A Bay Area pro-development political action committee failed in its recent effort to take over the San Francisco chapter of the Sierra Club. San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation (SFBARF) accused the Sierra Club chapter of opposing all development, even infill projects, and ran its own slate of candidates in a month-long Executive Committee election with the hope of directing the environmental group's future lobbying efforts in a more pro-development direction.
While the official vote count has not been released, the Examiner reports that SFBARF's slate of candidates was handily defeated "nearly three to one." (One of the elected candidates, Howard Strassner, was in fact supported by SFBARF but he has said that he neither asked for nor wanted the group's endorsement, according to SF Gate.)
A recent Vice investigation into SFBARF's efforts documents how the group took to Reddit with the goal of enlisting 200 Redditors to pay the $15 it costs to join the ranks of the SF Sierra Club chapter, thus allowing the new SFBARF-aligned members to vote in a leadership of SFBARF's choosing.
The Examiner puts some of the blame for SFBARF's failure in the Sierra Club election on controversy surrounding one candidate, Donald Dewsnup, and makes reference to his "Trump-like toxicity."
Despite the solid trouncing the group received in the election, SFBARF has not given up in its attempt to redirect the Sierra Club. Sonja Trauss, SFBARF's founder, told SFGate that the PAC would likely try again.
"If the [Sierra Club] executive committee continues to oppose height limit increases and smart infill, we’ll probably try again next year,” she explained. “It's a hard election to win because most Sierra Club members who agree that opposing infill development promotes sprawl and is therefore anti-environmental, have already quit the Sierra club.
"They choose exit over voice," suggested Trauss.
These election results suggest that members of the San Francisco chapter of the Sierra Club still have a voice, and it's one that's loudly unified against SFBARF.