September 26, 2022

myhomefranchise

Making living better

Housing debate has dominated Campos and Haney’s Assembly race. New reports uncover their track records

6 min read

Anurupa Ganguly loved living in Brooklyn. She loved its diversity, restaurants, culture and walkability. When she felt pulled back to her home state of California, she zeroed in on San Francisco’s Mission District as a similar neighborhood.

It was similar — except for the housing options. In New York City, she’d moved a few times, often finding a new unit the same weekend she started looking. In the Mission, vacancies were incredibly sparse — and expensive.

But she and her husband managed to rent a small one-bedroom apartment at 1188 Valencia St. in February 2021 for $3,900 a month plus $400 for utilities and a storage unit. Like many San Franciscans, they’re now hooked. Unlike many San Franciscans, they plan to stick around when they have kids.

“We’ve really fallen in love with our home here and the community here and the work we do here,” said Ganguly, 36.

Ganguly’s new life, though, wouldn’t be possible if then-Supervisor David Campos had gotten his way back in 2015 — because her home probably wouldn’t exist.

The building with about 50 residences, including six below-market-rate units, is home to a diverse mix of people, many of them families living in larger units with children. But the development would have been significantly delayed, if it had been built at all, if Campos’ proposed 18-month halt on construction of market-rate housing in the Mission — with an option to extend it to 30 months — had passed muster at the board or ballot box. Even Campos himself now acknowledges the moratorium was not a good idea.

That’s a central point made in a new report examining Campos’ housing record — and another looking at the record of his state Assembly opponent, Supervisor Matt Haney — by a UC Berkeley associate professor of political science and avowed YIMBY who wants to see more housing built all over the city. And who, for the record, is voting for Haney.

A UC Berkeley professor’s deep dive compares the housing track records of Assembly candidates David Campos, left, and Matt Haney.

A UC Berkeley professor’s deep dive compares the housing track records of Assembly candidates David Campos, left, and Matt Haney.

Lea Suzuki / The Chronicle; Felix Uribe / Special to The Chronicle

David Broockman, working in his spare time, has taken on the mind-numbing task of plumbing planning documents, watching government meetings and filing public records requests to analyze the housing records of San Francisco’s leaders, one by one. (You may recall his first report on Supervisor Dean Preston, whom he called “the worst offender” when it comes to halting housing on a board with several candidates for the title.)

Broockman plans more deep dives into the housing track records of the supervisors up for re-election in November.

As the Assembly race nears its April 19 finish line, housing — or San Francisco’s lack thereof — has become a primary focus. It’s obvious that the city and state, both grappling with a major housing shortage and affordability crisis, need more places for people of all income levels to live. It’s also obvious that the Board of Supervisors hasn’t done nearly enough to approve that housing, and that the city makes it far too hard and expensive to build the units that do manage to get approved.

Clearly, our housing crisis isn’t the fault of any one elected official, but emanates from an overall desire by too many residents and their leaders to freeze certain San Francisco neighborhoods in amber, pretend the basic laws of supply and demand don’t exist, and continue to see their own home values skyrocket.

Still, it’s crucial to look at individual leaders’ track records and hold them to account.

As Broockman explained, “For any individual project, there are often excuses that sound reasonable, but it’s only by zooming out that you get a sense of the overall pattern.”

Campos served as the supervisor of District Nine, which includes the Mission, the Portola and Bernal Heights, from late 2008 to early 2017. Broockman calculates that Campos got a paltry average of 157 residences built in the Mission per year, including just 32 subsidized units. That was fewer than one a week despite his repeatedly talking about the need for buildings with 100% affordable housing.

To be sure, Brookman is not a neutral political observer here, and Campos dismissed his report as “poorly done, biased and narrow in scope.” He argued that it left out his focus on keeping people in their homes, taking actions like banning no-fault evictions of teachers and families during the school year, and regulating Airbnb to prevent homes from becoming short-term vacation rentals.

But to really tackle our housing crisis, officials need to focus both on tenant protections and building more housing at all levels. Broockman argues that second part is where Campos fell down on the job.

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