April 14, 2014 Housing Action Coalition

Supervisor Jane Kim Introduces “Balanced Housing Act”

Last week, Supervisor Jane Kim introduced her controversial “Balanced Housing Act”. In simple terms, it links the production of market-rate housing in District 6 (D6) to the City’s 30 percent historic production rate of subsidized housing. If production of subsidized housing falls below 30 percent, as measured quarterly, any market-rate proposal for D6 would require a conditional use permit, whether it was code-compliant or not. The legislation’s various criteria for approval of a Conditional Use (CU) permit includes one that states that the SF Planning Commission must consider whether, “the location, intensity and size of the proposed housing project and whether allowing the use will substantially hamper the location or viability of affordable housing in the … District.”
Thursday night, Sup. Kim took part in a panel discussion held by Urban IDEA, a progressive think tank focused on issues confronting urban communities. In introducing the Housing Balance Central Use District she said, “The Housing Balance creates an incentive for developers to work on the same side as community advocates, to make sure affordable housing is built and rent-controlled units aren’t lost, so they don’t go have to face the uncertainty of a CU process and have to publicly justify their luxury buildings.”
As currently written, the legislation raises serious concerns. First, it appears to suggest that, by placing significant restrictions on new market-rate housing in D6, the production of subsidized housing will be increased, something that doesn’t sound logical. Second, at a time when we need to sharply increase production of new housing to address the enormous demand being placed on a chronically inadequate supply, this measure could add even more complexity and delays to a process that already has too many. It also appears to work directly against Mayor Lee’s plan to build or rehabilitate 30,000 new homes by 2020, a plan SFHAC strongly supports.
The question remains, “Where are the resources to build 30 percent affordable housing?” We all agree that financial sources to subsidize housing affordability are completely inadequate, especially after the liquidation of Redevelopment. The SFHAC does not believe that by increasing obstacles on market-rate developers, we will increase affordable housing. rather this will make building in D6 more difficult.
The SFHAC will be following this legislation closely and calling on our members to provide insight and guidance in how to ensure this doesn’t slow down housing production in D6.
Further Reading:
S.F. supervisor pushes to boost SoMa affordable housing
Urban IDEA on Facebook
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Housing Action Coalition

The Housing Action Coalition is a member-supported non-profit that advocates for the creation of well designed, well-located housing at all levels of affordability. We believe more housing means more choices and better solutions.

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