Supes Drop Ballot Measure, Shift Strategies in Debate Over Affordable Housing Requirements

San Francisco Supervisors Jane Kim and Aaron Peskin today said they would withdraw one measure from the June ballot that would double the minimum amount of affordable housing developers are required to include in projects but continue to negotiate with the mayor’s office over a second measure.

The announcement is the latest move in a political struggle between the two supervisors and the mayor’s office over competing affordable housing measures.

The current 12 percent affordable housing requirement for new developments, widely viewed as being too low, has been enshrined in the city charter since 2012 and can only be changed by a vote of the people. Peskin and Kim are fighting for a charter amendment that would move the requirement back out of the charter, allowing city officials the flexibility to change it as needed.

More controversially, the charter amendment also includes an ordinance that would set affordable housing requirements at 25 percent for onsite construction, more than twice the current level, on an interim basis until the Board of Supervisors can approve levels it deems appropriate. Fifteen percent would be designated for low-income residents, while the remaining 10 percent could be for middle-income residents.

The two had also previously introduced a ballot measure that would set 25 percent as the new minimum on-site affordable housing requirement for market-rate developments. It was this measure they withdrew today, while saying they were willing to negotiate over the terms of the charter amendment.

“This is a show of good faith on our part,” Peskin said in a statement. “We have been in active negotiations with the Mayor and representatives of the development industry, and it’s time to move the ball forward.”

Developers have argued a 25 percent affordable housing requirement would make many projects financially unfeasible and slow development. The mayor has introduced a ballot measure of his own that would require an economic feasibility study before any new affordable housing requirement is set to make sure housing development is maximized.

The board on Tuesday voted 7-4 to reject amendments to the charter measure, backed by the mayor and introduced by Supervisor Malia Cohen, that would have required the board to seek an economic analysis before setting any new affordable housing requirements. Peskin said the proposal would “hamstring” the board.

“We succeeded in winning the protections we sought for more affordable housing on Tuesday with 7 votes of the Board of Supervisors,” Kim said today in a statement. “We are now focused on working in collaboration with all sides to keep our City affordable.”

The board is expected to vote on whether to place the charter amendment on the ballot on March 1.

The mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment this afternoon.

Sara Gaiser, Bay City News

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