SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Just when you thought San Francisco couldn’t lean any further to the left politically, voters elected Dean Preston, a democratic socialist, to the Board of Supervisors.
“I think people are ready for bolder solutions around housing and recognize what’s happening and want to change it,” Preston said.
Preston is an attorney turned advocate, best known for founding Tenants Together and writing Proposition F, which guarantees legal counsel for anyone facing eviction.
He wants to see San Francisco build 10,000 affordable units in the next 10 years, wants to make Muni free by 2025 and create city-owned social housing on public land, and he wants to see it done without worrying about how to incentivize developers.
“So much of the discussion is what makes it feasible or not feasible for the developer…we have to change that or the situation will get worse,” Preston said.
He also doesn’t subscribe to the theory that building more market rate housing will stabilize rents, something we regularly hear from big city mayors like Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
“When you add supply and build luxury housing for wealthy people to move into, its less likely they will displace people who have been here all along,” Schaaf said.
“When I was growing up, it was Republicans advancing that theory that you create things for those who are well-off and the benefits trickle down to everyone else. It doesn’t work in housing, in a hot real estate market,” Preston said.
He’s also promising a navigation center in District 5, something his predecessor was unable to do, in a city where building these centers has proven difficult.
“There’s no excuse for such a large homeless population and no navigation center,” he said.
Another priority for Preston is landlord licensing. “Some people think it’s a real radical idea to do landlord licensing, I think it’s a radical idea not to. We’ve had landlords who have been prosecuted for their conduct and when they get out of jail they can buy five apartment buildings and victimize new tenants, that makes no sense whatsoever,” he said.
He ran against Mayor London Breed for supervisor and lost in 2016. Many anticipate he’ll make Mayor Breed’s life difficult inside City Hall.
“I think we have a different philosophy, I don’t sugar coat that,” Preston said.
Like most left-leaning liberals, he’s nothing if not altruistic. Preston says his top priority is keeping long standing San Franciscans in place.
“If we don’t start thinking of housing like we think of water and power and basic things that we rely on, if we don’t take that approach with housing, I’m fearful for what this city will become,” he said.
Preston doesn’t have much time to accomplish these goals. He’s up for reelection in November of 2020.