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A dumpster fire in San Francisco

This past week, San Francisco’s Proposition E was approved by 55% of voters. The measure works by limiting new office development if (or when) the city falls short of its affordable housing target for the year.

If the city only builds 25% of its housing target (currently set at 2,042 affordable units per year), then only 25% of its annual allocation of office space can be built the following year. (I just learned that large scale office development in San Francisco has been limited to 875,000 sf per year as a result of a Proposition dating back to 1986.)

San Francisco currently skews heavily in favor of jobs. The city creates about 8.5 jobs for every unit of new housing. And over the last decade, SF has only averaged about 712 affordable housing units per year and has never once met its target.

So at the moment, San Francisco looks destined to start building a lot less office space. And considering that new office space actually helps to fund affordable housing, I am struggling to understand why the goal seems to be to constrain job growth.

California State Senator Scott Wiener called Prop E a dumpster fire:

Call me old fashioned, but I tend to think that if the goal is to build more affordable housing, you should do things that, you know, encourage the actual construction of affordable housing.

Photo by Eduardo Santos on Unsplash

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