Last Thursday, November 5th, the Planning Commission heard the first details on the Affordable Housing Bonus Program (AHBP). However, even before SF Planning staff gave a 1.5 hour detailed presentation, the Planning Commission voted to postpone the December 3rd vote in order to hold two informational hearings. This would push their vote to January 28, 2016. Why? Unhappy residents protested, claiming a December 3rd vote was too hasty and “not enough community outreach” has been done. In response, the Planning Department will be doing presentations in all neighborhoods to gain public confidence that this program won’t destroy neighborhood character – and will actually be beneficial!
After the Planning staff’s informational presentation, it appears the only part of the legislation still in question is how to treat buildings with existing rent-controlled units that MIGHT be demolished in order to build denser, taller buildings. Commissioner Cindy Wu requested that rent-controlled units be fully replaced one-to-one, in addition to building the 30% subsidized housing required by the local density bonus. No problem! This seems reasonable to us. Let the Commission vote to move it forward. Nope! Instead, the Commission endures yet another informational hearing on December 3rd, then votes eight weeks later, hopefully to approve the AHBP as good housing policy. In a city in the midst of a housing crisis, why are we stalling needed legislation that will help address our housing crisis? Maybe YOU haven’t said you like the AHBP yet?
After about 20 residents commented at the AHBP hearing, both positive and negative, Hiroshi Fukuda, chair of CSFN’s Housing and Land Use Committee, made the most telling comment of the day, “Owners, like me, care about our neighborhoods. The renters that testified here today, they don’t care. Owners don’t like the Affordable Housing Bonus Program.”
Wow. Really? Do the two-thirds of San Francisco residents who are renters not care about the neighborhoods they live in?
Sadly, Mr. Fukuda wasn’t alone. Most who said, “Wait, we haven’t studied this enough,” are those who already have their piece of the San Francisco pie. Their focus was on shadows cast on their yards, and preservation of “neighborhood character”(as they define it) rather than finding ways to build more housing to accommodate the City’s growing population.
It is time to STOP pointing fingers about who “cares most” about San Francisco. Let’s face it, we all care. Most importantly, we need to STOP delaying smart, well-conceived housing policy. It is time to move the AHBP across the finish line!
If you haven’t signed the AHBP petition yet, we invite you to join 380 locals who have say YES to new programs that promote modestly increasing height and density along transit and commercial corridors that build 30% affordable housing for low and middle income residents. Can we get 500 signatures in SUPPORT of the AHBP by December 3rd to show who really cares about San Francisco?
A Richmond resident said it best, “The size of our buildings do not make our city wonderful, the people do.”
Sign and share the Affordable Housing Bonus Program online petition! And if you can join us for the December 3rd hearing or follow our live tweeting #SupportAHBP!