By Gordon Mar : sfchronicle – excerpt
San Francisco has the highest income gap, one of the fastest-growing wealth gaps, and some of the highest housing costs in the world. This isn’t news, but it bears repeating as we consider how best to address our affordability crisis.
Some have reduced our housing debate to simple supply vs. demand, Yimby vs. Nimby. This framework isn’t only unhelpful, it’s actively harmful, and ignores the complexity of our affordability crisis. The question isn’t whether we should build more housing or not — we must. It’s about what we build,how, and for whom.
This is why I’ve authored a resolution opposing state Sen. Scott Wiener’s SB50 unless amended to address concerns from communities and affordable housing advocates. A majority of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has joined me in cosponsoring the resolution.
Opposing SB50 doesn’t mean opposing increased density. We should increase density, especially near transit, and we should update our zoning to allow for this. But we, the communities and residents who live here, should do this through a robust community-led planning process, not through mandates handed down from Sacramento…(more)
Gordon Mar represents District Four on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors…
Our city has a long and successful history of using community plans to envision and guide change in our neighborhoods, going back to the 1980s with the Chinatown and North of Market plans to the more recent Central SoMa plan. But that approach is now put into question by SB50, which goes for a first hearing on Tuesday in Sacramento.
In a city with more vacant homes than homeless people, where luxury condos are proportionally overproduced and affordable units under-produced, this crisis can’t be framed simply as a problem of housing supply and demand that is solved by giving developers more carte blanche control over development. It’s a problem of equity and access. Real solutions must give residents a voice in the decisions that impact our lives.
SB50 is not an affordable housing strategy. We have disproportionately built housing unaffordable to most San Franciscans, a practice that not only fails to address the demand for truly affordable housing, but also raises median housing prices and rents as luxury development gentrifies our city.
The Planning Department’s latest pipeline report shows that 94 percent of the city’s projected market-rate-housing needs through the year 2022 have already been built, while barely 30 percent of all affordable housing needs for low- and middle-income households have been produced. Nearly 45,000 additional housing units already approved for construction have not been built.
Simply upzoning and loosening density restrictions won’t get them built, and allowing more luxury condos won’t make them affordable to most San Franciscans.
We need to guarantee housing affordability ahead of density decontrol. SB50 guarantees zero increased affordable housing and drives up land costs, making 100 percent affordable housing development more difficult. It’s a giveaway to private developers without asking for anything in return. While some affordable units would be built in larger development projects, this is thanks to our local inclusionary requirements, not SB50, and not nearly enough to offset how market-rate development would drive up prices.
We need to guarantee protections for residents.
The bill itself acknowledges this by limiting demolitions of certain rental units, but it’s unenforceable without requiring or funding a rental registry. It also includes a five-year deferral for “sensitive communities” in gentrifying areas, but this definition is insufficient and doesn’t allow San Francisco to identify our own vulnerable populations. And it’s a deferral, not an exemption, giving vulnerable residents time only to plan for their own displacement, and perhaps try to prevent it. SB50 certainly doesn’t.
We can do better than SB50, and we must, for ourselves and our communities. We need to:
Make it easier to build 100 percent affordable housing, which is why I joined with Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Vallie Brown to waive fees on accessory dwelling units and 100 percent affordable housing projects.
Invest in site acquisition to remove housing from the speculative market, as the Board of Supervisors did in February with the windfall from the education revenue augmentation fund.
Streamline the approval process and invest in 100 percent affordable projects, as the mayor and the board will be proposing with an affordable housing bond this November.
Focus on 100 percent affordable projects and have real conversations about housing that can meet the needs of low- and middle-income families and our growing senior population.
And yes, we in the Sunset District and other low-density areas need to create community-driven area plans to increase density in our neighborhoods: plans to include affordable housing excluded in historical — and historically racist — zoning practices. We need to build housing for our communities’ needs, not developers’ bottom lines.
Trickle-down housing contributed to our affordability crisis, and trickle-down housing won’t solve it. Real solutions begin with working with communities to plan affordable development that meets our needs.
Gordon Mar represents District Four on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors… (more)