Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Supervisor Breed's housing record

Supervisors Breed and Wiener

...In 2013, her first important housing test saw Supervisor Breed solidly backing landlord- and speculator-friendly legislation introduced by her strong ally on the board, Supervisor Scott Wiener. It would have allowed “tenants in common” owners to freely convert to full condo status, bypassing the 200 conversion a year limit set 20 years ago to limit the loss of rental housing. The proposed legislation was simple in its complexity: allow unregulated TICs to convert to regulated condos.

While condos are limited to 200 conversions a year, unregulated TICs, by state law, were exempt from that limit. In 2013 it was estimated that as many as 10,000 apartments had been converted to TICs, with the overwhelming majority being in rent-controlled apartment buildings. These conversions meant the loss of rent controlled apartments and, in most cases the eviction, through the Ellis Act, of their tenants.

Candidate Breed announced her support of the legislation to its main proponents, Plan C, a pro-developer group that announced its endorsement of her based upon that position.

But the pro-tenant majority on the board kept the legislation in committee until June, 2013, when Breed, again joining Wiener and two others, pulled it from committee to the full board.

The opposition to the legislation was based on the fact that the unlimited conversion of TICs to condos would reduce rent-controlled apartments and lead to massive evictions as landlord /speculators would buy rent controlled buildings, use Ellis Act to evict and then convert to TICs, which could then become even more profitable condos. The ordinance, in short, was seen by every tenant and affordable housing advocate in the city as being anti-rent control and anti-affordable housing.

Breed supported it anyway. On June 11th 2013, with Supervisors Cohen, Tang, Farrell, and Wiener, she sought an “amendment of the whole” gutting the protections added to the measure by the pro-tenant majority. She wanted to remove a measure that would have eliminated the rights of condo conversions if the landlords sued over it. Breed lost on a 6-5 vote.

Seeing the political handwriting on the wall, she and Cohen then voted with the six pro-tenant advocates to make the measure---amended to included tenant protections---veto proof, with Wiener and Farrell actually voting against legislation they initially introduced and brought to a vote with Breed’s support.

Hundreds of the lost rent controlled TICs were in D5, reducing the number of affordable rental units available to residents...

In January, 2015, Supervisor Breed introduced legislation that rezoned Divisadero Street from Haight to O’Farrell from a Neighborhood Commercial District to a Neighborhood Commercial Transit District. The rezoning would remove the regulations governing the number of units allowed by lot size and allow the number of units to be determined by height and bulk, allowing for more smaller units, that is, more residential density per lot. While height would not be increased, many smaller units would be allowed to replace fewer larger units.

The bonus to developers would be huge. In one case a developer, under the old zoning, proposed a 16-unit project at 650 Divisadero. After the rezoning, passed by the Board in July, 2015, he revised his project to 60 units, more than a 350% increase.

The rezoning was not well publicized in D5, and it wasn’t until projects started dramatically increasing their unit count that neighbors became aware of the change in late 2015. Neighborhood concern was increased when it was realized that the dramatic increase in density had no increase in required affordability. Moreover, such an increase in density with no increase in affordability would so change the development economics of the area that demolition of existing housing and displacement of existing neighborhood serving retail uses became a deep concern since the legislation neither addressed demolition nor small business retention.

In October, 2015, members of three neighborhood organizations and several Divisadero Street residents and merchants wrote Supervisor Breed pointing out their concerns and asking her to rescind the rezoning until the community could develop a “community driven” plan that addressed these concerns.

The following month she replied that she would not rescind the legislation, saying that city law prohibited her from requiring more affordability “unless...a significant upzoning in an area of 40 acres or more…the Divisadero NCT is not 40 acres…”

That was an incorrect citing of the law, which passed as Proposition C in 2012.

What Proposition C actually said is the exact opposite — increases in affordability requirements could be made if “through...local legislation...a 50% or greater increase in residential density over prior zoning” is granted, which is exactly the case with her NCTD rezoning.

Supervisor Breed refused to attend any of the planning sessions of the Affordable Divisadero Community Plan, sending her staff to only one to lecture the audience in her mistaken assertion of Prop. C.

In January, 2016, after 500 residents attended one or more of the meetings, the Divisadero Community Plan was adopted and sent to the supervisor and the Planning Commission. It called for demolition controls on all rent controlled housing, a 50% affordable requirement for all new developments of 10 units or more with all of the affordable units on site, that 70% of new market rate housing had to be two or more bedrooms, that additional fees be charged for transit on all new market rate units and that in all “high density development” 50% of all proposed retail space had to be “neighborhood serving” and there should be no formula retail uses allowed.

Supervisor Breed has remained silent on the Affordable Divisadero Community Plan.

But on the day before the plan was to be finally debated at a well publicized community meeting, Breed announced her intention to introduce legislation to increase affordability requirements from 12% to 23% in the NCTD, dropping her claim that to do so was illegal. Her campaign claim that this is the “highest affordable housing requirement in San Francisco history” is pure hokum since the voters passed a 25% inclusionary requirement in June, 2016.

As of this date no committee hearing before the Board of Supervisors has been set by Breed, so it’s unclear when the new requirement will take effect, possibly exempting a massive 152-unit market-rate development proposed for Divisadero at Oak.

Breed complained when 48hills questioned her record on tenant issues, and we responded here.

But Breed’s record on affordable housing includes supporting legislation that has made housing more expensive for her constituents in D5; incentivizing displacement and demolition of existing housing and small businesses through massive upzonings, and pitting tenants against first-time owners over scarce rental housing.

We also asked her office to respond to questions about this article, but have heard nothing back. We will happily update if she wants to comment.

Rob's comment:
On London Breed's transportation record: here and here.

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At 10:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob - your writing must be making you tired. Here's a thought. Instead of actually writing, just use this. So much easier.


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