SF supervisors overrule Mayor Breed, uphold restrictions on housing development in historic area

Thursday, March 28, 2024
SF supervisors overrule mayor, uphold housing development restrictions
In a historic vote, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors overturned Mayor Breed's veto of a controversial housing bill.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In a historic vote, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors overturned Mayor Breed's veto of a controversial housing bill.

"This is the first time that the board of supervisors overrode a veto, because it's so important. San Francisco is such a special place and it has grown for centuries, and it can continue to grow, but there is a right way to do it and there is a wrong way to do it. And demolishing our historic buildings that are really the pride of San Francisco, that has existed, since the gold rush is the wrong way to do it," said Aaron San Francisco Supervisor Peskin.

This veto is technically putting the brakes on the construction of high-rise developments along the northeast waterfront and in Jackson Square -- two historic areas in the city.

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It all started last summer when Supervisor Peskin worked with Mayor Breed and the Planning Department to re-zone that area to allow for new housing, but then state laws created what he called a loophole for developers to "supersize luxury towers."

"That would have allowed historic buildings in one of San Francisco's most special areas the largest collection of Gold Rush era buildings in Jackson Square to be demolished and replaced with 270-foot high luxury condo towers. The board of supervisors got it right," said Supervisor Peskin.

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin sponsored the new rules in response to a 200-foot-tall housing project proposed on Sansome Street.

Supporters of his legislation say this battle isn't about affordable housing.

"I don't think many neighborhoods in this city want to see towering skyscrapers with luxury condominiums," Supervisor Ahsha Safaí said during the meeting. "Yes, we need more density. Yes, we need more housing, but it has to be done in a respectful way."

Mayor Breed calls the Board's vote a setback on housing. In a statement she said in part: "I will not let this be the first step in a dangerous course correction back towards being a city of no. We will not move backward."

State Senator Scott Wiener said he was disappointed over the board's decision and called it anti-housing.

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"Anytime that you are reducing the amount of allowable housing, which is what this ordinance is doing, it's reducing the amount of housing that could be built. I think that is bad for housing policy. We are in a real disaster in terms of the cost of housing in San Francisco. It is pushing out middle class and working class people," said Senator Wiener.

San Francisco has approved 82,000 new homes by 2031. It's a goal that experts say will be hard to achieve.

"We don't build housing, and we don't building housing across vast stretches of the city. We build housing in the Tenderloin, we build it in SOMA, we build it in the Bay View, vast stretches of the west side Pacific Heights, the Marina. We don't build any housing and that has to change," said Randy Shaw, executive director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic.

This veto is a neighborhood issue that could translate into a political opportunity if Supervisor Peskin decides to run against Mayor Breed.

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Luz Pena: "You are also potentially going to run against her?"

Aaron Peskin: "Listen, if I run or I don't run, I will always stand up for good legislation that protects San Francisco's treasured history, and that it continues to allow us to be pro-housing and pro-neighborhood."

Mayor Breed also blames the current housing shortage to decades of what she called "bad policy decisions."

In a statement, Peskin responded to the veto, saying:

"...The Board of Supervisors proved that the City can be both pro-housing and pro-neighborhood. The Mayor's political and unprofessional veto of legislation that her Planning Director and Planning Commissioners recommended has been overridden by common sense."

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