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Supes reject mayor’s amendment to accelerate affordable housing

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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors killed a charter amendment by Mayor London Breed that would have streamlined the process of building 100 percent affordable and teacher housing by limiting reviews of projects by city departments and commissions.

Breed hoped the charter amendment would make it to the November ballot, but the measure did pass the board’s Rules Committee Thursday. Supervisors Hilary Ronen, Shaman Walton and Gordon Mar ultimately decided to table the item.

The mayor was supported by supervisors Ahsha Safai, Vallie Brown and Catherine Stefani, but she needed at least six votes from the full board to move forward.

In a statement expressing her frustration, Breed said:

“Our process for building affordable housing in San Francisco is fundamentally broken. If we can’t even get behind a plan to remove the barriers that get in the way of 100% affordable housing, which we all agree we need, how are we ever going to solve the housing crisis that is pushing out teachers, janitors, restaurant workers, and so many other low- and middle-income San Franciscans?

She continued:

“I’m tired of people saying we’re in a housing crisis and then rejecting solutions that will actually make a difference. The status quo means less affordable housing will be built, more people will be priced out, and the crisis will only get worse. This is unacceptable and we have to do better for the people of San Francisco.”

Supervisors present at the committee hearing took issue with the amendment that would have defined affordable housing and established a number of units to be made available for teachers.

Opponents argued that streamlining of affordable housing projects can already be accomplished under Senate Bill 35.

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer contested the proposal, saying it would not have the impact Breed claimed. She said:

“What the charter amendment would actually do is redefine affordable housing to raise the income levels to 140 percent of area median income and eliminate the requirement that projects include housing for low-income households who make below 80 percent below the area median income.”

Breed’s charter amendment for teacher housing would have dedicated two-thirds of a proposed housing project for San Francisco Unified School District and City College of San Francisco teachers who make up to 140 percent of the area median income. The remaining units would be made available for market rate housing.

A single person making 140 percent of the area median income would earn $120,700. For a family a four, that number jumps to $172,400.

A majority of the board are instead backing a separate ballot measure that would not require a charter amendment.

In the board’s teacher housing proposal, all units would be dedicated to teachers. Four-fifths of the units would be reserved for teachers who make between 30 to 140 percent of the area median income and one-fifth of the units would available for teachers who make up to 160 percent of the area median income.

Under the board’s proposal, affordable housing units would be made available for those making up to 120 percent of the area median income, with a maximum average of 80 percent of the area median income.

Breed also has a competing measure on the ballot, but with the same affordable housing definition as was presented in her charter amendment, which supervisors took aim at.

Another key difference between the two measures is in how housing is zoned. The mayor’s version would allow housing in any zone with the exception of single-family zoned areas and those under the jurisdiction of the Department of Recreation and Parks.

The board’s measure nearly follows the same guideline, but includes single-family zones.

The United Educators of San Francisco opposed the mayor’s charter amendment, but are backing the board’s measure.

Fewer said:

“I have said to the mayor’s representatives, I hope the mayor will come onto ours. The one that [is] actually supported 100 percent by educators in San Francisco. I believe that educators know best about what the need is for their workforce.”

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