Bill Would Replace Housing Lost to Redevelopment

Photo by Kimson Doan on Unsplash

Special to the Vanguard

Sacramento, CA – The Senate Housing Committee passed Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) Senate Bill 593, the San Francisco Replacement Housing Act. SB 593 will create a tax increment financing structure to replace 5,800 affordable homes lost during the 1950s-70s era of redevelopment or “urban renewal.” The bill passed 10-0 and heads next to the Senate Floor.

“Communities of color have been hit hardest by redevelopment and our housing crisis,” said Senator Wiener. “This bill is about opening the door to justice for them, and about helping our City meet its state-mandated housing goals. The innovative financing mechanism we’ve come up with will allow the City to finally make amends for a decades-old failure and add thousands of units of affordable housing.”

The period of redevelopment—also known as “urban renewal”—beginning in the 1950s in San Francisco led to widespread clearance, mass demolition, and relocation of communities, particularly lower income communities and communities of color like the Western Addition, SoMA, and Japantown.

Though the redevelopment agency was legally required to replace the units of affordable housing it destroyed, 5,842 units of low- and moderate-income housing were never replaced. In addition, the affordability restrictions for some of the replacement housing units that were constructed have expired, or are in danger of expiring. These units may need additional assistance to ensure that the properties continue to provide affordable housing.

The City has set a state-mandated obligation to produce over 46,000 units for very low-, low- and moderate-income households in the next 8 years, and these units are critical to helping the City meet that goal.

SB 593 will allow the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City and County of San Francisco to replace all of the housing units demolished prior to 1976, as well as preserve affordability of the replacement housing built in the 1970s. Specifically, it will:

  • Create a limited funding source through the use of property tax revenues (former tax increment) to fulfill the replacement housing obligations using only the City and County of San Francisco’s share of property tax revenues that remain after all pre-existing commitments are funded;
  • Allow the Successor Agency to bond against property tax revenues exclusively for the purpose of fulfilling the replacement housing obligations subject to the same strict standards and procedures for review and approval by the oversight board and the State Department of Finance as other bonds under dissolution law;
  • Dedicate the revenues to the development of affordable housing within the City and County of San Francisco for households that earn up to 120% Area Median Income (AMI);
  • Extend tax increment authority for affordable housing purposes while protecting school revenues from property taxes and not placing the State’s general fund at risk from a reduction in school funding;
  • Limit revenues to the amount necessary to fund the fulfillment of the identified, documented, and certified replacement housing obligations; and
  • Require compliance with the standards under Redevelopment Dissolution Law for review and approval of bond issuance by the oversight board and Department of Finance.

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2 Comments

  1. Walter Shwe

    I support this needed legislation especially since it will benefit the people that often are in greatest need of safe and affordable housing in San Francisco.

  2. Ron Oertel

    I find the wording regarding the source of this tax revenue confusing.

    Where exactly is the money coming from, and what are the impacts of redirecting it to this program? And would it actually result in housing being built, in a city that experienced an enormous increase in costs of construction, since that housing was demolished by the redevelopment agency?

    I also find it amusing that they’re “just now” (some 50 years after demolishing the housing) talking about “replacing it”.  Are there still “vacant lots” where the housing used to be? (I don’t think so.)

    The people impacted left San Francisco a long, long time ago.  Perhaps went to places like Richmond, Stockton, Pittsburg (California), Antioch, etc.

    Some day, I still plan on watching “The Last Black Man in San Francisco”, as I’ve heard it’s a pretty good movie (documentary?).

    Though truth be told, San Francisco is heading downhill almost fast enough where it might be almost “cheap” enough for normal people to move there, again. That is, if you don’t mind moving to a declining city, with all that entails. Still has a way to go before reaching the bottom.

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