September 26, 2016 Corey Smith

Scott Wiener Answers Our Housing Questions

Scott WienerThis November, Supervisor Scott Wiener is running to represent San Francisco and part of San Mateo County in the California State Senate. Since housing is a top-of-mind issue for many residents, the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition (SFHAC) asked the Supervisor a number of questions. As a 501(c)3, SFHAC does not endorse candidates and these answers have not been modified in any way. You can read Supervisor Jane Kim’s answers here.

What do you and your opponent have in common regarding housing and land use policy? How do you differ?
My opponent and I have very little in common regarding housing and land use policy.  I fundamentally believe that San Francisco needs to add housing stock for all income levels.  I support upzoning along transit corridors.  Furthermore, I authored legislation to add legal in-law units in the Castro, and that legislation is now being taken city-wide. I also authored legislation to eliminate conditional use requirements for affordable housing.  I have continuously supported legislation that makes it easier to build housing.

My opponent, by contrast, has a history of blocking housing.  She co-authored, supported, and campaigned for the Mission Housing Moratorium, she opposed the Park Merced development, she opposed the Affordable Housing Density Bonus program, she knee-jerk opposed the Governor’s by-right proposal instead of seeking to improve it, and she supported the for-profit Academy of Art University’s illegal conversion of rent controlled apartments.

Housing and transportation are inextricably linked. How would you advocate for smart growth in the senate?
We have to start by adding housing density along transit corridors.  I support both upzoning and density bonus as means to achieve smart housing growth.  However, additional housing must be accompanied by an efficient and fully-funded transportation system – particularly public transportation, high speed rail, a comprehensive bike network, walkable neighborhoods, and well-maintained roads – which are essential to our region’s economy, environment, and quality of life.  Great transit ensures that people can get to work on time and get their children to and from school in a safe, efficient and environmentally friendly manner.

Housing and transportation are not “San Francisco” only issues.  They are regional issues as a state senator, I would support legislation that encourages all communities in the Bay Area to create more housing and cooperate on truly regional public transportation system.

I have championed public transportation investment, as Supervisor, MTC Commissioner, and chair of the County Transportation Authority. I authored a ballot measure to tie transit funding to population growth and legislation to expand late night transportation options, and I work regularly with our regional partners, including BART and Caltrain. I’ll continue this work in the State Senate.

Plan Bay Area 2017 has suggested three different models to accommodate proposed future growth: Disperse growth throughout the Bay Area; concentrate growth along regional transit lines; or concentrate it in SF, SJ, and Oakland. Which do you support?
We need a mixture of all three.  Quite simply, we need more housing in the Bay Area, with a focus in areas accessible to transit.  

My first priority would be to concentrate growth along regional transit lines.  This has the environmental advantage of incentivizing people to get out of their cars and use public transportation.

Second, our urban centers need more housing.  The affordability crisis is real in San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland and we need to add more housing units to address it.  Market rate housing with density bonuses for additional BMR units is a smart urban housing policy that I support.  My opponent opposes this policy.

Third, we need more housing throughout the Bay Area.  People need the option to live near where they work.  I do not support “dispersing growth” in the sense of suburban sprawl.  However, I strongly support building housing near companies that employ a large work force.  Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and Sunnyvale, for example, need to build housing for the workers for the large companies that reside in those municipalities.

Following the demise of the Governor’s by-­right housing proposal, what role should market­-rate housing play in addressing California’s housing crisis?
Once again, market-rate housing can play a leading role in addressing California’s housing crisis.  On-site density bonus is a “win-win” for developers and residents as it creates more affordable housing at no cost to taxpayers.

Following on (4) above, what would a successful deal look like that included both more state funding for affordable housing as well as by-­right housing?
I support the Governor’s by-right measure with amendments that allow for design review, prevent demolition of rent-controlled housing, and other changes that stick to the core of what the Governor was proposing – requiring local jurisdictions to honor their own zoning without de facto downzoning.

Given that some of California’s communities are much more accepting of growth than others, what would you do in the senate to promote statewide density equity? What is SF’s role in this debate?
Please see my answer in question 2.

Would you support full implementation of the state density bonus in San Francisco or is it too drastic a remedy? What should we expect from you on this topic?
I’m a strong supporter of the density bonus.  Incentivizing developers to create affordable and senior housing is good policy.  I will strongly encourage developers to work with communities and stakeholders to ensure that design is acceptable to the neighborhood.


Corey Smith

Corey Smith is HAC's Executive Director and can be reached at

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