Supervisors look at mandates for more affordable housing

Developers of housing complexes in San Francisco may soon have to provide more units for sale at below-market rates, even in smaller developments.

A Board of Supervisors committee approved an ordinance Wednesday forcing smaller developments to offer affordable housing, and indicated it will vote next week to boost the number of required affordable housing units per development.

San Francisco’s lack of affordable housing is driving out middle-class and low-income families, according to housing advocates who testified Wednesday before the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee.

The committee sent legislation to the Board of Supervisors that would force developments of five units or more to start providing affordable housing, or housing that is sold at below-market rate and subsidized by developers. Now, only developments with 10 units or more must provide below-market units.

“I felt it was only fair to go down a little deeper and, in fact, we may in the future go even further,” said Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, the author of the measure. McGoldrick said other cities in California “go down as low as one unit.”

The committee will also vote next week on legislation authored by Supervisors Sophie Maxwell and Chris Daly that increases the number of affordable units required in developments. The legislation was amended by the committee Wednesday, scaling back proposed requirements in a move that was seen as a compromise with developers.

As amended, the legislation would require developments to offer 15 percent of their units at a below-market rate, and 20 percent if they are built off-site. Currently, if the development requires a conditional use permit, or waiver of zoning requirements, The City requires 12 percent affordable housing if built on-site and 17 percent off-site, and for other developments, 10 percent on-site and 15 percent off-site.

A city controller’s report on both pieces of legislation warns that stricter requirements could kill future housing developments and increase market-rate housing prices, as developers look to offset their costs.

Daly criticized those conclusions, saying the same things were said in 2002 when The City first enacted an affordable housing ordinance, known as the Inclusionary Affordable Housing Program.

William Cleaveland, of Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco, said pushing the percentages any higher would “kill” housing developments, but the 15 percent and 20 percent requirements are “doable.” At one time, Daly had proposed 20 percent and 25 percent requirements.

For some, the stricter requirements cannot come any sooner.

“Middle-class families are leaving The City. We’re becoming a city of the ultrarich, people earning more than $150,000 a year,” said Tracy Parent of Mission Economic Development Agency. “What is going to happen if our city can’t retain these people and families? There’s no future for public services, for communities, and we are losing diversity.”

jsabatini@examiner.comBay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsLocalPolitics

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