Affordable-housing measure headed to November ballot

A measure that would put millions of taxpayer dollars into building affordable housing was approved by the Board of Supervisors for the November ballot Tuesday, with the support of The City’s state representatives.

Advocates of the charter amendment say the measure is necessary as San Francisco’s soaring housing prices have families and the working class fleeing The City, destroying its diversity.

“This is and remains the most pressing issue facing San Franciscans,” said Supervisor Chris Daly, who introduced the charter amendment.

If passed by voters, The City would spend about $2.7 billion on housing needs during the next 15 years. It would require spending a baseline amount — $88 million in its first year — on housing in addition to setting aside 2.5 cents for every property tax dollar for housing needs, estimated at $34 million in its first year.

Opponents, including Mayor Gavin Newsom, argue that with a projected $229 deficit next fiscal year, The City cannot afford the measure and shouldn’t restrict the money. There is also concern that the measure would jeopardize another funding measure expected to be on the November ballot, intended to fund the rebuilding of San Francisco General Hospital.

“It’s the wrong idea at the wrong time,” said Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard.

In a Jan. 7 letter to board members, however, state Senators Carole Migden and Leland Yee, along with Assembly members Fiona Ma and Mark Leno, threw their support behind the measure.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who opposed the measure, said the charter amendment would take money away from the general fund used for city services, and that the only way not to prevent that would be to put another measure on the November ballot, a “corresponding tax increase,” which he said would be “politically crazy” to do in addition to a hospital bond.

The amendment was approved in an 8-3 vote by the Board of Supervisors. Supervisors Carmen Chu, Michela Alioto-Pier and Elsbernd voted against it.

IN OTHER ACTION

NEWSOM’S PARK-SLEEPING LAW PASSES: A law introduced by Mayor Gavin Newsom that would prohibit sleeping in city parks between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m., building or inhabiting a makeshift structure or the use of any cooking device was adopted 8-3 by the Board of Supervisors, with Supervisors Chris Daly, Ross Mirkarimi and Gerardo Sandoval opposing it. The law was amended to allow anyone who receives a citation to be able to void it if within 30 days that person accepts social services offered by the city and also had not previously received a citation.

CHU REQUESTS MUNI HEARING: Supervisor Carmen Chu requested a hearing with Muni officials and police to address the incidents of pedestrian being hit by Muni buses.

AMMIANO WANTS LOOKS INTO HOMICIDES: Supervisor Tom Ammiano called for hearing to examine why Los Angeles has seen a “dramatic drop” in homicides in recent years while San Francisco has seen the highest rate of killings in a decade with 98 homicides in 2007.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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