Ed Lee, reelected mayor but of a different San Francisco, today announced a new call to increase the percentage of affordable housing required from private market-rate developers building new housing. With Board of Supervisors President London Breed, the Mayor hopes to adjust what's known as the inclusionary housing policy to make it, well, more inclusionary, building consensus behind a greater new percentage requirement ahead of a 2016 ballot measure.
While the talk of the town during Lee's last term was jobs, it's now turned squarely to housing. So amid somewhat waning support, Lee is gesturing to a change in focus to match, specifically identifying homelessness and affordability as his current priorities.
"[In] prosperous times like these, we can require developers to build even more housing for lower and middle income residents as part of any new project, especially large new development projects," the Mayor argued today.
Why not take immediate action himself? As the Examiner notes, inclusionary housing is part of the City's charter, so a change to the law must proceed through a ballot measure.
As of now, developers of projects with 10 or more residential units must construct 12 percent below market-rate housing either on site or 20 percent off site unless they choose to incur a fee. No doubt encouraged by the easy passage of a $310 million affordable housing bond, Lee and Breed expect to find support from voters.
Meanwhile, several big new projects needed to up their affordable percentages to win approvals recently, including the 5M project in SoMa, which went above and beyond with 40 percent.
Said Breed, “12 percent affordable is not enough, and I have long been pushing for a new ballot measure in 2016 to increase affordable housing. I am glad we are reconvening the housing working group, and I look forward to leading the effort at the Board of Supervisors. We must push the envelope and require developers to build as much housing as possible that San Franciscans can actually afford.”
Eric Tao, who works for market-rate developer AGI Avant told the Business Times he wasn't terribly concerned. "I think everybody wants to figure out a way to increase the affordable housing percentage... We're 100 percent supportive of it, provided it works in a collaborative environment and not a combative environment."
“I don’t think private developers will ever get scared off,” Joey Toboni of the family-owned development firm the Toboni Group told the Examiner. "There’s money to be made in the City."
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