Proposition A — Affordable Housing Bonds

See our March 2024 SF Election Guide for a nonpartisan analysis of measures and contests on the ballot in San Francisco for the election occurring March 5, 2024. Voters will consider the following proposition in that election.

Proposition A would allow San Francisco to borrow up to $300 million by issuing general obligation bonds. The city would use up to $240 million to build, buy or rehabilitate rental housing, including senior housing and workforce housing for low-income households.

“Housing affordability is one of the most pressing challenges in San Francisco today,” wrote Mayor London Breed in an official statement supporting the measure. “Wages have not kept up with the cost of housing and we are at risk of losing the diverse community of firefighters, teachers, nurses, veterans, families, and seniors who make San Francisco a special place to live.”

The city would also use up to $30 million to buy or rehabilitate existing units for use as affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households, and up to $30 million to buy, build or rehabilitate housing for people experiencing street violence, domestic violence, sexual abuse and assault, human trafficking or other trauma relating to homelessness.

San Francisco’s policy is to control the amount of money it borrows by issuing new bonds only when existing ones are paid off. The city could increase property taxes to help pay off the new bonds, and landlords would be allowed to pass through to tenants up to 50% of the cost of any increase in taxes related to the bonds.

The controller’s office estimates that it would cost San Francisco $544.5 million to cover the principal and interest that the city would owe on $300 million in bonds. The office estimates that, on the high side, the cost to a homeowner with a residence assessed at $700,000 would be an additional $55 in property taxes annually.

All 11 members of the Board of Supervisors sponsored the measure and voted to place it on the ballot.

Proposition A proponents say the city needs money to meet state requirements and local goals for producing and preserving more affordable housing.

In 2022, median monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco was $3,800, requiring an annual household income of $137,000 — which fewer than 40% of households took in that year — to be considered affordable, according to research compiled for the San Francisco Housing Element, which the city uses to guide housing strategy.

California set a requirement for San Francisco to add 46,598 units for households ranging from very low to moderate income by 2031. The city can build the housing or facilitate development by other entities, including private developers and nonprofit organizations.

The city expects to use up funds from housing bonds issued in 2015 and 2019 by 2028. The text of Proposition A notes the city’s difficulty in securing funding to meet its housing goals: “The economic environment for affordable housing has changed significantly in recent years, with state affordable housing funding programs becoming more competitive and severely oversubscribed, including the state’s allocation of volume cap for tax-exempt housing revenue bonds.”

A broad coalition joined Breed in signing the official statement supporting Proposition A, including Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee, the San Francisco Labor Council, the Council of Community Housing Organizations, the San Francisco Council of District Merchants Associations, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, Senior and Disability Action, United Educators of San Francisco, the San Francisco Women’s Political Committee and Mission Housing Development Corp.

Additional organizations submitted paid arguments in favor of the measure, including the Council of Community Housing Organizations, the Bill Sorro Housing Program, the Chinatown Community Development Center, the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council, Mercy Housing California, Mission Housing Development Corp., the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, the Richmond District Democratic Club, the San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund, the San Francisco Housing Development Corp., the San Francisco Human Services Network and the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp.

Larry Marso submitted the official statement opposing the measure: “The Mayor and Board of Supervisors have embraced insane state mandates to build 82,000 new San Francisco homes over 5 years. Their plan changes the character of every neighborhood, buldozes [sic] the West Side, and brings poverty, drugs, crime and homelessness to a street corner near you.”

In his rebuttal to the proponents’ supporting statement, Marso, a Nob Hill resident, technology executive, attorney and mergers and acquisitions advisor, added that San Francisco should fight state affordable housing construction mandates.

The Citizens’ General Obligation Bond Oversight Committee would oversee and audit spending of the bond funds to ensure that they are used as intended.

This measure requires at least two-thirds affirmative votes to pass.

A “yes” vote means you want the city to issue $300 million in general obligation bonds to construct, develop, acquire or rehabilitate affordable housing in San Francisco.

A “no” vote means you do not want the city to issue $300 million in general obligation bonds to fund affordable housing.

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