Matt Haney is considering running for the State Assembly. He will push housing policies with which he has not always agreed


Three years ago, Supervisor Matt Haney defeated Sonja Trauss, co-founder of the YIMBY movement to build more housing everywhere, to win her seat as District Six representative at San Francisco City Hall.

In a debate, Haney questioned Trauss’ insistence that solving the city’s severe housing crisis meant forcing every neighborhood to acquire more housing units. He said he would focus on his district, which includes the net and the southern market, without haranguing others.

“I am not going to look for fights on the other side of town,” he said. “In fact, I will fight for all of you people in District Six. “

But now Haney has changed her housing air, and for good reason. It formalizes an open secret. He is running for the State Assembly to replace David Chiu, who is expected to be appointed soon by the Mayor of London Breed as the city’s attorney. Chiu would replace Dennis Herrera after his expected appointment as head of the Public Utilities Commission.

And in describing why he wants to go to Sacramento, Haney sort of sounds like a YIMBY, the jab at NIMBYism which stands for Yes in My Backyard.

“We have a housing crisis, a climate crisis and a homelessness crisis in our state,” he said in an interview. “When only a small set of areas build housing or supportive housing services, that will never solve the problem. It’s true in our city, and it’s even more true statewide.

He said building more housing near jobs will be his priority, helping to cut long emissions-spitting car journeys and allowing more people to live in cities rather than in rural areas prone to fire. Forest.

He supports twin bills signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom – SB9 and SB10 – to essentially eliminate single-family zoning across California and make it easier to build duplexes and small apartment buildings. He said the state “must grow on this progress every year.”

He’s backing the state by taking tougher legal action against cities that don’t meet their housing requirements (San Francisco is to build an additional 80,000 units by 2031), and he said he believed that the same idea could work to force cities to add more homeless support services and more mental health treatment beds.

He’s still the only supervisor pledging to back Rafael Mandelman’s legislation to allow quads on any single-family lot in town – or even just corner lots.

And he weighs on projects outside his district, the same practice for which he rang Trauss in their race.

It supports the project of a social housing complex in the Sunset District and the purchase of the Kimpton Buchanan Hotel in Japantown to make it permanent supportive housing for the homeless. Both are fiercely opposed by some neighbors.

Haney explained that he now has “a deeper understanding” that a supervisor should focus on local quality of life issues and push for housing and services to be added to all neighborhoods.

So is Haney that word that thrills some wealthy homeowners who value property above all else? Is it a YIMBY? He seemed surprised by the question, stopping and stumbling over his words before answering.

“I’ve never identified myself that way, but there are a lot of things I agree with these people,” he said. “Of course we need more housing of all types. “

Laura Foote, executive director of YIMBY Action, said it doesn’t matter what Haney calls himself, but she hopes he’s part of a growing shift among progressives to embrace pro-housing views.

“It’s already starting to happen, and if you want to be a part of that development, that’s great,” she said.

There is another label that makes Haney even more uncomfortable. Some political insiders believe he is positioning himself more on the moderate side of San Francisco’s extremely narrow political spectrum in his bid for the state assembly. After all, his best-known competitor is the pure progressive David Campos, the former supervisor who is now chief of staff to District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

Their other naysayers are Bilal Mahmood, a scientist and startup founder, and Thea Selby, a board member for the City College of San Francisco, a marketing company owner and public transportation supporter.

Haney’s political consultant is Ace Smith, who has long worked for the city’s most middle-of-the-road politicians, including Vice President Kamala Harris, Governor Gavin Newsom and US Senator Dianne Feinstein.

While Haney hasn’t disowned the YIMBY label, he swears he’s not a moderate – not even a little bit. His response may have smashed a record for the number of times it included the word progressive, and he cited a range of policies as evidence: supporting the operation and purchase of refuge hotels, defending the first national tax. on CEO salaries, and the introduction of legislation urging the mayor to declare a drug overdose emergency and open the country’s first safe consumption site.

He also highlighted practical improvements that are also incremental – like the addition of more Big Belly bins, more Pit Stop public toilets, more bike lanes and lower speed limits in the Tenderloin to make the neighborhood cleaner. and safer for residents often overlooked by town hall. .

The 39-year-old said he would be the rare tenant not to own a car to work in the Sacramento Legislature. He rents an apartment on Hyde Street and plans to commute on Amtrak.

“I think our politics in San Francisco can often be more about the team you’re on, and I think in Sacramento it has to be about what you can do,” he said.

If Haney wins, his legislative assistant Honey Mahogany is considering running for his seat. She would be San Francisco’s first transgender and first drag queen supervisor. She also enthusiastically supports her boss’s Assembly run.

“Matt Haney is one of the brightest and most successful elected officials I have ever met,” she said. “I know how hard he works to create positive change for our community. “

I asked Haney a series of questions to get a feel for his political stance as he entered the race for assembly. Streets without cars? He argues that the Great Highway and JFK Drive are definitely becoming car-free and wants more. High-speed railroad? He wants to help get it back on track after lawmakers ended their session without approving $ 4.2 billion in bonds to continue building it.

The burrito shop El Farolito brouhaha? He wants the board to introduce a voting measure that gives supervisors the power to change chain store checks rather than taking them in front of voters every time. Does the school board call back? He will vote to recall Alison Collins, but not Gabriela López or Faauuga Moliga, claiming that Collins’ anti-Asian tweets and the $ 87 million lawsuit “do not reflect someone who should rule our schools.”

He wants to continue pushing for changes to the California Environmental Quality Act, a state law that is sometimes used to stop housing and transit projects. This includes making it harder for a person to stop emergency transit improvements, legislation he advocated with Breed but which was stuck on the board. He will also resume Chiu’s unsuccessful quest to gain state approval for San Francisco to implement an automated speed enforcement to slow traffic.

While Haney is widely described as friendly and sympathetic, some of his fellow board members dislike what they see as his tendency to say what people want to hear and his short attention span. Mandelman, for example, said he appreciated Haney’s lukewarm support for his quadruple legislation, but said he had not co-sponsored him or even had a meaningful discussion with him about it.

“I’m not going to fight with Matt Haney by my side and frankly we’re going to have to do a lot more than quads,” Mandelman said. “He’s nice, and that’s going a lot, because not all of my colleagues are nice. He is very good at making you think he agrees with you.

Mandelman and five other supervisors endorse Campos. Just Shamann Walton has so far signed for Haney. Mandelman called Campos is “a straight shooter”.

The local YIMBY chapter is also torn in its approval process – wrestling with whether to approve Haney, whose pro-housing positions are newer and less solid, or Mahmood, who is a certain ally but lesser known. .

Haney replied that it is not the endorsements that will decide the race.

“I will make my point to the voters based on what I have done and what I will do for the San Franciscans,” he said.

One thing is certain, it is preparing for a juicy election season.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Heather Knight appears on Sundays and Wednesdays. Email: hknight@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @hknightsf



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