Jeff SheehyYIMBY Action Questionnaire
1. Do you support YIMBY Action's ballot measure to streamline zoning-compliant affordable and teacher housing in San Francisco?
I strongly support it and my office was working with the City Attorney to try to draft a version that could be passed by the Board. I look forward to working to support a version, with provisions for prevailing wage, getting on the ballot and being passed in November, 2018.
2. Do you support State Senator Scott Wiener's new transit-oriented housing bill, SB 827? Be specific about any amendments you think it needs.
I strongly support the concept of streamlining housing around transit hubs. However, I do think it needs amending to exempt charter cities. As I understand the legislation, all of San Francisco would fall under this legislation.
3. How many units of housing do you believe San Francisco should add over the next 10 years? Do you plan to continue Mayor Ed Lee's commitment to add 5,000 units per year?
Taking the last question first, I am firmly committed to continuing to build 5,000 units a year. Taking the first question, rather than a number, my metric would be based on affordability. At a minimum, when my 13 year old daughter graduates college, she and her friends should be able to afford to live here—i.e., we should build as much as we can as fast as we can until we see prices drop to a point that middle income individuals and families can afford to both rent units and also buy a home. Ideally, one would like to see enough built so that housing is affordable for low income individuals and families as well. However, for the near term, both low and middle-income housing needs direct investment by the City. That’s why I helped place on the ballot the $1 billion, 10 year, “Housing for All” measure that provides $350 million over that span for middle income housing and $450 million over that span to address our homeless crisis.
4. How do you think inclusionary housing percentages should be calculated in San Francisco? Be specific about how you think about the costs and benefits of this policy.
I voted for our inclusionary housing measure that passed last year. Those percentages, just below 20% (set to rise in small increments) with just under half of that for middle-income housing, were set by the Board of Supervisors. I thought that was a great process, with the advantage that those rates can be shifted. The key factor, from my point of view, must be based on the market. If we set the rate too high and development slows or stops, then we are just making the housing crisis worse.
The cost of this policy is the discouragement of new development. Today, with the strength of the housing market, the inclusionary requirement should not hinder development, but we have to watch what’s happening carefully and be prepared to relax those if housing is not being built.
The benefit is that units for people with income levels who are currently priced out of the market are being built. Another benefit is that low-income and middle-income housing units are being built without requiring investment from the City.
As I stated above, while this helps, more needs to be done to create middle-income housing, hence the “Housing for All” measure.
5. Do you support market-rate home construction in your district? What do you think the construction of market-rate housing accomplishes?
I support private development in my District. Market-rate housing increases the supply of housing along with providing housing for people. Ultimately, if we allow the construction of sufficient market-rate housing, prices will drop and more people will be able to afford housing (Econ 101, law of supply and demand). I do think that we will need to incentivize, via inclusionary housing requirements, the density bonus, and now Senator Wiener’s transit rich bonus and subsidize via housing bonds and “Housing for All” if we are going to begin to meet current demand at all income levels.
6. If market-rate projects are opposed in your district, how will you interact with developers and project opponents to reach a deal?
New developments will conform with inclusionary and density bonus, so 100% market-rate projects are unlikely. Nevertheless, I support creating new housing. Period. I will be happy to negotiate with any reasonable opponent to save time and expense.
7. Do you support upzoning in San Francisco, particularly on the westside and in single-family-home-only neighborhoods? Where would you push for upzoning, and how?
In general, I support upzoning. I would push for upzoning along transit corridors. For upzoning efforts to be successful, transit must be expanded and enhanced on the westside and other parts of the City. Concerns about traffic and congestion are legitimate and if transportation is not expanded at the same time, then it becomes difficult.
8. How would you interact with supervisors who do not want housing in their district?
It is a challenge. As it stands, individual supervisors are greatly supported, via collegial deference, in having almost absolute say over planning decisions in their districts. I do encourage my colleagues to be pro-housing, but this issue tends to be the greatest divide at the Board.
9. Do you support a by-right process for zoning-compliant housing developments in San Francisco, including market-rate housing? If not, be specific about how you would expedite housing construction in the city.
I support by-right for affordable and teacher housing. I am interested to see if Mayor Lee’s effort to streamline housing approvals across all departments will have a measurable impact.
10. How do you think San Francisco can work with the rest of the Bay Area to address regional housing needs?
We need to encourage other jurisdictions to build more housing. But I also think we need to look at City holdings around the region and develop appropriate properties as housing. BART need to be supported in expanding development and increasing density around their stations.