The shape of the housing battle to come

Safai, Breed pit middle class against lower-income people

You could see the shape of the next big housing battle at today’s Planning Commission hearing, where Sups. Ahsha Safai, London Breed, Jane Kim, and Aaron Peskin presented competing plans for mandatory affordable units in market-rate developments.

A lot of people in the San Francisco workforce would not qualify for the "middle-class" housing Safai and Breed are promoting
A lot of people in the San Francisco workforce would not qualify for the “middle-class” housing Safai and Breed are promoting

Safai and Breed didn’t go into the details of their plans that much – mostly, they argued that the city isn’t doing enough for the middle class. Breed sounded almost like the tenant advocates who opposed her last fall, complaining about how the price of housing is destroying communities. “I miss my friends [who have been forced out of town],” she said. “I miss my community.”

She complained that the city isn’t creating housing for teachers and union workers.

The impression – and it’s one we will hear over and over again – is that the only way to build housing for the middle class is to shift some of the units now set aside for low-income people and move them to higher income levels.

“The market will never again build middle-income housing,” Safai said.

That’s true, at least in the short term – but Safai’s presentation, which simply described the housing price boom as something that came about after the end of the Great Recession – completely ignored the demand side of the supply and demand equation that developers so love.

It’s as if there were no Twitter tax break, no Google buses, no long list of city incentives to turn this into a haven for high-paid tech workers moving from somewhere else and driving up rents. The market won’t build middle-class housing as long as developers can make money selling luxury units.

If the tech industry collapsed next month, the way it did after the first dot-com boom, or some of those companies moved to other cities, property values in San Francisco might fall, and it would be cheaper to build housing. Not suggesting that that pushing tech companies out is a feasible policy option (or maybe it is), but we did the opposite, and are paying the price.

But back to the plans.

What Safai and Breed did not say is that they are proposing to reduce the amount of affordable housing available to people who make less than around $50,000 a year. Overall, they are proposing to demand less affordable housing than Kim and Peskin are.

Safai said that if the city set the affordability levels too high, projects would become economically infeasible and nobody will build anything.

But Peskin noted that he heard the same arguments back in 2002, when then-Sup. Mark Leno introduced the first inclusionary housing policy, calling for developers to make 12 percent of their units affordable at below-market rates.

“We were told the sky would fall, and it didn’t, and it hasn’t,” Peskin said. Kim gave several examples of situations where developers agreed to build as much as 40 percent affordable housing.

The message: Developers always say that any requirements or mandates will throttle them and destroy new housing and jobs and turn the city into an empty wasteland, and it never happens. They can always pay more than they do. Residential development in this city is very lucrative – as Peskin put it, in the past few years, developers “made a shit-load of money.”

And while Safai and Breed insisted that their plan would help “working families,” Peskin noted that most people whose housing would be reduced under their plan “are working people.”

The big differences between the bills: Kim and Peskin want to maximize the amount of affordable housing developers have to build – 24 percent for rental project and 27 percent for condos. Safai and Breed want to set those numbers at 18 and 20.

And while Kim and Peskin want to add middle-class housing without reducing existing requirements for low-income units, Safai and Breed are willing to trade off one for the other.

Their legislation was crafted with the input and has the support of pretty much all of the affordable housing groups in town.

The public testimony went on for more than two hours, and it reflected the political narrative that Breed and Safai are pushing: Speakers who supported their plan talked entirely about needing middle-class housing. Speakers who supported the Kim-Peskin measure argued that all of the affordability levels ought to be higher, and that the city shouldn’t take housing away from one group to give it to another.

Ken Tray, political director at the local teachers’ union, said he was tired of hearing people talk about what teachers needed. “I hear people speaking for us,” he said.

In fact, he said, the union does not support the Safai-Breed plan. “We are all in this together,” he said. “We refuse to have teachers pitted against our lower-income brothers and sisters. There is no moral foundation that will pit classroom teaches against our low-income students and their families.”

Let’s look for a moment at the San Francisco workforce (including some of the unionized workforce). A janitor makes about $34,000 a year. A hotel worker makes about $38,000. A construction laborer makes about $48,000, and a mid-career credentialed teacher makes about $63,000.

Most of those people are well below the income level that Safai and Breed consider “middle class.”

As Fernando Marti, co-director of the Council of Community Housing Organizations, noted, many of these workers “are at 40-50 percent of area median income.” With two-income households, they are at 60-90 percent.

The Safai-Breed plan allows developers to count as affordable housing priced for people who make us much as 140 percent of AMI.

“Are you going to be able to look at those union members and say that you support legislation that takes away half of the units we were going to build for you to build units for people who make more?”

Gen Fujioka, policy director at the Chinatown Community Development Center, noted that the Safai-Breed plan “is a step backward. It shrinks the amount of affordable housing.”

And that is the center of the debate that’s going to be in the center ring of the city’s housing policy for the next couple of months: Do we take housing from one group and give it to another (saying, in essence, that we have built plenty of low-income housing and need to give more to higher earners) or do we demand that developers pay enough to cover both?

And if that means that some luxury condo projects don’t get built, do we really care?

  • curiousKulak

    “Gen Fujioka, … “(this is) is a step backward. It shrinks the amount of affordable housing.””

    That is an imaginary claim. Developers have being building 12%. Yeah, Even though Prop C calls for 25%, Jane conveniently grandfathered evenyone in @12%; and no one is building 25% yet. So if Breed/Safai want to increase it to 18/20%, then that is an INCREASE. If Peskin and Kim want to raise it to 24/27%, that is also an increase. But it doesn’t “shrink” the amt of ‘affordable housing’ thats getting built. Scare tactics around housing in this town … its positively Trumpian.

    Maybe you should have described the breakout for both plans. Of that 18/20%, how many units at each AMI are required? The same for 24/27%. Is the Breed plan really reducing the number for <50% from the current 12%? Or does 12% (or more) go to <50% and the other 6% go to higher groups?

    You can decry building for the 140% AMI. But you can't deny that they are being priced out, and left out of the current equation.

    • goodmaab

      Better yet like the petition to have senators and politicians lose their healthcare. Let’s have supervisors try to find housing in SF and apply at existing sites in SF on half of what they make currently….

    • Y.

      “You can decry building for the 140% AMI. But you can’t deny that they are being priced out, and left out of the current equation.” They are not. That’s the point.

      • Cynthia

        Yes, they are. One of my relatives has lived in the city for 22 years, working and raising a family, and has never been able to afford a home. Their family is now above the 140% AMI cutoff, but they still can’t afford to buy.
        None of them would oppose taking housing away from others in order to help them, though.

        • Geek__Girl

          Let’s see….there are huge numbers of people who can’t afford to rent. If they lose their housing, they are out on the street…or at least forced out of San Francisco. And we are supposed to be upset that someone making PLENTY of money can’t BUY a house…so they can reap even more money down the road?

          • Government Shrinkage

            Being out on the street and being forced out of San Francisco is the equivalent of starving versus the restaurant ran out of your favorite Sunday. It is an _essentially_, _fundamentally_, _completely_ different thing. Housing activists in this city are constantly trying to liken the two, and that is why people keep electing ‘moderates’.

          • playland

            Being out on the street and being forced out of San Francisco is the equivalent of starving versus the restaurant ran out of your favorite Sunday.

            Good analogy, except that I think you meant “sundae”.

            I’ve read on this blog, several times, that people are living on the streets because the rents are too high in San Francisco. Which requires the belief that there are no other options.

            If you move to Vacaville at least you have ready access to a shower and a place to work on improving your earning potential. How is living on the streets of San Francisco a rational preference over being housed somewhere outside of San Francisco?

          • Sanchez Resident

            I think no-cost syringes are more readily available in the City.

          • Geek__Girl

            Yes, it is a good analogy for those who are wealthy versus those who are elderly, retired, working poor, disabled… For those in need of affordable housing, moving to Vacaville may still not be an option. And even then, it is 55 miles away from San Francisco. We are talking taking people away from friends, family, things that are a part of their life. You seem for more concerned about the rich, than those who are not.

          • Don Sebastopol

            It you don’ leave, they leave you. In my nearly 75 years all of my family and most of my childhood friends moved away (or died). Where I am now all of the original neighbors have died or moved away, and all but a couple of stores in the neighborhood are no longer in business. Most who live in SF left friends and family behind when they moved to SF. It was a choice.

          • Geek__Girl

            Yes, as one ages, you either die, or your friends do. But people should not be forced out by greed. A lot of businesses are being displaced because young fools, who have not a clue, would rather have some place that sells foie gras flavored ice cream than a long established eatery that serves incredible, and authentic food.

          • Geek__Girl

            Yes, and many don’t have the resources to leave. But your analogy is a bit selfish. You make “being forced out” sound so benign. We are not talking having to move to Daly City, or Oakland. We are talking more like out of the state, away from family, and friends. That is still quite horrible compared to, “Oh darn, we’ll have to stay in a rent controlled house, rather than buy a million dollar house that we hope to flip in a couple of years.”

          • Don Sebastopol

            What’s wrong with leaving SF to find desirable housing you can afford?

          • playland

            What’s wrong with leaving SF to find desirable housing you can afford?

            Afford, and use as a base to regroup and improve your economic condition.

            A small flat in Vallejo may truly suck but at least it gives you a place to shower and lay out your wardrobe for job seeking. Get material from the library and study it at night. If you can manage a computer and internet connection you have access to boatloads of career advancement material and can make connections.

            Which is why I can’t take people like Tim seriously when they claim that people are on the street because Ed Lee and Ron Conway raised their rents too much. Ed Lee and Ron Conway do not control rents for a 500 mile radius around San Francisco. A rational person would move out of the city, regroup, and come up with a plan to return.

          • Don Sebastopol

            I agree few will choose life on the street to moving out. But there is no need to return. There are many nice places to live outside of SF. My childhood friends and relatives who moved are glad they did. And over 80% of the jobs are not in SF, so one has a better chance of employment outside the City.

          • Geek__Girl

            Leaving friends who are more like family, leaving things that are an important part of your life, like a church, having to leave a place filled with memories…

          • SF Sunset Guy

            happens all the time, all over the country, for all manner of reasons. It’s not a death sentence or deportation. Sheesh.

      • curiousKulak

        According to whom?

        140% AMI is slighter > $100k. That’s my niece, and she shares a flat in the Haight, paying $1500/mth, and is struggling with a roommate who’s moved out.

        Yes, perhaps that means she can “afford” to pay $30,000 a year – which is $2500/. Last time I heard, thats almost $1000/ below average asking rents. Combine that with taxes on $100k, and student loans the size of a Mid-West mortgage (she was born here), and there’s precious little left.

        But my point was that nothing is being taken away; we’re discussing where the INCREASES should go toward.

        • 4th Gen SF

          That’s just it, over $100k is in SF barely making it. Outside of SFBA it’s good $ but in SFBA it’s “barely making it”.

        • Don Sebastopol

          Most of my peers when I was young, fifty plus years ago, could not afford SF without having a roommate.

          • SF Sunset Guy

            50+ years ago there was much more supply, of all levels of income.

            1967? A minimum wage job was not poverty level.

            The minimum wage had its highest purchasing power in 1968, when it was $1.60 per hour ($10.88 in 2014 dollars)* http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm

      • Don Sebastopol

        People at all income levels have been priced out since SF existed; they could not find suitable, acceptable or desirable housing they could afford. So what?

  • 4th Gen SF

    While this is an excellent article Tim 2 things stand out to me.

    1. “If there were no google buses” – if there were no google buses Tech would be driving to work, not taking a luxury bus. So tech buses are really doing the city a huge favor.

    2. Instead of a huge rigamarole to get low income & middle class housing in the new buildings one should just go to the building itself & apply, bring paperwork. That is it. SF requires meetings and meetings and lectures and patronizing attitudes. No one should have to have their dignity stripped to get housing.

    • goodmaab

      Better that they invest in mass transit and the we instead of the me or I

      • 4th Gen SF

        Probably a good idea.

    • Geek__Girl

      1. Poppycock. Many would have located closer to work, and there would be more development there. We would not be lamenting the impact of self-destructing-absorbed hipsters on local culture. We would not be seeing wonderful neighborhood places like Stelline’s, in Hayes Valley, replaced with absurdities like Nightbird. And we would not be waiting for the inevitable bust.

      2. There is an overwhelming demand for affordable housing. What you suggest would be chaos. And most of those meetings are to inform people of the process, and the requirements.

      • Government Shrinkage

        Geek_girl, you are just wrong. You may be a geek girl, but you must not know many if these techies you speak of.

        Otherwise you’d know that your poppycock comment is itself poppycock. Most techies who choose to live in the city would gladly do the commute 3 days a week, and work from home the rest of the time so that they can stay away from the cultural wasteland that is Silicon Valley. 101 would be even more of a disaster, Tesla would sell more cars (thank you HOV lane), and congestion in SF would be much worse. I’ve been here 20 years; I’ve worked in tech the entire time. I lived in the Peninsular for 2 years and SF the rest of the time.

        The one thing that will drives techies and others away is a desire to start a family. But younger will come up and replace them. Buses or no buses.

        Not everyone was here in 1998 to buy a 1500 sqft condo near Dolores Park for 300K.

        • Geek__Girl

          Oh, those poor, poor “techies.” Actually, a better term is tech bros. They are not geniuses in the tradition of Wozniak and such. They are the modern equivalent of what used to be business majors. I’ve been involved in tech for more like 40 years. I remember when coming to that “cultural wasteland” seemed like paradise. Of course, what you gloss over is that they could also live down the peninsula, work five days a week, pay far less rent, and come up to San Francisco to play. Shoot, they could take Caltrain. The things you don’t find in that “cultural wasteland” are here because, surprise, surprise, the tech bros are here. It wasn’t that many years ago that most of it didn’t exist. They didn’t come here for the culture, they came here because Ed Lee, at the command of Ron Conway, brought them here. And in doing so, they have destroyed a lot of what real culture existed. I mean, seriously, are you suggesting that the tech bros are here for the symphony, the opera, the ballet?

          And quite frankly, by the time there might be younger, the bubble will have burst, and all the trendy places will be out of business. It is the Dot.Com era with apps instead of web sites.

          • Watson Ladd

            Caltrain doesn’t work to visit SF late at night. The techies live in SF for the same reasons other people do. Short of making it illegal to move in, the demand will be there. Only question is do you build more or let prices rise.

          • Sanchez Resident

            We could build a wall across the peninsula and citizen checkpoints on the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge.

          • Watson Ladd

            Freedom of establishment. Any legal US resident can reside anywhere they want inside the US

          • SF Sunset Guy

            may I move into your house?

          • Watson Ladd

            If you pay me enough, why not?

          • Don Sebastopol

            Let the prices rise.

          • Government Shrinkage

            Far less rent? In the Peninsula? Do you know anything?

            They come here for the vibe. Culture is much more than symphony, the ballet and the opera. It’s fun theater, the parades, Off the Grid, Outside Lands, bookstores, fun bars and trivia nights. It’s art galleries, Dolores park mimes and outside screenings. All of which are crawling with many of the great people who work in the technology sector.

            Once again, do you know any of them? Have you met them? Or do you just thrown invectives like ‘Tech Bros’ because you’re too busy reading 48 Hills and Puffington Host to look around and get to actually know anyone?

            If you had taken Caltrain once (or if you have, if you had an ounce of intellectual honesty) you’d know that outside a handful of locations in PA and MV, it is way too slow and inconvenient for anyone to commute on it. We don’t have public transportation on the Peninsula. It’s known as the last-mile problem.

            So now that we’ve established that rental prices, public transportation, technology workers, culture and math are all outside your domain of expertise, what can you share with us that you know something about?

      • Don Sebastopol

        I am sure there is a demand but no particular reason to meet that demand. No one has a right to live in SF.

        There are cities in the Bay Area with more affordable housing but more workers in those cities commute compared to SF. There are many reason why someone choses where to live. In SF, higher income workers are more likely to commute than lower income workers.

        • Geek__Girl

          People basically have a right to live where they want to. That is why the police are not allowed to run off the homeless.

          A lot of low income workers have to commute into the City. The tech workers live here because their companies provide ridiculously huge rolling palaces for them. They aren’t really commuting.

      • SF Sunset Guy

        1. closer to work – ie, the mid and lower peninsula? no dice – those areas, and those that govern there don’t allow the kind of density present in SF.

        2. The demand for affordable housing is a lesser issue – the main chokehold is supply, and cost to build. This occurs in a 49 square mile city, wherein the costs of a single unit (built by private or public entities) hovers at about $1M per unit.

  • Y.

    They are arguing over small crumbs vs. large crumbs. The 2009 general plan called for 60% affordable. There’s a huge imbalance to be overcome even before we figure out what the sustainable percentage is.

    http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/2/3/san-francisco-affordable-housing-is-unaffordable.html

    • Don Sebastopol

      I like the idea of 60% because then nothing would be built unless the government pays.

      • 4th Gen SF

        But the subsidized stuff is only subsidized for 30 years right? Then it can revert, right?

        • Don Sebastopol

          I am not sure how it works, but I do recall government subsidized section 8 housing in the outer sunset that was converted to market rate apartments after 30 years. Neighbors are much happier with the section 8 housing gone.

  • Brian T

    “They (developers) can always pay more than they do.” Classic Tim. Simplistic, antagonistic, and just plain false.

    • playland

      This:

      And if that means that some luxury condo projects don’t get built, do we really care?

      Well, let’s see. Under the Kim/Peskin plan 27% of the units would have been affordable. Doing the math, 27% of zero is zero affordable units being built.

      Then there is the matter of the people who would have moved into the market rate units. In Tim’s world they just no longer exist. On planet earth they actually continue on and bid on TICs or decide to pay $5k a month rent while waiting.

      In Tim’s defense I really think that he doesn’t care.

      It doesn’t matter if we build fewer affordable units, as long as we make things tougher for those awful, disgusting high income folks.

      • Geek__Girl

        Yes, lets talk math. Zero units built means no income. That means that developers would LOSE money. They would still have expenses, but NO income. I don’t think that would last long if it did happen.

        • Kraus

          No, it means that developers will develop elsewhere; where they can make — not lose — money.
          If you make the fees/subsidy requirement too high in SF then projects will not happen and housing will not be built.

          • Geek__Girl

            As long as they make money, they will build here. They don’t have that many other options.

          • FunnyBecauseItsTrue

            Yes they do, San Francisco population is 800k, SF Bay Area population is 8m, if a developer can build housing more profitably in SJ, Burlingame, or Fremont, then they will build there instead of SF.

            Also, it has nothing to do with what a developer can afford to build, what matters is what future home owners are willing/able to pay.

          • Geek__Girl

            And yet, even though it is claimed that they could get a better return on investment (which is now disproven) they don’t. They can’t build it more profitably there, because there is not the demand, which has been artificially created by Ed Lee at the command of Ron Conway.

          • Don Sebastopol

            Developers do have other options. But that does not mean zero development, just development at a slower pace. There are studies showing that inclusionary housing means slower development and higher, less affordable, market rates. Slower development may be a good thing.

          • Geek__Girl

            Affordable housing provides for the most vulnerable, and is crucial. Slower development would be a good thing. Soon, we won’t have the resources to sustain increased growth.

          • Don Sebastopol

            “Most vulnerable?” That may be, but I haven’t seen any evidence. For BMR condos it is not true. They are purchased mainly by young professionals early in their careers. It would be interesting to see the demographics of BMR renters.

          • Geek__Girl

            BMR is for people who don’t want to wait to buy. Those people are not vulnerable. In most places, they would be considered wealthy. Affordable housing is for people who are either working poor, disabled, or retired. It is their only hope of staying the City these days. It used to be that one could get a place in an SRO for around $700 for a single room with a shared bath. Now most are either trying to illegally become tech dorms, charging $1500 a month to share a room with four others, or they have no vacancies.

          • Geek__Girl

            That is not what is being proposed or debated. The issue here is the question of who is the housing for. No one i saying they can’t make money.

    • Geek__Girl

      How so? They make truly obscene profits. So, instead they will just make outrageous profits.

      • FunnyBecauseItsTrue

        That’s just simply not true. The IRR for funding projects in SF is ~1.7%, which is quite low (average is 4 – 8 %), which means that most money goes to other investments. The vast majority of the value is captured by the landowners, who’s assets have appreciated at a high rate, not the developers, who pay market rate for land building materials, and labor.

        • Government Shrinkage

          Indeed. But math _is_ hard.

          • Geek__Girl

            Yes, for some.

        • Geek__Girl

          If the developers are making such “tiny” profits, then why are they so intent on building here? Of course, we are talking 1.7% of billions, rather than 4-8% of millions.. Even at 8% return, they are making a lot less money.

          • FunnyBecauseItsTrue

            They’re not intent on building here, projects in the pipeline are being completed, but the rate at which new projects are being proposed has dropped significantly since the passage of prop C.

            It’s pretty clear that you don’t understand how money works and you’re just here to throw stones.

            As has been noted, the difference in Safais and Peskins plan is around 50 units/year, at a total building rate of around 400 affordable units/year. A bigger issue is how to move that base rate (400/year) up by a factor of 10x. either of these plans will come close to addressing this issue and are basically political theater.

      • curiousKulak

        Curious what you feel is “obscene”, “outrageous” and “reasonable” profit.

        And how much risk should one be willing to shoulder in each case.

        • Geek__Girl

          Obscene is when you make more money than you can spend in many lifetimes. Outrageous, is when you make more money than you can spend in a couple of lifetimes. Reasonable is when you make enough to live comfortably, and provide for your family’s future.

      • SF Sunset Guy

        You’ve seen the balance sheets? The cost of building a single unit hovers around the million dollar mark

    • Foginacan

      At the percentages in these plans, shilling for construction profits should have no place in the discussion.

  • Don Sebastopol

    Raising the BMR percent should slow development. That may be a good thing.

  • Foginacan

    Why has everyone given up on the idea of a market where builders favor middle income housing?

    You can incentivize that without a BMR program that already forces warps the concept of “affordable” by forcing the truly poor to compete with those making $80,000, in the same pool.

    • curiousKulak

      Its like to hear some ideas on how to do that.

      You’d think 48Hills would be all over that. But progressives seem to feel that they must prioritize the Least able, the most marginalized, which obviously leaves out the vast majority. While I feel such strategy brought us the tragedy of the current POTUS, reasonable persons may disagree.

      • Foginacan

        At this point, I think anyone talking about influencing the housing market is thirsty to perpetuate the problem.

    • Don Sebastopol

      What is middle income housing? Wouldn’t that be subsidized housing? Builders build for the market.

      • Foginacan

        I didn’t create the “middle income housing” category.

        Builders do not always build for the market, they also build to create markets.

  • Watson Ladd

    If only San Francisco could increase the total number of units, say by looking for zones of detached single family housing and permitting apartment buildings there.

  • Don Sebastopol

    I am not clear on the concept of middle income housing. There is subsidized housing and market rate housing. Market rate housing is upper, lower and middle income housing depending.

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  • Yonathan Randolph

    Brief errata for Tim Redmond’s article:

    The impression – and it’s one we will hear over and over again – is that the only way to build housing for the middle class is to shift some of the units now set aside for low-income people and move them to higher income levels.

    No, I don’t think anyone suggested that. Upzoning is always an option to build more housing for both middle-income and low-income households.

    Kim gave several examples of situations where developers agreed to build as much as 40 percent affordable housing.

    These were the examples that Jane Kim gave.

    • Mission Rock Seawall Lot 337 achieved 40% deed-restricted to low-and middle-income housing after a large upzoning
    • 5M achieved 40% deed-restricted low- and middle-income housing, but only after taking a city subsidy and fudging the numbers
    • 160 Folsom achieved 40% deed-restricted to middle-income households after an upzoning
    • 1515 S Van Ness voluntarily provided 25% deed-restricted housing with no up zoning
    • 30 Van Ness is apparently providing 25% deed-restricted housing (15% low-income, 10% middle-income) with no upzoning after it is sold for $10 million less than last year. You could interpret this as Prop C working as intended to push land prices down. Or, since the seller happens to be the City of San Francisco, you could interpret this as a city subsidy in exchange for more deed-restricted units

    So of those examples, only one (1515 S Van Ness) achieved Prop C’s 25% affordable requirements without some subsidy or upzoning, and ironically that one is currently delayed because the BoS approved an admittedly weak CEQA challenge. But I think the real takeaway from the rest of her examples is that we should pursue opportunities to upzone while demanding greater affordability.

    They can always pay more than they do.

    Not true. Perhaps Tim wasn’t listening carefully enough, because even Peskin admitted that there are limits to how much affordability one can achieve using inclusionary housing. If you demand more affordability from a project than is financially feasible given a fixed development potential, you won’t actually get more affordable housing; you’ll get none.

    Speakers who supported the Kim-Peskin measure argued that all of the affordability levels ought to be higher, and that the city shouldn’t take housing away from one group to give it to another.

    People across the spectrum said we should not only take away from one group to give to another. We should be expanding the pie instead of fighting over which group should get a bigger piece of a fixed (or possibly shrinking) pie. Expanding the pie means looking for opportunities to upzone in exchange for more affordability.

    • Foginacan

      “SFHAC and SFYIMBY are also affordable housing advocacy groups”

      No they’re not.

      • Yonathan Randolph

        I know you think that SFBARF is “not legit“ in your eyes. I think they are sincere in their goal of making housing more affordable but differ from Tim Redmond in their assumptions (e.g., whether added supply reduces prices, and whether policy should also aim to reduce cost burdens for younger and middle-class households).

        • Foginacan

          Legit or not, it’s fraud to refer to them as an affordable housing advocacy group.

          I’m well aware they are trying to reinvent themselves to survive, however the organization spent years denying the nexus report, and opposing subsidized housing that would cut into the profits of new construction.

          You should be ashamed of yourself.

          • Yonathan Randolph

            the organization spent years denying the nexus report

            What problems do you have with Sonja Trauss’ critique of the Residential Nexus Analysis?

            and opposing subsidized housing that would cut into the profits of new construction

            I routinely see Laura Clark and SFHAC representatives support subsidized housing at the Planning Commission. What are you referring to specifically?

            Affordable housing does not only mean Inclusionary Housing. Typically, housing is considered affordable to a household if it costs no more than 30% of the household’s income. If you talk to arbitrary people about San Francisco’s affordability crisis, it is very likely that they will quote you prevailing market rents and home prices, since the majority of households (even low-income ones) shop for housing on the open market. Yet it is particularly odd that some Progressives totally exclude advocating for factors that would lower market housing prices. That SFYIMBY and SFHAC support policies to reduce market prices (in addition to supporting Inclusionary Housing) is evidence that they are affordable housing organizations.

            You should be ashamed of yourself.

            I am not ashamed to disagree with a particular party line.

          • Foginacan

            Sonja Trauss failed to disprove the Nexus study, she merely tried hard. That sums her up nicely. She is a “try hard”. If you can’t accept that there are negative effects from new construction to weigh, you’re not a reasonable voice, and you should be written off.

            “I routinely see Laura Clark and SFHAC representatives support subsidized housing at the Planning Commission. What are you referring to specifically?”

            It’s an empty rhetorical trap. Who the hell has time to use years of SFBARF’s own words against them? Remember what you yourself were saying when you opposed Affordable Housing plans during the last two election cycles? Try being honest with yourself for once.

            Laura Clark should be declaring war on Sonja Trauss if her words had an ounce of credibility. Both are deadbeats.

            SFHAC lobbies on behalf of the interests of new condo construction, and has been outspoken that affordable housing is prohibitive to a fertile marketplace. They opposed legislation on that very basis. SFBARF did the same, ridiculing Peskin, and Kim for the type of policies you’re claiming they support.

            “That SFYIMBY and SFHAC support policies to reduce market prices”

            Who truly believes that? Shoddy con artistry at it’s worst. Most people aren’t stupid.

          • Yonathan Randolph

            Alas, you are rich on insults but very sparse on evidence again. To respond to the few specific assertions you made:

            when you opposed Affordable Housing plans during the last two election cycles

            I did not. And note that there are multiple ways to increase affordable housing than just changing the Inclusionary Zoning requirements.

            SFHAC… has been outspoken that affordable housing is prohibitive to a fertile marketplace

            SFHAC’s position on Proposition C was actually neutral. They wanted the inclusionary percentages to be guided by a feasibility report, which is consistent with advocating for more supply to make housing prices more affordable.

            That SFYIMBY and SFHAC support policies to reduce market prices

            Who truly believes that? Shoddy con artistry at it’s worst.

            As I said above, they probably differ from you in their assumptions (particularly the impact of supply on prices and affordability). Listening to different experts than you is not “con artistry.”

          • Foginacan

            Evidence that SFBARF stands to “disrupt the alliance between rent control advocates and affordable housing advocates”?
            https://www.indybay.org/uploads/2015/10/21/sfbarf.png

            It takes a real low life to refer to SFBARF as affordable housing activists.

          • Yonathan Randolph

            Above I already linked to this exact [discussion](https://disqus.com/home/discussion/48hills/airbnb_tech_execs_fund_nasty_attack_dccc_attack_piece/#comment-2673899652) we had last year. Yes, Sonja Trauss’s [first slide deck](https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1EP6SUj-4bGN00x2SDsz8pUPWSjTxBDvf7YORr7ZSrEw/mobilepresent?slide=id.p) from 2014 contained a statement that she has since [admitted](https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/sfbarentersfed/1uJH2ER_ZA4/ilK8IXrSBgAJ) were confused and incorrect.

            Yes, Sonja Trauss has made statements that I disagree with. Occasionally, I think she has confused notions of a topic. On the other hand, so does Tim Redmond and everyone else. But her organization does contribute to the housing discussion in an important way by highlighting actions that would improve housing affordability that are in the blind spot of Tim Redmond’s brand of Progressives.

            It takes a real low life to refer to SFBARF as affordable housing activists.

            Look, I’m sure that we’ll never see eye-to-eye. We are separated by different experiences and beliefs, which we could narrow down if we are honest and respectful to each other. But I can assure you that the difference between us is not that I’m “a low life” and you are not.

          • Foginacan

            She’s not confused, like you she’s a bad bullshitter.

            SFBARF also said “I want “natural” (not subsidized) affordable housing.”

            The subsequent opposition to subsidized housing and refusal to support rent control – and renter protection 2.0 – and every affordable housing organization – confirms it.

            SFBARF social media still has memes mocking affordable housing requirements.

            To label YIMBY as “affordable housing activists” is beyond the pale.

          • Yonathan Randolph

            SFBARF also said “I want “natural” (not subsidized) affordable housing.”

            That’s another quote from the 2014 presentation linked above. She’s didn’t say she opposes subsidized housing, only that she also supports more market-rate housing to make market-rate housing more affordable. Wanting more market-rate housing does not conflict with wanting more deed-restricted housing, and she has since supported both types of projects at the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.

            refusal to support rent control – and renter protection 2.0

            You are probably referring to the thread in which Sonja Trauss personally supported rent control and Jane Kim’s “Just Cause 2.0” eviction protections while stating that the SFBARF organization had no position on it. I don’t see why you think this is “bullshit.” There’s nothing wrong with an organization that is focused on one issue—adding supply—that other Progressives refuse to touch. Perhaps you also think that the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is “bullshit” because it takes no position on Critical Mass?

            SFBARF social media still has memes mocking affordable housing requirements.

            Link? As far as I know, there is some tit-for-tat between some activists who are explicitly anti-market rate housing (e.g. Peter Cohen), but I have seen no opposition to affordable housing from SFBARF or SFYIMBY.

            To label YIMBY as “affordable housing activists” is beyond the pale.

            Like I said, they are advocates for more housing of all kinds in order to make housing more affordable. They do fill a gap that other affordable housing activists leave.

          • Foginacan

            “There’s nothing wrong with an organization that is focused on one issue—adding supply—that other Progressives refuse to touch. ”

            “Other Progressives”?….Holy shit, you have no soul.

            It’s the same reply as when you tried this bullshit a year ago – If you’re posing as a renters federation and you have no opinion of renter protection bills, your taking the position of not supporting it.

            “I have seen no opposition to affordable housing from SFBARF or SFYIMBY.”

            You’re a liar, and there isn’t much more to say past that. You lie.

          • Yonathan Randolph

            If you’re posing as a renters federation and you have no opinion of renter protection bills, your taking the position of not supporting it.

            Think of why the SFBC refuses to support Critical Mass: it would alienate some members and allies, it would be a distraction from more important issues, and there are already enough other supporters that their lack of support does not make a difference. Many of the same reasons may explain why a renter’s group would decline to support a particular rent control law. For many renters, rent control is the most important issue, and they are represented well by the likes of the SFTU and HRCSF. But for many other renters, new supply is a more important policy, and SFBARF exists to represent them.

            You’re a liar

            Can you cite any evidence? What affordable housing do they oppose?

  • Jane

    It is specious to claim that there are “situations where developers agreed to build as much as 40 percent affordable housing”….they are NOT building anything affordable!! They are putting money into a city pot, barely enough to pay for plans, but then the city has to come up with the money to build it..and we all know how many years that takes!! 5M is being given credit for “building” low income units because they are providing the last gap financing for a TNDC project on land owned for ten years….Yet in both of the above instances 5M claims they are “building low income housing”…..Ridiculous! Of course, they do not want any BMR’s (for middle OR lower class) in their fancy high rise buildings…..and the city is letting them get away with this!

  • wakey wakey

    One solution: require all housing property owners in San Francisco to declare it as their primary residence with a 51% per year occupancy by owner or forfeit any and all tax breaks for that property to the city; which in turn puts that money into building rental housing for those with annual incomes less than 150K indexed to inflation.

    Second solution: require any tax advantage by corporations from Proposition 13 in San Francisco be forfeited to the city and put that money into building affordable rental housing in San Francisco for those with incomes of less than 150K indexed to inflation.

    Third solution: increase rental apartment building development (with mixed use first floors) to 10 stories along all major streets in San Francisco. That means Geary, Market, Mission, San Pablo, Guerrero, Valencia, Haight, Judah, etc.

    • curiousKulak

      i can see your mandates creating housing for those making $149,000, and not a penny less!

      (BTW, “San Pablo” street is a quiet tree-lined residential street off Portola)

      • wakey wakey

        haha troll

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