Supervisors seek to expand rent control, raise inclusionary housing requirements

San Francisco has far from solved its housing crisis, but two supervisors on Tuesday took steps  they say will further alleviate the burden.

Supervisor Jane Kim introduced a charter amendment for the June ballot that would more than double the amount of below-market-rate housing required in private residential developments.

Meanwhile, recently elected Supervisor Aaron Peskin doubled down on the pledge he made at his induction meeting last week to explore the feasibility of expanding rent control.

The efforts respectively seek to respond to The City’s push to build more below-market-rate homes, and slow down the loss of rent-controlled units from the housing stock – two factors that have been widely attributed to the housing crisis in San Francisco.

Kim’s measure would increase the amount of inclusionary housing from 12 to 25 percent, a level that 71 percent of 400 voters questioned for a recent poll commissioned by the South of Market nonprofit development firm Tenants and Owners Development Corp. said they would support.

The current inclusionary requirements – established in 2012 – call for developers of projects with at least 10 residential units to pay a fee, build 12 percent of below market-rate housing on the same site as the market-rate project, or build 20 percent of such units at another location.

“We need more supply of all kinds of housing to meet the still growing demand,” Kim said in a statement. “Increasing inclusionary housing requirements for new developments is one critical way to create more housing that’s affordable to more San Franciscans.

Earlier this month, Mayor Ed Lee and Board of Supervisors President London Breed called for a charter amendment on the June or November ballot to increase the inclusionary housing requirement, noting that the requirements set in 2012 have become an obstacle in quenching The City’s thirst for more below-market-rate housing.

“We’ve taken real steps these last four years to produce more new affordable housing than ever before, but in prosperous times like these, we can require developers to build even more housing for lower and middle income residents as part of any new project, especially large new development projects,” Lee said in a statement when announcing that charter amendment.

Lee and Breed did not propose a new inclusionary housing requirement, instead deferring to a housing working group that would establish the possible changes. The mayor kicked off the group Tuesday.

Kim’s proposal would also allow for the inclusionary housing requirement to be refined by legislators, rather than solely through a charter amendment.

Peskin on Tuesday called on the City Attorney’s Office to explore mechanisms with which The City could extend rent control to properties constructed after 1979, or potentially properties built going forward.

Peskin said he has reached out to state legislators to encourage them to consider amending California’s Costa Hawkins Act, which allows landlords to remove the rent-controlled rates for most single-family homes and condos after a specific date.

At the local level, Peskin said he will work with various stakeholders, including tenants and landlords, to establish a rent-control proposal next year.

“I very much want to pursue some relief at the state level,” Peskin said. “Meanwhile, I think there are things we can do locally that are real and meaningful.”

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