I was on as many street corners as possible last year, talking to voters about a citywide vision for affordability and checks and balances in government. With your support, we’ve made incredible progress. Right out of the gate, Supervisor Jane Kim and I put the nation’s most cutting-edge affordable housing requirements on the June ballot, which won resoundingly. The voters responded loud and clear that developers can afford to contribute much more toward our affordable housing creation. And it’s not enough to create new housing — we must preserve and protect our existing housing stock, and tenants, as well.
You will continue to be bombarded with campaign propaganda this season from the San Francisco Association of Realtors, among others, who will claim that they are pushing an affordability agenda of their own. Don’t buy the spin. In the alphabet soup of this November’s ballot, there’s only one measure on the ballot that will actually bring affordable housing units online, and it’s Proposition C, the Affordable Housing Preservation Bond that I put on the ballot with a unanimous vote of the Board to free up $261 million to rehabilitate, repair, and acquire at-risk housing. It’s exactly what we need to make housing safer and permanently affordable—without raising taxes (it’s a huge win for San Francisco, which is probably why no one is opposing Proposition C). But it still needs a two-thirds vote, so I hope to have your support.
FORWARDING AFFORDABILITY AND GOOD GOVERNMENT
I’ve also placed a charter amendment on the ballot, Proposition M, which would create a long-awaited independent Housing and Development Commission to finally provide oversight and transparency over two multi-million dollar city departments that largely operate behind closed doors: the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development and the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. Proposition M would also require the city to make good on its affordable housing commitments by requiring a strategic citywide housing plan, complete with an implementation timeline. The commission would provide accountability around who is receiving critical development funding from the city and weed out political corruption and patronage.
The public has been demanding a voice in the city’s process for a very long time, and it’s time to open the doors and let the sun shine in — before another Super Bowl, America’s Cup, sports arena, or Olympics bid is ramrodded through on the public’s dime. The bottom line is: If you’re happy with the status quo, don’t vote for Proposition M. If you think it’s time to shake up the status quo and provide checks and balances to an out-of-control system, this is one way to ensure the public has a place in the process. It’s past time for city leaders to be accountable to the people we represent. I’m proud to have the support of six members of the Board of Supervisors, former Mayor Art Agnos, the Affordable Housing Alliance, and the San Francisco Democratic Party. You wanted reform—here it is!
Where do the real estate agents get their energy? They’re busy-busy-busy! One minute they’re funding opposition campaigns on Ellis Act eviction reform and statewide affordable housing requirements, the next they’re raising a half-million dollars to thwart new affordable housing. Hmm, if you think that sounds fishy, you’re right: It stinks.
The real estate agents have put Propositions P and U on the ballot as an all-out attack on low-income and working-class San Franciscans — and to line their own pockets. It’s as simple as that. Proposition P is a disingenuous and cynical measure that would mandate that the city only pursue affordable housing proposals that generate three or more bids; it’s been rare for the city to receive more than two bids in this overheated market, and their measure would effectively halt the development of more affordable housing, and that’s according to the mayor’s experts
Proposition U effectively repeals June’s Proposition C, the Inclusionary Affordable Housing Act, which actually created a middle-income requirement for the first time. Proposition C allowed the board to periodically adjust these requirements according to market cycles and was overwhelmingly embraced by the voters. Proposition U would not only eliminate low-income housing by doubling renters’ eligibility requirements, but it would do it retroactively. Talk about wicked: there are almost 1,000 units of existing low-income housing in the city that would become permanently inaccessible to future low-income residents. And who would profit? The developers who would get to build housing for higher-income brackets and the real estate agents who stand to make millions in commissions. This November, for affordability and accountability, I urge you to vote for the “Housing Forward” slate: Yes on C and M, and no on P and U!
The ballot may be a mess, but it doesn’t mean our voting has to be.
See you at the polls and around the neighborhood.