June 7, 2022 Housing Action Coalition

Don’t be Distracted by the Supes’ Anti-Housing Charter Amendment

Last month, I wrote about the Affordable Homes Now ballot measure backed by Mayor Breed and led by HAC and a coalition of pro-housing, labor, and environmental organizations that will make it faster and easier to build new homes in San Francisco that are affordable to low and middle-income San Franciscans and teachers.

Now Supervisors Connie Chan and Aaron Peskin are seeking to place an anti-housing initiative on the November ballot that’s disguised as legislation they claim will speed up the production of mixed-use and affordable homes. 

On the surface, the Chan/Peskin proposal appears strikingly similar to Affordable Homes Now. Both proposals would streamline city approval for three kinds of qualifying projects — 100 percent affordable housing, teacher housing, and mixed-use projects. 

Both proposals require that labor be paid a prevailing wage.

And both involve a 15 percent increase for qualifying projects. However, there’s a key difference: the base that 15 percent gets applied to.

Here’s how that breaks down and what it means for home builders. Let’s say a developer wants to build a 100-unit project. Currently, San Francisco requires that 21.5 percent of homes in larger projects are designated affordable so the 100-unit project would need to include  22 homes that are below market rate. 

The Affordable Homes Now measure would require a project to meet the 21.5 percent figure, plus 15 percent of the bonus affordable units. For example, to qualify, that 100 unit-project would now have to build 25 BMR homes.

The Chan/Peskin proposal, however, further increases the overall affordability requirement by 15 percent so instead of 21.5 percent it would be 36.5 percent. That means the 100-unit project would be required to designate  37 BMR homes.

On the surface, the Chan/Peskin measure appears to be the measure that more effectively addresses San Francisco’s shortage of affordable homes. Even in San Francisco, everyone can agree that 37 affordable homes are better than 25. 

However, for new homes to be built in the first place, they must be financially feasible for the homebuilders.

The additional 15 percent of affordable housing that Chan/Peskin require, won’t result in more affordable homes being built because requiring every multi-use project to designate 36.5 percent of homes BMR is largely unattainable for homebuilders. 

What’s the point of pushing for an affordability requirement that won’t actually lead to more affordable homes?

What the Chan/Peskin proposal actually is, is an anti-housing measure intended to confuse and distract voters. 

It’s no mistake that the provisions in their initiative are so similar to Affordable Homes Now. 

Having already blocked Mayor Breed’s past attempts to streamline the production of affordable housing three times, the Chan/Peskin initiative is yet another mark on an ever-growing list of anti-housing decisions by the Board of Supervisors that have undeniably contributed to San Francisco’s severe housing shortage, widespread housing insecurity, and rampant homelessness.

When the November ballots are released, if you want to help make San Francisco more affordable, vote for the real pro-housing measure: Affordable Homes Now. 

Led by a coalition of labor and housing advocates, including:

  • The Nor Cal Carpenters Union
  • Housing Action Coalition
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Greenbelt Alliance
  • YIMBY Action 
  • SPUR 
  • Grow SF

And backed by Mayor Breed, Senator Scott Wiener, and Supervisor Matt Dorsey, Affordable Homes Now is a far more realistic housing solution that will actually result in affordable homes for teachers, nurses, firefighters, and the San Franciscan residents who need them.

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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