November 14, 2016 Rob Poole

San Franciscans Vote Pro-Housing with Local Measures, Mostly


Despite what many would call a shocking and disheartening result at the national stage last week, San Francisco fared pretty well locally on housing. For this election, the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition (SFHAC) reviewed six measures and took positions on five of them. Out of those five, four of the results aligned with our recommendations. Here’s what happened and what it means for the future of housing in our City.

Prop C – Loans to Finance Acquisition and Rehabilitation of Affordable Housing
SFHAC Recommendation: Support
Result: Passed with 76% of the vote

This measure reallocates unused funding capacity from a general obligation bond that was passed in 1992 for a Seismic Safety Loan Program. Only a small portion of the bonds were issued, so Prop C allows the remainder to be used to purchase at-risk multi-family buildings and make them permanently affordable. Those buildings will also receive seismic and safety upgrades. It is a modest and sensible proposal that will help low-income residents.

Prop M – Housing and Development Commission
SFHAC Recommendation: Oppose
Result: Failed with 43.51% of the vote

Prop M would have added significant new layer of bureaucracy to approve housing in San Francisco by creating a whole new Commission to oversee the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development and Office of Economic and Workforce Development. At its roots, it was mainly an attempt to take away power from the Mayor. Fortunately, it failed by a solid margin.

Prop O – Office Development in Candlestick Point and Hunters Point
SFHAC Recommendation: Support
Result: Passed with 52.6% of the vote

Prop O exempts the master planned community being built at Hunters Point and Candlestick Point from a 1986 ballot measure that put an annual cap on the amount of office space that can be built in San Francisco. Since new office space pays jobs-housing linkage fees that subsidize housing, restricting the new office space could have delayed the entire project. With the passage of Prop O, the housing and office space at Hunters Point and Candlestick Point can move forward as planned. The only surprise here was its narrow margin.

Prop P – Competitive Bidding for Affordable Housing Projects on City-Owned Property
SFHAC Recommendation: Oppose
Result: Failed with 32.66% of the vote

This measure would have required that the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development receive three responses for any Request for Proposals (RFP) for subsidized housing projects on City-owned land. Currently, there is no requirement. It is likely Prop P would have made it take longer to award bids to nonprofits that would build these projects. The measure failed by a large margin.

Prop U – Affordable Housing Requirements for Market-Rate Development Projects
SFHAC Recommendation: No Position
Result: Failed with 35.09% of the vote

The intention of Prop U was to make the below-market-rate homes included in market-rate projects available to middle-income residents, as opposed to just low-income residents. While SFHAC supports creating more housing solutions for middle-income residents, we were not convinced this was the best way to go about achieving it. For these reasons, we could not agree on a position. Prop U failed by a large margin.

Prop X – Preserving Space for Neighborhood Arts, Small Businesses and Community Services in Certain Neighborhoods
SFHAC Recommendation: Oppose
Result: Passed with 59.39% of the vote

SFHAC strongly opposed Prop X. This is a complex measure that’s difficult to summarize and should have been addressed legislatively. In essence, it requires that any development that converts existing Production, Distribution and Repair (PDR) space must obtain a Conditional Use authorization and it replace some or all of it. It will add even more uncertainty and cost to building housing in certain neighborhoods. Unfortunately, its title and description sounded very well intentioned which probably swayed voters to pass it.

There will not be another election until June of 2018 because that’s when the next candidate races take place. Hopefully, this means San Francisco can pass real housing solutions legislatively, instead of asking the voters to make decisions on complex issues that are watered down into simple campaign slogans. It remains to be seen what issues the Board of Supervisors will address first, since there will be four new members inaugurated in January who could change its political temperament. One thing that’s for certain – housing will remain a big issue for San Franciscans in 2017!

Rob Poole

Rob is the former Development and Communications Manager at SFHAC.

Stay Up to Date

Get weekly updates with housing news, HAC updates, and more!