Entitled the “Build More Housing Initiative,” the paperwork for a proposed ballot measure which would establish a new “Housing and Inequality Task Force” was filed with San Francisco’s Department of Elections this morning.

Build More Housing Initiative Filing

As drafted, the Mayoral task force would be required to create and publish “a comprehensive plan to grow the affordable housing stock in San Francisco” within six months, with a specific focus on ending all density limits, enacting “use by right” zoning (i.e., as of right development) for all areas of the city, establishing a minimum height for all new dwellings in every neighborhood of “no less than 35 feet,” and any other policies that would allow the city to build “at least 100,000 units every 10 years for the next 50 years.”

But the recommendations of the task force wouldn’t be binding nor require the Mayor, Board of Supervisors or any other government entity or department to endorse nor act on any part of the plan.

The sponsor of the proposed measure appears to be a local journalist named Gregory Ferenstein.

There are currently a record 63,400 apartments and condos in San Francisco’s housing pipeline.  And nearly as many development related initiatives in the works for the November ballot.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Game Theory says this will not pass. The participants in the decision (existing voting residents) will not vote for something that benefits non-participants (people who do not yet live in SF. Or not even born yet)

    • Posted by swiftamine

      I doubt it’ll pass either, but glad that support for more housing is becoming more visible.

      • Posted by hgh

        It’s the support for preserving neighborhood character, and how fed up the large majority of San Franciscans are with the poor planning for developments, that I think has been underestimated.

        It’s been mostly Neighborhood group whiners, because nobody has forced the issue. The truth is, people love SF because they like the character.

  2. Posted by david m.

    this has no chance of passing, but something like it could have passed if they’d crafted the legislation so as not to alienate the west side so obviously. the key is that it’s not binding but would empower a pro-development mayor the way vision zero will eventually empower a pro-transit mayor.

  3. Posted by sassySFboy

    Jerry Brown got it right this time–make a law at the state level that will stymie NIMBYS and BOS at the city level in order to make housing happen. ‘As of right’…Go Jerry!!!

  4. Posted by Jake

    another bored report to ignore

  5. Posted by sunset94116

    So the City will be filled with BMRs that do not contribute to the General fund. This means the City will raise taxes on everything and the City will be left with the very rich and this BMRs. The middle class, those who stay, will pay for everything and be hurt the most.

    • Posted by SFist

      Sunset94116 – yup, the answer is drive to the Middle Class out. That’s what SF is all about, That why the voters should VOTE NO on every prop in the June Ballot, it’s all aimed at taxing the middle class out of the City.

      • Posted by SFcitizen

        Wow, I did vote no on all props except one. I voted yes on Prop. 50.

    • Posted by Sabbie

      Yes, the SF middle class is hurtling towards extinction, it will be the 1%, and the lottery winners that know how to work the system.

  6. Posted by Orland


  7. Posted by Sabbie

    Be careful with that “build more housing fast” thing. Look at what’s happening in Miami. Even though the home prices in the Miami area continue to rise, the big condo buildings are starting to feel the pain. Slow and steady may be the way to go.

    • Posted by BobN

      OMG, a large number of units affordable for regular people are about to hit the market!!!

      • Posted by Sabbie

        Prices will dip briefly, then all of the other projects in the pipeline will just go on hold faster than you can say “two thousand ten”. And since you have to be in the top 3% of Americans to afford the median home here, I don’t think “regular people” will be in the picture anytime soon.

        • Posted by moto mayhem

          i dont think the 3rd % can afford. The 2nd % is even a stretch. I would argue that the top 1.5% of americans can afford, but the top 1.5% of americans equates to the top 15% of san franciscans

    • Posted by Sabbie

      First Miami, now Toronto.

  8. Posted by hgh

    Well he has been in San Francisco for 2 yrs., and tech workers are all land use experts these days. What could go wrong?

  9. Posted by JIPB

    Just what SF needs, another quarter of a million people – so it can be gridlocked, noisy and unbearable for 24 hours a day instead of 12.

    • Posted by hgh

      Mandated, no less.

    • Posted by Cameron Newland

      That sure beats being a city with plenty of jobs and no affordable housing. What’s wrong with Manhattan, anyway? You don’t need a car, public transport is convenient and cheap, salaries are high. I could go on…

      • Posted by hgh

        Manhattan was built like that 100 years ago, and it’s facing it’s own infrastructure problems.

        Public transport there is $5 a round trip, and facing another increase.

        Plenty of displacement happening in Manhattan, and NYC as a whole.

  10. Posted by Oh Dear

    Please not another task force.

  11. Posted by Dave

    All this begs the question – why does SF have to grow to a million population? Who dictated that? The infrastructure is not there for much more growth.

    • Posted by anona

      Who dictated that it shouldn’t? You’re welcome to buy any units to keep empty that you’d like.

      • Posted by hgh

        The infrastructure, and the city that already exists pretty much dictated that it shouldn’t grow to that extent. Keeping apartments empty doesn’t solve having to live in that butchered, overly populated, vision of SF.

        • Posted by anona

          And if the city votes for this proposal then clearly the city has changed its mind, right?

          • Posted by Jake

            If the city votes for this proposal then clearly it has lost its (collective) mind. All this would do is waste money to write a report that will be ignored.

            FWIW, SF will have more than a million people today and just about every workday. Has for years. When folks complain about the inadequate “infrastructure” they usually mean the work commute congestion.

            About half the cars in the SF CBD during the work commute are workers from neighboring counties. And about half of those cars park for free in SF. Not building SF housing while building additional office space would induce more car trips into SF from neighboring counties.

            If you want SF to grow in jobs and residents without increasing the traffic congestion, then build subways within SF and to SF and raise the price of workday parking in the SF CBD. Raise it until the congestion is at your desired level.

          • Posted by moto mayhem

            yes! subways!!

          • Posted by SFRealist

            Yes, subways!

            But not dumb ones like the Central Subway. Just imagine if that $2B had been spent on a subway on Geary, underground from say Van Ness to Gough

          • Posted by Alai

            “build subways within SF and to SF and raise the price of workday parking in the SF CBD. Raise it until the congestion is at your desired level.”

            Or just do the second part first.

            Yes, it’s annoying and expensive for the people driving in. But the current situation is annoying too. And while subways may take a long time to build, congestion parking/tolling would have an immediate effect on the demand for bus service, including private bus service, from all directions. It would also make that service cheaper to provide (because you have to pay for drivers and buses whether they’re going at 55 mph or sitting in gridlock). There would probably be enough demand to have lines that directly serve more parts of SF, so that someone coming from Oakland doesn’t have to transfer at Transbay. Add to that Uberpool and the equivalents, and you’d end up with a system that’s overall more convenient, reliable, and cheaper than the gridlock we have today.

            Plus, then the city has an income stream it can devote to funding the next round of subways.

    • Posted by Aaron Goodman

      agree 100% – without infrastructure we are just a silly bunch of people sitting on a sinking ship…

  12. Posted by Pero

    Sorry, but the ‘infrastructure isn’t there’ argument is quite dumb. When in history has the construction of infrastructure predated the growth in population? People move to place with jobs and Infrastructure gets build to accommodate that growth in economic activity.

    Hey, in 1900 New York City’s infrastructure ‘dictated’ that it shouldn’t grow any further. Then the city build the subway and it’s population more than doubled over the next 30 years.

    • Posted by hgh

      “When in history has the construction of infrastructure predated the growth in population? ”

      Ever heard of the Twin Peaks tunnel?

      But I guess you’re inadvertently making an argument against developing around transit?

      We already infrastructure, just like we already have a city here. It’s not that it isn’t here, it’s that it’s overstretched by people who don’t respect it.

  13. Posted by Pero

    ‘city/infrastructure is overstretched by people that don’t respect it’
    What does that even mean? Do we need an Ayatholla who determines who is and who isn’t ‘respectful’ enough of our city and infrastructure?

    In general, short term plan for cities is to build around existing transit. Long term plan is to adapt transit infrastructure to the places and uses of the population.

    SF has build one single BART line 40 years ago. Is that the infrastructure that we should live with for the rest of eternity? Should we make due with pre-historic, diesel-fuelled CalTrain trains? Are Muni buses from the 1970ies the best we can do?

    • Posted by hgh

      You seem unhappy, Pero. While you’re plotting away decades of changes to the city, we’re talking about right now. It’s congested right now.

    • Posted by SFcitizen

      Diesel trains are not pre-historic. The first diesel powered locomotive operated in Switzerland beginning in 1912. It is well documented history.

      • Posted by Pero

        SFcitizen, you’re spot on! I shouldn’t have implied that Bay Area trains are using 10’000 year old technology. It’s only 100 years old. 🙂

    • The answer to all your questions … is YES!

      There can be NO progress… in America’s most ‘progressive’ city 🙂

  14. Posted by Aaron Goodman

    Problem is we keep building around, transit hubs, densifying to the point of boxing in any future solutions on transit. Therefore we negate any ability to plan for a future city that works.

    When you cannot even enter a library, public pool, or find a school to send your kid, there is a problem, and when transit is at a standstill due to privatization of transit and tiered transit pushing down the road the mass-transit dollars needed, we end up stuck in the same transit quagmire of the past.

    • Posted by moto mayhem

      we should privatize the entire transit infrastructure. I would trust Google much more than public officials to make transit efficient and user friendly

      • I would like Elon Musk to be given all of the region’s transit dollars to spend as he pleases, as long as that future involves fleets of self-driving electric buses and self-driving taxis that will take you anywhere you want to go for mere pennies and be totally “green.”

  15. Posted by anon2

    I think this is great. Obviously it would be extremely difficult to build 100,000 units in 10 years, even if everybody did agree that’s what we wanted. Probably not a coincidence that is about the number that recent analysis have provided as a requirement to return to general ‘affordability’ here.

    Whether it passes or not, and if it does pass whether it has any effect or not, and it probably won’t in both cases, it is still important to bring this issue into the public consciousness. Many people simply have no conception of the monumental size of the supply/demand imbalance in the Bay Area, thinking that only a few hundred ‘affordable units’ here or there will fix things.

    The city of Hong Kong is now building about 20,000 new units every year, about half of which are government subsidized ‘affordable’. Hong Kong is about 10 times as big as SF in population, but surely the most innovative in the world can at least pull its proportional weight.

  16. Posted by Bart Samsung

    This is an amazing con. This clown got 10k in donations? Good for him – in the local grifters hall of fame, he’ll get a prize. This thing is premised on so much naive bullshit, it would be laughable except for the fact that if in some bizarro set of circumstances it got on the ballot (not gonna happen btw) it would lose because of this:

    “But the recommendations of the task force wouldn’t be binding nor require the Mayor, Board of Supervisors or any other government entity or department to endorse nor act on any part of the plan.?

    In other words it is a classic SF screw job – get everyone to think the ballot measure will “do something” when in fact like all the liberal BS that we get in previous years, it DOESN’T DO A G D THING.

    live it up, techies! spend your money on this and “DCCC” races we all need a laugh

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