Ideas that work: a plan for a new San Francisco - Page 2

With its own public bank, San Francisco could begin to fund and promote more community-centered forms of economic development

In particular, the bank could prioritize businesses and enterprises that represent alternative models of ownership such as worker co-ops and worker collectives, and smaller, community-serving, locally-based, social enterprise-type businesses.

To ensure that the bank's lending activities reflect the need for more democratic modes of credit and finance, governance and oversight could include representation from social groups and constituents normally excluded from corporate governance. The bank's member-owners would elect the board of directors.

Municipal bank funds would be completely separate from the city's general fund, with strict firewalls imposed to assure that lending activities do not become intermingled in any way with the annual appropriations process.

By creating its own bank, San Francisco would be a national model for community-based development and economic democracy. It would be a national first, and has the potential to transform how cities think about local economic development. (Beitel)


Since the beginning of the dot-com boom, San Francisco has seen displacement of low-income families from rent-controlled housing in alarming numbers. Much of this displacement has been happening through conversion of small residential apartment buildings (between four and 12 units) into tenancy in common units. Small-site displacement tends to target seniors, disabled people, and working class families — and many of the units that were converted were, under rent control, de facto affordable housing.

In addition, over the past 15 years the city has lost 4,370 units due to Ellis Act evictions. At the same time, the city's housing production model favors larger projects because of the economies of scale possible for new construction of big projects, with 70 or more units. While these projects are important in adding to the city's affordable housing stock, sites to accommodate giant developments are in short supply.

So how do we address San Francisco's chronic affordable housing crisis. First, stabilize low-income communities and preserve diverse neighborhoods by encouraging the city to invest in developing a small sites acquisition and rehabilitation program that could help nonprofits take over and operate affordable rental housing for low-income tenants. That property could also be converted to limited equity housing cooperatives and community land trust properties.

Next, the city should ban all TICs from becoming condos. The city can give landlords and speculators a choice: If you want your property to be eligible for condo conversion, with all the economic benefits that come with that designation, then you need to follow the process and abide by tenant protections in the condo law. If you want to ignore the condo law, then you're stuck with a TIC.

To further protect renters, prior to sale of a renter-occupied unit, the city could require the owner to offer tenants the right to buy the unit, at a price based on the last best offer from a bona fide purchaser.

The Rent Board also needs reform. The panel, which oversees rent increases, consists of five members: two landlords, two tenants, and one homeowner. All are appointed by the mayor. We suggest three tenants, two landlords, and two homeowners — with the appointments split between the mayor and the supervisors.

There also must be a permanent, local source of funding for affordable housing development. A progressive increase in the real estate transfer tax could generate $45 million annually.

We further support Sup. Ross Mirkarimi's proposed legislation that would protect resident's rights during relocation and ensure their right to return to buildings that have been redeveloped. (Amy Beinart and the Council of Community Housing Organizations)


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