A Fete for Community Solidarity

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They have the multi-billion dollar Bay Area real-estate industry and a legion of the best lawyers money can buy.

All we have are our own voices.

And raising them together.

I confess, I was not familiar with The Shop at Flywheel Press until they brought to the public’s attention yet another instance of a small community arts organization being bullied by big landlords.

I will say though, I and a good number of other people attended The Shop’s First Friday event last night.

I guess, in that sense, the Shop has achieved at least one important human victory and succeeded at doing what so many of us would like to do: bring people together around art and its continued existence.

Below is a letter I have just sent to the San Mateo Daily Journal in the attempt to galvanize support for The Shop and, more generally, to encourage voters to pass into law the renters’ protections which are so woefully needed right now throughout our region.

 

The Fight for a Vibrant Community

The outrageous behavior of SC Properties against a small community arts organization, The Shop at Flywheel Press, underscores how renters have zero power in our system. So much so that I was even afraid of sending this letter, in fear that SC Properties might further punish The Shop. Let me just say I am unaffiliated with The Shop. On the other hand, it is remarkable that the spokesperson for SC Properties avoids disclosing her name. You can find my name at the bottom of this.

The Shop, a good tenant, has nevertheless been punished for SC Properties’s “mistake” and made to bend over backwards to rectify it. Even after behaving poorly, SC Properties gets everything it wants. Across the Bay Area, large landlords have been pushing out artists and other cultural cornerstones, who, in turn, could do nothing but desperately protest to the public, then get evicted anyway. I hope the same pattern will not be repeated with The Shop and so offer what little support I can.

Anyone who knows the political economy of local government, knows real estate and development wield overwhelming power. Politicians kowtow and media are dependent for ad revenues. Thus they get what they want. Our own local officials have done their best to do nothing about the biggest issue facing our community, the affordability crisis. It has fallen to voters and the vigilant to do what mayors, city councils and others have not: vote into law necessary renters’ protections, stand up for the powerless.

 

Justin Alley
San Mateo

 

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