The housing crisis in San Francisco shows no signs of getting solved quickly. As everyone knows, the city is struggling to make housing available for low- and middle-income workers in sectors like non-profit, retail, and teaching. And while affordable housing development is on the rise, there are still political forces — and a battle between the mayor and the Board of Supervisors — that could slow it down.
The most recent challenge for San Francisco Mayor London Breed has to do with a $600 million dollar affordable housing bond and a City Charter amendment that will help push affordable housing projects more quickly through the construction process. And while her intentions are good with the hope to get more projects built more quickly, some supervisors are questioning whether it addresses the right problems.
Mayor Breed needs the six supervisors to sign on to the bill and while three (Supervisors Vallie Brown, Ahsha Safaí and Catherine Stefani) have signed on, it appears she's not likely to find her remaining three, as the Chronicle is reporting. And with a July 26 deadline looming, questions of whether Mayor Breed can align board members to enact change have begun to circulate.
Supervisors are apparently unhappy both with some details of the charter amendment and with the fact that it was written without first building consensus for it. According to the Chronicle, the most glaring issue is a clause preventing public appeals of Planning Department decisions on affordable housing projects. This would prevent local residents from voicing concerns on new projects that may be coming to their neighborhoods. While it may seem like this clause is aimed at preventing unnecessary delays in development, Supervisor Aaron Peskin calls this "a solution looking for a problem," and suggests there has been no epidemic of delays for affordable projects. Norma Paz Garcia, the advocacy director for the Mission Economic Development Agency, claims these types of appeals usually cost around 3 to 5 months and haven't been particularly problematic.
Jeff Cretan, a spokesperson for Mayor Breed, tells the Chronicle that none of the supervisors or their aids has "requested a briefing or a meeting to sit down and talk about" Breed's charter amendment.
Meanwhile, there is separate tension over the mayor's proposed $600 million affordable housing bond, which also has to get voted on in November, and which local unions may end up campaigning against.
If Breed cannot find the remaining three signatures from the board, the charter amendment measure will not be eligible to proceed to the November ballot. While everyone can agree that affordable housing is important to San Francisco, and having a streamlined process to ensure the projects aren't terribly delayed is a good idea, taking away the public's right to voice objections to a project is probably something that's never going to fly in SF.