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Stimulus would boost building

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Development and employment numbers could get a boost through a new local stimulus package being pushed by Mayor Gavin Newsom.

The mayor stopped at the Laborers International Union on Wednesday to discuss his legislation aimed at jump-starting development in The City and employing thousands of out-of-work builders citywide.

At a time when there has been a 40 percent drop in available construction work, Newsom is proposing a development stimulus package that he says will fast-track hundreds of projects, create new construction jobs and generate millions of dollars for The City’s general fund. San Francisco is facing a projected $522 million budget deficit for the next fiscal year.

“You have to do something to relieve the stress and anxiety of the business community, and this, I think, does that,” Newsom said.

The first part of his plan is intended to ease the financial pressure on developers by allowing them to defer impact fees until the end of construction.

The second part gives developers the option to reduce affordable housing requirements by 33 percent. That means they either build fewer affordable units per project or contribute fewer dollars to The City’s affordable-housing fund. In exchange, The City would receive a 1 percent transfer fee when the property is sold. That money would go into The City’s affordable-
housing trust fund.

Supervisor Chris Daly was critical of Newsom’s development legislation, saying it’s a risky proposal that puts too much burden on The City. In addition, a transfer tax proposal is something the voters should decide, Daly said.

“It’s a risk for very little return,” he said. “It’s not a good idea.”

But Mike Theriault, secretary and treasurer of the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council, said the legislation translates into a tremendous savings for developers.

That, in turn, could benefit local builders.

“If the board is uncomfortable, I can understand, but there are ways to make it work,” Theriault said.

Now Newsom must convince six members of The Board of Supervisors, which will vote on the legislation next month.

“We have a lot of people at City Hall screaming for more jobs,” Newsom said. “But you can’t be pro-jobs and anti-business.”


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