San Francisco city leaders take steps to ease housing crunch

San Francisco city leaders are taking on the housing crisis, hoping a one-two punch will ease the crunch. Mayor London Breed toured the mission today, meeting with neighbors and looking for areas where affordable housing might fit in.

Sam Moss from The Mission Housing Development Corporation says a lack of affordable housing is driving up prices-- leaving some priced out or in some cases homeless. "There are so many people that are one paycheck away from being homeless," said Moss. "So many people who don't consider themselves to be at risk that it's scary."

Since taking office affordable housing has been on Mayor Breed's radar. "People are saying 'well San Francisco doesn't have enough places to build.' But, yes we do. If we open our eyes and look at under utilized sites," said Breed.

The mayor is now pushing to end department of building inspection permitting fees for 100% affordable housing projects and on accessory dwelling units, commonly refered to as "in-laws." The city says permits on in-laws account for about 8% of the total costs and permits for affordable housing can range up to 100-150 thousand dollars. "It's important because it's an incentive to get someone to choose to go this route, and provide much needed housing," said Breed.

San Francisco's State Senator Scott Wiender is also pushing for Senate Bill 50 aimed at allowing housing to be built near transit hubs and rail lines. He says the bill would allow more people to live near transit options in densly populated parts of the city and allow for more construction in some of the less densly packed parts of San Francisco. "In the 2/3 of the city where it's illegal to build an apartment building you should be able to build. I'm not talking about a skyscraper," said Wiener. "But, at least a small apartment building so that more people can access housing, so that housing is more affordable."

Some say more housing would be a welcome addition to the city, as long as it's not overdone. "I think it's good idea, as long as it's limited. You don't want to have an excess of anything, right," said Cal Nakanishi. 

But, others worry that it could destroy the very thing that makes neigborhoods like this so charming. "I think it would really be a tragedy if they're going to put mass housing in this area, because you're not going to find this anywhere else in the city," said Frank Tom.

The Mayors proposal to waive fees will have to go before the Board of Supervisors. State Senator Wiener's bill will be heading to committee in sacramento in March or April.