San Francisco— With the housing crisis topping headlines across the state, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is championing a bold and comprehensive initiative ordinance to make it easier and faster to build affordable housing citywide, including on public land. The ballot measure also streamlines Educator Housing to house SFUSD and City College employees struggling to afford living in the City.
The Affordable Homes for Educators and Families NOW Act dramatically expands and speeds up affordable housing production by:
Rezoning all lots over 10,000 square feet to allow 100% affordable and educator housing—opening up thousands of parcels for affordable housing development without demolishing existing housing
Rezoning public land to allow 100% affordable and educator housing—allowing affordable housing on even more parcels without touching public parks
Waiving density restrictions and allowing planning code modifications for 100% affordable and educator housing—making development more feasible across the City
Creating an Educator Housing pilot program with dedicated funding in the housing bond—keeping educators in the City
Streamlining Educator Housing Projects with the same provisions already in place for 100% Affordable Housing Projects
The initiative ordinance was submitted on Tuesday with the required number of four supervisors to be placed on the ballot in November.
Supervisors Sandra Lee Fewer (D1), Aaron Peskin (D3), Matt Haney (D6), and Shamann Walton (D10) are co-sponsoring the measure.
Fewer, Haney, and Walton all served as President of the School Board before being elected Supervisor.
“These zoning changes will instantly create dozens of opportunity sites for affordable housing development on both publicly owned and privately owned land in my district alone,” said Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer. “It is critical that we pursue every option we can to increase affordable housing opportunities in all parts of the City, including in neighborhoods on the westside that have seen little affordable housing investment.” The Board’s initiative creates over 3,000 additional opportunity sites by zoning lots over 10,000 square feet for 100% affordable and educator housing and increasing allowable density.
“This is one of the most sweeping, comprehensive affordable housing initiatives ever proposed in San Francisco,” said Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents District 6. “It will lead to more affordable housing being built in more parts of our city, and quicker, especially for our City’s hard working educators. And it couldn’t be more urgent–our housing crisis has reached a boiling point, with more and more families and educators being squeezed out and displaced. We need every part of our City to step up. No more excuses for not building affordable and educator housing in every single neighborhood in San Francisco.”
The Board of Supervisors has been aggressively expanding opportunities to build affordable housing, including a $600 million dollar housing bond that includes a $40 million investment in educator housing construction and placement that was championed by Supervisor Peskin; passing Supervisor Fewer’s Affordable Housing Production and Preservation Fund, which will add tens of millions of excess ERAF dollars to affordable housing production each year; introducing a proposal to increase the Jobs-Housing Linkage Fee to add millions more for affordable workforce housing championed by Supervisor Haney; and pushing for a dedicated 100% Affordable and Educator Housing Planner in this year’s budget, a resource that affordable housing developers have long asked be prioritized to provide expedited review and project management.
Mayor Breed introduced a charter amendment in April with the goal of allowing both market-rate and affordable housing “by right” on public land, but thus far it has failed to gain the Board of Supervisors’ support because of concerns about completely eliminating community input on housing projects and locking “by right” approval of market-rate housing into the City Charter. Unlike the Board’s proposal, the Charter Amendment does not increase development opportunities for affordable housing, and many employees of SFUSD and CCSF wouldn’t be able to afford the housing under the Mayor’s proposal.
“Teachers in my district are being displaced as a result of evictions or speculative rent increases, and the City continues to say that there is no funding available to build truly affordable homes for them,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents the densest district in the City, with a majority of rent controlled housing. “With a $12.2 billion spending budget and a commitment from the State to increase funding for affordable housing, there is no reason the City should not be prioritizing educators in new affordable housing. For the first time in San Francisco’s history, the Board of Supervisors has created a new category of dedicated funding for Educator Housing projects, which will fund rent-restricted housing for a diversity of educators citywide.
The City shouldn’t be dependent on market-rate developers to house a fraction of our teacher population when we have the resources to maximize homes for more teachers at lower rents.”
“My colleagues and I are committed to providing the maximum levels of affordable housing, especially for educators,” said Supervisor Shamann Walton, who represents District 10 in the Southeast part of the City. “As a former President of the Board of Education, I pushed for affordable housing for educators, and we secured the first 100% affordable educator housing development in San Francisco. On the Board of Supervisors, we’ve allocated ERAF funding to educator raises so teachers can afford their homes, but now we need to actually build them—and this ordinance will streamline more dedicated sites for educator housing.”
The Board’s measure differs from the Mayor’s Charter Amendment in its definition of educator housing: the Board keeps the housing affordable to SFUSD and CCSF employees across the wide range of incomes and requires that one employee of SFUSD or CCSF live in each unit, while the Charter Amendment has no such requirement. The Affordable Homes for Educators & Families NOW Act was also crafted in partnership with educators, who voiced concerns about locking a new definition of a type of housing into the City Charter—a mistake the City has made in the past. The Board’s proposal takes the good aspects of the Mayor’s Charter Amendment and amplifies its impact by rezoning over 3,000 parcels for affordable housing development and streamlining educator housing, without tying the hands of policy makers or locking anything into the City Charter.
The United Educators of San Francisco, SF’s teacher union, is backing the proposal by the Board of Supervisors. “Public land is one of the most valuable assets that we have to leverage in the fight for affordable educator housing,” said Susan Solomon, President of the United Educators of San Francisco, which represents 4,500 teachers and 1,600 para-educators serving in the San Francisco Unified School District. “The Affordable Homes for Educators & Families NOW Act acknowledges that educators have diverse housing needs, including deeply affordable housing for our early childhood educators and para-professionals and protected affordable housing for veteran teachers. Its streamlining tools, combined with the historic $40 million for educators in the Affordable Housing Bond, is the package that we’ve been waiting for to keep teachers housed in the communities they love and serve!”
“We fought to make City College free for students seeking better jobs to make better pay so they can afford to live in an increasingly unaffordable city,” said Susan Englander, who has been teaching at City College since 1995 and serves as a Precinct Captain for AFT2121, the union which represents faculty and staff serving the City College District. “But there won’t be any teachers left to shape the next generation of San Franciscans if we can’t dedicate housing for our employees. Many of our faculty are working two or three jobs, in addition to teaching. The Affordable Homes for Educators & Families NOW Act finally demonstrates the City’s commitment to keeping educators in San Francisco because we’re worth it!”
The Board of Supervisors already voted to streamline 100% affordable housing projects in 2017, and this new proposal builds off of those provisions by streamlining a new Educator Housing Pilot Program and removing other barriers that affordable housing developers struggle with: access to land and capital.
“As a community-based nonprofit developer,” said Norma Paz Garcia, Policy Director for the Mission Economic Development Agency, “we depend on robust community support for our projects. Who we serve, what they can afford, are key questions that need to be defined, whether we’re talking about seniors on fixed-incomes, low-wage workers, or middle-income teachers. This policy proposal by the Board of Supervisors deals with real, practical lessons we learned developing for the Mission District community, and extends these lessons to publicly-owned or larger opportunity sites across the city where we, or our fellow-community-based developers, might build.”
“We’ve looked at the best opportunities for expanding affordable housing production throughout the city: public sites and sites over 10,000 square feet that would not result in tenant displacement, based directly on the experience of our affordable housing community, and the lessons from our success last fall with the SoMa Service Arts and Light Industrial zoning overlay for affordable housing, which has already resulted in new projects,” said Fernando Marti, Co-Director of the Council of Community Housing Organizations. “We are glad to see the Supervisors advancing two issues we’ve been actively working on – a citywide affordable housing zoning overlay, and extending streamlining for educator housing to have the same efficiency and certainty of approvals as our 100% affordable housing projects have currently. We’re very encouraged to see so many Supervisors from all parts of the City working together, along with our community-based housing developers and our school district and city college employees, on this policy–it’s the kind of big tent approach that can lead to big solutions.”