YIMBY Action Stance on 650 Divisadero Street

San Francisco Board of Supervisors

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

San Francisco, CA 94102

April 2, 2017


Dear Supervisor,


I wanted to bring to your attention our deep concerns with today’s proposal to un-grandfather 650 Divisadero, Item 1 at Land use today (#151258 – Planning Code – Affordable Housing Requirement and Fee in Divisadero and Fillmore Neighborhood Commercial Transit Districts).

This is targeted at a project that was grandfathered in during the Prop C negotiations. To be blunt, what was the point of all those meetings if we never intended to keep up our end of the deal?

If the city does not negotiate in good faith and the rules are constantly changing, the only people we will have to blame for the high cost of housing will be ourselves.

Every time we make the process of entitlement less predictable, we are damaging housing production. Every time we change the rules in mid-stream, every time we re-re-re-negotiate, every time we add new hurdles to housing production, we make housing production riskier and we all lose.

I understand the urge to go back and raise the inclusionary rate on all housing, based on what the rate will be in the future. But if we continue to make the permitting process more and more unpredictable, we raise the cost of housing and risk losing future housing. An unpredictable permitting process guarantees that the market rate housing that is produced will only be at the highest end of the market, because lenders will require massive returns on their risky investment.

Please do not make the city go back on our word. Please do make every project in the pipeline vulnerable to this kind of randomness. While this developer may have the ability to negotiate over this particular project, the damage to our credibility as a city is significant. To ensure a steady production of housing, we need be consistent.

Our political debates shouldn’t make housing permitting such an erratic, unpredictable slog.

We are in the middle of debating how things will be going forward with Inclusionary Zoning. Please don’t waste time going back to renegotiate old projects. It damages housing production at a time when we are desperate to bring down rents.

I understand there is still debate over whether this is an “optional” program, but that only makes the city LESS predictable, not more. We cannot continue to have written and unwritten rules of housing. “Optional” programs are never that straightforward. In the end, it means only people who know how to work the system are able to get permits. Ultimately it encourages developers to try to influence politics.

If you want to get developers out of politics, take the politics out of development. 



Laura Clark

Executive Director