Affordable housing gains ground

A few months after falling out of the political grace of his colleagues, Supervisor Chris Daly is now gaining support from some board members for a charter amendment that would set aside millions of dollarsfrom the San Francisco’s general fund for below-market-rate housing.

Daly found himself estranged from the Board of Supervisors earlier this year during budget talks when he publicly feuded with Mayor Gavin Newsom over the mayor’s funding priorities.

Daly ultimately threatened to hack into Newsom’s proposed budget — he targeted dollars for street repairs and police staffing — to free up money to spend on affordable housing.

This prompted Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin to remove Daly as chair of the board’s budget committee and take over the post himself, promising, at the time, a “no-drama budget.”

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting, Daly seemed to have regained some of his political muscle. The proposed amendment for affordable housing drew praise from Supervisors Tom Ammiano, Ross Mirkarimi and Peskin.

“This does more than lip service and this does more than just nibbling around the edges,” Ammiano said.

With six votes needed to put the amendment on the ballot, Daly still needs two more votes. Likely candidates to give him the support are the board’s other progressive members, Supervisors Gerardo Sandoval, Sophie Maxwell and Jake McGoldrick.

The measure — which is expected to generate $33 million a year — would require The City to annually spend a baseline amount of $88 million on housing in addition to setting aside 2.5 cents for every property tax dollar for housing needs. The set-aside would create housing that would be eligible for those earning 80 percent or less of the median income, which for a family of four is $64,267 a year.

Such set-asides are controversial because some argue that it handcuffs The City’s ability to balance the budget while meeting all the needs of residents. The City has a number of set-asides for such things as the library, Muni and open spaces.

Last week, Newsom announced that The City was facing a $229 million deficit and called for budget cuts, which he blamed partly on the number of voter-mandated spending requirements.

“Adding more affordable housing is best done through the deliberative budget process, not at the ballot box,” mayoral spokesman Nathan Ballard said.

The board is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to place the charter amendment on the November ballot. That election will also determine the fate of at least six board seats, as well as the next president of the United States.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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