board of supervisors

Mar Against SB-50

Supervisor Gordon Mar Opposing Upzoning Without Community Input or Benefits

San Francisco Supervisor Gordon Mar has authored a resolution opposing Senator Scott Wiener’s senate bill (SB-50) which would increase zoning density and heights across most of San Francisco without increasing requirements for affordable housing or community benefits unless it is amended to address broad concerns from community members and affordable housing developers.

“SB-50 is a giveaway to private interests and developers without listening to, protecting, or meeting the needs of our community,” Mar said. “We are not simply in a housing crisis, we are in an affordability crisis, and SB-50 is not the answer to truly affordable housing.”

The state bill is a re-tooled version of last year’s controversial SB-827, which similarly sought to increase heights and density across San Francisco, and failed in committee after prompting widespread opposition from San Francisco elected officials and community groups.

While the bill includes a five-year deferral for “sensitive communities,” it does not allow San Francisco to define those communities or make adjustments as gentrification expands to new areas and those communities would still be subjected to the full effects of the law after the deferral period ends.

“I support increasing density near transit, including in the Sunset, but we need the opportunity to plan for our own neighborhoods with permanently affordable housing, more open space and more robust community benefits. If we loosen zoning restrictions and increase land values, we must demand that developers meet the needs of the community,” Mar said.

James Huynh, an organizer with the Housing Rights Committee agreed.

“Working with families on the West Side, we know parents fear their kids will never be able to afford to live in the city they call home. We want opportunities for families, students, immigrants and seniors, especially if they’re low income,” Huynh said. “For that to happen, we need to build housing that’s affordable for everyday hardworking people. SB-50 and trickle-down-housing won’t.”

Mar has focused on increasing affordable housing on the West Side, including at this Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, when he questioned why no projects eligible for neighborhood preference program participants were built in the Sunset, despite there being over 5000 applicants there. Mar also co-sponsored legislation with the Mayor to waive fees on Accessory Dwelling Units and 100 percent affordable housing projects.

“As currently written, SB-50 undermines the ability of the people of San Francisco to plan for the well-being of our neighborhoods, our environment and the public good,” Mar said. “It’s bad on principle, it’s bad policy and unless SB-50 is amended to address these concerns, I cannot support it.”

Mar’s resolution is co-sponsored by a majority of the Board of Supervisors, including Supervisors Rafael Mandelman, Norman Yee, Sandra Lee Fewer, Aaron Peskin, Shamann Walton, and Hillary Ronen.

11 replies »

  1. Thanks to Supervisor Mar for introducing this resolution. There will be a hearing at City Hall, BOS Land Use committee, on April 1st on this resolution. Please – write letters in support and attend. You can learn more about SB-50 and the danger it poses to San Francisco on the website


  2. “when he questioned why no projects eligible for neighborhood preference program participants were built in the Sunset, despite there being over 5000 applicants there. ” Maybe because the height limit means only 4 story buildings (max) in the vast majority of the neighborhood? We need to end the sunset’s exclusionary zoning now! SB50 will make it possible to build apartments again in the sunset, which have been outlawed for nearly 50 years.


  3. “Mar … questioned why no projects eligible for neighborhood preference program participants were built in the Sunset, despite there being over 5000 applicants there.”

    This makes me want to hit my head against the wall. Affordable Housing projects aren’t built in the Sunset because the hyper-low-density zoning doesn’t allow it, which is LITERALLY what the More Homes Act / SB-50 would change. Zoning is one of the biggest barriers for nonprofits that build Affordable Housing. That’s why the Non-profit Housing Association of Northern California and Habitat for Humanity *support* the bill.

    Supervisor Mar needs to decide if he’s for Affordable Housing, or if he’s for the ban on building apartments (that More Homes / SB-50 would lift). It can’t be both.

    If he’s saying he’s for Affordable Housing but against SB-50, he must think Sunset residents are stupid.


  4. Almost the entirety of D4 is zoned for one or two housing units per lot. If the Supervisor is wondering why no affordable housing was proposed or built in his district maybe looking at the zoning would be a good place to start – it is difficult to justify fully subsidizing a 2 unit affordable housing project.

    I am looking forward to the Supervisor’s alternative proposal to zone sites in D4 for a density that can make affordable housing projects viable, but wonder how much that would differ in practice from what Senator Wiener is proposing.


  5. I’m glad that our supervisors are standing up for San Francisco. I grew up in the Richmond District. We have a mix of multi-unit buildings and single-family. San us needs affordable housing (that’s housing that those at/below median income can rent or buy.) SB 50 doesn’t require any greater % affordable than SF’s current law. And it allows developers to decide where, how high, and how many units to build. That’s a bad deal for San Franciscans (but it will make some developers very wealthy.)


  6. I agree with the supervisors, unless amended to require/impose more affordable units, this bill is bad for SF. The developers will simply buy small homes in desirable areas and turns in multi level condos for the very rich (where profit margins are the best). This bill is good for them, bad for SF residents.
    There is not enough incentives/requirements for building affordable units which is what we really need for the common good and a sustainable growth.


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