San Francisco has become a poster child for the national housing crisis in cities. San Francisco YIMBYs have helped elected pro-housing leaders to the State Senate, the State Assembly, and the Mayor’s office, and are working to elect more pro-housing leaders to local offices, especially the Board of Supervisors. SF YIMBY is a chapter of YIMBY Action. To determine who to endorse, SF YIMBY interviewed candidates and created a thorough questionnaire. These candidates will most effectively advocate for more housing in the city and end exclusionary single-family-home-only zoning. Additionally, we support several measures we believe are critical for better governance of our beloved-but-dysfunctional city.
California Attorney General: Rob Bonta
Rob Bonta has brought an unprecedented passion for enforcing state housing law to the Attorney General’s office. His leadership of the Housing Accountability Unit and his dedication to protecting pro-housing legislation from NIMBY nonsense has earned him the title Housing Champion.
Read more on state races on the YIMBY Action endorsements page.
California State Assembly, District 17: Matt Haney
We are happy that Assemblymember Matt Haney is starting to deliver on his promise to be a strong pro-housing voice in Sacramento. In his first mini-session as Assemblymember, Matt Haney joined as co-author of two key YIMBY-supported bills: AB 2097, removing costly parking minimums from buildings near transit; and AB 2053, introducing social housing to California. Haney has also been a consistent pro-housing vote, including for: AB 2011, legalizing housing in commercial districts; SB 886, streamlining university student housing; and AB 2221, accelerating ADU construction. Finally, we are grateful for Haney’s vocal support for the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development investigations into San Francisco’s violation of state housing laws and the state’s demands that San Francisco produce a credible Housing Element. Although we were disappointed that Haney supported Prop E at the DCCC, overall Haney is establishing a consistently pro-housing record in the Assembly, and we endorse him for another term.
Read more on state races on the YIMBY Action endorsements page.
Assessor-Recorder: Joaquin Torres
Joaquin Torres is running unopposed for Assessor-Recorder. He has been a consistent ally of housing in his capacity as President of the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission, where he has led the Commission's rehabilitation of low-income housing, and as an Executive Board member at SPUR, where he has supported urbanist research and advocacy allied with SF YIMBY.
Board of Education (School Board)
Because the Board of Education has a relatively limited purview in regards to housing, we did not feel it appropriate to endorse in this race. We gave candidates the option to tell us their opinions on housing as it relates to San Francisco Unified School District and to our ballot measure, Proposition D. You can read the candidate questionnaire responses below:
Community College Board (City College Board of Trustees) (4-year term and 2-year term)
Because City College has a relatively limited purview in regards to housing, we did not feel it appropriate to endorse in this race. We gave candidates the option to tell us their opinions on housing as it relates to City College and to our ballot measure, Proposition D. You can read the candidate questionnaire responses below:
District 2 Supervisor: Catherine Stefani
Supervisor Stefani may not be the loudest pro-housing voice, but her pro-housing votes on the Board give her one of the most pro-housing records of any current supervisor. As an example, she was one of only three supervisors in support of the 469 Stevenson project. In the YIMBY endorsement questionnaire, she committed to help dismantle segregated living patterns, and she has taken some steps in this direction in her district. Supervisor Stefani has supported housing projects in her district like CPMC California (3700 California), UCSF Laurel Heights (3333 California), and the Lucky Penny (2670 Geary Blvd).
We encourage Supervisor Stefani to drive the Board of Supervisors towards approving a compliant Housing Element by pushing for streamlining of the permitting process and setting an example in supporting upzonings in her district.
District 4 Supervisor: Joel Engardio
Joel is a long-time supporter of the YIMBY movement and community organizer in the Westside of the city. He has advocated for higher density along transit corridors in the Sunset and missing middle housing throughout the neighborhood. Joel envisions “Paris in the Sunset”: a greener Sunset with vibrant commercial corridors and abundant train service supported by thousands of new families in six-story structures with garden courtyards. His leadership would keep multi-generational families closer together with more housing options across income levels. Joel supports 2550 Irving Street — a 100% affordable housing project in the Sunset — at its full size. He was an early supporter of Proposition D, Affordable Homes Now, and his support for streamlined, by-right approvals for code-complaint housing projects would help remove the politics from housing development and let our elected officials focus on objective rules rather than case-by-case bickering.
Joel’s positions are in contrast with the incumbent in this race, Supervisor Gordon Mar. Mar has stated that he believes that zoning is not a barrier to housing affordability in the Sunset. Instead of rebuffing pressure from NIMBYs who wanted to scale down the size of 2550 Irving, Mar has supported scaling down this affordable housing project. He has publicly criticized YIMBY landmark bill SB 35 and supports Proposition E, a cynical anti-housing measure put onto the ballot to confuse voters and defeat Proposition D.
SF YIMBY is glad that Supervisor Mar is willing to meet with us to discuss housing related issues, however Engardio is clearly bringing a more pro-housing platform to a historically housing-resistant district.
District 6 Supervisor: Matt Dorsey #1 / Honey Mahogany #2
In District 6, we are lucky to have two pro-housing candidates. After a thorough questionnaire, a spicy candidate forum and much discussion, for this ranked choice race, SF YIMBY endorses Matt Dorsey as first preference and Honey Mahogany as second preference.
Supervisor Matt Dorsey, a city hall veteran with decades of experience in local and national Democratic politics, has publicly touted YIMBY Policy Solutions. Dorsey has worked with SB50 policy staffer Annie Fryman, amongst others, to ensure that he can be the strongest YIMBY ally possible. Matt has staffed his office with pro-housing staffers and advocated for implementation of Senator Scott Wiener’s SB10 and of SB50-like rezonings. During our forum, Matt distinguished himself by declaring that “there is no daylight between me and Scott Wiener on housing.” Matt is so far the only supervisor to endorse this fall’s YIMBY ballot measure, Proposition D, and has steadfastly and consistently opposed Supervisor Connie Chan’s competing anti-housing ballot measure (Prop E). Dorsey has also gone above and beyond in advocating for the Board of Supervisors to have less control over planning and permitting in order to streamline building housing.
As a close second contender, Honey Mahogany has emerged as a pro-housing voice during her campaign for Supervisor. She has been a champion for the opening of more Navigation Centers and other efforts to get unhoused San Franciscans off the streets and into permanent housing, and her experience as a social worker makes her uniquely qualified to build solutions that work for the City’s unhoused population. A practical, pro-housing Progressive, Honey holds promise in expanding the pro-housing message to a wider audience and expanding our coalition.
While both candidates have taken pro-housing stances, our members ultimately chose to recommend Matt Dorsey as our first preference candidate in District 6 due to the specificity and thoroughness of his housing policies. Honey Mahogany's movement towards pro-housing positions has been exciting to watch, and we applaud her work to produce housing in District 6 as part of Matt Haney's staff.
District 8 Supervisor: No Endorsement
After much discussion, SF YIMBY has declined to endorse in District 8. While Supervisor Mandelman can be a thoughtful legislator and has supported some pro-housing measures, his record of anti-housing votes means he has not earned our endorsement.
Despite endorsing Supervisor Mandelman in previous elections, we have watched with mounting disappointment the Supervisor’s housing record at the Board. He denied a 495-unit housing project next to BART and MUNI on transparently specious grounds, inviting a state investigation. And his actions triggered yet another state investigation when he demanded a small apartment building in his district be downsized, saying it would ‘blow through’ a wealthy neighborhood. He collaborated with local opposition to downsize new homes in wealthy Diamond Heights. He opposed SF’s state housing goals (or RHNA) allocation. He has failed to endorse Prop D. And after his laudable attempt at increasing density via fourplexes was amended into an attempt to circumvent state housing law, he voted for it anyway.
We appreciate Supervisor Mandelman’s leadership on homelessness and his efforts to incrementally increase density. We are also encouraged by his statements of support for building more of both subsidized affordable and market-rate housing on our questionnaire this year. Yet Supervisor Mandelman has more work to do to earn our endorsement for this race, or for any future race. The greatest opportunity for improvement would be by showing leadership by pushing the Board of Supervisors to approve a compliant Housing Element, a plan to build 82k+ units over the next 8 years. We hope he forces tough conversations with his colleagues and constituents on why and how we build housing at all income levels and in all neighborhoods.
District 10 Supervisor: No Endorsement
Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton, facing no serious opponents, looks poised to serve another term as District 10 Supervisor. While he has led on some challenges facing the City, the Supervisor is unfortunately a reliable member of the board’s anti-housing bloc.
To his credit, the Supervisor has supported some large projects in District 10, like the Potrero Power Station, but his pro-housing votes have been few and far between. Along with his colleagues, he invited two state investigations by voting to illegally deny a 495-unit housing project next to BART and MUNI. He supports Prop E, his colleagues’ dishonest attempt to confuse voters with a ballot measure that would block permit streamlining proposed by Prop D.
In an odd twist, President Walton actually did agree with us on one recent vote at the Board: to sustain the Mayor’s veto of a “fourplex” rezoning that was so badly watered down that it would have actually represented a step back relative to state law. Yet, President Walton supported the veto not because the legislation the Board had passed was useless, but instead because the mere possibility that it might enable some new housing went too far for him. We decline to endorse in District 10.
Prop B: Public Works Reorganization: No Position
It's déjà vu all over again. 2022’s Prop B would undo part of 2020’s Prop B, which SF YIMBY opposed. The 2020 measure created a Department of Sanitation and Streets, overseen by a new Sanitation and Streets Commission, and it also created a new Public Works Commission to oversee the existing Department of Public Works. In 2020, we said that these changes introduce “more complexity into San Francisco’s already byzantine bureaucracy” by adding “a new layer of senior level administrative positions and increas[ing] cost overhead without solving the root problems at the Public Works department.”
Two years later, it seems that many of the public officials who disagreed with us at the time have seen the light and have buyer’s remorse for their blunder in 2020. Sadly, their proposed fix, 2022’s proposition of the same letter, is a mixed bag that does not fully correct the mistake. While this measure will lead to cost-savings by re-consolidating two city departments, it also keeps the two commissions intact, sustaining the bureaucratic bloat spawned by its predecessor. YIMBYs believe in fixing incentives, and San Francisco’s massive number of commissions are a motherlode of bad incentives. They create diffuse accountability and get in the way of effective and efficient policy making. Given that Prop B the Younger does undo some of the bad aspects of Prop B the Elder, but still maintains an excess commission, SF YIMBY does not have a position on this measure.
Prop C: Homelessness Oversight Commission: No
Every San Franciscan wants a transformation when it comes to our homelessness crisis. Sadly, one more commission will not bring that transformation. To the contrary, its primary effect will be to slow down the already glacial pace of spending on homelessness and supportive housing by bogging it down in even more hearings and with even more bureaucratic overhead. And like the rest of our commissions on the rest of our crises, this one would spread accountability for The City’s manifold policy failures on homelessness across even more officials, making it harder for the rest of us to hold someone accountable for the humanitarian crisis in our community.
San Francisco can transform our homelessness crisis by building more homes: more homes specifically targeted at low-income people; more homes in places where rents are highest; more homes with wraparound services; more homes faster; and more homes overall. We won’t fix anything with one more commission overseeing the same amount of money spent on the same number of homes.
Prop D: Affordable Homes Now: Yes
Affordable Homes Now is a pro-housing measure to fast-track the building of new affordable homes. Supported by housing advocates and unions, the measure creates a practical process to streamline and accelerate housing construction and removes the Board of Supervisors and petty politics from decision-making. It requires projects to be approved within 3 - 6 months, and it provides prevailing wages for all construction workers, ensuring they receive fair pay and benefits for their work. It was put on the ballot by voters in a coalition led by SF YIMBY and other pro-housing organizations. Read more at AffordableHomesNow.org.
Prop E: Affordable Housing Production Act: No
Prop E is a dishonest attempt by the anti-housing Supervisors to confuse voters. The housing shortage is driving people into poverty and out of our city, so housing activists and Mayor Breed spearheaded Prop D to build badly-needed affordable housing. In response, Prop E was put on the ballot with the explicit goal to maintain the status quo and block permit streamlining. Prop E requires extra hearings for affordable housing dollars spent by the City, which will invite NIMBYs to delay low-income housing projects with endless hearings and lawsuits, driving up costs. San Franciscans who want more housing have an easy choice: Vote for Prop D, the real pro-housing bill, and vote against Prop E.
Prop H: City Elections in Even-Numbered Years: Yes
Prop H does two things related to elections. First and foremost, it consolidates odd-year elections for the offices of Mayor, Sheriff, District Attorney, City Attorney, and Treasurer to even-year races, eliminating races like the ones we had in 2019 and are scheduled to have in 2023. It also amends the signature threshold for most ballot props, which is based on 5% of people who voted in those odd-year elections, with a figure based on 2% of total registered voters. That part is a negligible change which will actually slightly raise the threshold.
The measure itself is estimated to save San Francisco approximately $6.9 million for the next election with continued savings going forward. This is a good governance measure to move elections for local offices to even-numbered years, when turnout is historically higher. One of the primary arguments against it is that voters already have too much to vote on, and will not pay attention to down ballot races when voting for President or Congress. However, even accounting for the fact that some voters only show up for big ticket races, since 2007, turnout has been almost 40 percentage points higher in even-year Presidential contests versus odd-year Mayoral contests.
While Prop H does pose some challenges for the City’s bonding schedule, which relies on the high volume of elections we typically have, the other pluses are obvious. This is a good measure and deserves our support.
Prop I: Vehicles on JFK Drive and the Great Highway: No
SF YIMBY supports building sustainable, efficient transportation infrastructure to go with more housing, so that people can get around easily without needing expensive and bulky cars and parking. When we are trying to move forward on transit and livability, Prop I would be a step backwards.
Prop I is bad for our parks, our wallets, and our city. It will shut down two brand new parks created through a community process: the weekend-only Great Highway Park, and JFK Promenade in Golden Gate Park. Both parks have been enjoyed by hundreds of citizens and families, and will instead be taken over by cars.
Prop I would force the city to spend $80 million dollars on an obsolete road that is already scheduled to close next year due to coastal erosion and crumbling, century-old infrastructure. It’s a power grab by one wealthy person who doesn’t think the community should be able to create new parks. Please vote no on this disastrous measure.
Prop J: Recreational Use of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park: Yes
It was a hard-fought battle a few months ago when transit advocates and others lobbied the Board of Supervisors to finally acquiesce to community demand (and common sense in a City that purports to care about climate change) to close a 1.5 mile stretch of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park to cars. Unfortunately, the war isn’t over, as Prop I exists, and because of San Francisco’s citizen referendum processes, we need a complimentary-letter proposition to oppose it. Prop J would confirm the April decision by the Supervisors and keep this stretch closed to cars.
JFK Promenade provides a safe east-west corridor to travel by foot or by bike, socialize, and play: it is used by 14,000 people walking, biking, and rolling on an average day. The city added 29 new disabled parking spaces and a new park shuttle to ensure everyone can access Golden Gate Park (in addition, there are over 5,000 parking spaces in the park itself). Prior to the pandemic, JFK was among the top 13% of SF’s most dangerous streets; thanks to its closure, it’s now a quiet stretch for cyclists, pedestrians, and others to enjoy one of the country’s most beautiful urban parks.
JFK Promenade is a place to maintain health, attend a festive gathering, and let kids play — or safely learn how to ride a bike or roller skate for the first time. Prop J will maintain this space, and we urge you to vote yes.
Prop L: Sales Tax for Transportation Projects: Yes
Housing and transit go hand-in-hand in creating vibrant, environmentally sustainable cities. A thriving and livable city with abundant housing needs efficient, high-quality transportation. Prop L provides critical funding to Muni, BART, and Caltrain, so we can build a future with speedy and reliable public transportation for all San Franciscans. Prop L funds complete streets to promote walking, biking, and transit. It will also save lives by funding pedestrian safety improvements for seniors and children crossing the street.
Additionally, Prop L reauthorizes an existing measure and does not raise taxes. We urge you to vote yes on Prop L to support continued investment in transit and safe streets in our city.
Prop M: Tax on Keeping Residential Units Vacant: Yes
SF YIMBY is endorsing yes on this measure, mostly as a means to move on to other topics. While we are disappointed this is not an empty homes tax as advertised, as it exempts single family homes and duplexes, we agree that incentivizing the use of housing for people is a good thing. Existing evidence suggests this measure won’t have a large impact on housing more people in San Francisco, but that it also won’t hurt much. Although the campaign exclaims that 40,000 homes are empty in San Francisco, more than three quarters would be exempted. The Controller estimates that less than 8,000 homes would be taxed, generating a modest $20-30 million annually, or enough to build 100 affordable units a year.
Ultimately, we endorse a ‘Yes’ vote so that this issue can go away as a potential proposal from typically anti-development SF policymakers. In short: let’s move on to the real challenge of housing affordability, complying with the state’s housing goals and building 10,000 homes a year once this argument has been put to rest.
Prop N: Golden Gate Park Underground Parking Facility; Golden Gate Park Concourse Authority: Yes
Over the past two years the de Young and Cal Academy have persistently campaigned against JFK Promenade. Although most of their claims about the street closure are spurious, we should take seriously their equity concerns about the potential impact to access for disabled visitors and minority neighborhoods in the southeast of the city. The museums claim that preserving free parking on JFK Drive is required to allow access to those visitors who cannot take transit or cycle, and who cannot afford to use the parking garage located under the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park.
The parking garage is privately owned and operated and the city has no control over the rates, which are set so high that the garage sits empty most of the time. Parking should optimally be priced at a rate that is low enough that most of the spaces are occupied but not so low that parking is routinely unavailable. SFMTA has over a decade of experience fine-tuning the rates of on-street and off-street parking in order to achieve this availability goal through the SFPark program.
Prop N would allow SFMTA to take over ownership and operation of the parking garage and set the pricing at an optimized rate to allow more drivers to use it, but not for its overuse. It would also allow SFMTA to convert more of the general parking spaces to disabled spaces, improving access to the museums for people with disabilities.
While we don’t usually support making it easier to drive places, in this case we think that better utilizing the parking garage to serve people from minority neighborhoods and people with disabilities is an important step towards making JFK Promenade work for everyone. We urge you to vote yes on Prop N.