Senate Bill 1085 threatens San Francisco’s mandate to build affordable housing

By Jane Kim, Aaron Peskin and Ahsha Safai

By Jane Kim, Aaron Peskin and Ahsha Safai

San Francisco is poised to lose $50 million in affordable housing impact fees.

This couldn’t come at a worse time. COVID-19 has only highlighted and exacerbated California’s affordable housing crisis — as 7 million Californians file for unemployment, more of our neighbors, families and seniors are at risk of losing their homes.

In Sacramento, state Sen. Nancy Skinner, who represents the East Bay, has introduced a bill, SB 1085, which is supposed to incentivize developers to build more market rate housing throughout the state of California. We agree that we must build and we applaud the effort to accelerate the production of housing.

However, SB 1085 as currently drafted also penalizes cities like San Francisco and Berkeley, whose residents have fought for and won robust affordable housing requirements, by stripping needed affordable housing fees and giving a giant handout to market rate and luxury housing developers who already make billions of dollars in our cities.

SB 1085 provides all projects an automatic 35% bump in market-rate housing units, expedites the approval process AND prohibits cities from collecting affordable housing fees on those “bonus” units — currently San Francisco’s practice as we oversee the largest housing production in our history.

Working and middle class families, affordable housing and homelessness advocates fought for San Francisco’s Inclusionary Policy in 2002, a law which requires market rate and luxury housing developers to build or pay for a certain percentage of affordable housing units on or off-site. This policy has built thousands of permanently affordable units in San Francisco for formerly homeless individuals, seniors and working-class and middle-class families.

By voting yes on SB 1085, state lawmakers will redirect $50M in future affordable housing fees for our residents to billionaire developers and upend our carefully crafted affordable housing ordinance, studied and negotiated over 18 months, to ensure that we build the maximum number of affordable and market rate units.

That’s why in June, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to oppose SB 1085.

As the legislators who negotiated and authored San Francisco’s current Inclusionary Housing Policy, we are asking our state lawmakers, California Assembly members David Chiu and Phil Ting and state Sen. Scott Weiner, as well as other members of the state legislature, to support our working- and middle-class families and seniors, struggling to stay in The City they love, by amending this bill and allowing cities like San Francisco to continue to build the highest levels of affordable housing possible.

We do not want to be forced to contend with the loss of hundreds of units of affordable housing should SB 1085 pass without amendments. However, we are ready to reopen San Francisco’s Inclusionary Ordinance and raise the affordable housing obligation for all market rate and luxury housing developers in order to ensure that San Francisco residents do not lose $50 million in affordable housing funds.

California lawmakers can put families and seniors ahead of billionaire developer profits; amend SB 1085 and ensure our city continues to be a leader in building housing for all our residents.

Former Supervisor Jane Kim

Supervisor Aaron Peskin

Supervisor Ahsha Safai

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