Supervisor Gordon Mar has issued a resolution seeking to prevent San Francisco’s market-rate housing goals from being increased. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

New housing goals spark debate over market-rate development

Faced with a large potential increase in the amount of housing San Francisco could be required to produce over the next eight years, Supervisor Gordon Mar on Tuesday introduced a resolution calling for market-rate housing goals to be kept the same.

The resolution immediately came under fire, however, from state Sen. Scott Wiener, who called it out as an example of “NIMBY” thinking.

The resolution asks a regional body, the Association of Bay Area Governments, not to increase the number of market-rate housing units San Francisco is required to build on the grounds that The City has already “shouldered much of the region’s housing development” and usually meets its market-rate housing goal, but struggles to build enough affordable housing.

“We need to ensure our housing goals reflect the needs of our residents, and in San Francisco, that means prioritizing housing that’s actually affordable to the people who live here,” Mar said. “What we build and who we build it for matters, and the speculative market won’t solve a problem it’s helped to create.”

But Wiener, who has authored legislation to reform how housing goals are set and streamline approval of housing projects, on Wednesday took a “hard pass” on the resolution, urging the Board of Supervisors to reject it and for ABAG to dismiss it if it does pass.

“Supervisor Mar is attempting to apply political pressure to receive an artificially low housing allocation and to shift San Francisco’s housing responsibility to other cities,” Wiener said. “There’s a phrase for that: Not In My Back Yard. San Francisco should set a progressive example of embracing new housing, rather than falling back into the same old anti-housing arguments that got us into this mess.”

Mar’s resolution, and Wiener’s response to it, represents the push-and-pull to come over the future of Bay Area housing.

ABAG, which is responsible for determining how many units each city in the Bay Area is required to produce, is in the process of determining its next eight-year cycle of Regional Housing Needs Allocation. Preliminary reports released in June determined 441,000 homes are needed by 2030 in the Bay Area, more than two times the current amount.

Fifty-seven percent of those homes should be affordable to moderate, low, and very low-income households, according to the preliminary determination.

As of July, San Francisco’s current RHNA goal is 65 percent complete. While 138 percent of the market-rate housing goals are met, only 33 percent of moderate-income units, 51 percent of low-income units, and 31 percent of very low-income units are complete.

Mar urged ABAG to maintain the same number of market-rate housing units for San Francisco due to the balance of housing types produced in recent years, while reminding it of San Francisco’s focus on racial and social equity.

The resolution specifically called out Wiener’s legislation, Senate Bill 35, which streamlines approval of projects in cities that fall short of their housing goals, warning that a higher amount of market-rate housing would trigger quicker approval and incentivize land speculation in gentrifying areas home to communities of color.

“Under SB 35, San Francisco may become ‘streamlined’ by not meeting its new housing goals that actually meet housing needs,” Wiener’s office noted, calling the bill part of “a powerful engine” to increase all types of housing production in California.

While just about everyone agrees affordable housing is needed in San Francisco, that common goal faces a steep obstacle. In July, Planning Department staff warned that The City’s long-term investment in affordable housing is expected to drop to an average of $200 million annually for the next decade.

San Francisco needs $517 million annually to build 1,670 affordable units each year, city planners said.

“We need to prioritize actually addressing the housing affordability needs of our residents, and that begins with setting the right goals,” Mar said.

The Board of Supervisors will weigh Mar’s resolution in the coming weeks.

imojadad@sfexaminer.com

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