Skip to main content

Who’s spending what: Homelessness commission makes strange bedfellows

Jesse Beasley talks to her neighbors at their tent encampment outside the San Francisco Ferry Building in San Francisco, Calif., the morning of Friday, June 3, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

Proposition C, a measure chiefly sponsored by Supervisor Ahsha Safai, would create a formal commission overseeing the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH), the city agency chiefly in charge of the city’s homelessness response. 

Promising accountability over what some locals tartly call “the Homeless Industrial Complex,” Prop C has brought together odd political bedfellows—and donors to match.

It’s garnered support from groups representing nonprofits that work in the homelessness sector, including the SF Human Services Network and the Coalition on Homelessness. But it’s also backed by establishment groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the SF Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Organization. The groups opposing Prop. C, including the United Democratic Club, YIMBY Action and the local Republican Party, can literally be counted on one hand. 

Mayor London Breed has also refused to support the measure, in part because the new commission won’t replace the constellation of advisory groups now surrounding HSH. These include the Our City, Our Home Oversight Committee (OCOH), which oversees how revenue from a gross receipts tax for homelessness services passed in 2018 is spent; the Shelter Monitoring Committee; and the Local Homelessness Coordinating Board. Earlier this year, an appointment to the latter body raised conflict of interest concerns when reviewed by the Board of Supervisors. 

Prop. C would also mandate regular audits of HSH by the Controller, and members of the new commission would be appointed by both the mayor and the Board of Supervisors.  

Fundraising and spending on Prop. C has been lopsided in favor of the measure, with serious money flooding into the campaign in support. The Prop. C campaign has raised $427,502 as of Oct. 19; of that, they’ve spent $65,394. 

But the list of major donors to Prop. C is, in a word, intriguing. 

Those donors include Diane “Dede” Wilsey, the socialite who is also a prime funder of Proposition I, the measure to reopen JFK Drive and the Great Highway to car traffic. Another major donor is the Double AA Corporation, a gasoline distributor based in South San Francisco. Both have donated $50,000 so far. 

Asked why a fossil fuel distributor would have such interest in the homelessness issue, a spokesperson for the Prop. C campaign said “we’ve been approached by many donors” and that Double AA “does more than just sell gas,” recommending that The Standard check out its website. 

Double AA Corporation’s website describes the company as “proudly one of California's premiere fuel services providers,” touting partnerships with petroleum industry leaders such as Valero, ConocoPhillips, and Marathon Petroleum. 

Other large Prop. C donors include David Shimmon, a former board member of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and retired CEO of Ichor Systems, a manufacturer of process control systems based in Fremont; the SF Deputy Sheriffs’ Association PAC; the SF Firefighters Local 798 PAC; and property interests such as Related California, Kilroy Realty and TMG Partners. All of these have donated $20,000 or more by press time. 

Meanwhile, there are two comparatively small independent expenditures against Prop. C so far. One is from moderate group GrowSF, spending $5,272 on portions of an online voter guide, and TogetherSF Action, which spent $1,179 on similar efforts.