What Every Voter Should Know about Possible Changes to SF Housing

What Every Voter Should Know about Possible Changes to SF Housing

With less than a month until the start of the school year, the San Francisco Unified School District is still looking to fill more than three dozen open classroom positions. This news, first reported by Laura Dudnick of the Examiner, pinpoints the high costs of housing shortages on the future of San Francisco – blaming the city’s housing shortage in part to its teacher shortage.


Yet two major housing initiatives on the November ballot have the potential to transform housing options in the city. The first, Prop A, would launch the largest housing bond in the city’s history to support public, low-income and middle-class housing and preserve rent-controlled units in the Mission District. The second, Prop I, would put an 18-month moratorium on building permits and approvals for market-rate housing in the Mission District.


While Prop A has the full support of the Board of Supervisors and hasn’t drawn significant opposition, the $310 million housing bond which promises to have zero to little impact on property taxes may still have difficulty getting passed. It will need to secure two-thirds of voters in a non-general election year – a time when poll turnouts tend to be lower. And there is also a history of defeat: similar housing bonds in 2002 and 2004 didn’t pass, either.


While the campaign for Prop A, led by SPUR Executive Director Gabe Metcalf, aims to raise $1 million for the ballot measure over the next two months, donors may be split between supporting his cause and defeating Prop I. Opponents, including the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, Residential Builders Association, the Association of Realtors and City Hall, argue that a moratorium would only worsen displacement.


The road to resolving San Francisco’s housing challenges will be a long one. Should either campaign reach its funding goals and secure enough support in the lead-up to the Nov. 3 ballot, San Francisco residents should be prepared for some significant changes in the city’s housing landscape.

Tom MacLeod
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