San Francisco’s pension fund could shift toward local real estate investment; retirement board to vote on office building purchase

The executive director of San Francisco’s pension fund supports a proposal to use investment dollars to purchase a building for the retirement agency’s office space, according to a memo to the retirement system’s board of directors.

“In general, staff supports the system's pursuit of a permanent headquarters in San Francisco. The majority of California public pension plans that Staff surveyed own the building that houses their headquarters. Many of these plans hold the headquarters building as part of their real estate investment portfolio,” said Jay Huish, executive director San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System, in a memo to the retirement board, which is voting on the issue Wednesday.

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If the retirement board supports the proposal, “Staff will prepare a report and an implementation plan to the board within 60 days, detailing the resources needed to identify and evaluate potential real estate investment opportunities consistent with the goal of purchasing a building in San Francisco to house the SFERS headquarters,” the memo said.

The building purchase could mark the beginning of investment in local real estate with the pension fund. There are ongoing conversations about whether to shift a portion of the multi-billion dollar investment portfolio into San Francisco real estate development to help fund both below-market rate and market rate housing as rents have skyrocketed. 

While the Board of Supervisors recently approved a new mid-Market Street lease for the retirement system, there is an early termination clause of July 2017 with a year’s notice.