In the wake of the failed Prop G, Prop I is yet another hastily-conceived housing measure that, if passed, would put a severe financial strain on San Francisco home owners and laborers of all economic backgrounds. Subject to a public vote on November 3, Prop I would disable permits for market-rate housing construction in the Mission District for a year and a half. Along with that, middle-class construction jobs would disappear, affordable housing would be effectively shut down in the area, and home prices throughout the city would skyrocket to outrageous heights as new inventory would be dealt an 18-month deathblow.
The measure is not even a political one at this point, with both the San Francisco Democratic Party and San Francisco Republican Party standing in joint opposition. And along with a large public outcry, such noted figures as Mayor Lee and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein have also said no on Prop I. To outline just how financially devastating this measure could be to voters from all economic brackets and political persuasions, here are a few of Prop I’s most errant points:
Taxpayers and Home Buyers Could Eat Roughly $1 Billion in Money Lost to Developers
According the San Francisco Planning Department, Prop I would thwart the construction of roughly 1,500 new units—hundreds of which would be below typical market rates. Where this directly affects San Franciscans is in how the city’s already severe inventory shortage would be hit even harder, thus further escalating housing costs. More specifically, Prop I was introduced by a developing group that uses taxpayer-subsidized housing. What this means is that new homes built in the city for Prop I’s 18-month Mission moratorium would be funded by—you guessed it—taxpayer dollars.
Instead of developers pouring an estimated $1 billion into new construction, that same figure would be transferred to residents (and also prospective buyers, via a dauntingly inflated market). As the volunteer-based organization SF Moderates said in a recent voting guide concerning Prop I, “Stopping new housing is the worst thing the City can do given our housing crisis—it will create increase [sic] housing prices by reducing supply, create incentives for evictions and displacement (as people who would have chosen new construction instead go after existing housing) and reduce creation of affordable housing.”
Much of San Francisco’s Middle-Class Workforce Left Jobless
While tech millionaires may still be able to exist comfortably in a city where the average home rises above the $2 million mark, Prop I’s negation of 1,500 new units would threaten or altogether nullify the livelihood of many of the city’s construction workers. There’s a reason why several labor unions, the Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth, and the San Francisco Committee on Jobs are all against Prop I—the measure would strip construction workers, pipefitters, plumbers and home repairers of jobs on 1,500 units over that 18-month period. Where the ill-conceived Prop G at least had some noble aspirations in trying to keep housing affordable, Prop I would bluntly and remorselessly rob the working class of both jobs and affordable homes.
Home Owners Experiencing Fire or Other Hazards Would Be Unable to Repair Damages
Prop I’s hastiness and lack of foresight can be most easily seen through one glaring error. Because the measure would put a moratorium on all construction in the Mission, home owners hit by natural disasters like fire, earthquake or flood would be prohibited from fixing damages to their homes. Prop I would essentially require such home owners to pay both property tax—and rental fees on an undamaged unit—during the 18 month period that it was in effect.
For those who see new construction in San Francisco as an impediment to affordable housing, Prop I stands as living proof that no one would suffer more severely from a building moratorium than San Franciscans who need homes and jobs the most. When November 3 comes around, the decision as to whether fortune will be bestowed on an elite group of developers or the entire city is, fortunately, in the hands of the people.