Offering No Solutions, Jane Kim Cynically Flips and Attacks Senator Wiener’s Transit Housing Bill (SB 827)

Scott Wiener
Mar 15, 2018 · 4 min read

Kim — who has long track record opposing new housing on the west side of San Francisco — changes her position to oppose bill allowing more housing near public transportation


Today, Supervisor Jane Kim held a press conference in West Portal to oppose SB 827, Senator Scott Wiener’s bill allowing more housing near public transportation. Supervisor Kim came out against SB 827 after repeatedly stating that she was open to the bill and after she falsely stated that she was communicating with Senator Wiener about possible amendments to the bill.

SB 827 creates a sustainable and progressive approach to adding new housing exactly where it needs to be — near public transportation. When we fail to add housing near public transportation, we push people into sprawl housing, forcing them into long commutes. SB 827 provides that within a half mile of a major transit hub (e.g., a subway or rail stop) or a quarter mile of a high-frequency bus stop, cities cannot ban small to mid-size apartment buildings, typically 4–5 stories (with a smaller number at 8 stories). West Portal — where Supervisor Kim chose to hold her press conference — is one of the most transit-rich neighborhoods in the country, with a subway stop, three light rail lines, and multiple bus lines. Yet the neighborhood is zoned exclusively for single-family homes, meaning it is completely illegal to build even a small apartment building across the street from the subway station.

“The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is approaching $5,000 a month, and we are pricing out middle income and working class residents,” said Senator Wiener. “We all have a responsibility to try to solve this crisis, and that’s what SB 827 is about: adding more housing and do so sustainably instead of contributing to sprawl. Rather than engaging on the bill or offering her own solution, Supervisor Kim is doing what she does best: knee-jerk opposition to housing. While Supervisor Kim has supported high-rise condos in the SOMA and Mission Bay neighborhoods, she has a long track record of opposing housing pretty much everywhere else in San Francisco. Supervisor Kim, in particular, has consistently opposed adding new housing on the west side of San Francisco. Supervisor Kim apparently believes that only one part of San Francisco should accept housing and that the west side should be exempt from accepting new housing, even in transit-rich areas. That’s the opposite of a progressive approach to housing.”

Example of mid-size apartment building in San Francisco’s Sunset District on the N Judah light rail line — the type of building SB 827 will allow. This kind of apartment building was banned in the 1960s, when San Francisco down-zoned, and can no longer be built in about 75% of San Francisco. SB 827 will legalize this kind of housing.

Supervisor Kim did not offer any solutions to San Francisco’s and California’s housing crisis, instead simply opposing SB 827. Supervisor Kim has a history of obstructing housing. For example, she co-authored a proposal to place a moratorium on new housing in the Mission neighborhood, she opposed a bill to allow higher density on the west side of San Francisco in exchange for increased affordability, and she opposed the Park Merced development, which will add 6,000 homes on the west side right by a light rail line.

SB 827 is designed to alleviate California’s severe housing crisis. California currently has a housing deficit of nearly four million homes, and that deficit grows by 100,000 each year. Much of the housing our state adds is in the form of sprawl — covering up open space and farmland, pushing people into crushing commutes, reducing the number of people who can access public transportation, and increasing carbon emissions. One reason for our housing shortage and the increase in sprawl is that many communities, including San Francisco, mandate low-density zoning near public transportation — i.e., ban apartment buildings. SB 827 will legalize these transit-adjacent apartment buildings.

SB 827 contains strong demolition and tenant protections. It preserves all local demolition controls and bans the demolition of rent-controlled housing. For any city that allows a tenant-occupied unit to be demolished, that tenant must received a Right to Remain Guarantee, which requires the developer pay for all of the following: all moving expenses for tenants moving into, and out of, an interim unit in the area while the project is being built; up to 42 months of rental assistance that covers the rent of an available, comparable unit in the area; right of first refusal for housing units in the new building; and a new lease at the same rent the tenant previously paid.

SB 827 also allows for all existing impact fees, including local inclusionary affordable housing requirements, which means SB 827 will increase the amount of affordable housing being built in California. In fact, the San Francisco Planning Department’s analysis of SB 827 concluded that the bill “would likely result in the production of more affordable housing due to overall significantly greater housing production under SB 827 than under existing zoning.”

Scott Wiener

Written by

CA State Senator. Urbanist. Environmentalist. Advocate for transit, housing, clean energy, criminal justice reform, health, ending poverty. Democrat. 🏳️‍🌈

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