Yesterday, Los Angeles housing activists stormed the stage as California State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) spoke to his favorite crowd — real estate professionals and the economists that back them. Wiener was a featured panelist at the UCLA Anderson June 2018 Economic Outlook event, hosted in partnership with UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate and focused on California’s rising housing prices.
Displaying a banner that read, “Wiener Owned by Big Real Estate,” the disruption emphasized Wiener’s ties to the Big Banks and real estate interests who are responsible for the state’s housing affordability crisis. Outside, more protesters marched around the building chanting, “Wiener Kills Neighborhoods!” and “Wiener’s for sale!”
Since the start of his political career on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Wiener has raked in campaign cash from developers and big real estate, including corporate landlords notorious for evicting tenants.
“They reduced the housing affordability crisis to a series of simplistic graphs, and refused to acknowledge that this is a crisis made by many of the people in the room and sponsors of the event,” said Susan Hunter, an organizer with the LA Tenants Union who protested Wiener’s panel.
Big real estate’s influence over Wiener is also readily apparent in the bills he authors. Wiener’s most infamous bill SB 827, which failed in the state’s Senate Transportation and Housing Committee on April 17 this year, would have let developers bulldoze existing affordable housing and incentivize mass displacement in historically low income communities to build luxury towers near transit stops.
“Wiener claims that his solution to the housing affordability crisis is to replace affordable housing with luxury units,” said Jorge Castañeda, a community organizer with the Coalition to Preserve L.A. “He advocates for so-called ‘solutions’ that are really just handouts to Big Tech, developers, and corporate landlords — a legislative agenda that’s especially harmful to our most vulnerable residents.”