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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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County

City and County of San Francisco
Measure U Ordinance - Majority Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results

Failing

126,760 votes yes (35.28%)

232,531 votes no (64.72%)

Shall the City increase the income eligibility limit for on-site rental units for all new and existing affordable housing units to make them affordable for households earning up to 110% of the area median income?

What is this proposal?

Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by League of Women Voters San Francisco

The Question

Shall the City increase the income eligibility limit for on-site rental units for all new and existing affordable housing units to make them affordable for households earning up to 110% of the area median income?

The Situation

Affordable housing measures have been enacted since the 1970s. Starting with the State Density Bonus Law from 1979, which requires cities and counties to offer a bonus and other incentives to housing developments that make housing units available to low income to middle income households. San Francisco created the Affordable Housing Bonus Program to go beyond the Law by incentivizing building affordable housing and mandating, amongst many things, more housing development, of which 30% shall be affordable housing units.

The City generally requires developers of market-rate housing of 10 units or more to provide affordable housing. A developer can meet this requirement in one of three ways: Pay an affordable housing fee; Construct off-site affordable housing; and construct on-site affordable housing.

An on-site rental unit counts as affordable for a “low-income household” if it is affordable for households earning up to 55% of the area median income. An on-site rental unit counts as affordable for a “middle-income household” if it is affordable for households earning up to 100% of the area median income.

The City uses Federal income standards to determine the maximum allowable rent levels for the affordable units. The rent is updated each year. For low-income households, the monthly rent for an on-site one-bedroom affordable housing unit is $1,185 and for a two-bedroom, $1,333.

The Proposal

Prop U proposes that the affordable housing requirements for new development projects be adjusted to serve a higher percentage of the population. Currently, one of the three choices for property developers is to make 12% of their housing available for individuals making 55% or less of the median household income. This proposal would make individuals earning 110% of the median income eligible to receive the below market rate housing.

Income Definition:

  1 Person 2 Person 3 Person 4 Person
55% of median $41,450 $47,400 $53,300 $59,250
100% of median $75,400 $86,150 $96,950 $107,700
110% of median $82,950 $94,750 $106,650 $118,450 

A “YES” Vote Means: If you vote “yes,” you want to increase the income eligibility limit for on-site rental units for all new and existing affordable housing units to make them affordable for households earning up to 110% of the area median income.

A “NO” Vote Means: If you vote “no,” you do not want to make these changes.

Supporters say

  • This measure aims to help the middle class, such as teachers, EMTs, nurses and artists by allowing households that make up to 110% of the area median income to qualify for affordable housing.
  • Proposition U ensures that affordable housing for low-income residents remains attainable by applying this measure to 2% of the below market-rate units. The rest will remain for low-income.

Opponents say

  • This measure would double the rent that developers and landlords can charge for future and existing affordable housing units.
  • Prop C passed in June 2016 and requires new developments to provide 25% affordable housing of which 10% are for middle-income residents. Prop U will repeal this measure, enable landlords to increase rent on existing affordable homes, and pits middle income against low income renters for affordable housing

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Summary

Ballot Simplification Committee

The Way It Is Now: The City generally requires developers of market-rate housing of 10 units or more to provide affordable housing. A developer can meet this requirement in one of three ways:

• Pay an affordable housing fee.

• Construct off-site affordable housing.

• Construct on-site affordable housing. Provide 12% of units affordable for low-income households. For development projects of 25 or more units, provide 15% of units affordable for low-income households and an additional 10% of units affordable for low- or middle-income households.

An on-site rental unit counts as affordable for a “low-income household” if it is affordable for households earning up to 55% of the area median income.

An on-site rental unit counts as affordable for a “middle-income household” if it is affordable for households earning up to 100% of the area median income.

The City uses federal income standards to determine the maximum allowable rent levels for the affordable units. The rent is updated each year. For low-income households, the monthly rent for an on-site one-bedroom affordable housing unit is $1,185 and for a two-bedroom, $1,333.

The Proposal: Proposition U would change the requirements for developers who build affordable on-site housing. It would increase the income eligibility limit for on-site rental units for all new and existing affordable housing units. Under Proposition U, any rental unit counting toward the affordable housing requirement must be available to households earning up to 110% of the area median income.

Proposition U would increase the gross income a household could have to be eligible for affordable housing from 55% to 110% of area median income. It would also set the rent for a unit at 30% of the household’s gross income as long as that household earns up to 110% of area median income. Under this measure, a household could pay up to $2,369 for a one-bedroom affordable rental unit and up to $2,666 for a two-bedroom affordable rental unit, but could pay less depending on gross income. This proposal applies retroactively to rental units built under the affordable housing program.

The rental price for each unit would be calculated annually based on the household’s gross income.

The chart below shows the area median income for some San Francisco households:

Income Definition

1 Person

2 Person

3 Person

4 Person

55% of median

$41,450

 $47,400

$53,300

$59,250

100% of median

$75,400

$86,150

$96,950

$107,700

110% of median

$82,950

$94,750

$106,650

$118,450

A “YES” Vote Means: If you vote “yes,” you want to increase the income eligibility limit for on-site rental units for all new and existing affordable housing units to make them affordable for households earning up to 110% of the area median income.

A “NO” Vote Means: If you vote “no,” you do not want to make these changes.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

More information

Videos (1)

Featuring Shauna Lawhorne providing a synthesis and propoenents and opponents presenting arguments.
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