San Francisco is about to pass a controversial proposal that would undoubtedly restrict further office space development in the city, perhaps pushing tech corporations and startups to set up their offices elsewhere.
Prop E‘s approval, which seemed likely Wednesday afternoon after Super Tuesday’s primary, links office development to the city’s ability to fulfill affordable housing targets, something that the city and its builders haven’t proven themselves that capable of doing in recent times.
Amid growing rents and a homeless issue, there has been much concern that the structures in the city are overpressured, low and moderate earnings residents are being thrown out, and the influx of tech startups is exacerbating the issue.
San Francisco had been operating under voter-imposed year-on-year limits for new office space through Prop E, a 1986 poll measure that has capped annual office space allocations to 875,000 square feet of large office area. Prop E links this office area maximum to locally determined affordable housing targets, ones aimed much higher than San Francisco has been able to hit in recent times.
In the last ten years, SF has constructed an average of 712 affordable housing structures per year, according to the chief economist’s report. In the past two decades, San Francisco’s annual affordable housing production has popped above 1,000 structures only once.
The latest targets, set by a state program, pin annual affordable housing production at 2,042 structures a year. With Prop E, if San Francisco fell short of that annual target only building one-third of these 2,042 structures, they’d only be able to earmark one-third of its 875,000 large-space square feet to new large-space projects.