Proposition F - Affordable Housing in Bayview Hunters Point

Voter Guide
June 1, 2008
This measure appeared on the June 2008 San Francisco ballot.

 

What it does

Proposition F is an initiative ordinance that sets forth policies requiring that in the development plan for the Bayview Hunters Point area, at least 50 percent of all new housing units developed in the project site must be “affordable.” The initiative specifies that one-sixth of all units affordable to households earning no more that 80 percent of the San Francisco median household income; one-sixth affordable to households earning no more than 60 percent; and one-sixth affordable to households earning no more than 30 percent.

Bayview Hunters Point is currently proposed to undergo major redevelopment. The overall scope of the new development is the subject of a different ballot measure on the same ballot– Prop. G. This initiative ordinance (Prop. F) is a competing measure to Prop. G in that it sets different terms for the level of affordable housing than what is included in Prop. G.

As part of planned changes for the Bayview Hunters Point area, the existing Alice Griffith public housing development at Griffith Street and Gilman Avenue is scheduled to be demolished and rebuilt, as the City has done with a number of other public housing developments throughout San Francisco. The Alice Griffith public housing development was built in 1962 and has 254 units.

Prop. F also requires that the rebuilding of the Alice Griffith public housing development provide at least the replacement of the same number of units at the same income levels as those of existing residents, and requires that the rebuilding be phased so that no displacement occurs until replacement units are ready for occupancy.

The measure provides that preferences for the rental or purchase of new affordable housing be given to families in the following order of priority: any Alice Griffith resident in good standing; people entitled to residential relocation assistance; individuals paying more than 50 percent of their income for housing or residing in public housing or federal Department of Housing and Urban Development Section 8 housing; San Francisco residents; and the general public. (Section 8 is a federal program that subsidizes the housing costs of people with very low incomes, who live in units that are not owned by the government.)

The City would not permitted to sell or lease City-owned land at Candlestick Point until the Board of Supervisors finds, following the required public review process, that the integrated development plan incorporates these policies.

Why it is on the ballot

Prop. F appears on the ballot as a result of a voter initiative spearheaded by Supervisor Chris Daly and the local organization People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER).

In May 2007 the Board of Supervisors and the mayor endorsed a “conceptual framework” for developing Hunters Point and Candlestick Point. The framework set forth certain goals and principles to guide the proposed redevelopment of the areas and contains a guiding principle that at least 25 percent of the new housing units should be “affordable.” The framework does not define “affordable” but instead states: “the affordable units will serve a range of income levels and household sizes and generations, and will be integrated into the Project as a whole with the market rate housing. The affordable housing program will be shaped to serve the BVHP community, where the median income is lower than that of the City as a whole.” The framework also calls for possibly rebuilding Alice Griffith public housing units as part of the project, and those units would be in addition to the 25 of new affordable units.

The proponents of Prop. F believe that the conceptual framework proposes a level of affordable housing that should be far higher. The level of 50 percent affordable that is in Prop. F was not selected based on financial feasibility.

Pros

Arguments in favor of this measure:

  • There is a large need for affordable housing in San Francisco and the neighborhoods affected by this proposal. If this measure could produce as much affordable housing as it purports to, it could help solve one of our most vexing challenges.

Cons

Arguments against this measure:

  • This measure would make redevelopment of Bayview Hunters Point infeasible. It is not possible to produce 50 percent of the units in the plan area as affordable housing without significant public subsidy.
  • The Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood has experienced massive disinvestment and job loss over the past three decades. To propose an initiative that could be, in effect, a “poison pill” to the redevelopment plan for the area is irresponsible, as it could result in no further redevelopment for the area.
  • The final development plan must be reviewed and approved by the Redevelopment Agency, the mayor and the Board of Supervisors. There will be ample opportunity through the normal review process, which will include review of detailed financial analyses, to determine what level of housing-unit affordability it is economically feasible to require.
  • Affordable requirements, like all exactions on development, need to be established through a rigorous feasibility analysis, not pulled out of the air. There has been no economic analysis to support the feasibility of the initiative’s affordability requirements.
  • Establishing specific income-level requirements for the housing units through the ballot box is bad planning and bad policy.

SPUR’s analysis

SPUR is a strong advocate for affordable housing. We have supported efforts at the state and local level to increase funding for affordable housing and supported the recent increase the inclusionary zoning requirement in San Francisco The conceptual framework for the development plan provides that 25 percent of the units must be affordable. This level is already higher than the citywide inclusionary housing law and the state requirements for redevelopment plans. Increasing the requirement to 50 percent at the ballot, without an analysis of its economic feasibility and impact on project viability, is irresponsible at best. There will be ample opportunity, as the project plans go through the myriad approvals that are required, to set fees and exactions at the right levels. If something sounds too good to be true – like 50 percent affordable housing without having to impose a tax on ourselves to pay for it – then it probably is. This is not a serious housing proposal.

SPUR recommends a “No” vote on Prop. F.