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Zoe Siegel

Win: San Francisco Votes No on Proposition E

Update: We are relieved that San Francisco residents said no to Proposition E, a deceptive policy that would have made it harder to build 100% affordable housing than it currently is.

Greenbelt Alliance encouraged San Francisco residents to vote no on Proposition E. San Francisco voters had two housing measures on the ballot this year—one championed by Mayor London Breed and the other by a majority of the Board of Supervisors. Both Proposition E and Proposition D would have waived most of the complicated city approval process that can slow down or kill affordable projects that are desperately needed. The difference between the two propositions is that Proposition D was the only one that would have actually built housing. 

Proposition E would have made it harder to build 100% affordable housing than it currently is. Proposition E authors claimed that it would build more affordable housing, but it would have done little more than what already exists under the current SB35 law. SB35 allows housing developments that are built for residents making below 80% of the project area’s median income to be granted “ministerial” approval, allowing the permitting process to be faster.

According to the San Francisco Editorial board’s piece debunking Proposition E, to qualify for permit streamlining under Prop. E, a mixed development would have needed to make nearly 30% of its units affordable and ensure that a higher percentage of those units are two and three bedrooms than currently required. While that level of affordability would be wonderful, those numbers do not pencil out and would actually result in less housing being built.

This bill was created to confuse voters into thinking that they are supporting more affordable housing when in reality, less affordable and less housing overall will be built. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “The bill manages to be both redundant and a step backward.”

On the labor side, Prop E included language to support skilled and trained labor for projects, but Proposition D—supported by the carpenters union–included language for prevailing wage, which will guarantee union-level wages for all workers, health insurance, and access to apprenticeship programs that can set them on the pathway to union membership. The carpenters union opposed Prop E.

To learn more about Proposition D, which Greenbelt Alliance endorsed and strongly urged San Francisco residents to support, click here.

Learn more about Proposition E via the Affordable Homes Now initiative here.

Photo: Affordable Homes Now Initiative

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