I served as president of San Francisco Tomorrow (SFT) between 1988 and 1992. SFT called themselves an urban environmental organisation and, at the time, we were struggling with development in San Francisco (the more things change, the more they remain the same).
SFT was often maligned as a NIMBY and backward-looking organization (San Francisco Yesterday some called it). I can only say that in those years a good majority of the board were very reasonable and intelligent. Many were working for social improvement like housing, the ACLU and neighbourhood legal clinics. Of course, there were also the wingnuts, but the reasonable majority often prevailed.
In my opinion SFT’s best years were between 1986 and 1992. We succeeded in passing a limitation in downtown office development (Prop M, 1986), defeating several ill-advised proposals for baseball stadiums downtown (before several of us signed-on to support the Pac-Bell Park proposal in 2000), helped elect a progressive mayor (Agnos, 1987), and succeeded in writing and passing an initiative requiring the Port to prepare a long-term land use plan oriented towards maritime uses and open space, which also banned hotels (Prop H, 1990).
I recently found a speech I gave at SFT’s 20th Anniversary Dinner in 1990. I was very pleased reading it because I discussed thoughtful issues “what is an urban environmental organisation anyway?” and talked about how we needed to focus on building affordable housing and addressing the homeless problem. I was saddened that things seem to only have gotten worse since my speech. Of course, we at SFT struggled with these issues and, in retrospect especially, didn’t do enough. But I think, in those days, we were at least somewhat reasonable compared to the much more NIMBY oriented organisations that came to dominate the process in later years.
Here’s a link to the San Francisco Tomorrow – 20th Anniversary Speech by Andrew Nash, 1990.