280 Beale Street Construction

With an initiative designed to double the number of “affordable” units of housing that developers must provide or fund when building market-rate units in San Francisco headed for the June ballot, an overview of the applicant pool and outcomes for the 69 affordable units built at 280 Beale Street, a below-market-rate component of Transbay Block 6, was presented to San Francisco’s Community Investment and infrastructure Commissioners last night.

A total of 5,254 applications were submitted for the 69 units last year, including one from a household that had been evicted via the Ellis Act. Only households with incomes of no more than 50 percent of the Area Median were qualified to apply.

Of the 1.3 percent of successful applicant households, including the one which had been evicted, 51 percent identified as Asian American, 17 percent Caucasian, 16 percent Black and roughly 7 percent Hispanic/Latino.

And 16 percent of the 69 units at 280 Beale Street, which were designed by Santos Prescott and Associates and developed by Mercy Housing, were rented to non-San Francisco residents, including residents relocating from Richmond, San Bruno, Foster City, Burlingame, South San Francisco, San Leandro, San Jose, San Pablo and Daly City.

Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by soccermom

    Strong Asian and Black outperformance in Affordable Housing allocation vs. population distribution. Weak showing by Whites and Latinos.

    Yay!!!! for lottery winners, great photo ops for politicians with the lucky few….

  2. Posted by around1905

    If the success of the Ellis-act-evicted applicant is due to new policy, then this might change the economics of tenant buyouts. In the past, a tenant had every reason to negotiate for a cash settlement to leave without the landlord having to evoke the Ellis act. If being Ellis-act-evicted shoots the tenant to the top of the queue for scarce affordable units, then being evicted might not be so bad. Of course, there is the issue of finding housing until the affordable unit windfall actually comes to pass…

    [Editor’s Note: New Law Could Radically Alter Who Gets Affordable Housing In S.F.]

    • Posted by SFrentier

      And this could put downward pressure on Ellis act buy out sums, given that the tenant will be top of list for a BMR. Basically shifting the $$$ value back to the public, which is where it should be to begin with.

      Ahh, the law of unintended consequences. Gotta love ess eff!

    • Posted by Medalist

      THC who dendends most Ellis evictions and gets the majority of the funding will require that the settlement include an Ellis eviction and dismissal as part the the buyout in order to preserve for their clients the affordable priority. When all the tactics employed by the likes of THC it certainly is still cheaper to buy out even if that figure is in the mid to high five figures. These tactics should be challenged in court as owners have the right by the law to a ‘clear path’ to go out of business which is clearly being obstructed by the City and the legal groups they fund.

  3. Posted by brooder

    Why can non-residents apply?

    • Posted by MukDutch

      They may work here and commute? That should be the only reason this is allowed, if not then that’s a huge problem.

    • Posted by HousingWonk

      Because its both an unconstitutional restriction on the right to travel under the Privileges and Immunities Clause to access public benefits to “people who don’t currently live here” (Saenz v. Roe) and also likely a violation of the Fair Housing Act.

    • Posted by anon2

      Because if they’re already residents, then that means they can already afford to live here, which means they don’t really need affordable housing?

  4. Posted by SassySFboy

    51% of 1 race sounds like racial preference and discrimination. Audit by the Feds please!!!

    [Editor’s Note: Accusations of racial preference based on the percentage of successful applicants without knowing the breakdown of the applicant pool warrants an audit of one’s education more than the program above.]

    • Posted by S

      They can’t choose winners based on race or any other protected class. 51% were Asian likely because they applied in greater numbers than the other folks.

      • Posted by Willow

        Of course there could be not be the possibility of preferential treatment! Not in San Francisco…

  5. Posted by Senna300

    Non-residents shouldn’t be able to qualify until all residents with need are assigned housing. And instead of saying 16%, why not just say 11 of the units?

    • Posted by van nessident

      Make San Francisco Great Again

    • Posted by pvt. hudson

      Can’t bar non residents because of the FHA and the Privileges and Immunities clause, as someone already mentioned.

  6. Posted by alberto rossi

    Re Saenz v. Roe: wasn’t there recent talk of giving a preference to people already living in the supervisorial district where the housing is being built?

  7. Posted by Mark F.

    I got “low income” housing in Berkeley (still $1281 per month for a studio v. about $2100 for market rate) without entering any lottery. I just applied and was accepted the next day!

  8. Posted by matteo

    is there a link to see the floor plans for these units?

  9. Posted by james jr

    What happens if a renter’s income rises above the 51% of the area median, say with a promotion or raise? Do tenants have to submit tax returns each year? Are they audited?

    • Posted by Medalist

      No. You’re using too much common sense, plus that policy could be argued to be used on the rest of SFs affordable housing stock – rent controlled units. I have heard personally of a start up employee intentionally being paid only $50k a year until BMR was secured. After the start up was acquired they became a multi-millionaire. Whatever though, they are a rich person with a cheap place with deed and sale restrictions.

  10. Posted by Brian M

    james; Most housing agencies DO monitor tenant income.

    • Posted by Alai

      So, what’s the result? Do you get evicted if you make more money? Charged market rate?

      • Posted by Mark F.

        With my unit, I (or my household) can make up to about $100,000 before I have to pay market rent. (I believe they also consider a percentage of your assets, if you have any, as income) They cannot evict you.

        • Posted by neighbor

          san francisco inclusionary housing policy does not monitor condo buyers who acquire one of these units. it’s their’s for life even if the following year the bmr buyer is making 1M a year.

          rent controlled units also cannot monitor and adjust rents based on the tenants income levels.

  11. Posted by Sara Short

    Why should a special few get such a huge benefit over everyone else who would be just as deserving ? it’s so UNFAIR! At least put a time limit on these massive benefits and let others have a shot on a rotating basis say 4 years a piece and then others get a chance at it.

    • Posted by Jake

      will of the people, Sara. Just last November SF voters overwhelmingly (74+%) approved another $310 million bond to pay for more housing benefits for “special” people not available to “everyone else.” Will of the people, overwhelmingly.

      • Posted by soccermom

        74% of voters who voted, approved Bond Measure A (@148k people), which is equal to 33% of the 446K of total registered voters in San Francisco.

        And equal to about 20% of the estimated adult population in San Francisco.

        So in terms of ‘the will of the people’ the bond was “overwhelmingly approved” by one in five adults who could have had a say in the matter.

        Probably a neat intersection of those few who had some glimmer of hope they might earn a spot, and the many whose conscience would be somewhat allayed by ‘doing something about affordable housing.’

        • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

          Well, only 51,000 people voted against Measure A – only about 7% of the adult population. So there was pretty close to zero opposition to the measure, by this count.

          On the broader point of “a special few” getting a “huge benefit over everyone else who would be just as deserving,” that could be said about many, many aspects of the government (or life in general): those hired for a government job, those granted a government contract, those retained by the government for a particular project, those provided a tax break for countless reasons, etc. Unless we are going to provide subsidized housing for everyone who is “deserving,” this is the way it has to be. Yes, there is the option of providing no subsidized housing to anyone, but only 7% of the population appear to favor that route . . . Will of the people.

          • Posted by Sara Short

            But there is the option of making more fair by applying term limits to it’s beneficiaries. The benefits are more evenly distributed then.

      • Posted by Jake

        Overwhelming will of the people. And not just last November. We’ve had similar bond votes and similar policies and mayors and supervisors running and winning as candidates with these policies for a long long time. Even the current mayor for example.

        If you want to play fun with numbers: 11.5% of the registered voters in San Francisco voted against Bond Measure A. Less than 1 in 12 of those eligible to vote (registered and non-registered) cast a vote against it. Less than 1 in 12. There’s your slimmer of a glimmer.

        BTW, if by “adults who could have had a say in the matter” you mean eligible to vote and not just could scribble comments on a blog, then your stats are wrong. More than 100k of the adult population of SF are not US citizens. Even in the Peoples Commune of Saint Francis, they don’t get a vote as their “say in the matter.”

  12. Posted by sparky-b

    Well the will of the people chose to reduce the BMR inclusionary housing number from 15% to 12% in 2012 and now we are being subjected to voting on raising it to 25% this June. The will of the people spoke, why should we be voting on it again so soon?

    • Posted by Sara Short

      Why not just make it 100% and get it over…..

    • Posted by Jake

      Democracy, sparky-b, with an emphasis on the ‘demo’ part. The will of the people of SF and CA going back a century or so is to make it relatively easy to put these issues to popular vote and thus easy for them to demonstrate their will by ballot. I’ve lived in non-referendum/initiative states where these subjects could only be decided by elected representatives.

      Sara, I strongly recommend that it should be 100%, with a low buyout based on the sales price instead of the number of bedrooms, and allow the developer to buyout from 0 to 100%. That way a developer doing a buyout would pay more into the affordable pot if they build $2 million 2bdrm condos than if they build $750k 2bdrm condos.

      The current system encourages highest-end market rate and lowest-end BMR, and discourages more moderate priced market rate. Actually the opposite of the policy intent. As long as we only look at the % and not the buyout formula, then we shouldn’t expect this to create “moderately’ priced housing.

  13. Posted by Col. Klink
  14. Posted by Pablito

    “Affordable” housing in Sf is corrupt trainwreck. A few people – usually politically connected – win the “fair” “lottery” – get a huge benefit – and the vast majority of the people of low and moderate income receive Zero assistance. Zero.

    What kind of screwed up social program is that? What if it were food we were talking about? Would we tolerate feeding 1% of the population and telling the rest to go starve?

    There should be no affordable forever units in SF. All units should be market rate. Developers should have to pay $$ into a fund – and if you are poor you can apply for rent assistance. That way the City government could help more people using the same resources.

    It is a lot more fair to give 10,000 people $100 each than to give 100 people $10,000 each. Our social policy in SF is exactly wrong.

  15. Posted by Aaron Goodman

    Market rate housing is the same train wreck…. has nobody realized the homeless situation which was noted as a large percentage of prior residents of SF?

    Forcing out the existing population ignores the need to densify other “high-end” neighborhoods in the same vein as low-income areas…. why have we not seen such tower proposals in St. Francis Woods, along west-portal, or in the lovely areas near the Presidio? Maybe its time to look at equity in terms of location of these densification projects?

  16. Posted by 4th Gen SFer

    So, what if the developers take this 40% BMR law all the way to the SCOTUS, and President Trump has instilled some of his people on the court? I’m seriously hoping this happens.

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