40 Years That Shaped San Francisco: The New THC Archive

by on May 30, 2023

Retrieving SF’s Lost History

A lot of politically engaged San Francisco activists have not lived in the city very long. I recently asked at a Manny’s event how many in the audience were here under Mayor Art Agnos (1988-1991) and only one person raised their hand.

Unfortunately, its hard to learn about the policy fights that shaped San Francisco in the pre-Internet era. This leaves many unaware why various policy decisions were made and how current political power was shaped.

To address this gap I spent months turning my massive files of newspaper clippings about San Francisco politics into an online archive. The archive link on the Tenderloin Housing Clinic’s website includes many articles from the pre-Internet era that tell some of the story of San Francisco politics. You can view the archive here.

The archive may be the largest source of stories on how San Francisco went from never passing a tenant ballot measure until 1992 to now having the nation’s strongest tenant protection laws. The city also has the most powerful protections for SRO hotels and rental housing.

How did this happen? The articles—most first published in the SF Chronicle, SF Examiner, SF Bay Guardian, SF Progress and SF Independent—tell the story. And you can see the value of the archive given three of those publications no longer exist.

The archive includes stories of California legislative campaigns and national campaigns for affordable housing. San Francisco is also heavily weighted toward stories about homelessness, Mid-Market, Sixth Street and the Tenderloin.

Compiling the archives brought back a lot of memories. For example, I had completely forgotten the many years I spent fighting bond passthroughs to tenants. And the constant campaigns we ran to strengthen the city’s rent control law.

Check it out!

Randy Shaw

Randy Shaw is the Editor of Beyond Chron and the Director of San Francisco’s Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which publishes Beyond Chron. Shaw's latest book is Generation Priced Out: Who Gets to Live in the New Urban America. He is the author of four prior books on activism, including The Activist's Handbook: Winning Social Change in the 21st Century, and Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century. He is also the author of The Tenderloin: Sex, Crime and Resistance in the Heart of San Francisco

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Filed under: Mid-Market / Tenderloin