Video: San Francisco's "Pony-Tailed Godfather of White Paternalism"

Diego Aguilar-Canabal
Tuesday, November 1, 2016

This fascinating documentary on San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury District sheds some much-needed light on the city’s topsy-turvy housing politics. The KRON film Assignment Four: A report from the neighborhood chronicles the Haight neighborhood’s down-zoning in 1972 in response to a nationwide period of urban renewal, in which several lower-income neighborhoods in the city were demolished for freeway construction.

In light of today’s op-ed in the Examiner titled “The progressives’ black problem,” it is important to note early footage of Haight-Ashbury homeowner Calvin Welch, whom Jacquelyn Otumalade describes as “the pony-tailed godfather of white paternalism in San Francisco.” At the 21:48 mark, Welch says the following:

Some of the most conservative people in this neighborhood are what we might call middle-class black people. They are still striving for that traditional American dream. It’s not up to me to tell them that I feel it’s a bankrupt dream.

Welch owns a duplex in a neighborhood with average sale prices surpassing $2 million, but thanks to legacy property tax caps implemented under Proposition 13, its net taxable value remains only slightly above $65,000. The property was purchased in 1973 for $31,000, or $172,000 in today’s dollars.

Cover photo: Calvin Welch debates Angelo King on Proposition O, October 2016. Courtesy: Brian Hanlon.