Two Affordable Housing Measures Proposed for November Ballot

Two affordable housing measures are currently proposed for the November 5, 2019 ballot: (i) City Charter and Code amendments to encourage certain 100% affordable and teacher housing projects by providing for a streamlined ministerial — i.e., no CEQA — approval process for qualified projects and (ii) an up-to $500 million affordable housing bond.

Ministerial Review of 100% Affordable Housing and Teacher Housing Projects

This measure, which is sponsored by Mayor Breed and Supervisors Brown, Safai, and Stefani, would effectively eliminate CEQA requirements and Planning Commission, Historic Preservation Commission, Board of Supervisors, and Board of Appeals review for qualified 100% affordable housing and teacher housing projects.

This measure would:

  • Establish new definitions for 100% Affordable Housing and Teacher Housing projects that would include the following criteria: (i) at least two-thirds of a mixed-use project must be set aside for qualified housing; (ii) 140% of the Area Median Income (AMI) income maximum; (iii) priced for sale or rented at 80% of the median market price for the neighborhood; and (iv) for Teacher Housing, at least two-thirds of the units must be deed restricted for occupancy by at least one employee of the Unified School District or Community College District.
  • Create a streamlined ministerial approval process for qualified projects that comply with Zoning, Height, and Bulk Maps and objective standards of the Planning Code, including but not limited to permitted modifications under the City’s 100% Affordable Housing Bonus Program and State Density Bonus Law.
  • Eliminate the following for qualified projects (as applicable): (i) General Plan referral requirement; (ii) potential appeal to the Board of Appeals; (iii) Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) approval of building alterations (with the apparent exception of individually landmarked buildings and provided that the Planning Department develops and applies similar objective criteria for review) and HPC review of project-related ordinances and resolutions; (iv) Arts Commission design review; (v) Board of Supervisors approval where otherwise required for certain City contracts, including ground leases, if between 55 and 99 years; (vi) potential Discretionary Review by the Planning Commission; (vii) Conditional Use authorization requirement (although not specified, presumably only for the residential component of the project); (viii) Inclusionary Affordable Housing requirements; and (ix) Priority Policy consistency findings requirements.
  • Limit Planning Department review to: (i) design review (aesthetic aspects only), which must be completed within 60 days, and (ii) implementation of to-be-adopted objective measures for the reduction of potential environmental impacts related to archeology, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, noise, historic resources, water supply, and/or wind and shadow, as applicable to the project.
  • Disqualify otherwise eligible projects that would be: (i) on designated open space under the jurisdiction of the City Recreation and Park Department; (ii) in a zoning district that prohibits dwelling units; (iii) in a RH-1, RH-1(D), or RH-2 zoning district; or (iv) on the site of a designated historic building or building in a designated historic district if the project would require “any removal or demolition” of that building.
  • Authorize the Board of Supervisors to expand the scope of the streamlined ministerial approval process (by ordinance) to include “additional forms of housing”.

Affordable Housing Bond

This measure, which is sponsored by Mayor Breed and Supervisors Yee, Brown, Safai, Walton, and Stefani, would authorize the City to incur up to $500 million in bonded indebtedness to finance the development and improvement/preservation of affordable housing (and related costs) and to levy taxes to pay for the principal and interest on these bonds. Landlords would be permitted to pass through up to 50% of the resulting property tax increase to residential tenants. The related affordable housing programs would prioritize working families, veterans, seniors, and persons with disabilities (including but not limited to down payment assistance for San Francisco Unified School District educators and other middle-income working households).

This measure is currently scheduled to be heard by the Budget and Finance Committee on June 6, 2019, during which a motion to refer the measure to the full Board for consideration on June 11, 2019, will be considered.

We will continue to track these measures, which have not yet been submitted to the Department of Elections.