How to Vote Pro-Housing
San Francisco YIMBY’s March 2020 Endorsements
This March the headliner will be the Presidential Primary. But the President doesn’t control much about housing policy — our local and state representatives do. So, how can you vote pro-housing locally? How do you find candidates that believe we need more housing in San Francisco to bring down rents, reduce commutes, and reduce carbon emissions?
SD11: Scott Wiener
AD 17: David Chiu
AD 19: Phil Ting
Prop B: YES
Prop D: YES
Prop E: NO
If you are a registered Democrat, you will have a chance to vote this March in the most important election you’ve never heard of: The Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC). DCCC members speak for the local Democratic Party and decide who get the Democratic Party’s endorsement. Why are these down-ballot races so important? DCCC endorsements are estimated to be worth 10 percentage points in local elections.
In 2020, the DCCC matters more than ever. The DCCC candidates that win in March will make endorsements for the November 2020 election. This will be a huge turnout election, as Democratic voters flock to the polls to vote Trump out of office. When they look down their ballot at races like the Supervisors (our city council), most voters will vote for whomever the Democratic Party endorsed. The future of our city may be decided by who wins this March’s DCCC election. We must have pro-housing voices on the DCCC!
The DCCC election is split into Assembly Districts: AD 17 for the East side and AD 19 for the West side.This is a complicated and obscure election with over 50 candidates running, so our candidates need strong marketing to break through. We’ve collected the ActBlue donation pages of YIMBY-endorsed candidates to make it easy for you to contribute to all of them at once!
State Seats: Re-elect YIMBY Leaders Wiener, Chiu, Ting
Senator Wiener, Assemblymember Chiu, and Assemblymember Ting have been some of California’s boldest voices on housing in decades. Senator Wiener authored and passed momentous legislation like SB35, which helps homes get built faster, and is behind SB50, which would legalize millions of new homes near transit and jobs. Assemblymember Chiu recently authored and passed AB1482, protecting renters with a rent cap and just cause eviction protections. Assemblymember Ting helped give us “triplexes everywhere” through his recent AB68 that legalizes two accessory dwelling units on every parcel in California.
Because these three leaders are so strongly pro-housing, their elections are a referendum on the YIMBY cause. We need to make sure they win their reelections and win decisively — to prove to current and future candidates that a YIMBY platform wins.
YES on Prop B: Earthquake Safety & Emergency Response Bond (aka Let’s Not Die)
Prop B authorizes a bond of $628,500,000 to fund systems and facilities that would be useful in response to earthquakes, like 911 emergency response, police, and fire fighters. The bond is paid for by an annual fee of $15 for every $100,000 of assessed value for 30 years. The bond replaces an existing bond that phases out, so property taxes do not change.
Prop B will help make our city safer and ensure that we do not lose housing in case of catastrophic events like earthquakes and fires. Prop B is a prudent investment to protect our housing supply.
YES on Prop D: Vacancy Tax for Commercial Spaces
Prop D places a tax on vacant storefronts. If the owner or tenant of a ground floor commercial space keeps it vacant for more than 6 months out of a year, they would pay a tax per foot of street frontage, unless they’ve applied for or obtained a building permit. The tax is intended to discourage vacancies, not raise funds, but any money raised would go to a fund for small business assistance.
Prop D doesn’t address what we believe to be the main causes of storefront vacancies: onerous zoning restrictions and the slow, corrupt permitting process for literally everything. But it might help. In theory, commercial landlords should be discouraged from keeping spaces vacant by property taxes. But Prop 13 keeps property taxes artificially low, so this tax would give them a stronger incentive to rent out the space.
Prop D has a 1-year exemption for properties that are awaiting permits. Prop D won’t help for vacant spaces that are stuck in permitting hell, but this exemption means that it won’t hurt them either. We would hope to see future legislation extend the exemption beyond 1-year, or even better, make permitting more streamlined!
In the meantime, SF YIMBY endorses Yes on Prop D.
NO on Proposition E: Limits on Office Development
This Prop is cynical and misleading. Voting for it will make the problem it purports to solve worse in the short term. The solution to a housing shortage is more housing.
“San Francisco’s economic growth would be stunted, with the city losing tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of gross domestic product, if voters pass Proposition E, which would tie office-space approvals to affordable housing goals, according to a report from the city’s chief economist, Ted Egan, released Monday,” begins a damning article in the SF Chronicle.
Prop E strictly limits office development in San Francisco based on affordable housing production. If the city does not meet its affordable housing production targets in a given year (“very low income,” “low income,” and “moderate income” RHNA targets), allowable construction of offices would go down by a proportional amount.
Prop E does nothing for affordable housing. It does not add even one dollar of funding to build affordable housing, nor does it shorten the process of building housing by even a single day. All it does is punish the city if, despite our best efforts, we fail to meet affordable housing goals — by forbidding us from building enough office space, either.
Having a housing shortage is a very ineffective strategy for making rich residents move away. Having an office shortage is not going to make rich companies go away. It’s the nonprofits and smaller, non-tech firms, which already struggle to find office space and affordable housing for their workers, who will be forced out in even greater numbers in a Prop E world.
There is no big-money opposition to Prop E because it includes a grandfather clause that exempts developers with projects in the pipeline. This is written to buy off the developers building offices now. As reported by Mission Local, some would actually get to build faster, which is ironically exactly what this proposition is saying it’s trying to stop.
We will only start to feel the effects of this sloppily-written, counterproductive legislation 5–7 years from now. At that point, we’ll have yet another mess to clean up as landlords squeeze more money out of the rest of us and jobs shift to the suburbs.
Learn more about our DCCC Candidates!
Seeyew Mo (YIMBY Action Member)
“SF must protect its current residents and welcome new ones. Let’s re-imagine a vibrant and diverse city with affordable housing and world-class transportation for all. Rezoning the entire city for more housing will be vital to help us achieve that goal.”
Jane Natoli (YIMBY Action Board Member)
“We have a moral obligation to build more homes for everyone so that anyone can call San Francisco home that wants to. Young queer people who move here to openly be their best selves, just like me, instead find a city too unaffordable to call home.”
Nadia Rahman (YIMBY Action Member)
“I support rezoning the entire city to allow for new apartments throughout San Francisco. …As a Muslim American woman of color who came of age in the 9/11 era, I believe San Francisco and California must lead in being a welcoming place for everyone.”
Cyn Wang (YIMBY Action Member)
“San Francisco’s housing crisis is the greatest threat to its vitality, culture, economy, and community. We have failed to build enough housing, particularly for middle and low income people. As a lesbian mom, I worry about the future we are handing our kids.”
“A neighborhood’s character is more than just the buildings and architecture within it. A neighborhood’s character is created by the people who live and work there. Restrictive zoning is damaging our neighborhoods and exacerbating our housing crisis.”
Janice Li (YIMBY Action Member)
“In the last year, I turned hypotheticals into real votes. Despite how complicated and controversial it was, I voted to support SB50. I’ve been a solid “urbanist” vote on the BART board. I have been public and consistent with where I stand.”
“I absolutely support rezoning in exclusionary neighborhoods in order to build more housing and increase the socio-economic and ethnic diversity in SF. What makes our city great is diversity and the fact that people from all walks of life can find a safe haven.”
Mary Jung (YIMBY Action Member)
“We should build more housing at all levels of affordability, including both subsidized affordable and market rate homes.”
“Without more and better housing options, the inequities of our city will be perpetuated.
…the default position of no market-rate construction is in part responsible for the inequitable housing crisis that we are in.”
“As a small business owner, I worry about my employees finding a place in SF. As a mom, I worry about what we’re giving our kids. We need more homes!
I’ve been singing the praises of the YIMBY movement from day one!”
East Side (AD17)
Mike Chen (YIMBY Action Lead)
“I would like to see more housing built in wealthy neighborhoods that have excluded low-income people. In District 2, where I live, many streets are zoned to only allow single-family homes. These neighborhoods built apartment buildings before they were downzoned.”
Tyra Fennell (YIMBY Action Member)
“As a middle class African American woman, SF’s housing crisis is very personal, with the displacement of African Americans and as someone who wants to plant roots here. …I support YIMBY’s efforts because they are fundamentally about more inclusive housing policies.”
Nima Rahimi (YIMBY Action Member)
“I am a first generation Iranian-American raised in a Sufi Muslim household. I am extremely motivated to tear down the barriers to entry that permeate the immigrant experience.…We must build inclusive communities, and housing is a huge part of that.”
Mick Del Rosario (YIMBY Action Member)
“We must build more dense housing to address our housing crisis. We need to build housing in all parts of San Francisco, especially along major transit corridors. …Our housing crisis is a regional crisis. Every city must do more to reach housing goals set by the state.”
Bivett Brackett (YIMBY Action Member)
“I was born and raised in D5 and cannot return to my childhood neighborhood.
…San Francisco needs to make good on their promises to the Black community. Every year that passes someone dies of old age waiting on housing.”
Austin Hunter (YIMBY Action Member)
“When I came out, my family didn’t accept me. I needed SF, as so many LGBTQ people do. We can’t close our gates.…The city needs to push for city-wide rezoning in order to reduce displacement, decrease racial segregation, and bring more people home.”
Steven Buss (YIMBY Action Board Member)
“We must build everything from homeless shelters to luxury high rises.…Rent control is an effective anti-displacement policy, and we should keep it. But it doesn’t lower rents for everyone. The only thing that does that is to build more. We need abundant housing.”
Kristen Asato-Webb (YIMBY Action Member)
“I understand what it feels like to have insecure housing and the weight of the machine against you. …So many of our zoning practices are out of date and exacerbating the housing crisis. We need to allow for multi-family housing across the city.”
Victor Olivieri (YIMBY Action Member)
“We need housing for EVERYONE.”
“We should be making it easier for all forms of housing to be built.”
Thank you for voting for housing in March!
Don’t forget to join!
If you want to do more to help these YIMBY candidates and ballot props win, as well as join an amazing community of activists, please sign on as a member of YIMBY Action (SF YIMBY is a part of YIMBY Action Network). Learn more about membership here.