New initiatives would put projects for 100% affordable housing and housing for public educators under as-of-right approvals process and expand access to city land for new affordable housing.
Two months ago, Mayor London Breed introduced two ballot measures to expedite the process for building affordable housing. The two new measures are the latest in Mayor Breed’s campaign to make good on her promises to increase access to affordable housing and tackle homelessness.
The first ballot measure is a charter amendment which would streamline the review process for 100% affordable housing projects and housing for families with at least one employee of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) or San Francisco’s City College District. The legislation would mean that such projects operate under an “as-of-right” approvals process, meaning that they operate under an expedited approvals process so long as they meet zoning requirements. Under the charter amendment, affordable housing projects could avoid would not subject to conditional use authorizations or discretionary review.
The charter amendment, which requires approval from six members of the Board of Supervisors to get on the ballot, will face a steep road before even appearing before voters. While the amendment has had an enthusiastic reception from groups representing Bay Area teachers, it may get a frosty reception from homeowners associations who might see affordable housing as a threat to the “character” of their neighborhood. The charter amendment is co-sponsored by Supervisors Vallie Brown and Ahsha Safaí, but requires an additional four Supervisors to make it onto the ballot.
The second measure, which the Mayor can put on the ballot simply by signing her approval, would cut restrictions for building affordable housing on property designated for public use that is owned by the city, state, or federal government. The legislation would mean that approximately 500 parcels of land in San Francisco would become potential spaces for 100% affordable housing projects or housing built for San Francisco teachers.
“If teachers leave SFUSD after teaching just a year or two, if Muni operators are sleeping in their cars because they can’t afford to live here, that hurts all of us,” said Supervisor Vallie Brown.
In a 2017 survey, over half of Bay Area residents said they were struggling with housing affordability, with more than half of the respondents spending more than 50% of their income on rent. In recent years, the city has gained a reputation as out of reach for all but the ultra-wealthy. Working-class communities, especially communities of color, have been squeezed out of the city in droves.
Mayor Breed’s newest initiatives are aimed at ensuring that working-class families, such as the families of public school teachers, can afford to live and work in San Francisco.
“We are in the middle of a housing crisis that is pushing out our teachers, our service workers, and countless other residents who are to integral to San Francisco. We cannot afford to let our broken system for creating new housing continue, which is why I am introducing these important reforms,” said Mayor Breed in a press release. “Affordable housing must be as-of-right because housing affordability is a right.”
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