Ballot Measure K (Surplus City Property)

Hi All. Starchild and I plowed through almost all 24 pages of the legalese text of this one during dinner yesterday after the meeting trying to see clearly what they're up to on this one. Chris Bowman had brought a copy of the final digest to the meeting, which I read afterwards and copied below from the Dept. of Elections website. To me, it's apparent now that the intent is to go way beyond the homeless well into the middle class to "help" us, which is very similar to the Housing Trust Fund that we opposed a few years ago (Prop C). We should oppose this one on the grounds that The City should not be infusing itself further into the housing market and should be selling surplus property at market rates to cover essential services and lower taxes (the bureaucrats would faint!). I'll work up something on this one for Thursday.
The Way It Is Now: San Francisco has a policy of using real property the City does not need (surplus property) to build affordable housing. If the property is not suitable for housing, it can be sold and the proceeds used to build affordable housing elsewhere in the City. Under the City’s policy, affordable housing is housing that is affordable to households earning up to 60% of the area median income. Every year, City departments are required to identify surplus property. The City transfers the surplus property to the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, which then determines if the property is suitable for affordable housing. If so, the City solicits applications from nonprofit organizations serving the homeless to build affordable housing on the property. City property controlled by the Recreation and Parks Commission, the Port, the Airport, the Public Utilities Commission, and the Municipal Transportation Agency is exempt from the sale requirements. The Proposal: Proposition __ would:
• expand the allowable uses of surplus property to include building affordable housing for a range of households from those with very low income (homeless and those earning under 20% of the area median income) to those with incomes up to 120% of the area median income; • in surplus property developments with 200 or more units, allow mixed-income projects that include affordable housing for households earning up to 120% of the area median income, housing for middle-income households earning up to 150% of the area median income and housing with no income limitations; • expand the annual process for identifying surplus property with specific reporting dates, public hearings and oversight by the Board of Supervisors; • prohibit the City, without prior approval of the Board of Supervisors, from taking any actions to sell surplus property for 120 days if the Board of Supervisors is considering developing this property for affordable housing; • require that at least 33% of the total housing units developed on surplus property sold by the City be affordable—with at least 15% of rental units affordable to people earning up to 55% of the area median income and 18% affordable to people earning up to 120% of the area median income; • maintain exemptions for City property controlled by the Recreation and Parks Commission, the Port, the Airport, the Public Utilities Commission, and the Municipal Transportation Agency; and • make it City policy to ask all other local agencies, such as school districts, to notify the City before selling property in San Francisco and give the City the opportunity to buy it for affordable housing. Proposition ___ would allow the Board of Supervisors to waive the requirements of this law for other public purposes, such as creating facilities for health care, child care, education, open space, public safety, transit and infrastructure.

Thanks!Aubrey

Prop. K is a mess of obfuscation (intentional or otherwise). I challenge anyone to tell me in plain terms what the intent of the measure is, and what in the language would accomplish those ends.

  Language that would *be deleted* by the measure appears to set housing the homeless as the #1 priority for how surplus housing is to be used, while the definition of "homeless" would be expanded. This seems to suggest that the aim is to allow more people of greater financial means to benefit from the city government's development efforts (eligibility for housing built on surplus city property).

  But local GOP policy wonk Chris Bowman, and the way the measure describes its own priorities, do not accord with that analysis. The Republican argument, as he presented it to us in writing

Love & Liberty,
                               ((( starchild )))

Oops, hit "Send" too soon.

  Last sentence should read, "The Republican argument, as he presented it to us in writing and in telling us his own opinion, argues against Prop. K on the basis that it screws the middle class."

  The main thing I get from looking at the Ballot Simplification Committee's explanation though, is that it would allow beneficiaries earning up to 120% of the Area Median Income (AMI is currently around $71k/year, according to Chris yesterday, if I recall correctly), as opposed to current policy allowing beneficiaries only up to 60% of AMI. Here's the link to the BSC description:

http://sfgov2.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/elections/ElectionsArchives/Meeting_Information/BSC/agendas/2015/Surplus%20City%20Property_Final%20Digest.pdf

  If that's correct, it's a moral travesty as far as I'm concerned. Why should wealthier people be given government housing subsidies when there are poorer people still going without? I can't help but suspect that the goal may be to facilitate patronage politics by allowing political goodies to be given out to those who are currently ineligible.

  There's also a sentence in the measure that appears to give the Board of Supervisors carte blanche to set their own priorities on any particular land sale/lease development, regardless of what it says in the chapter, and that may be the true intent of Prop. K -- to remove the strictures put on them by voters, and enable them to revise policy by ordinance. That could end up being either good or bad, depending on what the specifics were of what they wanted to do -- but being the statist politicians they usually are, more likely bad than good. See page 24, lines 2-8 at the following link (document doesn't seem to allow copying and pasting -- nice!)

http://sfgov2.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/elections/candidates/Nov2015/SurplusCityProperty_Text.pdf

Love & Liberty,
                               ((( starchild )))

I look forward to seeing the Controller's statement, but I couldn't find any indication in the text of the measure that Prop. K would expand government costs. Right now it's looking bad to me nevertheless, but just noting for the record.

Love & Liberty,
                               ((( starchild )))

Hi Starchild and Marcy. I tried but could not find anywhere what the Controller has to say about this one. (Maybe he's still trying to figure it all out too.) I would say the costs would be more like lost opportunity costs since The City will tend to sell the properties at lower than market costs if this is all supposed to go for affordable housing. Also let's not forget about that 55-year thing: on page 6, it says, "'Affordable Housing' means housing that is deed-restricted as affordable for a period of at least 55 years..." That's 2070!!
Thanks!Aubrey

I don't find it either. Yes, opportunity costs, but also the fact that the building of subsidized housing is the stated purpose of the measure. No way not to consider those costs when evaluating this measure.

Marcy

Hi Starchild and Marcy. I tried but could not find anywhere what the Controller has to say about this one. (Maybe he's still trying to figure it all out too.) I would say the costs would be more like lost opportunity costs since The City will tend to sell the properties at lower than market costs if this is all supposed to go for affordable housing. Also let's not forget about that 55-year thing: on page 6, it says, "'Affordable Housing' means housing that is deed-restricted as affordable for a period of at least 55 years..." That's 2070!!

Thanks!
Aubrey

Subsidized housing, yes, but if the subsidy is achieved by simply requiring developers to make housing available at certain below-market-rate prices, then (although it's still far from the best way to handle it, obviously) no taxpayer money is involved.

  The "opportunity cost" of making the land available for less than it might fetch on the open market could just as easily apply to Proposition D, the Giants' Mission Rock development, since that is a special deal with one politically favored developer rather than the result of a real competitive bidding process.

  Realistically, of course, there is also the consideration that the city government as it currently exists seems very unlikely to simply make these lands available to the highest bidders, and thus the "lost opportunity" is a mainly theoretical one of how things ought to be.

Love & Liberty,
                                ((( starchild )))