Survey shows Lee aligned with tenant advocates only half the time

How do mayoral candidates measure up on affordable housing?

The results of a mayoral candidates' survey created by the Council of Community Housing Organizations (CCHO) offered some surprises. Based on candidates' responses, venture capitalist Joanna Rees, one of the more conservative contenders, came across as a stronger advocate for affordable housing and tenants' rights than interim Mayor Ed Lee, who previously defended tenants as an attorney with the Asian Law Caucus.

The survey posed 25 yes-or-no questions to mayoral hopefuls, formulated by CCHO, the San Francisco Tenants Union, and the Housing Rights Committee. A "Yes" answer meant the candidate was aligned with the housing advocates' standpoint, a "No" response was frowned upon as contrary to advocates' housing agenda, and a "?" signified the response, "I'll consider it."

All told, Lee responded "No" to six questions, "I'll consider it" to seven questions, and "Yes" to 12 questions, demonstrating consistency with the housing advocates' agenda about half the time. Rees, on the other hand, responded "No" to three questions, and "Yes" to every other question.

Other respondents included Public Defender Jeff Adachi, Sup. John Avalos, green party candidate Terry Joan Baum, Board President David Chiu, former Sup. Bevan Dufty, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, and Sen. Leland Yee.

Candidates who answered in the affirmative to every survey question were Avalos, Baum, and Yee. Dufty responded "No" to eight questions, and "I'll consider it" to one. Chiu responded "Yes" to most questions and "I'll consider it" to four questions, though there was some confusion as his response wasn't listed every time.

There you have a summary of the scorecards. So what were the questions?

Every single candidate answered "Yes" to this one: "To make up for the huge State and Federal cutbacks in affordable housing funding, will you commit to placing a dedicated affordable housing funding measure on the November 2012 ballot of at least $100 million?"

So no matter who's elected, housing advocates will have an opportunity to advance this idea.

Among the more divisive issues was the question of reforming condo conversion laws to regulate tenancies-in-common conversions, in order to stem depletion of affordable housing stock. Lee, Rees, and Dufty responded that they would not seek such reforms; Yee, Avalos, Adachi, and Baum said they would. Herrera declined to answer.

Candidates were also divided on whether the San Francisco Rent Board, which mitigates disputes between tenants and landlords, ought to be reformed to "increase tenant representation and balance appointments between the Mayor and Board of Supervisors?" Yee, Lee, Dufty, and Adachi rejected that idea.

And Lee stood alone in answering "no" to this question: "Will you enforce a balance between market-rate housing and affordable housing that fulfills the City’s adopted housing goals, even if such a linkage slows down the overproduction of luxury condos until a minimum level of affordable and middle income housing catches up?"

All others said they would, except Chiu, who said, "I'll consider it."

View the full results of the survey here.