Working With Us | Products | Case Studies | FAQ | About Online Media

They Might Be Mayors: Jim Reid


Housing and Homeless advocate Jim Reid is probably the only truly single issue candidate in this year’s mayoral contest. With nothing more than a sense of protest politics and an unusual dedication, he’s pushed himself into debates and mayoral forums demanding time for himself and, by extension, his issue, at every opportunity.
Reid’s candidacy, like Libertarian Michael Denny’s, has no real chance of succeeding. But in a seven-man race — the city’s Lefty Primary — his dedication is enough to pull votes from others candidates. That strengthens Newsom’s chances, of course. But also pretty much guarantees a run-off in December.
Reid, a former contractor and home builder, has built a small structure — about 100 square feet including laundry facilities and a full bath — that he says proves how easy it is to house San Francisco’s homeless. He was interviewed on the steps of the house, which he calls Shelter One, in Bernal Heights at Montcalm and Franconia streets on Sept. 19, 2003.
What is this election about, what is the election about for you as a mayoral candidate?
It’s about solving the housing problem.
Is that all it’s about?
Well, homelessness is about housing and I’m the only candidate who understands housing and how easy it is to build it. The mayor of San Francisco could solve the homeless problem. The mayor of San Francisco could develop a model sort of like the AIDS model of the 1980′s that the nation would replicate. We need to do that. This is why I’m running for mayor. I can’t afford housing in this city. I can’t afford $1.2 million. I can afford to live in this [Shelter One] but it’s not legal to build them. This is why I’m running.

His priorities:
1)Homelessness/Quality of Life
2)Housing/Home Ownership
3)Muni/Public Transit
4)City Government Reform
5)Jobs/Economic Recovery
6)Neighborhood Preservation/Development Issues
8)Police Dept. Oversight
When did you first come to San Francisco?
What do you remember best about it? What’s your fondest, first earliest memory?
Halloween on Polk Street.
Tell me about it.
Most of the people on Polk Street were in costume and it was wonderful and fun and festive and it was just a wonderful public, family, happy event.

San Francisco’s changed a lot since you came here.

Yeah, rent control started when I came here. And rent control is a band-aid on a housing crisis, a lack of affordable housing. So we put a band-aid on, which was a really good thing, but now we have a stainless steel band-aid. And rather than build the 5,000 houses that we need, we only build 2,300. There’s a bigger demand and that’s why that house down there, that should be worth $500,000, sold for $1.2 million.

What do you miss about the San Francisco that was here when you first got here?

Ordinary, creative, common people being able to live here and not worry “Am I going to have to move to Oakland?” If I wanted to, I could earn a really good income but there’s a lot of people who can’t. I see a lot of people sharing a house and they have a small room. I have a friend who has a reasonable job — he works every day — and he lives in a kitchen, an old kitchen, and it’s tiny. Where we’re going to go from now, if we don’t solve the thing that caused rent control — people are going to be sharing a room. There’s going to be two people in a room. That’s a very bad thing.
You’ve haven’t held elected office but you’ve led a pretty public life. What’s the thing you’re most proud of?
Shelter One. Shelter One’s incredible.
I knew that. What’s the thing you wish you hadn’t done?
Climbed up on too many billboards and gotten arrested.
Going up on the billboard was the right thing to do. It was the most fun thing I did in my life, getting arrested on a tobacco billboard on my 38th birthday by seven police officers. They were afraid to come up on the billboard. It was the right thing to do but it made me look like a kook and I’m not a kook. I’m very passionate.

What’s the most important change you’d like to see take place in San Francisco if you become mayor? Even if you don’t become mayor?

That we could build these and put one of these [Shelter One homes] on every block.
Did anyone ever tell you that you’re obsessed?
Never. Actually, no. No, they haven’t.
What’s the one thing you don’t want to change about San Francisco?
That it’s a liberal bastion, at least it, in theory, is. In theory, it’s a wonderful liberal place. I mean I’m gay and it’s the gayest place on earth. We need a gay mayor! Paris has one. We ought to at least do it for eight years.
A lot of people have compared the mayoral election to the TV show “Survivor.” You’re on the island. Who would you vote off?
Tom Ammiano.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 9:09 AM | Permalink

<< Back to the Spotlight blog

Chris Nolan's bio
Email Chris Nolan

Get Our Weekly Email Newsletter

What We're Reading - Spot-On Books

Hot Spots - What's Hot Around the Web | Promote Your Page Too

Spot-on Main | Pinpoint Persuasion | Spotlight Blog | RSS Subscription | Spot-on Writers | Privacy Policy | Contact Us