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Bill: Meet Housing Benchmarks or Cap Office Space

San Francisco voters will soon vote on whether to put an additional cap on office development relative to the amount of new affordable housing built in the city. However, doubts remain about the plan. 

Proposition E—the San Francisco Balanced Development Act—says that if passed the city will have to either meet affordable housing goals or reduce the amount of new office space permitted. 

San Francisco currently has a cap of 875,000-square-feet of office development annually, due to 1986’s Proposition M. 

However, if San Francisco misses affordable housing targets by 10% annually, the existing office-space cap would fall 10% the next year.

“Backers call it a solution to the problem of runaway job growth, which has created housing demand that the city can’t relieve; either SF will build more homes or be forced to wean itself off of business development,” the report by Curbed states. 

The city’s economist, Ted Egan, though, released a report opposing the plan, saying it would hurt San Francisco’s economy and ultimately result in less affordable housing. 

Egan says the issue lies within the city hitting its state-designated housing goals—a target San Francisco never hits. 

He notes that Proposition E wouldn’t create any new housing or make it any easier to produce. Also, he said one of the primary sources for affordable housing funding is office development, since the city charges housing fees on construction, specifically to account for the jobs-housing imbalance. 

The Association of Bay Area Governments reported that between 2015-2017, San Francisco permitted 1,200 homes prices for “very-low income residents, and 952 in the low-income range, 19% and 21%, respectively. 

Voters will cast their ballot on Proposition E on March 3. 

San Francisco’s record $600 million affordable housing bond was approved by voters in November, according to reports by the San Francisco Chronicle, as it garnered 69.5% of voter support. 

The bill—Proposition A—needed a two-thirds majority to pass. San Francisco First reported that just over 23% of the city’s registered voters cast a ballot. 

“This is something that almost every San Franciscan wanted us to address,” said Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee to the San Francisco Chronicle. “I’m thrilled that the message we sent out to the voters about the importance of this is being supported.”

About Author: Mike Albanese

A graduate of the University of Alabama, Mike Albanese has worked for news publications since 2011 in Texas and Colorado. He has built a portfolio of more than 1,000 articles, covering city government, police and crime, business, sports, and is experienced in crafting engaging features and enterprise pieces. He spent time as the sports editor for the "Pilot Point Post-Signal," and has covered the DFW Metroplex for several years. He has also assisted with sports coverage and editing duties with the "Dallas Morning News" and "Denton Record-Chronicle" over the past several years.
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