letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Why Prop. D is Better Than Prop. E


While there are two similar-sounding housing measures on San Francisco’s November 8 ballot – Propositions D and E – only one of them will make it faster and easier to build more affordable homes and that’s Prop D: Affordable Homes Now

With housing affordability ranking as one of SF residents’ chief concerns, it’s vital that voters fully understand the stark differences between these two measures. That’s not easy to do, unfortunately, because entrenched affordable housing opponents are working hard to spread blatant mistruths about both.

But when you document the facts, Prop. D is the only measure that will lead to more affordable homes, while Prop. E will do nothing to alleviate SF’s ever-worsening affordability crisis. Let’s look at three reasons why that’s the case.

1. Prop. D is the only measure backed by affordable housing leaders with a record of pro-housing progress.Prop D. was placed on the ballot by more than 80,000 residents who, like the overwhelming majority of SF voters, strongly support building more affordable homes for lower- and middle-income residents. It’s backed by a broad coalition of nonprofits led by Habitat for Humanity Greater San FranciscoMission Housing, the Nor Cal Carpenters Union (the largest residential construction workers union) and many others, together with Senator Scott Wiener and Mayor London Breed.

Prop. E was put on the ballot by the SF Board of Supervisors, who have blocked, politicized, and delayed new housing projects – including affordable housing – so many times that the state of California is now investigating. They’ve likewise voted consistently to kill pro-housing legislation that would have done the most to create thousands of new affordable homes for SF residents who need them most. 

2. Prop. D is the only measure that fully streamlines 100% affordable housing projects.  

For projects where 100% of the homes are affordable to low- and middle-income residents and that comply with all existing planning/building codes and zoning rules, Prop D. streamlines the permitting and funding and protects these projects from being killed by meritless lawsuits brought by NIMBY neighbors.

In contrast, Prop. E does nothing to stop 100% affordable housing projects from being delayed to death by bad faith lawsuits. Leaving such projects vulnerable to getting killed by NIMBYs’ rampant abuse of the legal system is not streamlining, no matter how many times Prop. E backers attempt to claim it is. 

3. Prop D is the only measure that will speed up the affordable housing project approval process. SF’s affordable housing shortage is due in part to its needlessly lengthy approval process that can take an average of four to seven years to approve a single housing project – longer than any other city in California. These excessive delays further drive up housing costs, making SF even more unaffordable for lower- and middle-income residents.

To expedite the approval process, Prop. D requires affordable housing projects to be approved by the city within three to six months once an eligible application has been submitted and prevents the City from delaying or rejecting eligible projects. 

Prop, E, however, fails to provide any time frames for the City to deem project applications eligible for streamlining. What does that mean? No time frames means there is no accountability for anyone to speed up anything.

There are even more differences between Props. D and E detailed here by nonprofit think tank SPUR that documents why Prop. D is the only measure on the ballot that will create more affordable homes faster and why Prop. E will do nothing to stop SF’s housing affordability crisis from growing worse.

With so much at stake for tens of thousands of San Francisco residents in dire need of affordable homes, the only solution is clear: Vote Yes on Prop D for Affordable Homes Now.

Rachel Norton 

Rachel Norton is a renter and a 23-year resident of the Richmond district.

4 replies »

  1. Interesting that Rachel Norton, who runs a tax-free business that has worked tirelessly to privatize state parks (thus making them unaffordable to working people) and has also been a strong and persistent voice in favor of elite control of our parks is pushing a pro-YIMBY initiative which would build housing for the wealthy white elitist cliques that Norton is heavily involved with.

    The truth is that we need housing affordable to minimum-wage workers, and none is being built.

    Whatever you do don’t back anything put on the ballot by our arrogant, corrupt mayor!


  2. Since when is Mayor Breed an “affordable housing leader?” And since when should anyone with limited means trust anything “SPUR” has to say? “D” says poor and middle class folk make $140,000 a year! D is a profitable gift to real estate developers…. don’t believe a word of this piece


  3. Thank you! Not only will Prop D help build desperately needed affordable housing in the Richmond and across the City, Prop D is the only measure that will raise labor standards for our local construction workforce. By requiring good wages, family health care, apprenticeship opportunities, and meaningful enforcement, Prop D will open up career opportunities for local construction workers, tackle wage theft, and fight the underground economy.

    It is unfortunate that Supervisor Chan has chosen to defend the status quo by introducing Proposition E. Prop E will do nothing to build more housing, and its weak and exclusionary labor standards will do nothing to lift up our local construction workforce. Yes on D, No on E!


  4. My biggest frustration with Prop. E is that it doesn’t actually provide any definite timelines upon which the City has to review and approve housing development proposals. I don’t understand how our Richmond Supervisor can claim that is streamlining anything.

    Prop. D is puts a 3-6 month timeline to approve housing development applications that meet all zoning codes, building codes, and design guidelines. These are projects that already meet all the rules and yet still get held up and challenged. So many in our City complain that our government can’t do anything on a reasonable timeline and Supervisor Chan has written another policy that provides no certainty or timelines to which we can hold our government. It comes across as highly disingenuous.


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