The dust appears settled on the final two undetermined SF ballot measures, and the vacant homes tax has passed, while both of the dueling affordable housing ballot measures are shot down.
Those of us who stayed in on Saturday night just to watch Nevada’s Clark County and Washoe County vote updates know that election winners and losers don’t all get called on Election Night. And as such, when Tuesday’s local SF ballot measure results were announced, a couple measures were still too close to call. And we are still in ballot count limbo/suspense with the District 4 supervisor seat, and a third school board seat.
But as of Monday, we can project the winners of those two SF ballot measures. The Chronicle reports that the Prop M “empty homes tax” has enough votes to pass, while the Prop D affordable housing measure will not pass, according to supporter Sen. Scott Wiener and others. (Prop D’s rival measure Prop E was already in too deep a hole to pass by the mid-week counts last week.)
As of the latest results posted by the Department of Elections, Prop D "No" votes are ahead of "Yes" votes by over 5,500.
It appears Prop D (streamlining housing) narrowly lost.— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) November 13, 2022
Prop E — the do-nothing sabotage measure designed to take Prop D down — did its toxic job.
SF’s broken status quo remains. This loss makes it all but impossible for SF to meet its CA housing goals.
The state must step in.
Prop D was Mayor Breed’s preferred affordable housing measure, while the rival measure Prop E was favored by the progressive flank of the Board of Supervisors, and sponsored by District 1 supervisor Connie Chan. Which means we’re talking Housing Twitter spats here, and state Senator Wiener was quick to the draw. He called Prop E the "do-nothing sabotage measure" and added it "did its toxic job.”
Strange take. I wish some folks on here could engage in good faith about policy differences w/o making things up. The idea that I was the mastermind of Prop E is not factual & dismisses the work of those who authored/developed the measure. The “he kills housing” stuff is made up.— Dean Preston (@DeanPreston) November 14, 2022
But that may be a little like the chimichanga fryer calling the quesadilla pan “greasy.” As shown by the mailers at the top of this post, both measures spent plenty of time dragging the rival measure down, and both might frankly have benefited from more emphasis on explaining the positives of their finer points’ differences on area median income (AMI) requirements and percentage of affordable units required onsite. Either way, both failed, so it’s now a wash.
The Empty Homes Tax has passed with a decisive mandate from voters, despite being outspent by a margin of 3 to 1. People are fed up with tens of thousands of homes sitting vacant while thousands of people sleep on the streets. Thank you, SF voters! https://t.co/RgHKtlDife— Dean Preston (@DeanPreston) November 14, 2022
Meanwhile, we can conclude that the vacant homes tax passed, as it is cruising with a 54%-46% majority with more than 80% of the vote counted. “With the passage of Prop M property owners will have to pay tax on units that are vacant for six months or more,” as the Chronicle explains. “The tax would be applied to buildings with three or more units, if the units in question had been vacant for more than 182 days. Single-family homes and duplexes are exempt.”
Prop M’s passage comes amidst reports that San Francisco has enough vacant housing units to house the homeless population eight times over.
"Under the new Housing Element, San Francisco is required to build 82,000 new units from 2023 to 2030, which means building over 10,000 units per year starting in 2023.— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) August 2, 2022
That’s almost triple the city’s recent pace of 3,500 units annually." pic.twitter.com/cMRxn3BxQP
The call on both of these ballot measures will surely affect Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors hearing on the local housing element, that is, a state of California mandate that counties build a certain number of new units by 2030 or else risk losing hundreds of millions or even billions in state funding (a no-permit developer free-for-all is also possible).
In San Francisco, that’s 82,000 new required units. While the SF housing pipeline looks historically good at the moment, it’s not 82,000-units good. And neither Prop D or Prop E will be walking through the door to streamline more affordable units, now that we know last Tuesday’s election results.
Image: Joe Kukura, SFist