Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 12, 2018

Third of many

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

When even your opponents are getting in on the benefits of a law, that’s when you know you’re winning.  Or even #winning!

One of the non profit housing developers in San Francisco, MEDA vociferously opposed the SB 35 streamlined housing legislation that was signed into law last year.  But now, they are the third proposal this year to use SB 35 to smooth along the process to build their housing development per the San Francisco Chronicle.  Highlights:

Under the law by state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, developers of certain projects can bypass the environmental analysis typically required. In exchange for expedited approvals, the developer must commit to a certain percentage of permanently affordable units. The amount of affordable units ranges from 10 to 100 percent, depending on the community and how much housing it produces. In San Francisco, a developer looking to take advantage of SB35 must commit to making at least 50 percent of the units affordable.

The move to invoke SB35 is somewhat ironic because MEDA opposed the legislation, fearing it could exacerbate displacement and gentrification in some areas and that in some parts of the state the amount of affordable housing required is too low, just 10 percent.

The quote from the MEDA director is absolutely hysterical considering the huge benefit they’re getting from invoking SB 35.

Also from the piece:

Sam Moss, executive director of Mission Housing, another nonprofit developer, said the real benefit of SB35 is to take away opponents’ ability to slow down a project by filing a lawsuits under CEQA. An affordable senior housing development in San Francisco’s Forest Hill neighborhood recently died after neighbors threatened to file a lawsuit to stop it.

“The whole point of SB35 it gives you a tool to get around people who don’t want to see any housing built,” Moss said. “We have had to fight off appeals on every single affordable housing project in the Mission.

In case you were wondering, in order for a developer to invoke SB 35 in Alameda, the development would have to set aside 50% of the units as affordable.  I’ll point out that the reason the Alameda is not on the list for the streamlining for only 10% affordable is that Alameda actually built enough…wait for it…above moderate housing aka 120% above median income aka market rate housing.  Had Alameda failed on all fronts nearly every single recent housing project would have been eligible for the streamlined process since Alameda’s inclusionary housing policy requires at least 15% in most of Alameda and 25% at Alameda Point.

Although other than a pure Housing Authority led project, I don’t imagine we’ll be seeing a whole lot of 50% affordable projects come through our particular pipeline.



  1. It is doubtful that this law will accomplish its intended goal.

    The “affordable” units, which are better called subsidized units, are financed by increasing the price of the non-subsidized units. That only serves to cut out a portion of market rate buyers/renters and increase inequality. The buyers of these price inflated units will have the ability to shop elsewhere and buy true market rate housing which doesn’t have a subsidy for neighbors added into its price. This law will not get many new units built.

    This method of financing subsidized housing just doesn’t work very well. If the goal is to increase housing supply and ease price pressure, there is a much simpler and more effective way: add supply, ie BUILD. Laws streamlining the permitting process and easing zoning would be a helluva lot more effective than this arcane method of forcing individuals to subsidize their neighbors.

    Now I admit a disconnect there. I have strongly advocated keeping our zoning laws, Measure A being the principal one, of course. But that opinion doesn’t prevent me from knowing that one solution would be more effective than another, and SB35 will not be very effective.

    Comment by dave — April 12, 2018 @ 6:36 am

  2. Not if we build in the numbers that we actually need. The above assumes that we stay constricted to building in quantities that anti-housing folks prefer.

    Comment by Angela — April 12, 2018 @ 8:29 am

    • Not if we build in the numbers that we actually need


      Those numbers will only be built as market rate or fully, completely subsidized by tax dollars. Which do you think is more likely?

      Comment by dave — April 12, 2018 @ 8:35 am

  3. We don’t need no stinking so called affordable housing units built in Alameda.

    Comment by Jack — April 12, 2018 @ 6:46 pm

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