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 Francisco, Mission 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 is a renter and a 23-year resident of the Richmond district.
Categories: letter to the editor