July 14, 2014 Housing Action Coalition

Update on Dueling Housing Ballot Measures

Lee and Kim
At the time we’re writing this, the upcoming November election may have two competing housing-related ballot measures, one from Supervisor Jane Kim and one from Mayor Lee. The confusion around this has unfortunately caused political gridlock and stalled progress on various housing and land use policy discussions that were underway.
As discussed at the July 11th Regulatory Committee meeting, SFHAC believes that Sup. Jane Kim’s proposal could cause serious complications for housing affordability and production. Basically, Sup. Kim’s Housing Balance Requirement requires that any new development seeking approvals when the City’s overall affordable housing production rate falls below 30 percent must obtain a conditional use permit. To our members, this would guarantee that any code-complying project could be subjected to virtually endless appeals and delays. In response to her measure, Mayor Lee introduced his own called Build Housing Now. Among other things, his measure has two significant components. It sets a goal that 50 percent of new housing built be accessible for residents in the very-low to moderate income range. Second, his measure contains a poison pill to Sup. Kim’s which states that new land use regulations cannot be imposed on projects proposed within existing area plans or former Redevelopment Areas. This would significantly reduce the impact of Supervisor Kim’s measure because most new housing is currently built within area plans.
Background Information
Last December, the Mayor announced a major housing plan for the city to build 30,000 new homes by 2020, 10,000 of which are to be affordable to very-low to middle-income households. The SFHAC strongly supports this plan. In early 2014, Mayor Lee convened three sub-groups to propose ideas for a) legislative solutions, b) funding strategies, and c) process improvements to help the city reach this target. Months of work and meetings went into these groups, two of which had heavy SFHAC involvement. However, when Supervisor Kim introduced her ballot measure, the Mayor’s task force immediately stopped its work because of the uncertainty the Housing Balance Requirement would create for issues being considered. The Mayor introduced his competing measure shortly after.
What comes next?
Negotiations are currently taking place between both camps to attempt a legislative compromise. The SFHAC would prefer that both the Mayor and Supervisor Kim withdraw their measures and support a legislative solution that includes input from the entire spectrum of housing stakeholders, something Sup. Kim’s lacks. The deadline to withdraw the proposed initiative for the November ballot is the end of July. However, if both sides decide to proceed with their measures, SFHAC members unanimously agreed to support the Mayor’s ballot measure.
Summing it up
The SFHAC does not believe complex land use and policy decisions should be taken directly to the voters, which is why we’d prefer to see both withdrawn and legislation pursued instead. However, we are concerned that Sup. Kim’s measure promises severe unintended consequences that will harm housing affordability and increased production. The Mayor’s proposal encourages pursuing new funding strategies for affordable housing, which is what San Francisco needs most badly. This is, ironically, supported by all housing activists.
Image credit: Fog City Journal
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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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