Obituaries » News

Next SF mayor could seek housing bond measure

by Matthew S. Bajko

Mayoral candidate London Breed has floated the idea of a housing bond. Photo: Kelly Sullivan
Mayoral candidate London Breed has floated the idea of a housing bond. Photo: Kelly Sullivan  

Finding the funds to pay for below-market-rate housing in San Francisco for the homeless, youth, seniors, and those earning low to moderate incomes is a constant challenge for local leaders. And recent moves at the state and federal level have only made it harder.

During the height of California's recession, Governor Jerry Brown eliminated city redevelopment agencies that had been a prime source of development funds. The tax overhaul Congress and President Donald Trump pushed through last year also reduced the incentive for investors to fund affordable housing projects.

It is exacerbating the already insatiable demand for housing in the Golden State. And is leading lawmakers and community leaders to search for new pots of revenue to build affordable housing.

Voters in San Francisco this June are being asked to impose a 1.7 percent tax on commercial landlords, generating approximately $70 million annually to fund low and middle-income housing and homeless services. The 10-year funding plan under Proposition D would fund housing and services for the homeless, low-income senior housing, and subsidized middle-income housing.

Opponents of the measure are pushing a November ballot proposition that would generate about $340 million annually for homeless services and supportive housing. The Coalition on Homelessness is behind the measure, which has yet to qualify and would tax any San Francisco-based company that earns more than $50 million a half a percent.

State lawmakers are expected to put two housing bond measures on the fall ballot. One bond, for $4 billion, would go toward housing for low-income earners and veterans, while a separate $2 billion bond would be allocated for homeless housing.

San Francisco's next mayor could pursue an additional housing bond measure to build in the city or on a regional basis. All three of the leading candidates in the special election on the June 5 primary ballot to serve out the remainder of the late mayor Ed Lee's term have floated plans for a housing bond.

District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim has said, as mayor, she would seek a $1 billion dollar housing bond just for the city and county of San Francisco. It's modeled after a $950 million affordable housing bond Santa Clara County voters passed in 2016.

(Kim is a main proponent of Proposition C on the June ballot, which would implement a 3.5 percent tax on commercial landlords generating about $146 million annually to fund child care and education subsidies for children up to 5 years old and increase wages for early educators and other child care workers. If it gets more votes than Prop D, it would go into effect.)

"We do have to study it, and I pulled back on it this year because of the coalition's moving forward with a $300 million revenue measure, but I'd like to study it," Kim told the Bay Area Reporter during a recent editorial board meeting. "We definitely need to ensure that our affordable housing bond cycles every couple years. I think we have to tinker with the dollar amount."

While the nearly $1 billion bond worked for Santa Clara County, San Francisco may need a bond at a different dollar amount to meet its affordable housing needs, said Kim.

"We also have to poll and see what homeowners are willing to pay if there is an increase to their property taxes for affordable housing and homelessness services," she said. "So it may not be the billion dollar but it was modeled after the Santa Clara concept."

Gay former state lawmaker and supervisor Mark Leno has discussed the need to pass a regional bond measure to address the housing needs of the entire Bay Area. His idea is modeled after the $1.2 billion bond measure to build housing for the chronically homeless that voters in the city of Los Angeles passed in 2016.

Leno wouldn't commit to a bond amount, telling the B.A.R. that would need to be hammered out by Bay Area leaders. It would be dependent, he said, on the numbers of people who qualify for subsidized housing based on the average median income of the region.

"It would be irresponsible of me to say I know, myself unilaterally, what the amount of a regional bond should be today. It will take negotiations and a lot of hard work with our regional partners," Leno said. "Before you throw out a bond number, you've got to back up. What is the regional housing need of those earning let's say 55 percent of AMI and less? That is step one. What is the housing need regionally for those earning between 55 and 120 percent of AMI?"

Then, said Leno, the bond backers would need to determine how much would it cost to build all of the necessary housing.

"And once you have that figure, what is the revenue source going to be? So I threw out as a possibility a regional general obligation bond. Other counties have done this," said Leno. "We've got a lot of work to do, and again, I would ask this crisis has been going on for how long and we haven't even made the first determinations of what that need might be? So we aren't there yet."

Board President London Breed, who briefly served as acting mayor following Lee's sudden death December 12, is a main proponent for passing Prop D next month.

"We want to build low, moderate, and middle-income housing. Proposition D is a funding source to help pay for that," noted Breed. "Instead of just doing a lot of middle income housing with on-site inclusionary, here is an incredible opportunity to have a family of four making $60,000-80,000-100,000 a year, real mixed-income all in one building.

"That's really what I want to see happen in San Francisco. I want to see more of that happen," she added.

She has noted that the city's voters in recent years have overwhelmingly supported local housing funding measures. She and Lee sponsored a $310 million housing bond that was passed in 2015 and successfully pushed for an additional $261 million affordable housing bond the following year.

As mayor, Breed said she would create a long-term strategic plan for how the city could build more housing affordable at all income levels and identify sites where new housing could be built.

"I want to create the San Francisco I can afford to stay in," said Breed. "That is the goal with trying a lot of new ideas and also looking at a long-term strategy around building more housing and getting more housing built faster."


Mayoral candidates Mark Leno and Jane Kim have talked about a housing bond. Photo: Cynthia Laird  

District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim has said, as mayor, she would seek a $1 billion dollar housing bond just for the city and county of San Francisco. It's modeled after a $950 million affordable housing bond Santa Clara County voters passed in 2016.

(Kim is a main proponent of Proposition C on the June ballot, which would implement a 3.5 percent tax on commercial landlords generating about $146 million annually to fund child care and education subsidies for children up to 5 years old and increase wages for early educators and other child care workers. If it gets more votes than Prop D, it would go into effect.)

"We do have to study it, and I pulled back on it this year because of the coalition's moving forward with a $300 million revenue measure, but I'd like to study it," Kim told the Bay Area Reporter during a recent editorial board meeting. "We definitely need to ensure that our affordable housing bond cycles every couple years. I think we have to tinker with the dollar amount."

While the nearly $1 billion bond worked for Santa Clara County, San Francisco may need a bond at a different dollar amount to meet its affordable housing needs, said Kim.

"We also have to poll and see what homeowners are willing to pay if there is an increase to their property taxes for affordable housing and homelessness services," she said. "So it may not be the billion dollar but it was modeled after the Santa Clara concept."

Gay former state lawmaker and supervisor Mark Leno has discussed the need to pass a regional bond measure to address the housing needs of the entire Bay Area. His idea is modeled after the $1.2 billion bond measure to build housing for the chronically homeless that voters in the city of Los Angeles passed in 2016.

Leno wouldn't commit to a bond amount, telling the B.A.R. that would need to be hammered out by Bay Area leaders. It would be dependent, he said, on the numbers of people who qualify for subsidized housing based on the average median income of the region.

"It would be irresponsible of me to say I know, myself unilaterally, what the amount of a regional bond should be today. It will take negotiations and a lot of hard work with our regional partners," Leno said. "Before you throw out a bond number, you've got to back up. What is the regional housing need of those earning let's say 55 percent of AMI and less? That is step one. What is the housing need regionally for those earning between 55 and 120 percent of AMI?"

Then, said Leno, the bond backers would need to determine how much would it cost to build all of the necessary housing.

"And once you have that figure, what is the revenue source going to be? So I threw out as a possibility a regional general obligation bond. Other counties have done this," said Leno. "We've got a lot of work to do, and again, I would ask this crisis has been going on for how long and we haven't even made the first determinations of what that need might be? So we aren't there yet."

Board President London Breed, who briefly served as acting mayor following Lee's sudden death December 12, is a main proponent for passing Prop D next month.

"We want to build low, moderate, and middle-income housing. Proposition D is a funding source to help pay for that," noted Breed. "Instead of just doing a lot of middle income housing with on-site inclusionary, here is an incredible opportunity to have a family of four making $60,000-80,000-100,000 a year, real mixed-income all in one building.

"That's really what I want to see happen in San Francisco. I want to see more of that happen," she added.

She has noted that the city's voters in recent years have overwhelmingly supported local housing funding measures. She and Lee sponsored a $310 million housing bond that was passed in 2015 and successfully pushed for an additional $261 million affordable housing bond the following year.

As mayor, Breed said she would create a long-term strategic plan for how the city could build more housing affordable at all income levels and identify sites where new housing could be built.

"I want to create the San Francisco I can afford to stay in," said Breed. "That is the goal with trying a lot of new ideas and also looking at a long-term strategy around building more housing and getting more housing built faster."

Contact the reporter at m.bajko@ebar.com.


Comments

Add New Comment

Comments on Facebook