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News + PoliticsMayor to offer $50 million for affordable housing sites...

Mayor to offer $50 million for affordable housing sites in the Mission

His move is clearly aimed at heading off a moratorium ballot measure — but it’s also a sign that the huge, noisy protests are having an impact


Thy mayor hid behind closed doors while Mission activists demanded action -- but he knows he can't hide forever
Thy mayor hid behind closed doors while Mission activists demanded action — but he knows he can’t hide forever

By Tim Redmond

JUNE 9, 2015 — Mayor Ed Lee is going to announce that he’s adding $50 million to his fall housing bond proposal and will set aside that money for site acquisition in the Mission, I’ve just learned.

The move reflects the mayor’s recognition that the Mission District is organized, angry, and fed up with City Hall’s inaction, and comes in the wake of a series of demonstrations and a move at the Board of Supervisors that was just two votes short of enacting a moratorium on new development.

The mayor likely wants to head off a fall ballot battle over the issue.

Of course, if the housing bond passes, it would still be well into 2016 before the city had the money to start looking for property to buy for affordable housing – and without a moratorium, the last few appropriate sites may well be gone, snapped up by private speculators looking to build luxury condos.

It’s not clear at this point if the Mission community leaders are going to move forward with a ballot measure. This November won’t be a great time for progressive issues – there’s no seriously contested mayor’s race, and no national or statewide races to drive turnout.

And developers would pour millions into defeating a moratorium proposal.

Still, the idea is clearly popular across the city, and if Lee is running a bond campaign with the promise of money for Mission site purchases, he’d have a hard time saying that the city shouldn’t slow down the land rush that is making those potential purchases more expensive by the day.

What the mayor offers won’t be enough to satisfy his critics in the Mission – but it’s a clear sign that the mobilization, the organizing, the protests are having an impact.  Ed Lee wouldn’t come out of his office to talk to the activists – but he’s heard their message.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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  1. I thought Redmond was going to limit the postings of people who go on and on and use this page as a place for “p——g” contests and their own personal debating page.

  2. The Mayor is largely responsible for this housing crisis, for gentrification, displacement, eviction etc. It began with the tax breaks given to hi-tech without planning for the huge influx of workers into SF with higher than median range salaries. National Urban planners agree with this. The Mayor is hardly calm. A real profile of the Mayor would surprise some but not all of the residents who have seen through his facade and some of his tactics. The rest is for the insightful to discuss.

  3. Yes, sffoghorn you have a backup because that is what the SF controller said. I am as fed up with these non-experts posing as such as I am of the Mayor mis-leading the public – on and on with their pet theories and attacks on progressives what ever that word means today.

  4. You hang out in a very insular and self-reinforcing circle. Do you know any Chinese people?

  5. Except for that pesky polling that points to the contrary. AirBnB is taking a breather because of the bad press. The voters oppose the corruption and give aways.

  6. The real point is your extremist viewpoint has no traction.

    But then you are not really vested anyway

  7. You like it when the progressives “fuck it up” becuase they are doing what they are paid to–anti-organizing.

  8. No, the in-lieu payment option is important, because putting poor people in a luxe building often doesn’t work out. Apart from the obvious social issues, there is no discount on things like property tax and maintenance and HOA fees which, alone, can be a couple of thousand a month

  9. There is nothing liberal about social engineering and trying to micro-manage what people do with their own properties

  10. Even if we expanded RC, it would only help out swells that currently pay $4000+/; and still leave you SOL.

    As for the build instead of pay, good pt.

  11. I can understand your frustration. But its becoming a bit laborious to continue hearing about the general ‘nefareous’ forces at work.

    “Corruption”, to me, is something like the Dennis Haslett business (both parties!!), padded payrolls, ghost employees, under-the-table payments. Apparently even the insider ‘trading’ of PGE & PUC doesn’t rise to the level of “corruption”, though it sure stinks.

    So, please, flesh out a little more of these dealings and details. I”m sure we would all like to see the gory bits.

  12. Technically, you are probably correct. And in fact I don’t know whether those SFHA units, unliveable even by their standards, are counted by ACS, CA-DOF or other agencies as being ‘on-the-books’ housing or not.

    But in the total ‘supply’ equation, they constitute additional, “new” units. Does that make sense, or should we draw mustaches on each others avatars?

  13. Nah, they’re just Stalinists who compromise liberalism by cutting crap deals with capitalists.

  14. There’s already too much public and low income housing in the Mission. We don’t need anymore.

  15. I have been on the Mayor’s Housing Office Below Market Rate Rental email list for over 5 years now. There is never more than one or two rentals listed every few months. I’ve been told that the way it is structured now developers are encouraged to build a certain percentage of affordable housing units, but if they don’t they can choose to pay a fee that goes into some city housing budget. I wonder if someone could explain how it’s possible that there have only been a handful of rentals announced through that office for the last five years. Personally I think that rent control should be expanded, and building the affordable units in SF should be mandatory.

  16. Just “new’ in the sense that they are uninhabitable now, but when renovated will be able to house people again – ergo “new units”.

  17. A recent poll showed Lee as having as having a 38 percent approval rating – of course he will win with no major moneyed opponent. As a native of this City, I have yet to talk with any one who is not upset by Lee’s selling out to the hi-tech firms and big developers. Many people have been negatively effected by his policies. SF’s eviction rates and housing costs are at an all time high and people are in shock hoping for a dot.com crash or an earthquake. SF City workers who are union members (as opposed to the hired union hacks) want him out of office. The first thing he did was hack away at their benefits under the guise of pension reform. Now his developer friends are going after the Mission District which already has a huge amount of displacement going on and very little affordable housing being built ie 7 percent. What some of you are calling growth, is really allowing highly paid workers in the tech field along with the CEO class, as well as land and property speculators to push out long time S.F. Residents. This is not growth it is invasion without military weapons.

  18. It is called a compromise. Nobody gets everything they want but everyone gets something

    It is how politics works unless you are an ideologically crazed extremist with on mandate or common sense

  19. If the bond measure passes, taxes will not go up because it merely replaces an existing bond which is expiring.

    If the voters want to build subsidized housing they should be willing to pay for it. There is no free lunch

  20. Again, whether someone does a good job does not depend on where they live.

    The community is not what you think it is and the Mission is not a jurisdiction. Planning is a city-wide function.

  21. You are just like the nonprofit commuter “mission community leaders” in that you all only want the people at the table who agree with you because none of you trust the community.

    Since the hack parade is not doing a good job as measured by the outcomes to the community, but are doing a good job because they keep getting paid to fail their community, it is clearly time for these hacks to step aside and make way for self-determination.

  22. Soaking the taxpayers to backfill the race oriented corruption of the SFHA creates no net new units.

  23. A compromise solution with broad support is better than an extreme solution. Politics is all about the art of the compromise.

  24. If Lee (Steve Kawa) thought it was a dumb idea, he would not have thrown $50m at CCHO to make the “dumb idea” problem go away. What is a dumb idea is that these corrupt nonprofit capitalists are speaking for communities they’re screwing for profit.

  25. Bond money going to the SFHA provides no net new units, it merely pays off the debt incurred through years of conservative Democrat corruption at the SFHA.

  26. The people are included. They vote, and they voted for a pro-development mayor to decide such things

    The Mission doesn’t have its own mayor

  27. No, vratim is correct, the demographics doom progressives in SF. And that is why people like Redmond and Campos advocate for no change, because they want to freeze their support in time rather than watch it slowly erode.

    It’s a myth that progressives were ever a majority in SF, and election results since 2006 are the norm. It is the brief progressive wins in 2000-2005 that were the exception

  28. So you agree with the Chinese Communist leadership on how to keep the people excluded from the political process. Perhaps you’d be happier in Communist China?

  29. The Mission is not a jurisdiction, and planning is a city-wide function

    Where someone lives is relatively unimportant

  30. A derelict unit made fit for habitation adds a home to the stock in the same way as building a new home, but is cheaper

  31. According to one flawed poll while all the other evidence indicates people think it is a dumb idea

  32. You disagree with everyone. The reality is that you are an extremist and most SF voters are moderates

  33. Read up on the principles of taxation and you will learn that. The reasons are obvious. Partly so that rates can be as low as possible and no one group faces an unfair burden. And partly, when it comes to voting, so people make more informed choices.

    2/3 of voters are tenants and if a bond measure cost them nothing, they would always vote for it. There should not be a free lunch

  34. Blah blah.

    The reality is that the voters have been electing pro-growth, pro-development mayors since the 1980’s.

    The reality is that the voters are much more moderate than you like to think.

  35. It’s not clear at this point if the Mission community leaders are going to move forward with a ballot measure.

    Few if any of these “Mission community leaders” live in the Mission neighborhood, yet they are granted say over the future of the community because they can be relied upon to put their interests before those of the Mission.

    The People’s Army in China used a similar tactic when repressing the pro-democracy movement in 1989, trucking in troops from the countryside with no connections to the protestors to squash aspirations towards self determination in Beijing.

  36. Progressives have been losing more and more elections since 2006.

    The ones who have won have been politically isolated and neutralized and in the case of Mar and Kim have adopted an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach.

    The goal here is not to govern with any left-of-center/liberal/progressive values.

    Nope, demographics are only a problem to the extent that they impinge on the free flow of public dollars to the poverty nonprofits.

    And even in the absence of winning elections, they’re willing to capitulate on every significant political issue in order to keep their cash flowing.

    The simulacra of resistance is shameless in the depths it will go to pander and screw the constituency upon which it relies for votes.

    That serial screwing is what drives voters away and exacerbates the political death spiral.

    Half of the professionals are aging in place and will be gone soon.

    But the younger ones will find themselves without chairs as the music begins to stop.

    Hence the need to dip into the public trough with bond measures to set themselves up for after the political end times.

  37. It is not so much that Lee will win, it is that the “progressives” are cornered to the extent that any challenge to Lee will cost the poverty nonprofits their city funding. Elections can be won or lost, in this case the “progressives” have signaled their surrender, as with the moratorium, in favor of whatever you want, mister mayor. These hacks are the ones who set the terms of “officlal” resistance to the neoliberal rule, terms that are all favorable to the neoliberals. This is why they are hacks and this is why progressives should fight to cut these hacks off from city funding so that they can do no more damage.

  38. The SFHA work is for rehab of existing units allowed to decay into dilapidation under Steve Kawa’s watch. no net new units there.

  39. The CCHO is in all of the housing bonds. In general proceeds go to CCHO and the SFHA although MEDA has their eyes on the Mission portion of this next one. It is always fun to watch the nonprofit charity saints claw and fight amongst themselves for their share of our money as if they were their own personal private property entitlements.

  40. They keep fucking it up I keep disagreeing with them. There are other more fruitful vectors for participation that don’t involve such ethical corruption in fact have begun to shine the light on such conduct.

  41. Nope, the will of the voters as expressed by the polls was thwarted on behalf of the community by the nonprofit developers and their allies who by and large don’t live in the community.

  42. Where is this fundamental rule written that taxes should be broadly based so that everyone has some skin in the game?

  43. Interesting.

    Shall we put money on it? If Lee does not win, I’ll buy one round for a bar of your choosing. If he does, we flip.

  44. And yet every published poll has him at 60% or above. While your private “sources” have it much lower, of course, because that serves your narrative better

    Either way, Lee is sailing to re-election on a solid pro-growth platform

  45. A fundamental rule of taxation is that it should be broadly based so everyone has some skin in the game.

    The developers already pay as much as can be gotten.

  46. Evidently there is little support for such a futile gesture. Better to work with what we already have.

  47. The CCHO is the Council of Community Housing Organizations. It is the cartel that Calvin Welch, Sue Hestor, Dale Carlson and Rene Cazanave, the “San Francisco Information Clearinghouse” set up to mediate between the nonprofit developers and the City and corporate San Francisco.

    Most all of these groups are in CCHO:


  48. The 2015 Affordable Housing Bond will support geographically targeted construction of affordable housing, acquisition of existing rental buildings in which tenants are at risk of eviction, repair of dilapidated public housing, and create middle-income rental programs. In addition, the first-time homebuyer programs will be expanded, and the Teacher Next Door program will be renewed and increased.

    Where is the CCHO involved? How does this ‘soak’ anyone?

  49. “It’s not clear at this point if the Mission community leaders are going
    to move forward with a ballot measure. This November won’t be a great
    time for progressive issues – there’s no seriously contested mayor’s
    race, and no national or statewide races to drive turnout.”

    I would have thought from a political calculus perspective, old guard progressives are fighting a losing demographic battle. What has tended to keep them in office is that new arrivals, who are the ones being gauged by SF ruinous housing policy, are younger and don’t vote in large numbers. That may underlie the very low (and declining) voter turnout in city-wide elections. If they are unable to get an anti-development initiative through this year, their chances must be worse trying to get it passed next year or further down the road as eventually the new arrivals mature and become more civically engaged.

    That’s a cynical take, but it does make me wonder how much of the moratorium was grandstanding. Given the nakedness of the emotions on display, it’s disconcerting that some might have been playing it as a manipulative game. On the other hand, it would somewhat reassuring to know that at least some people who supported it weren’t so intellectually impared as to think that the moratorium would actually accomplish anything useful.

  50. Probably plenty more than 5-600. General rule of thumb: 1 BR unit costs $500k. FOT, some money will be spent on rehab SFHA projects, so no land costs.

    Also, over time rents/purchases will repay 20-50% of those costs, so maybe 3x? 5x the original number units, or, just guessing, 1000-2500? Still, this is not even a 1% increase in housing stock!

  51. So you admit that tenants will pay for what the developers are too cheap to pay for that might translate into some affordable units in the Mission, might not, so that developers get to build more luxury condos in the Mission.

  52. I’ve seen the cross-tabs. Rare is the district where Ed Lee eclipses 40% job approval rating.

  53. A well crafted ballot measure going up against ruthless opponents would have included rezoning like all other interim control moratoriums have. That’s the point.

  54. This is a GO bond?

    Regardless, owners paying 50% is bunk. What possible benefit do owners get from building more housing? Tenants, marginally, get more housing/lower prices/more options. This is not like some improvement to sewers or building a new fire station where the benefits are generally shared. This bond would act to the detriment of rental owners, and property owners in general, putting downward pressure on prices. To that extent, it should be 100% paid by tenants.

  55. The nonprofiteers are closing ranks and going down like $3 whores for this, hiking up their skirts for the first pimp to call ’em pretty.

  56. If tenants did not have to pay for bonds then they would pass every bond. If you vote for higher taxes you should share in the pain.

    And tenants want more BMR homes because that would give them the security that the current market does not give them

  57. Nope, because new zoning was never on the table. The area is covered by the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan

    The bond buys 100 new BMR’s and the now-doomed moratorium would have lost 100

    That is a net gain of 200 BMR’s.

  58. The bonds are passed through 50% to tenants who get to pay to make life easier for developers who displace them.

  59. I thought you supported the redistribution of wealth away FROM wealthy white male property owners and tech workers like you TO less fortunate and privileged people of non-whiteness?

  60. The bond won’t cost any more, because it will merely replace a previous bond that is expiring

  61. When the alternative is handing such decisions over to a small bunch of self-serving, biased and unelected activists like you, I believe that most people would prefer the matter negotiated between those we elect

  62. Translation: How is Campos selling out the neighborhood to the Mayor on behalf of the affordable housing developers so that developers can continue to build luxury condos in any way a defeat? That is what he is supposed to do.

  63. The nonprofits are not responsible for the City’s housing crisis, they are responsible for no coherent opposition to the neoliberals and the decimation of their claimed constituencies. That is why Steve Kawa funds them.

  64. The taxpayers will be on the hook for paying off the CCHO so that developers can continue to build luxury condos without hindrance.

  65. Lee’s bond will not increase property taxes because it coincides with the retirement of a previous bond. So no net increase.

    I personally think that taxes should go down, but the Lee/Campos/Redmond compromise is a lot better than the alternatives

  66. How is Campos and the Mayor working out a compromise in any way a defeat? That is what they are supposed to do.

  67. NYC means tests rent control. Is that your big idea?

    Vacancy control is illegal at the state level, which is not true in NY.

  68. Vacancy control? M.A.D.

    How does that help the middle & working class? It just assures cheap rent for swells. (who do you give the vacancy to? the wife-beater or the Beamer-driver?)

  69. How will this be a direct tax increase?

    Can’t he just pay for it by denying rape kits and body cameras for sheriffs?

  70. Most of the tougher rent controls you’re probably looking for have been ruled out by the state government (e.g. via the Costa-Hawkins Act). You’re going to need to look to Sacramento, not SF, if you want to fix that.

  71. The non-profits are just special interest groups. They exist mostly to perpetuate themselves. They share a lot of responsibility for the city’s housing crisis.

  72. SF already has really aggressive controls on rent. What would tougher controls look like? Wouldn’t they further incentivize getting long-term tenants out of rent-controlled units via Ellis, OMI, etc?

  73. There is another problem: Lee’s build more approach is a long term answer to an immediate problem: soaring rents and gentrification-caused dislocation of existing residents, small businesses, artists and nonprofit service agencies. By the time he gets his new housing built, even if it serves low income residents, this gentrification process will have been completed.

    I just returned from a trip to NY City, which also has a housing crisis. Building more housing is part of the answer proposed by the mayor, but so are tougher controls on rent, including vacancy rent controls. My sense from reading the news was that New York is much more committed to economic diversity than San Francisco is.

  74. I support a housing bond. But even $550M (or whatever the proposal is now) isn’t going to do a whole lot. Maybe 500-600 units? I think we should still do it, but there needs to be a relaxation of zoning/streamlining of the planning process to allow more market rate as well. We should also tax peid-a-tere, and offer increased variances for larger BMR components/in lieu fees.

  75. At best, it would defer the building of those BMR homes. At worst, it would reduce them. Either way, not worth doing. The mayor’s compromise idea is much better

  76. You hate everyone so the fact that you hate a couple of specific individuals doesn’t add any value or information

  77. And yet Lee had a landslide 60/40 win over the anti-growth Avalos, his approval numbers have held around those levels, and he is a shoo-in to be re-elected.

  78. Yes, good point, why should non-Mission taxpayers pay more tax to give the Mission more money?

    Still, 50 million will build 100 BMR units. A moratorium will cost about 100 BMR homes in reduced developer fees. Looks like a no-brainer to pass the bond, kill the moratorium and get 200 affordable homes in the Mission

  79. By that argument, since both landlord and tenant lobbyists hate Airbnb, then Airbnb must be doing something right

  80. And why might that be? Run against Lee and lose and he cuts off the nonprofits. The nonprofits are more important than any of their claimed constituency or than the 4/5 of San Franciscans who they hold in contempt.

  81. Stuart is officially running for mayor of San Francisco against Lee. His website is here: http://brokeassstuart.com/ Stuart is a very regular guy that represents the majority while Lee pushes measures for the 1%. If anyone is interested in this race, read up on it, study it, join it, and help spread the word that there’s a possible race against Ed Conway-Lee…

  82. Folderpete, from this article it appears you need 67% AND to raise property taxes. I don’t know if districts other than the Mission will go for that. If that is the case, Ed Lee is pulling a “fast one” on the Mission protesters to quell the Mission’s moratorium momentum.

    “The mayor has repeatedly said a $250 million bond, which needs a two-thirds majority to pass, represents the largest bond the city can float without raising property taxes.”


  83. Another inadequate proposal by the Mayor to appease the general public. I hope the Mission District residents and the Housing activists don’t fall for it. From day one the Mayor has insulted the intelligence of San Franciscans and ignored the damage he and his cronies have inflicted on us.

  84. It’s a reference to a deeply flawed poll that some dishonest progressives have seized upon as evidence that the voters think building nothing is a viable solution.

    Those same voters who are going to give our pro-development mayor a landslide victory in November!

  85. The 2/3 number is bogus, as you well know. Mist voters outside the Mission have no reason to support a hlat only in the Mission.

    It is not clear that the housing bond, which needs 2/3 to pass, will prevail either. The last two failed but this one might just squeak through, as long as there aren’t any other tax hikes to be voted on at the same time.

    A compromise deal like this makes more sense than extreme solutions like building nothing or building everything.

  86. Please someone tell me why certain small groups of SF people are entitled to drastic discounts on housing costs when everyone else has to pay dramatically higher housing costs to support these ENTITLED few people?

    Who is supposed to pay this $50 million or the other $500 million to be put on a November ballet measure to give certain SF voters discounted housing?

  87. They are not going to the ballot for the moratorium and rezoning. When people don’t go to the ballot when there is evidence of 2/3 support in March, then something else is going on. Sheer political incompetence and maliciousness.

  88. His bond needs 67% to pass, right? Maybe he’s taking out a bit of insurance that it will do so. Is it really a slam dunk now?

    And how does this compare with Avalos’ measure? Does he even have one?

    And, why can’t they use some of the funds already accumulated for “affordable housing” sitting in the MOH bank?

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