SFUSD gifts city 115 affordable housing units for the holidays

Advocate asks board to approve the land swap project.
Photo by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

The San Francisco Board of Education last night (Tue/10) approved a land swap with city government, gifting San Francisco an empty lot that it will use to build new affordable housing. That’s 115 units of living space for low income San Francisco renters, wrapped in a bow for the holidays. 

The proposal was the brainchild of board members Hydra Mendoza-McDonnell and Sandra Lee Fewer, who worked on the measure with the Mayor’s Office of Housing for over two years. The district will trade a lot on 1950 Mission street and another on Connecticut in exchange for a property it currently rents from the city of San Francisco. The city will also pay SFUSD $4.5 million, according to district data.

Last night was the culmination of that work, which Fewer said was the right thing to do.

“Could we get more money from [selling] this property with a private developer? I’m sure. But would we get the value? No,” Fewer said at the meeting.

But it’s a mixed win for San Francisco, as the original intent was to pioneer ways to provide affordable housing for the school district’s employees. Project proponents said school district workers have been priced out of San Francisco in droves. The affordable housing project will be general use, with no specific provisions for teachers or other SFUSD workers. 

Though the teachers’ union supports the land swap, United Educators of San Francisco President Dennis Kelly warned that this would not help district workers directly.

"It’s more than an oversight, it’s an insult, felt very deeply, and very bitterly,” Kelly said at the podium. “Affordable housing will not house a single teacher, not a single one, because of where the dollar breaks are.”

Fewer told the Guardian that in the coming months the board will explore new ways to help fund housing for teachers, but Kelly told us that’s the same old song he’s heard for ten years. 

That said, the use of SFUSD’s abundant excess property for affordable housing could spark a new trend, and commissioners on the board said they may explore ventures like this in the future. And the need is stark. 

At an SFUSD meeting just a few weeks ago (covered here by Guardian News Editor Rebecca Bowe), the district asked families “what do you need?”

The answer wasn’t more field trips, school books, or even for better school lunches. Families cried loud and clear that they need one thing: affordable housing.

At last night’s board meeting, children and families echoed those sentiments.

“I lived downtown in the SoMa district and we were kicked out for a few months when I was in high school,” said San Francisco Youth Commissioner Luisa Sicairos, who is now 22 years old. “We had to live with my dad’s friends. I had no light to do homework. That’s the problem without affordable housing.”

Other students described living in SROs in horrible conditions, with families bunched together in spaces meant only for one. It impacts their homework, their school performance, and their lives.

Supporters of the measure packed the board room, and the public comment period went close to an hour. Supervisors John Avalos and Jane Kim showed up to back the measure, as well as aides from Sup. Norman Yee and Eric Mar’s office. The need for housing justice from those in attendance was palpable.

It was emotional for the commissioners as well. Mendoza-McDonnell seemed to be near tears. She and Fewer both said they felt lucky to be in a position to help families in need. 

When it passed, unanimously, the room erupted into cheers. Superintendent Richard Carranza rang a school bell with a smile on his face. 

Olson Lee, director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing, told the Guardian that the use of the land now has to go through several Board of Supervisors committees, and construction would not start immediately. The 115 units is an initial estimate, he said, but if height limits were circumvented the number could grow. 

After the vote passed, Fewer had only one thing to say to Lee: “Build it quick.”


than Google should be. the only question that remains is how much will it cost the city (i.e. us, the taxpayers) to rent out these units at well below their cost?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

Discover how to make money from your computer, working only an hour a day. In three weeks I have earned over 500dollar, this is the page... w­w­w.B­u­z­z1­9.c­o­m

Posted by Norma G. Nivens on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 5:32 am

thats great

Posted by Norma G. Nivens on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 5:32 am

Yes, Cash-rich Google *should* be in the housing business--housing for its workers on the Peninsula campus, so they live near where they work. Not everyone has to, or even wants to live in SF. The rentals can be subsidized somewhat as an incentive for workers to choose living a few minutes (by bike, instead by 45-minute diesel bus?). Its a sustainable solution. I thought the tech giants are always boasting about sustainability--here's a chance to act on it!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 9:55 pm

and commute as far as they wish. If you don't like it then don't do it.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 10:08 pm

Will any of them be for middle income residents?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

so if you make more than that, you're SOL.

What I don't know is whether you then lose your subsidized home if you win the lottery? Or of course how thorough the city is with it's due diligence.

I suspect that more than a few cash-rich drug dealers manage to swindle their way into these cheap digs.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

and the supervisors to dole out as they see fit. No random person is going to get one and certainly not anyone making anywhere near the median SF per-capita income.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 4:22 pm

odds in the end. A few people win the lottery and the other 99% get hosed.

In fact, SF housing policy in general is a lottery with winners and losers seemingly devoid of any logic or rationale.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

Supervisors will dole these units out to various non-profits based on their ability to help get the supervisor re-elected. A page out of the Chris Daly playbook.

Posted by Richmondman on Dec. 12, 2013 @ 11:59 am

I'll personally file suit to stop this project if there's even a hint of that. Our height limits are sacrosanct!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 4:20 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

condominium development proposed for across the street? Doubt it.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 5:13 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 11, 2013 @ 5:25 pm

Nice to see the SFUSD figure out how to sell off more public land without adequately addressing prior sales.

Such as the Frederick Burke Elementary School adjacent to the 2 largest rental communities in SF. Stonestown and Parkmerced....

Sadly the impacts were less families, more students, less staff and teacher housing, and more slow evaporation of families.

The costs of the land sale went to SFSU-CSU eventually but another developer was pinned in by SFSU-CSU's land grab and forced to sell if nothing done. So they sold back to SFSU and they built a new field while the residents of Parkmerced lost open-space, a ball field, basketball courts handball courts and tennis courts.

SFSU-CSU did nothing renovation wise for years letting tenants lose a major exterior play space. Why should land be sold which cannot be recouped.

And why should SFSU-CSU acquire land without fair-share impacts of institutional growth being properly assessed? The reason, backroom deals and sweet-heart land acquisitions.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 15, 2013 @ 7:57 pm

That is a great low profile spot that should be used for affordable housing now. Why its 'traded' for other property is a mystery to me.

Something tells me big money forces want that 1950 Mission Spot and our people want it so they can STAY in their own neighborhood and help maintain low profile, community oriented use for that space.

Our people don't want any high rise at Walgrens or 1950 Mission spaces... we want MORE OPEN SPACE and totally affordable, not for profit housing space.

Gifts to us now, brought from the elite or their puppets that are not ideas that came up, from our people, are contrary to the will of the people and are likely Trojans that will bite us in the arse, later.

Abundant land WE OWN should be PRESERVED and not sold out. We have thousands homeless and thousands of small businesses run out of town or their long standing, stable locations by BIG MONEY and greedy jacked up rents, all started by Chase Banks takeover of our 10 largest bldgs.

Now, we have thousands of people and businesses 'displaced' and they have their own ideas on taking back all our empty space now, FOR FREE, as part of an emergency response to the wholesale 'sell off' of our space for decades, while we have so many people in need of all space available now- that are victims of this madness for money & mega corporations & banks.

Posted by Resident on Feb. 10, 2014 @ 7:25 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2014 @ 7:38 pm

Union president Kelly raises a good point. Why can't some of the new housing units being built at 1950 Mission or other former SFUSD properties be set-aside for teachers? It's easy enough to add more units to the property using a different legal arrangement such as limited-equity housing. The income limits can be set higher than the low-income housing units, and fewer house rules imposed on the L-E units. When there's turnover in the L-E units, they would be sold to another SF teacher at whatever AMI level has been established for these teacher set-aside units (135% of AMI?)

The city needs to become much more engaged in building housing for middle income households since the private sector only builds housing for the very wealthy or wealthy foreign speculators. The city can impose AMI restrictions, resale restrictions, and all sorts of other restrictions that keep the housing affordable for future generations.

Consider if the car market only produced $100,000 Mercedes when most of us can only afford $25,000 Toyotas and Hondas. That's what has happened with the SF new construction market. They only build housing for the very wealthy and almost nothing for the middle- and lower-income markets. This has to change immediately.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2014 @ 9:36 pm

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.