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Home Featured SF’s housing policy failure on full display this week

SF’s housing policy failure on full display this week

Plus: Limiting tax pass-throughs to tenants and a report card on the SFPD. That's The Agenda for Oct. 21-27

The picture of displacement, from a budget analyst report.

The city’s failure to make sure affordable housing keeps up with office growth will be on full display at the Land Use and Transportation Committee meeting Monday/21.

The committee will hear two related items: Sup. Matt Haney’s effort to increase the fees that office developers pay to offset their impacts on housing, and a new report requested by Sup. Gordon Mar that looks at the city’s future needs for affordable housing.

The picture of displacement, from a budget analyst report.

The studies behind both items are clear and hard to dispute: The tech office boom is creating a huge demand for affordable housing, and the city is not even close to keeping up.

In fact, the report by the budget analysis on future housing needs makes clear that the city doesn’t have a “housing crisis;” it has an affordable housing crisis. And while politicians like Mayor London Breed and state Sen. Scott Wiener talk about the need to build “housing at all levels,” the real need is not luxury housing – which is getting built – but housing for everyone else.

The report has some stunning data: It notes, for example, that job growth in the city is highly bifurcated:

Between just 2016 and 2018, the number of jobs in the San Francisco areaincreased by 96,360, a 9% increase. Job growth was concentrated in high-wage and low-wage industries though housing production was concentrated on market rate, or high income, housing. Jobs in moderate-wage industries remained steady.

That is: the boom is creating high-paid jobs and low-paid jobs, and not a lot in between. We are seeing the top-end tech jobs, and the service sector jobs that don’t pay enough to cover the cost of housing.

For just 2016 through 2018, we estimate that 27,546 new low- and moderate- wage jobs were added in San Francisco. During the same time, 2,913 affordable housing units were produced for a jobs to housing ratio of 9.5.

To meet the need created by this office boom, the city should have provided 14,491 affordable housing units – “11,585 more that were actually produced,” the report states.

Housing needed at “all levels?” Well, not really:

Based on the State-defined Regional Housing Need Allocation goals set in 2015 for San Francisco for 2015-2022, as of 2018 San Francisco has produced 96% of the housing target goal for high-income households but only 39% of the target for low-income households and 15% of the target for moderate-income households.

Over the next ten years, the report finds,

Based on the number and types of housing in the development pipeline in San Francisco as of the second quarter of 2018, there will continue to be a shortage of housing units for low-income households while there will be enough housing constructed for the projected growth in high-income households.

Now connect that with Haney’s proposal. New office buildings, the study that backs up his legislation shows, create a massive demand for affordable housing. Some of the workers in, say, the Salesforce Tower are earning top wages – and developers have built, and are building, housing for them.

But at least a third of the office jobs will go to people who are low or moderate-income workers. Just to keep from making the affordable-housing crisis worse, the city should be charging developers about $190 a square foot for the housing impacts of new office space.

The current charge is $28.57. Haney wants to raise it to $69.60.

Six other supes are co-sponsoring the legislation, which so far the mayor opposes. Instead, Mayor Breed is trying to make it easier to build more offices. The four supes who are not on board are Vallie Brown, Ahsha Safai, Catherine Stefani, and Rafael Mandelman.

If Breed vetoes the bill, it would take one more sup to oppose the mayor and the developers.

The hearing starts at 1:30 pm in Room 250, City Hall.

Sup. Aaron Peskin wants to limit the impact that bond pass-throughs have on tenants. When the city sells bonds backed by property taxes, landlords can pass half of the tax increase onto their tenants – something the real-estate industry demanded in exchange for not opposing every single bond act ever to go on the ballot. But Peskin has proposed that tenants facing serious financial hardship have the right to appeal that passthrough to the Rent Board – and to spread the additional costs over a longer period of time.

That will be heard at the Rules Committee Monday/21 and (assuming is clears that committee) at the full board Tuesday/22.

The full board will also hear a detailed report on what progress the SFPD is making toward implementing a long series of reforms urged by the Obama-era Department of Justice. I hope that the recommendations of an independent blue-ribbon panelare also part of the discussion, and that the supes discus the role the Police Officers Association plays in creating what that panel called a “toxic culture.”

From a 2016 press conference releasing the report:

“The SFPD is, for all practical purposes, run by the POA,” [retired Judge LaDoris Cordell said]. “The POA leadership sets the tone, and historically, it’s an ugly one.”

She described how hard it was for the panel to find cops who wanted to talk. The POA “intimidated officers who wanted to talk to us,” she said. “The officers were told they had to go through the POA.”

In fact, the report consistently describes two visions of the department: One that comes from officers who were suggested and provided by the POA, who spoke with a POA lawyer at their sides, and who said that the department had no culture of bias or insensitivity – and a very different one that came from officers who agreed to testify only confidentially because of their fear of reprisal.

The officers who were not sent and approved by the POA described a demoralizing climate of racism, sexism, and homophobia perpetrated by a culture that promotes insiders who play the game and isolates reformers.

That hearing is slated to start at 3pm.