A YIMBY Action Endorsement Questionnaire. View all November 2018 Questionnaires.

Gordon Mar

Candidate - San Francisco District 4 Supervisor

How would you increase overall housing production? Give us a few policy ideas you think would be most impactful, making sure they are genuinely relevant to the position you hope to be elected to.

In my district, there is a lot of opportunity for infill development, particularly with accessory dwelling units and underutilized public land. I believe there are many homeowners who would like to build ADUs, but do not have the capital and knowledge to begin. There is also a perception and psychological barrier that ADU construction are massive and risky undertakings, which needs to be addressed. My housing platform would tackle all parts of the issue: expanding financing options, streamlining processes, and educational outreach to reach those particular single family homeowners.

How would you increase Affordable Housing production? Would you support bonds (such as the $4 billion dollar bond on the CA November Ballot) or increased taxes, and in what amounts?

See question 1. I am looking into opportunities to development underutilized public land for 100% affordable housing for low and middle-income families with children. In addition to constructing large multi-unit developments with affordable housing units, we need to focus on infill within the built environment, and making sure homeowners have the right incentives to build affordable housing production on their lot. I support the housing bond measure and would considering supporting non-regressive tax increases.

Do you support legalizing multifamily buildings or “upzoning” single family home only neighborhoods, such as the west side of San Francisco or ? What do you think is appropriate for currently zoned low-density neighborhoods, those with parcels limited to one or two units? Please be specific and use examples relevant to your area.

I would support a pathway to legalizing multifamily buildings. While upzoning is an option which I would consider with enough resident support, we need to also focus on making sure residents on the west side have the opportunity to develop up to what current zoning allows for.

Did you or would you support Senator Scott Wiener’s bill SB 827 to eliminate density restrictions and upzone residential areas near transit, in its latest drafted iteration or with minor amendments? The bill would have allowed four to five story multifamily buildings within a half-mile of transit stops, and a right to return for displaced tenants. Would you pursue implementing a local version of a transit-oriented upzoning in your city or town?

I support the concept of increased density near transit corridors, but oppose the framework and means SB827 offered for achieving it. My opposition to SB827 is for four reasons:

1) Increased height and density is the best leverage we have to negotiate with developers for increased affordability requirements and community benefits. Granting height increases without asking for anything in return is a giveaway to developers.

2) Increasing housing density without taking into account infrastructure, open space, grocery stores and local businesses, or any of the other things residents need to live besides a home its short sighted. Land-use decisions should plan for complete communities, not residences alone, which is why I would pursue a Sunset Area Plan.

3) Communities should have a direct say in the decisions that impact them, and what’s right for LA or Sacramento may not be right for San Francisco or the Sunset. I support local control for land use decisions.

4) Tying residential zoning to public transit infrastructure would effectively disincentivize public transit investments from the very municipalities that should be investing in it. Suburban areas and the exurban sprawl, where residents don’t want to see denser housing, would likely avoid investing in public transportation to avoid the zoning changes tied to it.

Do you think every neighborhood should build multifamily subsidized Affordable Housing, and if so how do you plan on accomplishing that?

Yes, we need to work with non-profit affordable housing developers and secure funding from both the public and private sector for these projects. I’ve identified four underutilized SFUSD-owned sites in my district I would like to see developed into multifamily subsidized affordable housing, specifically for families with children enrolled in SFUSD schools.

By-right development grants automatic approval to zoning- and building code-compliant housing projects (both Affordable and market-rate), removing review of those projects by local commissions like the Planning Commission. It does not apply to any projects seeking variances from existing city law. Yes or no, do you support by-right development? Please be specific.

No, though I support streamlining development post-entitlement.

How would you streamline the housing permitting process in your city or county? Describe some pre- and post-entitlement changes you would make.

I think the entitlement process is valuable for gaining community input on decisions that directly affect them. I do support streamlining development post-entitlement.

What is your philosophy on inclusionary zoning, which mandates that market-rate housing pay for a certain percentage of lower-income units? Do you believe there is an inclusionary percentage that will create less overall housing and less low-income housing, ie that we can kill the golden goose with rates like 50% inclusionary?

I support inclusionary zoning, and would negotiate with developers to have the highest inclusionary rates possible on a per-project basis, based on what pencils out for each project. Inclusionary zoning addresses a failure of the private market to produce affordable housing, and is only one part of building affordable housing. I would also like to focus on identifying and increasing local publics funds to replace housing funds traditionally provided at the federal level in order to build publicly subsidized housing.

What do you think about the idea of a jobs-housing balance? For example, San Francisco’s Central SoMa Plan? The area plan adds 40,000 jobs and 7,000 housing units, and is likely to be passed by the the Board of Supervisors without accompanying housing. Do you think San Francisco should have an “act two” for this plan and zone for more housing, and if so where? Generally, do you think we should build housing to accommodate a growing economy?

It is crucial to consider jobs-housing balance when planning for the City. As part of my work at Jobs with Justice San Francisco, I am pushing for robust local hire requirements for jobs created by the Central SoMa Plan , with particular focus on creating career pathways for marginalized communities—formerly incarcerated, disadvantaged, and trans and gender-nonconforming San Franciscans. We want people who already live here to benefit from the jobs created here, which will help reduce the Central SoMA Plan’s impact on the housing crisis.

Currently, many governing boards will follow the wishes of a district official on housing in their district, even if other officials disagree. Would you follow this tradition? For instance, would you adhere to the informal custom at the Board of Supervisors to give “supervisorial prerogative” to district supervisors when deciding on housing projects in their districts? Do you think officials should be able reject housing in their districts?

I support supervisorial prerogative because it speaks to the core value of district elections: that communities and neighborhoods should have a voice in the decisions that directly impact them. If elected, I’ll be elected to represent the constituents of my district, their views, and their values; and yes, representing those views will absolutely be my prerogative.

How would you strengthen tenant protections? Give us a few policy ideas you think would be most impactful. Feel free to explore issues such as Right to Civil Counsel, your position on Costa Hawkins, etc.

I support enhancing resources for tenant protections, including funding legal services, and supported Prop F. We also need to increase awareness to tenants about their rights and landlords about their obligations through educational campaigns. I support Proposition 10 because I support local control; I have not committed to support any specific expansions of rent control.

Do you support a vacancy tax for empty units and/or undeveloped parcels? Cities like Paris and Vancouver collect vacancy taxes on homes that are not the primary residences of their owners in an attempt to encourage use of those units. Other municipalities are exploring taxes on vacant parcels to encourage development. What are your thoughts?

We need to encourage landlords to not leave units vacant using different public mechanisms. I would like to explore options for vacancy controls.

Do you support the repeal or reform of Proposition 13? Prop. 13 is a state law that caps property taxes at 1% of their assessed value at purchase. The law allows only property tax reassessment increases up to 2% per year or allows reassessment if the property changes ownership by being sold (but not inherited). The law also requires state and local tax increases to be approved by a two-thirds majority. Please speak about your position on both commercial and residential Prop 13.

I support reform of commercial property tax rates, closing the commercial property tax loophole under Prop 13 and requiring all commercial and industrial properties to be assessed at fair market value.

What is your opinion on street tent encampments and people living in vehicles? Do you support enforcement action against unhoused people living in tents, RVs and cars? Give us some alternative policies you think would be most impactful in addressing homelessness.

We need to better address the root causes of encampments and living in vehicles. Many people were renting in San Francisco before becoming houseless. We need to prevent displacement, rehab and rent out vacant SROs, and build more affordable housing. Funds to address homelessness should include supportive services and pathways to permanent affordable housing. Enforcement actions sometimes make it more difficult for neighbors to exit homelessness and are costly for the City.

What local and regional transit or other multimodal initiatives would you propose? Give us ideas of new transit lines, fare integration, bike lanes, infrastructure upgrades, etc. How can we expedite these policies and move away from car dependency?

We need to incentivize people to choose public transit over private cars. Cost is one prohibitive factor. SFMTA already has a Lifeline pass for low-income adults, yet it is underutilized and I would like to see how we can improve that program to get more people on it. I also would like to expand Free Muni to all college students in San Francisco. As more people feel a sense of ownership to public transit and space, we could see greater support for human-centered, multimodal initiatives.

Is there anything else you would like the membership to know about you or your positions?

I’ve spent the last three decades building coalitions, often between groups with strong differences of opinion, position, or ideology, to enact real, substantive change. I think this level of experience is the single greatest strength I’ll bring with me to City Hall. I’m not running to be a partisan idealogue, I’m running to represent my district and work across differences to enact just policies and better people’s lives. I’m a lifelong, committed environmentalist, I’m a strong proponent of expanding and improving public transit, and I’m a believer in building more housing across income levels, especially low and middle income housing for families.

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