For decades San Francisco and the rest of the Region have been suffering from an increasing imbalance between incoming new jobs and housing. Municipal, regional and State governments have been either unable or unwilling to do anything about the problem.
Fed up, the people of San Francisco have now taken a stand. On March 3, 2020 they passed San Francisco Prop E. According to Ida Mojadad’s in depth article (SF Examiner 2/29/20), Prop E will require large developers to curtail office development unless an appropriate amount of affordable housing development is built in San Francisco in accordance with state-mandated affordable housing objectives. Thanks to a ballot measure passed in the 1980’s San Francisco already limits the amount of office space that can be approved every year. Prop. E will reduce the amount of currently acceptable new office space by a percentage equal to the percentage by which the city fails to fulfill its affordable housing obligations. In addition Prop E will cap large new office projects in the South of Market neighborhood until at least 15,000 new affordable housing units are provided in that area.
Why one might ask, should a transit-advocacy group like BATWG care about Prop E?
Because as well as addressing San Francisco jobs/housing imbalance, Prop E directly confronts the Region’s most intractable transportation problem, which is how to end the development community’s long established practice of piling jobs into high cost housing areas, thereby forcing incoming employees, or those displaced by incoming employees, to relocate to distant, long-commute locations. Under this broken system developers are provided with financial incentives to both cater to the desires of large incoming employers and create additional sprawl. A better balance between housing and jobs would benefit everyone except those who put get-rich-quick real estate profits ahead of all other considerations.
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According to the Examiner, John Elberling, executive director of Todco, a nonprofit housing organization put the situation this way: This is …”really a forward-looking bill,”…… “The City’s economy as a whole will keep growing. What we’re trying to do is to encourage developers to develop affordable housing.”
To that BATWG would add: “…and increase opportunities throughout the region for employees to live closer to their jobs”.