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Proposal over affordable housing requirements expected at end of month

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How much affordable housing developers will have to contribute to San Francisco remains unknown after a proposal to set such requirements was postponed Tuesday.

Supervisor Ahsha Safai, who held off on introducing the proposal, is emerging as the swing vote he was expected to be since prevailing in the November election to represent District 11, and that power is becoming evident as San Francisco debates the future of its inclusionary housing requirements, the percentage of affordable units a developer must provide on or off site.

SEE RELATED: Final SF inclusionary housing report recommends split requirements for rentals, for-sale properties

The affordability is tied to specific area median incomes and includes both low- and middle-income earners.

These requirements have come into play after supervisors Jane Kim and Aaron Peskin placed on the June 2016 ballot Proposition C, which was approved by voters and requires 15 percent of units affordable for low income earners — an increase from the previous 12 percent — and 10 percent for middle income, but also authorized the board to adjust those percentages in part by referring to economic analysis provided by the City Controller’s Office. The first advisory analysis under Prop. C was released Monday.

Safai was expected to introduce inclusionary housing requirements Tuesday but held off.

Calling it “my legislation,” Safai told the San Francisco Examiner that he wanted more time to try and reach a “meeting of the minds” among board members.

Safai declined to further discuss details about those talks or possible percentages.

Mayor Ed Lee told the San Francisco Examiner Tuesday that for the inclusionary housing changes, “I am in talks with Supervisor Safai, with [Board of Supervisors President London] Breed, with Supervisor Mark Farrell — who are leading the effort.”

“They wanted a little bit more time to get the numbers right and to make sure that as many of the supervisors are included,” the mayor continued. As for the delay, the mayor said, “This was Supervisor Safai’s request.”

With the outcome of the November election, the board lost its progressive majority, giving the upper hand to the more moderate board members. Safai is seen as a moderate, whose election tipped the board balance from progressive to moderate. But he tries to distance himself from that label and he wants to also have progressive credentials.
Safai was elected with the support of members of the Chinatown Community Development Center, a low-income housing nonprofit, whose input would presumably factor into his proposal.

The mayor said the affordable housing requirements come down to “whether we will keep investors confident” and ensure development moves forward at a pace to meet his goal of at least 30,000 units built or rehabilitated by 2020.

“Inclusionary housing is all about private investments,” the mayor said. “I want to keep that healthy but keep a number there that both advances us forward with more housing – money that we don’t have to use in general fund – and also to support groups of people that say it is really unaffordable for them.”

The board’s next meeting is Feb. 28, when Safai is expected to introduce the legislation.

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