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A YIMBY Action Endorsement Questionnaire. View all November 2018 Questionnaires.

Adam Kim

Candidate - San Francisco District 4 Supervisor

How would you increase overall housing production? Give us a few policy ideas you think would be most impactful, making sure they are genuinely relevant to the position you hope to be elected to.

I would focus on increasing production on below market rate housing. We should increase the minimum percentage of low-income units on new housing developments, preferably in-fill to avoid evicting existing tenants, while bonuses would go to those with at least 50% below market rate. I would also push to levy taxes on units left empty for the majority of the year to encourage owners to put these units back on the rental market.

How would you increase Affordable Housing production? Would you support bonds (such as the $4 billion dollar bond on the CA November Ballot) or increased taxes, and in what amounts?

In addition to increasing the mandated affordable housing for new developments as described above, I support the push for reestablishing public housing for the very-low income and working classes. While I don’t support bonds in general due to their regressive nature, I can get behind some of them for a sufficiently urgent or progressive cause, such as June’s Proposition A backed by clean energy. I’m much more supportive of increased taxes on corporations’ gross receipts, like the Our City Our Home ballot initiative, or parcel taxes based on floor space, with exceptions for lower-income residents.

Do you support legalizing multifamily buildings or “upzoning” single family home only neighborhoods, such as the west side of San Francisco or ? What do you think is appropriate for currently zoned low-density neighborhoods, those with parcels limited to one or two units? Please be specific and use examples relevant to your area.

I do not support blanket upzoning at a legislative level too high to pay close attention to local concerns. I would support site- or block-specific upzoning – with community input – to add to affordable housing stock. In a neighborhood as dependent on cars as the Outer Sunset, I would take interest in sites already slated for redevelopment and zone them for mixed use to encourage walkable communities complete with affordable housing, grocery markets, child care, public transit, and other basic services.

Did you or would you support Senator Scott Wiener’s bill SB 827 to eliminate density restrictions and upzone residential areas near transit, in its latest drafted iteration or with minor amendments? The bill would have allowed four to five story multifamily buildings within a half-mile of transit stops, and a right to return for displaced tenants. Would you pursue implementing a local version of a transit-oriented upzoning in your city or town?

I do not support SB 827 or similar blanket legislation. A half-mile radius of the N Judah and L Taraval lines would cover nearly all of the Sunset district and would leave almost no tenant undisplaced. Redevelopment would also void all displaced tenants’ rent control, effectively pricing them out, nullifying the right-to-return clause and allowing real estate interests free reign to profit at communities’ costs.

Do you think every neighborhood should build multifamily subsidized Affordable Housing, and if so how do you plan on accomplishing that?

I think multifamily subsidized affordable housing would be great to have in every neighborhood. In fact, subsidizing wouldn’t even be necessary if it were public housing. There was a recent attempt at multifamily public housing complete with community areas and child care services through a ballot measure, SF Community Housing Act, which didn’t qualify for this November’s ballot, but which I support and collected signatures for.

By-right development grants automatic approval to zoning- and building code-compliant housing projects (both Affordable and market-rate), removing review of those projects by local commissions like the Planning Commission. It does not apply to any projects seeking variances from existing city law. Yes or no, do you support by-right development? Please be specific.

No. I believe this removes community input from the process and bypasses local labor union and environmental regulations. In some cases, it can also undercut the local jurisdiction’s greater affordable housing requirement. Overall, this would increase the wealth gap more than it would benefit those who would qualify for affordable housing.

How would you streamline the housing permitting process in your city or county? Describe some pre- and post-entitlement changes you would make.

As some members of the Board of Supervisors put it, “bureaucratic foot-dragging” is the cause of the permitting process slowdown. I would push the agencies involved in the pre- and post-entitlement processes to prioritize projects that have the highest proportion of affordable housing. The suggestion for the agencies to appoint managers dedicated to moving affordable housing forward is also worth exploring.

What is your philosophy on inclusionary zoning, which mandates that market-rate housing pay for a certain percentage of lower-income units? Do you believe there is an inclusionary percentage that will create less overall housing and less low-income housing, ie that we can kill the golden goose with rates like 50% inclusionary?

I’m a supporter of inclusionary zoning to curb the amount of the limited real estate in our city going into market rate housing when there’s a severe affordable housing shortage. I don’t believe it’s the solution to creating affordable housing – we’ll likely need a combination of efforts, including public housing, to come closer to our goals – but it prevents corporate interests from monopolizing the housing supply.

What do you think about the idea of a jobs-housing balance? For example, San Francisco’s Central SoMa Plan? The area plan adds 40,000 jobs and 7,000 housing units, and is likely to be passed by the the Board of Supervisors without accompanying housing. Do you think San Francisco should have an “act two” for this plan and zone for more housing, and if so where? Generally, do you think we should build housing to accommodate a growing economy?

I agree that we need a balance, and the corporate- and tech-friendly policies of the city have heavily skewed that balance toward employment – particularly of non-local residents – without a corresponding increase in transit infrastructure or housing to compensate. I do believe this is a core issue of the Central SoMa Plan, and I would like to heavily amend it to zone for a much higher residential-to-office ratio. I don’t believe the solution to overdeveloping for offices is an “act two” to overdevelop for housing.

Currently, many governing boards will follow the wishes of a district official on housing in their district, even if other officials disagree. Would you follow this tradition? For instance, would you adhere to the informal custom at the Board of Supervisors to give “supervisorial prerogative” to district supervisors when deciding on housing projects in their districts? Do you think officials should be able reject housing in their districts?

Supervisorial prerogative should be used to defer to a supervisor acting in the best interests of their constituents, but too often it’s been used as an excuse. I believe other officials should take the district official’s input under special advisement as the representative elected by the people of that district, but the judgment should remain their own.

How would you strengthen tenant protections? Give us a few policy ideas you think would be most impactful. Feel free to explore issues such as Right to Civil Counsel, your position on Costa Hawkins, etc.

I am fully supportive of June’s Proposition F for publicly provided legal representation for tenants facing eviction, as well as the upcoming Proposition 10 on the November ballot to repeal Costa-Hawkins. We should also close the loopholes in San Francisco’s Ellis Act implementation that allow landlords to evict tenants unfairly but legally for profit. There is also proposed legislation to make increases in rent above market rate illegal, which I would also support.

Do you support a vacancy tax for empty units and/or undeveloped parcels? Cities like Paris and Vancouver collect vacancy taxes on homes that are not the primary residences of their owners in an attempt to encourage use of those units. Other municipalities are exploring taxes on vacant parcels to encourage development. What are your thoughts?

I am fully supportive of vacancy taxes. A high enough vacancy tax is a strong incentive for a property owner to put units back on the market, and if the tax is paid instead, that revenue can go toward the creation of affordable housing and/or homeless care.

Do you support the repeal or reform of Proposition 13? Prop. 13 is a state law that caps property taxes at 1% of their assessed value at purchase. The law allows only property tax reassessment increases up to 2% per year or allows reassessment if the property changes ownership by being sold (but not inherited). The law also requires state and local tax increases to be approved by a two-thirds majority. Please speak about your position on both commercial and residential Prop 13.

Many progressive think tanks support a partial repeal of Prop 13 to uncap commercial property tax but keep residential property tax capped. I would support this. I would also support a complete repeal of Prop 13. But my ideal reform for Prop 13 would be to remove the cap for any property owner, residential or commercial, with income or revenue above a certain threshold, for instance 500% AMI. This will bring in state and local revenue from what is likely to be the most expensive properties and from property owners most able to afford it. This would also protect most homeowners and many small businesses.

What is your opinion on street tent encampments and people living in vehicles? Do you support enforcement action against unhoused people living in tents, RVs and cars? Give us some alternative policies you think would be most impactful in addressing homelessness.

I am opposed to the criminalization of homelessness, and I do not support enforcement of such laws. We should be expanding the number of beds and caretakers available to the homeless, and training peace officers to represent community leadership by assisting the homeless to such available services. The Our City Our Home ballot initiative this November will accomplish some of the additional beds, space, and resources for shelters and navigation centers that we need, and therefore I support the measure.

What local and regional transit or other multimodal initiatives would you propose? Give us ideas of new transit lines, fare integration, bike lanes, infrastructure upgrades, etc. How can we expedite these policies and move away from car dependency?

I support increased implementation of complete streets, with clearly delineated lanes and signaling for bikes, cars, and pedestrians, on major thoroughfares, with traffic calming measures on smaller residential streets. I also support the feasibility study of a full subway M Ocean View line. A major cause of Muni Metro slowdown is that the Market Street subway operates at half capacity due to the need to accommodate smaller trains for street-level operation. I would like to see a future proof infrastructure where Muni can run on time independent of whatever car traffic conditions are.

Is there anything else you would like the membership to know about you or your positions?

I encourage density if it can be done without displacement, however temporary, without conceding to the corporate desire for profits from market rate housing, and if it can be done by environmental sound means. I’m surprised that with all the interest in density that more attention hasn’t been paid to models in other countries, such as Tokyo, where huge shopping complexes are built into every major subway hub, with significant floor space situated underground. We may have only 47 square miles to utilize, but building up is not our only avenue of expansion.

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