(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Breed announces ballot measure to streamline affordable housing approvals

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Wednesday a new ballot measure that seeks to get more affordable housing built in the city.

Having been frustrated by the Board of Supervisors in her past efforts to streamline the permitting process for affordable housing construction, Breed has turned to the ballot box in the hope that the city’s voters will approve the new measure, dubbed “Affordable Homes Now.”

“The status quo means more low- and middle-income San Franciscans will continue to be pushed out of our city, which is why Affordable Homes Now is so important,” Breed said in a news release. “I have tried to work with the Board of Supervisors since taking office on some basic common-sense reforms to create more new homes, but it is clear now that the only way to address this crisis is to go directly to the voters.”

Last year, Breed tried to get the Board of Supervisors’ approval to place a measure on the ballot that would have streamlined the permitting process for building projects that proposed construction of 100 percent affordable homes. The new measure would require an approval process of no longer than six months for projects that meet existing zoning rules and have either 100 percent affordable housing or that would construct 15 percent more affordable homes above what is already required by the city.

The 100 percent affordable projects would be allowed to qualify for streamlined permits if they are proposed for people making up to 140 percent of the city’s median income. In 2018, the San Francisco Planning Department listed the city’s median income for a family of four at $118,400.

The current process results in permits for projects of any income level being awarded in roughly four years, according to a study by the UC Berkeley Turner Center for Housing Innovation that Breed quoted in her announcement.

In order to get the new measure on the November ballot, supporters will need to collect about 50,000 signatures from city voters by July 6, Breed said.

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