(UPDATE, 12/7/18: California State Sen. Scott Wiener is now rebooting his pro-gentrification, fatally flawed bill SB 827. Killed in committee earlier this year, it has a different title — SB 50 — but the bill still benefits corporate, luxury-housing developers. Like its predecessor, SB 50 will worsen gentrification and displacement throughout California.)
Los Angeles housing activists stormed the stage yesterday as State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) spoke to his favorite crowd — real estate professionals and the economists who back them. Wiener was a featured panelist at the UCLA Anderson June 2018 Economic Outlook event, continuing his cozy relationship with corporate developers and the real estate industry.
Displaying a banner that read “Wiener Owned by Big Real Estate,” the disruption emphasized Wiener’s ties to the corporate 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 thousands 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,” said Susan Hunter, an organizer with the LA Tenants Union who protested Wiener’s panel, ” and refused to acknowledge that this is a crisis made by many of the people in the room and sponsors of the event.”
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 in April, 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.”
Characteristically, at the event, Wiener acted as if the activists weren’t even there.