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City Politics: 'Plan C' Is for Those Who Don't Like 'Plan A' or 'Plan B'
By Erin O'Briant
Remember back when the Board of Supervisors voted to ban new tenancies-in-common in San Francisco? It was more than a year ago, in July of 2001. You may have been pleased; you may have been indifferent. Noe Valley resident Bob Hannan, however, was livid. And so were the friends who gathered in his living room soon after the supervisors' votes were cast. Many of them owned TICs themselves--individual flats in homes or apartment buildings--and had bought them to finally get out of the rent race.
That night, Hannan, together with attorney Mike Sullivan and a handful of others, hatched what would become Plan C -- a grassroots advocacy group hoping to provide an alternative to the city's political establishment. In the year since that first meeting, Plan C has jumped in membership from six to 550.
Hannan, Sullivan, and their cohorts felt the board's TIC decision was a slap in the face to voters (who had voted down a similar measure) and bad policy to boot. Frustrated with both the Brown mayoral administration (Plan A) and what Sullivan calls "the Tom Ammiano, Bay Guardian, and others alliance" ("Plan B"), the group set out to make sensible changes in laws that affect the quality of life in San Francisco. Led by an 11-member board of directors, Plan C has tackled topics such as homelessness, real estate development, home ownership, and clean streets.
"I think Noe Valley is a reflection of the city as a whole," Hannan says. He bought his home, a tenancy-in-common located on 28th Street near Dolores, six years ago. But now that TICs are banned, he points out, middle-income renters who'd like to become homeowners have little chance of settling in the neighborhood. "I was a renter and I was able to purchase a property that's a TIC and was pleased to be able to do so. But I would be unable today to buy the property that I live in."
Though Plan C was germinated here in the neighborhood, members hail from areas throughout the city--the Haight, Bernal Heights, the Castro, and Nob Hill, among others. The leaders don't have statistics on Noe Valley residents, but say that between a third and a fourth of the membership comes from District 8, which includes Noe Valley.
Plan C isn't a conservative organization, though the organization's policies are at times closer to the political center than those of San Francisco's leaders. "The classic Plan C member is the liberal who cares about his or her neighborhood and wants to see the city run effectively," Sullivan explains. "[That person] wants to live in San Francisco because it's the best city in the country and is just upset that in many ways the current policies are running the city into the ground." Most members of Plan C haven't been involved in politics before, he says.
In July, Plan C filed the necessary papers to become a political action committee (PAC), enabling it to raise money for candidates and ballot measures. Plan C also has put its full weight behind the HOPE initiative, which seeks to provide TIC home ownership options for renters without causing evictions. In addition, the group is backing Care Not Cash, Supervisor Gavin Newsom's proposed changes in homelessness policy. If these issues are decided in their favor in the Nov. 5 election, Plan C members will turn their attention toward legislation that will help clean up the city's streets.
"What a paradox that we live in the most beautiful city in the country but the streets are filthy," Sullivan notes. "That will probably be a project for 2003."
Perhaps by then, he says, our city's Board of Supervisors will think twice before automatically voting with Plan A or Plan B.
To find out more about Plan C, visit www.plancsf.org or call 759-5118.