Daly tries another housing measure

A supervisor wants voters to decide whether The City should be required to spend nearly $100 million annually on below-market-rate housing and other residential needs.

Supervisor Chris Daly reached out to his colleagues Tuesday, handing them a letter that asked for support of a charter amendment to legally require The City to put money toward housing. Daly wants it on the November 2008 ballot, which would require the approval of at least six members of the 11-member board.

While Daly’s effort has begun early in the game, he said that when he failed previously to put a measure on the ballot, some of his colleagues said they did not support it because there was not enough community involvement behind it.

This time, Daly said there will be more community involvement and support than “most anything else you’ve ever seen on the ballot.”

In its current form, the charter amendment would require The City to spend at least $66 million a year on below-market-rate housing and other housing needs. In addition to this baseline amount, the charter amendment would also require The City to set aside 2.5 cents of every local tax dollar — estimated to generate $33 million annually — for additional housing needs. A public hearing on the spending plan would be required each year as well.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who at times butts heads with Daly, praised him for the letter. “In terms of his approach, I commend it,” Elsbernd said.

“It’s not a crazy idea. Frankly, I call it a noble idea,” he said. “Financially, I’m not sure it works.” The City already has a number of annual baseline funding requirements, which decreases the pool of money city officials can spend at their own discretion.

In the current fiscal year, The City’s key required baseline funding, charter-mandated spending and set asides totaled $853 million.

That includes $33.4 million for The City’s open-space fund, another $33.4 million for library preservation and $1.6 million for the symphony orchestra.

Adding another spending restriction to the so-called discretionary money may not sit well with some city officials, but Daly said that since there already are a number of set asides, “why shouldn’t the No. 1 issue have one?”

jsabatini@examiner.com

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