Low-Income Housing in SF, 2013-2020

15 12 2014

Our map of low income housing developments in San Francisco, recently completed, under construction, or scheduled to commence by 2020. This list includes only “net new affordable units,” new construction and acquisition/rehabs, and does not include the city’s public housing portfolio scheduled to begin rehab in the next few years.

SF AH Pipeline Map


New and Acq/Rehab Units, 2013-2020, recently completed, in construction or estimated completion by 2020
Project/Site # units
Broadway/Sansome (CCDC) 74
Broadway/Front (Seawall 322-1) 114
Vera Haile / St. Anthony’s (Mercy) 89
Eddy & Taylor / 168-186 Eddy (TNDC) 66
SOMA 285
474 Natoma (Bridge) 59
Hugo (Mercy) 66
1036 Mission & Sixth (TNDC) 88
Howard & Fifth (TNDC) 72
Rene Cazenave (CHP+BRIDGE) 120
Transbay 6 (Golub/Mercy) 69
Transbay 7 (Mercy) 85
Transbay 8 (Related/TNDC) 176
Transbay 9 (BRIDGE/Avant) 109
Transbay 1 116
Transbay 4 83
1180 4th Street (Mercy) 149
Mission Bay South 7W (Related/CCDC) 198
Mission Bay South 3E 99
Mission Bay South 6E 134
Edward II (CHP) 25
Rosa Parks II (TNDC/Bethel) 97
Booker T Washington (JSCo) 48
55 Laguna Senior (Mercy/Open House) 69
55 Laguna Rehab 39
Parcel O 79
Parcel U, Octavia & Haight 35
Casa Mission (MNC / Mercy) 34
1950 Mission & 16th 114
17th and Folsom 59
1294-8 Shotwell 40
Balboa Upper Yard 87
Phelan Loop (Mercy / BHNC) 70
Alice Griffith I-IV New Units 113
Hunters Point Shipyard 54 (Hilltop) 52
Hunters Point Shipyard 49 60
Hunters View Phase2-3 New Units 109
1075 Le Conte / 6600 Third St (Mercy) 72
5800 Third, Carrol Ave. (MBS) 120
New Jamestown (L&M) 194
TOTAL 3,395

The Annual CCHO Advance

15 12 2014

Whose City? Our City!

Happy Holidays from our year-end “Advance!” CCHO’s 23 housing and tenant organizations came together last week at Mercy Housing’s Notre Dame Apartments, to reflect on the past year and plot out our work for the next two years. As the housing crisis continues unabated, with soaring rents, evictions, and a continuing lack of Federal resources, we are gearing up with renewed energy to hit the ground running with the next phase of our local and regional anti-displacement and housing production agenda for 2015 and 2016…


Photo credit: people.power.media

Hacking San Francisco’s Housing Crisis: A Response to the Supply Siders’ “Solution”

4 11 2014

By Fernando Martí



Synopsis: The success of design or social innovation “solutions” to San Francisco’s housing crisis will depend on a framework for housing affordability that addresses fundamental issues underpinning the practical realities of achieving Housing for All. That housing framework should address four fundamental questions: 1) the BALANCE of housing affordability that the City should be compelled to maintain; 2) ways to take housing out of the speculative market and under the OWNERSHIP and control of tenants and communities; 3) dedication of surplus public LAND for deeply affordable housing, and market incentives linking any value added through zoning changes to increased affordability; and 4) new private and public financing mechanisms, including dedicated private CAPITAL, pension funds, and the creation of a municipal community development bank. We face a choice: do we let the market continue to lead us down a path toward a segregated urban region, or do we prioritize public investment and market regulations to build out our dense, mixed-income, human-scaled, and transit-oriented neighborhoods? If we can’t move beyond the ingrained ideologies that lead us down paths of false solutions, all our creative innovations will be reduced to simple marketing or consumer niches trapped within the same market dependencies rather than systematic changes that result in meaningful public policy solutions.

Read the full text here.


Developers Aren’t Going to Solve the Housing Crisis in San Francisco

4 11 2014

In a recently released report, [people.power.media] takes on and debunks several of the “supply-side” arguments made about the housing crisis, and offers an alternative list of practical and immediate solutions, including preserving existing rental stock (YES ON G!).  Read the full report here.


(Photo credit: Joseph Smooke)


Affordability for working class people in San Francisco isn’t going to come from letting profit-driven developers have their way. After months of research and interviews by a journalist who has worked as a developer and on housing policy, this feature dismantles the arguments driving housing policy in the City and offers real solutions instead of “trickle-down” approaches.

San Francisco is the epicenter for America’s changing economy. The gap between rich and poor in the US is growing as the middle class and manufacturing sector are being squeezed out. A recent study equates San Francisco’s income gap with Rwanda’s. City living is ideal for young professionals and, increasingly, the suburban elite. American cities need to look at smarter ways to thrive and not simply rely on the invisible hand to provide housing for working class America.

“It’s a complicated issue and you just can’t quote Adam Smith in your Economics 101 textbook to say that’s going to solve the problem,” says Venture Capitalist and original member of the Pacific Stock Exchange, Doug Engmann. He’s referring to laws of supply and demand, which dictate that price equilibrium will be reached when quantity demanded by consumers matches the quantity produced by suppliers. “You have to understand how they work in special situations and you have to look at the situation that we’re in,” says Engmann during an interview in his financial district office.

This feature debunks supply-side arguments myth by myth and gives recommendations for solutions. Upzoning won’t solve the housing crisis. Luxury demand by techies is the most dominant factor driving up prices. No matter how low building costs dip or how streamlined the process becomes, as long as that luxury demand dominates, developers won’t prioritize the housing needs of working class people.

Why Props G and K Matter for Smart Growth

31 10 2014

Our op ed in Streetsblog, in collaboration with Tom Radulovich of Livable City and Bob Allen of Urban Habitat.

Photo: David McSpadden/Flickr

Photo: David McSpadden/Flickr

Smart Growth at a Crossroads: It’s time to stand up for our true values, vote YES on Propositions G & K

We have known for a long time that urban development is at a crossroads. By all ecological and social measures, the car-oriented model of suburban expansion is no longer tenable. We know that we must re-orient regional development toward compact, diverse, human-scaled urban neighborhoods built around robust public transit: we must return to the City and its neighborhoods as the model of future sustainable development.

Cities like San Francisco are at the heart of this model, as we build out abandoned train yards and shipyards, as we “infill” old gas stations and parking lots, build up along one-story commercial corridors, and rebuild our public realm of transit, streets, sidewalks, parks and recreation spaces. We call this “Smart Growth.”

The beauty of this model is that it does not pave over our greenbelts and farmlands, but rather protects them, by reinvesting in urban centers that our economic development models ignored for over half a century, and reinvigorating them as vibrant neighborhoods that can, as the charter of the Congress for New Urbanism states, “bring people of diverse ages, races, and incomes into daily interaction, strengthening the personal and civic bonds essential to an authentic community.”

But we also know that this path is fraught with dangers: the gentrification of hip urban neighborhoods, the displacement of long-term renters, seniors, neighborhood-serving businesses, and blue collar jobs, and the struggles over who can claim and occupy “the public realm.” The vision of a diverse and vibrant City, the ideal of “City air makes you free,” as they used to say in the European Renaissance, is threatened by the very same market forces that are once again reinvesting in the City.

As our movement has matured over the last two decades and we’ve been able to reflect on the results, studies have shown the link between public investment in transportation and the influx of luxury developments and high-income newcomers that push out the working-class and immigrant communities who have called these neighborhoods home for generations. This is a troubling unintended consequence of the Smart Growth vision we all aspire to.

Ironically, the failure to maintain and expand genuine mixed-income developments and prevent displacement undermines the very environmental sustainability and climate change goals so often championed by Smart Growth advocates. The attraction of San Francisco and other cities as centers of innovation, and the excitement that comes with moving to an urban scene, also come with the costs of real estate speculation that drives up housing costs and drives out existing communities.

It is not “smart growth” to have other people’s lives as collateral damage of the real estate industry capitalizing on our desire to live and work in the City. Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of American Cities, a major source of inspiration for the Smart Growth movement, envisioned ideal city environments as exciting, diverse, affordable, and equitable places. She also emphasized the need for affordable housing, and warned against the loss of diversity and the erosive effects of ‘cataclysmic money’.

If we are to do this right, if we are to continue to infill, densify, and invest in our cities without displacing those who already live there or making it unaffordable for any but the wealthiest, we must put in place protections for those who live here and the means for developing a housing balance that is truly affordable to all. This November, we have a chance to vote for two measures that are critical steps toward that: Proposition G, the anti-speculation tax, and Proposition K, the housing balance.

As advocates for compact, livable urban communities, we believe that the principal means of developing transit-oriented communities is to build mixed-income infill housing, not to cannibalize our existing housing by evicting residents and replacing them with higher income residents. But in San Francisco (and in “hot” urban places around the world), that is exactly what is happening, and will continue to happen unless we implement strong anti-displacement controls.

Currently, most evictions in San Francisco happen within the first few years of a new owner buying a small apartment building, with the intention of evicting the tenants and selling off the individual units at a huge profit. This speculation on apartment buildings, evicting and flipping units, is one of the factors at the heart of San Francisco’s current housing crisis, driving up rents and sales prices. Proposition G aims to discourage this behavior by imposing a purposely stiff graduated transfer tax on all sales of multi-family apartment buildings, starting at 24% of the sales price for resales within the first year, and stepping down to zero at year five. It is narrowly crafted to stop the evictions due to rental building flipping, so it does not apply to single-family homes, condominiums, or any unit that is actually owner-occupied, or even to in-law units, only to the two-to-thirty unit buildings where these evictions are prevalent. Proposition G is key to saving the diversity of our neighborhoods and the urban vitality that is critical to the urban renaissance our Smart Growth movement wants.

Proposition K is another side of the same coin. If we are to build new housing and infrastructure for a livable and sustainable City, we must take into account the needs of future generations, at all income levels. In California, our regions and cities are required to assess population needs by growth in jobs at different income levels, and plan for housing adequate for everyone. Our cities routinely fail to meet these housing diversity goals. While the Bay Area has recently seen an enormous growth in high paying jobs, particularly in the technology sector, we also know that for every high paying job, another five jobs are created at all other income levels, from restaurant workers and house cleaners to accountants and school teachers.

At its simplest, if the median income represents a point where half the people earn less than the median, then it follows that we should be building half of our housing affordable to those earning below the median. And we also know that “the market” cannot deliver housing that is affordable at those levels – if we are to provide it, it must be built as a combination of housing provided by the public and nonprofit sectors, and as inclusionary requirements built into market-rate housing. So it is imperative for a sustainable future that we build a housing balance into every new development and every neighborhood. Proposition K is a good start, that compels the City to build at least 33% of new housing affordable up to the median income. It is not where we ultimately need to be—in a truly livable and sustainable future, the City will fully meet its Housing Element goals for 62% of housing production to be below market rate—but it is an achievable incremental step toward getting there.

Without a firm grasp on combating displacement, preserving and enhancing what is best about our existing neighborhoods, and a strong linkage between Transit-Oriented Development and an affordable housing balance, we risk having our dreams of smart, sustainable development, and a vision for a new urban America, becoming an exclusive dream for the very few. And where would those evicted—the poor, the immigrants, the seniors, and the students—live in that kind of future? In the Bay Area, that means in far flung suburbs like Antioch and Tracy, many commuting into the City on clunky (non-hybrid!) cars, to work the service jobs that will continue to be needed here. That is not sustainable, and that is not the dream we want.

The wave of newcomers moving to San Francisco, and we, their allies in the environmental, transportation, and planning worlds throughout the Bay Area, have an obligation to promote a vision of Smart Growth that’s consistent with our stated principles of diversity. One that protects people from being displaced, and ensures that everyone benefits from an economically prosperous city. But we all can only do this by standing strong and speaking out in support of public policies such as Propositions G and K before the election, and asking our supporters to VOTE YES.

Bob Allen is Urban Habitat’s policy and advocacy campaign director. Peter Cohen and Fernando Martí are the co-directors of the Council of Community Housing Organizations. Tom Radulovich is the executive director of Livable City.

S.F. Mayor’s housing task force pushes new affordable housing policies

29 10 2014

By Cory Weinberg, SF Business Times, full story here.


sf-city-hall 600xx3264-2176-0-136San Francisco has the least affordable housing market in the country. The number of rental housing units available in the city meets the needs of just half the 86,000 very- and extremely-low income households in San Francisco, according to a report this fall from the California Housing Partnership Corp. As of last spring, about 1,500 affordable units under the inclusionary housing law were in the pipeline to get built. The city already has about 16,000 affordable units. The real difficulty in delivering affordable units is the exorbitant cost of building any housing in San Francisco — affordable or market-rate — which clocks in at approximately $500,000 minimum per unit.

Under current law, developers who build market-rate residences in San Francisco have to help pay for or build housing that low- and middle-income residents can actually afford. Those developers have three options: build 12 percent of the below-market rate units on the same site as their market-rate project, build 20 percent of the units on a separate piece of land or pay a fee equivalent to 20 percent to the Mayor’s Office of Housing. More and more, developers are opting to pay the fee, slowing the pace of affordable housing construction.

“Part of the objective here is to find new avenues for developers to actually build units rather than just pay their fees,” Council of Community Housing Organizations co-director Peter Cohen said, a member of the mayor’s working group.

SF Chronicle Backs Real Estate Speculators

27 10 2014

By Peter Cohen, in BeyondChron, October 27, 2014, here.

Wow, the San Francisco Chronicle is really showing its colors with escalating rhetoric about the City’s gentrification and displacement crisis.

First, the editors took a position opposing Proposition G — the anti-speculation tax—with the rationale that it “could have the unintended effect of aggravating the housing shortage” while Prop G is in fact about stopping housing “flipping” and tenant evictions, not increasing housing supply.  Simultaneously the editors took a position opposing Proposition K — the affordable housing goals — which is about increasing housing supply and affordability.

That’s a strange contradiction to the Chronicle’s supply-side rationale in opposing Prop G.  Hmmm.

Then last week the Chronicle opined there is no evictions crisis in San Francisco, since 2,000 evictions in 12 months (about 5,000 evicted residents) is not enough to be considered a “crisis.”  The editors paired that with a manifesto about the “City on the Edge” which essentially said that gentrification and evictions are simply “side effects of prosperity” and that “the city shouldn’t fear the success it’s encountering.”

In other words, a few thousand displaced residents is acceptable collateral damage from the gains of economic progress.

Like the realtors and other vested business interests opposing Proposition G, the Chronicle has taken the position that denying there is a crisis of gentrification and displacement and unaffordability is easier than actually trying to do something about it.

Finally, in an opinion piece two days ago the editors took it up one more notch, with a statement that Proposition G is a “landlord shakedown measure.”  The one upshot is the Chronicle finally tells the truth that Prop G is aimed at rental property landlords/investors and not about homeowners, as realtors have been attempting to mislead voters.

But for the Chronicle editors to characterize Prop G as a “shakedown” is a stunning defense of real estate speculation.  Wow.


The CCHO Affordable City Voter Guide

16 10 2014

This November offers voters the chance to set the course for a progressive future of San Francisco and make great strides in addressing the housing crisis and income equality. The way you vote on November 4th will have direct impact on the affordability of our city.  We hope you take a few moments to read our voter guide, and more importantly, place your vote on November 4th!



YES on G to stabilize our neighborhoods!

16 10 2014

CCHO’s op-ed in today’s SF Examiner, counters the lies of the “No on G” campaign.


Evictions and soaring housing costs are rapidly changing and destabilizing our neighborhoods and communities. In the last three years, Ellis Act evictions are up 170 percent, and we have already lost 3,610 units of rent-controlled housing due to the Ellis Act. Families like those of seniors Gum Gee Lee, her husband, Poon Heung Lee, and their disabled daughter, Shiu Man Lee, driven out of their apartment of 34 years last year by an Ellis Act eviction, are bearing the brunt of this speculator-driven market.

The majority of these evictions (and many unreported buyouts) occur within the first few years of a real estate speculator buying an apartment building in order to make a killing by displacing our long-term residents. Their actions drive up housing costs for everyone and have made The City one of the most expensive places to live in the county.

We must protect our long-term and most-vulnerable residents and bring some sanity back to the housing market. As Mrs. Lee said at a recent rally, “It is up to us to stand up against displacement.”


Proposition G, the anti-speculation tax, offers a real solution, and is our best shot to stop these unfair evictions. The measure will stop speculators while protecting homeowners and tenants.

Prop. G will impose a surtax ONLY on the resale of multiunit apartment buildings that are bought and sold in less than five years. But it also protects homeowners by excluding ALL single-family homes, condominiums, owner-occupied tenancies-in-common, new housing such as legalized in-law units, and small-property owners who are in the long-term rental business. Only speculators will pay the tax.

Today, the speculator-driven market is in part responsible for soaring housing costs and making it so hard for average families to buy or rent a home in The City. The opponents of Prop. G have amassed a $1.5 million war chest to try to defeat Prop. G, most of which is from the National Realtors and the California Realtors, as well as the San Francisco Realtors, the Apartment Association, the Small Property Owners and the Coalition for Better Housing (“a coalition of the leaders of San Francisco’s largest rental properties”).

The misinformation campaign has been flooding voters nonstop, spreading lies to cause confusion and fear among homeowners, who of course are exempt from Prop. G and will never pay the anti-speculation tax at all. The No on G campaign lies when it says the tax will hurt homeowners.

Real homeowners are not subject to the tax in any way — all owner-occupied housing units are exempt — if you live in your home then your home is exempt. And single-family homes and condominiums are completely exempt, whether they are owner-occupied or not.

The proposed tax on speculation only applies to speculators who buy and resell certain multiunit buildings.

Prop. G is actually very simple — you will never pay the tax unless you are buying and flipping multiunit apartment buildings. City Controller Ben Rosenfield’s statement in the ballot handbook shows how narrowly targeted Prop. G really is: He estimates that in a typical year over the last eight-year period, approximately 60 properties would have been subject to the anti-speculator tax had it been in effect.

That makes it quite clear that what Sen. Mark Leno is talking about: “Prop. G is drafted very narrowly to go after a specific problem — speculators.”

Neighborhood leaders, housing- and tenant-rights groups, labor, and social-justice organizations are joining forces to promote three historic ballot measures in November, part of an agenda to maintain San Francisco’s historic diversity — the YES on G, Stop the Evictions, Yes on J, Raise Up SF and Yes on K, Keep an Affordable Housing Balance — that will help keep The City livable for working families (the three measures are endorsed by the San Francisco Democratic Party and the San Francisco Labor Council). The three propositions directly address the crisis of affordability and economic inequality facing San Francisco.

Says Dan Nguyen-Tan, a Western Addition homeowner: “The most interesting neighborhoods in The City reflect tenants and homeowners of various economic means. Prop. G and these other propositions will encourage economic diversity, detract speculators, and help residents who want to invest in San Francisco to stay in The City.”


Peter Cohen and Fernando Marti are co-directors of the Council of Community Housing Organizations, a coalition of 23 nonprofit housing developers and tenant advocates that works to support resident leadership and to craft policy for a vision of San Francisco where all can afford to live, work and thrive.


SF Examiner endorses Propositions G & K!

14 10 2014

From the SF Examiner, by Joshua Sabatini, October 12, 2014:

As rents and evictions have increased in San Francisco, housing has become the top political issue of the year. And voters have a chance to weigh in on measures to address the challenges with a proposal intended to curb real estate speculation and another to encourage below-market-rate construction.

The anti-speculation tax, Proposition G, would tax the sale of multiunit properties bought and then sold within five years. The hope by supporters is that it would curb the practice of developers buying buildings, clearing out tenants and reselling at a profit, or flipping them. The effort comes as evictions are on the rise. Between March 2013 and February, there were 1,977 evictions reported to the Rent Board, a 13 percent increase from the previous year’s 1,757. That includes 216 Ellis Act evictions, up from last year’s 116.

Also on the ballot is Proposition K, which addresses below-market-rate housing. It’s on the ballot as a result of a dispute over whether to mandate that at least 30 percent of all new construction of housing units hit the market as below market rate. It comes as the mayor has established a goal of rehabilitating and constructing 30,000 housing units by 2020. The policy goal is to have more than 50 percent of the units affordable for middle-income households and at least 33 percent affordable for low- and moderate-income households.


Prop K Offers Housing Balance for SF

13 10 2014

No one needs to be convinced of the current housing affordability and displacement crisis – San Francisco now has the largest income gap in the country, rents are three times higher than the national average, with median rents at nearly $4,000 a month for a two-bedroom apartment, and median home prices hitting the $1 million mark. The City has lost more than 5,000 children and youth over the last decade, with evictions up 170% over this latest “hot market” cycle. The housing market is in truth a hot mess.

There is no single “silver bullet” solution to this crisis, nor simple quick fixes. But we can set out a comprehensive plan of immediate actions to turn that tide. And that is what Proposition K—what we call the Housing Balance measure—is intended to do.


For CCHO, as one of the originators of Prop K along with base organizations in the South of Market, including groups such as SOMCAN and TODCO that have been fighting gentrification and displacement for decades, this measure is part of a working class electoral agenda for San Francisco. We are supporting Propositions G, J, and K on this November ballot: for tenants and neighborhoods, for jobs with dignity, and for affordable housing.

As one part of that vision the Prop K Housing Balance policy and work plan will make City Hall accountable to a number of commitments:

1) Achieve a minimum one-third citywide balance between affordable housing and market rate housing production and establish a quarterly housing balance report and require annual public hearings to hold the City accountable to its affordable housing commitment.

2) Develop a comprehensive funding, site acquisition and land use strategy sufficient to sustain the minimum one-third housing balance.

3) Set a minimum one third affordability target whenever the City creates new “plan areas” and rezonings for increasing development, beginning with the Central SoMa Plan to be adopted next year.

4) Make market rate developments pay their fair share of affordable housing obligations, and explore new fees on luxury housing and pied-a-terres.

5) Establish a funded Neighborhood Stabilization Trust to begin to decommodify housing, acquiring small to large apartment buildings to take them out of the speculative market, preserving them as permanent affordable housing for the tenants who live there.

6) Create immediate Interim Controls to protect arts uses and light-industry in SOMA from displacement.

Since 1990, San Francisco has had a fairly impressive track record of building close to 30% affordable housing– but that ratio is quickly slipping away as new market-rate approvals far outstrip funding for affordable housing. In many parts of our city, this imbalance in housing affordability is opening the door for displacement and gentrification at an unprecedented level, as long-term residents find they can no longer afford to live in their own neighborhoods. The Housing Balance measure, originally developed as legislation for the Central City neighborhoods, was intended to link market-rate development to affordable housing production by setting a goal of at least 30% affordable housing and establishing stricter conditions on approvals of market-rate housing whenever the city fell below this minimum balance. In June, Supervisor Kim seized the moment to extend the reach of the housing balance measure across the entire city, and to consider taking the measure to voters. That provoked an exciting summer of extensive negotiations between the Mayor’s office and Supervisor Kim’s office, resulting in Prop K, which CCHO supported as a pathway to more immediate and substantive outcomes.

Though “compromise” is often considered a dirty word in politics, this measure represents a real win for affordable housing. The new ballot measure and the workplan terms establishes a package of policies and funding to be developed over the next eight months that will set the conditions to reach the 33% minimum housing balance goal.

While an SF Chronicle article last week derided the significance of Proposition K, the critique hinged mostly on the fact that this is a policy measure coming out of negotiations rather than a showdown with the Mayor, and therefore “it doesn’t mean much,” according to the academics interviewed for the article.

That’s an unfortunately over-simplistic conclusion, and fails to appreciate that sometimes less dramatic tactics can be just as useful leverage. Getting the one third Housing Balance commitment memorialized by the San Francisco voters will give the city electorate and the housing advocacy community a mandate to hold the Mayor, and the Board of Supervisors, accountable to those commitments. Supervisor Kim said as much in the Chronicle piece. Sure, it will require persistence and struggle over the next year to turn policy statements into substantive outcomes. It is a clear road map for actions to be taken over the coming year, including potential measures for the 2015 and 2016 ballot, and sets up the conditions for a future Housing Balance. The goal is the same—a minimum one-third citywide affordable/market-rate balance as a permanent standard—it is simply a less politically dramatic pathway to get there.

No silver bullets, no quick fixes. But a vision, a set of voter-backed commitments, and a lot of hard work in the trenches. We see the Proposition K Housing Balance as a measure that constitutes a step towards addressing San Francisco’s ongoing affordability crisis and stabilizing neighborhoods facing rapid gentrification, and we call on progressives of all stripes to support it, win it and own it.


Originally published on BeyondChron, September 29, 2014.

Regulate short-term rentals, protect SF’s housing stock!

24 09 2014

CCHO commends the Board of Supervisors for attempting to find a pathway to legalize and regulate a popular but currently illegal activity—the ability for owner-occupants and tenants to rent their units or extra bedrooms for a limited time during the year. However, as currently written, affordable housing advocates cannot support this proposal.


At its most basic level, the proposed system lacks transparency and enforceability to prevent abuses of “the rules.” The profitable industry of short-term rentals presents the very real risk of continuing to erode the City’s housing stock for permanent residents and continuing to drive up housing prices. It would appear that the only supporters of the ordinance are companies in the home-sharing industry such as Air BnB and their front group, Homesharers of SF, which represent the interests of those who would presumably profit by this legislation. Most of the Planning Commission’s own recommendations have not been adopted, including two critical issues:

  • Tracking and enforcement, such as tracking the number of nights STRs are rented to the enforcing agencies, identify units in the City’s Property Information Map, making listing on a hosting platform without registration a violation, and providing adequate funding for enforcement by Planning
  • Maximum annual limit on “hosted” rentals

Following is a set of recommendations set forth by affordable housing advocates, that would begin to make this a workable piece of legislation:

  1. Enforceability. The crux of it all is the question of enforceability. We recommend that, in alignment with Planning Department’s own recommendations, the legislation should AT A MINIMUM, require monthly or quarterly reporting the number of nights STRs are rented to the enforcing agency, identify on the City’s Property Information Map units registered as STRs, make listing on a hosting platform without registration a violation, provide adequate funding for enforcement, and allow “private right of action” so third parties can sue violators to enforce the laws.
  2. Three-Year Sunset Provision. It is impossible to assess the unintended consequences of the blanket change to zoning definitions created by this legislation. Barring a more thorough review of these changes by land use category or geography, we recommend either a maximum cap on STRs by neighborhood and/or zoning district, AND/OR limiting the length of this legislation to a 3-year pilot, with a “hard sunset” provision, and requiring a thorough study of the impacts and unintended consequences before reauthorizing for more years.
  3. Maximum Annual Limit. Presumably, the primary reason people use “home-sharing” hosting platforms in the first place is to rent out an apartment or room while the permanent resident is away on vacation – and it seems far-fetched that many people in this city can take more than three or four weeks of vacation per year. Allowing up to 90 days of “short-term” rentals and unlimited year-round “hosted” room rentals creates a “market” temptation to profit from STRs, adding another incentive to raise rents, raise sales prices, and hold housemate bedroom rentals off the market. We recommend reducing the total duration of allowance for STRs to something more reasonably aligned with typical vacations, say a total 30 days per year, and no more than 90 days for “hosted” rentals.
  4. Prohibition on Subsidized Housing and New In-Law Units. The legislation as currently written, seems to allow anyone receiving the benefit of subsidies for permanent affordable housing, public housing, master-lease subsidies, or subsidized first-time homebuyer loans, to potentially cash in on these benefits for their own profit. We recommend adding a clear prohibition to exclude any units receiving City subsidies, in whatever form, from taking advantage of these public subsidies. Additionally, legislation recently passed by the Board of Supervisors to legalize in-laws and promote construction of new in-laws was meant to address the critical need to provide more housing supply for City residents, not to create small hotel units. We recommend that in-law units should also be prohibited entirely from use as STRs.
  5. Finally, tenant advocates have raised critical issues to protect tenants from possible eviction and to provide a “private right of action” without undue bureaucratic hurdles to ensure enforceability.



What Muni needs is new revenue and transit equity, not Prop B

19 09 2014


Since the 1980s, when our CCHO member organizations were instrumental in developing the City’s transportation impact fund, CCHO has seen transit funding as integral to our community development mission. That is why we support Proposition A, the $500 Million General Obligation bond for transportation infrastructure on this November’s ballot, despite some of the vagueness of the uses specified. On the other hand, we believe that Proposition B, the additional MTA set-aside from the General Fund put on the ballot by Supervisor Wiener, is bad politics and bad policy.

At a most basic level, the proposed increased set-aside for MTA has to come from something else in the General Fund. And typically cuts in the General Fund come from community services of various kinds, whether that’s social services or neighborhood improvements. Without a new revenue source to offset such an increase in MTA expenditures, the measure is tantamount to “stealing from Peter to pay [more] to Paul.” For example, two years ago, when CCHO proposed the Prop C affordable housing set-aside, we worked equally hard to ensure that a companion measure, the Prop E business tax reform, would bring in enough new revenue to cover the affordable housing commitment and other uses.

Second, Prop B was put on the ballot with little involvement of transportation advocates, transit users, or the city’s communities and neighborhoods. This is not how good policy should be developed. We need to support Muni by incorporating not only new funds, but an emphasis on how those funds would be used, including operations funding that directly supports service improvements and equity priorities that address service deficiencies across the system. That is how to ensure a robust transit system that supports the broadest range of transit users, especially transit dependent neighborhoods and communities such as seniors and people with disabilities, and not just “choice rider” commuters, as the transportation planners call them. For the past year and a half a broad set of transportation equity stakeholders, convened by POWER, Senior and Disability Action, Chinatown TRIP, CCHO, Human Services Network and Urban Habitat have been developing just such a proposal. This had culminated with a Transit Equity charter amendment proposal by several members of the Board of Supervisors for the November 2015 ballot, along with a package of progressive revenue measures, including a vehicle license fee measure and an update to the city’s Transportation Impact Fee, extending the program to market-rate residential developments which currently pay no fee to cover their transportation impacts.

What came as a surprise was a last-minute measure to increase the annual General Fund Appropriation to MTA tied to population growth, but without a revenue measure to match the increased appropriation, and with no tie in to the equity baseline concept that CCHO and the transit justice coalition had worked on over the past year.  In fact, it simply undermines that policy goal. CCHO has taken a principled position opposing Prop B and will continue to press all parties to work toward a charter amendment and a complete package of funding measures to win at the 2015 or 2016 ballot.

There are much better ways to support Muni than Proposition B. Vote No.

Just Released: New Report on Affordable Housing from CHPC

29 08 2014

The California Housing Partnership Corporation just released a report on the state of the housing market in San Francisco and its inability to meet the housing needs of low-income residents.  Making clear the dire need for affordable housing in our city, the report discusses the impacts of both federal and state cuts to funding for affordable housing and offers local policy solutions based on CCHO’s work.

Check out the report here.

The report has garnered a great deal of media coverage this week, also worth checking out:

SF Examiner: “New Report Highlights SF Shortfall in Below-Market-Rate Housing” by Jonah Owen Lamb

SF Gate: “Surprise, Surprise: SF Falling Far Short on Affordable Housing for Low-Income Resident” by Heather Knight

SF Business Times: “San Francisco Has Affordable Housing Shortfall of 40,000 Units, Report Says” by Eric Young

Hopefully this report and the resulting media coverage will continue to draw attention to the need to support affordable housing in our city, starting with a YES vote on Prop K this November!

Updates on the Housing Balance and Neighborhood Stabilization!

2 08 2014

This piece was recently published in the SF Bay Guardian.  Check out the article here.

Since 1990, San Francisco has developed an incredible track record of building close to 30% affordable housing – but that ratio is quickly slipping away as new market-rate approvals far outstrip funding for affordable housing. In many parts of our city, this imbalance in housing affordability is opening the door for displacement and gentrification, as long-term residents find they can no longer afford to live in their own neighborhoods. A measure known as The Housing Balance was introduced in April and promoted by CCHO members TODCO and SOMCAN with the hope of addressing this crisis. Originating in the West SoMA planning process and developed as legislation for Central City Neighborhoods, this measure was intended to link market-rate development to affordable housing production by setting a goal of at least 30% affordable housing and establishing stricter conditions on approvals of market-rate housing whenever the city fell below this minimum balance. In this way, the Housing Balance measure was meant to compel all sides – the City, market-rate developers, and affordable housers – to work together to achieve a minimum of 30% affordable housing over time.

In June, Supervisor Jane Kim revised the Housing Balance to introduce it as a measure for the November 2014 ballot, extending the reach of the measure to not only establish a 30% affordable housing requirement in District 6, but across the neighborhoods of the city. Perceived as a threat by developers, this new proposal compelled the Mayor’s office to put its own measure on the ballot – a so-called “poison pill” that would over-ride the conditions placed on market-rate development by the Housing Balance. Since that time, the Mayor’s office and Supervisor Kim’s office have been engaged in extensive negotiations, which CCHO supported as a pathway to more substantive outcomes than simply a ballot “war.”

On July 29th, negotiations resulted in a compromise measure—a policy statement that was introduced for the November ballot and agreed-upon terms for a workplan to take the policy statement into action. Though “compromise” is often considered a dirty word in politics, this measure represents a real win for affordable housing. The negotiated outcome allowed Supervisor Kim and housing advocates to up the ante to 33% affordable housing instead of the original 30%, and to get more immediate solutions for the housing crisis started right away. The original Housing Balance was a tool to create leverage, without itself creating ways to produce more affordable housing. This new ballot measure and the workplan terms establish a package of policies and funding to be worked on over the next eight months that will set the conditions to reach the 33% minimum housing balance goal.

If approved by the voters, this new measure will formalize the City’s commitment to maintain a one third affordable housing goal and set expectations for the City’s work plan on how to get there. While lacking the conditional use requirement “teeth” of the original Balance legislation, the policy and work plan sets up the conditions for a future Balance by compelling the City to do the following:

1) establish a housing balance report and require public hearings to hold the City accountable to its goal of minimum 33% affordable housing

2) develop funding and site acquisition strategies

3) develop a strategy to maintain one third affordability citywide, to be adopted concurrently with the Central SoMa rezoning next year

4) make high-rise luxury developments pay their fair share of inclusionary obligations

5) establish a funded Neighborhood Stabilization Trust to acquire small to large buildings and take them out of the speculative market, preserving them in perpetuity as affordable housing for the tenants who live there

6) create immediate Interim Controls to protect PDR (production, distribution, repair/service) businesses and artists in SOMA from displacement (a temporary solution until more permanent protections are established next year)

The pieces of this agreement constitute a step towards addressing San Francisco’s ongoing affordability crisis and stabilizing neighborhoods facing rapid gentrification. It may seem less dramatic than the prospect of a ballot battle with developers, but it is a package to work with that was leveraged from the process of negotiations. However, we must keep an eye on the larger goal of real city-wide affordability. Though 33% affordable housing production is higher than what we’ve achieved in the past, we must not forget this is only a floor – realistic given the funding goals of this measure, but an incremental step toward achieving the affordable housing we need to house all San Franciscans fairly.


Thanks for coming to the 2014 CCHO Party!

20 05 2014


Thanks to all of the Friends of CCHO who came out and made our 2014 CCHO Party a success!  It was great to see you all there, and to be reminded of how many friends and allies we have in the struggle to make affordable housing a reality in the San Francisco Bay Area.CCHO_5_14_001

And congratulations once again to this year’s honorees: Sara Shortt, Marcia Rosen, Phil Morgan, Jane Martin, Bob Allen, Angelina Yu, and Jessica Lehman.

Want to see more photos from the party?  Check out the album.  (And if you are feeling nostalgic, there are also photos of the 2012 & 2013 CCHO parties!)


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See you tonight at the Party!

2 05 2014

CCHO 2014 Postcard

“Not enough is being done…”

10 04 2014

From the SF Chronicle, on the Housing Balance:

“San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood is ground zero for the city’s housing construction boom, and Supervisor Jane Kim is worried that not enough is being done to ensure a good portion of that housing is affordable to low- and middle-income citizens. Kim believes that at least 30 percent of new housing construction in her district, which also includes the Tenderloin, should be earmarked as affordable. On Tuesday, she introduced legislation to maintain that “floor” by requiring developers to justify their projects to the City Planning Commission if the amount of affordable housing in District Six dips below 30 percent, where it has been historically.”

Housing Balance Act introduced at Board of Supervisors today

8 04 2014

From the SF Examiner: Supervisor Kim proposes ordinance seeking a balance between market rate, below market rate housing

“There’s been a lot of talk over the last year in this very, very hot market about housing for all and a balance of housing needs but unfortunately we don’t have any mechanisms that really ensure that kind of outcome,” Peter Cohen said. “So the intent here… is to create that kind of expectation and give some real meaning to the notion of a balance.”

Microsoft Word - Housing Balance Summary.2014-04-07.docx

The Housing Dashboard

7 04 2014

Here is the latest Planning Department data published last week, which shows that, as of fourth quarter 2014, the City has built or entitled TWICE as many of the market-rate units needed by job growth, only half the needed low-income units, and a measly fifth of the needed moderate income units. So how do we ensure a balanced housing development pattern for all?