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DANCE SPACE LOSES A ROUND IN BAY AREA ELECTIONS.

The battle for affordable dance space in San Francisco suffered a setback when on November 16, the Elections Department announced that Proposition L, a slow-growth initiative, had been defeated. The day after the November 7 election, the proposal had held its own by the slimmest of margins, 50.6 percent. But as the absentee votes began trickling in, the tide slowly but surely began to turn. Ultimately the measure lost by 1,315 votes out of more than 280,000 cast.

Proposition L had been put together by a coalition of artists and nonprofit organizations to stem the disappearance of affordable work spaces in San Francisco, which have been gobbled up in large part by Internet companies. The measure would have allowed for continuing, though limited, office construction but would have outlawed large-scale construction in traditionally low-rent and industrial areas. Developers would also have been required to reserve 10 percent of new construction for nonprofits for fifty years at one-third of market rate. The idea was to allow for reasonable increased growth where it would cause relatively little displacement, such as the downtown area.

By defining dot-com businesses as "housing and offices," the measure would also have closed a loophole in previous legislation (Proposition M) that had been passed by the voters in the 1980s to protect artists' livework spaces.

The proponents, who spent no money on media advertising, had waged a vigorous grassroots campaign relying on word of mouth and community rallies to get the word out. At the very least they won something of a moral victory. A competing initiative, Proposition K, drafted by Mayor Willie Brown's office and the construction industry as a last-minute response to L, was defeated by a much larger margin, despite the fact that its advocates had spent $2.3 million in pushing their more development-friendly plan.

Community activists also brought the public's attention to the issue of affordable artists' space. In October the Board of Supervisors approved a $1.5 million emergency rent-subsidy fund to support arts organizations in danger of losing their spaces. The board also had started the process of drafting legislation that would tread a middle ground between the two competing growth control measures.
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Title Annotation:battle for affordable dance space in San Francisco
Author:Felciano, Rita
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Feb 1, 2001
Words:365
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