors vote but decided to take it to court. Evidently, SFMTA approved the new pilot program without subjecting it to the environmental review required under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In the past, even adding bike lanes has been subject to such reviews, on far less substantial grounds. According to the written appeal: [T]here is no CEQA exemption that can reasonably apply to the Commuter Shuttle Project, because there is a fair argument that the Project will result in significant environmental impacts, including air pollution, the displacement of people and housing, and the displacement of low-income communities and communities of color that live, work, and commute in the areas proposed for Commuter Shuttle activities. . . . CEQA requires the lead agency to determine whether the “environmental effects of a project will cause substantial adverse effects on human beings, either directly or indirectly.” 20 Unfortunately, housing, disability, and environmental advocates eventually lost the appeal. Successes may not come in the form of policy change from our broken “representative democracy” but instead in the form of a growing social movement demanding justice and accountability, especially from the \ 276

wealthiest corporations in the world, which present themselves as environmentally friendly, innovative, even democratic. Using the momentum of the media’s fascination with these actions, tenant rights organizers were able to divert their attention to folks facing eviction and finally get journalists to tell unglamorous but essential stories of the dispossessed. The actions penetrated mainstream media, ignited debates, and forced people of different backgrounds to have conversations around income inequality and privilege. University of California, Berkeley New Media and Performance Studies professor Abigail De Kosnik reflected, “It was as if activists had thrown a ball against the invisible force field of neoliberal global capital to see its contours and exploit the underbelly of its narrative.”21 Though the fight is far from over, the “Google bus” blockades played a pivotal role in highlighting the tech industry’s impact on displacement and fueled a larger movement fighting for a right to their homes, neighborhoods, and the city.22


Above: Original google bus blockade, photo by Michelle Ott, courtesy of the Heart of the City Collective

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____________________________________________________________ SFMTA—Curb






 1) 2) 3) 4)



 1) Inform
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Why Taxi Drivers Protested Uber at the Crunchies THE AEMP COLLECTIVE

Taxicab drivers staged a protest against the rideshare company Uber outside the 2015 Crunchies event at the Symphony Hall in San Francisco. Uber was an award contestant at the annual gala event, where the tech journal Tech Crunch honors tech companies, startups, and venture capitalists. Uber is based in San Francisco, as is Lyft. For several years, the local regulatory environment had been “disrupted” by the rideshare apps. Senior taxi drivers held city-issued permits called “medallions” that the city had once limited and issued for free. The San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority, under former Mayor Gavin Newsom, had decided to monetize the medallions in 2009 and made a deal with the San Francisco Federal Credit Union (SFFCU) to issue loans to drivers to cover the new price of $250,000 per medallion. As Uber and Lyft came to dominate the streets and the city allowed the start-ups to operate without the permits required by taxi drivers, drivers lost revenue and began to default on the medallion loans. The SFFCU has since sued the City of San Francisco.23 The ridesharing start-ups have been known to exploit their workers, racially discriminate against riders, and contribute to processes of gentrification. Meanwhile, the increased use of ridesharing apps has, according to the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, led to increased traffic. A 2018 report concluded that companies like Uber and Lyft were responsible for 51 percent of vehicle delay between 2010 and 2016.24

“Anti-Uber Protest,” phot by the AEMP

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Chapter 5 Endnotes 1. Philippe Crist, “Encoding 21st Century Transport: Toward Algorithmic Policy-Making,” presentation to POLIS: Cities and Regions for Transport Innovation conference, 2018, accessed July 1, 2020,; Jason Henderson, Street Fight: The Politics of Mobility in San Francisco (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2013). 2. A location quotient (LQ) measures how over or underrepresented a particular job category is in a given census tract, when compared to the regional average. An LQ of 1 means the same proportion as the region as a whole. An LQ of .5 means half as many jobs in that category than we would expect given its share of jobs in the region as a whole; an LQ of 2 means twice as many. 3. Neil Smith, “Gentrification and Capital: Practice and Ideology in Society Hill,” Antipode 11, no. 3 (1979): 24–35.

4. Aaron Golub, “Moving beyond Fordism: ‘Complete Streets’ and the Changing Political Economy of Urban Transportation,” in Stephen Zavestoski and Julian Agyeman, eds., Incomplete Streets: Processes, Practices, and Possibilities (London: Routledge, 2014); Karen Chapple, “Incomplete Streets, Complete Regions,” in Zavestoski and Agyeman, eds., Incomplete Streets; Julian Agyeman, David Schlosberg, Luke Craven, and Caitlin Matthews, “Trends and Directions in Environmental Justice: From Inequity to Everyday Life, Community, and Just Sustainabilities,” Annual Review of Environment and Resources (November 2016): 41, 321–40; Daniel Aldana Cohen, “The Urban Green Wars,” Jacobin, December 2015, accessed May 14, 2020,; John Stehlin, “Cycles of Investment: Bicycle Infrastructure, Gentrification, and the Restructuring of the San Francisco Bay Area,” Environment and Planning A 47, no. 1 (2015): 121–37; Sara Safransky, “Greening the Urban Frontier: Race, Property, and Resettlement in Detroit,” Geoforum 56 (September 2014): 237–48. 5. Erik Swyngedouw, “The Antinomies of the Postpolitical City: In Search of a Democratic Politics of Environmental Production,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 33, no. 3 (September 2009): 601–20.

6. Sarah Dooling, “Ecological Gentrification: A Research Agenda Exploring Justice in the City,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 33, no. 3 (2009): 621–39. 7. Noah Quastel, “Political Ecologies of Gentrification,” Urban Geography 30, no. 7 (2009): 694–725.

8. Isabelle Anguelovski, James J.T. Connolly, Melissa Garcia-Lamarca, Helen Cole, and Hamil Pearsall, “New Scholarly Pathways on Green Gentrification: What Does the Urban ‘Green Turn’ Mean and Where Is It Going?” Progress in Human Geography 43, no. 6 (December 2019): 1–23. 9. John R. Logan and Harvey L. Molotch, Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007).

10. Kathleen Richards, “Bumps in the Road,” East Bay Express, June 27, 2007, accessed May 14, 2020, 11. A similar sequence of events occurred with the BRT project planned for the Geary corridor in San Francisco, with white, middle-class residents of the low-density western half of the city filing a lawsuit on the grounds of an insufficient environmental impact review (EIR) for the project. A judge dismissed the lawsuit in October 2018; see Rachel Swan, “Judge Tosses Lawsuit Aimed at Slowing Geary Blvd. Bus Rapid Transit System,” San Francisco Chronicle, October 16, 2018, accessed May 14, 2020, https://

12. Gen Fujioka, “A Bay Area Plan for Development and Displacement,” Beyond Chron, July 29, 2013, accessed May 14, 2020, 13. Karen Trapenberg Frick, “The Actions of Discontent: Tea Party and Property Rights Activists Pushing Back against Regional Planning,” Journal of the American Planning Association, 79 no. 3 (2013): 190–200; Karen Trapenberg Frick, “Citizen Activism, Conservative Views & Mega Planning in a Digital Era.” Planning Theory and Practice 17, no. 1 (2016): 93–118. 283 /

14. During the planning of a subsequent revision, it was wealthy, liberal Marinwood, in Marin County, that fought the plan. When the revised Plan Bay Area 2040 was released in 2017, a PDA was listed in Orinda, but none in Marinwood. 15. Miranda Joseph, Against the Romance of Community (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002).

16. Sean Hollister, “Protesters Block Silicon Valley Shuttles, Smash Google Bus Window,” Verge, December 13, 2013, accessed July 16, 2010, 17. Tim Redmond, “Investigation: SF Gave the Google Buses a ‘Handshake’ Pass for Years. Now Will the Violators Finally Get Tickets?” 48 Hills, February 20, 2014, accessed May 15, 2020, https://tinyurl. com/y7fyrnda.

18. Jon Brooks, “Corporate Shuttle Bus Trumpets Environmental Benefits,” KQED News, February 5, 2014, accessed May 15, 2020, 19. Leslie Dreyer, Gmuni: Free Luxury Free Market Free for All, Vimeo, April 1, 2014, accessed May 15, 2020, 20. Richard Drury and Christina Caro, “Appeal of SFMTA Approval of Commuter Shuttle Policy and Pilot Program,” February 19, 2014, 3-4, accessed July 15, 2020, F&ID=2917207&GUID=8E20B931-AFAA-46BB-AC50-43582D24986F. 21. Personal conversation with Gail De Kosnik, April 22, 2014.

22.“Right to the city” was an idea proposed in Henri Lefebvre, Le Droit à la ville: Vers la sociologie de l’urbain (Paris: Éditions Ellipses, 2009 [1968]), further explored in David Harvey “The Right to the City,” New Left Review 53 (September–October, 2008), and adopted by housing justice activists and social movements to demand their right to access and shape urban centers, along with the ways in which they live, work, and survive within them. 23. “Joseph & Cohen Files Suit against SFMTA for San Francisco Federal Credit Union Over Taxi Medallion Meltdown,” Joseph & Cohen, April 9, 2018, accessed June 3, 2020, yde9zhl4.

24. Aarian Marshall, “Uber and Lyft Made Things Worse in San Francisco. But It’s Complicated,” Wired, October 16, 2018, accessed June 3, 2020,

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Migrati Relocat

ions/ tions

—6 —

Introduction MARY SHI

As labor and capital flood in to feed the booming growth of the San Francisco Bay Area, a vast number of people are thrown into circulation. Their migrations and relocations are, one by one, reshaping the contours of the Bay Area. Taken together, the maps, stories, and essays in this chapter reveal a complex network of disparate places throughout the Bay Area, with connections spanning far beyond the greater metropolitan region. By insisting on taking a regional view of the Bay Area, this chapter combats the tendency to reduce the Bay Area to its urban icons of San Francisco and Oakland or treat it as synonymous with a Silicon Valley imaginary of tech campuses and low-slung suburbs. Combining panoramic, demographic snapshots of mass migration with more grounded and individual stories of migration, relocation, and resistance, this chapter offers a multi-scalar window into the processes that are transforming the Bay Area and the multiple modalities through which they are being experienced. Approaching the Bay Area as an interconnected regional whole illuminates the relational nature of migration processes and their resultant uneven geographies and allows the full diversity of places, experiences, and communities in which Bay Area housing justice must be fought for to come into view. This chapter opens with two maps produced by the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP), which offer a first pass at visualizing the region. The first illustrates the distribution of the Bay Area’s population growth between cities and suburbs from 1970 to 2016. As population grew in the Bay Area, the region’s suburbs grew disproportionately

287 /

to its urban core, producing an increasingly suburban and sprawling region. The second set of maps highlights the centrality of immigration to the Bay Area, and the medley of communities that resulted. Snapshots of mass migration can never tell the whole story. When captured in aggregate, individual experiences of migration, relocation, and displacement are collapsed into a handful of abstract statistics that betray little of the concrete processes that produced them or the people and decisions behind them. Decisions about how to move, where to live, and under what conditions are never divorced from their larger social, political, and economic contexts. The remaining contributions draw attention to the ways in which race, class, and the political economy of housing in the Bay Area structure mobility and migration. As the data and stories presented in this chapter show, what it means to move is very different depending on whether the decision to move is made voluntarily or involuntarily, whether it is made under the weight of generations of racism and unequal wealth accumulation, and whether

it is made under duress as the result of unaffordable housing. This section opens with Rasheed Shabazz’s timeline of Black exclusion in the City of Alameda. By placing his own family’s displacement in conversation with the history of Black exclusion in Alameda, Shabazz creates a timeline that stands witness to the long history of racial discrimination that still shapes Black displacement today. As Alex Schafran’s contributions on housing expensification and mobile resegregation demonstrate, while high housing prices mean some Bay Area residents are stuck in place, others are forced into ever more far-flung circuits of migration and commuting. Which communities experience what is itself highly conditioned by who historically had access to home ownership and when. The AEMP presents two further analyses of demographic data that offer hints of the processes driving migration and relocation in the area. Mapping the largest inflows of new residents reveals the global networks of people flows in which the Bay Area is entangled. While, for those who voluntarily relocate, the Bay Area may appear as a land of opportunity, for those forced out of their homes, displacement is a form of opportunity denied. Visualizing age-gender pyramids for cities and suburbs throughout the greater Bay Area suggests that decisions to relocate within the region may be conditional on family struc-

ture. While the region’s central cities and suburban employment centers are disproportionately filled with young adults, families with school-age children concentrate elsewhere, leading to stark differentiations between places throughout the Bay Area. These demographic patterns are just one symptom of the broader transformations being wrought in the Bay Area and the new relations between space, place, and community being forged here. Concrete stories of migration illustrate the tensions people experience at the individual level while relocating. Making a new home results in struggles of its own. This is evidenced in the ambiguities confronted by the residents of the Growly when, after their own eviction from San Francisco, they negotiate how to responsibly establish a housing cooperative in the rapidly gentrifying Oakland neighborhood they relocate to. Nora Dye, with input from other former and current residents, documents the evolution of the Growly from abstract utopian vision to its concrete expression in place by reflecting on the day-to-day decisions of establishing and running a cooperative house. Struggles to establish a home are all the more compounded when, as in the case of the informally housed residents of Albany Bulb, mainstream society refuses to recognize that homelessness can go hand in hand with rootedness and all of its attendant rights to recognition and space. Annie Danis’s painstaking archaeology of the Bulb in the wake of its eviction powerfully reveals the material traces of the homes the Bulb’s former residents built and were forced to leave behind. The migrations, relocations, and dislocations explored in this chapter did not occur against a static backdrop but, rather, with and through political decisions and economic conditions produced at federal, state, and local levels. Aloka \ 288

Narayanan’s essay on the policy context of the Bay Area from World War II onward weaves together some of the threads of these changes to draw attention to the structural conditions of the Bay Area’s ongoing transformation. This chapter concludes with a focus on resistance. How can activists effectively mobilize to introduce friction into the Bay Area’s displacement machine? What place-sensitive strategies are needed for effective organizing, and what broader vision can unite such disparate efforts? To be effective, strategies for resistance must be as diverse and interconnected as the Bay Area itself. Reading about the work of three regional housing justice organizations with which the AEMP has collaborated in the past against the backdrop of Tony Samara’s structural vision of housing justice provides fodder for answering these broader questions.

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Uneven Development: Suburbanization & Gentrification AUSTIN EHRHARDT, SETH NEILL, AND MARY SHI MAP BY AUSTIN EHRHARDT

Between 1970 and 2016, the Bay Area added more than three million residents to its inner nine counties and two million more to its surrounding ten. As the data visualizations and maps on the next two pages show, during this massive influx of population, Bay Area cities and suburbs did not grow evenly. Census Bureau–defined tract boundaries offer clues into the Bay Area’s ongoing transformation.1 While tightly packed census tracts indicate areas that were already urbanized and densely populated by 2010, the last time census tract boundaries were updated, large tracts reveal areas that had low population densities and were largely rural. Visualizing population change at the census tract level between 1970 and 2016 reveals expanding suburbs, as new housing developments led to massive population growth in previously rural tracts at the edges of existing suburbs or on the exurban fringe. Mass suburbanization from the end of World War II through the 1970s led to stagnating

population growth in the Bay Area’s urban core as population spread outward, with those suburbs farthest away experiencing the fastest growth. However, not all communities participated in suburban flight equally, as lower-income communities and communities of color were left behind or faced housing discrimination that largely excluded them from new suburbs. Despite many challenges, the communities remaining in the urban core created homes and resilient, vibrant neighborhoods. As population and capital flood back into the inner Bay Area today, it is these neighborhoods that feel the pressures of speculation and displacement most strongly. Visualizing population growth in 2016 relative to 1970 reveals Oakland and San Francisco’s uneven contours of change. While some neighborhood populations have remained relatively stable since 1970, others have experienced explosive growth and gentrification. \ 290
















2016 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

CITY San Jose San Francisco Sacramento Oakland Stockton Fremont Modesto Santa Rosa Elk Grove Salinas Hayward Sunnyvale Concord Santa Clara Berkeley Vallejo Fairfield Antioch Richmond Daly City

291 291 / /

GROWTH 125.11% 20.96% 89.71% 17.40% 180.77% 129.65% 243.01% 253.83% N/A** 173.83% 71.36% 55.97% 50.21% 45.46% 4.68% 65.25% 156.36% 299.78% 38.90% 61.10%

21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41

San Mateo Vacaville Tracy Livermore San Leandro Citrus Heights Redwood City Merced Napa Mountain View San Ramon Alameda Manteca Folsom Pleasanton Milpitas Turlock Union City Rancho Cordova Pittsburg Walnut Creek

30.40% 341.68% 508.47% 135.99% 26.58% N/A** 54.58% 274.96% 122.19% 48.01% N/A** 9.87% 458.76% 1222.22% 313.78% 178.92% 424.65% 392.52% N/A** 227.84% 75.02%

42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62

Palo Alto Davis South San Francisco Santa Cruz Lodi Petaluma San Rafael Cupertino Brentwood Woodland Dublin Novato Gilroy Watsonville West Sacramento Ceres San Bruno Newark Danville Morgan Hill Rohnert Park

2016 23.45% 185.72% 42.77% 105.22% 126.27% 147.24% 55.35% 233.43% 2145.53% 185.45% N/A** 76.07% 329.06% 263.13% N/A** 678.29% 26.98% 65.72% N/A** 674.64% 594.38%

63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 ▫ ▫

Campbell Oakley Los Banos Pacifica Martinez Hollister Pleasant Hill Seaside Foster City Menlo Park Saratoga Los Altos San Pablo East Palo Alto Atwater Los Gatos Burlingame San Carlos Unincorporated Areas Total Population

76.90% N/A** 331.65% 6.38% 126.68% 373.67% 41.18% -7.37% N/A** 22.93% 16.45% 24.32% 45.04% N/A** 161.94% 33.87% 10.48% 13.36% 82.90% 84.79%

7.5 mi




San Pablo San Rafael

Richmond El Cerrito Albany Sausalito

Berkeley Emeryville

Piedmont San Ramon Oakland

San Francisco


San Leandro

Castro Valley

Daly City Pacifica


South San Francisco



Union City San Mateo

300 TO 600% 300% 200%

Redwood City Half Moon Bay

Fremont Palo Alto

100% BELOW 100% Data: CA Department of Finance Population Estimates, United States Census Bureau Decennial Census, American Community Survey 2012-2016 Five-Year Estimates

\ \292 292


In 2016, approximately 15 percent of the United States population was foreign born. That same statistic is much higher in many of the cities in the Bay Area. However, not all parts of the Bay Area have welcomed immigrants equally, with Marin County to the northwest standing in sharp contrast to the remainder of the Bay. In some cities where immigrants settled they created ethnic communities, with particular cities and suburbs hosting particularly high concentrations of various immigrant groups. Fighting and organizing for housing justice in these diverse suburbs requires place-sensitive strategies that take the context of each community seriously. In the Bay Area, diversity can become a source of community strength.


China - 36.0% Philippines - 8.3% Mexico - 7.6% El Salvador - 3.6% India - 2.8%

34.9% Foreign Born


Mexico - 30.6% China - 18.6% Vietnam - 8.4% El Salvador - 5.6% Guatemala - 4.5%

27.3% Foreign Born


Philippines - 41.5% China - 19.9% Mexico - 7.6% El Salvador - 6.6% Burma - 4.8%

52.3% Foreign Born


India - 35.3% China - 24.6% Philippines - 9.1% Mexico - 6.4% Vietnam - 3.7%

46.4% Foreign Born


Mexico - 62.5% Oceania - 11.3% El Salvador - 7.0% Guatemala - 4.3% China - 1.9%

41.6% Foreign Born

India - 32.4% China - 31.5% Korea - 6.0% Japan - 4.3% Iran - 2.4%

51.8% Foreign Born

Mexico - 25.2% Vietnam - 20.7% China - 11.5% India - 10.9% Philippines - 9.3%

38.9% Foreign Born


SAN JOSE 293 /


10 mi



Napa Fairfield NAPA COUNTY








China - 36.0% Philippines - 8.3% Mexico - 7.6% El Salvador - 3.6% India - 2.8%


Mexico - 30.6% China - 18.6% Vietnam - 8.4% El Salvador - 5.6% Guatemala - 4.5%


34.9% Foreign Born








30 TO 39%


27.3% Foreign Born


Philippines - 41.5% San China - 19.9% Mexico - 7.6% Francisco 52.3% El Salvador - 6.6% Burma - 4.8%

India - 35.3% China - 24.6% Philippines - 9.1% MexicoDaly - 6.4% City Vietnam - 3.7%

Mexico - 62.5% Oceania - 11.3% El Salvador - 7.0% Guatemala - 4.3% China - 1.9%

India - 32.4% China - 31.5% Korea - 6.0% Japan - 4.3% Iran - 2.4%

Mexico - 25.2% Vietnam - 20.7% China - 11.5% India - 10.9% Philippines - 9.3%


Foreign Born San Leandro

South San Francisco

46.4% Foreign Born

41.6% Foreign Born San Mateo


Redwood City

51.8% Foreign Born

East Palo Alto 38.9% Foreign Born SAN MATEO COUNTY


Cupertino San Jose

15 TO 29%


0 TO 14% Data: American Community Survey (ACS). “2012-2016 ACS 5-Year Estimates.”


\ 294 \ 294

Black Exclusion in the Alameda RASHEED SHABAZZ

African people lived in Alameda since at least 1860. Various methods have been used over the past 100 years to “keep Alameda white community.” Restrictive racial covenants, zoning, “redlining,” ballot initiatives, and more have been used to exclude, segregate, and expel Black migrants. In 2004, my own family was displaced along with hundreds of others from West End of Alameda. Black residents have fought back by organizing together and with allies, advocating for policy changes, and using state and federal laws to challenge exclusion in Alameda and promote belonging

In 1904,

white families protested a “colored” family moving into an East End neighborhood. Residents claimed “that property values in the entire neighborhood will be damaged.”

In 1913, the new Waterside Terrace subdivision advertised racially restrictive covenants to exclude non-white residents. “There are restrictions against Japanese, Chinese and Negroes . . . ”

295 /

Fernside Marina Covenants CLAUSE TWELVE Limitation of Occupancy

No person or persons whose blood is not entirely that of the Caucasian race shall be permitted to use or occupy said property, or any part thereof, or to live upon said property, or any part thereof, except in the capacity of domestic servants of the occupant thereof.

In 1917 and later 1922, Alameda adopted zoning that codified placing industrial zoning on the northside of Alameda, the area with the highest concentration of nonwhite peoples.

In 1935, the Bureau of Pub-

In 1941,

the new Alameda Housing Authority built an all white housing development, Woodstock. Residents later bought the development and transformed it into a housing cooperative. To date there is no evidence any African people have ever lived there.

lic Utilities used the threat of “legal action” to obtain the property of a long-time pioneering Black family, the Hacketts, in order to build a new electrical plant. The Central Substation continues to provide power to other residents.

tion of wartime housing projects forced half of the African population from Alameda. Black residents could not relocate elsewhere on the island due to widespread housing discrimination.

In 1943, Alameda Mayor Milton God-

In 1925, Fernside

subdivision was built with racially restrictive covenants that excluded non-white people: “No person of African, Japanese, Chinese or of any Mongolian descent shall be allowed to purchase, own or lease said property or any part thereof.” An exception was made for domestic servants. Residents reaffirmed these covenants in 1948 and did not rescind them until 1969.

In the 1950s, the destruc-

In 1935, the

Homeowners Loan Corporation’s Residential Security Map “redlined” the northern side of Alameda, largely because the segregated Asian and Black populations lived there. These “Residential Security Maps” guided distributions of federal mortgages for over four decades.

frey called for a special meeting to discuss “the problem of the increased negro population, which is a result of the influx of shipyard workers” to the island. Godfrey stated “this matter would receive the unceasing vigilance” of City government. The Authority built a dozen projects and segregated residents by race into separate housing projects/complexes, and within each project segregated white and “colored” residents by building.

\ 296

In June 1966, families

residing in the Estuary Housing Project led a six-day protest at Franklin Park in Alameda’s “Gold Coast” neighborhood. The “camp-in,” or “tent-in,” dramatized the plight of Black project residents facing eviction. The protest led to a short extension, but ultimately these families were forced from Estuary. Many moved into the remaining projects or out of Alameda.

In 1983/84, the Buena Vista Apartments were sued for discrimination against Black prospective tenants.

In 1973,

Alameda’s white majority electorate adopted a charter amendment, Measure A, that banned apartment construction. In the name of preserving the “environment,” Measure A created a chain of exclusion that has constricted Black homeownership and residency for four decades.

297 /

Americans and Filipinos were forced from the Makassar Straits housing complex, the last remaining wartime housing project.

In 1980,

In 1964, the Alameda Housing Authority sought to evict tenants from the Estuary Housing projects. After paying rent and never receiving repairs, two Black residents resisted eviction, picketed Commission meetings, and boycotted schools, leading to a short-term extension.

In the mid-1980s, African

In 1967, the

California Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) found that Hanson & Hansen Company, owner of the Atlantic Apartments on the West End, discriminated against Black prospective tenants. The case forced the apartments to integrate. Earlier that year, Alamedans with HOPE (Housing Opportunities Provided Equally) held weekly pickets outside the apartments located on Poggi St.

Alamedans with Hope and three low-income tenants sued the city of Alameda for for alleged attempts to “frustrate the development of low-income” and “to perpetuate the non-Black character of Alameda.” The lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice.

In 1989, two

Black tenants of the Buena Vista Apartments sued the City of Alameda’s for its housing and land use policies that discriminated against low-income people and people of color. A judge found the City’s policies discriminatory against the poor. The parties settled prior to a judgment on racial discrimination. The terms required replacement of 325 low- income housing units and the creation of an affordable housing fund.

In 2004,

the Florida-based Fifteen Group forced nearly four hundred families from the Harbor Island Apartments. At the time of the mass evictions, 70 percent of residents were Black. Nearly two-thirds of residents left the island of Alameda. In 2010, the US Census revealed the neighborhood lost half its Black population. Advocacy by the Harbor Island Tenants Association led the City of Alameda to file a federal lawsuit on behalf of tenants. A federal judge dismissed the city’s suit.

In 2018, a coalition of renters and allies defeated a corporate-backed ballot measure, Measure K, which sought to enshrine Alameda’s weak tenant ordinance into the City’s charter. Over sixty percent of voters opposed Measure K.

In 2016, In 2012,

new state laws and a new threat of litigation by Renewed HOPE forced the city to plan to build more affordable housing.

landlords campaigned against a renter-backed rent control measure, Measure M1, with racially coded language, or “dog whistle politics.” Mailers inferred renters were “criminals” and “radical.” M1 sought to create rent control, an elected rent board, and provide “just cause” protections for tenants.

In 2005, Sentinel Fair Hous-

In 2017, during Renter Action

ing found many African Americans experienced housing discrimination when seeking housing, particularly former Harbor Island residents.

Week, Policylink released a report demonstrating 93 percent of Alameda’s Black residents were renters and had the largest rent burden in Alameda.

In 1998, Black residents of the Harbor island Apartments, formerly the Buena Vista Apartments, formed the West Alameda Tenants Association in order to address habitability issues.

Since 2014,

it is unclear how many Black families have been forced to move from Alameda because the city does not track racial data related to housing. In 2014, the City’s housing element omitted the collection of racial data, a common practice. In 2015, a long-awaited study of the rental market omitted racial data.

In 2018,

in response to a plan to develop a wellness center for chronically ill elders and homeless people, nearby residential and commercial property owners mobilized to block the effort. This “Friends of Crab Cove” group paid signature gatherers to place a measure before voters on the 2019 ballot in order to rezone the land as “open space.”

\ 298

Mobile Segregation and Resegregation ALEX SCHAFRAN MAP BY SAM RABIYAH

The story of racial segregation in the United States is all too familiar. While there are many important historical antecedents, the segregated metropolis that the overwhelming majority of Americans call home is a product of the twentieth century, especially the period after World War II. Redlining in cities caused massive disinvestment in communities of color, which were then cut off physically by urban renewal driven highway building. These highways helped white Americans suburbanize in record numbers, moving to developer-built tract homes outside of central cities. Housing discrimination, lending discrimination, and outright violence and intimidation helped keep many of these suburban areas white, while communities of color in central cities became increasingly ghettoized. Much has changed since the dark days when racial covenants kept subdivisions all white (they were ruled unenforceable in 1948). Housing discrimination was officially outlawed as part of the civil rights legacy. The Community Reinvestment Act and other changes in federal legislation attempted to undo some of the disinvestment. While much of what happened and still happens is inadequate, the fact remains that communities of color have been suburbanizing for a half century. So is America still segregated? What about the famously progressive Bay Area? The answer to this question is that it is the wrong question. The Bay Area is home to one of the most famous dividing lines in segregated America. The East Oakland/San Leandro border was so starkly drawn in black and white—and patrolled by a San Leandro police officer—that it was featured in a CBS documentary in 1970. If you go to San Leandro today, it is one of 299 /

the most diverse places in America and has become home to a large African American community, many of whose members had roots in Oakland from the time when even setting foot in San Leandro was dangerous. The question we need to ask is not whether the region has desegregated but whether segregation has changed. The map you see is an analysis of interviews with young people of color in Oakland’s San Antonio and Elmhurst neighborhoods, two places firmly on the “old map” of segregated Oakland. Drawing from discussions about neighborhood change, people’s movements and relocations and family migrations, a team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley mapped all the places interviewees mentioned. This “mental map” of the region doesn’t conform to old imaginations of the map of segregation and ghettoized boundaries. People are moving, but only to certain places and only to one half of the region. The wealthiest places in the region, the places with the lowest foreclosure rates during the subprime lending crisis, the most stable tax bases, and the best schools are generally still overwhelmingly white. This is a phenomenon we call mobile segregation. In the postwar, traditional, ghettoized segregation of twentieth-century American cities often meant to be trapped in one of a few select places, generally in the inner city. In the more mobile form of segregation we map here, you and your friends and family can move around the region, but not everywhere. This mobile segregation is part of a larger process that people like Jeff Chang call “resegregation”—we aren’t returning to our grandparent’s segregated metropolis, but the Bay Area and places like it have created a new map

of segregation that is more mobile but still has plenty of lines that can determine life chances, health and education levels, likelihood of foreclosure, exposure to violence and environmental illness, and so many other questions of opportunity. The causes of this new form of segregation are also complex. Starting in earnest in the 1970s, many people of color chose to suburbanize. They were often driven by the pursuit of the American dream—a nice home in a nice place with good schools and safe streets— something often unavailable in the communities that they came from. But this dream wasn’t affordable or available in the wealthier, whiter suburbs of Marin or Central Contra Costa, so they had to move farther out, with longer commutes, worse public transport and infrastructure, and shakier public finances. As gentrification became a dominant force, starting in the 1990s, many people who had remained in their older neighborhoods had no choice but to move, as evictions and rising housing costs pushed people even further out.

“If you’re looking for the poorly kept secret, that’s it. I mean, everybody from this area is either moving out to Antioch or moving back from Antioch.” One of the hardest things to understand about mobile segregation is that it doesn’t mean the oldfashioned days of postwar ghettoized segregation are over. Many of the communities in Oakland, Richmond, East Palo Alto, and elsewhere that were marked by postwar segregation still struggle with this legacy and many of the forces that undermined them in the postwar era. Many of the racialized and segregated places in the Bay Area struggle with both gentrification and ongoing impoverishment and ghettoization. Understanding segregation means going beyond either/or conceptions, as it is almost always both. \ 300

Voluntary Migrations, Forced Dislocations MARY SHI AND AUSTIN EHRHARDT. MAP BY AUSTIN EHRHARDT



Asia 3 9 ,3 2 2

Seattle Area




Central America


Phoenix Area


Southern California


Data: American Community Survey (ACS) and Eviction Defense Collaborative (2015).

The Bay Area is one node in a global circulation of people. Identifying the ten greatest sources of new residents to the Bay Area’s three central counties in the 2011–2015 period reveals three embedded scales of circulation: internationally; nationally between knowledge economy hubs in the United States, such as New York, Boston, and Seattle; and locally up and down California’s coast.2 Looking at the county-tocounty flow of people within the greater Bay Area reveals another pattern of migration. New residents flood into San Francisco, Alameda, and Santa Clara 301 /

from all over the nation and globe, outnumbering more proximate movers almost two to one. In turn, these three central counties act as a net source of new residents for the region as a whole. These voluntary moves can be contrasted to the involuntary displacements captured in the Eviction Defense Collaborative (EDC) relocation data presented in Chapter 1. In 2012, when faced with an eviction from their San Francisco home, approximately one-third of the EDC’s clients were forced to relocate outside of city limits. While half of



Northern America

3,20 1

3,169 Chicago Area

Boston Area New York Area




Top Sources for In-Migration into Central Bay Area Counties of San Francisco, Alameda, and Santa Clara from Outside of the Greater Bay Area (depicted on map):

those relocating outside of San Francisco were able to resettle elsewhere in the Bay Area and another 30 percent relocated within California, the remainder were scattered far and wide throughout the United States, with no clear regional or metropolitan tendency. For the Bay Area’s newest residents, San Francisco represents one node in a global network of opportunity. For San Francisco’s evicted, forced displacement reveals how precarious one’s access to these spaces of opportunity can be.

Asia, Southern California, Europe, Central America, Seattle Area, New York City Area, Boston Area, Chicago Area, Northern America (excl. United States), Phoenix Area



In-Migration into Central Counties from the Greater Bay Area


Out-Migration from Central Counties into Other Counties in the Greater Bay Area


\ 302

303 /


These maps show a simple and often overlooked driver in the changing geography of the greater Bay Area. They show the region as a simple ratio: the relationship between median house value in a particular place and the median annual household income in that same place. In essence, they show a picture of the most basic standard of affordability— can the average person in a place afford to buy the average house? While specific standards vary (and can, of course, be discriminatorily applied), lenders often use the standard of 2.6, i.e., you can afford a house if its price is 2.6 times your annual income. In the first map, the region in 1980, one can see that while there are plenty of places that have already become unaffordable, there are still large areas where the average household can buy the average house. By 2010, virtually no city in the region, including the outer ring suburbs where working-class and communities of color have been relocated to over the past thirty to forty years, are affordable. It is not only that most people cannot afford to buy a house there—very few longtime residents can afford to buy their own home. In every community in the Bay Area you will find residents like this—people who are wealthy on paper, because they bought their home long ago, but whose incomes could never buy the house now. While there are now few places that are affordable, there is still a west to east movement, as people priced out of the West Bay move east, contributing to the general direction of migration and suburbanization. This process is one I call expensification—a situation where housing costs rise dramatically,

while incomes for most people do not. We can think of it as inflation but applied specifically to housing and geography. There are many causes, especially in California. Lack of funding for affordable housing, land use restrictions, and NIMBYism are popular culprits, and each plays a role. The infamous Prop 13 of 1978, which protects lower-income homeowners from being displaced by rising property taxes caused by rising prices, also contributes. Many people across the region could not possibly afford to rent or buy the homes they live in at today’s prices. Federal tax breaks for homeowners but not renters, developer greed, outdated models of home-building, the rise of investor owners in the wake of foreclosure—there are many factors that make the Bay Area’s housing politics broken and cause expensification. Welcome to the place where almost nobody could afford to buy their own house.

\ 304


15 mi Sacramento

Calistoga Davis



Santa Rosa



Rohert Park


Solano Fairfield




Concord Novato

Vallejo Benicia Pinole

San Rafael


Martinez Hercules





Mill Valley


Berkeley Oakland San Francisco Daly City Pacifica

San Ramon Tracy

San Leandro

Half Moon Bay

Dublin Livermore Pleasanton


South San Francisco Millbrae San Mateo



Redwood City East Palo Alto




Santa Clara San Jose SAN MATEO COUNTY

15% AND BELOW Data: US Census Bureau.

Los Gatos Cupertino


Morgan Hill

Scotts Valley Gilroy

“1980/Census.” 305 305 /




25 TO 35% 15 TO 25%


Santa Cruz

15 mi




Calistoga Windsor



Santa Rosa




Rohert Park


Solano Fairfield




Concord Novato

Vallejo Benicia Pinole

San Rafael


Martinez Hercules





Mill Valley


Berkeley Oakland San Francisco Daly City Pacifica

San Ramon Tracy

San Leandro

South San Francisco Millbrae

Half Moon Bay

Dublin Livermore Pleasanton


San Mateo



Redwood City East Palo Alto




Santa Clara San Jose SAN MATEO COUNTY

15% AND BELOW Data: American Community Survey (ACS). “2006-2010 ACS 5-Year Estimates.”




Los Gatos

25 TO 35% 15 TO 25%




Morgan Hill

Scotts Valley

2010 Gilroy

Santa Cruz

\ 306 \ 306



Population pyramids visualize the distribution of age and sex in a particular city, giving a snapshot of who is living where. In the Bay Area, population pyramids reveal a sharp differentiation between places. While places like San Francisco, Mountain View, and Santa Clara are filled with young adults, others like San Ramon, Cupertino, and Brentwood are filled with families with school-age children. These pyramids imply certain migrations between places within the life course, from family suburbs to youthful, often urban, concentrations of young adults, and back again. This landscape of differentiated places stands in sharp contrast to the cities and suburbs of the outer Bay Area and beyond into the Central Valley, where population pyramids are less differentiated and more closely resemble that of the United States as a whole. 85-89 80-84 75-79 70-74 65-69 60-64 55-59 50-54 45-49 40-44 35-39 30-34 25-29 20-24 15-19 10-14 5-9 under 5

85-89 80-84 75-79 70-74 65-69 60-64 55-59 50-54 45-49 40-44 35-39 30-34 25-29 20-24 15-19 10-14 5-9 under 5 -10




San Francisco SAN FRANCISCO -10





Redwood City

85-89 80-84 75-79 70-74 65-69 60-64 55-59 50-54 45-49 40-44 35-39 30-34 25-29 20-24 15-19 10-14 5-9 under 5 -10










85-89 80-84 75-79 70-74 65-69 60-64 55-59 50-54 45-49 40-44 35-39 30-34 25-29 20-24 15-19 10-14 5-9 under 5

15 mi

Mountain View -10






Data: American Community Survey (ACS). “2011-2015 ACS 5-Year Estimates.”


Palo Alto






Sacramento Elk Grove






Oakland San Ramon


Tracy Dublin ALAMEDA

Santa Clara

Sunnyvale Cupertino SANTA CRUZ




San Jose


309 /


In 2012, the Bay Area housing crisis was in full swing and our nine-person collective, known as the Bus Stop House, was evicted from our home in San Francisco. A person in our community who had also been evicted offered to help us purchase a place that could be permanently affordable collective housing. They had recently inherited a chunk of money following the death of a parent and understood this to be an undeserved transfer of wealth within a white, classprivileged family. They wanted to transform this inheritance into a stabilizing anchor for a wider network of folks fighting displacement. Our initial agreement was that the person who had the inherited wealth would buy the house in cash and then, instead of paying that person back, house residents would “pay it forward” by contributing part of their monthly rent to a “seed fund” that would give small grants to other projects and individuals doing important work. This radical experiment in wealth redistribution and collective ownership has been challenging, inspiring, thought-provoking, and exhausting for its participants. From the first year to the present day, we have wrestled with complex questions at sometimes easy, sometimes painful biweekly meetings, along with concrete matters like, “Who’s doing the grocery shopping this week?” and “What do we do about the rotten stairs?” LAYING A FOUNDATION—THE FIRST YEAR We saw how the ongoing displacement crisis was (and still is) disproportionately impacting low-income

communities and communities of color, destabilizing long-standing communities on both sides of the Bay. Even with a substantial amount of cash available, we couldn’t afford to buy a house in San Francisco or Oakland neighborhoods where we wouldn’t be contributing to gentrification. We eventually found an unoccupied triplex big enough for our needs in Fruitvale—a historically working-class and now rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in East Oakland—and converted it to a permanent collective home. The new house had no hostile landlord seeking to evict us and raise the rent. It was spacious and reasonably affordable for ten adults. We had control over the shape of the house and could make renovations and build to suit our collective needs. This kind of stability and flexibility is hard to come by in the Bay Area, and it raised a number of questions for the group: Who should have access to this space? Should we prioritize creating community meeting and gathering spaces or room for more housemates? Should we reconsider who lives in the house at all? In the past, we had selected new housemates who were already connected to our social circles, who were familiar with collective organizing, and who meshed well with the existing house culture and structures. This had created a house of primarily white, collegeeducated, middle-class people. In a predominantly working-class Latino neighborhood, we discussed what it meant to be good neighbors and allies against gentrification when our race and class demographics made the neighborhood more attractive to white and middle-class people. \ 310

Some collective members proposed that we should prioritize new housemates who were strongly impacted by housing discrimination and racial and economic injustice. Others suggested that less important than the specific makeup of the house was a collective commitment to support projects working to combat gentrification and displacement, both with our labor and with our “seed fund” money. We also found that collectively owning a house demands a lot more work (both practical and emotional) than renting. How does this workload balance against “cheap, stable rent?” How do we incentivize and train folks to do that work? What happens to group decision-making and power dynamics when some folks take on certain tasks and have greater knowledge than others? The financial structure of the new house was also a major consideration. The cost of rent was something we collectively determined, with our respective expenses transparent to all of us. How would we keep rent affordable, while also ensuring the long-term health of the house, saving for unexpected costs, annual expenses like property taxes, and future renovations? How would we structure rent payments across household members? Would parents have to pay extra for their children? What would we consider collective expenses? We bought food together— what about other kinds of needs? Could we build an emergency fund for housemates who were temporarily struggling to pay rent or for unexpectedly vacant rooms? The initial decision to give away a large portion of inherited wealth was an important step in interrupting the intergenerational transfer of power. How might we further disperse or redistribute this power? Should housemates be the ones to distribute the money? What about other community members? What criteria would be used to distribute it? 311 /

We came to recognize the time that would go into distributing the seed fund. Should those involved in that process be compensated and, if so, how? Should we save up a large seed fund to put into more property or a larger project somewhere in the imagined future, or should we disburse smaller amounts more often as grassroots needs emerged? How could we structure the distribution of funds such that future housemates would be invested in contributing to this substantial monthly expense? BUILDING A HOME: ANSWERS AND TRANSITIONS In 2016, we transferred the house to our new nonprofit, a 501c7 organization called the 2027 Mutual Aid Society. After many conversations and attempts to consider the impact of our decisions on present and future housemates, we wrote bylaws that codified answers to some of these questions. Residents give away roughly one-third of the seed fund amount every year. The rest is accrued for two-year intervals, at which point a group of people who’ve received money will come together and decide how to give away that money. At the time of this writing, we’re about to go through the first round of this, so we’re still not sure how it will go. We also wrote in compensation for one person, ideally but not necessarily a house resident, to manage the convening. In our bylaws, we also specified that one of the purposes of the 2027 Mutual Aid Society was to use the seed fund for projects that are led by and/or benefit people who are systematically denied access to housing and land, including people of color, workingclass people, and queer and transgender people, and are dedicated to building individual and community autonomy and dismantling systems of oppression. We decided that priority for funding would be given to groups and projects that: (1) are centered in the Fruitvale neighborhood;

(2) have less access to corporate or foundation funding; (3) model fair labor practices; (4) practice nonhierarchical decision making; (5) advance structural change. Meanwhile, the house and its challenges continued to evolve. We were pretty overwhelmed by the steep learning curve and utopian demands of the project we were building. Many early residents felt like we were building a home that was ultimately “for” more marginalized people. Because of this, there was high turnover. Housemates steadily trickled out (some of us creating two smaller, white-majority households on the same gentrifying block). We selected new housemates based on a combination of demographics and collective living experience. The house transitioned from predominantly white, majority LGBTQ, primarily class-privileged housemates to predominantly POC and majority low-income, including children. What hasn’t changed is that most residents are in their late twenties or thirties, college-educated, and from outside the Bay Area. This transition raises the questions: What is the value of founders staying present in a project to support its long-term intent and structures, and what is the value of more privileged people stepping out so new residents can figure out how to make the house work best for them? Generally, the newer residents have preferred the latter. There isn’t a lot of energy going into building relationships between former and current residents; many people who are members of the nonprofit or on the board barely know each other. Last year, at the second annual board meeting, there were questions raised by current house members about whether the seed fund monthly payment could be reduced, indicating that there is already tension between the agreements made by previous residents and the needs and desires of current housemates.

LOOKING FORWARD: EVOLVING QUESTIONS Five years in, other questions are coming up. For instance, many current housemates have less privilege than the founding group and less free time, so how do we, as the current residents, find capacity for the various projects and tasks involved in owning a house? Can we outsource some of the work? For instance, can we find money to pay an accountant? Can we find a way to pay for childcare so parents can participate more? How do we balance the needs of individual housemates with the needs of the project and the collective? How do we support housemates with emotional challenges, disability, or parenting stress exacerbated by the current shitty socioeconomic conditions? How do we come up with practices and agreements for cooperative living with multiple parents, people who aren’t parenting, and people who parent differently? Is it okay to have a space in the house that is kid-free? Where can we find models for doing this well? We want to spend our collective food budget to support local and POC businesses, but that takes time and money we often don’t have. When do we zip over to a big grocery store further away, where we can get everything cheaper and in one trip? The house continues to go through waves of burnout and transition. How do we create stable relationships and structures when we are spending so much energy looking for new housemates and incorporating them into the collective? How does this affect kids living in the house? CONCLUSION There is no conclusion. This is an ongoing radical experiment in wealth redistribution, collectively owned housing, and who does the dishes, with multiple and conflicting results. Check in next year. \ 312

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Archaeology of the Albany Bulb ANNIE DANIS

The Albany Bulb began as a dump. Its unique “neck” and “bulb” topography, is the result of the City of Albany dumping construction debris into the San Francisco Bay from 1963 to 1983. When the dump was decommissioned, the site became public open space. People quickly discovered the joy of the Bulb’s views and the richness of its bedrock—a rich substrate of the materials of past homes and buildings: rebar, brick, concrete, stone. Since the mid-1980s, Albany Bulb has been a site of creative existence and resistance to the forces of displacement in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dog walkers, lovers, artists, ravers, and trippers found themselves amid a landscape of familiar materials out of place. Eventually, some of these people built homes and public spaces, including an amphitheater and library, alongside a constantly evolving artistic landscape of painting, graffiti, found object sculpture, humor, politics, and mysticism. By 2014, more than seventy people lived more or less full time on the Bulb. Over nearly thirty years of occupation, people camped and lived for days, weeks, months, and years at a time. In 1995, the City of Albany proposed integrating the Albany Bulb into Eastshore Regional State Park. The Bulb is currently being “cleaned up” in the model of a more normative city park. As part of the decadeslong land transfer, the city initiated aggressive legal action to remove all residents of the Bulb in 2013. Police began enforcing a preexisting no camping ordinance and removing the Bulb’s homeless encampments. After multiple protests and a lawsuit, the city offered a $3,000 per resident settlement in exchange for dismantling and evacuating their homes and residents’ agreement to a one-year stay away order. Some residents took this \ 314

Key brick concrete wood vegetation

graded house floor historic yellow and red brick

entry path

deal, while others fought their eviction. Ultimately,

By using the exacting detail of archaeological

by summer of 2014, all former residents of the Bulb had

recording, our visual representations of “landfill-ian”

moved on, taking as many of their belongings with them

homes challenge the stereotypes and 10 ft institutional 0

as possible.

devaluation of people living outside. Our

Shortly after the 2014 eviction, a team of

archaeology of the Albany Bulb is an archaeology

undergraduate volunteers and I consulted with

of homelessness by social convention only. The

former residents to document the traces of their

materiality of the spaces the residents constructed

history in the unique landscape of the Bulb. We made

to capitalize on the unregulated nature of the space

maps and images that engaged the relationship

and its bedrock of construction materials clearly

between archaeological authority, public space,

demonstrate the habitual actions, the “pattern of

and the right to be remembered in the context of

regular doings,” that indicate dwelling at home.

homeless disenfranchisement.

House and yard plants, meticulously tiled living

315 /

switch back path to “brickyard”

brick stairway with moasic decoration

burn pit

brick and concrete scatter

historic molding planter feature

sample test square

coyote bush

brick and concrete

tomato plant entry path

run-off and masnory trenches large tree

concrete and rebar

planter mound

brick-lined garden

coyote bush

planter mound tile pavers

entry path

spaces, and mattress-shaped clearings confess to the residents’ daily practices of care and homemaking on the Bulb. In contrast to the stereotyped image of people experiencing homelessness as a state of unrooted displacement, the archaeology we undertook materially demonstrates what Bulb residents and the people close to them already knew: while they were “experiencing homelessness” in the eyes of the law and housed community of Albany, residents were very much at home at the Bulb. \ 316

Political Economy: Contextualizing Migration and Relocation in the Bay ALOKA NARAYANAN

The demographic and spatial shifts illustrated in this chapter are not only the result of anonymous, aggregated “market forces.” They are also the product of a history of policy choices that have indelibly imprinted themselves on the places of the Bay Area. RACE AND SPACE The regional demography of the Bay Area changed drastically after World War II, beginning with the “Great Migration,” which saw African Americans moving from southern states to northern cities in unprecedented numbers. From 1940 to 1970, the Black population in San Francisco grew from 0.8 percent of all residents to 13 percent (from five thousand to ninety-six thousand).3 The repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943 also contributed to demographic change, though discrimination at Angel Island, the nearest port on the coast, continued well into the decades following. Comprehensive reform of the Immigration and Nationality Act only passed in 1965, repealing the national origin quotas of the 1920s. Asians and Latin Americans dominated the new flow of immigrants. Despite Latin Americans having new quotas instated, immigration across all groups, documented and undocumented, grew rapidly from the late 1900s into the 2010s. In tandem with immigration reform at the national level, there were also policies that affected the relationship between race and space at the neighborhood level. Redlining, the practice of systematic denial of services, including mortgage insurance, to residents of racially associated areas, became a common practice in the late 1930s. 317 /

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, or sex. But it did not undo the negative impacts of redlining. Systematic segregation did not disappear with the new legislation, although it did outlaw explicitly discriminatory housing policies.4 HOUSING FINANCE AND ECONOMIC INCENTIVES California’s Proposition 13, passed in 1978, limits property tax rates to 1 percent of the property value, limits increases in the tax rate to 2 percent per year, with a baseline value from 1976, and stipulates only a two-thirds majority can increase property taxes at the local level, while mandating a similarly high hurdle for any budgetary matters at the state level. Prop 13 was instrumental in allowing residents to keep their homes, even while housing prices rose rapidly. With property taxes locked, Prop 13 also incentivized city officials across the state to more aggressively pursue residential (in the fringes where land was cheap) and commercial (in the core, as more expensive to build but fiscally lucrative infill development) growth for the sake of expanding their budgets. Prop 13 thereby helped entrench the raced and classed geography of existing suburbs, while fueling a sprawling exurban fringe.5 Simultaneously, with the passage of the Alternative Mortgage Transaction Parity Act in 1982, predatory lending practices, including adjustablerate mortgages, balloon payment mortgages, and interest-only mortgages, opened the door to other forms of housing insecurity.6 This legislation, along


with the repeal of Glass-Steagal in 1999, is commonly credited with causing the subprime mortgage crisis. On one hand, subprime lending opened the door to homeownership for millions who had previously been deemed too risky to lend to. On the other hand, subprime lending intersected with Prop 13 in California to create new geographies and racial dynamics of housing insecurity. Subprime loans were disproportionately concentrated in either nonwhite and historically redlined neighborhoods in the urban core or new developments on the exurban fringe.7 For example, in the San Francisco Bay Area, non-Hispanic African Americans were two to four times more likely than non-Hispanic whites to hold subprime loans.8 THE RISE OF HIGH-TECH INDUSTRIES IN THE BAY AREA Silicon Valley’s rise as the tech hub of the global economy has helped produce new kinds of space in the Bay Area. From the hardware boom of the 1980s to the software boom of today, millions of new residents and billions of investment dollars have been drawn in by Silicon Valley’s allure. Together, this influx of people and capital act as fuel to the fires of growth that must wend itself through the policy and physical

landscape described above. Employment in high-tech industries is polarized, dominated by jobs at either end of the skills and pay spectrum, with few opportunities in the middle. The locational decisions of the Bay Area’s expanded class of engineers, scientists, and business professionals are a particularly visible indicator of how the Bay Area’s tech agglomerations are reshaping its cities. The South and East Bay are characterized by sprawling office parks punctuated by well-to-do suburban communities populated by the families of foreign-born scientists and engineers.9 Meanwhile, San Francisco has seen an influx of high-income professionals—often relocated from other wealthy, highly educated cities in the United States or abroad—and an exodus of lower-income, workingclass people of color.10 While some inner ring suburbs remain bastions of the working class, displacement from the urban core often means banishment to the exurban periphery. In the Bay Area, gentrification, suburbanization, and sprawl go hand in hand.

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“The Apartheid system has been viewed as simply the most outdated relic of a dying colonialism, yet possibly it one of the most advanced and effective patterns of rational, oligarchic domination . . . oriented solely toward the purpose of the system: the smooth, frictionless, and tolerable domination over cheap labor and political dependents as a prerequisite for the privileges of the minority.” —Heribert Adam, 11 Modernizing Racial Domination (1971)

Resistance: Disrupting a Regional Geography of Inequality ILLUSTRATIONS BY ZEPH FISHLYN

A Fine Balance: Social Reproduction and the Geography of Inequality in the Bay Area. TONY ROSHAN SAMARA

We live, as we are constantly reminded, in a dynamic, high growth region that underpins the world’s fifth largest economy. Yet the seemingly endless growth and ever-greater sums of money sloshing around the Bay Area are incapable of fulfilling the free market’s most basic promise: that a rising tide will lift all boats. The region’s ballooning wealth only makes its shameful inequality easier to see and understand. Growing immiseration is not the unfortunate byproduct of an otherwise healthy economy but the foundation upon which this economy rests. The political question from the point of view of capital is how to manage this situation. For the rest of us, the question is how to upend it. There is a spatial dimension to poverty and inequality. Over time, the character and shape of places come to reflect the desires of those with financial—and political—power, and populations are sorted according to their relationship to wealth. The affluent, those who possess wealth, cluster together in the regional core and surrounding suburbs. There, in city after city, cabals of elected officials, developers, landlords, affluent homeowners, and law enforcement agents collude to maintain and construct exclusive enclaves. At the same time, market forces exert a relentless displacement pressure. Working-class people are left with difficult choices. Many are pushed further out

into the region’s periphery, distant not only from wealth they help to create but also from the dense networks of transportation, services, and amenities that cluster around affluence. Some return daily to do the labor that maintains the social infrastructure of affluent enclaves, while for others residential displacement also means loss of employment. People who are displaced can maintain cultural and community ties for some time, but the sheer volume of out-migration is adding to or creating new populations centers that are generating their own social worlds. These shifts are now embedded in the social and physical landscape, and the Bay Area increasingly resembles two unevenly developed archipelagoes bound together by a mutual dependence. At the center of this storm, as an organizing principle operating through and around the market in land and housing, is racial capitalism. The changes we see attest to the ongoing power of white supremacy in organizing urban space. These territorial shifts reflect an ugly ground war, supported from above by government policies, with roots stretching back to the earliest days of settler colonialism. Then, as now, the profit to be gained from land fueled the drive to expel the current inhabitants. In a nod to the historical context, some have started referring to the present phase of regional sorting as resegregation, an inversion of older residential patterns that maintains the relationships of inequality. The popular image of post–World War II segregation is of poor Black and Brown urban cores—concentrated poverty—surrounded by white \ 320

suburban affluence (although the class composition of the segregated city was often more complex than that). We may not (yet) have seen a clean reversal of this pattern—the region resembles more of a patchwork at present—but the trend toward an inversion of twentieth-century segregation is hard to ignore. The shift is not away from segregation, however, but toward a new kind of segregation that reflects and reproduces new racial sensibilities. The observation that Adam makes above in reference to South Africa’s apartheid cities is important, because it explains why the project of racial separation or separateness isn’t really about severing ties and literal banishment. Instead, it is a selective and limited expulsion meant to create a social and physical distance, while relations of work and subservience are maintained; that is, making sure the work of cooking, cleaning, driving, parenting, landscaping, teaching, healing, paving, building gets done every day, but that the lives of those who do this work—and their struggles to survive—are out of sight. Segregation, in the last instance, has never been about racial purity; it is the search for a fine balance in a perpetually unstable relationship. The changing nature of the region forces us to seek out new political opportunities and new ways to build power, while keeping our eyes on the historical task of transforming the institutions and practices of

racial capitalism. Market regulations, like rent control and living wage laws, are a necessary step, because they improve working people’s material conditions and build power at the same time. They create some friction, in Adam’s sense of the term. But they do not upset the balance. That will require ending dependence on the for-profit market and on the social groups that benefit from it. It will also require rebuilding markets that are embedded in a vision of the world as we want it to be. In the realm of land and housing these could be land occupations, campaigns for community land trusts, and other forms of collective ownership and governance. In work, we can look to the long history of worker cooperatives and new experiments in reorganizing work and labor to serve people and communities rather than corporations and profit. Alternatives exist in abundance. We just need to create the political space for them to grow. TONY ROSHAN SAMARA is a housing activist in the

San Francisco Bay Area. He currently serves as the program director of Land Use and Housing at Urban Habitat and is one of the co-coordinators of the Regional Tenant Organizing Network and Homes for All—California.

RISE Fremont


Residents Insisting on Social Equity (RISE) for Fremont is a coalition of faith congregations, residents, cultural organizations, and policy advocates fighting to make sure Fremont and South Alameda County are home to affordable and equitable communities. Our current campaign is focused on renter protections and housing justice. Stories of mass evictions, displacement, and homelessness caused by a racist and classist speculative market are becoming more frequent, disrupting the lives of hardworking families, forcing them to leave their jobs, schools, and spiritual homes, and locking people out of opportunity. We believe that community stakeholders and elected officials have a critical role to play in encouraging development without displacement and creating a city that maintains its diversity and openness. We also deeply understand the connectedness between land-based struggles across places and are proud to organize and build power with residents in Union City and Hayward to advance social justice campaigns in their respective cities and the region.

Alameda Renters Coalition


When rents began to rise in the City of Alameda, tenants organized. The Alameda Renters Coalition (ARC) initially began in 2014 as a support group for distressed tenants. Two years later, after massive organizing, signature-gathering, and educational efforts, ARC was able to win a temporary moratorium on rent increases from the city council and put rent control on the ballot. In ARC’s campaign, the plight of seniors, the disabled, and others on fixed incomes was front and center. Although rent control failed at the ballot box, voters did approve a set of tenant protections to provide some relief. After the November 2018 election, in which ARC and allies defeated a landlord-backed measure to make nocause evictions permanent in the city charter, ARC has momentum to improve the current city ordinance and win real rent control.

Filipino Double Displacement


In October 2015, all thirty-three units of the Bayview Apartments in the City of Alameda received the same sixty-day eviction notice. The evictions were slated to occur over the public school district’s winter break and during the city’s moratorium on no-fault evictions. Youth leaders at Encinal High School’s Bayanihan Youth Group (BYG) organized their fellow students to fight for housing justice in the City of Alameda after one of their members found themselves among those facing eviction. Here, three of those leaders reflect on what it means to organize for housing justice as Filipino youths. KRISTAL: I live in the Bayview Apartments, directly affected by the eviction. Last year, around October or November, me and my family received a notice to leave in sixty days, because there’s a new owner and he wants to renovate our apartments, and he also said that if we want to come back, we have to reapply, and there will be an increase in rent, about double or triple. That’s why I decided to go to the council meeting and tell my fellow group members here in BYG. I’m not the only one who is affected by displacement. Most of my groupmates live in Oakland or San Leandro, and having a place to live is very important for us, and also for the Filipino community. ‘Cause I know Filipinos who move a lot—who move out of the city and around apartments here and in Alameda also, so that’s why I decided to get involved. I definitely understand as an immigrant how it feels to move around places and adjust to a new environment; it’s really hard. ‘Cause you already establish yourself in one place, and then you go to another place, and you have to know new people and establish yourself again, and this idea of you need to fit in, it’s really hard, especially for youth, it’s hard to find our identities, and being displaced makes it worse.

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ERIN: As a Filipino and minority, it’s really rare [and] hard to see our voices being heard in America. When we don’t see that representation, we are often silenced. We feel as though since we don’t see ourselves in the media, we have to be quiet. Once we have representation in our community, it makes other people want to speak. When Kristal was talking about the eviction at Bayview, it made me and Jay want to speak. When we started hearing her do it, it was really inspiring. JAY: During the process of getting more involved with rent control and the Bayview Apartments, [it was] something I found really cool, it was something to get people excited, people actually wanted to go to the city council. We became our own trend. Every time there was a city council, people were like, “Oh where’s the youth who are going to talk about the truth?” The way we went up there, we were able to make it alive, bring culture. . . . Culture is political. And we’re trying to use culture as a weapon. What is our power? Do we have systematic power? No. We have people power, we have power of our culture, and so we gotta take what we got and use it to our advantage. KRISTAL OSORIO, ERIN SUBIDO, AND JAY FERIA

are Youth Leaders of Bayanihan Youth Group and interns with Filipino Advocates for Justice.

Chapter 6 Endnotes 1. The extent of the population growth map was limited to focus on San Francisco, the San Francisco Peninsula, Oakland, and the East Bay. This ensures that individual census tract values remained legible. Ideally, the map would extend as far east as Stockton, as far North as Sacramento, and as far south as Hollister.

2. This analysis draws from “County-to-County Migration Flows” data tabulated by the Census Bureau from the 2011–2015 American Community Survey 5-year Estimates. For the purposes of this analysis, the “Central Counties” of the Bay Area are San Francisco, Alameda, and Santa Clara, within which the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose are respectively located. The “Greater Bay Area” is defined as the nine counties bordering the San Francisco Bay, excluding those three central counties (Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Solano, and Sonoma) and all the counties physically bordering those inner nine counties (Lake, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Sacramento, San Benito, San Joaquin, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus, Yolo). 3. Priceonomics, “The African-American Exodus from San Francisco,” Forbes, May 11, 2016, accessed May 15, 2020,

4. Nathan McClintock, “From Industrial Garden to Food Desert: Unearthing the Root Structure of Urban Agriculture in Oakland, California,” Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, University of California, Berkeley, November 2008, accessed May 15, 2020, 5. Alex Schafran, “Origins of an Urban Crisis: The Restructuring of the San Francisco Bay Area and the Geography of Foreclosure,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 37, no. 2 (March 2013): 663–88. 6. Souphala Chomsisengphet and Anthony Pennington-Cross, “The Evolution of the Subprime Mortgage Market,” Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review 88, no.1 ( January–February 2006): 31–56. 7. Schafran, “Origins of an Urban Crisis.”

8. Joe Darden and Elvin T. Wyly, “Cartographic Editorial—Mapping the Racial/Ethnic Topography of Subprime Inequality in Urban America,” Urban Geography 31, no. 4 (May 2010): 425–33.

9. Richard Walker and Alex Schafran, “Strange Case of the Bay Area,” Environment and Planning A 47 ( January 2015): 10–29. 10. An Equity Profile of the San Francisco Bay Area Region, PolicyLink, (Los Angeles: USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, 2015), accessed May 15, 2020, 11. John Western, Outcast Cape Town (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), 6.

12. Ariel Appel, We Are the Future: BYG Organizes against Displacement in Alameda, Vimeo, 2017, accessed May 15, 2020,

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Specula & Spec Futures

ation culative s —7 —

Speculation and Speculative Futures ERIN MCELROY AND MANISSA M. MAHARAWAL3

In 2014, Benito Santiago received a letter from his landlord that his building had been sold to an LLC (limited liability company) called Pineapple Boy. Soon Pineapple Boy offered him a buyout of $20,000 to move out of his apartment of the past three decades. When he declined the buyout, he was sent an eviction notice. Stories like Benito’s are common—a new landlord wanting an old tenant to leave to make a profit—so common that often the logic of capitalist speculation underlying this process is taken for granted. What Benito’s landlord was doing was getting rid of a tenant who paid one rent for the possibility of a tenant who could pay substantially more. Pineapple Boy was in essence speculating on Benito’s apartment as something that was worth more money than Benito was currently paying for it. In this chapter, we turn our attention to the process of speculation, as one that has a long history rooted in the creation of private property. Here land is not merely land, and homes are not merely homes. Both hold the capitalist possibility of increased wealth for those who “own” versus those who simply live in a place. This is the difference between housing having capitalist value—being bought and sold on a “market”—and housing being a home where people live, build community, and dwell. We also look at the process that undergirds struggles such as Benito’s (described below). By this, we mean the mechanisms that displace people from their homes and reduce these homes to objects of speculation. The power of real estate speculation has profound consequences for tenants, communities, neighborhoods, and cities. This power is undergirded by the fact that the people who live in places have less power over their homes than those who own them. 327 /

The private housing market enlists many to engage in property speculation, albeit in different ways. Housing becomes an investment rather than a dwelling place. There are a variety of groups that engage in speculation, from mom and pop landlords to homeowners, from individual property investors to small corporations. Wall Street investment companies and hedge funds, such as Blackstone and Invitation Homes, mapped and elaborated in more detail in this chapter, are also extracting profit from property. Even homeowners who live at their property become speculative investors in the San Francisco Bay Area, vastly differentiated from renters in their ability to build wealth. As we map in this chapter, international investors purchase homes and newly built condominiums, often leaving them vacant. Or, as was the case with the Moms 4 Housing struggle in Oakland, the California-based investment firm Wedgewood had purchased a formerly foreclosed property on Magnolia Street, only to leave it vacant for years. In late 2019, it was reclaimed by four formerly unhoused Black mothers. This instigated an ongoing movement for housing and racial justice, as Magie Ramírez narrates in this chapter. In what follows, we peel back the processes of speculation in order to think about both how it takes place and its consequences in place. In doing so, we move through a range of “speculations” spanning numerous spaces, scales, and stories. We begin by offering a brief history of speculation in the United States. We include pieces that consider the commodification of public space surrounding tech offices, as well as hopeful pieces about homes taken off the private property market and put into a community land trust, thanks to activism. We look at the effects of Wall Street landlords in Sacramento. We map the


corporate connections behind environmental racism and evictions on Yerba Buena and Treasure Islands. We foreground the far-reaching impact of venture capitalists like Ron Conway on urban transformations in San Francisco and include a piece on anti-capitalist direct-action groups like Gay Shame that fight back. We end the chapter by considering the other lives of speculation, that of antiracist and anti-capitalist speculative future-making. We do this by including a map made through the eyes of elementary school children in San Francisco, in which another future is imagined. By moving through these different versions of speculation, we show both the larger structural forces at play and the texture of how people navigate these structures in complicated ways. We also recognize that speculative displacement rests upon prior histories of racial dispossession, creating new territories of housing financialization. The ability to stay housed, like the ability to speculate

upon housing, often hinges upon historically grounded contexts of racial capitalism. In their critique of the raciality of the subprime mortgage crisis, Paula Chakravartty and Denise Ferriera da Silva write that “‘new territories’ of consumption and investment have been mapped onto previous racial and colonial (imperial) discourses and practices.”1 Here raciality often determines who can speculate and who is speculated upon. As we discussed in Chapter 1, it is disproportionately Black and Latinx residents who face displacement in the Bay Area housing crisis. Hence, throughout the chapter we understand land speculation as fundamental to settler colonialism and racial capitalism in the US. We think of eviction and forced removal as violent processes that are historically grounded in the settling of the United States and have historical continuities with the present. One of the more distressing aspects of Benito Santiago’s eviction notice was that he didn’t know who Pineapple Boy LLC was—a faceless company was evicting him, with seemingly no recourse. However, by linking publicly accessible data, eviction information, and property ownership records, AEMP was able to determine who was behind Pineapple Boy LLC: a man named Michael Harrison, the cofounder of Vanguard Real Estate—the largest real estate company in the Mission. Using Pineapple Boy LLC, Harrison had already evicted two other buildings in San Francisco (nine units in total). Armed with this information, including where Harrison’s company was located, the direct-action group Eviction Free San Francisco organized a series of protests. At the fourth protest, Benito attempted to deliver a letter to Michael Harrison and was forcibly removed from the building. After the incident, however, Pineapple Boy LLC rescinded Benito’s eviction. Thus, through a combination of community-based research and direct action, Benito and his cotenants were able to remain housed in San Francisco. \ 328

Veritas Properties in San Francisco As of 2019, Veritas Investments, owned by Yat-Pang Au, is San Francisco’s largest landlord with each of its buildings owned by a different LLC.

Units per Property* 1 - 10 > 10 - 30 > 30 - 50 > 50 - 90 *Property locations are approximate

In a survey circulated amongst 75 Veritas tenants by the Housing Rights Committee: Almost half reported receiving an unwarranted 3-day eviction notice. Over half claimed that they, or someone in their household, had suffered a physical ailment or health issue due to construction. Nearly 40% had to temporarily vacate their units because of construction, most of which was enacted without proper notice. Lawsuits for harrassment have been filed by tenants at 634 Powell St. and 300 Buchannan St.


Speculators often use shell companies, particularly LLCs, to avoid certain tax regulations. LLCs also facilitate anonymity so that the people behind these companies remain hidden from anyone trying to understand who owns a property. Some speculators, such Urban Green Investments, affix LLCs, such as 55 Dolores Street and 49 Guerrero Street, to their newly purchased properties, and then proceed to simultaneously evict tenants across the city. In Oakland, William Rosetti has issued at least four thousand eviction notices over the course of the last decade, often through multiple partnerships that obscure his name 329 /

and the names of his partners. Without community-based research to find the actual names and people behind these evictions, tenants don’t necessarily know that they have allies in other buildings or neighborhoods. AEMP attempts to provide this knowledge to forge solidarity between tenants and to build campaigns against particular people who are benefitting from this dispossession. But anyone can conduct this research, by requesting county assessor data and corporation information from the secretary of state. In San Francisco, we have seen tenants in Urban Green Buildings and Veritas

Buildings (both mega-landlords in the San Francisco mapped here) conduct research and organize together to fight back. Real estate speculators also often manipulate the geography of place names, renaming neighborhoods to make them more desirable. We argue that this is a mode of financialization that employs colonial logics. Sometimes, public space is rebranded, as Katja Schwaller describes of San Francisco’s Twitter Tax Break zone. In this case, public space and the idea of the commons were appropriated by public-private partnerships. In San Francisco, private-public partnerships have been facilitated by angel investor and tech venture capitalist Ron Conway, whose power and connections are also traced in the maps in this chapter. Not only has Conway invested in many of the leading tech companies based in Silicon Valley and San Francisco and driving the Bay Area economy, but he has also created entities like, aimed at “Siliconizing” public processes, including elections. He has backed many of the city’s winning supervisors and mayors and is now engaging in state level politics. His candidates are far from tenant-friendly and have backed initiatives that support Airbnb, tech tax evasion, and real estate interests. For example, Conway supported Scott Wiener, known for his anti-homeless policies and blatant support of YIMBYism, as Toshio Meronek describes in this chapter. YIMBYism (an acronym for Yes, In My Back Yard) emerged in San Francisco in 2014. It has since spread throughout the region and country, advancing the narrative that increased development is the only means of remedying the housing crisis. We critique and explain YIMBY politics, highlighting modes of resistance by the direct-action queer collective Gay Shame. In addition, we trouble contemporary development projects now displacing low-income communities of color, for example, on Treasure Island and in

Hunters Point, as described here by Jin Zhu and Carla Leshne. Essential to capitalist speculation is the element of conjecture, persuading people to invest money in something that will make them even more money—in the future. In this sense speculation can be described as having an element of the spectacular, such that people mistake “prophecy for truth, notional figure for value, or futurity for the future.”2 Indeed, while the Gold Rush, the Homestead Acts, and the doctrine of Manifest Destiny were speculative in nature, they also produced widespread and violent Indigenous dispossession. Capitalist land speculation is a process in which the future becomes terra nullius, filled with the possibility of racial dispossession. How then can “speculation” be separated from racial violence and dispossession? How can we reclaim and decolonize the future? Throughout this chapter we also highlight ways in which the future could look different. Aidan Thawley describes the anti-displacement victory at Pigeon Palace, one only made possible through community organizing and engagement with the San Francisco Community Land Trust. The Community Land Trust purchased Benito’s building after activists pressured Pineapple Boy LLC to rescind the eviction, enabling Benito and his cotenants to remain permanently housed. We also include a short essay by Leslie Gordon, who describes a future Oakland free from racist and capitalist imaginaries. We conclude with a contribution from the fourth and fifth graders at Guadalupe Elementary School in San Francisco, who envision, map, and illustrate a decolonized San Francisco, with streets and spaces named to resonate with their own ideas about a future city, one that welcomes families of color, immigrants, and kids. Through these contributions we show that it is possible to resist capitalist speculation and dream of futures that defy its logics. Doing so, we hope, might allow for different futures. \ 330

Take the Houses Back: Moms 4 Housing MAGIE RAMÍREZ*

“I am someone. I deserve a house. This is not something I want, something I desire; this is something I deserve. I deserve to have a place to rest my head, to lay down and to rest my soul. I deserve this. We all deserve this. I am a human being. . . . I have lived in this world for over forty years. I have lived in this community. I have walked up and down these streets. I grew up here. I deserve to live in Oakland. We’re not trying to just take something. We had to do this to show you we are here.” —Tolani King, cofounder of Moms 4 Housing, December 30, 2019

On November 18, 2019, Dominique Walker and Sameerah Karim walked through the front door of 2948 Magnolia Street in West Oakland and made a home out of a vacant property.4 These two Black women had found themselves unhoused and unable to afford the exorbitant rent prices in Oakland and decided to shelter themselves and their children in a house that had been vacant for over two years. In the days that followed, Walker and Karim were joined by three other Black mothers, Tolani King, Misty Cross, and Sharena Thomas, forming the group Moms 4 Housing. Walker has explained that she didn’t choose a vacant house at random but, in fact, looked into properties that were owned by real estate speculators

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and not being maintained, deciding that 2948 Magnolia Street was just the house to occupy.5 This is the underlying intention of Moms 4 Housing that gets at the violence of the housing crisis in Oakland and the Bay Area: How is it that with 4,071 people unhoused in Oakland in 2019, up from 2,761 in 2017,6 it is perfectly legal for real estate speculators to keep nearly six thousand houses vacant to turn a profit?7 Through the simple yet valiant act of moving into a vacant property owned by a massive real estate corporation, the Black women activists of Moms 4 Housing have provoked the city of Oakland, and even the state of California, to finally take the housing crisis seriously, while prompting many more to consider what might happen if unhoused people simply “take the houses back.”8 When Dominique Walker looked into 2948 Magnolia Street, she found that after being foreclosed upon in 2017, the house had laid vacant until being purchased in July 2019 by a real estate speculation corporation based in Southern California named Wedgewood Inc. Bay Area reporters have uncovered the breadth of Wedgewood’s influence. Wedgewood owned at least 125 properties across eight Bay Area counties in December 2019, although given its business model of buying, flipping, and reselling houses, these 125 properties represent only a fraction of the thousands of transactions the corporation has conducted across the state over the past five years.9 Wedgewood’s holdings extend far beyond the San Francisco Bay Area. The corporation conducts business through a vast network of LLCs within California and across the US, an increasingly common model for housing speculation.10 The Magnolia Street home is owned by the Catamount Properties 2018 LLC. One of nine-


ty-eight active LLCs traced back to Wedgewood, Catamount alone is registered in eighteen different states.11 Wedgewood has a reputation for not only flipping houses but also for acting as a mass evictor, initiating hundreds of unlawful detainer lawsuits to aggressively clear foreclosed homes of their tenants.12 Thus when Moms 4 Housing leaders chose 2948 Magnolia Street as shelter for themselves and their children, they were well aware of why this particular house was the place to begin their movement. This Wedgewood-owned property represented the extreme form of housing speculation that was dispossessing Oakland’s low-income residents and fueling the displacement of Black Oaklanders in particular.13 Moms 4 Housing’s action has made explicit how real estate speculation not only leads to mass dispossession of low-income residents but also directly fuels the homelessness crisis in Oakland, with 70 percent of unhoused peoples living in Oakland in 2019 being Black.14 This statistic is significant, as is the fact that an unhoused people’s movement in Oakland is led by Black women. While the housing crisis in the San Francisco Bay Area affects a wide swath of low- and middle-income people, the mass dispossession of Black households in Oakland over the past decade has dramatically altered the geographies of this city.15 While Oakland was a Black-majority city until 2010, the city’s Black population declined by 4 percent from 2005 to 2015, and 2019 census estimates place the Black population of Oakland at a mere 23 percent.16 Black households in Oakland were disproportionately affected by the foreclosure crisis following the 2008 crash, enabling corporations likes Wedgewood to purchase houses at auction en masse.17 The house that Moms 4 Housing chose to occupy is in West Oakland is also significant, because it is in one of the only neighborhoods where Black Oaklanders were able purchase homes due to redlining. It is the neighborhood that

planners chose to dislocate from Downtown Oakland when the I-980 freeway was built in the 1960s, and the neighborhood where the BART train line was intentionally built directly through an area that was home to thriving Black business and the cultural district along Seventh Street.18 West Oakland is the site of decades of Black dispossession, and the fact that Moms 4 Housing chose to repossess a home in this neighborhood speaks to these violent histories and geographies of racial capitalism that have sought to contain, disinvest, and now banish Black life from Oakland.19 The ongoing dispossession of Black Oaklanders is significant not only in terms of how many residents have been displaced from their homes over the past decade but also because this mass displacement has altered the city’s geographies. Oakland is a place that cannot be disconnected from its Black geographies— Oakland birthed the Black Panther Party, a movement that is central to the Black radical tradition that has profoundly shaped Black intellectual and cultural production.20 Oakland’s Black geographies have been and continue to be an important site of Black political, cultural, and artistic presence, which, like “many chocolate cities served as a source of images, sounds, and explorations of Blackness.”21 The city’s Black geographies have profoundly shaped the cultural geographies of Oakland, and, as Brandi Summers articulately details, Blackness and Black aesthetics are also often appropriated to fuel gentrification and further Black dispossession. Oakland’s housing crisis is intimately coupled with how real estate speculators like Wedgewood turn a profit through the dispossession of Oakland’s Black residents, while the city’s Black cultural geographies are “aestheticized and deployed to fortify public order, organize landscapes, and foster capital . . . [employing] blackness to increase the desirability of a particular location.”22 Oakland’s desirability and profitability to real estate speculators is tied to its Black \ 332

geographies—and so the decision of five Black women to take over a vacant property and take on a real estate corporation like Wedgewood is a powerful act that combats the economic speculation on Blackness in Oakland and insists that the city’s Black residents and other unhoused peoples have the right to remain. Dominque Walker notes that when she returned to Oakland in April 2019 after living in Mississippi for about a decade, she found that her “community was not the same. The people weren’t there, the culture wasn’t there, the feel of Oakland wasn’t there anymore.”23 “My family’s not in Oakland anymore,” Walker explains, “they’re in Antioch, Richmond, Stockton, Vallejo, wherever they can find cheaper rent. So I’ve known [how bad the housing crisis is here], because every time I’ve called home somebody’s moving out.”24 These realizations that Oakland was no longer the same, that everyone in her community was moving away, because they couldn’t afford the rent, moved Walker into action. Walker, Karim, and the other mothers of Moms 4 Housing lived at 2948 Magnolia Street for nearly two months. They insisted that human lives—Black lives—must be valued more than property, and that people should not have to sleep on the streets when houses are sitting vacant. With the backing of the Oakland Community Land Trust, Moms 4 Housing offered to buy the house from Wedgewood at the price they paid in July 2019. Wedgewood repeatedly refused to sell the house to Moms 4 Housing, instead taking them to court and writing in a letter that was made public that they “would not meet or negotiate with the squatters organization that broke into our house and is illegally occupying it” and “would not consider discussions until after we are in peaceful possession of our house.”25 When the Alameda County Court ruled in favor of Wedgewood on January 10, 2020, Moms 4 Housing remained in the home, with hundreds of supporters turning out the subsequent 333 /

Monday, when the country sheriff was expected to arrive to evict them. Oaklanders showed up, forming a human barricade around the property, singing, chanting, and sharing stories of housing precarity from 7:00 a.m. until just before midnight that night. Supporters were expected to return the next morning at 6:00 a.m., but the sheriff arrived just after 5:00 a.m., with a fleet of police in military riot gear equipped with armored vehicles, rifles, and a battering ram. The county sheriff waited until the mothers were separated to strike, Walker and Carroll Fife, the regional director of Alliance for Californians for Community Empowerment, who had been serving as a representative for the mothers, were out of the house doing a press interview when the police busted down the door. The militaristic manner in which the mothers were forcibly removed from the house was reminiscent of police force on the streets of Oakland after Oscar Grant was killed by BART police in 2009. It rattled the community that morning and yet seemed to confirm what Moms 4 Housing had been saying all along with their direct action—that, ultimately, the state would prioritize private property over the lives of unhoused Black women and children seeking a safe and stable home, that the police—the carceral state—would be enlisted to defend the legal rights of a multimillion-dollar real estate corporation and ensure that Wedgewood could return to a state of “peaceful possession” of their property. As she was being arrested, one of the mothers, Misty Cross, told reporters, “What happens next is the next movement. This is only a piece of it. We’re gonna be out in a minute. We’ll be back. We’ll be right back.”26 When they were released on bail by the end of the day on January 14, Moms 4 Housing got right to work planning an action for Oakland’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day march the subsequent Monday. Perhaps to stifle the planned action or to shift the optics around the violent

eviction the week prior, the mayor of Oakland, Libby Schaaf,27 held a press conference the morning of MLK day announcing that she and California governor Gavin Newsom had worked with Wedgewood to negotiate the sale of the house to Moms 4 Housing.28 The action at the county courthouse in Oakland went as planned that day, demanding that the county be held liable for the excessive force demonstrated in the eviction, with organizers asking: If Wedgewood had been intending to negotiate, why was such force been used to evict unhoused Black women? Moms 4 Housing have been victorious in many regards. Not only will they potentially own the home at 2948 Magnolia Street, but in just over two months they have raised awareness of the stark injustices of the Bay Area housing crisis that have been hiding in plain sight. By drawing the connection between an exponential increase in unhoused populations and the hoarding of properties and wealth by real estate speculators, the Black women of Moms 4 Housing pushed the Bay Area’s collective consciousness and brought a necessary urgency to the housing crisis. As one of the mothers, Tolani King, said at a rally on Magnolia Street in late December, “Homeless people will not be ignored anymore. Our numbers are increasing by the day, by the hour. . . . It should be troubling for you that we are at this point. It should be troubling for you that you walk past encampments.”29 Their direct action earned the support of Oakland city council president Rebecca Kaplan and council member Nikki Fortunato Bas, who, in late January 2020, introduced a series of ordinances to help alleviate the housing crisis.30 The Moms 4 Housing Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act would give tenants a chance to buy their building if their landlord is looking to sell, and Kaplan introduced a proposal that would allow the city or a qualified nonprofit organization to buy properties at county auctions and convert them into affordable housing before they were

put up for sale on the broader market.31 This ordinance could have a significant impact on Oakland’s housing market, since nonprofits often cannot compete with real estate speculators’ fast pace and all-cash offers.32 These legal and governmental shifts are encouraging, but this doesn’t change the immediate reality that over four thousand people remain unhoused in the City of Oakland alone. Perhaps the city is scrambling to create policies now for fear that more unhoused peoples will adopt Moms 4 Housing’s model and start taking over vacant properties. As Carroll Fife said at a rally on Magnolia Street in late December, their direct action is bad for Wedgewood’s business model and for the plethora of other real estate speculators around the globe. If unhoused peoples simply started occupying properties en masse, the whole real estate system would come unhinged. As activist and cofounder of Oakland’s Anti Police-Terror Project Cat Brooks put it at a Moms 4 Housing rally: We are outraged, and we have a right to be outraged, and we have a right to take what we need. These freedom fighters here should inspire us all to do what we gotta do all over this city. This ain’t the only vacant house. This ain’t the only vacant property. Stop talking about we need to get more toilets and water to encampments. No, we need to put people in houses. If the city’s not going to do it, goddamn it, we will.33 And these are the urban futures that Moms 4 Housing are building: if unhoused peoples and their accomplices were to take over vacant properties en masse, cities would either have to address the severities of the housing crisis at the rapid pace necessary or the speculative regime of real estate corporations would be undermined. Either outcome offers a route toward radical housing and housing justice.34 \ 334

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The Gridline Imaginary: A Brief History of Speculation in the US TEXT AND GRAPHIC BY CARLA LESHNE

speculation (n). late 14c., “contemplation, consideration,” from Old French speculation, from Late Latin speculationem (nominative speculatio) “contemplation, observation,” from Latin speculatus, past participle of speculari “observe,” from specere “to look at, view” (see scope (n.1). Disparaging sense of “mere conjecture” is recorded from 1570s. Meaning “buying and selling in search of profit from rise and fall of market value” is recorded from 1774; short form spec is attested from 1794.

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The grid lines drawn over the earth hold the land in a tight net of power relations. The notion of private property—parceled land with state-designated ownership—is a norm in American mainstream culture. Property rights appear natural and ahistorical. Ownership and transfer of blocks, lots, acreage, partitions, subdivisions, buildings, and parks in the United States is generally assumed to be part of the natural order of things, rarely open to debate. The power of the state dissuades any meaningful challenge to a system that from its inception violated the rights of a vast number of people, facilitating corruption and institutional inequality. Early funding of the United States government was based on selling newly claimed land to speculators and developers, many of whom were government officials and their friends, family, and donors. George Washington’s first career was as a professional land surveyor. He built his fortune by acquiring large areas in Ohio that he had surveyed while employed by others, often keeping the best for himself and sometimes using other people’s names in an early iteration of today’s shell companies. To defend his claims, he participated in what was to become federal politics and took actions that initiated wars to expand the American empire.35 [M]y lands on the Ohio and great Kanawha. . . . These will fetch me fifty per cent more at this time than I would have sold them for two years ago. —George Washington, 1795

During Washington’s era, freedoms and political agency were extended only to white male property owners. While the rights of white men were seen as inalienable, alienation of land—the ability to buy and sell it as a commodity, without community ties or restrictions—was an innovation of colonialism. Portrayed by ruling elites as progress toward freedom, a positive transition to counter the European feudal system, the new legal treatment of property assigned unfettered commodity status to parcels of space, using gridlines and government control.36 Alienation of land in the colonial United States originated with the British Parliament’s passage of the 1732 Debt Recovery Act, which allowed creditors to seize property, land, and slaves. Best known for the absolute commodification of enslaved peoples, the law also allowed for land to be taken from debtors, something not possible in the British Isles under feudalism. Europe’s feudal system was built around inequality, yet within it there was a nonnegotiable relationship between people and the land they inhabited. The legal innovation of land alienation, first enacted in the British colonies and then in the United States, was the removal of all requisite relationships, other than financial, between people and their land. Native American communities stewarding ancestral lands had often created rich sustaining environments. Yet in the new US system, no community or individual had the right to inhabit or use land other than as a commodity, subdivided and parceled out to individuals with an absolute right, granted by the state, to buy and sell it freely. Land acquisition in the colonies, and then in the US, was based on the idea that in its natural state land was empty and free for the taking. While the British generally accepted that the First Nations owned their land, taking care to “buy” or “trade” it in the colonial era, the US government dropped the pretense. New “freedom” came with commodified land and wealth

for the powerful few. This shift required accepting that the land was vacant, that the people already inhabiting it were less human than the colonizers. Although the separation of church and state is taught in elementary schools as a tenet of US democratic government, the Church’s Doctrine of Discovery rationalized the eradication of the prior rights of Native peoples. Terra nullius, proclaimed by the pope in 1095, gave the Church’s blessing to European kings’ claims on lands in non-Christian areas. Expanding on the doctrine in 1452, the papal bull Romanus Pontifex declared war against all non-Christians globally and authorized the conquest of their nations and territories. After Columbus returned to Europe from his 1492 expedition, the pope issued more “bull”—the Inter Caetera—which granted Spain the right to its “discovered” lands. A few hundred years later, the Marshall Court referred to the Doctrine of Discovery as an operational legal tenet in its 1823 Johnson v. M’Intosh property rights decision.37 The decision stands, having been used in cases since.38 Like other founders of the nation, John Marshall, the son of a surveyor, was a land speculator, and he used his legal practice to acquire vast property-holdings.39 The early United States government was originally an institution meant to serve only property holding citizens. Voting rights were granted only to property holders, and the richest land speculators quietly controlled the central bank. In this formative period, national identity and resources were based on conquering new lands, a process that enriched the elite and their financiers.40 As the nation moved through its violent westward expansion, speculators continued to gain and hold power in new state governments. Property was the defining ingredient to state power. Lands across the US, including in California, were cleared of Native peoples through a variety of schemes, broken agreements, and genocide, and then \ 338

offered to white settlers. Veterans of wars against Native peoples were granted land as a part of their payment. Beginning in 1862, a series of Homestead Acts divvied up land among white settlers. Individual and corporate owners took title to parcels following survey by government representatives. Groves of trees that were hundreds of years old, herds of buffalo, managed grassland habitat, lakes and rivers full of fish, and marshlands thick with birds were destroyed in the service of a capitalist apparatus and the rationalizing concept of “manifest destiny.” By the time the United States government reached California, there were so many broken and rewritten treaties that the government didn’t bother to ratify any treaties with California nations. Although the US government negotiated a series of eighteen treaties with Native peoples in 1851 and 1852, California’s representatives halted ratification in the US Senate; the unratified treaties were classified as secret military documents for many years afterward. The violent, dehumanizing takeover of the continent reached a nadir at the western reaches, with state-sponsored genocide of Native peoples, including bounties for Native American scalps.41 While the creation of alienated and commodified space stolen from its inhabitants was an innovation of the new capitalist nation, the commodification of human beings along racial lines was an even greater disruption that drove accumulation of wealth for the few. The labor needed to build wealth through land holdings was foundational to the US colonial project. Settlement companies initially brought indentured servants from Europe and tried to force Native peoples to work, but these early efforts were later overshadowed by speculation in the African slave trade. Generations of resistance finally resulted in the end of slavery and brought the vote and civil rights 339 /

to women, African Americans, and Native peoples. However, American institutional power found other ways to keep oppressed populations from building wealth through property. After the Home Owners Loan Act was instituted in 1933, mortgage loans were guaranteed by the federal government. This made it easier for people to purchase homes and establish wealth through property equity, leading to a more equitable spread of wealth and the expansion of the middle class. But the once secret practice of “redlining” reserved loans for “Caucasian neighborhoods” and denied them for neighborhoods deemed “unstable” due to the presence of people of color. As loans became unavailable in urban centers due to redlining during the suburban development rush of the 1950s and 1960s, property owners lacked the financial resources necessary to maintain their properties. The concept of “blight”—a word with its origin in biology—was introduced by urban renewal proponents as a rationale for reorganizing ownership in neighborhoods deemed “dangerous." Vibrant communities of color were often destroyed by urban renewal projects. Real estate speculators later bought up properties in “blighted” areas at depressed prices and promoted gentrification, further destabilizing established urban communities. Local city governments welcomed the process of gentrification describing it as “revitalization.” Ever-increasing property values sustain and boost administrative operations. The origin of property tax lies in the feudal system of “socage”—under which a portion of earnings on private land was paid to the king. This ensured an extractive, entrepreneurial attitude shared by both property owners and the government. If the land wasn’t profitable enough to pay taxes, the feudal lord or other owner could lose it. The contemporary state, with its various federal and local treasuries is

likewise supported in part by property taxes. At the municipal level, government officials are entangled with and funded by real estate interests. Property tax provides a major revenue stream for local governments, incentivizing officials to grow their budgets through any increase in property values. Modern-day planning departments control how spatial resources are allocated in cities. These agencies were initiated by the real estate industry, often as a way to delineate racial and economic borders. Mechanisms were put into place to separate dense housing from new developments and wealthy people from the rest. Covenants were another useful invention for segregation along economic and racial lines. While racially discriminatory covenants were found to be unlawful in the 1950s, planning codes continue to promote inequity and class division among neighborhoods and towns through mechanisms such as lot size, setbacks, and other zoning requirements. Although planning departments are considered city government agencies, their budget and funding are directly dependent on developer fees.42 Cross-pollination continues among government officials, industry, and speculative finance. The opacity of history and the mechanisms that instituted the

lines drawn over the earth are central to the normalization of power relations today. Mapping and surveying evolved in their time as disruptive technologies and colonial tools across the globe. As people today are displaced from urban centers and communities erased, the conception of commodified property as “vacant” and available for trade persists. An extractive approach has come to dominate the world’s natural resources and spaces, including people’s homes. Weaponized amnesia blocks a clear view of the world that we live in. Institutions of private property have evolved to build wealth for some and to extract wealth and resources from the spaces others inhabit and create. Racial disparity is etched across the landscape; community trauma recurs. Resistance has often been overruled by the power of the state. The vastly unequal property system that commodifies home is unsustainable. It extracts profits through lines drawn upon the earth, made of threads already unravelling in the net of gridlines and borders. By reforging social tools and power, by remapping the world, communities can begin to imagine different systems for protecting the earth’s assets and social equity. \ 340


Recent real estate and development financing in Oakland neighborhoods that are undergoing rapid speculative displacement exemplify the ways in which current patterns of racial dispossession have historic precedents. In 2017–2018, the California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC) and the AEMP interviewed community organizations and legal services working with Oakland residents and businesses facing displacement. These groups identified serial evictors, problematic property owners, and local displacement trends. The AEMP then conducted research to uncover the sources of funding of these “displacement drivers.” As we discovered, First Republic Bank has made hundreds of loans to real estate speculators who cause displacement.43 The geography of First Republic loans to displacement drivers inversely correlates with the approved loan areas on the 1939 Oakland redlining maps. Redlining was a racist cartographic tool implemented by the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) in the 1930s to create “residential safety maps” that encompassed over a million homes across the United States. Areas were classified according to the age and type of buildings, as well as the “threat of infiltration of foreign-born, negro, or lower grade population,” who were considered “dangerous” to lend to.44 Red areas were considered most dangerous, followed by yellow areas. Neighborhoods of color suffered economically due to the limits that redlining set, and disinvestment made them ripe for later profitable speculation. Today, banks and real estate investors profit in the red and yellow areas previously designated as “off-limits.” This indicates what can be understood as “reverse redlining.” The influx of enormous wealth from the 341 /

global technology industry exacerbates this process and its histories, which are integral to understanding the present. This map overlays First Republic displacement loans onto historical maps of Oakland redlining zones. The Home Owners’ Loan Corporation color-coded areas to reflect those deemed “desirable” (Grade A: green), “still desirable” (Grade B: blue), “declining” (Grade C: yellow), and “not desirable” (Grade D: red). Much of the displacement being financed by First Republic is in areas coded Grade C and D under former government redlining policies. In response to community concerns about displacement financing, the CRC, the AEMP, and community groups in Oakland and throughout California developed an Anti-Displacement Code of Conduct for banks and others real estate lenders to adopt.45 The code of conduct provides a roadmap for responsible lending and investment that funds stable tenancies, creates paths to homeownership, ensures secure employment opportunities, and enables small businesses to grow. First Republic Bank has not yet signed on to the Anti-Displacement Code of Conduct. As the CRC notes, bank financing of displacement may raise serious legal questions. In one example of First Republic–financed landlords seeking to evict tenants from buildings, the local legal aid office confirmed that all of the families they represented were people of color and protected classes under the Fair Housing Act. Important questions are raised about whether it is legal or just to underwrite a loan if a bank is aware that the new rents charged will exceed existing local rent control protections.

Redlining and Lending in Oakland

First Republic Displacement Loans and Historical Redlining Zones Banks and real estate investors profit in previously redlined “off limit” areas. Rental properties shown on this map are owned by speculators financed by First Republic Bank between 2012 and 2017, indicating reverse redlining.

Albany Berkeley

1939 “Residential Security” Zones

A “Desirable” B “Still Desirable” C “Declining” D “Not Desirable”

2012 - 2017 Properties


Units per Property 1 - 10 > 10 - 30


> 30 - 90










San Leandro


y \ 342


One of the first cities to receive redlined Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) maps was Stockton, California (see previous chapter for more on HOLC).46 Stockton was also one of the cities hit hardest by the financial crisis of 2008. In the years leading up to the crash, the economy of Stockton was fueled by new houses being built by homeowners priced out of the Bay Area.47 This was not sustainable, and when the housing bubble burst the residents of Stockton were left unemployed with soon to be foreclosed homes. This map overlays “piggyback” subprime mortgages and medianincome household data with historically redlined areas from the original HOLC map. It reveals how historically discriminatory housing practices affect neighborhoods today.

343 /

\ 344


I dream of a world

I dream of a world

where no one is disposable.

where we are driven to

Where we raise our value higher

see the light in every face,

than the rent we pay,

respect the purpose in all our hands,

the stuff we buy,

hold the truth of our madness,

the apps we convenience

our anxiety, our fear,

to get to the jobs where we

and each other in protection.

sell our value to someone else, who trades it in stocks and bonds

Where we say yes

and trades our homes

to those who help make this world,

until they are no longer ours.

where we remember to sing and dance together,

Where we are not thrown from those homes,

dress in what we like,

our stuff and us left to rot,

love whoever we like,

jailed or shipped off

and stand strong to defend against all

because our bodies are dangerous,

who would destroy.

divided by walls from friends and family. This land, taken, for its “highest and best use” which is not home, or nourishment for people and planet, but to keep the hum of cars on our roads, driving us.

345 /

\ 346

Wall Street Landlords and Post-Crises Housing Speculation DESIREE FIELDS

Today, the narrative of how the US subprime mortgage market was the epicenter of a near implosion of the global economy in 2008 is almost wearying in its familiarity. A decade later, prices in much of the US housing market have recovered and inventories of repossessed homes have dwindled. Yet with mortgage credit historically constrained, the homeownership rate (64.2 percent in early 2018) remains far below its 2004 peak of 69.2 percent. The apparently contradictory situation of losses in homeownership and constrained mortgage credit, on the one hand, and recovering prices and shrinking inventories of foreclosed homes, on the other, can largely be explained by the central role of investors in the postcrisis US housing market. As investors have converted once owner-occupied homes to rental, the inventory of single-family homes being rented has grown by anywhere from three to seven million units compared to precrisis levels, today standing at approximately 17.5 million units.48 Whereas, for generations, urban crises set off by financial exploitation were largely confined to aging buildings in “inner city,” after 2008, the single-family home, representing suburban middle-class life, became the “mascot” of crisis.49 Cul-de-sacs in low-density subdivisions were lined with for sale signs, and auction notices dotted the front yards of McMansions. In sunny California, Arizona, and Florida, “zombie pools” in abandoned properties grew algae and bred mosquitoes, becoming incubators for disease.50 Speaking to how the crisis overflowed the spatial, racial, and class boundaries of the urban core, Alex Schafran observed, “Just as burned-out hous347 /

ing projects in inner cities were the iconic images of the mid-1970s recession, trashed-out tract homes in California and the Sun Belt are the signature images of crisis in post-millennial America.”51 In suburbs and exurbs like Antioch, Brentwood, and Pittsburg (and down-at-the-heels sites of industry like Richmond and Vallejo), places where African American, Hispanic, and Filipino American Bay Area residents displaced from the region’s urban core sought affordable (ultimately unsustainable) homeownership,52 it was these “trashed out tract homes” to which investors—of all kinds—were drawn in the aftermath of 2008. Crisis as opportunity is, of course, nothing new in capitalism. If anything, crisis is one of its fundamental dynamics and how it adapts to changing contexts, thereby reproducing itself anew. And so, as crisis created a ready population of tenants comprised of former homeowners and those unable to qualify for mortgages under tightened credit conditions, a financial industry “somewhere between anxious and desperate for new products” began to reimagine single-family rental homes as financial assets.53 The activities of large-scale “corporate” investors have been particularly notable in parts of California and the Sun Belt hit hardest by the crisis. Able to raise cash cheaply on capital markets rather than relying on the uncertainties of mortgage credit and armed with digital technology allowing them to zero in on properties meeting their investment criteria, these corporate actors enjoyed a distinct advantage over smaller investors.54 Rather than buying and flipping homes, large-scale investors like Waypoint, Invitation Homes, Colony Capital, and American

Homes 4 Rent assembled portfolios of single-family homes to convert to rental housing. Their holdings include thousands or tens of thousands of properties, scattered across Contra Costa, San Joaquin, San Bernadino, Riverside, and Los Angeles Counties, in California, and stretch all the way to the Carolinas, passing through Las Vegas, Phoenix, and more Sun Belt metropoles along the way. Though single-family homes have long been a significant part of the overall rental market, their owners have tended to be small-time investors or accidental landlords, not the private equity funds backed by global investment firms that carried out this wave of post-2008 purchases. But these “Wall Street landlords” saw in single-family rental the ingredients for a novel financial asset: once they had aggregated ownership, bundles of rent checks could replace bundles of mortgage checks, fueling a model of securitization suited to a potentially post-homeownership society. Thus, in 2013, Invitation Homes, the rental arm of global private equity giant Blackstone, pioneered the securitization of single-family rental income, and soon other Wall Street landlords followed suit. The sale of these financial assets to bondholders allows Wall Street landlords to borrow against the value of the properties, securing a cash infusion to settle previous debts or pay themselves out. Meanwhile, tenants pay back this loan with their rent checks. The financial system nearly imploded in 2008, but as the advent of Wall Street landlords shows, the model of accumulation predicated on treating homes as financial assets has remained firmly in place, albeit adjusted to a changed set of conditions on the ground. Urban struggles to build tenant power, activist occupations of bank- and investor-owned properties, and interest in nonspeculative housing models is growing,55 indicating that there is still the will to challenge the central place of housing in the ideology of capital. \ 348


Invitation Homes is a subsidiary of the half-trilliondollar multinational company, the Blackstone Group. Launched in 2012, when Blackstone acquired foreclosed single-family homes, Invitation has since moved into multifamily properties. After a 2017 IPO, Invitation now trades on the New York Stock Exchange. Sacramento was hit hard by the subprime mortgage crisis, creating the opportunity for companies like Blackstone and Thomas Barrack’s Colony to acquire single-family homes at rock-bottom prices. After the 2017 megamerger of Colony, Starwood, and Waypoint with Invitation Homes, the company held eighty-two thousand US single-family homes. As the California Reinvestment Coalition detailed in a 2015 report,56 the entrance of Wall Street companies into the single-family housing market causes displacement, creates a lack of homeownership opportunities, and raises fair-housing issues. Known for rent gouging and investigated for negligence,57 Invitation is able to operate in the Sacramento market unfettered by just cause eviction protections or rent control laws. Costa Hawkins—the California state law that was challenged by Proposition 10 in 2018—shelters single-family homes from municipal rent control measures. Blackstone spent over $6 million of its investors’ money in the campaign against Proposition 10.58 Ironically, the Sacramento County Employees Retirement System is invested in Invitation Homes. Pension investment strategies such as these undercut their own financial base.59 The communities where Invitation Homes holds its assets are undermined by the Wall Street company’s extractive practices. While profits flow to investors, tax 349 /

rates are flat and community reinvestment nil. Under California’s Proposition 13, mergers and transfers like the Colony Starwood sale to Blackstone/Invitation circumvent reappraisal. Although ownership has changed, the company’s property tax rate is shielded, with local property tax payments due only on the original appraised value: the price paid for the property after foreclosure, often at the bottom of the market. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are investment vehicles that allow for the financialization of people’s homes. A REIT is a portfolio of income-producing real estate investments, owned and operated by “trust” companies. REITs come with tax benefits—which were increased under the Trump Administration’s 2018 tax act. The first REIT was formed in 1960 under the Eisenhower Administration via the “Cigar Excise Tax Extension of 1960.”60 On this map of Invitation Homes in Sacramento sits a single-family home on Sandylee Way, purchased in 2005 for $302,000. Foreclosed in 2012 by JP Morgan Chase, Invitation Homes acquired the home for $150,000 and bundled it into a 2017 security offered by Wells Fargo Bank. Meanwhile, Invitation keeps the house off the market for other potential homeowners, destabilizing the community with rent hikes and turnover and depriving the county of assessment income. According to Sacramento County Court data, Invitation Homes filed at least 156 unlawful detainers (the last stage of an eviction) between 2015 and 2017. Invitation owns approximately two thousand properties in Sacramento County.



Fols La


Citrus Heights Folsom

Orangevale Del Paso Natomas


Fair Oaks


Rancho Cordova Arden-Arcade West Sac 80


East Sac

Land Park

Oak Park


Tahoe Park





Meadowview Laguna

Elk Grove

Percent of households that spend over half their total income on rent alone (by census tract) 0

5 miles



\ 350


Urban Green Investments, a San Francisco–based investment company and subsidiary of Colorado’s Cornerstone Holdings, gained notoriety in 2013 when attempting to Ellis Act evict then ninety-seven-yearold Mary Elizabeth Phillips from her home of forty years.61 This eviction, enacted by their shell company 55 Dolores Street LLC was one of the many speculative evictions that Urban Green carried out at the time.


Urban Green had come into the Bay Area housing market quickly, buying up 385 units with cash. Since then, they have expanded their portfolio to Oakland and the North Bay. Urban Green and Cornerstone Holdings, run by David McCloskey and his father Thomas McCloskey, hide behind over forty shell companies. These offer legal protection, along with anonymity. In addition, the McCloskeys have repeatedly financed Republican Party candidates, campaigns, and think tanks. Despite the onslaught of evictions wielded by Urban Green in 2013, numerous residents began attending Eviction Free San Francisco (EFSF) meet351 /

ings, determined to fight back through direct action. As Mary Elizabeth Phillips, who also went by Emmy, put it, “This has been my home for over forty years, and I don’t want to leave. . . . I am just too old.” Ron Winter, a member of EFSF and a dear friend of Emmy: I suspect Emmy didn’t cry often, and she certainly wouldn’t have shed tears when speaking of Urban Green Investments, her new landlords, who’d bought out or Ellised her neighbors, before evoking less strident methods to expedite her removal. She preferred to express her feelings about them succinctly: “Those bastards!” I didn’t feel it my place to broach the subject of eviction with Emmy, who had no surviving blood family and no local relations. If she wished to mull over her dilemma, I was there to listen. But she had little tolerance for sympathy. She just wanted to stay in her home: “I’m not moving. I’m too old to move. Where would I go? They’ll have to take me out, feet first.”62 EFSF rallied behind Mary, and soon a news piece about Urban Green evicting someone who was nearly a hundred years old went viral. David McCloskey was finally forced to make a public statement, and eventually conceded that Mary would be allowed to stay in her home for the remainder of her life. Mary did remain in her home for the remainder of her life, although she had to endure the redevelopment of the other units and the loss of her caring neighbors. In 2017, she passed away at the age of one hundred. Winter observes, “55 Dolores sits quietly now—a four-level ghost town with no gardens or habitats. Emptied of tenants, it has been haunted by uncertainty for more than three years, as a conversion from modest apartments into homes for the wealthy ground to an ignominious halt.”

URBAN GREEN BOUGHT 55 DOLORES STREET IN 2012 FOR $2,550,000. THE TOTAL GROSS PROFIT FOR SOLD UNITS IN 2017 WAS $7,915,000. UNIT NO. 1 EVICTED: a nurse at San Francisco General Hospital REPLACED BY: Apple employee, psychiatrist PRICE: $1,500,000

Immediately after Mary’s death, Erin Thompson, a real estate agent and long-time partner of Urban Green and its Summit Real Estate Group, began to market the units at 55 Dolores Street as tenancy in common units (TICs). Technically not condos but marketed that way, TICs are used by the real estate industry and banks to get around San Francisco’s moratorium on condo conversions. The vice president of residential lending at Sterling Bank, Stephen Adams, initiated the bank’s TIC lending program and is the president of the City’s Small Business Commission. The bank, well-known for its post-eviction fractional TIC loan program, financed the buyers of the renovated 55 Dolores Street. Sterling’s owner, Scott Seligman, founded the bank in 1984 and continues to manage his family’s Michigan apartment portfolio, malls in Hawaii and Texas, power centers in Nevada, and offices and apartment complexes in California. Seligman has been singled out as the ugly face of gentrification by none other than Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the famed poet and owner of City Lights Books. The AEMP continued its investigations of 55 Dolores Street post-eviction, curious as to who replaced Mary and the other tenants. The majority of the new TIC owners work in the tech industry.

UNIT NO. 2 EVICTED: an elderly award-winning scientist, disabled, who had lived in the apartment for more than twenty years REPLACED BY: Google employees PRICE: $1,350,000 UNIT NO. 3 EVICTED: This was the home of Mary, who had lived in the apartment for more than fifty years and fought to stay there until her death REPLACED BY: investors who own properties in San Diego and Los Gatos PRICE: $1,395,000 UNIT NO. 4 EVICTED: a teacher with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) who had lived in the apartment for more than twenty years REPLACED BY: Apple employee PRICE: $1,361,000 UNIT NO. 5 EVICTED: a special education teacher, a restaurant worker, and a baby REPLACED BY: Tesla employee PRICE: $1,459,500 UNIT NO. 6 Newly built unit, not previously occupied PURCHASED BY: Zenreach employee, technology attorney PRICE: $850,000

\ 352


Just as financing impacts the geographic contours of real estate speculation, it also affects development. Since 2014, a pro-growth development movement has gained power and influence in the Bay Area, particularly in San Francisco. Comprised of several groups and largely funded by tech industry (for instance, Yelp), the “yes, in my backyard” (YIMBY) movement espouses neoliberal economics, alleging that the only way to solve San Francisco’s housing crisis is to develop more (mostly market rate) housing. YIMBYism first emerged under the banner of the Bay Area Renters Federation (BARF), launched by Sonja Trauss. BARF has grown into the larger YIMBY movement. Galvanizing momentum on state and national scales, YIMBYs trumpet that development, luxury or otherwise, is the only remedy to the housing crisis. According to Trauss, those opposing new luxury developments in working-class neighborhoods “just got confused.” This “all housing matters” model claims luxury and market rate development are as important as the construction of housing for poor and low-income tenants. However, studies show that the city needs at least 60 percent of new development to be affordable to maintain the status quo, and yet generally the city only builds 21 percent affordable units.64 Furthermore, as investigative research by Tim Redmond and Darwin BondGraham reveals, up to 40 percent of San Francisco’s new luxury development is in non-primary residences—second homes for absentee owners who live in wealthy Silicon Valley suburbs. For these and related reasons, the housing justice movement has positioned itself against YIMBYism. Yet the YIMBYs maintain a compelling discursive 355 /

strategy by naming their opposition NIMBYs (Not in My Backyard), conflating those who oppose the development of market rate condos in working-class neighborhoods today with the San Francisco NIMBY movement of the 1980s, in which white homeowners fought against poor and working-class people of color “invading” their spaces. YIMBYs blame slow growth advocates for the reduction of available housing stock, a cutback that they assert drives up property values. As such, YIMBYism grows by mobilizing against resistors of new luxury and market rate housing development. While these resistors are largely rooted in anti-racist politics, YIMBYism renders them racist “NIMBYs.” This discursive strategy conflates wealthy NIMBY property owners who are determined to maintain the “traditional character and culture of their backyards” with housing justice advocates who are fighting evictions and prioritizing affordable housing construction. YIMBYs disseminate their free market remedy far and wide, participating in national annual conferences such as YIMBYtown, as well as in lobbying efforts in Washington, DC, and Sacramento. In San Francisco, however, BARF and its fellow YIMBY cohort endeavor, more than anything, to impact policy. For instance, at a 2016 Planning Commission hearing around the deceptively titled Affordable Housing Density Bonus program, BARF pushed for the implementation of a citywide up-zoning measure. This would facilitate the razing of homes and businesses for the development of market rate and luxury buildings, eventually offering low-income tenants below market rate dwellings elsewhere. During the

hearing, the San Francisco YIMBY Party policy director, Brian Hanlon (a white man), proclaimed, “While I’m angry at many so-called affordable housing leaders for consistently failing their constituents, I am also angry that by not allowing sufficient housing to be built in San Francisco they’re going to make me complicit in displacing even more vulnerable populations. . . . When I move to East Oakland, I will most likely be replacing someone who does not look like me.” Hanlon’s ultimatum to poor communities of

color—to accept luxury housing construction or else be displaced by this white YIMBY man—echoes the paternalism of pro-development forces during previous waves of dispossession. As such, both NIMBYism and YIMBYism operate through the racial dispossession of poor tenants of color.


\ 356


The YIMBY attempt to prettify and paint as grassroots its neoliberal, trickle-down ideology for a relatively progressive Bay Area audience alarmed and infuriated radical activists, who quickly understood YIMBYism as an astroturf movement giving cover to real estate and tech industrialists who deplore the poor.65 In 2014, the radical, queer, direct-action collective Gay Shame was one of the first groups to react to the libertarian-capitalist stench wafting off the nascent YIMBY camp. Initially formed as a response to the corporatization of the mainstream LGBT movement, Gay Shame continues the radical tradition of queer liberatory movements that started in the 1960s. By 2000, the larger LGBT movement had been co-opted by the sellout culture of assimilationist gays and nonprofits. An early target: San Francisco Pride, which puts on the world’s largest gay gathering and San Francisco’s most sizable annual public event. Today’s Pride, a promofest for liquor and pharmaceutical companies, drawing one million people, looks nothing like the 1969 police riots that inspired it. Gay Shame’s makeup of mostly low-income queer and trans people of color naturally brought the group to work on issues that “Power Gay”–led nonprofits like San Francisco Pride refused to address, particularly the hoarding of land by the wealthy, which has led queer and trans people to be disproportionately affected by homelessness and housing insecurity. The San Francisco LGBT Center is a nonprofit that claims space in an often empty headquarters off Market Street, where security guards defend its echoey hallways not from anti-LGBT bigots but from homeless and/or psychiatrically disabled people who 357 /

might wander in from the street. The Center was the site of one of Gay Shame’s first large-scale actions, a protest against politician Gavin Newsom’s successful plan to widen the local wealth gap by taking away self-determination around social security benefits.66 The Center’s response to Gay Shame’s protest was to lock the doors and call the police, who assaulted and arrested several of Gay Shame’s members, staining their “black-tie gala” drag outfits with the activists’ own blood.67 Other notable actions include the three times Gay Shame disrupted “Eviction Bootcamps” led by the Bornstein brothers, a pair of now estranged landlord attorneys.68 In 2016, the collective held a runway show featuring a step-and-repeat for gentrifiers on a “bloodred” carpet outside the Mission District condo complex marketed as VIDA. In VIDA’s shadow lies the bare remains of what was once a Latinx-occupied building, cleared of its residents due to a deadly fire in 2015—a fire that many locals believe was landlord arson.69 Four years later, hundreds of high-end condo units have risen around the neighborhood, while the surviving residents of the building that once stood at 22nd and Mission Streets wait for the chance to return home. As low-income, rent-controlled housing blazed in the Mission District, the dumpster fire disaster that became known as the “yes, in my backyard” (YIMBY) movement was “sparked” by its most visible leader, Sonja Trauss. Trauss presented Gay Shame with the personification of everything the group stands against. YIMBY landlords and their allies in politics and law enforcement caused the forcible removal of low-income

queers, particularly trans and gender nonconforming youth and HIV-positive seniors. White, gay neoliberal politicians like then Castro district supervisor Scott Wiener wore the YIMBY brand with pride, in a weak attempt to weaponize diversity in the service of real estate and tech barons. All were rewarded with campaign donations from real estate and tech firms, who banked on, and in many cases received, big returns on their political investments, in the form of tax breaks and immunity from government regulation. Trauss soon built a reputation for herself and YIMBYism in the mainstream media, online, and at city hall land use hearings, using funds which came from people like the billionaire founder of Yelp Jeremy Stoppleman. For Gay Shame, Trauss and her cause presented the perfect villain. Gay Shame’s wheat-pasted posters on lampposts around the city identified Trauss as the “Grand Wizard” of the YIMBYs, and at the 2017 YIMBYtown conference in Oakland, where presenters included Trauss and Scott Wiener, Gay Shame activists held up an “EVICT THE EVICTORS” banner, as some chanted “Techies Kill Queers!” On Twitter, YIMBYs labeled Gay Shame a “terrorist” group, though the terror inflicted by the YIMBYs and their backers—landlords, arsonists, evictors, etc.—were the real material manifestations of terror. The YIMBY co-optation of liberal-progressive organizing culture took many forms, including the emergence of “cultural districtification” around San Francisco. Gay Shame and other housing activists were immediately skeptical. Under this scheme, YIMBYs teamed up with NIMBY homeowners’ associations and city-funded Neighborhood Watch–like groups called Community Benefit Districts and Business Improvement Districts (which University of California, Berkeley dubbed “Homeless Exclusion Districts”),70 to officially designate areas that once

teemed with low-income trans and queer people as “culturally and historically significant,” even as the people who were part of those cultures were pushed out. The effort resulted in the world’s first “Transgender Cultural District” in the Tenderloin and “Leather District” in SoMA, with hundred-unit developments in the areas fast-tracked by the city’s planning commission. The commission could point to alleged “community support” from spokespeople for the cultural districts who weren’t representative of the low-income queer and trans people who had lived there for generations.71 Their right to remain was sold in exchange for minor concessions (such as murals) from real estate moguls who had been slobbering over the chance to redevelop blocks they could sell to high-end clients. Emboldened by the hype around YIMBYism, Trauss—previously a simple, self-professed “bored” charter school tutor and neighborhood association activist from Philadelphia—moved to SoMa in 2017 to enter the electoral race for city supervisor, residency in one’s campaign district being a requirement to run. Trauss began a year-long campaign to become the government’s overseer for the pockets of the city recently designated as culturally significant to trans and leather neighborhoods. Gay Shame rejects electoral politics as a means to the radical liberation the group envisions. But prior to Election Day, the queer collective ramped up its anti-Trauss crusade, resulting in bans from Twitter (allegedly violating the social media corporation’s rule against “hate speech,” because of an image of a sign reading “Dykes Hate Landlords”) and the loss of its meeting space at the single-room occupancy (SRO) Altamont Hotel. Other groups joined the cause: members of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP), LAGAI-Queer Insurrection, SOMCAN, the Filipino cultural group based in \ 358

SoMa, and residents facing eviction at the Midtown Apartments were among the groups that showed up in various ways to negate the idea that the trickle-down, neoliberal values of YIMBY elites could be trusted with solving the housing crisis for low-income people in the Bay Area. Despite the backing of some of the most powerful figures in the Bay Area and far beyond, Trauss suffered an unequivocal bomb at the ballot box. Her loss proved the public’s distrust of mainstream media, like the Hearst-owned San Francisco Chronicle, was well-earned. It also illuminated the problem of depending so deeply on online organizing (YIMBY’s tech base relies heavily on social media): online algorithms convinced tech and tech-adjacent YIMBYs that Trauss’s would be an easy victory. But the thousands of pro-YIMBY blog comments, Fa c e b o o k p o s t s , a n d sub-Reddits proved to be mostly echo chambers when Trauss came in a distant third behind the two other candidates in her race. Like many failed political hopefuls, Trauss might fall backwards into a less public role. Maybe a more direct role in real estate awaits—like the one inhabited by her brother Milo, a YIMBY board member who also works as a public relations consultant for GCA Strategies, which claims to be “America’s top public 359 /

affairs firm” for “mobilizing community support for real estate proposals.”72 Alternatively, Trauss could join the ranks of less visible property vultures, like her campaign supporter and friend Sam Moss, the

ex-realtor and now executive director of the public housing nonprofit Mission Housing. YIMBY members debated doing away with the “YIMBY” moniker altogether in online forums in the days following their It Girl’s defeat. Even in Silicon Valley’s capitalist dystopia, Trauss’s mix of Trumpian,

reality TV–ready brazenness didn’t work. It was a brazenness so bold that she once called low-income Latinx activists afraid of losing their homes “anti-immigrant” (“immigrant,” in Trauss’s mind, included

highly paid white and Asian tech workers),73 as well as tweeting that “gentrification is the revaluation of Black land to its proper price,” because Black Oakland homeowners might now profit from selling their properties to techie newcomers. Brazen is probably an understatement for the physical alter-

cation Trauss got into with an elderly Asian pro–rent control rallier, who was hospitalized after the YIMBY empress elbowed her way through a crowd. In the end, instances like these, combined with Trauss’s last-minute attempt to rebrand herself as a “Mom for Change” with pro-police vagaries, didn’t win over the still somewhat progressive voter base in central San Francisco. Will YIMBYs get their own mural someday? As 2018 ended, Gay Shame cautiously celebrated Trauss’s flop and the public’s apparent understanding of the “grassroots” movement as a developer-funded Trojan Horse molded out of see-through plastic wrap. The veneer of diversity, the meaninglessness of words like “middle-income,” the criminalization and demonization of homeless people—these are things that continue to consume San Francisco politics. There will be future versions of Trauss, ready to dress up neoliberalism in a “lefty” costume. That said, her story and the story of YIMBYism show that even the most powerful—the elite landowners and tech robber barons behind falsely “affordable” housing narratives—can be thwarted. In the spirit of the Gay Shame banner, the evictors aren’t immune from themselves being evicted and banished to a place where greed and contempt for poor people is more widely tolerated. \ 360

Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island Redevelopment JIN ZHU AND CARLA LESHNE GRAPHIC BY JIN ZHU

Treasure Island is an artificial landform in San Francisco Bay situated beside Yerba Buena Island (YBI), a natural island originally home to the Muwekma Ohlone. Constructed in the mid-1930s, it was seized by the United States Navy in 1941 as the site for a Damage Control School specializing in nuclear, biological, and chemical decontamination. Trainees practiced on the USS Pandemonium, a dummy ship loaded with live radioactive material that simulated fallout. Ships from Operation Crossroads, the first atomic test explosions in the Marshall Islands, were docked at the base. Decommissioned in 1997, the base requires ongoing remediation. Successful cleanup would pave the way for the Lennar Development Corporation to develop eight thousand units of waterfront housing for approximately twenty to twenty-five thousand new residents. While the Navy claims that the nuclear waste is fully contained within waste piles, journalists from the Center for Investigative Reporting found elevated levels of cesium-137, an isotope not found in naturally occurring sources of radiation, and scans near occupied housing in 2013 uncovered objects radioactive enough to cause burns or hair loss within an hour of contact.74 Tetra Tech, the multinational company awarded the remediation contracts for Treasure Island, is also responsible for the cleanup of a second decommissioned naval station, Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco. Rebranded “The Shipyard,” Lennar plans to build a further 10,500 361 /

units of mostly market rate housing on the former base, which is situated on the edge of a predominantly low-income community of color. In 2014, whistleblowers reported widespread faking of data samples at Hunters Point, leading to the conviction of two former Tetra Tech employees. 75 Regulators failed to safeguard residents living near these sites despite the long-standing concerns of community activists like Marie Harrison and organizers at both Greenaction and the Bayview Community Advocates, who have fought for decades and continue to fight for a transparent cleanup process. The discovery of fraud calls into question the validity of the company’s work at Treasure Island. This map was created in 2018 in collaboration with artist Burak Arikan, through his Civic Data Solidarity work, as part of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMO) Public Knowledge project. Using Arikan’s Graph Commons platform, we outlined the relationship among elected officials, developers, defense companies, state agencies, federal departments, and the institutions through which their financial and political interests mesh. The AEMP began research on Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island to support tenants who were resisting their evictions from YBI in 2015.76 All Yerba Buena residents were displaced, and though given the opportunity to relocate to Treasure Island, many refused. The 1,800 current residents of Treasure Island will also be relocated as redevelopment progresses. The Treasure Island Develop-

ment Authority (TIDA) approved the construction of market rate units on the natural Yerba Buena Island before the second phase affordable units on Treasure Island. In the 1990s, California’s decommissioned military bases posed a financial opportunity despite their toxic Superfund status. Laurence Pelosi, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s nephew, worked as Lennar’s director of acquisitions, as the company gained contracts for military bases across California, including Treasure Island, Hunters Point, Mare Island, Alameda, Concord, and El Toro. Douglas Boxer, son of former senator Barbara Boxer,77 is a lobbyist who worked with Platinum Advisors, a firm founded by political lobbyist and former Democratic Party treasurer Darius Anderson. Anderson holds a stake in the funding corporations for the development and owns the company contracted to manage Treasure Island Marina. In 2008, under the leadership of CEO Emile Haddad, the Lennar subsidiary LandSource Communities Development LLC declared bankruptcy. The California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) pension fund was invested and suffered a near billion-dollar loss. Haddad was then appointed as the CEO of FivePoint Communities, a new Lennar subsidiary that acquired the properties that LandSource had previously held. California’s public employees sustained the loss, while Lennar continued to develop the properties, minus the public pension billion.78 FivePoint, a publicly traded company, is now the developer of the Shipyard and Treasure Island. The projects were in need of additional creative sources of investment capital. The federal EB-5 visa program exchanges green cards for investments in real estate development like Lennar’s. In 2013, Representative Nancy Pelosi lobbied Congress to fast-track the approval of the San Francisco Bay

Area Regional Center as an EB-5 broker, resulting in $500,000 in investment in the Treasure Island Development Corporation, the Shipyard, and other developments. Former mayor Willie Brown and Platinum Advisors associates were involved in this immigration for cash program. A government ethics expert commented, “If I had to diagram this project, it would look like a family tree with lots of extra little problems.”79 Entanglements between elected officials and the complex web of local and international capital are obscured and hidden from public scrutiny. By visualizing these ties, we reveal connections between investors who stand to profit from development and public servants tasked to protect the homes and health of existing and future communities.

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On the threshold between the Tenderloin and the former industrial and (immigrant) working class neighborhood South of Market, a new era has begun. Or so it seems, if one considers the brand new NEMA condominiums, the impressive Twitter world headquarters with its thousands of employees, and the numerous construction sites and cranes that dominate the area, which until recently has been more commonly associated with homelessness, abandonment, urban decay, and, for some, home. It is here that, in 2011, the city instituted a payroll tax exclusion zone, commonly known as the “Twitter tax break” after its most notable beneficiary, to lure start-ups and tech companies to an area that has long been the focus of various “revitalization” programs. Now rebranded as “San Francisco’s newest live/ work/play destination” by local real estate giant Shorenstein Properties,80 many formerly vacant storefronts have been transformed into meticulously curated, vitreous—and basically empty—corporate atriums with electronic access barriers and reception desks, leading to the offices of Uber, Zendesk, Square, and the like. As a result, coworking chains, digerati dorms, gigantic condo developments, and fancy “micro hotels” increasingly replace the artist studios, NGO offices, and cheap SROs that once dominated the area. Whole Foods (owned by Amazon) will soon open a fifty-five-thousand-square-foot store on Market and 8th Street, as part of the Trinity Place complex, which will feature 1,900 new and mostly market rate apartments. Down the road between 5th and 6th Streets, a new luxury mall—still empty, as it is experiencing difficulty finding tenants—takes up a whole block where a DIY community and arts space once thrived.81 365 /


As far as the real estate market is concerned, after all, holding space vacant in the midst of a displacement and homelessness crisis is not an anomaly but an investment opportunity. By deliberately holding properties vacant, landowners and speculators may choose to profit from tax write-offs and possible gains from vacancy speculation, while waiting for public redevelopment and other economic incentives like corporate tax breaks to kick in.82 Longtime local journalist Tim Redmond recently listed the Twitter tax break as one of the worst things that has happened to renters in this city in the last few years: “When Mayor Lee decided to do whatever he could to attract tech firms to San Francisco, he set off a displacement bomb. It was a cataclysmically bad bit of urban planning. You can’t bring thousands of high-paid, mostly young, mostly single workers with a lot of disposable income to a city with a tight housing market and not see rents soar. . . . That was the beginning of the worst housing crisis since the Great Earthquake.”83


Corporate welfare in the form of tax credits has become increasingly widespread, as “footloose” capital is scattering the globe in search of cheap labor and favorable business conditions. In the case of Twitter, which threatened to leave San Francisco for a potentially cheaper location down the peninsula, the city’s economic impact report of 2011 evaluated the situation on the grounds that the company would move away if no tax incentives were instituted. That Twitter might have stayed in San Francisco either way, given the branding value of an urban location, its attractiveness for its workforce, and mid-Market’s convenience as a transit hub—factors that might easily have outweighed small gains in rent or tax— was simply ignored.84

Indeed, following the general return to the city by the childern of the white baby boomer generation, big tech has had its urban calling. As a spokesperson for Twitter exclaimed, “We want to be a part of the people,” adding that “Twitter as a culture is very public.”85 And, indeed, in contrast to many of the suburban corporate campuses in Silicon Valley (for example Apple’s new spaceship campus in Cupertino), these new urban campuses claim to be less insular and more open. Instead of gazing at the “pastoral landscapes” of well-manicured lawns and trees as a counterpoint to the city,86 the brains of tech workers are now said to be stimulated best by vibrant urban spaces and encounters beyond the walls of the company. It is in cities like San Francisco \ 366

and Oakland, with their radical histories and their diverse and bustling artist and activist communities, that ideas are “in the air,” ready to be captivated for the next “innovative” start-up idea or corporate branding newspeak of “sharing” and “community.” As the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Research Association, commonly known as SPUR (a Bay Area pro-growth think tank), has noted, “the workplace is both tied to place and freed from it: it is wherever and whatever the workforce experiences.”87 Or as an employee of WeWork’s Mid-Market coworking offices explained to me: “The whole world is your office!” In a region once famous for its militant labor struggles and radical collaborative practices, including the fight for the eight-hour workday, the boundaries between work and life have indeed become increasingly porous. Metaphorically speaking, WeWork seamlessly merges into WeLive, the little sister of this global chain, which also offers “co-living” experiences for millennial tech workers, providing everything from single-origin coffee to an on-site yoga studio. Yet, as people’s homes look more and more like their offices, the office increasingly resembles a bar, a fitness studio, a park, a playground for adults, or even an ocean liner, where working feels like “walking around with a martini in your hand.”88 However, in these playful never-never lands, with their extensive services and lavish decor designed to comfort and stimulate the workforce, you might as well work yourself to death, as stock options replace unions, and the meritocratic logic of the tech world is expanded to ever more areas of our lives and cities. “Love where you work,” as Twitter’s motto goes, is certainly a duty that does not end at the office door at 5:00 p.m.89 Disrupting and deregulating the workplace and other aspects of life is admittedly one of the central credos of tech, and those outside the privileged worlds of corporate HQs are hit hardest. Take Uber, for exam367 /

ple, the infamous rideshare company headquartered just down the block from Twitter on Market and 11th Street. In early 2018, a desperate New York City taxi driver shot himself in front of City Hall, explaining in a Facebook post that Uber had destroyed his existence.90 What might feel like an echo from Tunisia at the beginning of the Arab Spring is in fact an inherent element of Uber’s business model, which thrives off the unlawful appropriation of public space and the disruption of an existing—and unionized—industry through a ride-sharing app, and which refuses to recognize its own workers, aka “independent contractors.” But Uber even goes a step further. “Join the driverless revolution,” reads the threatening slogan on the driverless Cruise, Google, and Uber test cars that roam the streets of San Francisco. “Data über alles,” (data above everything) could be the rallying cry for these companies and their ideal of a “smart city,” as they increasingly compete with public planning and (formerly) public services by offering “optimized,” free market solutions and app-based access to services, from transit solutions to higher education. The libertarian, techno-utopic ideology is also expressed in the architecture and branding of the new urban campuses, which often feature semipublic spaces and are crafted as quasi-public institutions, with names like “Market Square” or “The Commons.”91 At the same time as public institutions are being undermined by Silicon Valley free market pundits, such names seem to point to the democratizing promises of digital technologies and social media. However, a glimpse into one of these new post-public corporate spaces in the Mid-Market area provides a hint of what kind of “public” these companies seem to have in mind. “The Commons” on the Twitter campus, for example, is just a stretch of fake grass, laid out onto the concrete of what was formerly Stevenson Street, where a few feeble bamboo

trees are sprouting timidly in the gravel. A few tech workers linger in groups, laptops in front of them, sipping coffee and talking on the phone. A security guard does her rounds, while others lift weights or bend their bodies into advanced yoga poses in the glass-walled gym next door. What used to be a public alley owned by the City of San Francisco has been purchased as an addition to Shorenstein’s real estate portfolio and serves as an extension of the tech office. Instead of benefitting a broader public good and providing access for all, as the name would imply, this privately owned space, with its expensive materials and corporate property rights, is actively enclosing the urban commons, while offering a filtered, fake version of a public made up of look-alikes: young, mostly male, mostly white, mostly able-bodied, with a lot of disposable income. Relaxing in the cooling shade of the fake green, this homogenous crowd can afford to be oblivious to the mechanisms of exclusion around them. The tech world, after all, is embracing “urbanity” mainly as an abstract ideology, while the real hustle and bustle of “edgy” neighborhoods like the Mid-Market are best enjoyed from a safe distance, or as a lunch-break curiosity, or wall-adornment. In WeWork’s Mid-Market branch, for example, the only Black faces I noticed belonged to the security guard and the woman working the reception desk, while rap icons such as Mac Dre and E-40 and legendary Black power activist and radical scholar Angela Davis adorned the wallpaper. If you looked out the window, however, you would see elderly Asian American women selling single containers of food on blankets spread out on the sidewalk. You would see homeless people of color harassed by the police for the crime of sitting or lying—that is, existing—in public space. You would see an old man pushing his dangerously overloaded cart full of empty bottles and cans toward the Twitter HQ, where he stops in

front of The Market, the latest gourmet food court and grocery store, to check the garbage bin for things eatable or redeemable. Weren’t we told that all that wealth would trickle-down? Instead, we get “innovation zones” with “community-led design prototypes,” as the public spaces around the new “dot-com corridor” are revamped to become the “post-industrial shop floor” of the innovation industry.92 We get “hubs” and “nodes” and “connectors” for a “Better Market Street,”93 and a “Civic Center Commons” that provides playful “echo tubes” and hand knit tree creatures, but no services, no shelter, no resources.94 Instead, it’s all about “activation,” as if the problems at stake were an issue of motivation, job readiness, and self-optimization—and not of structural forces like economic inequality and racism. These companies might be experts in appropriating a cool narrative of urbanity, diversity, and participation, however, underlying this façade is a whole complex aimed at privatizing and disrupting our cities and lives, while conveniently profiting from public subsidies, tax breaks, and enhanced public spaces. We can’t let them.

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Over the last decade, Ron Conway and his associates have been constructing an apparatus to control San Francisco. Through a web of investments, pseudo-philanthropic foundations, donations, political contributions, influence on policy, and tinkering with city agencies using new technologies, he and his cohorts are realizing his agenda to change the political landscape of San Francisco. Conway was one of former Mayor Ed Lee’s closest advisors, and he poured millions into local elections, including $275,000 in 2012 to help pass Proposition E, which lowered the business tax rates for tech companies that he invested in, including Airbnb, Twitter, Digg, and Zynga, among others. He is one of Silicon Valley’s preeminent angel investors, and since the Dot Com Boom has invested in countless San Francisco–based tech companies. In 2012, Conway’s net worth was reported at $1.5 billion. In 2011, Business Insider obtained a leaked list of his investments, which included 228 companies, including Square, Sticher, Yammer, Pinterest, AddThis, AirTime, BuzzFeed, Twitter,, and Magnetic.95 As the mock site Ron Conway for Mayor sums up: Ron Conway is the Founder and Co-Managing Partner of SV Angel. Ron has been an active angel investor since the mid-1990s. He was the Founder and Managing Partner of the Angel Investors LP funds (1998–2005). He was included in 2010’s Vanity Fair 100 most influential people in the Information Age. He was awarded Best Angel at The 2009 TechCrunch Crunchies Awards. He was named number 13 in Forbes Magazine Midas list of top “deal-makers” in 2011. Ron was with National Semiconductor 369 /

Corporation in marketing positions (1973–1979), Altos Computer Systems as a co-founder, President and CEO (1979–1990) and took Altos public on Nasdaq in 1982 and served as CEO of Personal Training Systems (PTS) (1991–1995). PTS was acquired by SmartForce/ SkillSoft (Nasdaq SKIL).96 In 2012, Conway founded (and is now chairman of the board of directors of) the San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology and Innovation, or, a 501(c)6 nonprofit organization that advocates for the technology community in San Francisco and includes at least five hundred member companies, including Google, Facebook, and Salesforce. In March 2014, began advocating for impunity for tech companies illegally using public city bus stops. is a continuation (and amplification) of the neoliberal model of public/private partnerships initiated under Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2006, with the formation of various “connects”—privately funded branches of city agencies that absorb services previously run by the city into nontransparent private entities. In 2014, Conway launched One City through, with support from Ed Lee, further enlisting tech companies to solve city crises—companies that a growing number of San Franciscans see conversely as fueling the eviction and inequality epidemics. When a former Facebook millionaire turned investor critiqued Lee for not doing more to mitigate the housing crisis, Conway jumped into a heated debate, defending the mayor he had helped elect. Conway formed an independent political action committee on Lee’s behalf and garnered $700,000 from tech entrepreneurs, including Airtime CEO Sean Parker, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus, Salesforce CEO Marc

Benioff, venture capitalists John Doerr and Tom Byers, and Credit Suisse banker Bill Brady. Soon after, Conway, along with Airbnb board member Reid Hoffman, supported former supervisor David Chiu in the race for State Assembly. Before the race, in 2014, Chiu backed a bill to legalize Airbnb’s practice of converting rental units into hotel rooms, which the company was already doing illegally. With the backing of Conway and Hoffman, Chiu won the race. Conway also backed former supervisor Scott Wiener’s senate bid. Wiener, a YIMBY, has a long history of spewing out policies against houseless people, as described by Toshio Meronek in this chapter. Wiener won the race. After Ed Lee died unexpectedly in December 2017, Conway supported then member of the board of supervisors London Breed for interim acting mayor, even calling on mourners at Lee’s funeral to support Breed for mayor—or else. As was reported, Conway “has the purse strings to make such an implicit threat all too real.”97 Unsurprisingly, Breed won, overcoming more tenant-friendly opponents. In 2018, Breed opposed Proposition C, which mandated that wealthy tech companies contribute funds to help support homeless services. Luckily, Prop C passed regardless.

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The AEMP has created a “Pledge Map,” so that users can look up a given address and determine if there was ever an eviction, and then pledge not to rent or buy from the landlord responsible. We made this tool after learning that the word “boycott” comes from nineteenth-century Ireland, when tenants rose up to enact a rent strike against slumlord “Sir Charles Boycott.”98 This tool is one of many means to boycott serial evictors and real estate speculators. We are especially inspired by tenants like the residents of Midtown Apartments in San Francisco, who, at the time of this writing, are on rent strike. In 1968, redevelopment forced thousands of Black Fillmore residents from their homes. The City of San Francisco established Midtown Apartments for the displaced, and these relocated residents were promised equity ownership. In 2007, tenants paid off the mortgage and the Board of Supervisors made a long-term plan for tenant ownership. However, after falsely reclassifying Midtown as public housing, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Mercy Housing applied for $91 million in income tax credits to level Midtown. There was no plan for tenant relocation. Meanwhile, the tenants were given 30 to 300 percent rent increases and were threatened with eviction for noncompliance. Sixty-five tenants have since gone on a rent strike demanding the reestablishment of rent control and the promised equity ownership. Phyllis Bowie, currently facing displacement, is helping lead this rent strike. As she says in a video interview, “It’s not about people saying you have to get over it, the neighborhood is changing. . . . It’s more about: What about that little Black girl, the 1 percent of the 3 percent of little Black girls that walk down Divisidero Street, and they don’t see themselves? So how can you start reaching for dreams of something that you don’t even think is tangible, if you don’t even see your own people?”

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San Francisco is in Crisis Real-estate speculators are evicting longtime city residents. Many of the a�ected are ELDERLY, DISABLED and LOW-INCOME with no a�ordable housing options. YOU CAN HELP. Don't rent or buy property available because of a no-fault eviction.

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Take a Stand I pledge not to rent or buy any unit that is available as the result of a no-fault eviction. First Name:


55 Dolores St 1

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I Support Housing Justice Leaflet | Map tiles by Stamen Design, CC BY 3.0 — Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors, CC-BY-SA

501 people have pledged Megan O. Housing is a human right, and the Bay Area is in crisis. The very least we can do in the ght for

Anonymous Just testing

Carrie S.

Anonymous sdfdsf

housing justice is refuse to line the pockets of serial evictors

test d. test message

Sara C. I think we should all be dedicated to ending inequality. The lack of a�ordable housing is causing severe poverty.

Lynley C. As a social worker, I know the importance of a�ordable housing in stabilizing families and communities. I have seen communities with little protections and predatory landlords push out residents and evict families, resulting in homelessness and deep poverty. San Francisco should be an example of innovative rental protections and housing policy solutions. Anonymous I believe in providing more a�ordable housing in the city. Jamie C. I am only local now after 13 years. And I have MAD respect for native & multi-generation San Franciscans. I’m still so thankful for my place in your wonderful city. I want to ght for our roots we've set down here. Erin L. Because housing is a human right and greedy landlords should not be able to pro t o� human su�ering. renee c. I am concerned about displacement of low and middle income people. DINIKA G. Because injustice sucks. Because I am nowhere near as

asdas d. Important work. Anonymous Anonymous Yes, Gentri cation is a human right. Thurston H. Gentri cation is a human right. Fuck you low life bastards that think tech people have no right to live where they want. You fucking dirt bags would not even have the internet to bitch on, without tech, you fucking morons. THEROOTmatters l. I am nauseous in the deepest recesses of my soul and spirit that homeowners who rent to tenants do not comprehend that when a tenant rents, the tenant is hiring themselves a homeowner who is to well manage the property that the tenant is to pay for as per the rental agreement/lease. The homeowner who rents has certain obligations and responsibilities to their tenants. No-fault evictions are at the root of one of the worst types of greed. willfully intent on squeezing not only every last penny ou...

Anonymous My family was Ellis'd out of the Mission and spent 8 months homeless. The disruption and the despair was horrible. Joe R. I used to live in SF Bay Area. Never evicted but I want to express my support for those who have been and for this excellent project. Maya G. The housing situation is out of control and one of the greatest engines of inequality! Maria S. I have lived in fear of being homeless. Nobody should be homeless. Nobody should be displaced. Chris A. San Francisco long time residents are getting displaced at astronomical rates. Capitalism, through the hand of the tech industry, is choking this city. Housing is a right, not a privilege. The Board of Supervisors and the mayor have ignored the fatal disease of gentri cation, and they have a moral

Alana F. Everyone deserves a home a place to be without fear

and legal responsibility to change the economic course and crisis of the Bay Area.


Nicole H.

vulnerable as the economically displaced, disenfranchised and discriminated against.

Claudai J. Housing,a�ordable housing is a human right. Our communities need to provide a mix of quality housing for ALL income levels. If cities are welcoming tech companies and their high income renters--they need to commensurately protect and retain lower income tenants and families. We don't want our cities to be for and only those who can pay astronomical prices--and lead to a completely segregated world.

alexis o. I'm a french journalist working on this issues kathleen w. Because the Bay Area is my home and I hate to see it turning into an exclusionary and inaccessible place. Housing is a right. Ziggy C. Gentri cation is evil

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The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project makes visible the ways in which evictions and gentri cation target Bay Area communities. We use maps and digital storytelling to make the often invisible processes of eviction, displacement and gentri cation clearly seen. The search on this site is powered by data from the San Francisco Rent Board. If you have information about a no-fault eviction not shown here, let us know.

Ask your state representative to support Mark Leno & Tom Ammiano's Ellis Act reform bills Encourage your supervisor to put real-estate speculation regulation on the ballot

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Benito Santiago is an educator and musician who has lived in San Francisco all his life. In 2014, he was fighting the Ellis Act eviction he had received from Pineapple Boy LLC with the group Eviction Free San Francisco. In the excerpt below, he describes finding out about his eviction and deciding to fight it.

sounds like you are, then we will stand by you, pro bono. And if for some reason we have to take it to court, well, if you win, you win. If you don’t, we’ll take it to the court, and we’ll see you through the courts.” So we decided to go that route. “As long as you stay together, we’ll be with you.”

BENITO: I get from the landlady that, in November, she wants to give me a new toilet bowl. I say, “Great, after all this time my toilet bowl is breaking down. I’ve been asking for help, and they put a little Band-Aid on the plunger, and it still doesn’t work.” I had to keep using the bucket to flush it. Finally, I get a new toilet bowl, and the next thing I know I get a letter from her; she says, “Oh, we sold the place. We sold it to Pineapple Boy LLC. This is where you’ll send your checks. Don’t send them to me anymore.” That was November. Then I get from Pineapple Boy LLC a letter from them, introducing themselves, and requesting us to—me and cotenants—to buy us out for $20,000 to move out within thirty days—something like that. And we get this during the weekend. There was a delay, so we get it a little bit late in the weekend. We have one week to make a decision. So, I’m talking with my cotenants here. The gentlemen below works for the City and County of San Francisco. He says, “Benito the housing market. . .” or the region market, I don’t know what it is, “. . . is $4,000 per month for one bedroom. So this $20,000 is not going to last a year.” So what do we do? What do we do? So we find out about the Tenants Union. We got some councilmen that redirected us to Tenants Housing Clinic, consulted with them, and they came over and said, “If you are willing to stay, which is

MANISSA: You and the other tenants that live there?

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Benito: Right. So just two other tenants, because the other apartment is vacant. So, in a sense, what I got was, as long as we were united at the front with the notion that we were staying here, we’d have a stronger probability of staying here rather than being bought out. Divided we fall, and united we stand. That’s what I surmised from that. Yeah. So as a result of that, December 2013, we get the Ellis Act notice: “Okay, you’ve been Ellis Acted here’s your $2,500, $2,600, whatever, half of $5,000-something. Now, when you move out, you’ll get the second half.” So we gave that to the lawyer, lawyers, and they put it in a trust or something. MANISSA: What do you think of the housing crisis in San Francisco? You’ve lived in this city your whole life, right? BENITO: Yeah. I’m actually sad, Manissa, I’m really sad to be part of the underdogs that are being displaced. Being born and raised in San Francisco, I mean, I have roots here—more roots here in San Francisco than I have in the Philippines. I speak a little Filipino but basically English. And it’s San Francisco, on top of that. . . . They say, “Benito, are you gonna move out?” I says, “Naw. I was born and raised

here. I’m gonna be recycled here.” You know what I’m saying? I do what I can to be here. Benito and his cotenants fought their eviction, organizing and protesting against their evictor, and took their struggle to the state level in their fight against

the Ellis Act more broadly. Ultimately—through the power of direct action—Benito’s eviction was dropped, and the Community Land Trust bought his building. This was a huge win, as not only is Benito able to stay in his apartment but the building will remain affordable in perpetuity.

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Speculative and predatory housing markets are central causes of displacement and gentrification in the Bay Area, as illustrated throughout this chapter. Community Land Trusts (CLTs) have appeared as an important tactic in resisting these processes. These organizations have committed themselves to acquiring buildings and taking them off the market, while also assisting current tenants in forming housing cooperatives, shifting the power from the developers into the hands of the community.99 In a city like San Francisco, whose government courts the investment of real estate developers and tech companies, the community’s development of organizations such

377 /

as CLTs is an essential tactic for disrupting housing speculation. The CLT model combines economic tools with cooperative principles to help remove housing stock from the market, and it encourages long-term affordability and community building. Its key mechanic is shared equity housing, where the land is purchased by the trust and the tenants are able to own the units built on the land. By removing expensive land values from the equation, residents can establish long-term communities that are not easily evicted or displaced.100 CLTs like the San Francisco Community Land Trust (SFCLT) also help build community power

auction. The owner of the building, Frances Carati, had been dedicated to ensuring the buildings’ tenants affordable housing and had been discussing the idea of Pigeon Palace residents buying the building from her when she died. This changed when she was put under court-ordered conservatorship. After that, the conservator began to make preparations to put the building up for public auction, against the Frances’s wishes. An above market value offer of $2 million was made by the SFCLT before the auction, but the conservator ignored this. When the building was brought to public auction, with several known speculators and serial evictors present, the bidding was fierce, raising the price up to $3.28 million. Luckily, the SFCLT was able to provide this. This kind of victory, especially in the face of such speculation, reveals the anti-capitalist speculative powers CLTs. Within the intensive market and social control of American urban capitalism, the approach that CLTs take is key, using the system of land capital against those who would abuse

beyond the walls of the housing cooperative itself by

it further. The application is collab-

equally dividing governance authority between co-op

orative, bringing people’s lives and dreams beyond

residents, community organizations, and community

encroachment of real estate speculation.101 By imag-

members at large.

ining a different way of life, CLTs continue to make

CLTs have had many victories locally and nation-

space for deeper change and prevent displacement.

ally. The fight for Pigeon Palace is one local example.

It is the beginning of breaking the cycles of dispos-

Tenants from the six-unit building organized for the

session that trap us within systems of debt, profit,

SFCLT to buy the building when it was put up for

and isolation. \ 378


“Colorful, accessible, green.” Vanessa Riles, East Oakland native, activist, and community organizer, paused only briefly before offering this answer to my question about how an alternative future Oakland would look, feel, and function. She added that she would love to see “free health care, free education, free housing—as human rights, to just be free or to buy them with local currency that you get for free— free food.” She then reformulated my question in stronger terms, wondering aloud what it would look like to build a place that was premised on the intentions and actions of loving, supporting, and taking care of each other in a sustainable way. By the end of our interview, she had clearly articulated a city of affinity groups engaging different modes of communal living, each of which would have a leadership council. Each council, in turn, would be governed by a citywide council of members appointed through a truly representational system. She reiterated the importance of collective living and land ownership. Riles’s imaginary stood out for its vividness, and because it does not prescribe a homogenous built environment based on private property rights and “dominant culture.” Riles’s utopic Oakland is founded on shared space, heterogeneity, and hyperlocalism. In these ways, it is a rejection of the modern industrial city and its contemporary derivative: the two-tiered, highly unequal global city, which Oakland is steadily becoming. We live in a moment when the internet and

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global capital are working hard to flatten time and distance, and “creative class” urbanism is homogenizing our cities. Oakland’s position in the popular imagination is approaching the ranks of global cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles. After decades of private and public disinvestment, private capital is streaming into Oakland. New construction—of tall towers, at that—booms across the downtown. The city has been included on lists of the best and most expensive cities to live in. Oakland stands at the edge of an existential shift. This narrative prioritizes mainstream notions of progress and development, and it overrides the voices and stories of people of color, longtime residents, and activists. Its framing of the “old” Oakland and the “new” Oakland obscures long-standing tensions within Oakland, down to the dissonance between the city’s rhetorical commitment to progressive politics and its seeming inability to transcend the American story of spatial, racial, and class-based segregation. Yet Riles’s conception of Oakland is “about resistance, resilience, [and] passion.” This framework has not eased the acute pain of the current displacement crisis, however. She explained, “Watching people I know here be displaced year after year; watching those things that I love about Oakland kind of dissipate or get watered down— whitewashed—it’s sad, it’s hard.” Growing up in the house across the street from where she now lives, she has watched the “neighborhood change over the years, over the decades—I can remember

what it was like when I was a little kid playing in the street versus what it’s like now.” Riles’s vision is an antidote to the growing commodification of city life, to its increasing sense of placelessness and rootlessness. She breaks with urban planning norms and current development trends, calling for an explicit foundation of socioeconomic rights. She embraces the relational nature of city life, through community land trusts, cooperative housing, communal living, and urban gardening. This doesn’t mean “sharing economies,” as defined by high-tech companies but actual solidarity economies that are premised on mutual aid. Her imaginary underscores the value of local economies, local character, and self-determination, but only insofar as they are radically open and inclusive. “I don’t think there’s just one way that’s going to work for everybody,” Riles explained. “We’re way too diverse and different at this point.” And so, despite undeniable loss—the Black population, for example, decreased by an astounding 30 percent from 2000 to 2014—Oakland is still about resistance, resilience, and passion. People of color and their allies across the city are building power by constructing alternatives to the brutality and indifference of global tech capitalism. Two

Black women, an activist and a progressive, challenged the centrist liberal mayor Libby Schaaf in the November 2018 election. The E12th Coalition, a collection of activists, organizers, and equity advocates (of which Riles was a part) ignited a much-needed public dialogue about the proper use of public land across the city by contesting a closed-door deal with a private developer to build luxury condominiums. The Village, a group of housed and unhoused activists and advocates, is working to reclaim public land for the public purpose of building tiny homes for the people who have been pushed out of their homes by unaffordable rents.102 Radical imaginaries like Riles’s only become more important in these moments of contestation. Her alternative pushes back against the notion that people of color in Oakland are against change and new development; change is wanted and possible, but it must be change that will subvert the forms of racialized difference that permeate urban development decisions. Ultimately, Riles believes in an open and pluralistic urbanism founded on shared space. “It wouldn’t be a capitalist Oakland in my wildest dreams.”

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We are protectors of sunflowers, dish rack organizers, big sisters, lazy artists, sandcastle builders, coffee lovers, stuffed animal collectors, and cake hogs. We are city explorers, fried chicken connoisseurs, tower architects, sleepyheads, lily guarders, and hungry chefs. We are lava energy, the no. 1 fans of red velvet cupcakes, radioactive dog poop, succulent planters, water drinkers, and keepers of traditions. We are students at Guadalupe Elementary School, in the Excelsior district. The names of San Francisco streets do not match with who we are. Most San Francisco streets have been named after white men. They were politicians, religious clergy, merchants. Most streets are not named after women or people of color. The people who chose the street names think that white men have been the only influential people. In the Excelsior Neighborhood, our neighborhood, streets have been named after European countries and capitals. The people who named these streets represented themselves and the people and places they felt connected to. We, the people who currently live in the Excelsior, do not feel connected to these names. We are not reflected, we are not represented, because we are from China, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Cuba, the Philippines, Mississippi, Chicago, India, and Peru.103 If we could name the streets, we would do better at helping people feel more connected to the street names. They should be named for not just men but also women, neighbors, every381 /

day workers, people of color, people who inspire us, people who fight against racism, people who help our community, kids, our families, our school, native wildlife, our friends, people who have passed away, those who keep us safe. The streets should be named for the future we want. The names we chose for our streets / districts are precious and personal to us. The street names represent the things that we love, how we think, how we feel, how we act, what makes us . . . us. The six street names that we chose represent: our food our families our comforting belongings parts of our city and neighborhood that make us feel at home cherished items and, finally, the activities that represent our time with family and friends We know our streets names are not just normal street names. They are special to all of us. Special, because they are the things that are always with us, from when we are babies to when we are grown up. we hope that everyone feels at home on the streets that we named.

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE , ANAYA RIVERA This isn’t just a bridge. It’s the bridge that united me with my family I barely knew. It’s the bridge that has always made and always will make

me happy. It’s the bridge that brought me to my new home in San Francisco, the city of gold. I know and will always know when I see the bridge of gold that I’m almost home.

YU-GI-OH CARDS , HERMAN FRIAS ARANA This isn’t just a deck of Yu-gi-oh cards, this matters to me, because my Yu-gi-oh cards are like friends, and I treat them with respect. When I’m playing Yu-gi-oh, if my monsters die, I always try to find a way to bring them back, even if it’s weak. If I lose a card, I don’t stop looking for it until I find it. Each one represents a part of me. For example, “Black Luster Soldier” represents myself and my courage to protect my family, even if I’m scared. “Eater of Millions” represents how I’m always hungry, because I’m skinny. When I get a packet of cards and I open it, I always think about what represents me and what possible ways I can bring it back if it dies. Now you know why my Yu-gi-oh cards are so important, so please don’t ignore the things that matter to other people. CATTY , CASSIEON CANNON This is catty, My best friend. He’s there when I need him. He is my herd. I can’t sleep without him. No one can replace him. He gets me through hard times, like

when I’m sick, I will lay on him, but when I’m really, really sick, I hug him and I say, “It’s going to be okay.” When I’m crying, I take him and run into my mom’s room and hug him. I got him when I was in Pre-K. He was to take to school to take a nap. In the afternoon, when it was nap time, I laid on him and he felt soft. When I took him home that day, I fell asleep with him. That’s how I knew he was my true best friend.

LEGO TOWER , LAWRENCE GUAN My Lego tower is not just a Lego tower. I work on it very hard. I build my Lego tower more than I use my iPad and iPhone. It means a lot to me, because I spend time in it a lot with my family. It is the first thing I see when I walk into my bedroom. It will always be in my room. I love it very much. It means more to me than $1 million. I will never sell it. It’s hard work I’ve done. SUNFLOWER , JIAYI DENG This is not just a sunflower. It matters to me, because when I get lost I can use the sunflower to guide me home. In between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., I go home, and every time I go home I always see shiny and bright sunflowers. My family will say, “Look, Jiayi, sunflowers!” and I will look at them a long time until I get home. At home I eat dinner while I am looking at the sunflowers out the window in the kitchen. The sunflowers are yellow and brown and green. They move because of the strong wind, and their faces follow the sun. My mom and I always go to the sunflower and take some of it and make a food called “cuihuazi,” and we eat it at home in my kitchen. When I see sunflowers, I feel warm just like if I was in my home kitchen. I also go to the sunflowers and stay there all alone when I am sad. \ 382

When I am bored, I tell my friends to come and we go into the sunflowers and play hide-and-seek. The sunflower farm is so big, but I never get lost, because I know the way to get out of the sunflowers. One day I will build a sunflower farm, and I will call my friends to play with me.

SKETCHBOOKS , DARIN VUONG These aren’t normal sketchbooks, because I’ve spent years drawing in them. I have gotten better at drawing from all of this practice. I even had drawing competitions with my brother and my parents. I like to look at the progression of my work by looking at the drawings inside of the sketchbooks. They are full of different old memories from when I was five to nine years old, and I expect there will be more in the future, since I’m still growing. One memory was that I stayed up until 12:00 a.m. drawing. One of my favorite memories was learning how to draw folds on clothes on my own. THIS IS MORE THAN JUST DOG POO . . . This poem is about dog poo. Dog poo is a reminder of my home! Why? Because dog poo is always there when I walk into my garage. I see it, and it smells awful. If it is not at the house, that would mean my dogs are gone, and if they are gone it wouldn’t be my home. Dog poo can be smelly. It can be liquid, mushy, solid, small, or even big. It can be decomposed. It may land outside or inside. It can be hot or cold depending on the time it has been sitting out. It can come out of any dog type. Small, big, medium, and miniature too. Just know this . . . never step on it. 383 /

THIS IS MORE THAN JUST PAPA A LA HUANCAINA . . . Papa a la huancaina represents me. It represents my country, which is the place that my parents were born. It helps me feel at home. It makes my parents feel homesick, but in a good way. It is a part of me. Papa a la huancaina helped my family get through tough times, sad times. It made us healthy and joyful. Papa a la huancaina united my family and filled my stomach. If people stopped making it, I would feel like a part of me is missing. Papa a la huancaina has been a part of my life since I was little. I would come from a tiring day at school, and there it would be sitting on the table. Looking magnificent. Delicious. I used to love being there in the kitchen, eating like I had never eaten anything in my whole life, then getting annoyed when they wouldn’t let me eat more. I love my house because of all the happy memories of me eating papa a la huacaina. If I got kicked out of my house, and my papa a la huancaina was thrown away, my life would not be the same. Ever. If people stopped others from making papa a la huancaina, I would feel upset. To me, papa a la huancaina is more than just food.

THIS IS MORE THAN JUST A DELI SANDWICH . . . Every time on my birthday my parents buy a deli sandwich for lunch. When they buy it, they bring it into the car, and it is for everyone in my family. Not just me. That would be very mean to my family. This deli sandwich is my birthday tradition. My brothers and sisters like how I pick this sandwich for my birthday lunch.

If my deli sandwich was taken away, I would be mad. Mad because my brothers and sisters already like what is for lunch on my birthday. It is tradition. I would not just be mad. I would be sad. When I bite into that deli sandwich, it tastes so good. When I eat that deli sandwich, I have a fantastic time with my family. THIS IS MORE THAN JUST A STARRY NIGHT . . .

A starry night is special, because it holds so many memories. Just by looking at the stars every night when I go outside, I learn from them. I connect them. They make me calm. Those stars outside my house are special, because they have been there for years. The years I have been in my house. Just looking at those stars. They are just really special. I don’t know all the reasons why. But there is just something about those stars. They make me happy. When I’m sad, mad, or normal . . . I can just go outside, get my phone, and look at those beautiful stars.

me want to read to my family. They help me not be bored. And when I am bored, I find a book. Just reading the book makes the boredom stop. If someone stole my favorite book, I would change to a different side of myself. The side that would ignore the person. The side that is not calm until they gave me back my book. I love books, because they make me feel like I am with my brothers. They make me feel like I am safe at home. Safe with my books and my family. THIS IS MORE THAN JUST A ROSE . . . A woman loved a rose. A new man married that woman. That made a new family. The woman became a grandma. A grandma that kept the rose. A rose that became a treasure then passed to her grandson. A treasure to him. Now and forever. When my grandma got married she kept a flower bush. She watered it every single day. The family grew and they planted the flower bush again. One month. Then nine months. Then I was born. I grew with that flower bush. Then I got to plant it again, so it could sit in the sun. Treasured.

THESE ARE MORE THAN JUST BOOKS . . . My books are special to me. When I read my books, I feel calm, not mad. When I feel alone, my brothers pick a book so that I can read to them. My books are important, because they make me want to do things. They make \ 384

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Chapter 7 Endnotes 1. Paula Chakravartty and Denise Ferreira da Silva, “Accumulation, Dispossession, and Debt: The Racial Logic of Global Capitalism—an Introduction,” American Quarterly 64, no. 3 (September 2012): 8. 2. Aimee Bahng, Migrant Futures: Decolonizing Speculation in Financial Times (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017). 3. Maharawal and McElroy contributed to this introduction equally.

4. As noted in a Vice report, the door was unlocked, the house having been previously occupied by squatters and was being neglected by the landlord; Rick Paulas, “The Black Moms Who Occupied a Vacant House and Became Icons of the Homelessness Crisis,” Vice, January 15, 2020, accessed June 7, 2020, 5. Devin Katayama, “We Don’t Want Shelter, We Want Homes,” KQED, November 25, 2019, accessed June 7, 2020,

6. Applied Survey Research, City of Oakland Homeless Count & Survey Comprehensive Report (San Leandro, CA: EveryOneHome, 2019), accessed June 7, 2020, This piece does not focus on the increased policing of unhoused people’s lives, encampments, and belongings in the Bay Area; for more on that subject, see Tony Sparks, “Reproducing Disorder: The Effects of Broken Windows Policing on Homeless People with Mental Illness in San Francisco,” Social Justice 45, nos. 2–3 ( January 2018): 51–200. 7. Leonardo Castañeda and Marisa Kendall, “How Many Vacant Houses Are There Really in the Bay Area?” Mercury News, updated January 6, 2020, accessed June 7, 2020,

8. Moms 4 Housing, Twitter @moms4housing, accessed June 7, 2020,

9. Michael Bott and Sean Beyers, “Examining Wedgewood: A Look at the Home-Flipping Giant in Battle With Homeless Mothers,” NBC Bay Area, accessed June 7, 2020,

10. Manuel B. Aalbers, “Financial Geography II: Financial Geographies of Housing and Real Estate,” Progress in Human Geography 43, no. 2 (April 2019): 376–87; Desireee Fields, “Constructing a New Asset Class: Property-led Financial Accumulation After the Crisis”, Economic Geography 94, no. 2 ( June 2017): 118–40. 11. Bott and Beyers”, “Examining Wedgewood.” 12. Ibid.

13. See Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, Counterpoints: Data and Stories for Resisting Displacement (San Francisco: Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, 2016). 14. Applied Survey Research, City of Oakland Homeless Count & Survey Comprehensive Report.

15. See Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, Counterpoints; Erin McElroy and Alex Werth, “Deracinated Dispossessions: On the Foreclosures of ‘Gentrification’ in Oakland, CA,” Antipode 51, no. 3 (March 2019): 878–98; Margaret M. Ramírez, “City as Borderland: Gentrification and the Policing of Black and Latinx Geographies in Oakland,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 38, no. 1 (May 2019): 147–66. 16. U.S. Census (2019) QuickFacts Population Estimates, accessed June 8, 2020, https://www.census. gov/quickfacts/oaklandcitycalifornia.

17. See Steve King, Who Owns Your Neighborhood? The Role of Investors in Post-Foreclosure Oakland (Oakland: Urban Strategies Council, 2012), accessed June 8, 2020,; Elvin Wyly, Markus Moos, Daniel Hammel, Emanueal Kabahizi, “Cartographies of Race and Class: Mapping the Class-Monopoly Rents of American Subprime Mortgage Capital,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 33, no. 2 ( June 2009): 332–54. 18. See Joseph A. Rodriguez, “Rapid Transit and Community Power: West Oakland Residents Confront BART,” Antipode 31, no. 2 (December 2002): 212–28; Robert O. Self, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003).

19. See Ananya Roy, Stuart Schrader, and Emma Shaw Crane, “Gray Areas: The War on Poverty at 387 /

Home and Abroad,” in Ananya Roy and Emma Shaw Crane, eds., Territories of Poverty: Rethinking North and South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2015), 289–314; Ananya Roy, “Dis/possessive Collectivism: Property and Personhood at City’s End,” Geoforum 80 (March 2017): 1–11; Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019).

20. See Donna Jean Murch, Living for the City: Migration, Education, and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010). 21. Marcus Anthony Hunter and Zandria F. Robinson, Chocolate Cities: The Black Map of American Life (Oakland: University of California Press, 2018), 104.

22. Brandi Thompson Summers, Black in Place: The Spatial Aesthetics of Race in a Post-Chocolate City (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019), 4. 23. Katayama, “We Don’t Want Shelter.” 24. Ibid.

25. Sam Richards, “Letter Says Investors ‘Will Not Meet or Negotiate’ with Moms 4 Housing,”, December 30, 2019, accessed June 8, 2020, 26. Marisa Kendall, Twitter @MarisaKendall, January 14, 2020, accessed June 8, 2020, https://twitter. com/marisakendall/status/1217098252501172224?s=21.

27. Mayor Libby Schaaf has backed notoriously harsh anti-encampment actions during her term, bulldozing informal housing encampments and increasing the surveillance of unhoused people; for more, see Margaret M. Ramírez, “Propertied Liberalism in a Borderland City,” in Libby Porter, Romola Sanyal, Synne Bergby, Kelly Yotebieng, Henrik Lebuhn, Margaret M. Ramírez, Pedro Figueirdo Neto, and Simon Tulumello, “Borders and Refuge: Citizenship, Mobility and Planning in a Volatile World,” Journal of Planning Theory & Practice 20, no. 1, (2019): 99–128. 28. Emma Ockerman, “The Homeless Moms Who Were Evicted from a Vacant Oakland House Might Get the Chance to Buy It,” Vice, January 20, 2020, accessed June 8, 2020, 29. Rally at 2948 Magnolia Street on December 30, 2019, recorded by the author.

30. “Bay Area housing activists say they’ve been working behind the scenes on these measures for years” reported the San Jose Mercury News, but it is all the recent press around Moms 4 Housing that has built the “momentum needed to propel them into law”; Marisa Kendall, “Moms 4 Housing–Inspired Policy Could Shake Up Oakland Real Estate Market,” update February 10, 2020, Mercury News, accessed June 8, 2020, 31. Marisa Kendall, “Oakland Councilwoman Introduces Moms 4 Housing–Inspired Ordinance,” January 30, 2020, Mercury News, accessed July 4, 2020, 32. Kendall, “Moms 4 Housing–Inspired Policy Could Shake Up Oakland Real Estate Market.” 33. Rally at 2948 Magnolia Street.

34. See Michelle Lancione, “Radical Housing: On the Politics of Dwelling as Difference,” International Journal of Housing Policy 20, no. 2 (2020): 273–89; Ananya Roy and Hilary Malson, eds., Housing Justice in Unequal Cities (Los Angeles: Institute of Inequality and Democracy, 2016). 35. Bill Hogeland, Autumn of the Black Snake: The Creation of the U.S. Army and the Invasion That Opened the West (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017); “Washington as Land Speculator,” Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, accessed May 16, 2020, 36. Stuart Banner, American Property: A History of How, Why and What We Own (London: Harvard University Press, 2011). 37. The U.S. Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835, when John Marshall served as Chief Justice.

38. Stuart Banner, How the Indians Lost Their Land: Law and Power on the Frontier (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005). 39. “The Founders and the Pursuit of Land,” Lehrman Institute, accessed May 16, 2020, https://tinyurl. com/ybuc8z6b.

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40. Bill Hogeland, Founding Finance: How Debt, Speculation, Foreclosures, Protests, and Crackdowns Made Us a Nation (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2012).

41. Benjamin Madley, An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846–1873 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016). 42. Marc A. Weiss, The Rise of the Community Builders: The American Real Estate Industry and Urban Planning (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987).

43. Kevin Stein, “Disrupting Displacement Financing in Oakland and Beyond,” California Reinvestment Coalition, June 2018, accessed June 3, 2020,

44. Matthew Green, “How Government Redlining Maps Pushed Segregation in California Cities,” KQED, April 27, 2016, accessed May 16, 2020, 45. “Anti-Displacement Code of Conduct,” California Reinvestment Coalition, accessed May 16, 2020, 46. Early redlined California cities include Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco, Stockton, Fresno, San Jose, San Diego, and Los Angeles. The Port of Stockton was built in 1933, making it an early metropolitan center. 47. Michelle Conlin and Jim Christie, “Stockton: The Town the Housing Boom Broke,” Reuters, March 19, 2012, accessed May 16, 2020,

48. Laurie Goodman and Karan Kaul, “GSE Financing of Single-Family Rentals: What Have We Learned from the Invitation Homes Deal?” Urban Institute, Housing Finance Policy Center, May 2017, accessed May 16, 2020, 49. Keller Easterling, Subtraction (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2014), 18.

50. William K. Reisen, Richard M. Takahashi, Brian D. Carroll, and Rod Quiringm, “Delinquent Mortgages, Neglected Swimming Pools, and West Nile Virus, California,” Emerging Infectious Diseases 14, no. 11 (November 2008): 1747–49. 51. Alex Schafran, “Scenes from Surrendered Homes,” Places Journal, July 2011, accessed May 16, 2020,

52. Alex Schafran, “Origins of an Urban Crisis: The Restructuring of the San Francisco Bay Area and the Geography of Foreclosure,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 37, no. 2 (March 2013): 663–88. 53. Jeannette Neumann, “Plotting a Securitization Sequel,” Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2012, accessed May 16, 2020,

54. Desiree Fields, “Constructing a New Asset Class: Property-Led Financial Accumulation after the Crisis,” Economic Geography 94, no. 2 (March 2018): 118–40. 55. Miriam Axel-Lute, “Renters Rise Again,” Shelterforce: The Voice of Community Development, July 30, 2018, accessed May 16, 2020,; Cian O’Callaghan, Cesare Di Feliciantonio, and Michael Byrne, “Governing Urban Vacancy in Post-Crash Dublin: Contested Property and Alternative Social Projects,” Urban Geography 39, no. 6 (November 2017); Tom Moore and Kim McKee, “Empowering Local Communities? An International Review of Community Land Trusts,” Housing Studies 27, no. 2 (March 2012): 280–90.

56. California Reinvestment Coalition, REO to Rental in California: Wall Street Investments, Big Bank Financing, and Neighborhood Displacement: CRC’s Survey of Community-Based Organizations on the Impact of REO to Rental (San Francisco: California Reinvestment Coalition, 2015), accessed May 16, 2020, 57. Michelle Conlin, “Spiders, Sewage and a Flurry of Fees—the Other Side of Renting a House from Wall Street,” Reuters Investigates, July 27, 2018,

58. David Dayen, “Wall Street Is Spending Big to Protect Its Ability to Jack up Rents in California,” Intercept, October 12, 2018, accessed May 16, 2020,; David Sirota and Andrew Perez, “How California Public Employees Fund Anti-Rent Control Fight Unwittingly,” Guardian, October 23, 2018, accessed May 16, 2020, 59. Rebecca Burns, “Public Pensions Invest Big in Blackstone’s Controversial Rental Properties,” Alja389 /

zeera America, October 16, 2015, accessed May 16, 2020,

60. Originally used for commercial property such as shopping malls, REITs were steadily deregulated. In 1971, REITs were allowed to acquire apartment buildings. In 1985, the first REIT mutual fund was formed. Under the Clinton administration, in 1993, pension funds were allowed to invest in REITS. In 2012, Invitation Homes formed the first single-family home rental REIT. 61. See Chapter 1 for a detailed description of the Ellis Act and how it is used to evict tenants.

62. Ron Winter, “A Militant in Pink Slippers: Remembering an Eviction Fighter,” 48 Hills, December 16, 2014, accessed June 4, 2020, 63. Partly extracted from Erin McElroy and Andrew Szeto, “The Racial Contours of YIMBY/NIMBY Bay Area Gentrification,” Berkeley Planning Journal 29, no. 1 ( January 2017): 7–44.

64. Tim Redmond, “What if the Housing Crisis Is Caused by Too Much Growth?” 48 Hills, November 27, 2017, accessed May 16, 2020,

65. Astroturfing is the deceptive practice of presenting an orchestrated marketing or public relations campaign in the guise of unsolicited comments from members of the public.

66. Newsom’s “Care Not Cash” campaign served to funnel city money for homeless services into the nonprofit industrial complex hole rather than creating stability for the city’s houseless population. 67. David Moisel, “Shame on the SFPD: Police Bring Out the Billy Clubs at a Gay Shame Protest,” San Francisco Bay Guardian, February 12, 2003, accessed May 17, 2020,

68. Toshio Meronek, “Tutors in the Fine Art of Eviction under Fire in San Francisco,” Truthout, June 13, 2014, accessed May 17, 2020, 69. Prisca Carpenter, Toshio Meronek, and Clio Sady, “Hot Rental Market Sparks Suspicions of Landlord Arson in San Francisco,” Aljazeera America, April 2, 2015, accessed May 17, 2020, https://tinyurl. com/mhzfk6k.

70. Policy Advocacy Clinic, Homeless Exclusion Districts: How California Business Improvement Districts Use Policy Advocacy and Policing Practices to Exclude Homeless People from Public Space (Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley Law, 2018), accessed May 17, 2020,

71. Toshio Meronek and Cole Clark, “How Gentrification Is Eroding San Francisco’s Historic Leather District,” them, October 1, 2018, accessed May 17, 2020,; Toshio Meronek, “San Francisco May Soon Have the World’s First Transgender Cultural District,” Vice, February 2, 2017, accessed May 17, 2020, 72. GCA Strategies, “When Winning Counts,” accessed May 17, 2020,

73. Board of Supervisors (public hearing), City and County of San Francisco, November 15, 2016, accessed May 17, 2020, 74. “Treasure Island Cleanup Exposes Navy’s Mishandling of Its Nuclear Past,” Reveal News, February 25, 2014, accessed May 17, 2020,

75. “Former Tetra Tech Workers Sentenced for Falsifying Records in Hunters Point Radiation Cleanup,” NBC Bay Area, May 3, 2018, accessed May 17, 2020, 76. The relationships between stakeholders was originally mapped on the Little Sis platform; for additional sources and research, see “Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island Development,” Little Sis, August 8, 2015, accessed May 17, 2020, 77. Tetra Tech receives its nuclear remediation license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an agency overseen in part by the Senate Environment Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety. Former Senator Boxer was a member of the committee from 1993 until early 2017. 78. Michael Corkery and Craig Karmin, “Calpers Takes Hit on Land Deal,” Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2008, accessed May 17, 2020, 79. “Chairman Willie: Willie Brown’s Not-So-Secret Connection to the Hunters Point Project,” San Francisco Weekly, July 17, 2013, accessed May 17, 2020,

80. “Market Square Tour Book,” Shorenstein Properties LLC, accessed May 2, 2017, unavailable May 17, 2020, \ 390

81. Ericka Lyle, “The Future of Nowhere,” in Erick Lyle, ed., Streetopia (New York: Booklyn, 2015), 132–208.

82. Neil Smith, The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City (London: Routledge, 1996). 83. Tim Redmond, “What Does It Mean to Be a Pro-Tenant Politician in SF?” 48 Hills, December 7, 2015, accessed May 17, 2020, 84. Office of the Controller, Payroll Expense Tax Exclusion in Central Market Street and Tenderloin Area: Economic Impact Report, (San Francisco: City and County of San Francisco, 2011), accessed May 17, 2020,

85. Lamar Anderson, “Urban Game Changer,” Architectural Record, February 1, 2014, accessed May 17, 2020, 86. Louise A. Mozingo, Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014).

87. Laura Crescimano, “The Not-So-Corporate Campus,” Urbanist, January 7, 2012, accessed May 17, 2020, 88. Felicity D. Scott, Outlaw Territories: Environments of Insecurity/Architectures of Counterinsurgency (New York: Zone Books, 2016), 54. 89. “Twitter Careers,” Twitter, accessed May 17, 2020,

90. “NYC Taxi Driver Kills Himself at City Hall After Condemning Uber and Politicians for Financial Ruin,” Democracy Now, February 7, 2018, May 17, 2020,

91. “Market Square Tour Book,” Shorenstein Properties, accessed May 2, 2017, unavailable May 17, 2020, 92. John Stehlin, “The Post-Industrial ‘Shop Floor’: Emerging Forms of Gentrification in San Francisco’s Innovation Economy,” Antipode 48, no. 2 (March 2016): 474–93. 93. Better Market Street, accessed May 17, 2020,

94. Civic Center Commons, accessed May 17, 2020,

95. Dan Frommer, “LEAKED: All of Ron Conway’s Investments Since 2005,” Business Insider, February 4, 2011, accessed May 17, 2020, 96. “Our Team,” SVAngel, accessed June 22, 2020,

97. Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, “Tech Mogul Ron Conway Shakes Down Supervisors to Support London Breed for Mayor,” San Francisco Examiner, January 12, 2018, accessed May 17, 2020, ybs6ohkm. 98. Joyce Marlow, Captain Boycott and the Irish (London: Deutsch, 1973).

99. M. Thompson, “Between Boundaries: From Commoning and Guerrilla Gardening to Community Land Trust Development in Liverpool,” Antipode vol. 47, no. 4 (2015): 1021–42; E.O Wright, Envisioning Real Utopias (London: Verso, 2010). 100. J.E. Davis and A. Stokes, Lands in Trust, Homes That Last: A Performance Evaluation of the Champlain Housing Trust (Burlington: Champlain Housing Trust, 2009). 101. Thompson, “Between Boundaries,” 1021–42. 102. Read more about the Village in Chapter 3.

103. There is, in fact, a street named for Peru in the Excelsior district. It is the only street that matches a country that one of our families comes from.

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Epilogue: Imagining Bay Area Futures MAGIE RAMÍREZ


“Subordination, subjugation, subaltern, literally ‘under the earth,’ racialized populations are buried people. But there is a lot happening underground. Not only coffins, but seeds, roots and rhizomes. And maybe even tunnels and other lines of flight to new worlds, where alternative forms of kinship have room to grow and to nourish other life forms and ways of living.” —Ruha Benjamin1 “We don’t want to own the land, we want to take responsibility for this land. We want to build a new relationship or idea of land” —Johnella LaRose2

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What foreseeable futures exist for the San Francisco Bay Area? As we compile the writings, data and imagery that make up this atlas in early 2019, we can only speculate what the Bay will look like in another ten years’ time. In this moment of rampant tech extraction, of vast displacement and dispossession of the region’s low-income residents, what future awaits the Bay in this moment that feels like late capitalism? Where do we go from here? If the current moment of speculation and extraction in the Bay Area is fueled by the anti-blackness of racial capitalism and the theft of Indigenous land and erasure of Indigenous peoples through settler colonialism,3 then perhaps to envision a more livable and sustainable urban future of these Ohlone territories requires a centering of Black and Indigenous futurities.

As is demonstrated across this atlas, the Bay Area’s Black population has been disproportionately dispossessed of their homes through processes of predatory lending, foreclosure, and eviction. Black communities in the Bay Area are experiencing the latest iteration of generational forms of dispossession in which “Black populations are conceptually unable to legitimately create space” due to the anti-blackness inherent in the capitalist system this country was founded upon.4 Gentrification, as a process of racialized dispossession, is “predicated on the assumption that Black communities are displaceable, a-spatial actors, as these new zones of accumulation remain available due to the denial of Black spatial agency and concrete removal of Black populations from their lived spaces.”5 Therefore, if anti-blackness is embedded into capitalist extraction, then perhaps to build futures beyond the capitalist nightmare the Bay Area is experiencing means to follow the spatial methods of grassroots Black resistance and the imaginings of Black futurities. A central thread of this atlas has also been to refuse the erasure of Indigenous peoples and Indigenous land from conversations of gentrification and urban space. As demonstrated in chapter 2, the Indigenous geographies of the Bay Area offer a more nuanced understanding of how the racial capitalist forces that are restructuring the Bay Area in the current moment are intertwined with the forces of settler colonialism that have been violently dispossessing Indigenous peoples and their land since Spanish missionaries founded Mission Dolores in San Francisco in 1776. The Indigenous geographies represented in this atlas are not only offering deeper histories of dispossession and resistance in the Bay Area, but the words of Corrina Gould and Johnella LaRose in particular are an offering of the futures already being envisioned and put into practice by Sogorea Te’ Land Trust. The Ohlone and Indigenous

futurities that Sogorea Te’ is cultivating offer a tangible vision for the Bay Area: How might returning the land to Ohlone stewardship plant the seeds for more sustainable Bay Area futures? If Bay Area residents wish to build a more holistic urban future for this place we know and love, grassroots organizing led by Black, Indigenous, and communities of color (BIPOC) are already imagining autonomous futures. How might Bay Area residents funnel resources and labor to work in constellation with the futures being envisioned and put into practice by BIPOC organizers?6 Perhaps to build sustainable Bay Area futures, following the leadership of long-term Bay Area Black and Indigenous organizers, also involves a rejection of notions of private property. Looking to the generations of Black resistance that have been born in Oakland, the Black Cultural Zone (BCZ) Collaborative offers an example of how futures have been and are being woven by the Bay Area’s Black geographies. Fueled by the efforts of EastSide Arts Alliance, a Black, Latinx, and Asian collective founded in the late 1990s with roots in the Black Panther Party, the BCZ Collaborative has been organizing since 2015 to build a Black cultural zone in East Oakland that uses culture as an engine to strengthen the Black community and to help prevent Black displacement. Working with East Oakland residents, government agencies, churches, and grassroots organizers, the BCZ Collaborative utilizes “a strategy of building power, securing land, and directing more dollars to community driven projects so we can secure a foothold in East Oakland that finally allows our neighborhoods to thrive.”7 The Black Cultural Zone and hub along International Boulevard that the Collaborative is proposing would serve as a cultural center, but also as a foothold in East Oakland for Black employment, education, collective organizing around issues pertinent to the Black \ 394

community in the face of rampant displacement. As Elena Serrano, the Program Director of EastSide Arts Alliance, elaborates, “Black people need places to live in Oakland, places to work in Oakland, and places to gather and celebrate. It’s not just about making money, it’s about building social capital.”8 The BCZ Collaborative’s vision of an autonomous space in East Oakland that is made by and for the city’s Black residents envisions a future for Oakland that extends beyond the current moment of tech speculation and violent capitalist extraction. The Black Cultural Zone being envisioned for East Oakland seems to align with Katherine McKittrick’s theorizations of the futures brought into being by “black geographies as the sites where particular forces of empire (oppression/resistance, black immortality, racial violence, urbicide) bring forth a poetics of a decolonial future . . . our future modes of being may hinge on a decolonial poetics that reads black dispossession as a ‘question mark.’”9 How might the BCZ Collaborative, woven of Oakland’s Black geographies, offer a rendering of what forms of Black urban futures can exist in the Bay Area despite/beyond racial capitalism? What do these Black futurities impart for the Bay Area’s geographic futures more broadly? As the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust and the BCZ Collaborative demonstrate through their organizing, visions of community-based autonomous futures do not typically work within the confines of private property. As Indigenous theorist Mishuana Goeman articulates, “deconstructing the discourse of property and reformulating the political vitality of a storied land means reaching back across generations, critically examining our use of the word land in the present, and reaching forward to create a healthier relationship for future generations.”10 At a ceremony marking the opening of Rammay, a garden in West Oakland 395 /

that was returned to Indigenous stewardship in January 2019, Johnella LaRose from Sogorea Te’ spoke: “We don’t want to own the land, we want to take responsibility for this land. We want to build a new relationship or idea of land.” These new relationships to land that LaRose and Sogorea Te’ envision exist beyond capitalist notions of private property. The futures being woven by Sogorea Te’ extend beyond property and even beyond capitalism, building a more relational conception of land that is premised on Indigenous futurities and a collective responsibility to one another and the land. This atlas has built an archive of a particular period of economic crisis in the Bay Area, in which low-income people have been dispossessed at a rapid rate, and the terrain upon which many Bay Area residents stand remains unstable. This epilogue has sought not to summarize what the AEMP collective and its dozens of collaborators have woven into the pages of this text but, rather, to consider where to go from here, at these pages end. It may seem daunting to imagine the Bay Area’s future after witnessing the systematic dispossession that is documented in this text, both in narrative and numbers. However, perhaps it is not necessary to imagine a future anew so much as to recognize how Bay Area futures are already being woven all around us in a myriad of forms. The question then becomes: How are the readers of this atlas working in constellation with BIPOC movements to imagine collective futures that we all want to live within?

Epilogue Endnotes 1. Thank you to Adrienne Hall for the quote: Ruha Benjamin. (2018, July) Black AfterLives Matter: Cultivating Kinfulness as Reproductive Justice. Boston Review, July 16, 2018, accessed November 1, 2020, 2. LaRose is quoted from the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust ceremony marking the opening of Rammay, a plot of land returned to Ohlone stewardship in West Oakland, January 19, 2019.

3. Adam Bledsoe and William Jamaal Wright, “The Anti-Blackness of Global Capital,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 37, no. 1 (February 2019): 5; Patrick Wolfe, Settler Colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology: The Politics and Poetics of an Ethnographic Event (Writing Past Colonialism Series) (London: Cassell 1999). 4. Bledsoe and Wright, “The Anti-Blackness of Global Capital,” 5. 5. Ibid, 13.

6. This reference of constellation is drawn from Leanne Simpson’s writings on constellations of co-resistance: Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017).

7. “About the Black Cultural Zone (BCZ),” Eastside Cultural Center, accessed November 2, 2020, 8. Bay Area News Group, “Oakland Voices: Eastside Arts Alliance and Building a Black Cultural Zone in Oakland,” East Bay Times, May 10, 2016, accessed November 2, 2020,

9. Katherine McKittrick, “Plantation Futures,” Small Axe: a Caribbean Journal of Criticism 17, no. 3 (November 2013): 5.

10. Mishauna Goeman, “From Place to Territories and Back Again: Centering Storied Land in the Discussion of Nation-Building,” International Journal of Critical Indigenous Studies 1, no. 1 (2008): 24.

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