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Monday, January 30, 2023

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City HallThe AgendaSupes to consider housing farce—and start on the mayor's budget

Supes to consider housing farce—and start on the mayor’s budget

Everybody knows the Housing Element won't work, but it's going to be approved anyway. Maybe at least someone will ask some questions.

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Board of Supes President Aaron Peskin will announce new committee assignments Tuesday/24, which will give us a sense of how the new board will be leaning politically for the next two years.

But that means the current Land Use and Transportation Committee will hear and consider Monday/23 the farce that is called the new Housing Element before it goes to the full board.

Community groups rally for housing justice—but you won’t find it in the city’s plan.

Chair Myrna Melgar and members Dean Preston and Peskin will get to ask the planning staff questions, and the public will be able to comment on how the city is going to comply with a state mandate that is so far from possible that I can’t believe anyone is taking it seriously.

Of course, the state continues to say that allowing for 84,000 new units of housing, 46,000 of them affordable, in San Francisco is both realistic and necessary. So the city, to avoid facing a loss of housing money and other penalties, has to play the game.

The Housing Element will get approved. The supes have no choice. But they can ask a few questions, starting with:

The city’s own figures show that the cost of building 46,000 units of affordable housing is at least $19 billion. Does anyone at the Planning Department or in the Mayor’s Office have any idea where that money is going to come from? If not, why are we promising to do something that we’re never going to do?

Under current market conditions, no private developers are moving to build any significant amounts of housing, much less the 10,000 new units a year that the state wants entitled. What reason does the Planning Department have to think that’s going to change any time soon?

Isn’t it time that the city and the state admit that zoning, affordable housing fees, and other so-called “obstacles” are not the primary reason for the housing crisis, and that removing them is not the primary solution?

What other policy options do the planners or the mayor have to address the crisis?

The committee meeting begins at 1:30. The Housing Element will go to the full board the next day.

The new Budget and Finance Committee will start off the year with a hearing Wednesday/23 on the mayor’s five-year budget plan and instructions to department heads.

This will be the most important committee Peskin appoints; the city budget will be contentious, with significant cuts coming. A budget is a statement of political priorities, and the mayor and the supes may not agree on all of them.

We’ve already seen a pattern: The Health Department is preparing for a $47 million budget cut. The Police Department is planning for a budget increase of $11 million, which would bring funding for the cops up $68 million since 2022.

That’s a statement of the mayor’s political priorities—and the makeup of the Budget and Finance Committee, and the way its members question (or don’t question) these sorts of priorities will have a huge impact on city programs.

The hearing begins at 12:30.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

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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