Measure A opponents tell a smooth, sweet story about Helen Sause and HOMES, and how they are so concerned about affordable housing on Alameda Point. The truth about Helen Sause’s track record isn’t that sweet, however.
Helen Sause was the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency’s (SFRA) Project Director for Yerba Buena Gardens for 17 years. Yerba Buena Gardens was an 87-acre urban redevelopment project in the South of Market (SOMA) district of San Francisco. It includes a mixture of housing, open space, cultural facilities, children’s facilities, a convention center and commercial development. The redevelopment area was defined in 1961, and demolition began in 1967. From 1969 to 1975, there were various lawsuits filed that halted the development. One was the successful 1970 to 1973 lawsuit by the Tenants and Owners in Opposition to Redevelopment (TOOR).
TOOR was an organization of poor and elderly tenants living in rundown residential hotels and apartments in the redevelopment area. Their lawsuit forced the SFRA to provide for low-income housing on the Yerba Buena site. 963 living units for the homeless, hotel tenants and persons with disabilities were created. The poor, elderly and minorities that didn’t receive housing in the new Yerba Beuna Gardens were brushed aside to San Francisco neighborhoods like Bayview and Hunters Point.
The SFRA fought the TOOR lawsuit for four years. Helen Sause is no angel descended from Heaven to save affordable housing for low-income families. The Yerba Buena Gardens project she managed drove low-income people out of their homes and provided for the elderly and poor only after a protracted lawsuit. The Yerba Buena Gardens web site gives credit to Helen Sause for getting the project done. Helen Sause is no altruistic community activist, but a well-connected, well-tenured, big-money property developer. It would seem that Helen Sause and HOMES want to transform Alameda Point into some version of downtown San Francisco.