Getting the Local San Francisco chapter of the Sierra Club Back on Track



Renters Federation asks “What Would John Muir Do?” Join the Sierra Club by the deadline today (10/6) and vote for what you think is best in the their upcoming local chapter election.

Earlier this year, some of the members of our group started to notice that a lot of much needed housing in San Francisco was opposed by “The Sierra Club”. One example was on a flyer from a group of landowners called “Grow Potrero Responsibly”, but you can see it all over. 

We couldn’t understand why at first. Upon closer inspection we realized that the endorsement was actually a lie. The Sierra Club had not, in fact come out against the housing the housing development in question. The LOCAL GROUP in San Francisco had. They are supposed to make it clear on their endorsements, but didn’t.

Frankly, as housing activists and environmentalists, we felt a little betrayed. None of it had anything to do with saving forests or wildlife. In fact, opposing sensible infill development only encourages sprawl somewhere else. People don’t disappear just because you don’t build for them, and in those locations, they will use more gas, more water, more natural resources in general, than if they had lived in the City. This kind of Not In My Back Yard thinking is exactly what SFBARF was formed to fight.  We believe we can continue to grow our great city while still protecting Nature. The two are not antithetical.

And that is how our now famous campaign started.

Judging by the reaction in the NIMBY-mouthpiece 48 Hills blog today, you would think that SFBARF is the number one enemy of the environmental movement in California, but our position basically lines up with the Nature Conservancy’s, and even the National Sierra Club’s. It is mostly a generational issue. A lot of older environmentalists got so used to opposing anything associated with developers in the 60′s and 70′s that they reflexively oppose almost all construction, but at a time when not building housing is makign prices rise at astronomical rates, this simply isn’t the best way forward. Instead of adapting to the current needs of the city and Nature, many have chosen to characterize us as “shills of developers” etc. – criticisms we have heard many times before, which don’t cary much weight

In fact, characterizing SFBARF as against the Sierra Club isn’t correct at all. One of our members works for the US Forest Service. Another works for the National Sierra Club. Many of us have considered ourselves environmentalists our whole lives, and have participated and donated to other environmental organizations over the years.

To date, we have raised over $1500 for the Sierra Club with this campaign to fix the local chapter. That is just from the people we have been getting to sign up. Since the backlash has been so huge, and so many NIMBY groups have been emailing their members to also join to stop us, we expect that the actual amount raised is much higher. 

We are incredibly happy about this. You see, when you donate, the money goes to the National organization, which we think does a lot of good work. 

So for us, or against us, please join by the deadline TODAY OCTOBER 6th.

And if you want to stop the local NIMBYs who have packed the local group of the Sierra Club and vociferously opposed 4-story developments in Potrero Hill, affordable housing in the Tenderloin, and other urban infill projects that have nothing to do with the environment, and everything to do with promoting sprawl in the region, then go to this page and enter your information. We will keep you updated about how to vote. Most of the candidates we are supporting are long time members of Sierra Club (before SFBARF was even formed) who have been trying to change the Club from the inside for ages. We are just lending our voice to theirs

And if you are still on the fence, and you want more info about SFBARF and our work the last several months to reform the SF Sierra Club, read the archives of our mailing list and decide who you agree with. 

– written by Jon Schwark 

@vjon on twitter

If you’re a pro-urban, anti-sprawl, pro-housing YIMBY like me, this is worth your fifteen bux.  You can even get a messenger bag out of it!*

* You don’t need to take the messenger bag if you already have a large quantity of messenger bags.

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