Proposition K — November 2020

From the San Francisco November 2020 Nonpartisan Voter Guide.

This measure is an attempt to allow the city to create low-rent housing units. While the city manages several types of affordable housing, this measure would allow the city to own and build the units rather than depend on nonprofits or private developers, who are obligated to contribute to below-market-rent housing in the city. The concept is known as social housing.

The reason it needs to go to the voters is an article in the California Constitution from 1950 that housing advocates and public officials have described as racist because it bars communities from constructing low-rent housing without voter approval and was backed by segregationists.

Urbanist think tank SPUR notes that this article has “delayed low-income housing development across the state and weakened efforts to integrate some of the most exclusive suburban communities.”

If approved by voters, the measure would authorize the city to build, buy or rehabilitate 10,000 units of this kind of housing, but proponents say the city would start with a pilot program. Listen to a proponent of Proposition K expand on the history of the restriction of affordable housing and the idea behind the pilot program.

On a recent episode of “Civic,” Laksh Bhasin, co-author of Proposition K, explains the details of the proposal, its scope and how it would be funded: