Supervisor Jane Kim is moving forward with a ballot measure which would require developers to obtain special authorization from the Planning Commission in order to build any market rate housing in San Francisco if a project would cause the percentage of Below Market Rate housing built in the city since 2006 to drop below 30 percent of the housing constructed, a proposed “Housing Balance” requirement.

In a direct response to Supervisor Kim’s initiative, Mayor Ed Lee has introduced a counter-measure entitled: Build Housing Now.

The Mayor’s measure would prohibit the adoption of any new land use requirements or necessary authorizations for developments within areas of the city for which land-use plans have already been drawn.  In addition to the areas mapped below, areas with land-use plans already in place include San Francisco’s Transbay District and Mission Bay.

San Francisco Area Plans

The Build Housing Now measure would also reaffirm the Mayor’s 30,000 by 2020 initiative (which includes a soft target of 50 percent Below Market Rate housing) and direct the Planning Department to analyze “the impact of luxury development on the demand for middle-income housing in the City” and explore fees that could help mitigate said impact.

And to answer a reader’s question, there are currently ten (10) local measures slated for the November ballot.

32 thoughts on “Housing Balance Versus Housing Now”
  1. Lol. Yeah right. You know what I’m closer to the realization that what we have now is just fine. FINE don’t build anything at all. Let’s exacerbate this crisis. Bring on Monaco like prices. Seriously self defeating policies in this city if I ever heard one.

  2. Does the Mayor need the voters’ approval before he can direct the Planning Department? Maybe the Planning Department doesn’t work for the city – that would explain a few things.

  3. The planning department has their own priorities. They delay projects all the time, especially small ones from non politically connected parties. The whole process is arbitrary and highly corrupt.

  4. This week’s scapegoat: developers
    Last week: flippers
    Two weeks ago: Airbnb

    It won’t end.

    As we scratch our asses and undermine contributors, New York is upzoning 13 hoods to address their housing crisis.

    We politic instead.

    A sea of low rise housing (with enormous surface parking lots) sits in view of Jane’s and Ed’s offices. Let’s begin making change right in their backyard and then repeat. And again.

    The projects are the City’s responsibility and opportunity to create mixed income higher density — add thousands of units better quality housing. Western Addition, Potrero, and on and on.


  5. Yes, good job Kim! Let’s make real estate even more restricted, and hence expensive in SF. I want us to beat manhattan prices!

  6. Not everyone has to live in SF. The Bay Area metropolitan area is large. The affordable housing burden should be shared by all of the nine counties in the region.

    1. The burden is already spread around. With a few exceptions of ultra-rich towns like Atherton, every city has some sort of affordable housing.

      1. But there could be tens of thousands of additional units built in outlying areas near transit, e.g. Colma, South SF, San Leandro – but these need to be incentivized. As I mentioned below, right now market rate projects don’t pencil out even in Oakland.

  7. Ted – you’re totally right. But there is no governmental entitly that could enforce this. I would love to see San Bruno, South SF, East Oakland, San Leandro – any place with a BART stop – etc be compelled or heavily incentivized to pick up the slack. SF residents could help pay for it to preserve their little undersized gated community. Would be a good deal, we’d just have to act like a region. Except it’s impossible without a revisioning of what a city or county is.

    Everyone should note the recent SF Business Times story on Oakland – even right now, projects don’t pencil out, that’s why even with its prime location and the SF spillover, there is no rush of construction there. This to me proves that some kind of government policy with incentives is necessary.

    The cries for “free the housing market” are wrong because there would be no true free market unless you eliminate zoning. And then, that would have just a few wee little atrocious impacts all across the country…..

    1. We do have regional government. ABAG and MTC make policies and plans all the time to help cities figure this out. But alas they cannot force cities to change zoning near transit. And they only have the purse strings of transportation dollars not the full weight of property and sales tax dollars to incentivize targeted development.

  8. Western Shoreline — interesting. I bet they want to build that out a la North Miami Beach. Tower after tower and no more funky little sand dune feel.

  9. Part if the impact of this measure, once it passes in November, is that tech companies will rethink their level of investment in SF. They will start to relocate office development to Oakland , alameda, etc. it’s a very pro Oakland measure, scarcity pricing here for housing will make office stop making sense , as the cost pressure on tech employers get unfeasible.

    I don’t think the ballot sponsors consider this a bad scenario.

  10. If you give away 30% of your housing for free, you have to raise the price on the remaining to account for those losses. This just gentrifies the city more and more. Comrade Kim needs a good grudging.

  11. All our politicians are homeowners.

    Glad they will be restricting supply with artificial supply and raising property prices further.

      1. Yes, and as such their salary and pension benefit increases should be capped at no more than 60% of the CPI.

  12. Jane’s my hero. You go girl! Yes, for more building restrictions! Yes, to less housing in SF! Yes, to rising Real Estate prices in SF!
    I’ve already sent my donation to Jane’s reelection campaign. Again, You go girl!

    1. We’re in an historic building boom, and prices for ALL units are skyrocketing. This proves building expensive housing not only doesn’t lower housing costs, but causes housing prices to escalate.

      This proposal hasn’t been enacted, but it is somehow the cause of current housing price escalation. Amazing!

      1. Housing under construction does not have an impact on the housing market. Let’s see what prices look like next year, once some of this new construction comes on the market.

      2. Supply is supply. If you don’t build it, given the growing demand, housing prices will skyrocket *far more* than they are skyrocketing today. It already happened in the Mission where even low quality apartments rent out for prices of high-end apartments elsewhere. If you have high demand, there is absolutely nothing you can do to mitigate, except for build more housing.

      3. We’re in a historic building boom BECAUSE price for all units are skyrocketing.

        ” Housing under construction does not have an impact on the housing market. ”
        Rather, the housing market has an impact on what will go under construction.

      4. two beers – most of the in construction units are not for sale yet, meaning that while much is under construction, the actual available amount of inventory has not changed dramatically. Your continued ignorance about markets, economics, and real estate is as astounding as it is constant.

  13. Affordable housing is built with fees paid by developers of market rate housing. That means building affordable housing simply pushes up the price of market rate (developers pass through the fees to buyers in the price of units). We end up with a barbel market–very expensive market rate housing an semi-reasonable housing for those who can get it, but nothing for the middle class. That’s essentially the situation we are in. The solution is most definitely not to keep digging the hole by piling more fees on developers. But the SF public will keep voting for more fees because “developers” are the bad guys and the public is too stupid to understand who really pays.

    1. There is no such thing as a “pass through”. Fees paid by developers drive up the cost of development, so it takes higher market prices for a project to pencil and thus be pursued in the first place, but that’s not developers “passing through” the costs. If developers could price units higher than they are now – they would – regardless of costs to “pass through”. That’s a fundamental misunderstanding of how markets work.

  14. This just will increase the economic divide by making middle-priced and high-priced housing even more expensive. It will further make SF a city of very wealthy and very low income residents. No middle class.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *