Randy Shaw

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Randy Shaw
Born (1956-08-19)August 19, 1956
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Attorney, Author, Activist.
Spouse(s) Lainey Feingold

Randy Shaw is an attorney, author and activist who lives in Berkeley, California. He is the Executive Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, a non-profit organization in San Francisco that he co-founded in 1980. He is also the Director of Uptown Tenderloin, Inc., a nonprofit organization that spearheaded the creation of the national Uptown Tenderloin Historic District in 2009. Uptown Tenderloin, Inc. is also the driving force behind the Tenderloin Museum, which opens in the spring of 2014. Shaw is also the editor of Beyond Chron, and has written four books on activism.


Early years[edit]


Currently offers assessments and analysis on direct action tactics. Some controversy has arisen as he has been caught throwing shade not glitter at others in the movement

Legislation drafted[edit]

In addition to authoring San Francisco’s heat and hot water laws, Shaw has drafted key city ballot measures and state laws strengthening rent control and housing code enforcement.

Prop H: rent control[edit]

After the major defeat of a pro-tenant ballot measure in San Francisco’s November 1991 election, Shaw committed to rebuilding and restructuring the city’s tenant movement. He worked with other tenant counseling groups to hold a series of neighborhood tenant conventions designed to solicit input for a tenant initiative for the November 1992 ballot. This process led to Shaw drafting Proposition H, which would cut annual rent increases in half. The Prop H initiative became the first tenant ballot measure to prevail in San Francisco, despite tenants being outspent 10-1. Prop H (San Francisco Administrative Code Section 37.3)[1] has since saved San Francisco tenants billions of dollars, and represents the greatest transfer of wealth from landlord to tenant in the city’s history.

Prop G: housing code enforcement[edit]

After spending years trying to get city officials to enforce the housing code, Shaw authored a ballot measure in 1994 to improve housing code enforcement by creating a new department under a public commission. The measure (San Francisco City Charter Section 4.121) [2] creating the Department of Building Inspection passed in November 1994, and San Francisco’s housing code enforcement has dramatically improved since that time.

State laws[edit]

In 1999, Shaw worked with California State Senator John Burton in drafting legislation (SB 948) to strengthen tenant protection under the state Ellis Act (Cal. Gov't Code 7060),[3] and to prevent the Act from preempting local land use laws. The measure passed the Legislature and became law. In 2003, Shaw worked with Assembly member Mark Leno to pass AB 1217, which exempted SROs from the Ellis Act; this bill also became law.

National housing advocacy[edit]

In 1999, Shaw founded Housing America to build national pressure for increased federal affordable housing funds. To this end he co-authored the study, There’s No Place Like Home: How America’s Housing Crisis, Threatens Our Children, which generated several widespread media coverage. Later in 1999, HA teamed with Religious Witness with Homeless People in getting what the NY Times described on September 10, 1999 as “an unusually broad coalition of religious leaders” to send a letter to President Bill Clinton urging the issuance of 200,000 new Section 8 housing vouchers. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo later credited the letter with securing 50,000 more vouchers.

In June 2000, he co-authored the first national study urging Congress to allocate Federal Housing Administration (FHA) surplus to create a National Housing Trust Fund. “A New Direction: How FHA Surpluses Can Solve America’s Housing Crisis” provided a city-by-city analysis of the impact of FHA suppliers on ending the national’s affordable housing shortage.

As author[edit]

Shaw has authored four books on activism and social change, all published by the University of California Press. His most recent book is the Activist Handbook Second Edition: Winning Social Change in the 21st Century.

The Activist’s Handbook[edit]

A guide to making social change happen, The Activist’s Handbook (UC Press: 1996, 2001, 2013) is described by Howard Zinn as “enormously valuable for anyone interested in social change.

Reclaiming America[edit]

Reclaiming America: Nike, Clean Air, and the New National Activism (UC Press 1999) argued that local activists needed to also focus on the national issues that increasingly shape local communities.

Beyond the Fields[edit]

Described as “the first effort to systematically trace the United Farm Workers (UFW) influence on recent labor organizing, the immigrant rights movement, and other current social activism.” Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century also traces the roots of Barack Obama’s 2008 election outreach model to the UFW campaigns of the 1960s and 1970s, and the electoral strategies that UFW alumni brought with them to 21st Century campaigns.

Other writings[edit]

Shaw's article on the U.S. housing crisis, “There’s No Place Like Home”, was voted the 9th most censored study for 2003 by Project Censored.[4] His article, “Tenant Power in San Francisco,” appears in the anthology, Reclaiming San Francisco by James Brook, Chris Carlsson and Nancy J. Peters. He will have an essay in an upcoming UC Press book on the Immigrant Rights Protests of 2006.

Shaw’s essay “Building the Labor-Clergy-Immigrant Alliance” is included in the book “Rallying for Immigrant’s Rights” (UC Press 2011) Shaw also contributed the section on SROs to the 2012 Encyclopedia of Housing (Second Edition, SAGE Publications).

Uptown Tenderloin Historic District[edit]

In 2007, Shaw initiated the effort that resulted in the creation of the national Uptown Tenderloin Historic District, which is included in the National Register of Historic Places. The District covers over 31 city blocks and over 400 contributing structures. Shaw helped form Uptown Tenderloin, Inc. to help economically revitalize the neighborhood, and is currently its Executive Director. Uptown Tenderloin has restored historic advertising signs, developed murals on neighborhood history, gotten nearly 100 historic plaques on Tenderloin buildings, and installed nine “Lost Landmark” plaques on Tenderloin sidewalks. See uptowntl.org for more details.

Founder/editor of an alternative news source[edit]

Shaw is the editor of the online daily news service Beyond Chron which he founded in April 2004.


  1. ^ "San Francisco City Administrative Code Section 37.3". The City and County of San Francisco. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  2. ^ "San Francisco City Charter section 4.121". The City and County of San Francisco. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  3. ^ "State of California Government Code section 7060". State of California. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  4. ^ "Project Censored Top 25 for 2003". Project Censored. Retrieved 2009-05-15.