Proposition E will place new limits on office construction in San Francisco. Opponents argue it could limit the amount of money available for affordable housing. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Prop. E ahead to tie office development to construction of affordable housing

Voters on Tuesday appeared to favor a ballot measure that would restrict the development of office space if San Francisco cannot meet targets for building affordable housing.

Proposition E had the support of more than 55 percent of voters with 131,086 votes tallied and nearly all precincts reporting, according to the Department of Elections. The measure required a majority of votes to pass.

The Department of Elections is expected to count at least 70,000 more vote-by-mail ballots in the coming days.

Prop. E would amend a voter-approved program from 1986, which placed a cap on the construction of office space, by lowering the amount of office space allowed if The City failed to build enough affordable housing in a year.

San Francisco would have to build at least 2,042 units of affordable housing in a year to hit the target, or else reduce the amount of office space allowed for development in the following year by the percentage that it missed its goal.

City Controller Ben Rosenfield found that the measure would slow the construction of office space “unless the construction of affordable housing is accelerated.”

That means tax revenues will either “significantly” fall for The City, or San Francisco will spend “significantly” more to build affordable housing, Rosenfield wrote in his analysis of the measure.

The measure was proposed by John Elberling, the director of affordable housing developer Todco.

“It’s really a forward-looking bill,” Elberling previously said. “The City’s economy as a whole will keep growing. What we’re trying to do is to encourage developers to develop affordable housing.”

But detractors including Supervisor Catherine Stefani argued that the measure would make the affordable housing crisis worse in San Francisco by reducing the housing fees paid through the development of office space.

“Prop. E does nothing to create the affordable housing our city desperately needs — in fact, Prop. E limits our ability to build more housing because it drastically reduces the funding The City uses to build affordable housing,” opponents wrote in an argument against the measure.


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