Dean Preston

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Dean Preston
Dean Preston.png
Member of the
San Francisco Board of Supervisors
from the 5th district
Assumed office
December 16, 2019
Preceded byVallie Brown
Personal details
Born1969/1970 (age 51–52)
New York City, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Residence(s)San Francisco, California, U.S.
OccupationPolitician, attorney
WebsiteBoard of Supervisors District 5 website

Dean E. Preston (born 1969/1970)[1] is an American civil rights attorney, tenant rights activist, and member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He founded Tenants Together, a California tenant advocacy organization. In November 2019, Preston won a special election to finish Mayor London Breed's term on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, defeating incumbent Vallie Brown (whom Breed had named to replace her) to represent District 5. He was re-elected in the November 2020 election.

During his tenure on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, he has worked to delay and block numerous development plans and legislative proposals to increase the supply of both market-rate and affordable housing.[2][3][4][5][6]

Early life and education[edit]

Preston was born in New York City.[7] His parents were refugees from Nazi Germany during World War II.[8] Their family lived in a co-operative apartment in Greenwich Village.[7] Preston attended Bowdoin College, where he met his future wife, Jenckyn Goosby.[8]

He graduated in 1991 with a major in anthropology and economics.[9] After graduation, the couple moved to Jenckyn's native San Francisco, settling down near Alamo Square.[10][8] Preston studied law at UC Hastings College of the Law, receiving his J.D. in 1996.[9]


He was a co-owner of the bar and nightclub Cafe du Nord in the Castro District of San Francisco.[8]

After law school, Preston worked for the law firm of John Burris. He spent the late 1990s working at public interest firms.[7] Preston joined the non-profit Tenderloin Housing Clinic in 2000 and transitioned to tenant rights law.[11]

Tenants Together[edit]

In 2008 Preston founded Tenants Together, a non-profit organization advocating for tenant rights in California. The organization campaigned against California's Proposition 98 that year. The ballot initiative would have abolished rent control across the state but was rejected by voters.[12] Preston spearheaded a series of tenant bootcamps across San Francisco from 2015 to 2017, teaching renters how to protect their rights.[13]

San Francisco Board of Supervisors[edit]

Preston at an election night campaign event in 2019

Preston ran against incumbent London Breed in the 2016 Board of Supervisors election for District 5 but lost 48% to 52%.[14]

He authored San Francisco's 2018 Proposition F, which directs the city to establish a universal right to counsel for tenants facing eviction.[15]

In July 2018, Preston, a member of the San Francisco chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA),[16] became a candidate for the 2019 District 5 Supervisor election, to fill the vacancy left when Breed became mayor.[17] Shortly after, Breed appointed Vallie Brown to the fill the position, and Brown ran as an incumbent.[18] Preston ran as a democratic socialist and won the election by a narrow margin, becoming the first democratic socialist elected to the board in forty years.[19] Preston was sworn in on December 16, 2019.[20]

Positions on housing and zoning[edit]

Since his inauguration in December 2019 to November 2021, Preston opposed development plans and legislative proposals that could have housed more than 28,000 people, including affordable housing for nearly 8,500 people.[4]

Preston has argued, "San Francisco is a shining example of the complete and utter failure of the free market address housing needs."[21] He has blamed homelessness in San Francisco on "unbridled capitalism."[22] He has criticized YIMBYism as "a new face on private market developers' interests."[21] In 2019, Preston opposed California Senate Bill 50, which would have eased housing construction near public transit, arguing that it was a "developer bill."[3] In 2019, Preston spoke against the construction of a 186-unit apartment complex because only 20% of the apartments were for affordable housing while Preston wanted 33%.[23] Preston is a proponent of rent control.[24] In 2021, Preston blocked discussion of a proposal that would have required 50 signatures to invoke the California Environmental Quality Act to block housing projects, rather than just one person complaining.[25][26] According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Preston appears "to be one of the supervisors most opposed to building market-rate housing".[27]

In 2020, Preston delayed a major zoning plan which would have led to the construction of thousands of housing units to the Van Ness/Market Street area of San Francisco.[2] He called for a "a race and equity study" of the project.[2]

Preston ran as an incumbent in the November 2020 election, with Brown campaigning for her former seat. He won against Brown by a wide margin.[28] Preston also introduced two ballot initiatives approved by voters in the election. Proposition I raised the transfer tax rate for property sales valued over $10 million, intended to fund affordable housing. Proposition K authorizes the city of San Francisco to build or acquire up to 10,000 units of affordable housing.[29]

During his second term, Preston authored a resolution passed by the Board of Supervisors requesting a two-month delay in UCSF's approval process for the expansion of Parnassus campus.[30]

He called for a study into the feasibility of prohibiting for-profit bike-share companies from operating in San Francisco and turning bike-shares into a city-run operation.[31] Preston called for a hearing on housing vacancies, arguing that the focus on building new housing had led to ignoring "the single biggest source of potential housing in San Francisco."[32]

In a committee meeting on the shared spaces program established by the city during the COVID-19 pandemic, Preston supported a two-week delay on voting to make the outdoor dining spaces permanent. His questions on an indefinite extension centered on public access and accessibility.[33]

In November 2021, Preston sought to halt the city of San Francisco buying a hotel in Japantown which it would use to house homeless people.[5][34]

In October 2021, Preston voted against the construction of a 495-unit apartment complex (one-quarter of which were designated as affordable housing) on a parking lot next to a BART station.[35] Preston said that the construction of the apartment complex on the parking lot was "gentrification."[35]

In 2022, Preston pushed for a ballot measure on taxing vacant housing in San Francisco. The tax would only apply to owners of buildings with three or more units when at least one of them has been unoccupied for more than six months in one year. The tax exempted vacant single-family homes and two-unit buildings, including his own home valued at more than $3 million.[36][4]

Personal life[edit]

Preston is married.[1] He and his wife live in a house in the Alamo Square neighborhood in San Francisco, which they bought in the 1990s.[1] He has been on the board of the Alamo Square Neighborhood Association.[37] In the early 2000s, he worked to stop fast-food franchises such as Burger King and Domino's Pizza from moving into Alamo Square.[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Green, Emily (September 25, 2016). "London Breed, Dean Preston argue personal, political in race". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2020-08-19.
  2. ^ a b c "Supervisors delay major rezoning that would add thousands of housing units to 'Hub' area". The San Francisco Examiner. 2020-07-20. Retrieved 2020-08-19.
  3. ^ a b "Wiener calls SF supervisors vote against SB50 a 'sad day'". The San Francisco Examiner. 2019-12-17. Retrieved 2020-08-19.
  4. ^ a b c Knight, Heather (2021-11-06). "S.F. Supervisor Dean Preston invited YIMBYs to look at his housing record. They panned it". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2021-11-06.
  5. ^ a b Moench, Mallory (2021-10-05). "S.F. is buying three sites for homeless housing. Controversial Japantown hotel isn't yet one of them". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2021-10-08.
  6. ^ Dineen, J. K. (2021-10-27). "Why did S.F. supervisors vote against a project to turn a parking lot into 500 housing units?". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2022-06-21.
  7. ^ a b c Hogarth, Paul (September 20, 2007). "Dean Preston to Start Statewide Tenant Organization". Beyond Chron. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d Bajko, Matthew S. (October 5, 2016). "SF supes prez fights to win re-election". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Dean E. Preston '91 to Receive 2016 Common Good Award Archives". Bowdoin College. February 10, 2016. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  10. ^ Green, Emily (September 26, 2016). "Breed, Preston differ on housing". San Francisco Chronicle. pp. C1–C4. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  11. ^ Green, Emily (2016-09-26). "London Breed, Dean Preston argue personal, political in race". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2021-05-27.
  12. ^ Redmond, Tim (September 20, 2018). "Statewide tenant group celebrates ten years of organizing". 48 Hills. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  13. ^ Sawyer, Nuala (May 3, 2018). "Eviction Stress Reaches Far and Wide in Renter-Heavy S.F." SF Weekly. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  14. ^ "November 8, 2016 Election Results - Summary". San Francisco Department of Elections. November 8, 2016.
  15. ^ Fracassa, Dominic; Thadani, Trisha (August 8, 2018). "Tenant activists turn up at SF Mayor Breed's event to demand proper credit". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  16. ^ "DSA SF Endorses Dean Preston for D5 Supervisor". DSA San Francisco. 17 February 2019. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  17. ^ Sawyer, Nuala (July 6, 2018). "Dean Preston Pulls Papers for District 5 Supervisor". SF Weekly. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  18. ^ Fracassa, Dominic (July 16, 2018). "SF Mayor London Breed appoints Vallie Brown, former legislative aide, as supervisor". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  19. ^ Thadani, Trisha (November 9, 2019). "Progressive Dean Preston squeaks out win over mayor's ally in District 5 supes race". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  20. ^ "Dean Preston sworn in as District 5 supervisor". San Francisco Examiner. December 16, 2019. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  21. ^ a b "Why San Francisco supervisor candidate Dean Preston is embracing the "democratic socialist" label". Salon. 2019-05-01. Retrieved 2020-08-19.
  22. ^ Brinklow, Adam (2020-02-07). "Don't bother building homeless centers in every neighborhood, says SF homeless official". Curbed SF. Retrieved 2020-08-19.
  23. ^ "186 apartments to replace Touchless car wash on Divisadero in San Francisco". 2019-06-14. Retrieved 2020-08-19.
  24. ^ "Housing activist, homegrown fighter duke it out to represent District 5". The San Francisco Examiner. 2016-10-24. Retrieved 2020-08-19.
  25. ^ Knight, Heather (2021-06-05). "'Grumpalumps and gadflies': S.F. cafe owner fights to open in vacant Mission District spot". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2021-06-05.
  26. ^ Knight, Heather (2021-05-19). "Is proposal to cut S.F. red tape dead? Supporters say even small efforts to tame bureaucracy go nowhere". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2021-06-05.
  27. ^ "San Francisco is one of California's most conservative cities - when it comes to housing". 2021-01-23. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  28. ^ Thadani, Trisha (November 8, 2020). "S.F. Board of Supervisors races: All results are called". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  29. ^ Thadani, Trisha; Tucker, Jill (November 6, 2020). "Here's where San Francisco propositions stand now". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  30. ^ "UCSF rejects S.F. supervisors' request to delay vote on Parnassus expansion". 2021-01-14. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  31. ^ "Kick Lyft out of Bike-share?". Streetsblog San Francisco. 2021-02-03. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  32. ^ "Preston calls vacancies 'the single biggest source of potential housing in San Francisco'". The San Francisco Examiner. 2021-03-16. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  33. ^ Dineen, J. K. (2021-05-26). "Mayor Breed says she's battling S.F. supervisors to make outdoor dining parklets permanent". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
  34. ^ "Preston Calls to Halt Japantown Hotel Conversion to Homeless Housing, Proposes Other Hotel Sites". SFist - San Francisco News, Restaurants, Events, & Sports. 2021-09-10. Retrieved 2021-10-08.
  35. ^ a b Bote, Joshua (2021-10-27). "SF Mayor Breed blasts supes over parking lot housing vote". SFGATE. Retrieved 2021-10-27.
  36. ^ Morris, J. D. (2022-02-08). "Vacant-home tax could appear on San Francisco's November ballot". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2022-02-08.
  37. ^ a b Sawyer, Nuala (February 4, 2016). "Dean Preston Announces Run For District 5 Supervisor". Hoodline. Retrieved 2020-08-19.

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