Negotiating tactic, empty threat, or real plan, the idea floated last week that San Francisco might annex our southern neighbor city of Brisbane is now moot (if it ever wasn't).
#Brisbannex, as surely everyone (and not just me) was calling the idea, was provocative. It got the people going: Brisbane Mayor Cliff Lentz called it “unthinkable” bullying according to the San Jose Mercury News. But now that's off the table, as the Chronicle implies a private meeting between Peskin and Brisbane Mayor Cliff Lentz sorted some things out. “We had a nice visit," the Chron quotes Supervisor Aaron Peskin who is maybe quoting the Godfather. "They’ve heard us,” he said, seeming to indicate Lentz was ready to push for housing his city has so far stalled on plotting out.
If Brisbane wouldn't build housing, the suggestion appeared to be, San Francisco would annex it and build the damn housing. "SF is happy to build housing on Brisbane Baylands — 684 acres of vacant land," Kim put it on Twitter. Brisbane, a municipality of just 4,000 residents, has been criticized for its Baylands plan, which would develop 8 million square feet of commercial space without any accompanying housing. As it stands, the plan would create an unfair burden for other cities in the region, chiefly San Francisco, where perhaps you've noticed there's already no housing.
Brisbane's Planning Commission voted to recommend that their City Council reject housing on the Baylands site, purchased for development more than 10 years ago by Universal Paragon Corp. Some online commenters (probably from Brisbane) have pointed out that the Baylands site contains toxic waste — True! They'll have to clean it up for commercial development anyway, so that doesn't rule out housing. So, to put Brisbane's feet to the coals, Kim and her fellow progressive Supervisors David Campos and Aaron Peskin proposed a resolution "urging Brisbane to adopt a responsible Land Use Plan for this area that will include needed workforce housing."
Before meeting with Peskin privately, Mayor Lentz spoke publicly in front of the Board of Supervisors, running out his three minutes of allotted time well before he finished reading a long letter to the Board. While it wasn't clear if the Board members planned to let him continue or not, it sounds like Scott Wiener insisted on it. “We’re talking about conquering a neighboring town,” Wiener said according to the Chron. “We can let him finish his letter.”
Per the Merc, Wiener called annexation as proposed by Kim, his current rival for a state senate seat, "bizzare." His hope, he said, was that "we can have an intelligent regional discussion about how we can work together to address our housing crisis, rather than aggressively threaten to take over our neighbor.” Aaron Peskin appears to have felt differently about the maneuver. "I guess we got their attention, huh?” the Chron quotes him as bragging.