Dean Preston

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Dean Preston
Dean Preston.png
San Francisco Board of Supervisors
from District 5
Assumed office
December 16, 2019
MayorLondon Breed
Preceded byVallie Brown
Personal details
Born1969/1970 (age 50–51)[1]
New York City, New York
NationalityUnited States
Political partyDemocratic
Other political
Democratic Socialists of America
ResidenceSan Francisco, California
OccupationPolitician, attorney
WebsiteBoard of Supervisors District 5 website

Dean E. Preston is an American civil rights attorney, tenant rights activist, and member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He is known for having 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 to represent District 5. He was re-elected in the November 2020 election.

Early life and education[edit]

Preston was born in New York City.[2] His parents were refugees from Nazi Germany during World War II.[3] Their family lived in a co-operative apartment in Greenwich Village.[2] Preston attended Bowdoin College, where he met his wife Jenckyn Goosby.[3] He graduated in 1991 with a major in anthropology and economics.[4] After graduation, the couple moved to Jenckyn's native San Francisco, settling down near Alamo Square.[1][3] Preston studied law at UC Hastings College of the Law, receiving his J.D. in 1996.[4]


He was a co-owner of the bar and nightclub Cafe du Nord in the Castro District of San Francisco.[3]

After law school, Preston worked for the law firm of John Burris. He spent the late 1990s working at public interest firms.[2] Preston joined the non-profit Tenderloin Housing Clinic in 2000 and transitioned to tenant rights law.[citation needed]

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.[5]

Preston spearheaded a series of tenant bootcamps across San Francisco from 2015 to 2017, teaching renters how to protect their rights.[6] Tenants Together now supports a network of fifty tenant organizations throughout California with a hotline for renters, a network of tenant rights attorneys, and trainings for tenant organizers.[5]

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%.[7]

He authored San Francisco's 2018 Proposition F, which directs the city to establish a universal right to counsel for tenants facing eviction.[8]

In July 2018, Preston, a member of the San Francisco chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA),[9] became a candidate for the 2019 District 5 Supervisor election, to fill the vacancy left when Breed became mayor.[10] Shortly after, Breed appointed Vallie Brown to the fill the position, and Brown ran as an incumbent.[11] 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.[12] Preston was sworn in on December 16, 2019.[13]

Preston has argued, "San Francisco is a shining example of the complete and utter failure of the free market address housing needs."[14] He has blamed homelessness in San Francisco on "unbridled capitalism."[15] He has criticized YIMBYism.[14] In 2019, Preston opposed California Senate Bill 50, which would have eased housing construction near public transit, arguing that it was a "developer bill."[16] 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%.[17] Preston is a proponent of rent control.[18] According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Preston appears "to be one of the supervisors most opposed to building market-rate housing".[19]

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.[20] He called for a "a race and equity study" of the project.[20]

Preston opposed the seismic retrofitting, capacity increase, and new housing at the UCSF hospital at the Parnassus campus.[21]

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.[22] 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.[23]

Preston 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.[24]

In 2021, Preston argued that the focus on building new housing in San Francisco was misguided, arguing instead that "vacancies" were "the single biggest source of potential housing in San Francisco."[25]

Personal life[edit]

He is married.[26] Preston and his wife live in a house in the Alamo Square neighborhood in San Francisco, which they bought in the 1990s.[26] He has been on the board of the Alamo Square Neighborhood Association.[27] In the early 2000s, he worked to stop fast-food franchises such as Burger King and Domino's Pizza from moving into Alamo Square.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Green, Emily (September 26, 2016). "Breed, Preston differ on housing". San Francisco Chronicle. pp. C1–C4. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Hogarth, Paul (September 20, 2007). "Dean Preston to Start Statewide Tenant Organization". Beyond Chron. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b "Dean E. Preston '91 to Receive 2016 Common Good Award Archives". Bowdoin College. February 10, 2016. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Redmond, Tim (September 20, 2018). "Statewide tenant group celebrates ten years of organizing". 48 Hills. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  6. ^ Sawyer, Nuala (May 3, 2018). "Eviction Stress Reaches Far and Wide in Renter-Heavy S.F." SF Weekly. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  7. ^ "November 8, 2016 Election Results - Summary". San Francisco Department of Elections. November 8, 2016.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "DSA SF Endorses Dean Preston for D5 Supervisor". DSA San Francisco. 17 February 2019. Retrieved 15 November 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Sawyer, Nuala (July 6, 2018). "Dean Preston Pulls Papers for District 5 Supervisor". SF Weekly. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  11. ^ Fracassa, Dominic (July 16, 2018). "SF Mayor London Breed appoints Vallie Brown, former legislative aide, as supervisor". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "Dean Preston sworn in as District 5 supervisor". San Francisco Examiner. December 16, 2019. Retrieved December 17, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ a b "Why San Francisco supervisor candidate Dean Preston is embracing the "democratic socialist" label". Salon. 2019-05-01. Retrieved 2020-08-19.
  15. ^ Brinklow, Adam (2020-02-07). "Don't bother building homeless centers in every neighborhood, says SF homeless official". Curbed SF. Retrieved 2020-08-19.
  16. ^ "Wiener calls SF supervisors vote against SB50 a 'sad day'". The San Francisco Examiner. 2019-12-17. Retrieved 2020-08-19.
  17. ^ "186 apartments to replace Touchless car wash on Divisadero in San Francisco". 2019-06-14. Retrieved 2020-08-19.
  18. ^ "Housing activist, homegrown fighter duke it out to represent District 5". The San Francisco Examiner. 2016-10-24. Retrieved 2020-08-19.
  19. ^ "San Francisco is one of California's most conservative cities - when it comes to housing". 2021-01-23. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  20. ^ a b "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.
  21. ^ "UCSF rejects S.F. supervisors' request to delay vote on Parnassus expansion". 2021-01-14. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  22. ^ Thadani, Trisha (November 8, 2020). "S.F. Board of Supervisors races: All results are called". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  23. ^ Thadani, Trisha; Tucker, Jill (November 6, 2020). "Here's where San Francisco propositions stand now". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  24. ^ "Kick Lyft out of Bike-share?". Streetsblog San Francisco. 2021-02-03. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  25. ^ "Preston calls vacancies 'the single biggest source of potential housing in San Francisco'". The San Francisco Examiner. 2021-03-16. Retrieved 2021-04-01.
  26. ^ a b "London Breed, Dean Preston argue personal, political in race". 2016-09-26. Retrieved 2020-08-19.
  27. ^ a b "Dean Preston Announces Run For District 5 Supervisor". Hoodline. Retrieved 2020-08-19.

External links[edit]