Measures P, U Threaten Affordable Housing

Brooke Anderson, 2007.
Brooke Anderson, 2007.

San Francisco voters will vote on more than 20 citywide ballot measures. Some are already getting a lot of media play, such as Proposition V, the proposed “soda tax,” and two anti-homeless measures, Propositions Q and R.

Others have barely registered a blip on the electoral radar, yet nonetheless would determine who gets to remain housed in the City, specifically in affordable housing units—or not, if they are passed.

Those would be Propositions P and U. Under Prop P, contracts for affordable housing projects on City-owned land must be put up to bid by at least three bidders with the one deemed to have “best value” being awarded. Prop U would remove affordable housing requirements from the City charter for new developments and change income eligibility limits for affordable units.

But, as political observers like to say, the devil is in the details. And those details would favor the San Francisco Realtors’ Association, which has virtually written both measures.

These measures would stymie the development of affordable housing, said Supervisor Aaron Peskin at an anti-P and U rally at Glide Memorial Church on September 7.

“P is a cynical, pernicious proposition aimed at building less affordable housing,” he said. “If we get less [than three bidders], we don’t get affordable housing.” He added that developers don’t make as much on building affordable units as they would on market-rate ones.

Passage of Prop U would double the minimum income eligibility limit for available affordable housing units from 55 percent to 110 percent. A family of four earning $56,050 would no longer be considered; they would have to make at least $112,100. The new limits would effectively take formerly homeless people, veterans, seniors and disabled people out of the running for these units.

According to a statement from the No on P & U campaign, “the measure forces middle and low-income San Franciscans to compete for the same limited supply of affordable housing.”

The propositions are opposed by the San Francisco Anti-Displacement Coalition, Housing Rights Committee, San Francisco Tenants Union, Council of Community Housing Organizations, Senior Disability Action and, surprisingly, the usually pro-developer San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association.

On November 8, vote No on P and U.