Proposition K Would Authorize, but Not Pay for, Affordable Housing

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Under Article 34 of the state Constitution, voters must approve low-income housing developments before they can be built. Proposition K, authored by District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston, would authorize “the City and County of San Francisco to own, develop, construct, acquire, or rehabilitate up to 10,000 affordable rental units in the City…”  

The measure, which passes with simple-majority vote, doesn’t provide any funding for housing.

There are almost 400,000 housing units in San Francisco, roughly 34,000 of which’re designated as affordable by government-imposed deed restrictions. If Proposition K passes, a pilot program will be launched to foster the creation of up to 10,000 additional low-rent units, priced for San Franciscans earning below 80 percent of the City’s median income. 

Article 34 only applies to low-income housing, excluding new construction or purchase of residences priced for middle or high-income Californians.

“Article 34 of the California Constitution is a racist stain in our state’s history, narrowly passed in 1950 with the backing of segregationists to block affordable housing and exclude Black tenants,” noted Preston in the proposition’s official argument. “Prop K is a step towards removing this racist legacy and authorizing the creation of up to 10,000 additional units of permanently affordable housing in San Francisco.” 

The measure is supported by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, San Francisco Democratic Party, Housing Rights Committee, and the Potrero Hill Democratic Club, among others.  It’s opposed by the Libertarian Party of San Francisco.  

According to Starchild, Libertarian Party chair, the party’s opposition is based on “a larger pattern of government interference that has created a housing shortage,” despite “taxpayer money spent annually to supposedly address the problem.” 

Starchild suggested other solutions to San Francisco housing crisis, such as eliminating zoning restrictions and “mak[ing] it legal and easy to subdivide a piece of property into smaller lots which could hold smaller, less expensive homes. Voters are often presented with a choice between higher taxes or reduced services; there are various other reforms that could help reduce the cost and increase the availability of housing in our community.”