Stroll down Market Street during business hours and it's obvious that San Francisco is in the middle of a building boom. Behind those constant clang-bang construction sounds are some 4,000 new housing units, and aside from the 12 to 20 percent that are required to be affordable by the city, they aren't going to come cheap. The real estate website Zillow shows condo prices that range from $500,000 to well over $1,000,000. Supervisor Jane Kim wants to give San Francisco's voters a chance to force more diverse incomes in the next round of developments.
Whether or not her plan will work is up for debate.
SF Gate reported the story about Kim’s initiative for the November ballot this morning. The measure, they wrote, “would hold market-rate developers to more rigorous and time-consuming scrutiny any time the ratio of affordable housing in the city's development pipeline slips below the 30 percent threshold.”
In other words, if developers as a whole aren’t building enough affordable units, they would be forced to jump through so many bureaucratic hoops they would just decide to build more affordable housing. Then again, they might decide not to build any housing at all, or just build it some where else – which is what happened on the waterfront when the Warriors decided to move their project as a result of the Prop B campaign.
It’s a classic San Francisco housing conundrum. Housing activists will love the idea of almost doubling the affordability requirements for new projects. Developers will shoot back that slowing down housing construction in the middle of an affordability crisis is the last thing we need to do. One developer quoted in the SF Gate story said Kim's measure could add as much as two years planning time to projects.
No matter what side you stand on, expect to hear a lot more about this issue before November.
Photo by Sierra Hartman for The Bold Italic.
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