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Why the private market can never solve SF’s housing crisis

May 7, 2015

Posted on April 14, 2014 by Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

John Elberling, Dawn Phillips, Brad Paul, and Calvin Welch talk about how we got into this mess — and how we might get out...

Can inclusionary housing do the job?

Elberling had a proposal: To create a city for everybody, we need to demand that all new housing has at least 30 percent affordable units. That’s already the standard in redevelopment projects, and it’s the standard that Kim’s legislation sets for South of Market.

But according to Elberling, the city’s Housing Trust Fund will only be able to account for about 10 percent, so the rest will have to come through strict regulation, from inclusionary housing – affordable units mandated to be built as part of market-rate projects.

“That’s certainly possible for the private sector,” he said.

And, Kim noted, it’s at the heart of what her bill would do. She wants to create a dashboard that would monitor the level of affordable and luxury housing – and whenever it gets beyond the 70-30 level, all new market-rate housing would have to jump through additional planning hoops to get a permit.

In theory, that would encourage developers to side with tenant advocates protecting existing rent-controlled housing – because if you evict tenants and remove housing from the rent-controlled stock, it skews the 70-30 ratio and would make new market-rate developments more difficult.

If the overall percentage of affordable housing fell below 30 percent, the Planning Commission would have to justify how new market-rate housing would help the balance through a conditional-use permit.

Of course, as longtime land-use lawyer Sue Hestor told me, “this Planning Commission has never seen a conditional use it doesn’t like.” But at least the dashboard would give the city, for the first time, a clue of what’s happening to the housing balance, in one district. That’s something that has never been on City Hall’s radar…(more)

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