“Supes to Propose Charter Amendment on Development”

SF Examiner, January 12, 2016

A charter amendment that more than doubles the amount of below-market-rate housing required in private residential developments — and shifts the policy-making process for such a change from the voters back to the Board of Supervisors — is on track for the June ballot.

Supervisors Jane Kim and Aaron Peskin today plan to present a revised charter amendment to the Board of Supervisors that seeks to both both address the challenges of building below-market-rate units in smaller developments and ensure larger developments are contributing their fair share of such units, according to Kim’s office.

The charter amendment, a revision from the version introduced in December, would increase the amount of below-market-rate homes required in developments of a certain size (called inclusionary housing) from 12 to 25 percent.

It would also elevate the size of a development that triggers the inclusionary requirement, from one that produces at least 10 residential units to 25 or more.

“We can’t wait to act any longer,” Kim said in a statement. “450,000 San Franciscans live in The City’s 220,000 apartment units. Only 30,000 of those apartments are dedicated ‘affordable housing’ today.”

The current inclusionary requirements — established in 2012 — call for developers of projects with at least 10 units to pay a fee, build 12 percent of below market-rate housing on the same site as the project, or build 20 percent of such units at another location.

The charter amendment would temporarily exempt developments that propose 10-24 units from the new inclusionary requirement, with the intent that the Board of Supervisors would create a new threshold for that group.

The Board of Supervisors, rather than voters, last controlled changes to the inclusionary requirement in 2012.

Of the 25 percent below-market-rate homes included in the proposed amendment, 15 percent would be priced for lower-income households — defined as 55 percent of the area median income for rentals, and 80 percent of the area median income for homeownership. The other 10 percent would be for middle-income households that earn 100 percent of the area median income for rentals, or 120 percent of the area median income for homeownership.

The charter amendment also allows for developers to pay a fee of 33 percent of the cost of each below-market-rate unit in lieu of building the units on-site.

Fernando Marti, co-director of the SF Council of Community Housing Organizations, said the time is right to boost the inclusionary requirement as The City grapples with a yearslong housing crisis.

“I think it will definitely improve the housing affordability,” said Marti. “We’re still in a hot market period … Both doubling the amount of inclusionary and also expanding the income levels that are targeted are both very good and admirable goals.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Lee and Board of Supervisors President London Breed late last year called for a charter amendment as well to raise the inclusionary requirement, but rather than proposing a number deferred to a housing working group that would