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Occupation Housing Takeover: Chronicle Misses the Point
by Michael Steinberg (blackrainpress [at]
Monday Jan 23rd, 2012 11:44 PM
On January 20 Occupy protestors took over a 600 unit vacant hotel in San Francisco. But the San Francisco Chronicle missed the point. Actually it missed a lot of them.
As the final action of January 20th's Wall Street West San Francisco protests, activists marched to the former Cathedral Hill Hotel at Geary and Van Ness and took it over.

Why? The San Francisco Chronicle's report the next morning only informed us that, upon arriving and being greeted by riot cops, "Some activists threw bricks and bottles, injuring two officers, one in the chest and one in the arm." Also that "40 people broke in through a back entrance and loudly cavorted in the 600-room hotel for two hours. When they threw furniture from the roof, several dozen police cleared the building."

But why did the protesters do this?

The newspaper merely described the building as "empty." Beyond that there was no further information about the site, such as how or why it got to be empty, who owns it, or what plans there are for it in the future.

So, for instance, there was no mention that the owner is California Pacific Medical Center, "a Sutter Health Affiliate." Nor that it is CPMC that has emptied the building and is deliberately keeping it vacant and letting no one live there, allowing its furnishings and everything else in it to rot, barring anyone who needs shelter from the winter storms, such as those that raged that night.

Sutter Health Affiliates has been carrying out $2 billion in construction projects in recent years around the Bay Area to build new or expand existing medical facilities at five locations. For its part, California Pacific Medical Center, Sutter's San Francisco component, plans to throw up a $1 billion, 555 bed hospital at the Cathedral Hill site, which would be the centerpiece of a five facility empire it wants to sprawl across the city.

You didn't read any of that in the Chron either. Neither did we learn that the giant so called nonprofit health provider has also bought up, emptied and shut up other residential and commercial buildings in the neighborhood, including a cafe, furniture store and restaurant across Van Ness from the hotel. Further down Geary, at 1040, stands a shuttered residential hotel where CMPC recently evicted 40 low income residents.

All this in a city where, according to the 2010 US Census, over 30,000 vacant housing units sat unit.

So was it mindless thugs and occupy frat boys out on a weekend binge who threw furniture out widows Friday night? Was it homeless terrorists who pelted cops for keeping them from getting out in the rain? Or was it something quite different going on?

Once again, no clue from the Chron.

So by now it should come as no surprise to not learn from the Chronicle that CMPC's grand scheme involves demolishing all the buildings it has under lock and key, with free security courtesy of the SFPD. And then filling the Van Ness corridor with its new medical palace, uh facility.

And certainly the San Francisco Chronicle isn't going to let you know that while all of this is going on, CMPC is slashing and burning services at its St. Lukes' loacation in the Mission. After all, those poor people can just go to General Hospital, the sole remaining public one in the city.

The things they don't tell you!