Affordable Housing & The Eastern Neighborhoods Plan
It is far too hard to make a life and raise a family in San Francisco right now. Rental prices are astronomical in San Francisco compared to the rest of the country, with prices reaching $3,500-4000 per month on average. This is a crisis that is causing seniors, middle-class families, low-income families, and working class people to be forced out of San Francisco. It is why so many of our residents have multiple roommates, live with family in multigenerational households, or in the worst cases, stay in abusive relationships for housing. San Franciscans deserve better — this is not the reality that we should be accepting.
As a renter myself, I understand the plight of this City’s tenants. I have seen too many residents evicted, forced out of the city, or become homeless. Affordable housing must be prioritized, and I can ensure that our district increases our supply of affordable units by bringing my experience developing affordable housing to City Hall. I have committed to building thousands of new affordable housing units for all income levels over the next 8 years because I have already been doing this work. We can achieve this goal by prioritizing the affordable housing projects currently in the pipeline and eliminating barriers so that more can be built. There is a balance that can and must be struck between maintaining our open spaces and implementing creative solutions for housing like increasing the height limits for affordable housing projects near transit hubs. If we want to solve the housing crisis, it is imperative we work towards achieving this balance rather than simply stake out positions on either side of the issues.
As Supervisor, I plan to use my previous experience building affordable housing with Young Community Developers to build thousands of new affordable units for all income levels throughout the District. To me, “affordable housing” means residents are not spending over a third of their monthly income towards rent. I support requiring higher levels of affordable housing in new development, and believe developers have a responsibility to increase their affordability levels to at least 25% based on the Proposition C that was passed by San Francisco voters in 2016. Finally, I believe that we need affordable housing to start at 40% of Area Median Income (“AMI”) in certain low-income communities.
In regards to market-rate housing on public land, I believe that public resources should provide a public benefit, which means that public land should be dedicated for affordable and below market rate opportunities for families. I also support the idea of municipally owned or controlled housing. San Francisco owns various public lots that have the potential to be developed and converted into affordable and below market rate opportunities for families. This public land should be utilized to build affordable projects such as teacher housing through public-private partnerships with nonprofit developers.
As Supervisor, I would also use my past experience to ensure that communities surrounding proposed developments are consulted in negotiations, have a chance to have requests included and/or concerns heard, and that developers are then held accountable. I I will monitor and ensure that developers comply with the Transportation Sustainability Fee and other Community Benefit fees and pay for their impacts on SF’s transportation system and entire urban ecosystem. This can be ensured in part by revising the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan to cover all District 10 neighborhoods and require developers to pay both Transportation Sustainability and Impact Fees that will fund locally-desired projects to directly benefit our neighborhoods. If developers want to build here, they need to work with our existing communities by demonstrating this minimal level of care and concern for the health of the City instead of just being concerned with their profits.
Lastly, I will work with the City to fully fund the Right to Counsel program that was approved by voters last June so all residential tenants facing eviction in San Francisco are provided an attorney. This is an important step towards ending the practice of wrongful evictions in our City and should be prioritized in budget allocations.
The Eastern Neighborhoods Plan
With all the development happening or coming to District 10 in the near future, it is imperative that our City revisit and revise the current Eastern Neighborhoods Plan (“ENP”). I’m tired of our eastern neighborhood homeowners having to pool personal money together to pay for basic community improvements, and believe the City and developers should be paying for our infrastructure upgrades instead. We need a new plan that will not only cover every District 10 neighborhood, but that will also ensure the City uses the resources brought in from Impact Fees to directly benefit the D10 community where development is occurring.
Furthermore, we need to develop a clear, community-driven plan for how to use the dramatic increases in projected Impact Fee income for infrastructure improvements throughout our district. When the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan was originally written, it was projected that these fees would bring in only $24.7 million over the next 5 years. This projection nearly doubled to $43.7 million in 2011, jumped to $53.7 million by 2013, and, in the last IPIC Annual Report published in 2016, has gone up to over $79 million. It is now projected that fees from the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan will total over $130.5 million by 2021, which would be roughly 36% of all Impact Fees collected by the City within that time frame combined. Despite these increases, the San Francisco Controller’s Office only recorded $3,098 in expenditures from the Eastern Neighborhood’s Public Benefits Fund between the Plan’s approval in 2009 and 2012. This kind of slow movement is unacceptable and precisely why it is imperative that District 10’s next Supervisor have a proven record of successfully bringing resources directly to projects and programs that benefit our residents.
In addition, any revised Eastern Neighborhoods Plan should include a stop-gap measure to ensure that funds collected from Impact Fees are used to improve District 10’s infrastructure and support the population growth. If we haven’t seen sufficient public transit, schools, parks, and other infrastructure added to our neighborhoods within a set period of years, then actions should be taken to remedy the situation before any more development occurs. As stated in my Public Transit / Public Infrastructure policy – it does the City little good to grow our population without simultaneously making changes to accommodate our residents comfortably. If developers want to build in our neighborhoods, they need to work with our existing residents by demonstrating this minimal level of care and concern for the health of the City instead of just being concerned with their profits.
Lastly, I would like to see the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan incorporate a requirement that developers partner with Local Builders for portions of their approved projects. This would ensure there are people, organizations, and/or companies involved who are actually part of the local community. Several developers currently working on projects in District 10 are bound by Agreements that include this requirement, and, through my experience being brought into a project for this purpose, I know that it helps ensure the majority of jobs in designing, construction, and financing are given to local residents. Furthermore, as a local building partner, my organization was able to bring 12 certificate of preference holders (COP), all of whom were Black families who had moved to neighboring cities, back to the City by securing them affordable housing. We made sure that over 50% of the new residents were African-Americans from the community, and, when the developer we had partnered with began unilaterally raising rent on residents, were in a position to work to hold them accountable and publicly express our belief that this was unacceptable.
Even with revising the requirements for Community Benefit Agreements and Impact Fees in the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, experience has shown us that this does not automatically result in projects or services that our communities actually want or need. Far too often, people from outside our neighborhoods have held community meetings to hear input from our residents but then proceeded however they wanted to anyway. Particularly given the high rate of residents being priced out of their homes within District 10 and San Francisco’s Black community, it is crucial that our residents be involved in every step of incoming developments and in determining the corresponding community benefit projects.
I firmly believe that zoning should remain in the hands of the local leadership and community because we are the ones affected by the impact that development has on our environment and infrastructure. There is a balance that can and must be struck between community benefits and increasing our housing supply, and, if we want to solve the housing crisis, it is imperative we work towards achieving that balance rather than simply stake out positions on either side of the issues. I believe that this starts with active community involvement in revising the Eastern Neighborhoods Plan. As Supervisor, I will make sure that when we talk, they listen downtown. If they decide not to listen, we will call hearings to make sure that they focus on what we need to do and get accomplished right away. Residents of the southeast will not be ignored by City Hall during my tenure as Supervisor.
However, we also need a strategy to increase resident involvement in the Eastern Neighborhoods Community Advisory Committee (CAC). This is the body that advises the City on how to prioritize proposed community improvements and use the money brought in by Impact Fees, however, their meetings are currently all held in the evening outside of District 10. Given all the transportation and transit issues in the southeast, and particularly the evening hour switch-backs on the T-line, this is completely unacceptable. The Committee cannot successfully provide input on how to prioritize Public Benefits, relay information about the status of development proposals to community members, or provide input on development monitoring efforts when our residents cannot even make it to the meetings. As Supervisor, I would push for these meetings to be relocated to a rotating schedule within each of the District 10 neighborhoods, as well as for additional meetings to be held within our communities with Committee members as needed. Every resident of District 10 who wants to have a voice about our District’s future deserves the opportunity to have one.
Worked with colleagues on the Board of Education and Board of Supervisors to create the first educator housing project to help our SFUSD educators stay in San Francisco. It will be built on part of the site at Francis Key Scott Elementary School.
Built 59 units of ALL affordable housing for families in District 10 while holding developers responsible for existing community benefit packages supporting walkability, mixed-use, and open space.
Currently building another 156 units of ALL affordable housing for families.
Successfully brought Neighborhood Certificate of Preference Holders who had been forced out of the City back to the Bayview and into the affordable housing units we built.
Worked with HOPE SF to rebuild public housing throughout District 10 and ensure public housing conditions are safe and livable for tenants.
Ensured compact, walkable, and mixed-use neighborhoods for public housing residents.
Brought and am continuing to ensure each public housing community has job training and career placement services onsite (already exists in Alice Griffith, Sunnydale, Hunters View and now Potrero Hill).