Affordable Housing Crisis
By SF Supervisor Gordon Mar
A record number of high-profile tech companies are looking to hold IPOs (a.k.a, go public) this year, including Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and Pinterest, among others. Together, these corporations will be worth hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of San Franciscans will become overnight millionaires as billions in new wealth flows into our City.
If this sounds familiar, it should. We have already seen new tech wealth pour into this City, to the benefit of the few. We’ve seen its impacts – not just on our affordability crisis, but on traffic congestion, our transportation infrastructure, our public goods and services and the health and well-being of the people and communities who call this City home. We call ourselves a progressive City, and yet San Francisco has one of the largest and fastest-growing income gaps in the world.
And in the midst of this, the City enacted policies that exacerbated wealth inequality. We gave companies a tax break on stock compensation. We created the Twitter tax break to lure in and keep big companies here, and instead of asking tech companies to pay their fair share, we changed our tax system to benefit them, while losing tens of millions in revenue that could have paid for raises for teachers, affordable housing and better public transit.
We must better understand the consequences of this extreme inequality and rapid injection of new wealth from these companies going public and work to address it. This is why I’ve called for a report and hearing on how large IPOs impact housing affordability, traffic congestion, gentrification and more. As we grapple with what’s coming, I’m looking at every policy option we have to address it.
We are struggling to build enough affordable housing as it is to address the homelessness crisis and to allow people of all economic conditions to continue to live in our city and the upcoming tech IPO bonanza will only make our affordable housing strategies even more challenging. So, I have joined with SF Mayor London Breed and SF Supervisor Vallie Brown to sponsor legislation to waive fees for ADUs (a.k.a., accessory dwelling units, or in-laws) and 100 percent affordable housing projects.
I have also authored a resolution opposing Sen. Scott Wiener’s SB-50, which would override our local control to 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 the concerns of community members and affordable housing advocates.
SB-50 is a giveaway to private interests and developers without listening to, protecting, or meeting the needs of our community. 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.
As we think about how to better invest in addressing our affordability crisis, I hope you’ll join us for our next neighborhood Town Hall to learn more about our budget process and share your priorities for the coming year:
Budget 101 Town Hall
Wednesday, April 10
Abraham Lincoln High School Library
2162 24th Ave.
And while it’s a high priority, the affordability crisis isn’t all we’ve been working on:
We called for a hearing on Muni’s performance and reliability. I’ve heard from constituents every single day about train and bus delays, long wait times and reliability issues. You deserve answers. Public transportation can and should be accountable to the public and I intend to have SFMTA report publicly on Muni’s performance every single quarter going forward.
We passed a resolution supporting a permanent memorial for the victims and survivors of the Irish Famine. This resolution will celebrate the history and essential contributions the Irish-American community has made to our City, and in particular to the Sunset District, where Irish culture and traditions have rooted and flourished, to the benefit of us all.
We joined SF Supervisor Rafael Mandelman for a rally and resolution declaring a state of emergency on climate change. We need a response proportional to the crisis we face, and the crisis we face is existential. While our federal government denies this reality, it falls upon states and cities to lead. We must dramatically reduce our emissions in the next 12 years, and quickly work towards an all-electric, sustainable and resilient future. This is just the first step toward a comprehensive action plan to address the climate crisis; we will have more to share on this soon.
We joined SF Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer for a rally and resolution in support of the Medicare for All Act, to say loudly and clearly that the City and County of San Francisco believes healthcare is a human right, not a privilege.
We have too much to share in one column, but you can always follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/d4gordonmar, subscribe to our newsletter at gordonmar.com, or connect with our office at email@example.com to learn more!
Gordon Mar represents District 4 on the SF Board of Supervisors and can be reached at (415) 554-7460 or firstname.lastname@example.org.