Domestic Violence, District 5, The Saga Continues…

Courtesy of the Chronicle comes an article about the latest efforts to protect women from a Sheriff that believes with a straight face that he can believably lead programs to protect and prevent domestic violence.

The website is, and my only criticism is that the site is aimed primarily at women voters. As though domestic violence is only a women’s issue. Because it isn’t. Domestic violence is a crime against society, and while its victims tend to be disproportionately women and children, we all pay for the damage caused by domestic violence.

The website features two youtube videos, I’ve included one of them below:


The website is run by an independent expenditure committee, which means it is not being financed or funded in coordination with any other campaign. The idea for the website came from Andrea Shorter and Joyce Newstat, and the primary donations so far have come from Gayle Conway and Linda Voight (per the chronicle article I liked to at the start of the story.

Given that we are seven days away from the election, it will be interesting to see if the website draws any attention to the D5 race, which seems to be the most bizarre race for Supervisor in the city this year. We’ve got Christina Olague, taking a “principled stand” for her own political interests at the expense of the victims of domestic violence. We’ve got Julian Davis, the progressive who was going to win it all, who apparently likes to get his party on and never quite managed to learn how to keep his hands to himself. And we’ve got London Breed and the very strange YouTube video that was made on her behalf by SFAR (another independent expenditure, not made in coordination or approval with the candidate).

I haven’t seen any D5 polling lately, does anyone know the state of the race? I’ve been too busy reading hate mail that goes out of its way to suggest that Ross Mirkarimi’s wife is an actress. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, read between the lines on that one! Oh yea, and the Inner Sunset resident who called to “warn me” about writing any other negative things about Christina Olague. I can’t make this stuff up…


Two years, +7.4%

Almost every time Matt and I sit down with new clients — either buyers or sellers — the question comes up: “Is every property selling over the asking price? Are we back to that market?”

That market — the overheated market that came to a rather unceremonious end with the financial implosion of 2008 — saw double-digit price increases from one month to the next. Yes, some neighborhoods saw values go up 10% from one month to the next. The market saw many buyers writing offers with no contingencies at all, not even for inspections.

But that was then and this is now, and in between, some things shifted quite dramatically. Fast forward from September 2008 to September 2010, when the average ratio of the selling price to the original listing price in San Francisco was 95.4%. This statistic was drawn from MLS records of sales citywide of condos and single-family homes, not including TICs or unit buildings. Walk forward a few more months, to January 2011, when this ratio was down to 93.3%.

To say the least, these numbers were not very San Francisco-like, considering the relative strength of our real estate market over the decade prior to the 2008 financial market drama. Throughout 2009 and 2010, the market in San Francisco shuffled along with many homes selling under asking, inventory shrinking as owners who had the option of waiting to sell keeping their homes off the market, and buyers looking for great bargains.

But look what started to happen in 2011:


There were a few blips along the way, but the ratio of the selling price to the original listing price has steadily climbed through September 2012. As of September 30, the ratio is 102.8%, the highest it has been in years.

There are a number of factors at play here, some anecdotal and some measurable. First, anecdotally, after a few years of buyers not being sure that they would have a job in the coming months, buyers now seem to be much more confident overall about their financial situation and their job security. The measurable stuff comes into play, as well: the stock market is up, interest rates are lower than they’ve ever been and contrary to some beliefs, it’s very possible to secure a loan to buy a new home.

2012 has seen a very robust real estate market in our beautiful city. I hope the ratio doesn’t go up so much that we find ourselves in an overheated market again. What this says to me is that it’s a better time than it’s been in years to sell a property. Buyers might be faced with a more competitive landscape, depending on preferences about property types and neighborhoods, but with money being as cheap as it is, it’s still a good time to be a buyer in San Francisco.

I guess I Touched a Nerve?

Somebody’s pretty upset with me, this landed in my inbox today:

From: Denis Mosgofian <>
Subject: any company but Zephyr
Mime-Version: 1.0 (Apple Message framework v936)
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2012 10:36:41 -0700
X-Mailer: Apple Mail (2.936)

Check this out this writing from a Zephyr Real Estate agent:

Wow, Matt, really? Anybody but Christina Olague?

Is this because you sat through all the hearings on the Dec. 31st arm grab?

Where do you get the idea that Ross Mirkarimi hit his wife? Or hit a child? Wife-beating bully and creep?

If you are this inaccurate about basic factual information, why would I trust you to be accurate about real estate?

Your fronting for the Board of Realtors which is helping fund London Breed for D5 is very thinly disguised by your faux disclaimer about the Board of Realtors.

Well, FYI, my wife and I sat through every Ethics hearing, we read virtually every document, and the Mayor had no case for official misconduct.

Did you not know that Mirkarimi is serving a sentence of 52 weeks of counseling and 3 years probation for the single incident? This is stiff punishment, and did not include 9 months of disparaging character assassination, or the official marginalizing of Eliana Lopez, the victim. Did you know that the Administration spent over $1.4 million tax dollars on this non-court prosecution?

Do you actually NOT believe that the punishment should fit the crime?

Do you really believe that he should lose his job for the Dec. 31st arm grab?

What then for the SF police officer who shot and killed a mentally ill man who thought she was breaking into his room and rose to defend himself? What about Mayor Newsom’s alcohol, possible cocaine, screwing his chief of staff’s wife while on the job use, etc.? What about Chief Hayes-White beating her husband while her son is reportedly yelling, “Stop it Mommy, you’re killing Daddy?? In your world, do only political opponents of the established order get punished?

Factually, all the two City Attorneys could establish in six months is what was openly acknowledged and known from the beginning:

Dec. 31st, argument, turning around the car and returning home instead of having an argument in the restaurant,

grabbing Eliana Lopez’s arm to keep her in the discussion of custody, and letting go within a second after she demanded him to stop, and his agreeing to plead to a misdemeanor in March after running out of money to defend himself against a variety of piled on charges in court.

Throughout the Ethics Commission hearings, the Mayor added additional charges, none of which was supported by evidence, and all but the original incident and the March plea agreement were rejected by the Ethics Commission.

Did you bother to pay attention to the case details as actually presented by the evidence?

Did you ever read the analysis from Commission Chair Ben Hur, an astoundingly brilliant attorney who did an amazing job of chairing the difficult and uncharted Commission hearings?

Did you read Supervisor Olague’s October 9 statement of why she voted the way she voted?

But if you read the Chronicle, then maybe you really got educated. Right?

Perhaps you were not here when Dan White intentionally planned and killed Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Milk. But the press ultimately treated White with more sympathy than the Chronicle treated Mirkarimi.

Well, despite the fact that I thought highly of Zephyr Real Estate before I read your call to vote anybody but Supervisor Olague, I now will tell my wide circle of friends – I am a native San Franciscan – to use any company but Zephyr.


And here’s my response:

Yes, really. Anyone but Christina Olague.

It sounds like we place different priorities on the importance of domestic violence, and the message that was sent when Supervisor Olague voted to retain Mirkarimi as Sheriff, a position in which he oversees domestic violence outreach and prevention programs.

It also sounds like we differ on the cost of domestic violence, not only in actual dollars but in the damage it causes to women, childen, and their quality of life. Clearly, my beliefs and your beliefs about what should constitute “progressive” values are very different.

From your email it’s very clear you take personal offense at my beliefs about the cost and consequences of domestic violence. If you’ve got a different opinion or point of view, I encourage you to go out, start your own blog, and share those opinions with the world on a public stage. You never know who will write in, both supporting and criticizing  you!

I stand by my beliefs. It doesn’t sound like we’d be much of a fit in the world of real estate – I would absolutely encourage you and your friends to find both a Realtor and real estate company that you are comfortable with, where you can have a positive working relationship. San Francisco has a wide range of incredibly accomplished Realtors and brokerages.

Thanks for taking the time to share your feelings with me. If standing up for the victims of domestic violence is the cost of doing business with you, it’s a choice I’d make again in a heartbeat.


Do these Light Fixtures Look Familiar?

A few weeks back I wrote about the North End Police Station at 2475 Greenwich. It was the police station built for the Panama Pacific International Exposition that was eventually turned into a private residence. The building is considered to be an exceptional example of  Spanish Colonial Revival Architecture. One of the most notable items (to me, at least) on that building are the spiky lanterns that adorn the building on either side of the main entrance doors.

Spiky Lantern at 2150 Washington in Pacific Heights

 A few weeks after taking those pictures, I was taking some pictues of the AppleGarth designed Speckels mansion in the 2100 block of Washington when I happened upon some more… spiky lanterns!

2475 Greenwich was designed by Frederick H. Meyer and John Reid, Jr., while 2150 Washington was designed by Charles Peter Weeks, a San Francisco architect that designed numerous buildings of note, including this Pacific Heights home. Weeks designed the home for Mary Phelan, the sister of legendary San Francisco Mayor James Phelan.

Spiky Lantern at 2150 Washington

According to current tax records, the spiky lanterns at 2150 Washington are currently owned by the Dharma Realm Buddhist Assn Inc. The tax records also report that the home has eight bedrooms, and 10 full bathrooms with a total square footage of 16,506 square feet. There is no mention of 2150 Washington on the association’s website, although the organization is headquartered in nearby Burlingame, CA.

Hmmmm…. a religious organization with a quirky name and a mansion. Nothing could ever go wrong with a setup like that, right?

Anyway, hope you enjoy the two pics. If you’ve got other great pictures of spiky lanterns, spanish colonial revival architecture, or scoop about the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, be sure to leave a comment below.

Why Domestic Violence Matters

Domestic violence costs you and me – not to mention its victims – a lot. Which is why I’m so passionate and upset about the vote by Christina Olague and her cowardly peers to reinstate Ross Mirkarimi as Sheriff. My grandmother, who was one of the most special people in my life, was a survivor of domestic violence. By the time she came into my life, or I into hers, the active abuse was long past.Like a stone dropped in a pond, the ripples from domestic violence last far longer than the immediate horror of physical and emotional abuse affecting generation after generation. My grandmother died long ago, but she had a big impact on who I am and what I believe. So to stand by quietly while the city’s political progressives try to make this about anything other than domestic violence would be to dishonor not only her, but all women.

Image source: Knox County Fourth Circuit Court

Here are some facts:

Fact: Domestic Violence harms more women than diabetes, lung cancer, or stroke.3 Each year, intimate partner violence (IPV) results in an estimated 1,200 deaths and 2 million injuries among women, not to mention the long-term physical and psychological effects that domestic violence has on children. (4)

Fact: About 6% of California’s women (approximately 700,000) have been victims of domestic violence, or three times the national average. When considered over a lifetime, 31-34 percent of adult women in California reported experiencing domestic violence at some point in time.(6)

Fact: Only about half of domestic violence incidents are reported to police. The most common reasons for not reporting domestic violence to police are that victims view the incident as a personal or private matter, they fear retaliation from their abuser, and they do not believe that police will do anything about the incident [my emphasis added].(2) Skepticism regarding the quality of police response is grounded in reality. A recent study by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department concluded that there was a “clear and pervasive pattern” of departures from departmental policy. For example, in only one-third of the domestic violence calls did an officer take photographs or ask about prior abuse. And only 17% of the victims were asked about a restraining order, and 83% were provided no printed information with contact information or resources.(2)

Fact: Domestic Violence is incredibly expensive:

  • Domestic violence costs us about $107 billion dollars per year. Adjusting the estimated 1993 cost of domestic violence ($67 billion per year) from a 1996 study into 2012 dollar results in that eye-popping figure: $107,000,000,000.00. According to the 1996 study, domestic violence costs accounts for roughly 15% of total U.S. crime costs. (5)
  • The cost of domestic violence includes out-of-pocket expenses such as medical bills and property losses ($3.0 billion), productivity losses at work, home and
    school ($11 billion), and non-monetary losses such as pain, suffering and lost quality of life ($93 billion). [1993 estimated adjusted to 2012 values] (6)

Fact: Even with this dramatic under-reporting, domestic violence calls constitute approximately half of all violent crime calls to police departments. For example, 49% of the violent crime calls received by the DC Metropolitan Police Department in 2000 were for domestic violence incidents.(2)

I believe Christina Olague – and her colleagues that voted for Mirkarimi – are unfit to be Supervisors in San Francisco and Ross Mirkirami is unfit to be our Sheriff because:

  1. Woman and children will remain vulnerable and the transmission of violence from one generation to the next will continue unchecked.
  2. Women often do not report domestic violence because they do not believe that law enforcement will do anything about the incident. The existing reluctance of women to report violence to law enforcement because they believe it will be futile will only be increased when the law enforcement officer tasked with their safety has plead guilty to a false imprisonment charge stemming from a domestic violence investigation.
  3. Domestic violence is expensive. It is money out of my pocket and out of our tax dollars. Based on an annual US estimate of $107 billion, domestic violence will cost the city and county of San Francisco (that would be me and you) about $276,000,000 for 2012! Yes, that’s right – $276 million dollars will be spent here in San Francisco on DV when you factor in out-of-pocket expenses,  productivity losses, and losses for pain, suffering, and lost quality of life.

The city’s elected Supervisors – Christina Olague, John Avalos, David Campos and Jane Kim – voted by 4-7 that spousal abuse isn’t serious enough to be considered official misconduct even though it is against the law. That’s not justice or political courage in my book, it’s plain cowardice. Cowardice that will cost  you and me and the citizens of SF $276 million this year alone. Cowardice that sends a strong message to victims of domestic abuse that their pain, suffering, and abuse don’t matter.


1) Lawrence A. Greenfeld et al. (1998). Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends. Bureau of Justice Statistics Factbook. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice. NCJ #167237. Available from National Criminal Justice Reference Service.

2) Michael Cassidy, Caroline G. Nicholl, & Carmen R. Ross (2001). Results of a Survey Conducted by the Metropolitan Police Department of Victims who Reported Violence Against Women. Available from the DC Metropolitan Police Department (202-727-5029).

3) Jewish Women International.

4) CDC Adverse Health Conditions and Health Risk Behaviors Associated with Intimate Partner Violence – United States 2005.

5) Victim Costs and Consequences: A New Look, by Miller, Cohen, and Wiersema. U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.: 1996.

6) The Prevalence of Domestic Violence in California, Alicia Bugarin, California State Library, California Research Bureau (CRB), November 2002, p. 5.

Olague Tries to Weasle Her Way Out of Her Mirkarimi Vote

Olague Writes:
I want to be clear, I did not vote in support of domestic abuse or violence. The Board was not responsible for determining criminal guilt or innocence. Instead, it was charged with deciding whether the Mayor demonstrated that the Sheriff committed official misconduct. I felt there was insufficient evidence to sustain the charges, so I made the decision that I thought best reflected the intention of each person that approved the charter many years ago. By carefully interpreting the charter, I was compelled to make a decision that, while unpopular with some, upheld the foundation of San Francisco.

Matt Responds:
The city charter defines official misconduct as “Official misconduct means any wrongful behavior by a public officer in relation to the duties of his or her officewillful in its character, including any failure, refusal or neglect of an officer to perform any duty enjoined on him or her by law, or conduct that falls below the standard of decency, good faith and right action impliedly required of all public officers and including any violation of a specific conflict of interest or governmental ethics law. When any City law provides that a violation of the law constitutes or is deemed official misconduct, the conduct is covered by this definition and may subject the person to discipline and/or removal from office.” [Emphasis added by me]

To vote that there was insufficient evidence to sustain the charges, you must believe that

  1. The charge to which he plead guilty in a plea-bargain was not wrongful behavior and that the Sheriff has no duties that relate to domestic violence prevention.

or, you must believe

  1. His conduct was not willful (the Mayor made him!).
  2. His conduct did not fall below the standard of decency required of all public officers.
  3. His conduct did not fall below the standard of good faith and right action required of all public officers.
I think the city charter makes quite clear that his behavior was unacceptable and falls clearly within the definition of official misconduct. I would very much like to know how Christina Olague reached a different conclusion. What specific part of the city charter was unclear? Why do you believe that a guilty plea that relates to a program he oversee doesn’t relate to his job? Why do you believe his conduct wasn’t willful and below the standard of decency, good faith, and right conduct?
Olague Opines:
As the Vice Chair of the Public Safety Committee, I understand the systemic effects of abuse and violence in our homes and communities. Both my staff and I have worked closely with anti violence groups and community organizations to prevent domestic violence and violence against women. With that, I also value the profound impacts of healing and rehabilitation on people.
Matt Translates:
Even though I don’t really care about the message my vote to support Mirkarimi sends, I’ve sat in plenty of committee meetings listening to people talk about the horrid effects of domestic violence, but I can’t list one specific action, program, or piece of legislation that I’ve authored that would help the women, children, and others impacted by domestic violence. But more importantly than that, I think Ross feels really really badly about all this. So I’m going to give him back a job that requires enforcing domestic violence outreach and prevention programs.

Over the past few days, I received a great deal of public outreach–some in agreement and some in outrage. Both the support and the criticism, indicate to me that people all over this City are passionate about their opinion and their ideas of what is best for San Francisco. Moving forward, I challenge everyone to continue to engage with your public officials in a dialogue that is healthy and promotes good government.

Matt Translates:
Wow, people get really upset when you give a guy who is responsible for domestic violence and outreach programs back his job after he pleads guilty to false imprisonment, a plea bargain resulting from an incident of domestic violence. But hey, it’s over. So continue calling my office, which will continue to not schedule a meeting with you (true fact – this is my personal experience). Because by engage, I don’t really mean engage. At least not in the sense that I’ll meet with you. Because I know what’s best. And you don’t.

I appreciate the constructive comments I have received thus far. As with all of my votes, I really take to heart the feedback I receive. Each time I enter the Board chamber, I am reminded of the importance of the voice of the community. And, while I stand by my vote, I stand firmly on the side of the violence prevention advocates that work daily to make our homes and streets safer. Whether or not we agree on this decision, I encourage you to support your neighborhood anti-violence and domestic abuse prevention organizations. It is only with the same level of impassioned commitment that we will be able to eliminate abuse and violence from having a place anywhere in San Francisco.

Matt Translates:
I plan on having my cake and eating it too, thank you very much. Since I’ve just set domestic violence prevention and outreach programs back by decades with my vote to reinstate the wife-bruiser, it’s pretty important that you actually go out and do something to prevent domestic violence and abuse. Please stop writing and calling me and instead go spend your time and energy helping the women and children I’ve just thrown under the proverbial bus, because lord knows they’ll need someone to care for them since I clearly don’t.

Matt’s Promise: 
I have one more post coming about domestic violence and its horrific impacts on society. Then I promise to write more about real estate than domestic violence.  And spend my spare time working to elect someone for my district that believes women and children in abusive relationships deserve more than lip service and pretty words.